3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Entertainment of Strangers
– Mr. President, I desire to know whether permission was obtained for the purpose of giving a private dinner in the refreshment chambers yesterday ? I notice that the place has. become almost a common restaurant, and, therefore, I draw attention to the matter. 1 wish to know whether authority was obtained for giving that dinner, and if it is the right of any member of this Parliament to entertain his friends at dinner at any time on these premises?
– So far as I am aware, no application was made for permission to use any part of the refreshment rooms yesterday. I am informed that a member of the other House was anxious to entertain some friends at luncheon, and that instructions were given to make preparations accordingly. I have also learned that the luncheon partook of a’ much more extensive character than was at first anticipated, and, from the newspaper reports, it would appear as if there was something of a political character about it. While there is no objection to any honorable gentleman entertaining his friends here under certain restrictions, at the same time it must be borne in mind that honorable gentlemen have different opinions in regard to political matters, and certainly no gatherings of a political character should, in my opinion, be permitted within the building. The whole question of receiving visitors in the building and its precincts will have to be submitted for the opinion of the House Committee, and regulations will, no doubt, be drawn up which willhave the effect of preventing any feeling of dissatisfaction with regard to anything which may be done in the way of entertaining visitors. In clubs there is a very strict rule on that subject. There can only be a certain number - that is, in proportion to the number of the members of the club - entertained at luncheon or dinner. I have thought it better to give instructions, as I did this morning, that, pending the consideration of the subject by the House Committee, strangers shall not be invited to luncheon or dinner within the precincts of Parliament by any honorable gentleman without having first obtained the permission of either Mr. Speaker or the President. It will, of course, be necessary for an honorable gentleman to mention the circumstances under which he wishes to give the entertainment, and also to give an assurance that it will not partake of a political character in any way.
- Mr. President, has your attention been called to a garden party which was given quite recently in the precincts of this building, I understand to a political organization?
– Permission was obtained from the President for the use of the grounds by the honorable gentlemen who desired to give that garden party. I was assured that it was not intended to have any political significance. “ And I understand that all the representatives of Queensland, irrespective of their opinions, were invited to it, and, moreover, it was attended by His Excellency the Governor of Queensland, who, of course, would not have been present at the gathering if it had been of a party character.
– I desire to know, sir, whether you intend to convey that a member of this Parliament is not to be allowed to invite a friend to luncheon here without having obtained your permission?
– Parliament House was never intended to be used for the purpose of giving general entertainments. Strictly speaking, it was intended to be used by members of Parliament alone, and the decision I have come to is that in order to avoid anypossibility of difficulty or disagreement, applications shall be made to Mr. Speaker or the President by any honorable gentlemen who desire to entertain their friends here at luncheon or dinner. The whole question, as I have pointed out, will have to be considered by the House Committee, but pending that consideration, that is the decision I have arrived at. If the honorable senator desires to entertain two or three friends, there will be no difficulty.
– What about off-days, when Parliament is not sitting?
– And how about afternoon teas?
– I do not intend that my decision shall apply to afternoon teas or to morning teas, as there is no party significance about them.
– I think, sir, that there is a slight misunderstanding of Senator Story’s question. Suppose that a member of either House wishes to entertain one friend at luncheon or dinner, is there anything objectionable in that?
– Suppose that he wished to entertain two friends?
– If there is any objection to that, I would ask, what is the strangers’ room provided for?
– I am rather puzzled to know where the strangers’ room is. I am informed that the balcony is used occasionally for the entertainment of strangers, and I believe that it is the only place which is so used. Of course, it is impossible for an honorable gentleman to take a friend into the main refreshment room, but if the honorable senator desires to entertain one or two friends in the way which he has suggested there will be no objection to that.
– I rise, sir, to elicit some information, because at some time in the future I hope to be able to give a garden party to my friends the Socialists. Suppose that I were to issue invitations to the anti-Socialists at the same time as I was asking the comrades of Melbourne to attend, would that be considered a gathering of a party nature ? Suppose, for instance, that I were to invite Senator Dobson at the same time as I was inviting the Socialists’ Association of Melbourne, would that be considered sufficient to warrant me getting the use of the gardens ?
– If the honorable senator applies for the use of the gardens for the purpose of giving a garden party to his friends, and desires to make it of a political character, permission will, so far as I am concerned, be refused. But if he desires to entertain a number of his friends, and assures me that the gathering has no party significance, there will be no objection to the use of the grounds - that is, if their use has not been bespoken. In my opinion every member of this Parliament is entitled to have the benefit and advantage of the use of the grounds, if it can be given to bini without detriment to other members of Parliament, and without creating an; ill-feeling or misunderstanding with regard to their use. Of course, a matter of this kind must be largely left to the good sense of honorable gentlemen. All that Mr. Speaker, or the President, can possibly do is to ask for an assurance from the applicant, and that, of course, will be accepted. I feel quite sure that no honorable gentleman would willingly give an assurance which was not absolutely correct, or- with any idea that the permission, when granted, would be misused. It is impossible for Mr. Speaker, or the President, to particularize, and say that Mr. Jones has one class of ideas and Mr. Smith another class. We know nothing about their political views, and we hope that honorable gentlemen and their friends, irrespective of their political views, will, at all times, be able to meet together on terms of the utmost amity, as I believe that the members of both Houses do when they are not engaged in party warfare.
– I rise, sir, to ask a question on this subject, in order that we may understand what is intended to be conveyed by the term “ political significance.” I want to recall the circumstances of yesterday, to ascertain whether, if a member of this Parliament, or any other person, responds to the toast of his health, or speaks to any other toast, that response would give political significance to the gathering? Is that the impression which you intend to convey by your statement ?
– The honorable senator will see at once that the whole question depends upon the nature of the toast, and the reply thereto. It is impossible to speak definitely on such a general expression as the honorable senator has used. It is no pleasure to Mr. Speaker, or the President, to have to place any restriction on honorable gentlemen with regard to the use of the building. But if there is going to be dissatisfaction and trouble amongst honorable gentlemen with regard to these matters, then, for their own protection, we shall have to lay down a hard-and-fast rule (hat, under no circumstances^ shall any person, other than a member of Parliament, be entitled to be entertained on the premises. I, of course, desire to give honorable gentlemen a fair opportunity, but I know that in other Parliaments it has always been looked upon as a most extreme thing for honorable gentlemen to attempt to entertain their friends within the precincts in the way that has been done so frequently in this Parliament. But in all these matters I rely upon the good sense and good feeling of honorable gentlemen themselves. Without that there will always be conflict and trouble. I should very much regret to see a hard-and-fast rule laid down, which would restrict members of Parliament in regard to bringing their friends to Parliament House.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council a question without notice. He will see directly why I ask it now, rather than on the adjournment of’ the Senate. I wish to know whether he can give us any information as to whether there has been a definite determination with .regard to the mail contract j and, if not, whether, in the event of definite information arriving between now and the adjournment of the Senate, he will make us acquainted with the fact? If the contract is completed, will he endeavour to take the matter as the first business -next week ? .
– It is understood - indeed, I might say it is expected almost confidently - that the mail contract will be signed within the next hour or two.
– Hear, hear. Will Brisbane be made a port of call?
– If that should happen, I propose to make an important announcement in connexion with it at 2 o’clock today. If the contract is not signed this morning, the matter will have to stand over until Wednesday, so far as concerns an announcement to the Senate. Provided that the contract’ is signed to-day, T intend, by leave of the Senate, to give the necessary notice ‘ to enable its consideration to be the first business for Wednesday next.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council a question without notice, if he will kindly see that copies of Acts of the Commonwealth Parliament, reports of Royal Commissions, &c… are placed on sale at the Commonwealth Offices, Sydney, or some other place where it will be possible for members of the public to obtain them ? This very morning a Sydney merchant informed me that he went to the Commonwealth Offices, Svdney, to obtain a printed document. He was treated with very great courtesy there, and a copy of the paper which he wanted was lent to him, but he was not able to purchase a copy. It seems to me that there should be a place where Commonwealth papers can be purchased. Perhaps the Government Printing Office, Sydney, would be a suitable place.
– That is the best place.
– Will the Minister see to it that a place is fixed where Commonwealth papers will be on sale ?
– While Bills are before Parliament, they are under the jurisdiction of the President and’ Mr. Speaker, but after they become Acts of Parliament they come within the province of the Treasury. The same applies to the reports of Royal Commissions after they have been published. I will bring the matter under the notice of my colleague, the Treasurer.
– Will the Minister be good enough to make representations to the Treasurer with the object of having such documents placed on sale in all the capitals of the States? There is a Commonwealth Office in each capital.
– I shall do so.
Senator BEST laid upon the table, by command, the following paper -
Despatch from the Right Honorable the Secretary of State for the Colonies in reference to a re-arrangement of the Colonial Office in respect to the’ Conduct of Business of Selfgoverning Colonies.
– I wish to ask. the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether it is the intention of the Government to introduce and distribute the Workmen’s Compensation Bill before the Senate adjourns over Christmas ?
– I do not say that I shall be able to distribute the Bill before Christmas, but I think that I can confidently promise mv honorable friend that we will distribute it before the session closes.
– Will the session close before Christmas?
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Is he aware of any friction between the Commandant of the Military Forces in Western Australia and the members of the Rifle Clubs of that State?
– The reply which I have received from the Department of Defence is -
No report of any friction has been received by the Department in Melbourne, but inquiries will be made, and if friction is found to exist, every effort will be made to bring about a better understanding. It is the desire of the Government that the cordial co-operation of the members of Rifle Clubs should be secured.
asked the Vice President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Whether in view of the recent disturbances and lawlessness amongst the large number of Chinese in Melbourne, the Government will consider the desirability of imposing Excise laws, similar to those in force in connexion with the sugar industry, to enforce the policy of a “White Australia”?
– The intellectual pressure involved in answering a question of this kind is a little too much for me.
– It is too much for the Government altogether.
– I suggest to my honorable friend that possibly he might formulate a Bill on the subject of the regulation of the domestic affairs of the Chinese, and it would then be my duty duly to advise the Senate.
– The Government can regulate other races; why not regulate the Chinese?
– They want regulating.
– Regulate them out of the country !
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 14th November, vide page 6006) :
Clause 47 -
All goods ordered into quarantine shall perform quarantine, and for that purpose may be detained on board the vessel or in a quarantine station.
– I had hoped that the Minister would move an amendment upon this clause.
– I think that it is better as it stands.
– How can goods “ perform quarantine “ ?
– There is more than detention involved in the phrase.
– Surely goods cannot be expected to perform any duty.
– It seems . to me that it is ridiculous to leave the clause in its present form. It is an admission of incompetence that we cannot so frame it as to express more clearly what we really want. What was intended by the draftsman? Surely all that is necessary is to make the clause read somewhat as follows -
AH goods entering into quarantine may be detained on board the vessel or in a quarantine station.
– What is the usual meaning of “perform”?
– The whole purpose of the clause is, I take it, to declare that goods shall be subject to quarantine.
– More than that.
– I cannot discover any reason why we should retain the word “ perform. ‘ ‘
– I think that our object would be attained by leaving out the words “perform quarantine and for that purpose may,” and by adding to the clause the words, “ until quarantine regulations have been complied with.”
– I have looked into the suggestion which Senator Walker made last night, but its adoption would not bring about all that we desire. We wish not merely to provide that goods shall be detained on a ship, or elsewhere, but we require it to be expressly declared that goods ordered into quarantine shall perform quarantine - and by that we mean that they shall’ comply with every requirement that may be made as to the period of their detention, the treatment to which they shall be subjected, the handling of them, and whatever else may be necessary. We cannot specifically set out those requirements in a clause so as to cover every case. I had thought that the purpose would be covered by making;’ the clause read -
All goods ordered into quarantine shall be detained on board the vessel or in a quarantine station until the completion of quarantine.
– Why not leave out “ perform “ and substitute “ undergo “ ?
-“ Undergo quarantine “ does not necessarily carry out what we mean. Performing implies the completion of all requirements. “ Undergoing “ quarantine might be like being “subject to” quarantine, without regard to any particular period. Personally I see no objection to using the word “ perform “ in regard to inanimate objects. The word is used in a technical sense. It is a wellrecognised phrase. It will be thoroughly understood. It means complete compliance with all the regulations that may be applicable in the special circumstances. I think that we can properly adopt a wellrecognised phrase like that, and apply it to inanimate as well as to animate objects. It is not an inadvertence that the word hasbeen used.It was deliberately put in, because the phrase “ perform quarantine “ has a recognised meaning. The mere fact that it is applied to inanimate objects does not destroy its value. The term is used throughout the Bill. In clause 39, for instance, we have provided that every vessel in quarantine shall “ subject to this Act perform quarantine.”
– A vessel is a machine, capable of motion.
– The words might very well be adhered to. There can be no misunderstanding, and they will be in harmony with many other provisions of the measure.
– I wish to suggest a legal word which would, I think, carry out what the Minister desires. I suggest the use of the word “ inure.”
-Then it might be claimed that to “inure” quarantine was different from “ performing “ quarantine.
– I do not press the suggestion, although the phrase “ perform quarantine “ as applied to goods is anomalous and even startling.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 48 to 52 agreed to.
Clause 53 -
– This clause seems to place a great deal of reliance upon veterinary certificates. ft would be advisable to amend the clause to provide that no reliance should be placed upon a certificate of that character unless it was obtained after a close bacteriological examination of the imported animals at the port of landing. Under this clause if the animals are accompanied by a certificate, and the quarantine officer is also satisfied that they are clean, they can be landed straight away without further trouble. The Government of Western Australia recently relied upon a certificate given by a Government official at Kurrachee in India, and which accompanied a consignment of camels from that country. Yet after the camels were landed at Port Headland in Western Australia, they were found to be affected with surra. Through the Western Australian Government placing faith in that certificate, the whole State was afterwards quarantined by South Australia, although the camels had been landed at a port far removed from the capital of the western State, and from the pastoral areas of the north. Two of the animals were destroyed on the order of the local Government bacteriologist at Port Headland, who found on examination that they were infected. The balance of the consignment has since been kept under close watch. That instance shows the folly of placing any faith in a veterinary certificate accompanying imported animals, unless it is given after careful bacteriological examination by a Government officer in the importing country. Either sub-clauseI should be amended by providing that the quarantine officer may require a bacteriological examination to be made, at the expense of the importer, if he thinks it desirable, or the Minister should agree to postpone the clause for recasting in the directionI have indicated. As a result of the sham certificate issued in the case of those camels by an Indian Government official, the whole State of Western Australia was and still is quarantined by South Australia. That is a serious disability to the western State. In Africa and Asia all the diseases under the sun are rampant, and it would be folly to continue the old rough and ready rule-of -thumb method of accepting certificates issued without proper bacteriological examination.
