3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Can the Minister of Home Affairs furnish any information this morning with reference to the inspection of and report upon the Launceston. Post Office, promised to me some time ago?
– The inspection with a view to report, in regard to the state of affairs at the Launceston Post Office, which was promised at the request of the honorable senator,has taken place, andI am informed, bythe PostmasterGeneral -
The inspector detailed for the purpose recommended that the Launceston Post-office staff be increased by two telegraphists, two assistants, and one clerk, and the Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Hobart, reported that an amount had been placed on the Additional Estimates of ther Department of his State to cover those appointments.
Prior to the receipt of the inspector’s recommendation, however, recommendations had been received from the- Deputy Postmaster-General for the appointment of two assistants at Launceston. These appointments were approved, and the papers relating thereto were referred’ to the Deputy Postmaster-General last month foT necessary action.
The positions of telegraphist and clerk will receive consideration as soon as funds are available.
Report presented by Senator Henderson.
Visit to Tooma
Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is - 1 to 6. It is regretted that the honorable senator did not accompany the party as expected. A number of members had expressed a wish for some months past to visit Tooma, and arrangements were made as usual for conveyance. All the members of the party reached Tooma, and all but six had returned on Tuesday, tit 2 p.m., the others being delayed owing to breakdown of. some of the motor cars. I cannot say how many. The motor cars are not the property of the Postal Department, nor is it intended to purchase them or utilize them in the delivery of letters.
– A message was yesterday received from another place, informing us that a Select Committee had been appointed, to join a Select Committee of the Senate; to inquire and report as to the best procedure for the trial and punishment of persons charged with interference with,’ or breach of the powers, privileges, or immunities of either House of the Parliament, or of its members or committees. The Committee was given the necessary power to send for persons, papers, and records, and four members have been nominated to it, I therefore move -
Our standing orders - 337 to 341 - do not provide for the receipt of a message from another place in the terms of that which has come to us, butI have endeavoured to embody their spirit in nominating to the Committee the number -nominated in another place. The object of the Committee is to devise means for dealing with an acknowledged evil and hardship that honorable senators and others have to suffer by reason of the actions of, in many cases, unscrupulous and irresponsible persons and newspapers.
– Have they not to suffer from us?
– On the whole, they have the best of the deal. I commend the motion to the favorable consideration of the Senate. The senators nominated possess our full confidence.
– Is the Committee to deal with anything that has been done?
– No. Its business is to report as to the best procedure for the trial and punishment) of offenders.
– Very few words should be necessary to commend the motion to the acceptance of the Senate. Parliaments and similar bodies do well to accept with good grace legitimate criticism, from whatever source it may come ; but we are sometimes subjected to reckless abuse which may take effect, not merely upon individual members, but upon the parliamentary institution itself. The purpose of the Committee is to suggest some orderly and simple procedure for determining whether there is or is not ground for statements made against Parliament. No one would attempt’ to curb legitimate criticism; but, without referring more particularly to certain statements which have recently appeared in the press, I say that honorable senators” have had reason to smart at the imputations on their good name, and that of Parliament. Believing that the procedure with which we are familiar has grown out of date, and that some better system should be provided, I heartily support the motion.
– I was surprised to hear the VicePresident of the Executive Council say that the Committee will not propose a course of action in regard to statements which have recently been made.
– That took away the ground for its appointment.
– When the report is presented it may be within our power to deal with those who have offended.
– The first thing to decide is the proper course of procedure. Afterwards, if necessary, we can take action against offenders.
– I take it that the Committee will be seized of the fact that certain charges, affecting this Senate as now constituted, have been made, and will recommend action which will establish a precedent in all future cases of the kind.
– The business of the Committee is rather to provide a general procedure.
– If all that is needed is a measure under which individuals who make slanderous statements can . be proceeded against, the Parliamentary .Draftsman can prepare it without the assistance of a Select Committee. If this Select Committee ‘ is .going to inquire into slanderous charges which have been made against members of the Federal Parliament, more particularly in relation to the Tariff, then it is very necessary ; but it is not necessary to appoint it merely to draft a form of procedure.
– Is not the motion an admission that we have no procedure for dealing with such cases?
– It is, and the VicePresident of the Executive Council tells us that the Committee is to frame rules of procedure, which are not to apply to cases that have already occurred.
– He says that the Committee is asked to recommend a form of procedure, so that the Parliament, if it chooses, may take action.
– Whilst the VicePresident of the Executive Council was speaking, he was asked whether the form of procedure to be drawn up by the Committee would apply to cases that had already occurred, and he said that it would not.
– No; I said that the Committee was merely going to advise Parliament as to the procedure to be adopted.
– The public at the present time have, in mind a general accusation of corruption made by a manufacturer and a certain Sydney journal against what are described as “ Tory “ members of the Federal Parliament.
– In one case the amount of the alleged bribe is named.
– That is so. The Committee is to be appointed because Parliament considers that thu old method ot dealing with such cases is inept, and desires it to devise a procedure that will enable the Legislature to vindicate its honour. But unless it will report to Parliament how it can vindicate its honour in respect to charges .already made, there is no need for it.
– It will do so.
– Then I shall be satisfied. I desire .that a Select Committee shall be appointed that will enable us to deal with cases that have already occurred, and not merely with cases that may arise hereafter. Charges of corruption have been made in circulars actually distributed amongst honorable members, and my desire is that those who make those charges shall be called upon to come into the open and justify them. I understand .that the VicePresident of the Executive Council now says that the Committee will make a recommendation as to the procedure which should be adopted in dealing with those as well as with future cases.
– I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council in his reply will explain exactly what is intended, for, like Senator Pearce, I have been under the impression that the Select Committee proposed to be appointed is to formulate a procedure to be applicable to defamatory statements already made against Parliament as well as to future cases.
– The words of the motion are “ The best procedure for the trial and punishment of persons charged.”
– I shall be satisfied, if the object of the Committee is to make recommendations concerning these matters. I do’ not think that it could institute prosecutions, but if it submits a report justifying such proceedings on behalf of the Parliament, then it will justify its appointment.
– I agree practically with every word that Senator Pearce has uttered. I wish to ask, first of all, whether, if a charge has been made, it will come within the scope of the Select Committee to inquire into the origin of it. I contend that it will not. Unless it travels beyond its scope, the Committee will be debarred from making ah inquiry into charges that have been or may hereafter be made.
– Hear, hear.
– Then what is the reason for the motion? . We know that it arises from the fact that in another place statements were made that defamatory charges reflecting gravely upon the honour of certain members of Parliament had been made in prominent newspapers, and elsewhere. This motion, however, permits no inquiry whatever, on the part of the proposed Committee, into the sources of those charges. It absolutely ignores them. The Committee is merely asked to formulate a procedure, and the motion does not in any way touchthe charges made.
– It is doubtful whether under it the Committee would have power to call before it the editor of the newspaper in which the charge appeared.
– Is not this to be a preliminary inquiry to determine first of all the procedure to be adopted.
-I put it to the Senate fairly that this motion means nothing except that a Select Committee of both Houses is to be appointed to draft a Bill, It is a strange departure from the ordinary functions of the Executive that a Select Committee should be asked to draft a measure which ought to be drafted and intro- duced by the Government. I certainly do not object to the personnel of the proposed Committee, but I do object to any Commit tee being asked to draft a Bill.
– The honorable senator did not object to the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the Tariff n order to obtain information on which the Customs Tariff Bill could be framed.
– I did. The Sen- ate should, if it desires to enlarge the powers of the proposed Committee, give it full authority to inquire into charges against the honour of Parliament that have been made outside, and mentioned on the floor of the House. Parliament can empower a delegation to take evidence on oath, but it seems to me that this motion looks very like an attempt to burk inquiry. I have no doubt that theCommittee will do its work well, but K is simply to bring up a report as to the pro- cedure to be adopted, and the present charges will be allowed to drop.
– No, an inquiry will take place under the procedure recomnended by the Committee.
– Of course. The ques- tion of agailnst whom we shall proceed will be a subsequent matter.
– Who is to decide what persons shall be proceeded against?
– Parliament, by all means.
– The Committe should be given an opportunity to report to Parliament on the desirableness of pro ceedings being instituted against certain individuals or newspapers.
– Parliament cam deal with that matter.
– Then why does it not do so?
– Because we have nol the procedure that is likely to lead to success.
– We have ample power, apart altogether from this proposal to appoint a delegation to make a thorough and searching investigation. There has been distributed amongst honorable senators a circular ‘containing an uiterly libellous reflectionon the Senate, but we have apparently treated it with indifference. ] refer to the statement that -
Moneyhas been largely subscribed by foreigners and their local dealers - the names and amounts can be supplied if desired -
I should like very much to see them - for the maintenance of paid agents to influence Parliament - the agents themselves not being experts.