.- I agree with Senator Lynch that certificates coming from another country are of very little use here, because it is quite likely that disease may develop on the voyage in animals which may have been clean when they left the port of shipment. The supervision of animals entering Australia should be made very much more drastic than is proposed in the Bill, by having competent men at the ports to make proper examinations. The Bill does not even provide for the appointment of qualified medical officers to examine human beings, but that omission will probably be rectified. If it is necessary for human beings, it is just as necessary to have qualified men to examine imported stock.
– Would the honorable senator have a qualified man kept at Port Headland all the year round? That would be a very great expense.
– I do not say that qualified men should be provided at every port. That is a question of adjustment. The provision in this clause seems very weak. Australia, when first settled, was probably an absolutely clean country, and immune from diseases affecting animals. The fauna of Australia were not numerous, but as time went on diseases were brought in. In every case the diseases of animals have come from outside, and no doubt the lax administration of the past has been very largely to blame. Australia depends for its prosperity to a very great extent upon its live stock, of which the value is very large. We have 1,765,897 horses, of a value of £17, 658,970; 9,337.626 cattle, of a value of .£46,688,130; 83,673,826 sheep, of a value of £17,891,273; and 809,780 pigs, of a value of £200,000. If animals used for human food become diseased, the disease can be, and often is, communicated to human beings, and, therefore, precautions are necessary for the protection, not merely of animals, but of human beings also. Had skilled men been engaged in the past where imported diseased animals were landed, the chances are that we should have avoided a great many of the diseases from which we now suffer. Australia, being isolated, is in a peculiarly favorable position to be kept clean, but that cannot be done unless we have at the ports competent men who will know disease when they see it. Diseases have been coming in one after another which affect not only the family, out thedairy, the stockyard, the field, and the garden. All of us who have gardens or stock know, from our own experience, that for years past those diseases have been accumulating and increasing, necessitating as time goes on greater watchfulness and care, lest they should further extend. The quarantinable diseases affecting animals are given in the definition clause. They include glanders, which has not got ai footing here yet so far as I am aware, pleuropneumonia,’ foot and mouth disease, rinderpest, anthrax, Texas or tick fever, hog cholera, swine plague, mange, scab, surra, dourine - which is al terrible disease coming from India, but has not appeared here yet - rabies, tuberculosis, actinomycosis, variola ovina, or any disease declared by the GovernorGeneral, by proclamation, to be a quarantinable disease. The tick fever, which has caused such loss in Queensland, and other places, was brought to Australia by the buffaloes which came from India ; mange came in horses, cattle, and dogs ; and the fowl1 tick came from the United States in fowls. The bot-fly, which is now such a pest to owners of horses, is a comparatively recent importation, and the blowfly, which is causing sheep-owners a. great deal of loss and trouble, is also said to be quite a recent importation. Anthrax is a terrible disease which has been imported. It affects not only sheep and cattle, but also human beings. A friend of mine, was .skinning an animal, not knowing what it had died from, and happened to touch with his hand a small sore on his neck. He died a few days afterwards from anthrax. It is said that anthrax came in bone-meal from India. There is a great need of much better supervision at the ports of entry than we now have. I suppose it will be provided that animals shall only be landed at certain ports. It will not be impossible, and ought not to be very expensive, to have proper skilled supervision at those ports. Even if it is expensive, it is absolutely necessary to have men there who understand their business if our quarantine system is to be effective. It is of no use appointing mere quarantine officers who do not know the diseases of animals, anymore than it is of use to appoint laymen, who cannot diagnose the diseases of human beings, to inspect immigrants. While the system I advocate may cost something, it will certainly be cheaper in the end. If the work is not done thoroughly, we might just as well leave it alone. I move - .
That after the word . “ officer,” line 1, the following words be inserted, “ who shall be an approved qualified veterinary surgeon.”
I make the following quotation from some notes sent to me in connexion with the proposal -
The extreme importance of insisting on the appointment of fully qualified and approved veterinary surgeons as quarantine officers for the inspection of imported stock, before debarkation, and on release from quarantine, is well proven and emphasized by the fact that all the more st- nous epizootics that have appeared in Australia were introduced before systematic veterinary inspection and quarantine were adopted.
Some 12 or 14 years ago, when Sell’s circus came over to Sydney from the United States of America, the veterinary inspector found thai some of the horses were affected with glanders. By destroying the diseased subjects and quarantining the suspected and contacted animals, the Commonwealth was saved from probably the worst equine scourge- yet known.
It is clear, from the foregoing, that animals attached ‘to travelling circuses and menageries, also those imported for zoological collections, should be subjected to rigorous examination >nd quarantine before being admitted to the Commonwealth. There, is very little doubt that the “Tick fever” in Queensland was introduced into Australia through the medium of the Indi.in buffalo.
The principle of quarantining should be. upheld in every case, except in regard to New Zealand, and then only in regard to such diseases as are non-existent in th.it Dominion. The purpose of this is to avoid placing an unnecessary embargo on the stock trade that exists between New Zealand and Australia, and in particular to permit of the ready and unhampered interchange of racing and stud stock.
It is imperative that oversea inspection and certification be not accepted as sufficient protection, for although such assurance is desirable as providing an additional safeguard, yet the danger of disease developing en route, or of being contracted at any period during the time of transit, that veterinary inspection and’ quarantine (except in the case of New Zealand as before mentioned) can alone provide that security which the importance of the live-stock industry demands. When horses were being shipped from Australia to South Africa, during the war, glandered horses were found to exist in three shipments, notwithstanding the fact that glanders has never existed in Australia. This clearly shows the futility of relying wholly and solely upon inspection and certification at the port of shipment. In this instance the horses contracted the disease through being shipped on a previously infected transport. Again, the shorthorn heifer, St. Bees, introduced pleuro-pneumonia notwithstanding a certificate stating that she had suffered and recovered from an attack of the disease before leaving England.
There is another case of a herd at Werribee that I think Veterinary Surgeon Mitchell recommended should be destroyed, arid that was not destroyed, with the result that another disease of a very virulent character was spread in this country. I trust the Committee will adopt the amendment I have moved, and make the inspection of imported animals sufficiently rigorous and effective by requiring that it shall be carried out by a duly qualified man.
– I hope the Minister will see his way to do something on the lines suggested by Senator McColl’s amendment.The cry that an army of veterinary surgeons would be required to give effect to it is all nonsense. We do not import a great many animals into Australia. Those that are imported are introduced for the improvement of stock or for circus and amusement purposes, and the number brought in at any one time is usually very small. It would be easy to provide for notice being given of theimportation of animals to enable the inspecting, officer to visit the port at which they were to be landed. We should not require to appoint as permanent officers more than one or two veterinary surgeons. The introduction of diseases affecting animals would be a very serious thing for Australia, and the saving of a few pounds in the cost of inspection of imported animals might mean the subsequent loss of hundreds of thousands of pounds should some of the diseases affecting stock in other countries be introduced to Australia. We have to consider not merely the difficulty of dealing with a disease on its introduction, but the fact that once it is introduced it must be an eternal source of expense and anxiety to the owners of stock in the Commonwealth. As the amend ment is intended to provide an efficient safeguard against the introduction of diseases affecting animals, the Minister would do well to accept it or some modified form of it.
– The suggestions offered by Senators McColl and McGregor raise a question which should be very carefully considered. It might perhaps be better to defer its consideration until we come to deal with the definition of “ quarantine officer “ in clause 5. Senator Walker has called my attention to the fact that in the clause referred to “ quarantine officer “ is defined in this way -
Quarantine Officer “ means a quarantine officer appointed under this Act.
I am reminded by this definition of a question that was raised in another State as to what were the duties of an aide-de-camp, and the answer was “ to perform an aidedecamp’s duties.” Senator McGregor has very properly pointed out that unless we insure the effective inspection of imported animals by officers possessed of scientific knowledge we shall run the risk of” the introduction of diseases affecting animals which will subsequently be the source of very heavy expense. I agree with much that has been said on the amendment, but I think that it would perhaps be better to delay the settlement of the question until we come to discuss the definition of “ quarantine officer “ under the Bill.
– This is a Bill dealing with the quarantine, amongst other things, of imported animals, and its administration in this respect will call for knowledge on the part of quarantine officers of what are known as quaran- tinable diseases. I do not know that a veterinary surgeon would necessarily be well versed in all the details of quaran- tinable diseases. I am unable to say what qualifications and standard of knowledge are required to entitle an individual in any of the States to call himself a veterinary surgeon. I do know, however, that some of the most expert and efficient officers at present employed in the different States in relation to quarantinable diseases of animals are not veterinary surgeons, or, at any rate, do not call themselves veterinary surgeons. I believe that some of the stock inspectors of the different States do not claim to be veterinary surgeons. If this be correct, we should be careful about laying down any hard-and-fast rule as to the qualifications which must be possessed by a quarantine officer having to deal with diseases of animals, when by doing so we might be unable to avail ourselves of the knowledge and experience of tried and tested officers of the States who in the past have filled the position of stock inspectors. I point that out as one of the dangers of the amendment. The Government are fully alive to the necessity of subjecting imported animals to an effective examination by those competent to deal with the questions which must be considered in relation to diseases affecting stock. But if we lay down a hard-and-fast rule that none but veterinary surgeons should be allowed to perform these duties, we might deprive ourselves of the opportunity of utilizing the services of valuable and experienced officers in the employment of the States Governments. I trust that the Committee will direct attention to that aspect of the question,, and that honorable senators will give us the benefit of their experience of the work of such officers in the States. I should like also to hear something more as to the qualifications generally required of a veterinary surgeon.
– The provision in the Bill at present is lamentably weak. The reference is merely to an authorized officer, and it is not provided even that he should be a duly qualified man. An authorized officer might be anybody. The suggestion of Senator St. Ledger to defer dealing with the matter until we reach postponed clause 5 is one which might be considered. All I desire is to secure the strictest possible supervision over the importation of animals. I have no objection to let the matter stand over in order that the Minister and honorable senators may give the proposal further consideration and see whether they cannot adopt the amendment as I have moved it, or in a modified form. I am willing to withdraw the amendment in the meantime if the Minister will say that he is prepared to discuss the matter when we come to deal with clause 5, and that, if an amendment is then approved of, he will see that the necessary consequential amendments in other clauses are made.
– Before the honorable senator resumes his seat he might give the Committee some information as to the standard of qualifications required for veterinary surgeons.
– I am unable at this stage to do so. Am I to understand that the Minister is willing to consider the ques tion on clause 5, and to make the necessaryconsequential ‘ amendments should that’ clause be amended in the way I propose?
– Then I ask leave to> withdraw the amendment in the meantime.
– I wish to point out that there would be great difficulty in securing in all cases the services of a veterinary surgeon. I remember that in a conversation that I had with several of the leading veterinary surgeons of Victoria they pointed out the importance of this question. There are a number of places in Australia where stock might be landed very infrequently in small numbers, and where it would be practically impossible on every occasion to secure the service of a qualified veterinary surgeon to carry out the inspection under the Act.
– But coul’d not that difficulty be obviated by providing that, cattle brought from over-sea. must be landed at certain ports?
– That would be very inconvenient, and ought not to be done, if it can be avoided.
– The honorable senator does not seem to pay much regard to the interests of stock-owners.
– In Victoria there is a number of persons who are highly qualified in these matters, although they are not veterinary surgeons. Recently the State Parliament passed a measure dealing with the control of dairy cattle, and a number of intelligent young Australians were called upon to pass examinations. The examinations were not of that highly technical and advanced character which qualified veterinary surgeons have been called on to pass, but were on the same lines. These young fellows have control of our dairy herds for examination purposes. Most of them would be qualified, to a very considerable degree, to make veterinary examinations in outlying places where they would be very infrequently required. I suggest that they might be sufficient for the purpose, and in centres where stock are landed frequently, and in considerable numbers, the quarantine authorities should, I think, be called upon to have available the services of the most highly qualified men.
– I admit that I am in doubt as to how I should vote if a division were called for at this moment, because I see two sides of the question, and, so far, only one of them has been touched upon. The fear in the minds of most persons is that owing to an incompetent officer be ing empowered to act some disease may be brought into Australia. But there is another aspect of the case. As the quarantine officer would have the right to order the destruction of an animal, surely it is only fair and reasonable that its owner should have an assurance that it is not condemned to death by an incompetent man. Very often mere money compensation is not in itself adequate to remunerate a man who, for instance, may have gone to England and spent some time in selecting a sire and bringing it out. The State may pay that man every penny which he has spent there, and still that will not compensate him for his loss. It appears to me only equitable to the stock-owner that while the Government is taking precautions to safeguard the public interest, it should also give him a reasonable assurance that he is not likely to lose, by reason of an incompetent man being granted large powers. That is a view which, so far, does not appear to have been touched upon, and it makes me inclined towards the employment of veterinary surgeons. On the other hand, in New South Wales we have a large number of stock inspectors who are not entitled to be called veterinary surgeous, but who have acquired considerable veterinary knowledge and have passed examinations which, for ordinary practical purposes, may be regarded as quite sufficient. It is between those two different views I am halting, and as the Minister has consented to postpone the consideration of the matter for the time being, it is possible that he or another senator may be able to bring forward information which at present is lacking, and which I think would be of very great assistance in enabling the Committee to arrive at a decision.
– I findthat although the camels I have mentioned were infected not only with surra, but also with tick, yet they were accompanied by a Government certificate from an officer at Kurrachee. Whether or not my suggestion has escaped the notice of the Minister I do not know. I do not intend to allow the clause to pass in its present form. I propose to move an amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) lates to the importation of certain kinds of animals from countries declared to be free from disease, but camels, horses, and dogs have been singled out for a form of treatment which does not very clearly appear in the Bill.
SenatorKeating. - In any case, they will be liable to ordinary quarantine. Other animals, if coming from a proclaimed free country, may be dealt with as provided in sub-clause 2 of this clause.