– That is only one of several statements of the kind. A Sydney newspaper asserted that 10,000 was subscribed for the purpose.
– I have not the other statements at hand, but I certainly desire that this one shall ba inquired into. The Committee should be asked to report or these charges. This certainly ought not to be allowed to drift into, a “ sort of don’tdoitagainwarning ; if you do, we have means to deal with you.” That is the way in which the motion appeals to me.
Senator TRENWITH (Victoria] [11.29.]. - I seems to me that the necessity for this proposition arises from history. Parliament has had to rely on a procedure so inefficient that it has simply been able to call offenders to the bar and to say in effect to them, “ You have behaved very badly,” and then let them go. What we now seek is to obtain a procedure by which we may deal effectively with offences comnitted either before or after the adoption of the procedure recommended by the Committee. To ask the Committee to inquire into these charges would be to call upon it to take action under a form of procedure that we know to be inefficient. The sooner a Committee of this kind gets to work the sooner we may proceed to take action if necessity arises, and render unlikely a repetition of the offences alleged to have been committed. Personally, I do not see any charge against members of Parliament in the statement read by Senator Clemons. It is true there is a charge made against agents of endeavouring to influence Parliament, but the allegation to which I should take exception would be one that Parliament had been improperly influenced.
– Is an attempt to influence Parliament not an offence i
– Certainly, but it is not an offence on the part of Parliament.
– There is said to have been an expenditure of money.
– Yes, by agents. However, my point is that we are not now considering whether these charges have been made, but whether Parliament has procedure to protect itself against such charges; and I think that question has been answered abundantly by the history of ‘the past.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [11.32]. - Some years ago, in the State Parliament of New South Wales, on my’ motion, the editor of a daily newspaper was brought to the bar of the House. But when we got the gentleman there we did not know what to do with him - he was a sort of pet tiger on the premises. When the dinner-hour arrived, I entertained my prisoner as hospitably as possible, and we dined and wined together. Afterwards he set the whole Legislative Assembly, including the Speaker, at defiance, and the only result was his return to Parliament as a member. He is now a Minister of the Crown. All this arose owing to the absence of proper procedure for dealing with such cases. The proposal now really’ is to provide machinery for dealing with charges of the kind, including, if need be, those made in the past, as well as the present and the future. It will be quite possible later on to appoint the same or another Committee to make inquiry into particular charges; and we should then have the procedure under which to take action. I take it that this Committee is little more than a sort of Standing Orders Committee, to frame regulations to be submitted to Parliament for approval.
.- I take it that the desire is to appoint a Committee for the purpose of devising some means for protecting Parliament from charges of the kind which have been referred to. I do not see what good can come from the appointment of this Committee, unless it is empowered to make exhaustive inquiries into those charges; it is certainly true that had those charges not been made there would have been no proposal to appoint a Committee.
– That is not the object in appointing this Committee.
– That may be, but at the same time, no Committee would have been suggested but for the statement which appeared in the Sydney Bulletin, that four honorable members have received ,£2,500 each for voting in a certain way in regard to the oil duties.’ When serious statements of that kind are made, it ought to be within the province of any Committee appointed, to ascertain their correctness or falsity.
– At present we have no machinery by which suc.lv slanderers can be punished.
– I am strongly of opinion that a statement of that kind, made in a publication which has an extensive circulation, not. only in Australasia but in other parts of the world, should be inquired into. Then we have Mr. Beale printing and publishing broadcast a circular, in which he declares that immense sums of money have been collected by those who believe in the free-trade policy, and that this money has been used by paid lobbyists for the purpose of influencing the votes of honorable members in this and another place.
– Mr. Beale does not say that.
– I leave it to any fair-minded man to read into the circular any other meaning.
– There is no doubt that it is a charge of bribery, and of accepting bribes.
– Quite so ; and every member of the Federal Parliament is slandered by such statements. This Committee, ought to have power to examine Mr. Beale, seeing that that gentleman declares that names can be supplied. As a matter of fact, the statement by Mr. Beale is an open invitation to call him, because it would appear that he desires an opportunity to prove his statement.
– What Mr. Beale said was that he could supply the names of the people who subscribed the money.
– And also the names and the amounts; Mr. Beale spoke of “sums of money.”
– If Mr. Beale can supply the names of those who subscribed, as he says, large sums of money in order to influence members of the Federal Parliament in regard to the Tariff, he ought to be called upon to do so.
– And we must not forget that Mr. Beale also said that he could name the amounts.
– There is no doubt that Mr. Beale means dishonest and unfair influence ; and the Committee ought to have power to examine both that gentleman and. those who are responsible for the statement in the Bulletin.
– If Mr. Beale does not mean dishonesty, there is no meaning in his statement.
– Since the appearance of that paragraph in the Bulletin, other statements are being made. I have heard it said that the statement! in the Bulletin can be proved up to the hilt. I do not believe that that is so, but there ought to be an opportunity afforded to those who make such statements of showing their authority.
– Suppose those people declined to give evidence before the Committee, what then?
– That fact alone would show the hollowness of their charges.
– There is no procedure under which the inquiry could be continued.
– Mr. Beale really invites inquiry, because he says that names and amounts can be supplied.
– What is the good of the Committee if it cannot make such inquiries ?
– It is intended to confer powers.
– To do what?
– Perhaps to punish.
– Surely -the most business-like way would be to give the Committee power to call witnesses.
– Suppose the charges were not sustained or proved, what then?
– An impression that has been created in the Commonwealth in reference to the dishonesty of members of Parliament would be removed.
– Then what would become of the man who had committed the offence ?
– The Committee would recommend what should be done with him.
– At any rate, such a man would be branded as a libeller and a liar throughout Australia, whereas if similar statements are permitted to be made, much injustice will be done to Parliament and parliamentarians.
– I am glad that this important and delicate subject is receiving some ventilation. I do not think there can be any doubt that the great latitude and liberty allowed to the press in Australia is degenerating in some cases into gross licence. Public men are not merely held up to ridicule, but, as in the present case, are the victims of the most foul charge that can be directed against them. The charge is that, not satisfied with the remuneration paid for their services, members of Parliament have actually been selling their votes in the most corrupt fashion. I am largely in sympathy with honorable senators who seem to think we are taking a somewhat weak and ineffective method of dealing with this matter. But what can we really do? It is admitted that the old procedure in such cases results in nothing but bringing Parliament into ridicule; and I am sure we desire nothing of that kind. We know what occurred in the Victorian Parliament not very long ago. There was then a grotesque failure of the Parliament to emerge with any dignity from the difficulty it found itself in. The difficulty I see is that, although we are appointing what I take to be an advisory Committee, with power, no doubt, to search legislation dealing with the rights and privileges of Parliament, it is suggested that they should be asked to deal ex post facto with offences. It appears to me that some special action by Parliament ought to be undertaken, apart altogether from the advisory Committee. I do not see that it will be necessary to take any evidence in regard to the libels, because the libels are there, and the Committee would be altogether a wrong sort of tribunal to investigate charges made against members of Parliament. Still, however, the Committee may be able to suggest some procedure which will apply to similar cases.
– It is a question of drafting a Bill.
– If a Bill has to be drafted, making punishable such offences, how can we apply that Bill to offences in the past ? ‘ There is no doubt that both Houses of the Parliament might call upon those who have made the charges to either substantiate them or apologize-; but I cannot see how the Committee can accomplish anything of that kind.
– I do not intend to vote against the motion, though I do not agree with the procedure adopted. Two serious charges fi om different quarters have been made against members of the Federal Parliament. One charge is made by Mi. Beale, who, I understand, wrote a report on secret drugs and medicines. I have read that report, and all I can say is that the man who could write such stuff is just the sort of person who would make any kind of reckless charge.
– He ought to be writing novels !
– Quite so; and, therefore, I submit that a charge coming from such a quarter is worthy of only contempt.
– That is all very well, but the charges have been made.
– Another important aspect of the case is that a certain more or less notorious journal has also made a charge. I wish, to express my own individual opinion with regard to charges made against Parliament by such journals.
– The honorable senator is annoyed with that journal because it called him a bookkeeper.
– I am not in the slightest degree annoyed about it ; because what members of Parliament have to fear is not that such journals will slander them, or even slander Parliament, but that they will not do so. The more they do that kind of thing the more contemptible they are, and the more secure the individuals libelled may feel in respect of their own integrity. Either Parliament has sufficient power to punish ‘those who make such charges or it has not. But what is proposed seams to me to-be a feeble way of doing what is desired, lt may do some good, and for the possible good that it may do I shall not oppose the motion. But still, in my view, it is a very feeble and ineffective way of dealing with the charges that have been made against members of Parliament.