– What does the Minister propose to do with camels, horses, and dogs? He has singled them out for special treatment, but, so far as I can see, that treatment is not mentioned in the Bill. What are we going to do in the case of those animals being imported from’ countries declared to be free? Take, for instance, the case of India, from which the camels infected with surra were imported to Western Australia. It may be continued to be proclaimed a country free from disease. Yet if camels are brought here under the same circumstances as those infected camels, we shall be confronted with a grave national danger. I feel that it is necessary to provide for a bacteriological examination of every animal which is imported from Asia or Africa, and therefore I move -
That the following words be added - “ Provided that horses, camels, and dogs imported from Africa and Asia shall be subjected to a bacteriological examination on landing.”
I do not see how the Committee can avoid adopting the amendment, if it wants to keep stock-owners entirely free from the risks to which the stock-owners in Western Australia have been subjected. Camels are necessary in developing the resources of the northwestern part of Western Australia and also the Northern Territory, and therefore it is certain that a very large number of them will be imported. Consequently, it is very necessary to safeguard stock-owners in the future against the introduction of diseases.
– I had not overlooked what Senator Lynch said in regard to the clause, particularly in regard to sub-clause 2, but inasmuch as after the delivery of “his speech, an amendment in a prior portion of the clause was moved by Senator McColl, pursuant to notice, I dealt with only that, on the principle of dealing with one thing at a time. My honorable friend has referred to the introduction into Western Australia of some camels from Kurrachee, accompanied by a certificate that they had left that port clean, and, notwithstanding that fact, carrying surra and tick. Under this clause, that kind of thing will be avoided, because sub-clause 2 sets out all the factors that must combine before an animal can be introduced without undergoing quarantine. In the first place, it does not apply to camels, horses, or dogs at all - and what occurs in connexion with them I shall explain hereafter - but it applies to all other animals. The first provision is that the animals in question, in order to obtain relaxation from the rigour of quarantine must come from a country which is declared to be free from disease affecting animals of the kind imported - declared, not by that country itself, but by the Governor-General of this Commonwealth. He must satisfy himself that a certain country is free of disease affecting certain animals and then, by proclamation in the Commonwealth, he can declare that country’ free. The next factor is that accompanying the animals in respect of which the relaxation of quarantine is required must be a certificate from an approved veterinary surgeon at the port of shipment - that is a veterinary surgeon approved by the Minister responsible for the carrying out of the law. Then there are other elements yet to appear in the transaction before the animals can be admitted without undergoing the rigour of quarantine. Super-added to those two factors - a clean country, according to our own proclamation, and a veterinary surgeon’s certificate - there must be a report by our own quarantine officer, after examination, to the Minister, that during the voyage the animals have not contracted any disease have not been exposed to any disease, and at the time of landing were free from disease, and that, in his opinion, there is no danger to local stock to be apprehended from their introduction. All those elements must combine, and then the Minister may, if he think fit, and subject to regulations, give a certificate to the importer accordingly. I point out to Senator Lynch that these were not the features of the law in relation to the introduction of the animals he referred to in his illustration, and, further than that, those animals were camels,and we expressly exempt camels, horses, and dogs from the opportunity to get this relaxation. But I think honorable senators will agree with me that it is not desirable that the Commonwealth should be shut up completely, so far as the introduction of animals from every country in the world is concerned. The particular countries which were under consideration when the clause was drafted were New. Zealand and Great Britain. We felt that if, by some process’ of nature, New Zealand could be shifted right up against the Commonwealth, so that there would be no intervening sea, and if her herds and flocks were just as clean as our’ own, and that, without the slightest possibility of danger to ourselves, they might pass freely over the imaginary dividing line - and so, too, with Great Britain - it-‘ should be competent for the GovernorGeneral to declare, by way of proclamation, that those countries were free from certain diseases affecting certain animals ; and then, if anybody were to desire to import animals ordinarily subject to those diseases from those countries, subject to compliance with the conditions I have stated, the Minister should have the power to issue a certificate to import accordingly.
– Except as to camels, horses, and dogs.
– The ordinary quarantine law will apply to all animals coming into the country. If it is desired to obtain an exemption, it will be competent for the Minister to exempt the animals from strict quarantine, or to relax it in the manner indicated in the Bill. But, as to camels, horses, and dogs, sub-clause . 3, of clause 53, provides that in all cases they shall be ordered into quarantine. The quarantine officer will have no power to do otherwise. Every other animal with respect to which relaxation is not asked for must, by the quarantine officer, be ordered into quarantine. Clause 55 provides that the officer may examine and order into quarantine any animals or plants declared by proclamation to be subject to quarantine; and clause 56 requires that all animals and plants ordered into quarantine shall be conveyed to a quarantine station and detained there for a prescribed period, and treated as prescribed while they are there. Those are provisions of general application. But, as to camels, horses, and dogs, the restrictions must in all circumstances apply. This clause, therefore, is designed, not to facilitate the recurrence of such incidents as Senator Lynch has referred to, but rather to prevent their recurrence, whilst, at the same time, permitting free interchange and intercourse in relation to the transfer of animals from countries which we know to be quite as clean with respect to disease as is Australia. For these reasons, I trust that honorable senators will see that there is no necessity for the amendment, and no reason to apprehend that under this law there will be a recurrence of the unfortunate incident that occurred in Western Australia. That incident was present to the mind of the draftsman when framing this provision. Every safeguard that it was thought reasonable and possible to introduce has been introduced in this clause. With these safeguards, we think it desirable that animals should be permitted to be imported into the Commonwealth from such clean countries as Great Britain and New Zealand. Honorable senators need not apprehend that it is likely that the GovernorGeneral will proclaim India free from diseases affecting animals. The particular countries that were in mind when this provision was drawn were New Zealand and Great Britain. Persons in Australia very often go to Great Britain, and, at .great expense, and after much, time and trouble, select sires which they import for the improvement of stock. If it were to be necessary in every instance to hold up in quarantine for a lengthy period such very desirable importations, it would tend very greatly to discourage the introduction of valuable stock. It is to obviate such discouragement that we propose to enable clean stock to be introduced with all possible safeguards and with “the minimum period of quarantine.
– Will the fact that camels, horses, and dogs are required to be examined necessitate a bacteriological examination ?
– Under clauses. 55 and 56, the quarantine officer may order into quarantine any animals, and may direct that they shall be treated as prescribed. The officer - who will not be any quarantine officer, but a special officer - will even have power to order the destruction of animals. In many instances, it will be impossible for the officer to satisfy himself without resort to a bacteriological examination. Wherever the circumstances warrant it, we may depend upon it that the officer will make such an examination.
– After the explanation of the Minister, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 54, 55, and 56 agreed to.
Clause 57 (Power to destroy diseased animals).
Senator WALKER (New South Wales) it is provided that compensation is to be paid to the owner of an animal destroyed if it is found to be- diseased. I presume that the money will come out of the Treasury.
– Out of the Consolidated Revenue.
– What relation will the compensation have to the value of the animal ?
– Compensation is supposed to mean compensation according to value.
– Is there to be no limit? Suppose a man imported a horse like Poseidon or The Bard* Would the Government give him the value of that horse if it were destroyed f
Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia)
I11- 55]-~ Clause 7 of the Bill provides that-
Nothing in this Act shall be taken to be an appropriation of any public monies.
It appears that we are making provision for the payment of public money by this clause.
– That is not so. It will be necessary to make an appropriation either specially or generally in an ordinary Appropriation Bill to cover the payment of compensation in such cases. It is not by this Bill that money is appropriated.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 58 agreed to.
Clause 59 -
– Under this clause the whole cost of providing passengers with medicines and food when they are in quarantine is thrown upon the ship-owner. If there is authority for this provision I should like to ask what justice” or right there is in it. I understand that many ship-owners - the Peninsular and
Oriental Steam Navigation Company and the Orient Steam Navigation Company, for instance - contract themselves out of laws of this sort by binding their passengers to pay for their own maintenance if they are quarantined. But it is not the practice of ship-owners to enforce this provision of their contract in every case. When one. of the Union Steamship Company’s vessels was quarantined for a considerable time, and the company tried to enforce payment by the passengers there was some difficulty in getting the money from them. But because ship-owners in the past have not always demanded payment that is no reason why we should make a law compelling them at all times, and without any limit, to supply their passengers with medicines, food and luxuries while they are in quarantine. I was rather amused to read that, while this Bill was in another place, an honorable member who got this provision inserted devoted the whole of his sympathies to the unfortunate quarantined passenger. He asked whether it was not hard enough for the passenger to be put into quarantine without making him pay the cost of his maintenance there. The honorable member forgot that the shipowner’s loss is frightful. Not only is his vessel lying idle, not only has he to pay perhaps 100 members of his crew for doing nothing, but, in addition, he has to cable Home for another vessel to carry on the mail contract. An enormous cost is thrown upon the ship-owner in any case without compelling him to pay for the maintenance of quarantined passengers. If this provision were to be inserted it might be to the advantage of some passengers to be quarantined for a few weeks. A man might be coming out to live in a house which might not be ready for him, or to enter into .employment for which he might have to wait for a week or two, or to take up a farm which was not immediately at his disposal. If he were quarantined, instead of losing money, he would be maintained in comfort at the cost of the ship-owner for a few weeks.
– The honorable senator _ speaks of comfort. Has he ever lived in quarantine?
– I have not, but considering that a charge of ios. per day is made for each passenger, which is more than I pay for my lodging, I should say that there ought to be some degree of comfort. The Ormuz was the last large mail steamer put in quarantine. That quarantine cost the owners £7,000. I believe that they treated the passengers most handsomely and even sent them a piano or two, when they wanted a little music. It would be a great mistake to cast on to shipowners any cost or obligation which was contrary to justice. Under some of the State Acts people quarantined on land have to pay their own expenses. Under the Victorian Act, if any person quarantined is too poor to pay the expense, the Governor in Council can remit the fees. Why should passengers on board a ship be treated differently from citizens in a town? The clause will certainly be unjust if no limit is put to it. I quite understand that a shipowner has at command all luxuries and necessaries in the way of food and probably medicines also, and may be able to supply them better and more promptly than the Government could, but T~ cannot conceive why he should go on doing so at his own expense for all time. I hope the Minister will meet me by modifying the clause.
– The point raised is very important. The agreement issued to passengers on the Queensland coast, and also on the southern coast, provides that if they are detained in quarantine they shall pay a certain amount daily to cover expenses to the shipping company.
– If the agreement was enforced in its entirety, would it not be monstrously unjust to the passenger?
– Possibly it might be. On the other hand, there may be cases in which it would be quite fair to charge the passenger with the expenses of quarantine. The conditions attached to the issue of the ticket provide that the expenses are to be limited, so that the passenger knows what in the last resort he will be actually bound to pay. I agree with Senator Dobson that if the clause is to be passed we should stipulate for some limitation of the expenses to be charged against the owners. In many cases that I know of, the companies have not enforced the provision that passengers quarantined in their steamers must pay the expense. I believe that as a rule the companies do not enforce it. If that is so, is there not a danger that they will pass the expense on to the public by charging more for the tickets, if we pass a hard-and-fast law compelling them to bear the expense? They are not in the . steamship business for the good of their “ health, nor for the good of the health of the people of Australia. They are there to make what money they can out of it. If a hard-and-fast rule of this kind is made, the public will have to pay for it. If the clause must be passed, I ask the Minister to consider whether it will not be best for all parties to place a reasonable time limit on the expense, as suggested by Senator Dobson.
– There are reasons why the ship-owners should be compelled to face possible expenditure in order to insure vigilant observance by them of health laws. The business of a ship is to get as many passengers at a payable price as it possibly can, and not to consider whether they are clean or unclean.
– Look at the risk it runs.
– That consideration will be effective if the ship-owners have to face such risks as the expense provided for in this clause, but if they are relieved of all risk of that kind, then their business instincts must lead them to say ‘ ‘ We are relieved of alf trouble on that score.” Senator Dobson will admit that an expenditure of ,£7,000 on quarantine expenses is to a big company like the Orient Steam Navigation Company a flea-bite as compared with an expense of 7s. a day to an ordinary labourer for his own maintenance in quarantine. That cost would be a dreadful hardship to a labouring man who, hearing that Australia was a good place to come to, sold his household goods, and gathered together a few pounds to bring his wife and family here, expecting, after paying their passages, to have .-£5 in his pocket when they landed.
– Why should the shipowner pay for that man’s maintenance in quarantine ?
– Because the ship-owner is in some measure responsible. He may by negligence have contributed to the causes for quarantine, although I do not say that that would necessarily be so/ If, however, we relieve the ship-owner of those obligations, we reduce the incentive to him to be vigilant and careful as to whom he takes on board. I have read the agreement to which Senator St. Ledger refers, and I know that if it were enforced in full it would be absolutely tyrannical and unjust. It is most extraordinarily one-sided. The passenger has no rights at all, while from top to bottom the ship-owner has rights and privileges which, fortunately, are not enforced. To their credit it can be said that their treatment of the passengers generally is most generous, courteous, and pleasant, but any man who looked at the agreement and expected it to be enforced would be frightened from travelling at all.
; - I sympathize with the ship-owners in the trouble caused by quarantine, but 1 see a way by which they can minimize it. Nowadays they can insure at Lloyd’s, in London, against almost anything. Therefore they can insure there against the probable expense of quarantine.
– Some of the companies do so.
– We are making too much of this matter, because, as ships have very seldom to go into quarantine, I am sure that the insurance premium on a Lloyd’s policy would not be very high.’ I think that we can therefore let the clause pass.
– When the whole -expense of the quarantining of a ship falls upon the individual ship-owner, it is a very heavy buTden.. In South Australia, in ten years, the cost of quarantining ships has been something like £40,000, or about ^4,000 a year. South Australia has her full share of that business, through Port Adelaide being virtually the first port at which passengers coming from the Old Country by the Suez Canal or by the Cape land in Australia. Consequently, diseases have generally been first discovered, and quarantine has been put into operation, there. Melbourne and Sydney have escaped that trouble in the case of ships coming by those routes. We are going on wrong lines altogether in this matter. The expenses of quarantine ought to be met exactly as lighthouse -and harbor expenses are - by dues on all ships coming to Australia’. The quarantine regulations are for their benefit, and I suggest to the Minister, even at this late stage, that he should consent to strike out this clause;, and take power under the regulations to impose quarantine dues on all ships visiting Australia.
– That would lead to carelessness.