.- As has already been said, this is a very difficult question to deal with. We need to be very careful les’t we make ourselves look ridiculous. I have never known a Tariff to be dealt with when such charges were not made. But I have never heard of members of Parliament being hurt by charges of the kind. Personally, I do not believe that the general public believe them. I fear that we are getting rather squeamish about this matter.
– I do not think so. Many of the general public do believe them.
– I was not aware of what the charges were until I heard Senator Findley state them this morning. I do- not think that the accusations can have gone far, otherwise they would have come to my ears. If a direct charge is made, it ought to be met on the spot, and at the time. It seems to me that it was the duty of the Government, who are the keepers of the corporate honour of Parliament, at- once to take steps to communicate with these people, and to ask for a corroboration of the charges made.
– Suppose they refused to give the evidence?
– Then the’ public would be able to judge of the truth of the charges. The Government are shirking their duty. They, as the keepers of the corporate honour of Parliament, ought to have communicated immediately with these people, and said, “ You have made slanderous charges against members of Parliament ; we now ask you to give proof of your statements, and, if they are not proved, to disown them.” I am very doubtful about the procedure that we are taking. It will not shut people’s mouths. It will not stop the press from writing things about us. I fear that we are manifesting an irritation and a squeamishness that are not desirable under the circumstances.
– Senator McColl has expresed the opinion that we are showing unnecessary irritation and squeamishness. I think he must admit that if we suddenly commenced to prosecute the people who have made charges, without first obtaining the necessary evidence, we should- certainly show unwise irritation. As it is, we are, I think, taking the most dignified and sensible course, that is, of preparing the road, so that if Parliament thinks fit it can later on deal with those who have made these charges, or with others who make ‘ similar charges in .the future. .
– It means simply shelving the matter of the charges that have been made.
– If the honorable senator desires the Committee to inquire into charges that have been made, what are the particular charges to which he refers? Any number of charges may be raked up which have at various times been made against Parliament and its members.
– These are specific charges.
– Take the case mentioned by Senator Pearce not long ago in the course of a personal explanation. That was a case of a most gross charge one of the worst that could be made against the personal honour of an individual. Surely that charge was more worthy of refutation or reprobation by members of the Senate than is a general charge that some members somewhere or other, in one or the other House, received money.
– There was no charge of corruption in that case.
– There was a breach of privilege, anyhow. Some general charges have been made against certain members, who it is said have been bribed. But many other charges might crop up. The question is where would the inquiries of the Committee cease? If it were appointed to inquire into things which have occurred in the past, there would be no end to its investigations. So far as 1 can understand the course proposed by the Government is a formal, dignified method of preparing the necessary machinery for dealing with any cases of breach of privilege which may occur. Our powers in connexion with breaches of privileges are the same as those of the House of Commons - that is, until this Parliament makes laws to protect itself.
– Could not Parliament sue for libel in the ordinary way ?
– The House of Commons is very little better off than we are in dealing with such questions. It has certain powers. The Tower of London is not far from the Houses of Parliament, and an offender can be ordered to be imprisoned. But Parliament may be prorogued twenty-four hours afterwards, when the prisoner would have to be released. It seems to me that the Government are adopting the wisest course in preparing the ground, instead of rushing into action in a spirit’ of irritation and squeam- ishness, possibly with the result of finding themselves bumping their heads against a wall, and- unable to do anything conclusive.
– I think that the remarks which have been made show that honorable senators are, at all events, anxious t’o do something in this matter. It would be almost a calamity if, after the subject had been mooted and proposals had been made by the Government!, we declined to give the necessary power to proceed. I take it that what we have to consider is what is the best method of procedure. Suppose that after inquiry it is found that we have not power to punish - we shall, at all events, have shown the public that we have taken steps to clear Parliament from, charges made against it. That, to my mind, is sufficient to justify the action that. I intend to take in supporting the .Government. Those honorable senators who do not approve of the manner in which the subject has been proposed to the Senate should suggest a better course. If they can do so I am quite prepared to support them. But I am opposed to doing nothing. To allow a matter of this kind to be brought forward, and then for Parliament to drop the whole matter quietly, would present the appearance of fearing that there was something in the charges.
– The last ‘stage will be worse than the first.
– I do not think so. Suppose it is found that Parliament has not the power to punish those who make libellous statements. If this Committee is able to show exactly what our powers are we shall be able to do justice to ourselves and to Parliament in taking whatever steps are shown to be best.
– Hut this procedure will not enable us to act at this time.
– I should have expected that Senator St. Ledger, as a legal man, would have been able to suggest a means of procedure.- If he can. suggest a better method than that which the Government’ have proposed, I am quite prepared to support it, but, the matter having been taken in hand, I am not prepared to allow it to drop. If we did that- it would look very suspicious in the eyes of the public.
– I do not know that I am particularly competent to express an opinion upon a point of this kind, but it. seems to me that the Government are taking a wrong course to bring about the result which it seems they are desirous of achieving. What is it that the Government want? It is discovered that Parliament has not sufficient power to deal with individuals who commit! breaches of the powers, privileges, and immunities of either Houses of Parliament. Persons who offend in that manner can, under existing conditions, pursue their way unpunished. What the Government want to discover, apparently, is some method by which they may be brought to justice. The next question is. whether this method is the best. What does the Government propose to do? They propose to remit to a Select Committee of members of Parliament the function of discovering and suggesting the best procedure for the trial and punishment of persons charged with breaches of the privileges and immunities of either House ofParliament, or of Che members of Committees. of either House. My objection to the method proposed is that I do not think that a Select Committee of laymen, with .no knowledge of legal procedure, is the best kind of authority for devising ways and means for punishing breaches of law.
– There is an experienced lawyer and constitutionalist on the Committee - Sir John Quick.
– If the Government desire to deal with this matter right out of hand, they have their own legal officers to appeal to, who are quite capable of suggesting what ought to be done. If more extended legal powers are required, what the Government ought to do is to bring in a Bill providing for new machinery. I am sure that the Senate would be very glad to agree to it. But I do not see how the matter is to be forwarded by the appointment of four laymen in each Chamber.
– That is not so. There are two professional men on the Committee.
– The Government have professional men in their own ranks and pay. Why remit) a matter of this kind to laymen who know nothing about legal procedure ?
– I will explain exactly.
– I shall be very glad if the Minister will. I have no desire to say anything about the alleged charges against members of Parliament, because that question does not crop up on the present motion. But I should like to hear the Vice-President of the Executive Council give us some information as to why he desires the appointment of a Select Committee rather than to obtain- a definite opinion from the legal advisers of the Government.
– I regret very much that for one reason or another considerable misapprehension has been shown concerning the motion now before the Chair. The position is simply this : That Parliament for years past has been subjected, to defamatory and slanderous statements. As a rule, Parliament has been content to listen to those statements with contempt - a contempt that in many cases they deserved. But latterly matters have . become more acute by reason of alleged charges of corruption having been made in some newspapers. We thereupon looked round to ascertain what was the remedy, and we found that for years past the State Parliaments had been content to rely upon the most feeble of remedies. In our Standing Orders, for instance, it is provided that -
Any senator complaining to the Senate of a statement in a newspaper as a breach of privilege shall produce a copy of the paper containing the statement in question, and be prepared to give the name of the printer or publisher and also submit a substantive motion declaring the person in question to have been guilty of contempt.
What has been’ regarded as anybody’s business has been nobody’s business, and for many reasons which we need not go into, no individual senator has found it necessary or wise, except in a few instances, to adopt that procedure. But referring to the cases in which a similar procedure has been followed in the State Parliaments, has anything (been more unsatisfactory, has anything as a rule been less dignified, so far as the House taking the action was concerned ? I do not want to refer to recent cases in Victoria where the triumphant hero of the hour has been the man who has been brought to the bar, ‘and the House has suffered indignity by reason of its own impotence. There are cases where persons have laid themselves out to attract the attention of Parliament in order to minister to their own vanity,- and to be made much of by being brought before a House of Parliament to be dealt with. When such persons have been brought to the bar in some cases a fine has been recorded and in other cases they have been put on the leads and treated there in the most royal fashion, simply laughing at what the House had done and its impotence.
– That only proves the timidity pf ‘the House to use its powers.
– If my honorable friend desires to be a reformer, he is’ starting rather late in the day, because, as he is an old parliamentarian, it has been in his power to propose a method for remedying that impotent condition of affairs. It is really the same so far as the House of Commons is concerned, and unless they have resorted to the more serious form of impeachment, to be followed by dire consequences, the usual condition of affairs has been as I have described. The Government have felt with honorable senators that it is undesirable that that state of affairs should prevail here. They have considered that this is not a party question, but a matter to be dealt with by the whole Parliament, and not by one House alone. Therefore, quite irrespective of party feeling, they have invited both Houses to- contribute to a joint Committee of experienced parliamentarians. Without any indication of party feeling, they have invited, on an impartial basis, parties on all sides to join in suggesting what precedure shall be devised in order to properly cope with the defamatory, scandalous, and unscrupulous statements which are so . frequently launched, and to devise the necessary machinery. Senator Stewart has asked, Why have not the Government introduced a Bill on the subject. Had they taken that step, the objection would have been launched that it was’ a party proceeding on their part, and more than that, the subject is too important, too delicate, to be handled in that way.
– Senator McColl said that the Government were in charge of the corporate honour of Parliament.
– To some extent that may be so; but with the impotent machinery at present iti existence, it would be useless for the Government to attempt to proceed against any one. But the point I am making in reply to Senator Stewart is that it would have been very’ unwise for the Government to attempt to introduce a Bill. The subject is too delicate and too important to be so dealt with, and the Government will be materially assisted by the inquiries of representatives from all parties in the Parliament. The next point which has been made is that the Committee should be appointed for the purpose of dealing with certain alleged charges of corruption. That is exactly what it is not to be appointed for, and what it would be unwise to appoint it for. In the first place, let the machinery be settled, and then we shall know how to deal with those who are guilty of similar charges.
– Why not say guilty ot these charges?
– When the machinery has been duly devised, it will bc for the Parliament itself to declare what procedure shall be resorted to in regard to either past or future charges.
– Will the new law be retrospective, then ?
– That will be a question for the Parliament to decide.
– This is a proposal to shelve the whole thing.
– My honorable friend is wrong in making that suggestion, and it is not a proper one to make. To my mind, this is the most prudent course which could be followed in the circumstances. I have not read the charges in question, but understand that they apply to the members of one House.
– No; Mr. Beale’s charges apply to the Senate, and were circulated here amongst honorable senators.
– That, of course, I cannot say; but I understand that the charges which were made applied to one House.
– The more serious charges do.
– Exactly. What has the Senate to do with charges which were made agains.t the other House? It is for another place to protect itself.
– We have to deal with charges against Parliament as a whole.
– My honorable friend has misapprehended what I said. I have learned that the more serious charges have been made against another place.
– Are there grades of corruption, then?
– It is for the other House to protect its own corporate honour. When charges are made against the Senate or against the Senate in connexion with others, then, of course, a joint Committee may be appointed. But on the present occasion the appointment of a joint Committee is desired for the purpose of devising machinery. It is recognised that an acute need for such machinery has been demonstrated. I submit, with great confidence, that - we are following the most prudent course in asking a representative body to advise Parliament as to what is the wiser plan to pursue. In commending the motion with confidence to honorable senators, I desire to emphasize the delicate nature of the work which the joint Committee will have to undertake. The question of public criticism and its limitation has to be dealt with most cautiously. This Parliament would not be justified in curtailing in any way public criticism of a legitimate character; but where the line of demarcation between legitimate and illegitimate public criticism begins is a most important matter. I submit that this delicate subject can be handled more wisely bv a representative body than it could be by the Government.
– Will it not be necessary, sir, for you first to submit that part of the motion which affirms* the principle of appointing a Select Committee before we proceed to deal with the names of its members? I agree with the names which are proposed, because I do not think that better men could have been nominated; but there may- be a difference of opinion as to whether or not the appointment Of a Select Committee is required.
– I point out to the honorable senator that the first part of the motion affirms the desirability of appointing a Select Committee, and involves the whole principle. As -regards the second part, it will be open to any honorable senator to request that the Select Committee should be balloted for, and, in the absence of a demand for a ballot, there appears to me to be very little use in sub mitting the “motion in paris. But. of? course, the matter is entirely in the hands of the Senate.
– It might be an indication that some senators objected to the appointment of a Select Committee, but did not object in any way to the personnel proposed.
– If it is so desired, I shall put the motion in parts.
Question - That a Select Committee be appointed, to join with a Select Committee of the House of Representatives, to inquire and report as to the best procedure for the trial and punishment of persons charged with the interference with or breach of the powers, privileges, or im- munities of either House of the Parliament or of the members or Committees of each House - put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative. ,
Question - That the members of this Senate upon such Committee be Senators Colonel Neild, Henderson, Turley, and Chataway ; two , to be a quorum - resolved, in the affirmative.
Question - That such Committee have’ power to send for persons, papers, and records, and that the first meeting of the Committee be held in the Senate Committee Room on Wednesday next, the 8th April,’ at 10.30 o’clock a.m. - proposed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That a message be sent to the House of Representatives conveying the above resolutions - resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee. (Consideration resumed from1st April, vide page 9951).
Clauses 2to 9 agreed to.
Introductory paragraphs agreed to.
Tobacco manufactured, n.e.i., made in Australia, both from imported and locally-grown leaf, per lb.1s. 3d., and on and after 5th October, 1907, is.
– In my opinionand should the honorable senator differ from it he will, of course, be at liberty to. refer my ruling to the President - he can only move to insert a new item in this schedule dealing with confectionery containing glucose. He cannot move the insertion of any item dealing with confectionery containing paraffine wax or plaster of Paris. In the schedule to the Customs Tariff Bill, there wag an item dealing with confectionery which included confectionery containing paraffine wax and plaster of Paris as well as glucose, but in the schedule now under consideration, no item dealing with confectionery is included. When the Senate went into Committee in the first instance on these Bills, I intimated that, in my opinion, theCommittee had not the power to make requests for the insertion of new lines not appearing in the schedules. Senator Clemons will note that there is no proposal in this schedule dealing with confectionery. There was such a proposal contained in the . schedule to the Customs Tariff Bill, and it was, therefore, competent for the Committee to deal with a request covering confectionery containing glucose or other substances.’ There is, however, in this schedule an item dealing with glucose, and as confectionery is made containing glucose; the honorable senator would, in my opinion, be in order in proposing a request for the insertion of a special item dealing with confectionery containing glucose. As there is no line in the schedule dealing with either confectionery, paraffine wax, or plaster of Paris, I do not think it would be competent for me to receive a request for the imposition of an Excise duty on confectionery1 containing either of those substances, or any substance not dealt with in the schedule as it stands. As I said at the opening of my remarks, should the honorable senator think it advisable he can obtain the ruling of. the President on the point. I shall not have the slightest objection to the adoption of that course. The ruling I have now given is consistent with what I said when we first went into Committeeon these Bills and with a ruling given in connexion with the Bounties Bill.
– I am sorry that in the circumstances I did not privately consult with you, sir, before I raised this question. You will agree that the point you have raised is an extremely important one.
– If the honorable senator proposes to dissent from my ruling I suggest that he should not raise the point until we come to the item glucose. I have called on the item tobacco, and no such request as the honorable senator has suggested could be moved in connexion with that item. If after we have dealt with the item now before the Committee, Senator Clemons will move his proposed request. I shall rule that I cannot receive it, and then the honorable senator will be at liberty to take such action as he thinks desirable.
– I wish to move a request for the omission of the word “both” and the words “ locally grown.” The first item would then read -
Tobacco, manufactured, n.e.i., made in Australia from imported leaf.
My object is to provide for a different duty in the case of locally-grown leaf. If I succeed in getting these words deleted. I shall move a request for the insertion of a new item to follow that now under discussion - “ From locally-grown leaf, per lb., gd.”
As honorable senators will understand, the intention is to give a certain amount of protection and encouragement to the growth of tobacco in Australia, I move -
That the House- of Representatives be requested to amend the item “ Tobacco, .manufactured n-e.i., made in Australia,” by leaving out the word ‘.’ both “ and the words “ and locally-grown.”
.- If Senator Stewart’s request were carried and the new item he suggests were inserted, the effect would be that differential excisable duties would be imposed upon tobacco made from imported leaf and tobacco made from locally-grown leaf. But there would be no provision, to cover the manufacture, which is very common, of tobacco from a mixture of locally-grown and imported leaf. As the. item now stands, both in this and the second line, it covers all tobacco locally made, whatever be the proportions of locally-grown and imported’ leaf used in it, or whether the tobacco be wholly made from either leaf. The duties as they stand bear a relation to the import duties.
– The import duties were altered in this Chamber.
– A request has been made to alter them, but I trust that another place will not accept it..
– Is it not desirable, in case another place does accept it, to make a similar request on this item to preserve the balance?