– It would not lead to carelessness, nor -does it do so in other matters. A case actually happened of a ship getting a clean bill of health in
Western Australia!, and being reported as clean on reaching Adelaide. After work had been started, with Customs House officers, lumpers, and tradesmen on board, a case of disease was discovered, and all those lumpers, tradesmen, and Government officials were bundled into the quarantine station. Is it fair, through the medical officers failing to discover disease when the ship arrives, to make the ship-owners responsible for the maintenance of all those people? The thirty or forty lumpers in the case I have mentioned had to be kept by the ship-owners while in quarantine, but they lost their earning power during all that time. That was an absolute loss to them.
– Under this clause it is the passengers and crew that have tobe provided for.
– Under the Merchant Shipping Act the owner has to provide for his crew in sickness or in health. I do not propose to relieve him of that responsibility, but the cost of maintenance of passengers, and even of quarantine stations, ought to be provided by dues imposed on all ships, in the same way as ships have to pay for using our harbors. Every ship that comes to Australia, even though it may never see a lighthouse along the whole of the coast, has to pay light dues. The plan I suggest would be far fairer than to throw the whole burden on one particular shipowner.
– Would the dues be upon the tonnage of the ship ?
– On the tonnage or the passenger capacity.
– Does the honorable senator mean a trust fund?
– The fund would be an independent fund drawn upon for the purpose of maintaining our quarantine stations, and of recouping expenditure upon passengers kept in quarantine. What occurred at Adelaide might occur any day at Melbourne. Workmen and visitors to a quarantine ship might be taken away and put into quarantine at any time. The quarantine laws are for the protection of the people generally, and it should be remembered that a ship-owner has no desire to have disease on board a ship. If I wish to go to Adelaide to-day, I can go by steamer or by rail. If I propose to go by steamer, the shipping agent may say to me, “ There is a danger of something happening to you before you reach Adelaide; we shall not take you.”
But I can go to the booking-office at Spencer-street, purchase a ticket, and get to Adelaide by rail without any questions being asked, and without any obligation upon the railway authorities to keep me when I get to Adelaide. Why should we handicap one mode of transit as against another ?
– There is no analogy. One is internal, and the other external, transit.
– When there were six different States in Australia, the voyage from here to Adelaide might be described as external transit, but since the establishment of Federation, it is internal transit.
– Internal transit by an instrument that travels externally.
– A boat can go from here to Brisbane without getting out of the territorial waters of the Commonwealth.
– But in an instrument which has been beyond the territorial limits of the Commonwealth.
– Not necessarily. Ships are built at Williamstown that have never been out of the territorial limits of Australia. It is all a question of the transmission of passengers from one place to another. If this is to be done in the interests of shipping, the proper thing to do is to impose dues upon all ships.. I believe that ship-owners would be satisfied to have such a scheme adopted, whilst the country would lose nothing by it. Under existing conditions, the Commonwealth would have to maintain quarantine stations when there was no one in quarantine. I believe that by the imposition of reasonable dues, in the way I have suggested, we should be able to cover the whole of the expenses of quarantine in Australia.
– Senator Guthrie has raised a very wide question, and one which I am not sure we can deal with effectively in this Bill. I wish to direct the attention of the Committee to the suggestion made by Senator Dobson. Under sub-clause 2 of this clause it might happen that a reckless officer would pour in medical comforts for passengers wholesale, and Senator Dobson has suggested that the expenditure should be limited to a certain amount. It might be advisable to fix a limit of expenditure, not to be exceeded except in cases of emergency. We know that legislation enforced at a time of panic sometimes leads to an enormous and unnecessary expenditure, and if Senator
Dobson’s suggestion were adopted, there would be a warning to the Minister administering the Act not to incur anything like reckless expenditure. If it were thought that the owners of the ship did not provide sufficient comforts for -passengers, a scared official might provide things that were entirely unnecessary.
– We could not limit the supply of medicines.
– I do not say that we could. A discretionary power should be given to permit of unusual expenditure in cases of ‘emergency, but the mere indication of a limit to expenditure in this direction would act as a warning to officials not to be extravagant.
– A very objectionable feature of the clause is the discrimination between ship-owners and other persons which it involves. If a stranger comes into the country and is sent to a hospital, he must pay his own expenses, but, under this clause, we provide that the owner ‘of a ship must be at the expense of looking after passengers in quarantine. I do not think that Senator Guthrie’s proposal would be objected to by shipping companies, but it would not do away with my objection to the whole thing. We appear to be extremely anxious to put charges on shipping companies, and they are naturally anxious to reduce their charges as much as possible. Honorable senators must remember that if the charges upon ship-owners are increased, they mustbe compensated in some way. We can learn in - this matter even from some of our despised neighbours. I was quarantined in Japan, having arrived in a ship coming from a port declared to be infected with small-pox. When we got to Nagasaki, we were transferred to a quarantine station, supplied with food and clothing, and all at the expense of the Japanese Government. I do not suggest that we should go to that length, but I think we should modify in some way the requirements of this clause, under which the whole cost of providing provisions, medicines, and everything else for passengers in quarantine is thrown upon the ship-owners who have performed their contract in bringing the passengers to their destination. To say that a ship may have disease on board through negligence is unreasonable. Very often small-pox breaks out on a ship after it has been some time> at sea, through passengers opening up infected clothing. That is a verv common means of infection.
A ship’s agents or captain should .not be held liable for disease which may be lurking in passengers’ luggage. For the reasons I have stated, I think there should be some modification of the stringency of this clause.
– Senator Dobson suggested some modification of the clause, but I do not think he explained the way in which he thought it should be modified .
– I think there might be a limit as to time, say, after fourteen days.
– Considerable debate has followed upon the honorable senator’s suggestion, and dealing first with the later speeches, I should like to say that Senator Guthrie’s proposal, that on all shipping coming to Australia certain charges should be imposed to provide a fund for dealing with quarantine, involves a large question of policy and a very radical departure from established principles. I do not think that the honorable senator, or any other member of. the Committee, can expect me, at a moment’s notice, to say that I approve of that policy. It might have many features which, would prove unsatisfactory. We have shipping coming to Australia from abroad, via the Suez Canal, via the Cape, across the Pacific from America, and from the north, or what is called the Far East, and it might happen -that vessels coming from countries in which infectious diseases are most prevalent would obtain a greater benefit under the honorable senator’s proposal than vessels coming from other countries - and at less expense to themselves. The question raised is one which requires great consideration. It could not be dealt with by the Minister in charge of the Senate, and would require the consideration of all the members of the Government. What we are concerned with at the present moment is not so much the general question as to what system shall be adopted to provide for the expense of quarantine, whether that suggested by Senator Guthrie or some other, but as to how the passenger shall stand in relation to financial responsibility when he is on a vessel ordered into quarantine.
– What would happen if he were ordered to a quarantine station ?
– I do not know. I am dealing now with the proposal before the Committee, which is that if a ship is ordered into quarantine, the owners or agents shall be required to provide the passengers with such provisions and medicines as may be necessary during the quarantine period. If we allow the passengers to be transferred to a quarantine station and release the. ship, obviously we mak£ a concession so far as the shipping companies are concerned.
– No, they would have performed their contract.
– We might detain the ship in quarantine for the whole period; but we take power in this Bill to say that we shall let the ship go and take those of her passengers desirous of landing at a particular port, put them into a quarantine station there, and permit the ship with the remainder of the passengers to go on to the next port.
– That would be no concession to the ship-owners. Surely we do not want to keep a ship in quarantine out of pure cussedness ?
– I am saying that we shall have the power, if we choose to exercise it, to detain the ship with all her passengers and crew in quarantine for the full period at her first port of call. In some places it is not only necessary, but it will be obligatory upon the Administration to do that. We submit a provision to enable our officers in such a case to say “ No, we want to quarantine the ship and harass the owners as little as possible. Let it proceed on its voyage. We will take the passengers destined for this port and put them into a quarantine station until such period as may be necessary to show whether or not they are liable to spread infection.” In that case we throw upon the owners of the ship the responsibility of providing suitable provisions and medicines at their expense. It is far better to do that than to detain a ship with the crew and passengers.
– But the Government propose to let a ship go without a sufficient crew to work it.
– I am sure that the honorable senator has not followed what I have said, or the clause to which I referred at an earlier stage. 1 mentioned that we had introduced this provision expressly to avoid harassing vessels by allowing a limited pratique to be given.
– If the majority of a ship’s crew were contacts the Government could not allow them to go.
– In that case the vessel would get another crew;
– That i«. what I ‘mean.
– It a vessel leaves behind its crew and certain passengers, we throw upon the owners the obligation to provide suitable provisions and medicines.
– lt is unjust to do that without limit.
– It is a matter of principle. All I am saying is that, in relation to the matters. referred to by Senator Dobson, the clause applies to only passengers, and to whether they or somebody else shall be responsible for the cost of their provisions and medicines during the quarantine period. So far as concerns strangers, such as visitors, tradesmen, and others to whom Senator Guthrie has referred, they will not be affected bv the provision. Subclause 3 says that a passenger shall not be liable to compensate the owner of the ship, and it does not refer to any one but a passenger. What’ we wish to prevent is the power which is now used by shipping companies of stipulating in the conditions on the back of their tickets that if the ship is ordered into quarantine passengers shall pay the company at certain rates, say ios. a day for a saloon passenger, and 7 s. or 5s. a day for other passengers. I agree with honorable senators it is not often, in fact very rarely, that such conditions are enforced, but, as Senator Trenwith has pointed out, they have the effect, in some instances, especially where there is likely to be any quarantining, of deterring passengers from taking voyages. A passenger ship is generally fairly well provided with provisions and medicine, which are obtained at very reasonable prices, because, as we all know, shipping companies which are in the habit of carrying, passengers call for tenders for the supply of different provisions. They have the best means of providing for an emergency at once - very much better thanif the Government had to appeal to outside contractors to provide necessary provisions and medicines for quarantined passengers. To a ship-owner it does not, after all, mean nearly _ asmuch as it ‘would, mean to anybody else. Moreover, the shipping companies, knowing that they were subject to this responsibility, would be much, more careful to guard against anything which would possibly lead to the outbreak of a disease on a vessel. They would know that, even if they were able to get limited pratique for the vessel. and so enable her to resume her voyage after dropping a few passengers at a port, they would still be liable to provide them with provisions and medicines during the period of quarantine. It would be an additional incentive to the shipping companies to be watchful in that regard. The companies are so placed that they are enabled to guard against this at a minimum of expenditure. To-day insurance companies will issue marine insurance policies covering contingencies of that character, and as the contingencies, especially on some coasts, are of very infrequent occurrence, the premium, would be a very low one. This provision will place comparatively little burden upon the steam-ship companies. I think that we might well set out in the Bill that a passenger shall be free from quarantine charges, and that there shall be no possibility df a shipping company putting such a stipulation on the back of its tickets. That, I think, will best consult the convenience and the position of all parties concerned in these transactions.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) £12.37]. - I listened with some attention to the remarks of the Minister, who, I think, is entitled to the warmest admiration from the Committee for the careful way in which he has avoided dealing with the main issue. The point is not whether the amount to be paid is big or little. It has nothing to do with whether a shipping company can buy provisions or medicines more advantageously than can the Government, and, whilst it may have served a purpose in drawing us away from the point at issue, it has not helped us in the slightest degree to arrive at a decision. The point which is involved in the clause is, who ought to pay these charges? By interjection I asked the Minister what would happen if an ordinary individual were ordered into quarantine on land.
– He has to pay the cost himself.
– If we are going to carry out absolutely the . principle involved in the clause, we ought to call upon the landlord of a house in which we order .a man to be quarantined to pay the cost of his maintenance and medicine. The owner of a ship is, to all intents and purposes, the landlord of a tenement, in which an unfortunate man is quarantined.
– That is a very imperfect analogy.
– It is an exact analogy. In one case a man is ordered into quarantine in a floating house, of which somebody else has control, and that is the quarantine officer.
– The ship-owner may be the cause of that passenger being quarantined.
– And so may the owner of the quarantined house. Unquestionably the owner of a property in this city may be, and not infrequently, the cause of an outbreak of disease. I do not hesitate to say that the outbreak of bubonic plague in Sydney was, if not caused, largely augmented and made more serious by the negligence of the owners of some of the largest properties. there. And amongst others the Government, through its Departments, was a contributing cause.
– Were not the propertyowners penalized?
– They were penalized to this extent, that the Government put the properties in order for them at the public expense. To my mind it is exactly similar to a case where, owing to faulty sanitary arrangements, a disease is created in a house of which I am the tenant. Take, for instance, this building, of which the landlord is the State Government. I believe I am correct in saying that its sanitary arrangements leave something to be desired. Suppose that, as the result of imperfect sanitation, an epidemic disease occurred here, would we turn round and charge the Government of Victoria with the cost of maintaining the. members of this Parliament and the staff of each House?
– The idea is a good one.
– I. venture to say that my honorable friend would be the last man in Australia to advocate that. That is an absolute parallel. In one case it is proposed to place the responsibility of maintenance upon the owner of the ship, simply because he is the owner.
– Because he owns and controls the ship.
– He may or may not be responsible for the outbreak. We ought to apply the same compensation to the owner of a tenement on land.
– Then propose an amendment.
– No, the idea is so absurd in one case that I marvel that any one should endeavour to support it in the other. I have not heard the Minister venture to say that this proposal can be justified - that .it is ethically sound. The most which he has said in that direction is that it obtains somewhere else.
– No, I did not say that. I said that it was the practice .already, notwithstanding a stipulation to the contrary on the tickets, and that therefore we are not doing much harm in consulting the balance of convenience.
– All I can say is that in attempting to throw this responsibility upon one man, with whom perhaps the law can more conveniently deal, we are sacrificing that which is just on the wretched expediency to which Senator Trenwith apparently attaches so much importance. I expect the Minister to give a good, sound reason why we should cast this obligation upon a ship-owner, unless he can be proved to have been, by his negligence or wilful act, the cause or a contributing cause of the outbreak of the disease. I see no more justification for putting a shipowner to this expense than I do in the case of the owner of a house in which a quarantinable disease has broken out.