– Such a request would disturb the relations between the duties very greatly, to the prejudice of the local’ growers and manufacturers. As I stated on the corresponding item in the Customs Tariff Bill, the Government, after a considerable amount of discussion on the subject in another place, obtained from the Queensland .Government the services of Mr. Neville, ,the tobacco expert of that State. He went into the matter carefully with the Customs officers, and with the Minister in charge of the Tariff. Proposals were submitted in another place modifying the original proposals of the Government, and preserving the previous protection in regard to tobacco of 9d. per lb., while by the imposition of duties of Excise in relation to the import duties, provision wasmade for encouraging the growth of tobacco leaf in Australia and the. stemming in Australia of imported leaf, rather than its importation already stemmed. ‘ Those proposals met with the acquiescence of another place. I hope Senator Stewart will realize the danger of disturbing the duties, which have been so adjusted. So far as I know, there was nothing of a party significance in the decision ultimately arrived at. It was recognised on all sides in another place, even by those who held very divergent views about the original proposals, that this compromise securely and adequately protected and conserved all interests, without giving one an undue advantage over the other. For that reason, and also for the reason which I first urged, I hope that the request will not be persisted in.
– This is a very interesting item, about which some honorable senators may have conflicting and somewhat erroneous ideas. From a protectionist point of view two considerations arise. On the one . hand, some honorable senators desire to protect the manufacturers specially, and, in fact, almost solely. It other words, ‘they desire to protect only the manufacture of tobacco. On the other hand, there are those - and it is with them that I am in sympathy - who desire to encourage the growth of tobacco in Australia. I am glad to be with them in that desire. I am not concerned at all to help on the operations of the big Tobacco Trust which represents the manufacturers here. To use an analogy, if I were called upon to say which I should care to encourage - the production of wheat in Australia or itsmanufacture into flour - I should certainly say under those circumstances that I chose to encourage its growth.
– Why not encourage both?
– After making long inquiry into the question, not only on the Tariff Commission, but elsewhere, I have come to the conclusion that if any honorable senator wants specially to help on the growth of tobacco in Australia he can do it well and easily by increasing the duty - and that is the normal method adopted by protectionist’s - on imported unmanufactured tobacco. If some honorable senators had not their clear insight clouded sometimes’ by giving consideration to the desires of the manufacturers, they, being protectionists, would see with me that the way to encourage the growth of tobacco in Australia is to adopt their ordinary method of imposing a’ heavy duty on tobacco imported in an unmanufactured form. I am glad that in the Customs Tariff Bill we increased the import duty on unmanufactured tobacco.
– Very properly.
– I am pleased to hear that interjection. To precisely the extent to which we have increased that duty, we have helped the growth of tobacco in Australia - if protection does help, as Senator Story believes that it does. If we had wanted to help it more - assuming always that’ protection will help it - we could have done so by putting a still heavier duty on imported unmanufactured tobacco. What would have been the result to the combine? The combine are here to make tobacco in its finished condition:, and to sell it at a profit. They do so. What would be ;the result if this Parliament said to them, “ If you are going to carry on these operations of yours, and to make all these profits, we shall take care that you do so by consuming and using tobacco grown in Australia, and so encouraging the growth of Australian tobacco, but we shall not enable you to do it by merely importing tobacco which has probably been grown by yourselves in America?” That is the true inwardness of the whole of this tobacco question. On the other hand, the manufacturers here will say that no tobacco is offering in Australia that they can manufacture in a form palatable to Australian ‘smokers, and that it is necessary to import leaf. That may or may not be. I have grave doubts about it. I believe that! tobacco can be grown in Australia just as wheat is grown, but it is not to the interests of the tobacco combine to bring it about. .Senator Givens. - The proper way to accomplish the object which the honorablesenators and myself have in view is to reduce the Excise on tobacco made from Australian leaf.
– No. The way to accomplish our object is to adopt the honorable senator’s ‘ ordinary protectionist method of imposing a higher duty on the imported leaf.
– Cannot we arrive at the same result in this way?
– We cannot, and if we tried, the combine would beat us.
– The protection is now. ruled by the import duty. If we reduce the Excise, Australian-grown leaf will have so much more protection.
– It does not want more protection in that- -way. If the Excise duty is retained, the combine will have abundant protection so long as they use Australian-grown leaf.
– There is only a difference of , 6d. ‘ Senator CLEMONS.- But the difference to the combine, if they use Australianleaf, is enormous. We have imposed an import duty on unmanufactured tobacco of 3s. 6d. . per lb. It was 3s. 3d. That means that for every pound of Australiangrown leaf that the combine care to use in the production of the finished, article, they can avoid paying a duty of 3s. 6d. When we remember the price- the combine would have to pay for Australian leaf, the enormous difference is discernible at once. They do not and will not pay more than an average of about 6d. per pound for the Australian leaf itself, whereas, if they import the unmanufactured tobacco, they have to pay an import duty of 3s. 6d., in addition to the cost of growing that tobacco elsewhere. There is no readier way of compelling ‘ the combine to use Australian leaf, and so encouraging the growth of tobacco in Australia, from the point of view of protectionists, than by still further, if necessary, increasing the protective duty on unmanufactured tobacco.
– We cannot go back to the import duty on tobacco now.
– No; but what if we do not? We have said to the combine - “If you import your leaf you shall pay 3s. 6d. per pound on it, but if you want’ to make bigger profits, the road_ is clear for you - you can do so by using Australian-grown instead of imported tobacco.” They have a magnificent opportunity. The Tariff Commission supplied evidence in abundance that they can buy, and have bought, Australian-grown tobacco at prices ranging from 6d. to lod. per pound. If they use a large percentage of that, their profits, which, as they admit, are all right now, will become enormous. We offer that temptation to them.
Senator- Givens. - They will not import unmanufactured tobacco at 3s. 6d., but will import it under item 21 of the Customs Tariff schedule, stemmed or unstemmed. ….
– They may or may not ; but, in any case, we have put heavy duties on all unmanufactured tobacco.
– They could import manufactured tobacco at 3s. 6d.
– But they are manufacturing here.
– They are manufacturing it unstemmed.
– The question of stemming or unstemming does not affect the main question. The combine, operating in Australia, are engaged in turning out manufactured tobacco in a commercial form, and in order to do that they have to use unmanufactured leaf. They can get that unmanufactured leaf only in two ways - by importing it and paying a heavy duty, or by using the home-grown leaf, and paying no duty on it, but subsequently paying the same Excise whether the leaf is imported or home-grown. The lever which we hold to compel them to use Australian-grown tobacco is, from the point of view of honorable senators opposite, supplied by the import duty on the leaf itself. I hope, therefore, that Senator Stewart will not attempt to disturb the Excise. By so doing he will not secure the object he has in view. He will not induce the growth of another pound of tobacco in Australia, but will simply be playing into the hands of the combine, adding to their profits, and even going further by removing from them the incentive to use more Australian-grown tobacco.
– Why should we collect a large Excise on tobacco? Why should the tobacco smoker be penalized?
– I hope that the honorable senator will forgive me for not going into that question. The important point is the effect of the tobacco duties on the growing of tobacco in Australia. It is not a question of encouraging its manufacture, or it ought not to be.
– It will give a greater protection if we wipe out the Excise altogether.
– My opinion is that the best way to encourage the growth of tobacco in Australia is not by reducing the Excise duties, but by keeping them up. If the request were agreed to the combine would say, “You have made it all the easier for us, and made still greater the profits which we shall derive by importing our unmanufactured tobacco from America.” It can have no other result. As a matter of fact, the combine are doing well at present, and any reduction of the Excise must obviously add to their profits. Therefore, it would add to their opportunities of continuing the same methods as they are carrying on at present - namely, importing tobacco, to a certain extent, from their own plantations in America, and using it under our Customs and Excise conditions in such a way as to make a large profit by manufacturing it in Australia. If Senator Givens wanted to take hold of the Combine by the throat and force them to use Australian tobacco, there is a very plain method open to him - to increase the Excise.
– That is nonsense. The honorable senator wants to get more revenue.
– I am not dealing with the question of revenue at all. I am dealing with the Combine andits operations. If the Excise were increased, the Combine would say, “The duties Parliament has imposed on us have been increased by the imposition of the Excise. We will have to make up for that somehow.” How can that be done? It is as open and clear as daylight that they can make up the difference by supplanting unmanufactured imported tobacco on which they have to pay import duties, with tobacco grown in Australia, on which they have to pay no import duty at all.
– It would be the same if there were no Excise duties.
– If the Excise dutieswere wiped out altogether, the result would be that the Combine would” say to every Australian tobacco grower, “ Take away your stuff. We won’t have it at any price.” They do not care two-pence for the Australian tobacco, but if they were forced to say : “We will have to take this Australian tobacco in order to make our profits, ‘ ‘ they would give some consideration to it.