– I cannot quite follow Senator Millen’s analogy between a landlord and a ship-owner. I have no particular sympathy with landlords, but I have noticed that where houses are quarantined it is quite as much due to the habits of the tenant as to the inaction of the landlord. I think it is unfair to expect passengers by a steamer or a ship to contribute more than a fair share of the cost of preventing the spread of a disease by their detention in quarantine. What does the Commonwealth itself propose to do to prevent the spread of disease? First, it will appoint a number of officers to exercise supervision. Next, it will maintain a number of quarantine stations. When passengers embark on vessels coming to Australia they, of course, are perfectly innocent. Yet, if disease breaks out on board, they are supposed to support themselves in quarantine for, it may be, a long time. Our desire is to have the expense borne equitably as between the parties. I maintain that, so far as the passengers are concerned, they bear their share of the expense in being compelled to remain in quarantine, when, perhaps, their time is precious, and the delay may cause important appointments to be broken. Then take the case of the ship-owners. It cannot be said that they do not take reasonable preventive measures. It is in their interest to do so. To lay up a valuable ship is a serious business for any company. But if a disease, unfortunately, breaks out, the company must bear its equitable share of the expense caused by the misfortune. Three parties are concerned - the Government, the ship-owner, and the passengers. All of them are perfectly innocent. My view is that the shipowner should be called upon to bear the cost of maintaining the passengers while they are in quarantine, because they can most easily distribute the total cost by fixing their freights and fares accordingly.
– That means making the passengers pay ultimately.
– No; it means making the whole travelling public pay. The number of people who travel by sea is so large that they may be said to constitute a fair proportion of the whole population. I think the means provided by the clause is the best for distributing the burden equitably. Through their freights and fares the companies can reach all the public who travel, and compel them to share the cost of quarantine.
– I certainly should not like to convey the impression that I think that ship-owners would intentionally conduce to the importation of disease. Looking at it from a business point of view, it is obvious that the ship-owners’ interest is to transport passengers and freight in the greatest possible number and quantity and with the least trouble. But the penalty of being responsible for the introduction of disease would tend to make the ship-owners additionally vigilant. They would not be quite so vigilant - although not intentionally careless - if this responsibility’ were not attached to them. That is an important consideration. I recollect a very striking instance of the advantage of imposing penalties. Some years ago, in Melbourne, a number of very tall buildings were gutted by fire. The walls stood erect, and were a menace to the public. Parliament had to pass a special’ Act, compelling their immediate demolition. While the Bill was under consideration, I had the honour to introduce a proviso to the effect that if any person were injured whilst working at the demolition,, the contractor should pay at least 10s. a day to such workman during the continuance of his incapacity, to the extent of three years. That was a very heavy, penalty. It was further provided that if anybody should be killed, the contractor should pay his relatives, for three years, 1 os. a day. These provisions seemed to be very arbitrary and cruel to some people. But the result was that during the demolition of these dangerous walls only one man was injured, and he only had his finger broken. It was felt that during the work of demolition, in all probability a number of person’s would be killed or injured. But the responsibility cast upon the contractors had the result of making them so careful that nobody was injured to speak of.
– -As to the expense that would be entailed upon ship-owners under this clause, take the case of a vessel coming from Colombo to Fremantle. Say that the voyage occupied fourteen days. The ship might be put in quarantine for twenty days. That would mean that, instead of having to find food for the passengers for fourteen days, the owners would have to find food for them for five weeks, in addition to the great expense cast upon them through their vessel being held up. If must be remembered that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred the ship-owners would be perfectly innocent. They ought not to be penalized in this manner. We should not differentiate between ship-owners and private individuals to such an extent.
– I feel so strongly that this clause is not just, and that the Minister has not shown that it is necessary, that I have been endeavouring to draft an amendment. I think the case would be met by inserting after the word “ shall “ the words- “for a period not exceeding fourteen days.” But it has been suggested to me that we might cast upon the ship-owners the responsibility of bearing one-half the quarantine expenses. The Minister would have to decide, if this amendment were carried, whether the passengers or the Government should pay the other half. I move -
That after the word “ prescribed,” line 7, the following words be inserted, “ In the case of the crew the whole cost, and in the case of passengers one-half the cost, of such provisions and medicines shall be borne by the owner or agent.”
– This is an entirely new suggestion. The question that has been at issue is not whether the cost should be divided, but as to whether or not the passengers should be compelled to pay. The question whether the passenger himself is responsible should guide us in determining where the responsibility should lie. It is not the passenger, in the majority of instances, who is responsible. Generally, the responsibility rests largely with the vessel, when a ship is ordered into quarantine. Suppose a vessel comes to Australia from Central America, and precautions have not been taken to guard against yellow fever. Suppose that some passenger, who took every precaution to guard against yellow fever, is afflicted by it while travelling on the vessel. Is he to be penalized because those responsible for the ship were careless ?
– Suppose that a passenger makes false representations to the shipping company, and is the means of introducing a disease on board?
– If passengers are not responsible, we cannot equitably make the cost fall on them. We necessarily take into consideration the fact that the ship has stores, which can be drawn upon. There is the other fact, also, that it is the general practice that the shipping companies do not call upon their passengers to pay while they are in quarantine. That may be taken to be an indication that the cost to the shipowners is not so large, and that the oppression is not so great as some honorable senators would have us believe. All that we do in this clause is to set it down that a passenger is not liable,- notwithstanding any condition that may appear upon the ticket issued to him by the shipping company. We are not altering the present practice, although we may be altering the law.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.
– It is not possible to lay down a hard-and-fast rule that would be absolutely just and equitable to all concerned. We have consequently, considering the circumstances of all parties: to do what we think will be for the balance of convenience and justice. It is a very much greater hardship to .individual passengers to be liable to pay the expenses of quarantine than would be any charges that would be imposed upon a shipping company. That is well illustrated by the fact that the shipping companies do not now as a rule exercise the power which they claim under their agreements with passengers to call upon the passengers to pay these expenses of quarantine.
– In view of their generous conduct, why enforce this law against them?
– This provision does not upset the existing practice. Prima facie it is not an unjust provision, but it will show the passenger that any stipulation upon the back of his ticket to the effect mentioned in the clause is of no force or effect. As Senator Walker pointed out, shipping companies have their different accounts, and it is only natural for them to insure against loss of any kind. A problematical loss through the quarantining of a ship, which can only occur very infrequently in Australia, could be guarded against by the companies by the payment of a very small insurance premium, and there would be no necessity for them to recoup themselves for possible expenses by an extra charge for passenger tickets. Senator Dobson’s amendment would throw directly upon the passengers an obligation which the shipping companies do not now insist upon. To say that half the cost is to be borne by the company and half by the passengers-
– By the State, if the honorable senator likes.
– We cannot very well make that provision,, which is just as new and far-reaching as is Senator Guthrie’s proposal. We find an established practice, and what is wrong in legislating that it shall continue ? How can it be an unjust proposal? I admit that it does not perfectly and mathematically dispense justice between all the parties concerned, but, as we cannot do that, what is there wrong.in saying that we accept the facts as they are and enact that they shall remain so? By proposing to halve the responsibility, Senator Dobson is putting the passenger in a very much worse position at law in the future than shipping companies have put him in in the past.
.The Minister is asking the Committee to take advantage of the generosity of shipowners in the past. In one instance a company tried to get money out of the passengers, and could not. Diseases are increasing and becoming more troublesome, ships are being made linger, and the number of passengers carried is increasing every year, and so in the future the obligation which the ship-owners have voluntarily taken upon themselves may become exceedingly onerous. They may find the selves saddled with the maintenance of large numbers of passengers in quarantine for very long periods, and the passengers may be making money while living at their expense. Because ship-owners have generously refrained from insisting on the observance of the compact printed on the back of the -tickets, the Minister thinks himself justified in making provision in this Bill for all time that they shall not charge passengers for their maintenance in quarantine. In every case, no matter how long quarantine may last or how innocent the ship-owners may be, no matter what precautions have been taken to keep out disease, the Minister proposes that the owners shall pay the whole cost. We may have, five or ten years hence, an historical case in which hundreds of people have to be kept by a ship-owner for an unlimited and unreasonable period. While I agree that no clause which I could frame would mete out equal justice to all parties, yet my amendment is far more just than the clause is. It puts a certain, obligation upon the ship-owner, and I would suggest that a certain obligation should also be put upon the Commonwealth. It would be a little hard that a number of passengers, quarantined for weeks owing to one careless passenger coming on board the ship when he ought to have stayed at home, should have to pay for their own maintenance, seeing that the quarantine is insisted upon for the benefit of the public of Australia. If a shipowner pays half the cost, surely the Commonwealth or the public should pay the other half. I “do not suggest that the passengers should pay.
– If any expense is thrown on the Commonwealth, the Government will be put in the hands of outside contractors, who, in such emergencies, will be able to charge almost what they like.
– I am perfectly willing to place upon the ship-owner the responsibility of supplying everything necessary for as long as the Minister likes. That is quite in accord with the convenience and fitness of things, and “is one of the risks that the owner of the quarantined ship might reasonably be expected to undertake, but not entirely at his own expense. Make the ship-owner provide what is necessary, and enact that if he does not the Governor-General may provide it, but let us share the cost with him.
– This clause as it stands is in a much better form than it would be if. amended as proposed by Senator Dobson. Considerable expense will be borne by the public in the upkeep of the quarantine stations. If, in addition, we throw upon the public the expense of attendance on, and maintenance of,, a large number of sick passengers, as well as of a much larger number who are not sick, it will mean a heavy charge upon the taxpayer.
– Ought all that expense to fall upon the ship-owner?
– I think it should, because unless we hold the shipowner responsible for food, medicine, and attendance for people who are in his charge, the public will be taking off bis shoulders an obligation which he has contracted for, and which the public have no right to be asked to meet.
– It ought to fall on the ship-owner, but he ought to be recouped some, if not all, of the cost.
– The public money spent in the maintenance of the quarantine stations will lessen the cost to the ship-owner very considerably. The public have to supply medical advice, in addition, in some instances.
– The ship has to provide and pay for the medical officer in cases of quarantine under this Bill.
– I am glad that that is so. The best shipping companies trading to Australia have medical officers on board their ships. If the public had to provide medical assistance it would be taking upon itself a responsibility which ought rightly to belong to the ship-owner.
– On our own land ?
– The very disease that necessitates quarantine may have been brought here through carelessness or want of ordinary sanitary precautions or medical skill on board the ship. We should not play into the hands of shipping companies that are too niggardly to supply their ships with medical officers. If sanitary or quarantine dues were imposed on all ships, it would considerably lessen the total expense to shipowners, and they would then have no temptation to conceal the fact that there was disease on board. If they know that they may be responsible personally for quarantine expenses they may be tempted to conceal the existence of disease on board until it is too late. They would have no such temptation if sanitary or quarantine dues were exacted from all shipping. Failing the adoption of that scheme, the Minister will be very foolish to alter the clause in the direction suggested by Senator Dobson. A certain amount of responsibility must be fastened upon the ship-owner for the maintenance of passengers whom he contracts to land, or otherwise the
Commonwealth may have demands made upon its revenues which should not be made. I believe that the real object which Senator Dobson has in view in the amendment is to free the ship-owner of a responsibility which he practically contracts to undertake when he books a passenger for a certain port.
– The premium on an insurance policy against the risk of quarantine would notbe heavy to the ship-owner.
– Why should he insure when we can make the necessary provision ourselves?
– I do not mind who does it, but I do not see why the shipowner should not pay for insurance against this risk. I do not suppose that the insurance premium for a single voyage would be more than one-half per cent., and therefore in the case where the Orient Steam Navigation Company had to pay£7,000 for quarantine, a premium of£35 would have covered that risk. It is exceptional for a ship to have to go into quarantine.
– It would mean £35 for each ship of that size.
– The ship-owners will take very good care to charge the amount of the premiums to all persons who ship goods by or take passages on their ships. Quarantine is a most legitimate insurance risk. I have great sympathy with Senator Dobson’s amendment up to a certain point; but the honorable senator proposes a divided responsibility. The suggestion he now makes is that the Government shall bear half the cost,’ and the shipping company the other half, and some of us know the difficulty of getting money out of a shipping company. When, with my people, I was going from Australia to England in a sailing ship, we were detained in quarantine for about six weeks at Riode Janeiro, and it was not until years afterwards that my father could get back from the shipping company the expenses to which he was put in that port. If we can force the shipping companies to insure against this risk, we shall have done a public good. I hope Senator Dobson will withdraw his amendment.
– After the discussion that has taken place, it would be wise for the Government to consider the matter of the collection of quarantine fees. The principle of the proposal I have suggested is not new. Honorable senators are aware that municipal councils and local authorities throughout the States are in the habit of levying general health rates, and all I suggested was that we should apply the same principle to shipping.
– The honorable senator thinks that the owners of the ships quarantined should bear the cost?
– No ; I say that the whole of the shipping coming to Australia should bear the cost, and we should levy quarantine dues just as we levy light dues.
– As compulsory insurance ?
– Yes ; and not the gambling insurance advocated by Senator Walker. We all know perfectly well that Lloyd’s is the biggest gambling concern in the world. They take insurance risks at any price which they think will pay them.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral stopped Lloyd’s correspondence ?
– He ought to do so, as Lloyd’s insurance business is just as much a gambling concern, as that carried on by Tattersalls or anybody else. We should know at the end of one year what our expenditure on quarantine would amount to, and there should be no difficulty in striking a rate on all ships coming to Australia to cover the cost. If we subsequently found that we collected too much, or too little, the rate could be adjusted. When we take over the control of lighthouses, uniform light dues will be enforced throughout Australia. We do not ask that ships shall pay for the maintenance of only the lights sighted by them. A general light due is in force for the maintenance of all lights along the coast.
– The honorable senator forgets that a ship is directly benefited by the maintenance of lighthouses, whilst quarantine is established for the direct benefit of the people of the Commonwealth.
– The establishment of lighthouses is certainly a great assistance to navigation, but the primary object of their establishment is to warn ships of dangerous spots in order to save human life. The real object of the establishment of lighthouses is the preservation of human life, and quarantine is established for exactly the same purpose. There should be no particular hurry in passing this clause, and I hope the Minister will agree to postpone it, and take time to consider the whole matter. If he does, I think he will find, that my proposal is the best that can be suggested to meet the difficulty.
– Would the honorable senator confine the quarantine dues to foreign shipping?