– A reduction in the Excise duty, will not! mean any reduced price to the consumer.
– We all know that.
– Would a higher Excise mean an increased price?
– I do not think so.
– Well, why not put on 5s. or 6s. a lb.
– A higher Excise within limits would not increase the price of tobacco, because the price would then be governed by the price of the imported manufactured article. But the Combine would have to look about for the profits they were losing, and they would make them up by using an additional proportion of Australian-grown tobacco.
– I am entirely in sympathy with the object of Senator Stewart in proposing this request, but the Minister of Home Affairs has pointed out some of the difficulties that would occur owing to the fact that so many tobaccoes locally made are composed of partly Australian leaf and partly American leaf. In some brands of Australian-made tobacco, three-fourths of. the tobacco used is Australia-grown, and one-fourth American.
– There is very little Australian.
– Some of the brands are Australian. I know what 1 am talkabout, because I have had the advantage of going through most of the tobacco factories in Australia, and have made very full inquiries. Another objection to the request is the fact that nearly all of what are called purely Australian tobaccoes are covered1 with the imported leaf. There has not yet been grown in Australia leaf of the- peculiar gloss and smoothness which makes tobacco in the plug look so nicely finished. If the request .vere agreed to, it would be necessary for the manufacturers, in order to take advantage of the lower Excise, to cover their tobacco with Australian-grown leaf of a rougher texture, which would make it look a very inferior article, and that, I am afraid, would increase the prejudice that already exists against’ Australian tobacco. I am entirely with Senator Clemons in desiring to encourage in every way the growth of Australian tobacco. I believe if it is encouraged sufficiently, < that in the not very distant future we shall be able to grow in Australia the great bulk of the .tobacco consumed in the Commonwealth. I hope the request will not be agreed to. lt would lead to endless complications, and, I- believe, to deceptions on the part of the manufacturers to a very much greater extent than obtains at present. We know that mixed tobacco is sold as American leaf. If the request were agreed to, the effect would be to make the purely Australian tobacco appear inferior to American tobacco, because the finish would not be nearly as good.
– In fixing specific duties on most of the articles with which we are dealing, we are accustomed to impose the duties on large quantities - for . instance, tons. When we have an Excise duty of so much per lb., we are apt. to lose sight of what a large amount it may come, to per ton ; and when- we propose to take off a large proportion of that duty, we lose sight of the great amount that we put. in the hands of the dealers or the protectedmanufacturers. The importer of manufactured tobacco must pay 3s. 6d. per lb., which comes to .£392 per ton. The local manufacturer is in the position of only being called upon to pay is. 6d. per lb., or is. 9d. per lb., which will be the rate if the request made by the Senate be agreed to, and an additional Excise duty of is. per lb., or a total of 2s. 9d. per lb.; which gives him a protection of ^84 per ton, supposing he usesnothing but imported tobacco, on which he is paying the full charges. But if the local manufacturer uses all Australian-grown tobacco, then the only charge to which he is subject is that of is. per lb. Excise duty. He escapes altogether the heavy charge of is. 9d., per lb. which has to be paid on imported tobacco. The Excise duty of is. per lb. amounts to £112 .per ton, and the difference between that amount and the amount which has to be paid per ton on the imported tobacco is immense. It is so prodigious, that if Australian tobacco were of first-class quality there would not be a pound of foreign tobacco imported. The margin is so great, however, that I think it ought to be reduced - certainly it ought not to be increased. Everybody, I hope,, can see that the enormous margin existing has not stimulated the production of fine tobacco in Australia, and increasing that margin by a third or a fourth more is not likely to further stimulate the industry. Honorable senators know that I am anxious to reduce duties where they can be legitimately reduced. TheExcise duty in this case is levied a long way under the level of the Customs duties, and the margin is of such an enormous character that the proposal to increaseit is, I think, exceedingly rash, and if carried would show honorable senators to be altogether neglectful, of the consideration they owe to the revenue of Australia.
. -Like Senator Story, I am sympathetic towards the request submitted by Senator Stewart; but I foresee very great difficulties in the way of giving full effect to it Senator Stewart is desirous of giving the full measure of protection to the Australiangrown tobacco and to those manufacturers turning out the Australian-grown tobacco in a manufactured state. There is a duty at present operative of is. 6d. per lb. on stemmed tobacco, and 2s. per lb. on unstemmed tobacco. If the manufacturers of tobacco import’ their raw material stemmed they_ have to pay 2s. ner 11). duty on it, but if they introduce it unstemmed they only have to pay is. 6d. per lb. This gives a clear measure of protection to the amount of is. 6d. -per lb. to the grower of Australian tobacco leaf. No doubt the effect of that protection will be to encourage people to put more land under cultivation for the purpose of growing tobacco leaf. Senator Stewart wants to give further protection to the Australian grower. Ali manufactured tobaccoes whether made from Australian or imported tobacco pay a duty of is. per lb., and Senator Stewart’s request is to make the duty in favour of the Australian grower is. 9d. per lb. I see difficulties in the way of levying Excise on tobaccoes made entirely from Australian tobacco. Like Senator Story,. 1 have visited, and observed- the operations carried on in, tobacco factories in two or more States. I believe with Senator Story that there is no absolutely Australian tobacco manufactured.
– Only some of the twist.
– I believe it is quite a rarity to find any Australian tobacco made up as Australian-grown leaf. As Senator Story has pointed out, the quality of the article is improved by an admixture of American and Australian tobaccoes. At any rate, by mixing the leaf a flavour acceptable to the palate of the majority of smokers is given.
– All the evidence proves that.
– It seems to me “that there are innumerable difficulties in the way of carrying out the request, and to a. great extent it would open the door to those who would be dishonest.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– When the Committee adjourned for lunch, I was pointing out that the seeming impossibility of giving full effect to the request of Senator Stewart made it almost impossible for rae to record a vote in its favour. I was stating, that the Australian grower to-day has a protective duty to the extent of ‘ is. 6d. per lb., and that if the request which the Committee has already made to another place be agreed to, he will’ have a further protection of 3d. per lb., that is a protection of is. 9d. per lb., on the unstemmed tobacco, and of 2s. 3d. per lb. on the stemmed tobacco. I “am satisfied that even if the present request were carried, it would not cause any larger consumption of Australian tobacco. The smokers will have that which suits them best, and, say what we will, the average smoker prefers the tobacco made from the imported leaf. If we reduce the Excise duty, who is to be advantaged? I agree with Senator Clemons that the Australian grower will get no further advantages, because there will be no additional consumption of Australian leaf. The pipe smoker will not get the advantage; he will have to pay, I think, the same price if the Excise duty be reduced as he is paying to-day. Then into whose pockets would . the reduced Excise go? There is no doubt that it would go into the pockets of that combine which has almost a monopoly of the Australian market, and which we know is making immense profits in connexion with this industry. For these reasons, I feel that I cannot support the request.
– I had intended to move a request to the effect that all the ingredients used in the manufacture of this article should also be dutiable. But, on inquiry, I found that, while a very large proportion of outside material is used by the manufacturers in the preparation of manufactured tobacco, they have to pay Excise duty on the weight of the outside ingredients, and get the whole of those ingredients free of import duty under departmental bylaws. I think it is very hard that they should. I admit that I cannot cure the evil by submitting a request for an amendment of this line in the schedule. It is strictly, relevant to the issue, however, whether they should be afforded further assistance by a remission of the Excise duty. They undoubtedly gain a slight advantage. I propose to read again a very interesting statement which was made here in reply to an inquiry. On’ the 24th September, 1902, Senator Pulsford asked the following question -
What are approximately the average quantities of the various articles which are being delivered free of duty to the tobacco manufacturers - as referred to in the questionanswered on the 28th August - per’ month, for the whole Commonwealth?
The honorable senator was informed that the monthly average for the Commonwealth was estimated as follows -
Sugar, 19,884 lbs. ; liquorice, 21,706 lbs. ; glucose, 2,240 lbs. ; glycerine, 17,342 lbs. ; gum arabic, 303 lbs. ; block juice, 161 lbs. ; essential oils, 42 gallons; flavoring essences, 32 gallons; tags, -2 tons; starch, 200 lbs.; cigarette papers, £171 .value; spices, 5,063 lbs.; vaseline, 18 lbs. ; dry ingredients, 146 lbs. ; spirits, 1,280^ gallons.
– Were all those quantities imported?
– Not necessarily. It has always been a matter of great regret to me that our tobacco manufacturers are practically encouraged by a departmental by-law to mix in (their .’/tobacco all the ingredients I have mentioned.
– In Great Britain tobacco manufacturers’ are not. permitted to add anything to the tobacco leaf.