– No; I would levy them upon> all shipping trading in Australian waters, and the rate might be in accordance with the number of passengers, or the tonnage of the vessel. I point out that shipping in the Inter-State trade might be the means of carrying disease from one port of the Commonwealth to another. The Bill throws the whole of the charge upon the ship-owner for maintenance, provisions, medicines, and doctor’s attendance, although many of the people kept in quarantine may have no more need for the attendance of a doctor than honorable senators have at the present moment. The clause is quite illogical, but if honorable senators will look at some of the following clauses, they will notice even greater anomalies. I have already referred to the case of the ship that left Albany with a clean bill of health, and on arrival at Adelaide was granted pratique by the health officer. A couple of hours later it was discovered that there was small-pox on board. By this time, lumpers, Customs-house officers, and friends of the passengers had gone on board the vessel, and were quarantined with the passengers and crew. Under- this Bill, those persons would have to pay for their own maintenance in quarantine if they had any money. Clause 62 provides that -
Any person detained in quarantine, who is not one of the crew or passengers of a vessel ordered into quarantine, shall, if he is reasonably able so to do, pay to the Commonwealth the cost of any food and medicines supplied r. him and those dependent on “him during their removal to or detention in quarantine.
In the case to which I have referred, I took, perhaps, more interest in the position of the lumpers than of the visitors to the ship, because they, complained very strongly that while they had to pay for their maintenance at the quarantine station, they were absolutely prevented from earning any money during the fortnight they were in quarantine.
– What rate had they to pay ?
– I think they had to pay 4s. or 5s. per day. The matter is a very complicated one, and should be carefully considered. If the ship-owner is to be held responsible for the maintenance of the crew in these circumstances, he should also be responsible for the labourers employed in discharging the ship.
– Or vice versa.
– Yes ; but under other legislation, the Merchant Shipping Act, the ship-owner is responsible for members of the crew.
– I do not think the provision would apply to lumpers engaged in unloading the vessel. .
– Why not? Is a wharf labourer, engaged to unload cargo at is. an hour, to take the risk of being quarantined at his own expense for a fortnight or for sixty days ? If he must take that risk, he should get more than is. an hour for his labour.
– - That issue is not raised by the clause before the Committee.
-That is so, but it will be raised bv a later clause, which must be discussed in dealing with this matter. I hope the Minister will agree to postpone the clause, that the Government may have an opportunity to consider the imposition of a general rate on all shipping, which I think would be found to be most satisfactory to ship-owners and the public at large.
Senator TRENWITH (Victoria) [2. 26). - This is a Bill to preserve the public health, or, in other words, tol render us, as far as possible, free from the incursion of disease from abroad. We have to consider^ in, addition to the question of meeting the liabilities that accrue when disease is introduced, what provisions are most likely to prevent the introduction of disease.
– The whole point is, who pays?
– That is only one point, but it may affect the more important matter of the introduction of disease. Senator Guthrie, in common with many more of us, has held for years very strong views in reference to the liability of employers. We have succeeded in a number of instances in obtaining legislation making employers liable for accidents to their workpeople. Our experience is that wherever there is in force a strong, or as some people would prefer to say, an arbitrary, employers’ liability Jaw, fewer accidents occur to workmen than where no such law exists, the reason being that the liability imposed by the law makes the employer careful to see that conditions shall not prevail which would conduce to accidents. By the same rule, in making the ship-owner responsible for carrying out this contract to bring goods and people across the sea, we necessarily make him more careful at the port of departure to see that there is no infectious disease on board his vessel.
– That is not required.
– In my opinion it is required.
– Ship-owners will always see to that.
– Very recently we have commenced to import skins from India, mainly for th’e~ purpose of making leather. The skins cannot be produced locally, but are required for tanning purposes. If they are allowed to be imported without any risk to the contractor who brings them here, there will be no care necessary from the business point of view.
– Would not the mere quarantining of the ship be a sufficient penalty ?
– That I admit is a penalty, but I do not think that it is sufficient. The other penalty which is proposed would, at any rate, afford an additional inducement to exercise vigilance and care.
– So would the penalty of hanging.
– Yes, and where the offence is sufficiently great we inflict the penalty of hanging, but that is not necessary in this instance. I do not think that any one believes that a man should have disabilities imposed upon him merely because he is a ship-owner. But the fact that he has sole control of an instrument which sometimes acts as the introducer of disease is an inducement to him to be as careful as possible. And being as careful as is possible, I agree with Senator Millen that innocently he may be made liable to this penalty. But, after all, if innocently he is made so liable the circumstances of the case are such that quite a number of persons are innocently made liable ; and we are not capable of relieving them from their liability. If one passenger goes on board a ship, knowing that he is infected with a disease which may be transmitted, and conceals the fact successfully, he is a guilty person, but the other passengers, perhaps 500 or 600, are liable to infection. We cannot relieve those innocent persons from the penalty for the fraudulent act of that one passenger, but we can create an additional’ inducement for the owner of the ship to take greater precautions.
– The ship-owner may be innocent, and yet it is proposed to make him provide provisions and medicines for perhaps 500 persons-. Can that be called justice ?
– There may be instances where a ship-owner has taken every possible precaution.
– Does not the- honorable senator think that that would be the general rule?
– No, not unless we impose some penalty. The general rule would be that the ship-owner, like everybody else, would follow the line of least resistance .in order to make a profit.
– Is any profit made by having a ship tied up in quarantine?
– Is not that in itself an enormous penalty ?
– I do not think it is. I strongly urge that for preventive purposes it is the safest course to adopt. The ship-owner will take care that he does not suffer. He will average the probable cost which may be entailed by quarantine.. In making his general charges he will provide for that, but still he will have the incentive to be careful in. order that he may make the extra profit by avoiding the penalties. The instances cited by Senator Guthrie of payment for services by fees are not analogous. The services of lighthouses are rendered, not to any particular ship that brings infection, but to every ship that floats. It may happen that one ship does not see a particular light but there is no ship that- does not see some lights which guide it safely into port. Therefore the fees for services which are furnished properly by and in some respects for the benefit of the whole community are very different from the charges and penalties which are inflicted because of special obligations entailed.
– For the benefit of the whole community.
– Yes, but the benefits may be frustrated by the action of individuals. While this obligation is, in some respects, imposed to meat the expenses of this class of risk, it is also a penalty against lack of vigilance, and the possibility of its infliction has a tendency to insure vigilance and care on the part of those at whose mercy we are. We have no control of a ship outside our waters, except such indirect control as possible liabilities of that kind give us.
– Senator Guthrie has again brought under the notice of the Committee what he considers should be the general system applying to the cost of quarantine, and the financial responsibility for it. I repeat that this is not a subject which can be discussed and disposed of in this Committee. So far as Australia is concerned, it may be regarded as a radical departure from any policy which has existed in the States. If it were decided to adopt as a general principle the policy which Senator Guthrie favours, the elaboration of that policy and its embodiment in a complete legislative measure would, not be the work of a day or a week or a month. In the meantime, what is to be done? If the idea of putting quarantine charges on the general body of shipping -coming to Australia is to be seriously entertained, it will have to be discussed by every member of a responsible Government, . and a complete system, equitable in its incidence all round, will have to be evolved, and submitted to Parliament bv that Government.
– Have we not had recommendations in this direction from a responsible body?
– That may be #0, but on the notice-paper there is a Bill in which matters of that kind, dealt with on a consolidated principle, might find a better place. But now that we are dealing with a Quarantine Bill, the whole issue brought up by Senator Dobson is a,s to whether or not the shipping company shall provide the food and medicines required by the passengers when a vessel is quarantined. Senator Guthrie has referred to a case where, under the Bill, a person other than a passenger might be ordered into quarantine and called -upon to defray his own expenses. He has referred to clause 62, which reads -
Any person detained in quarantine, who is not one of the crew or passengers of a vessel ordered into quarantine, shall, if He is reasonably able so to do, pay to the Commonwealth the cost of any food and medicines supplied to him and those dependent on him during their removal to or detention in quarantine.
– And also those dependent upon him.
– As that clause stands, separated from the rest of the Bill, the honorable senator is perfectly correct, but surely he must remember that last night . we inserted in the Bill, with his approval, two provisions which will enable the Government to administer the Commonwealth system of quarantine on two principles. The provisions read as follow -
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 “f quarantine station 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.
Suppose that the Bill is passed as if stands, and that a ship arrives at the Semaphore with a quarantinable disease, and is ordered into quarantine, and that unfortunately some lumpers or other persons who were “ going to be employed in lightering the cargo get on board. Although technically those persons would be quarantinable, and would be in quarantine, yet under the provision we inserted last night our quarantine officer would be able to say, “ I know that these men are not suffering from a quarantinable disease, and therefore, exercising my power, I shall release them from actual detention in quarantine and put them under quarantine surveillance. The men will go back to their homes, and all that they will have to do will be to report themselves to me according to regulation - it may be once a day or more - and so long as I see that there is no reason to apprehend that they will .become vehicles of contagion or infection, they may go about their ordinary avocation.” Would not an officer do that?
– That is the best part of the Bill.
– The honorable senator should remember that in the Bill
Ave have provisions which do not find a place in the legislation of the State where the unfortunate case happened which he has used by way of illustration. When we have the means of enforcing a rigid, almost barbarous, system of quarantine on the one hand, and the up-to-date English system of quarantine surveillance practised in London, on the other hand, we need not, I think, apprehend any such unfortunate consequences as those to which the honorable senator has referred, resulting, as they would if they did happen, in throwing added financial responsibility upon those persons actually, deprived of the op portunity of working. That, I think, disposes of that argument. Let me now come back to what Senator Dobson has suggested. Of course, he recognises that it is impossible, by any hard-and-fast principle to be laid down in the measure, to dispense mathematical justice to all concerned. What we have recognised is that in the past, notwithstanding a. stipulation to the effect that passengers will be called upon to pay their own quarantine allowance to the shipping company should the vessel be ordered into quarantine, it has not been collected. We therefore assume that to the shipping companies the provision of the food and medicines required by law has not been a burden, and has not been so regarded by them. That is an evidence to us that in making this provision we are not doing anything which is likely to be oppressive or unjust to them.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that where the companies refrained, from collecting the whole in the past they will not refrain from collecting half, in the future?
– I think it would mean this : The Committee is being asked to throw an express obligation upon the passenger to pay half. Why should he? This clause simply puts in legislative form the existing practice, and although it may not work out absolutely justly in all cases, we cannot escape, the fact that shipping companies themselves have adopted the practice which this clause prescribes.
– If there were a limit to the term they would be safeguarded to some extent.
– The period of quarantine is always limited so far as is consistent with the health of the community. It would be better to leave the clause as it stands: As to what Senator Guthrie proposes with regard to the expense of quarantine, that, I think, should bc dealt with comprehensively and systematically, and not in a clause like this, which is only intended to determine responsibility as between the ship-owner and the passenger.
– The further this discussion goes, the less satisfactory does the position become, to my mind.
– Hear, hear.
– Senator Dobson approves of that sentiment ; but it is his amendment which is adding to mv complication. The Bill proposes to charge” the whole cost of certain Quarantine operations to the shipping companies. I object strongly to that, because I hold that those operations are carried out, not because of negligence on the part of the ship-owner, or for his benefit, but for the benefit of the community. My view is, therefore, that the community should foot the bill. Then Senator Dobson comes forward and proposes to charge the passenger - an innocent party in nine hundred and ninety cases out of a thousand - with one-half the cost.
– No; I desire that the ship-owner shall pay half and the Government half.
– My view is that the community ought to pay the whole cost of quarantine. The Bill throws the cost upon the ship-owner. Senator Dobson says - throw half the cost on the ship-owner. Then I turn to Senator Guthrie’s proposal, which makes the position a thousand times worse, because he proposes to throw upon the ship-owners collectively the charges arising under this Bill. His proposal would throw upon them, the cost of the internal administration of quarantine.
– Why not ?
– There is just as much reason for throwing the responsibility for local police on the ship-owners. J. am looking to the equities of the case. I must hold that neither Senator Dobson’s proposal, nor Senator Guthrie’s, nor that of the Government, observes the equities. This is a public service, and the Consolidated Revenue is the proper source from which it should be recouped.
– I agree in a great measure with what has just been said by Senator Millen. Honorable senators who have spoken hitherto appear to take up the position that upon the shoulders of the ship-owners should be thrown the whole responsibility in connexion with quarantine. The position seems to be this : A ship takes on board cargo and passengers from Great Britain, and is bound to .land the passengers in good health at a port in Australia. The ship gets a clean bill of health before she leaves London. Every passenger on board is apparently absolutely healthy so far as any human being could discover. Yet on the voyage we will say that typhoid fever is developed. Every member of the Senate at this present moment carries within his system the germs of some contagious disease, which may or may not develop.
– I think we had better adjourn 1
– Let the honorable senator speak for himself.
– I am speaking for myself and for every other member of the Senate. I am trying to apply the eternal principles of justice to ship-owners, as well as to other folks. Ought the ship-owner to be held responsible for the cost of quarantine because typhoid, scarlet fever, smallpox, consumption, or plague has developed in a passenger on the voyage? The shipping company, we will suppose, has exhausted every known method of discovering whether disease exists amongst the passengers, and has’ decided that there is none. A doctor passes the ship, at every port on the way out. Yet any of the diseases which I have mentioned might develop. Suppose that when the vessel arrives at Fremantle, a passenger is found to be down with plague.
– Would not disease be less likely to develop if the ship-owners were careful with regard to water and sanitation ?
– If there were negligence at the port of London, there might be something in that argument. But I am supposing a case where a clean bill of health has been granted at that port. Who is responsible when disease breaks out? Ought the ship to be held responsible, or the community at this end, for whose benefit quarantine regulations are laid down? It appears to me that the people of Australia ought at least to bear some share of the cost.
– We pay the bulk of it. This clause only applies to provisions and medicines for quarantined persons.
– Even those things cost something.
– Why should the people of this country pav for somebody else’s negligence?
– What I have described might happen without anybody’s negligence. I am assuming that there has been no negligence. For whose benefit is the ship quarantined ? For the benefit of the people of Australia. Are we going to ta’ke up the position that we are so independent of international commerce that we will throw upon the ship-owner the full and complete responsibility in every case? I can conceive df a . community which did not care two straws whether it held intercourse with other nations or not. But we are just as much interested in having commercial relations with other parts Of the world as other countries are in having relations with us. There ought to be some give and take. It is for the benefit of the people of Australia that ships are quarantined. Why do we quarantine a vessel that has a case of small-pox on board? For fear that disease may be communicated to the mainland. There was no small-pox when the vessel left England. The disease was developed on the way out. Are wegoing to hold the shipping company responsible for the whole expense in connexion with quarantine? Is that good policy?