– N,o. Our tobacco manufacturers derive a considerable advantage from being able to add all these ingredients - not perhaps the whole advantage, because some of the articles are produced locally, and, in any case, they pay Excise duty on the bulk weight. But, so far as any imported ingredients are used, this Government, following the practice of previous Ministries, enables the manufacturers to use those ingredients free of import duty.
– And with the assistance of those ingredients they are able to make, from 100 lbs. of tobacco leaf 112 lbs. of manufactured tobacco.
– I am glad that the honorable senator has been able to work that out. I feel sure that Senator Stewart, now that he has had the advantage of hearing the figures for 1902, will recognise with me that the Tobacco Combine wants no further rights or concessions. “In fact, I hope that the day will come when he and others will join with me in trying to get that departmental by-law revoked, and taking proper steps to induce the Ministry to see how wrong it is to the consumers generally that tobacco manufacturers should -.have the privilege of avoiding the payment of import duty because they are going to mix all those ingredients with ordinary tobacco leaf.
Request negatived. Item agreed to.
Item (Tobacco, hand made, strand), item (Cigars), item (Cigarettes), and item (Snuff) agreed to.
. Now that we have passed all the items relating to tobacco, cigars, cigarettes, and snuff, I suggest to the Chairman that this is a convenient place for me to submit a request for the insertion of the new item I have indicated.
– I do not think I can receive the request at this stage. I can only receive it in connexion with the item “ Glucose “ when it is reached.
– Perhaps, sir, it will be convenient for me to test the question now.
– I suggest to the honorable senator that it will strengthen his case if he submits his request after the item “Glucose” has been reached.
– I thank thai would be rather a concession on the part of the Chairman.
– If the honorable; senator submits a request now for the insertion of a new paragraph, I shall have to rule that it cannot be received, but if he submits a request in connexion with the item “Glucose,” I shall rule that it can be received.
– I move-
That the House or Representatives be requested to insert after the item “Snuff,” the following new item : - “Confectionery containing Glucose, Paraffine Wax or Plaster of Paris, per lb., 2d,”
– For the reasons I have already given, this is a request which! I consider that I cannot receive.
– I beg to submit a’ formal dissent from the ruling.
The CHAIRMAN. Senator Clemons has handed in a formal dissent from my, ruling in these words -
I dissent from the Chairman’s ruling to the effect that he cannot receive a request that theHouse of Representatives insert a new item’ as follows : - 11 Confectionery, containing glucose, paraffine wax or plaster of Paris,- 2d. per lb.”
In the Senate:
The Chairman of Committees. - I have to report that in Committee on a Bill for an Act relating to duties of Excise, when considering the schedule, after having dealt with the item Snuff, Senator Clemons moved a request to insert the following new line - “ Confectionery containing glucose, paraffine wax, or plaster of Paris, per lb., 2d.”
I ruled that I could not receive that request, because it was a request to insert a new item in the schedule to the Bill, and not a request to amend or omit an item already in the schedule. I did so in accordance with what I take to be a direction contained in section 53 of the Constitution, which provides -
The Senate may at any stage return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate may not amend, requesting by message the omission or amendment of any items or provisions therein. And the House of Representatives may, if it thinks fit, make any of such omissions or amendments with or without modifications.
J am not called upon to construe the Constitution, but we have no Standing Orders to guide us in this matter, and it seems to me that section 53 of the Constitution means that in respect of an item in a schedule to a Bill we can only request its , omission or amendment, and that we cannot insert any new item or provision in the Bill. I intimated to Senator Clemons that I thought he could to some extent deal with the matter he proposed to raise under the item “Glucose “ in the schedule, which was under consideration, by moving a request for the insertion of a sub-item under that line, making confectionery containing glucose .liable to an Excise duty. However, -that point does not arise at this stage. My ruling was that the honorable senator could not move his request for the insertion of a’ new line in the schedule, .seeing that it did not propose the amendment or omission of any existing item- in the schedule.
– I have listened attentively to. what the honorable senator has said, because, although the matter was incidentally referred to in Committee a little time ago, I had not been able to grasp the real objection to -my request. In making his statement the Chairman ‘called attention to section 53 of the Constitution, and I venture to say that I am -sorry such a reference was made. I do not wish again to bring under the consideration of the Senate, and consequently “to suggest for the consideration of honorable members in another place, any’ question of the limitation of the powers of. the Senate. As you, sir, have been a member of the Federal Parliament since the inauguration of
Federation, I need not remind you that this matter was threshed out at very great length some years ago, and the conclusion then arrived at was that in the moving of requests, even . upon Money Bills, and notwithstanding section 53 of the Constitution, there is practically no limit placed upon the powers of the Senate. I shall make* no further reference to the bearing of the constitutional section quoted, because, although the Chairman of Committees referred to it, I . do, not think that he attaches very much importance to the reference since he did not proceed to argue upon that basis. With respect to any limitations imposed by our own Standing Orders, I might remind you, sir, of a ruling which you gave a short time ago. Though, before you gave that ‘ ruling, I had dissented from the views it enunciated, I may remind you that it was given in connexion with a reference to you upon a question somewhat similar to that- which ;has now arisen. I have no means -at hand of quoting the exact words’, you .used in giving that ruling, but,’ ‘putting the matter in simple language, -you ruled that in the Senate we do not amend these’ Bills, but request another place to do .certain things. In this case, I proposed that we should request another place to insert something that does’ not now appear in the schedule.
– The previous ruling was given in connexion with the Bounties Bill.
– I think it was. All that I have asked is that we should request another place to do something. Where a request ‘is submitted that is not in “ contravention of our Standing Orders - and you, sir, ruled on the occasion to which I refer that a similar request did not contravene our Standing Orders - your ruling has been that there is practically no limitation to the requests which the Senate can make to another place. The question whether, before the Excise Tariff Bill becomes law, such an addition as I have proposed can be made .to it is one which must be settled elsewhere; but as to our right to make the request, there is, as I have already said, no limit to our powers so long as the request submitted is in conformity with our Standing Orders. There is, so far as I know, no standing order that would prevent the Chairman of Committees from receiving such a request. The Chairman’ did not quote ohe, nor do
I think he believes that we have any standing order which would prohibit his receiving such a request.
– We have no Standing Orders to guide us in this matter at all.
– I agree with the honorable senator in that respect, and he will agree with me that there is nothing in our Standing Orders which would prohibit him from receiving such a requestas I submitted in Committee.
– Hear, hear.
– That being so, how are we to decide the question? I say that our Standing Orders do not forbid the Chairman of Committees to receive such a request, and the practice of the Senate does not ‘prohibit the moving of such a request. There is no reason why the request which I moved should not be received by the Chairman of Committees, and I again emphasize the point which you, sir, made in giving a ruling the other day, when we were dealing with the competence of this Committee to make a certain request to. another place to do certainthings . I think that you said that in such a case there is practically no limitation to the requests we can make.
– The honorable senator contends that the Senate can make any request it pleases, and it is for another place to decide whether it is within its powers to grant the request.
– I have been trying to quote the President’s ruling that it was competent for the Senate to make any request that did not traverse the Standing Orders or the established practice of the Senate, and that the validity of giving effect to a request, which is a totally different matter, . must be determined elsewhere, and is not within our province. The question raised is of great importance to the Senate. If you, sir, were to rule that such a request as I have moved is out of order, and that it is not competent for the Chairman of Committees to receive it, you would - I am sure unwillingly so far as you are personally concerned as President of the Senate- be taking away, to a certain extent, from the rights and privileges of the Senate. I am quite convinced’ thatyou have no desire to do that, and I submit, with confidence, that there is nothing to prevent such a request as I moved in this case being received by the Chairman of Committees, and properly made by the Senate to another place.
– I was under the impression that the question now submitted has practically been decided by you, sir, in dealing with a pointwhich arose in connexion with the Bounties Bill. An effort was then made to submit a request for the inclusion of some additional items. We had occasion to look into the question, and we discovered that it had been ruled by the Speaker of the House of Representatives that such requests could not be made.
– We have already done, in. dealing with the Customs Tariff Bill, precisely what I have requested should be done in this case.
– Oh, no, that is exactly what we have not done.
– -That was an amendment of the Bill.
– No, we passed a request.
– The Chairman of Committees distinctly stated that no new or fresh items could be introduced into the schedule.
– But a request was moved, and agreed to.
– A request upon an existing item.
– I am sure that I am accurate when I say that the Chairman of Committees, at the outset, stated that, whilst he was prepared to accept requests upon any item included in the schedule, he could not receive requests for new items.
– Any number have been received.
– The Chairman of Committees has on no occasion accepted a request for a new item in the schedule to the Customs. Tariff Bill.