– We only hold the shipping company responsible for providing food and medicine.
– The Commonwealth should pay some portion of that cost. The essential point is that the disease breaks out not through the negligence of the company but through unforeseen circumstances, which could not possibly be discovered when the vessel started on the voyage. The ship-owner is not responsible because some individual came on board with a disease concealed somewhere about his corpus, which even a doctor could not have discovered with X-rays. I maintain that the Commonwealth ought to bear some part of the cost of food and medicines for quarantined passengers. I do not agree with Senator Dobson’s amendment, if he wishes to place some part of the responsibility on the shoulders of the passengers.
– I want to compel the Commonwealth to pay half and the shipowners the other half.
– That is a step in advance of the clause. I think that we ought to try to do justice. The Minister said that it was impossible to arrive at mathematical justice, but we are not attempting anything of the kind. We ought to try to get as near a fair deal between man and man as is possible. If half the cost were to be defrayed by the Commonwealth and half by the company, that would be much fairer than the provision in the clause as it stands.
– The ordinary responsibilities
Of ship-owners include the. keeping of a ship clean at sea, the provision of proper food and medical skill, and, if necessary, of medicine for the passengers.
– I do not deny that.
– Then the honorable senator’s arguments have no weight in this case. A ship may have a clean bill of health on leaving London, but some ships take a long time to reach Australia, and, during that interval, all kinds of sanitary abuses may take place on board. Should not the owner be held responsible for that state of affairs ? The public should not be asked to bear the consequent expense when a dirty ship of that kind enters an Australian port, and passengers are landed with disease contracted on board through the want of proper food or medicine, or the absence of a medical officer on board. It is altogether beyond reason to make the Commonwealth pay to nurse those people back to health, and allow the shipping company to be free of all responsibility after dumping them down in Australia. Some shipping companies now take every precaution to keep their ships clean and the passengers healthy, but if Senator Dobson’s amendment were agreed to they would no longer have any interest in doing so.
– Would the insanitary condition of a ship develop small-pox?
– It might give rise to typhoid fever. A number of diseases may be caused through the want of proper food and drinking water. We have no right to relieve the ship-owner of his proper responsibility. I should like the Minister to adopt the suggestion offered by Senator Guthrie and myself to impose quarantine or sanitary dues on all ships coming to Australia. The Minister speaks as if that suggestion had been sprung upon him, but it was embodied in a Bill by the Conference of Medical Experts on quarantine matters that sat about three years ago. Even as far back as 1852, at a great international Conference held in Paris, representing all the mercantile nations of the world, a proposition was made and approved of that there should be dues struck upon the tonnage of all shipping entering any port in the world, the money to go towards defraying the cost of quarantine. It is, therefore, no new principle. It would mean a very small tax on the shipping, and would certainly be the best means of preventing the introduction of disease to Australia., for no shipping company or shipping master would have any temptation to conceal the fact that there was disease on board. Under present arrangements, there is undoubtedly a strong temptation to concealment. It is very difficult to have thorough inspection of ship- ping as it arrives. Passengers are anxious to get ashore, everything is bustle and haste, and the medical officer who has the audacity to detain a ship to make a thorough medical examination is keelhauled by the press and by those on board for causing delay. A thorough inspection necessitates considerable delay. All risk of concealment of disease on board would be avoided if quarantine dues were imposed on all shipping, and sufficient funds would be available to defray the expense of the Quarantine Department.
– There would soon be sufficient objects upon which to spend the funds. There would be more sickness and more diseases.
– I do not think so. The experts at the Conference held about three years ago, including such eminent authorities as Dr. Ramsay Smith, of Adelaide, the late Dr. Gresswell, of Melbourne, and Dr. Ham, of Brisbane, recommended that there should be only three quarantine grounds in Australia. Those, gentlemen were all employed by the States, and spoke, to a certain extent, on behalf of the States as experts with a thorough “knowledge of the subject. They framed a Quarantine Bill, and their recommendations ought to have considerable weight. I hope the Minister will withdraw the clause, aridintroduce other provisions such as Senator Guthrie and myself have suggested, so as to’ provide sufficient funds to carry out the quarantine law without dipping into the public purse. If he does that, he will have a more satisfactory law than this measure will be.
– I would point out to those who favour the proposition that the Commonwealth should bear the entire expense of supporting persons in quarantine, that a large proportion of passengers coming to Australia are tourists, and it would mean calling upon the taxpayers of the Commonwealth to support those tourists in quarantine. Senator Dobson’s milk-and-water proposal would make the Commonwealth a partner, so to speak, with the Shipping Combine. Can he recall a single instance where a State has entered’ into a partnership of that kind, of the State not being called upon to bear the lion’s share of the expense? In this case, it would certainly be so. If we are foolish enough to enact that the Commonwealth shall bear half the cost of maintaining persons in quarantine, the taxpayers of the Commonwealth will be called upon, not only to bear 50 per cent, of the expense in the first instance, but afterwards to bear 100 per cent, through the medium of higher freights and fares. If we have to make a choice, we should adhere to the much more preferable course of making the shipping companies bear the entire burden, and allow them to resort to whatever methods they choose to adopt to recoup themselves. There is no other wayout of the difficulty. While Senator. Guthrie’s proposal to levy shipping dues may have been adopted by the Conference of Medical Experts’, I can see a flaw in it. It will be necessary in the future, as it has been in the past, for the quarantine authorities to deal with diseases altogether apart from those which are brought here by ship, and it will be hopeless to attempt to draw a line as to cost between the two cases. Senator Guthrie’s proposal will mean calling upon the shipping companies to pay in the shape of increased tonnage dues the cost of the whole quarantine system of Australia, although they may not - be responsible for the whole of the cases which are the subject of quarantine. If the companies are called upon to pay increased tonnage dues for that purpose, they will at once increase their freights and fares. It will be most unfair to ask the shipping companies to bear the whole cost of the quarantine system. The clause, in its present form, is the best possible compromise, even though there are difficulties in the way, and I will support it.
.- In order to make the amendment complete, I propose to add the words “ and the other half by the Minister.” I have never believed in putting any part of this expense on to the unfortunate passengers, because it is an expense that they do not prepare for, and which some of them might be unable to bear. As the quarantine is undertaken in the interests of the public, the Government ought to pay the expense. It is only by way of compromise that I am suggesting that half Bie cost should fall upon th* ship-owner. If, in the past, the ship-owner has borne the whole cost, he may possibly no: think it unfair to b*» called upon to pay half in- the future.
– v/hat has the honorable senator to say to the evidence given before the Conferences I have referred to ?
– Senator de Largie always assumes that the fault is with the ship-owners. In this case he assumes that the ship-owner should bear the whole of the expense because he might have prevented the introduction of disease. Senator Stewart was far more equitable and fair. He pointed out that small-pox might break out on board a ship, although there might have been no indication of its existence on board at the port of departure. In such a case, how can honorable senators claim that it is fair to make the ship-owner bear the whole of the expense? I ask leave to amend my amendment by adding the words “ and the other half by the. Minister.”
Amendment, by leave, amended accordingly.
– I have listened very carefully to the discussion on this clause, but the more it is debated the more I am convinced that the best way out of the difficulty is to pass the clause as it stands. Senator Dobson. now proposes that half the cost shall be borne by the shipowner and half by the people of Australia. I remind the honorable senator that the people of Australia will, in any case, have to pay their fair share of the expense of quarantine if this Bill becomes law. The cost of quarantine in the various States under the administration of the States Governments has already been referred to. In speaking on the second reading of the Bill, I supplied figures on the subject more up. to date even than those supplied by the Minister. I believe that if we take over the whole of the administration of quarantine the annual cost will be increased, and the people of Australia must bear the expense. To listen to Senator Dobson one would think that the whole cost of quarantine must fall on the ship-owners. That I deny. Senator Stewart emphasized the fact that a ship might receive a clean bill of health on leaving a port in the Old Country bound for Australia, but he overlooked the fact that, owing perhaps to the negligence of the ship’s officers, a disease might break out during the voyage.
– Or the negligence of the ship-owner in failing to provide proper food for passengers and crew.
– I was coming to that. Disease might break out through the failure of the ship-owner to provide medical attendance. I have travelled on many ships, and ithas often occurred to me that disease might break out on board a ship during a long voyage at a time when medical attendance could not be procured. The profits derived by shipping companies are such that I think the employment of medical officers on board vessels might be very much more general than it is. Senators Guthrie and de Largie have, no doubt, given very careful consideration to matters connected with navigation, and they have had the advantage, as members of the Navigation Commission, of considering many details of the subject. I understand that they approve of the levy of quarantine dues on all ships, whether they have a clean bill of health or not. That is a proposal I cannot support. If we were to impose quarantine dues according to the tonnage of vessels, irrespective of whether there is disease on board or not, we should be encouraging negligence on the part of ship-owners and the officers of ships.
– Our navigation laws would prevent that:
– I fail to see how our navigation laws could prevent something which has already occurred.
– They would prevent carelessness of the kind to which the honorable senator has referred.
– I cannot agree with the honorable senator. If a quarantine rate is to be imposed on a ship whether the owner or captain take precautions to prevent the introduction of disease or not, there will be no incentive to them to continue to exercise care.
– Disease might be introduced into Australia in a perfectly clean ship.
– That may be so. but I am speaking of the generality of cases. Notwithstanding the expert evidence that has been submitted, I am disposed to think that the imposition of a quarantine rate on all ships would only accentuate the difficulty. I think the best course I can follow is to support the clause as it..stands. Under it the cost will be fairly and equitably divided between the ship-owner and the people of Australia, and the latter will in other ways be called upon to bear their fair share of the expense of administering the quarantine law.
– We have had a very interesting debate upon this clause, but the more it is discussed the more confirmed I am in the opinion that the clause as it stands, although it may not contain all the elements of strict justice, is really the best provision “we could adopt. Those who have had experience of ships, and particularly of ships carrying passengers, must agree that, at times, gross and culpable, if not criminal, negligence has been shown by shipowners. I remember that when, a little over twenty years ago, there was a rush of people from Adelaide to Melbourne, it was almost impossible to secure a passage. Passengers were accommodated on the tables, under the tables, and on the seats, as well as in the bunks, or wherever else they could be crammed, and they did not know whether their next-door neighbour was free from disease or not. The same thing has occurred in connexion with the passenger traffic between Melbourne and Western Australia. Let me remind honorable senators that many vessels engaged in the Far-East trade also visit Australia. There are pilgrimages of the native populations of the Eastern countries from one place to another at different times, when people are crowded in vast numbers into spaces, and under conditions, in which it would be unreasonable to expect them to be healthy. Then, without proper disinfection, the vessels that have carried these pilgrims take on board other passengers for Australia.
– The honorable senator should not overlook the fact that the same law would apply to a vessel leaving Adelaide for Melbourne.
– I admit that, and I have already said that somewhat similar conditions have existed in connexion with the carriage of passengers from Adelaide to Melbourne, and from Melbourne to Fremantle.
– There was bad supervision.
– That does not alter the fact. The public need to be protected, and if disease breaks out as a result of the conditions which the shipping companies permit to exist in carrying on the passenger traffic, they should be compelled to contribute to the expense involved in connexion with quarantine. I firmly believe that Senator Dobson’s effort to amend the clause is due to his natural inclination to do what he believes to be just and right. The honorable senator is so eager to do what is right that he very often puts himself in a silly position. The principle of this quarantine legislation, as has been explained over and over again by the Minister, is to deal as leniently as possible with shipping. If a vessel is quarantined, the owner is required under this clause to provide food, medicine, and some kind of medical attendance, for the passengers during the period of quarantine. If, in the interests of commerce of the Commonwealth or of the owners of the vessel, it would be better to land the passengers and quarantine them at a particular port, the shipowner is required to provide food, medicine, and medical attendance of some kind, for those passengers, when the ship may go on its way rejoicing, because there can be no doubt that it would ‘be a cause of rejoicing to the owners. Senator Dobson, by his amendment, is endeavouring to do more than the Almighty attempts to do for shipping companies.If a vessel leaves Great Britain, America, or Colombo for Australia, and, by stress of weather, is detained for a week or a month in any part of the world, it may be in mid-ocean, the Almighty does not step in and say’ that the shipping company need not provide food, medicine, and some kind of medical attendance for the people on board the vessel. If it is fair that in these circumstances the ship-owner should bear the expense, and he is willing to do so, is it not reasonable to ask that he should bear the expense in the circumstances set out in the clause,when what is done may be largely in his own interests?
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the clause stand part of the Bill - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
– I am very glad to be able to say that, with the leave of the Senate, I am now in a position to make an important announcement with reference to the mail contract which has been the subject of negotiations for some time. I am happy to say that the negotiations, which have proceeded diligently since the tenders were received, have resulted in the consummation of a contract which I venture to hope will commend itself to honorable senators as well as to honorable members in another place. My honorable friends, of course, have a recollection of the failure of the contract entered into with Sir James Laing and Sons. Consequent upon that failure advertisements were inserted in the press, and they resulted in a certain number of tenders being received. One tender was regarded as being somewhat of a speculative character, and did not receive serious consideration. There was a tender, however, from the Orient Steam Navigation Company, which, to the mind of the Government, opened up the greatest possibilities for successful negotiations as regards a new contract. Negotiations proceeded, and the contract which is about to be laid before the Senate is a preliminary or provisional contract entered into by the Postmaster-General on behalf of the Government of the Commonwealth, subject, of course, to the confirmation of Parliament. Perhaps I may be permitted to remind honorable senators of our present position with the Orient Steam Navigation
Company. There is in existence a contract which was made on 25th April, 1905, and extends to the 31st January, 1908, and the subsidy which is paid thereunder, excluding the service from Sydney to Brisbane, is £120,000. Honorable senators are aware that an arrangement was entered into with the company by the Government of Queensland for the extension of the mail service to Brisbane at a cost of £26,000 per annum, a proportion of which, according to a mileage system - £4,000 or £5,000 - is contributed by the Commonwealth. The period of transit provided for is 696 hours between Naples and Adelaide. It will be seen that if we add together the two subsidies the total liability of the Commonwealth and Queensland is £146,000 ; but it should be borne in mind that the period of transit between Naples and Adelaide is 696 hours. The. contract, amongst other things, contains certain provisions as to insulated space and refrigerating machinery which I need not detail. It also contains a provision that only white labour shall be employed after the 31st May, 1905.
– And no bar to the employment of union labour?.
– No, but I have beep referring to the current contract. What honorable senators, no doubt, are most desirous of hearing about is the preliminary contract which has been entered into for the future service, a copy of which I intend to lay upon the table this afternoon. I propose now to give as briefly as I possibly can the principal features of the new contract between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Orient Steam Navigation Company Limited for a mail service via the Suez Canal. It is for a period of ten years from February, 1910 . The subsidy is to be £170,000 per annum. The service is to be extended to Brisbane.’ The route is to be from an approved port in the United Kingdom, via Brindisi and the Suez Canal, calling at Colombo, Fremantle, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane; returning by the same route to the approved port in the United Kingdom.
– Is Hobart in it?
– I shall have something to say about Hobart later on.
– I hope it is some thing nice.
– It is bound to be nice. The speed is to be increased sufficiently to reduce the period of transit between Brindisi and Adelaide from 696 to 638 hours, and in the opposite direction from 696 to 650 hours, both periods being the same as provided in the new contract -between the Imperial Government and the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. The contract is to be commenced with five new steam-ships of not less than 11,000 tons register, and having a speed of at least 17 knots, to be built to plans and specifications to be approved by the Government, and to provide insulated space in each steam-ship of not less than 2,000 tons of .40 cubic feet per ton. An additional new steam-ship, equal in, every ‘ respect to the new steam-ships with which the service is to be commenced, is to be provided and employed within eighteen months of the commencement of the contract, and another similar steam-ship is to be provided during -the sixth year of the contract. A fleet of eight steam-ships is to be provided and maintained -for the purposes of the contract, and the sixth and seventh new steam-ships are to replace two others of < least tonnage - not being new ships - previously used. All the’ steam-ships employed in the service are to be provided with refrigerating machinery and appliances, and in the new ships these are to be of the most modern and. approved pattern. At least six of the mail ships are to call at Hobart during the months of February and May inclusive in each year. White labour only is. to be employed; and no discrimination is. to .be exercised between unionists andironunionists . in the . employment of such, labour. Provision has been made for the purchase by the Government of the steamships employed at any time during the term of the contract, and no steam-ship used, for the service is to be chartered or sold, without the consent of the PostmasterGeneral. The contract provides that in the event of any other competing line of mail ships establishing an improved and accelerated service via the Suez Canal, the* contractors, if so required, shall at any time after the fifth year of the contract, provide a service equal to such, improved service, the additional subsidy and .extended period of service to be determined by mutual agreement or settled by arbitration. All the steam-ships used under the contract, except any that may be temporarily employed, . are to be fitted with wireless telegraphy apparatus when a shore station has been established in Australia. Provision is made that ‘the plans and specifications of the newships are to be submitted for approval within three months of the ratification of the contract by Parliament, and that the building of the steam-ships is to be commenced within three months of the approval of the plans and specifications, and is to be proceeded with with all reasonable despatch. The contractors have, in accordance with the conditions of tender, made a deposit of £10,000 and will enter into a bond, in substitution for that already, given, with approved sureties for £50,000, to be increased to ,£100,000 if sufficient progress is not made with the building of the steam-ships. In addition to provision for insulated chambers and refrigerating machinery and appliances, the following stipulations are contained in the contract with respect to perishable freight, namely, (a) the maximum rate to be charged for butter to the United Kingdom is fixed at id. per lb. net. ; (b) the maximum rate for fruit is to be 60s. per ton of 40 cubic feet; (c) a temperature of 15 degrees is to be maintained in butter chambers throughout the voyage, unless any higher temperature is approved by the PostmasterGeneral ; (d) separate chambers are to be provided when butter is carried, and no fruit, cheese, or other odorous articles are to be carried in the same chamber as the butter; (e) self-recording thermometers of approved pattern are to be provided, and, as far as possible, maintained in good working condition throughout the voyage; (/) under normal conditions, no differentiation is to be made in the rates of freight fromthe United Kingdom for the ports of theCommonwealth, and no. differentiation is to. be made as between the ports of the Commonwealth in respect to the rates of freight.charged for butter or fruit to the United. Kingdom. That is to say, of course, that; the same rates of freight are to be charged, to Fremantle as are charged to Brisbaneor Hobart.
– A very valuable pro-‘ vision.
– Are those rates to. continue for the whole ten years?
– That is the maximum. The contractors must withdraw from any combine or commercial trust that may be determined to be illegal, or in default the contract may be cancelled. The contractors, under a separate agreement, undertake ‘ to continue the existing mail service on the present terms and conditions from February, 1908, when the current contract expires, until the commencement of the new’ contract in February 1910, unless any earlier date may be agreed upon.
– Practically the arrangement is for twelve years, then?
– The provisional contract which I am laying on the table commences in February, 19 10, but an interim contract has been entered into to fill up the hiatus between February, 1908, and 1910.
– Under present conditions ?
– Upon existing conditions. The contractors also agree to the insertion in this interim contract of the provision with respect to combines or commercial trusts. The mail ships employed under the principal contract are to fly the flag of the Commonwealth, provided the Imperial Government consent and the contractor’s position is not prejudiced thereby. I do not desire to enlarge upon the feature of this agreement with respect to combines and trusts. I shall have an opportunity on subsequent occasions of showing honorable senators that it is a most valuable provision. This condition we have had inserted, not only in the new contract commencing February, 1910, but also in the interim contract, because honorable senators will be aware that a combine or association - whichever they choose to call it - does exist at the present time among some of the lines of steam-ships in regard to the carriage of perishable produce.
– Does the interim contract include Brisbane as a port of call?
– The present contract, whatever it is, in relation to Brisbane as a port of call, will continue until the main contract comes into force. We have entered into an agreement for the extension of that particular contract so as to fit in with the commencement of the new contract.
– Is there any surety with the bond which is to be given?
– What is my honorable friend referring to?
– To the bond for
– There are to be approved sureties.
– Is there any provision for the payment of Australian rates of wages on the Australian coast?
– I do not desire at the present moment to go into that aspect of the matter. In the statement which I have made I have summarized the main features of the new contract.
– Is the Commonwealth to shoulder the responsibility for the ships calling at Brisbane?
– At present the Commonwealth makes a contribution towards the £26,000 which is paid to the company for calling at Brisbane, the contribution being based on a mileage rate. That arrangement is to continue as hitherto, and the Commonwealth has stipulated for a similar service in the new contract.
– After 1910?
– Yes. Thereafter the Commonwealth will undertake the full responsibility of the complete service to Brisbane, paying a subsidy of £170,000 per annum.
– During the hiatus period will the vessels go to Brisbane?
– During the interim period will the freights be the same to the different ports?
– The terms and conditions of the contract, with the modifications to which I have referred, will be the same as at present.
– Who is to determine whether a trust or combine is in existence?
– If I understand the Minister rightly, these vessels are to be of 11,000 tons “ register.”
– We provided for that in the previous contract.
– Yes, we did. I now propose to lay upon the table a complete copy of the articles of agreement which have been entered into between the Government and the Orient Company. The document is headed -
Articles of Agreement under seal made and entered into this fifteenth day of November 1907 between the Honorable Samuel Mauger, His Majesty’s Postmaster-General in and for the Commonwealth of Australia (hereinafter called the Postmaster-General, in which term his suc - cessors in office the Postmaster-General for the time being shall be deemed to be included) on behalf of the said Commonwealth of the first part, Orient Steam Navigation Company Limited whose registered office is at No. 13 Fenchurchavenue in the City of London hereinafter called the contractors (in which term their successors and permitted assigns shall be deemed to be included) of the second part, and the Law Guarantee and Trust Society Limited whose registered office is situated at 40. Chancery Lane in the county of London of the third part.
I shall conclude with a motion in order that the articles of agreement may be immediately printed, and circulated amongst honorable senators. That being done, I propose, by leave of the Senate, to give notice of a formal resolution, which I intend to move on Wednesday next.
– Will the Minister also lay upon the table the notes or memoranda upon which he founded his explanation of the’ new contract, in order that they may be printed ?
– I can hardly do that, because they are merely notes, and are not a complete statement. But I will have proofs of my speech struck off, and circulated amongst honorable senators, before Wednesday. Probably that will answer the same purpose. I beg to move -
That the paper be printed.
– - Mr. President-
– There can be no debate on the motion for the printing of the paper except such as is relevant thereto.
– I wish to support the motion for the printing of the document. In doing so I desire to say that I am sure that every one wishes to see the articles of agreement printed, because, in spite of the lucid statement of the Minister, it contains so many clauses that honorable senators cannot hope to obtain a fair idea of it until they have it in their possession. But, at the same time, I think that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has said enough to make honorable senators feel that there is cause for congratulation regarding the terms of the contract which he has explained. I can say that much, I think, without affirming that there may not be. some details which, when the paper is printed, may appear to some of .us to require amendment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I now beg to give notice, by leave, that on Wednesday next I will move -
That the Senate approves the Agreement made and entered into the 15th day of November, 1907, between His Majesty’s Postmaster-General in and for the Commonwealth of Australia of the first part, Orient Steam Navigation Com” pany Limited of the second part, and the Law Guarantee and Trust Society Limited of the third part for the carriage of mails and services to be performed as therein provided, a copy of which Agreement has been laid upon the Table of the Senate.
Matters have been in a state of absolute rush to-day and I should have preferred further time to deal with the important question of the contract, regarding which I have made a preliminary announcement. I mentioned an interim contract, and it is possible that that may have to be confirmed, but I really did not have a full opportunity of considering that question. I have no doubt, however, that I shall obtain the indulgence of the Senate in order to submit, if necessary, a motion to confirm the interim contract on Wednesday. The first business on Wednesday will be the motion of which I have just given notice.
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– When Senator McColl brought before the Senate this morning the question of the entertainment of strangers in this building, I had not had an opportunity of reading the report in the Age. Having read that report, I have come to the conclusion, in view of previous occurrences, that Senator McColl showed infinitely bad taste in making the statement which he did. There was absolutely no political significance in the gathering. It was not connected with any party, and any man who wished to interfere in a matter of that kind ought to have taken the trouble to ascertain first the nature of the ground that he was treading upon. The gathering of which Senator McColl complained, and concerning which you, Mr. President, appeared to pass some strictures this morning, was arranged by Mr. Mahon, M.H.R., who wished to bring together at lunch the Mayor and several councillors of the City of Richmond and the directors of the Civil Service Co-operative Society. Several members . of Parliament, including Sir William ‘ Lyne, Mr. Watson,- Mr. Fisher, and myself, were invited. Three toasts were proposed - “ The Federal Parliament,” “ Health and Prosperity to the Civil Service Co-operative Society,” and “ The Richmond City Council.” No man in his sober senses could attempt to argue that there was the slightest political significance in any of those toasts.
– The second one had a socialistic flavour.
– I grant that Senator McColl may be a little saturated with individualistic notions, and has a keen desire to cultivate private enterprise and defeat, if possible, certain public institutions which are doing excellent work. But the Civil Service Co-operative Society, above all others, is absolutely free from any political partisanship or significance. Its whole object is the removal of the accursed middleman who is hanging about the neck of the public of the Commonwealth.
– The society is just as good a middleman as are any of the rest.
– There is nothing of a middleman about the society. I know that Senator Mulcahy has no love for it. All the champions of private enterprise are chagrined at the success of that mighty institution, but it has come to stay, and some of those champions of individualism will very soon have to get out of- its road. The society includes in its membership men of all shades of political opinion. On one main question, they do undoubtedly agree - on the relieving of the people of the Commonwealth from the hampering social conditions which are crippling them to-day. The particular speech which was indicated this .morning as having a political significance was one that no man of any shade of politics could take exception to. Its subject was Australian Defence, which concerns the whole of the Commonwealth, and even you, Mr. President, could agree with that speech, inasmuch as you have had a little experience in defence matters. It was infinitely bad taste on Senator McColl’s part to speak as he did this morning, particularly knowing that a short time ago he enjoyed - or at least I think - he did - a gathering df members and their friends, which probably had far greater political significance than had the luncheon to which he has taken exception.
– I was not at that gathering, or at any other.
– I woul’d urge the Vice-President of the Executive Council to issue instructions to the Government Printer to give first consideration to the printing of the contract which has just been announced”” to the Senate, so that it may be circulated to honorable senators before Wednesday.
– I understand that it’ can be circulated to-morrow.
– That is a matter regarding which the President should, give instructions.
– If the printing is not expedited we may not obtain copies of the contract until Wednesday, when it will be impossible to grasp its contents before the debate on it takes place. I shall be glad if you, - Mr. President, will make such representations as will insure its early circulation. . The speech of the Vice-President of the Executive Council on the subject will be very informative and helpful, and I hope that copies of it will also be circulated to-morrow.
– I have had an opportunity of looking into the matter referred to by Senator McColl this morning.
– Are you a shareholder ?
– I am not a shareholder of the society, but I hope that I very soon will be. I would not be a party to any gathering in this building at which words were uttered to offend the feelings of any honorable senator, but if a member of any party, other than the Labour Party, had brought together a gathering similar to that which took place here yesterday, not a. word would have been said about- it in this chamber. I looked in vain in the report for any word uttered there that could offend in the slightest the political susceptibilities of any member of this Parliament. The toast was simply a general one, and Sir William Lyne, in reply,dealt with the all-important question of Australian Defence. . In the name of common sense, where does party feeling come in there? I want to know what motive actuated Senator McColl - I am sorry that he is not present - in bringing the matter before the Senate this morning? If a member of his own party had entertained a few visitors, how would he. have liked it if a member of the Labour Party had taken the’ action which he took this morning? The only political significance that I can see in what took place is the fact that a member of the Labour Party dared to entertain a few- friends within the precincts of Parliament House.
– What about Sir John Forrest, who is always entertaining people?
– I do not want to mention names, but during the short time that I have been a senator there have been within the precincts of this building gatherings organized by members of this Parliament that had much more political significance than . this one had. Senator McColl has certainly lost his sense of dignity when he makes such an accusation as that a portion of the building above this chamber was yesterday turned into something. Eke a restaurant. With all due re:spect to the strictures which you, Mr
President, this morning passed upon the proceedings of yesterday, I believe that it might be wise to determine upon some, code whereby every one will be governed. Senator McColl ought, at the first opportunity, to withdraw the imputations which he has cast upon the honorable member of another place, who was responsible for yesterday’s gathering.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 November 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1907/19071115_senate_3_41/>.