– Hear, hear.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council has himself moved dozens of them.
– Every request I moved had some relation to an item already existing in the schedule to the Customs Tariff Bill.
– The request in this case is similarly related to an item in the schedule to the Excise Tariff Bill.
– It has no such relation, and that is just the point. I understood that the ruling of. the Chairman of Committees to whichI have referred, and with which I agree, was accepted. We have to deal here with an exactly parallel case, because practically the same words are used in the Excise
Tariff Bill as appear in the Customs Tariff Bill. I quote from clause 5 of the Excise Tariff Bill-
The duties of Excise specified in the schedule are hereby imposed according to the schedule, as from the time of the imposition of such duties or such later dates as are mentioned in the schedule.
These are practically the words made use of in the Customs Tariff Bill, and, consequently, if it is the accepted practice of the Senate, and it has been the practice followed in dealing with the Customs Tariff Bill, this is an exactly parallel case. I made a reference to a ruling which you gave in connexion with the Bounties Bill, which was accepted by the Senate. I have personally my own views about that, butI need not trouble honorable senators with them at this juncture. We have had a ruling given in connexion with the Bounties Bill on a point which, I think, is fairly parallel to that which has arisen in this case. I am arguing from the stand-point of your ruling, sir, and not expressing my own individual views. As mentioned by the Chairman of Committees, I do not think that you are at liberty to overlook the terms of section 53 of the Constitution.
– It would be better not to refer to that.
– It is all very well for the honorable senator to say so. I do not see the force of the objection raised to the introduction of a matter which might suggest a limitation of our powers, because whatever our powers are we have to abide by them.
– The honorable senator should not introduce that reference.
– I do not wish to labour the point, but I say that the Chairman was called upon to read section 53 of the Constitution in coming to a decision on the point raised. It is too big a subject to attempt to enter upon at this juncture. I urge, firstly, that the practice which the Chairman has now upheld, has already been established by him and accepted by the Senate in connexion with the Customs Tariff Bill, of which this Bill is an exact parallel and secondly that you, sir, have practically decided this matter in connexion with the BountiesBill.
– The question at issue appears to be whether the Senate has the right to suggest to the House of Representatives an amendment of a particular Money Bill. That right is given to us by the Constitution.So far as I can see, that is all that Senator Clemons’ request means. The Chairman has treated itas though it were arequest for an addition to the schedule, but, even if it is an addition, it is still an amendment of the schedule. The Chairman has ruled that no request can be submitted except for an amendment upon some item already enumerated in the schedule, but I submit that any honorable senator has the right to move a request that the House of Representatives should amend the schedule in any direction which the Committee think proper. We ought not to tie our hands in the hard and fast fashion which the Chairman’s ruling, if given effect to, will bring about.
– “ Cabin’d, cribb’d, confin’d.”
– It will, as the honorable senator says, crib, cabin, and confine discussion and legislation. We are here, not to be bound by precedent and more especially by bad precedent, but’ to create our own procedure and. precedents for ourselves as we go along, making our own Constitution, so to speak, day by day. If this sort of thing is persisted in, the powers of the Senate will very soon be whittled away, so much as to be almost invisible. We shall not be able to put a new idea into any Money Bill which another place chooses to send to us. We shall be merely in a position to reject, enlarge, diminish, or otherwise deal with the actual proposals which the House of Representatives send up. The Constitution contemplated nothing of the kind. . The spirit of the Constitution, to my mind, is that while the House of Representatives has the privilege of initiating Money Bills, that is the utmost degree to which their power exceeds that of the Senate. In all other respects the Senate has co-ordinate powers. I do not see the profit to the Senate, or to the community, in limiting our power in the strict and unreasonable fashion which will result if the Chairman’s ruling is upheld.
– The Chairman of Committees has in this issue given a correctruling. Of course, we arejust starting, and our Standing Orders are not a complete guide in this connexion, but in addition to the Standing Orders, we have the Constitution, within the limits of which it must always be our aim to act. This Chamber is limited in its Dowers with regard to certain matters. Whilst its powers are largely co-ordinate with those of another place, it has not the power to initiate taxation, and I question whether it has the power to request another place to initiate taxation.
– What have we been doing but requesting another place to initiate taxation ?
– We have been requesting them to vary matters of taxation that they have already initiated.. Clearly, Senator Clemons’ proposal is a request for the initiation of new taxation, which is not contemplated or referred to in the Bill as it came to us. He proposes a request for the imposition of an Excise duty upon, not merely glucose, but paraffine wax and plaster of Paris. There is no proposal in the Bill to put an excise duty, high or low, upon those two articles.
– The proposal _ is with regard to “ Confectionery containing glucose, paraffine wax, or plaster of Paris.’”
– The proposal deals with confectionery containing certain ingredients. Clearly that means taxation on those things when they are contained in confectionery.. I think that is a bar to this request. In . addition, the Chairman of Committees has established a practice which up; to. the- present we have adopted, but which, of course, does not bind us if we see the necessity of departing from it and establishing a new practice, but unless there proves to be a necessity, and the Senate affirms that necessity in some corporate way, we must be bound by the practice already established. I am inclined to think that you yourself have upon at least one <k> casion confirmed the spirit of the Chairman’s ruling in that connexion.
– The question submitted to me is not quite on all-fours with that which arose in connexion with the Bounties Bill. As the matter has been referred to, it may be well for honorable senators to see clearly what was the con; elusion arrived at by both Houses in regard to the Sugar Bonus Bill. That will clear away a certain amount of difficulty- in the minds of some honorable senators. There being a difference qf opinion in regard to the Sugar Bonus Bill as to the power of the Senate to propose an amendment which would have the effect of increasing the burden of taxation upon the people, the Senate contended that it had that power, but when the Bill was returned from the Senate with amendments, Mr. Speaker is reported in Hansard of 9th July, 1903, page 1963^ as having said -
I think that my position requires me to point out to the House that this message covers an amendment made by the Senate in the Bill, which amendment is of such a nature that it would, Si passed, “ increase “ a “ proposed charge or burden on the people,”- and that it isin direct contravention )of sub-section 3 of section 53 ‘of the Constitution that such an, amendment should be made by the Senate. The alteration, if sought, should have been by request, and not by amendment.
This led to a considerable amount of debate in both Chambers, and eventually the Senate decided to make a request. When that came before another place, Sir. Edmund Barton, who was then Prime Minister, is reported in Hansard of 24th July, 1903, page 2610, to have observed—
We have given close consideration’ to that question, and we have come to this conclusion : that where the Senate can amend, it ordinarily is not able to suggest; but where its amendment cannot be by way of increase it is intended By the Constitution that it should retain the power of suggestion, as in other .cases. ‘ Where the Senate admittedly could not make an amendment to increase’ the burdens of the people, it can, as in other cases, make a suggestion which, if adopted by us and carried into effect, would increase the burdens upon the people.
Therefore, with regard to a Bill of such a character as the Sugar Bonus Bill, it is clearly and definitely laid down that this Chamber is enabled to amend in some res’pects and to suggest amendments in other respects, where the suggestion is with a view of increasing the burdens of taxation upon the people. But there is a distinction beteween that Bill and this. Although any allusion to the Constitution as limiting our powers has been deprecated, I feel that upon a matter of this sort we cannot avoid turning to the Constitution to see what powers are conferred upon us. If we attempted to exceed the powers given to us by the Constitution, the other Chamber naturally .would resent our, action, and point out to us where we- had made a mistake, if. it were a mistake. .Thea
Ave should have to retrace- the steps we. had taken. It is therefore much better, when a matter ‘ can be clearly and definitely settled, that we should not attempt toignore the Constitution under which we exist, however much Ave may desire the fullest possible power and liberty for the Senate. I quite agree that we should not limit our powers where Ave can possibly avoid it, but we cannot ignore trie Consti- tution. Section 53 of the Constitution provides first that -
Proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys or imposing taxation shall not originate in the Senate.
This Bill is unquestionably a law imposing taxation, and therefore we cannot originate it. The next sub-section provides that -
The Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation.
Then follows the provision that -
The Senate may at any stage return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate may not amend - such as this one - requesting by message the omission or amendment of any items ‘or provisions therein.
We are therefore, in the first place, absolutely precluded from amending, and then, in order to give a certain amount of latitude to the Senate, it is provided that we may request certain things by message. Unfortunately, it appears that we are tied by the wording of that section. We may request only the omission or amendment of any item or provision contained in the Bill. Admittedly, in this case, we are not attempting to request the omission of. any item or provision in the Bill. The proposal is to insert a new item, and the question is - Is that an amendment “ of any items or provisions therein’ ‘ ? . To me it does not appear to be such an amendment, because we are not called upon to deal in this Bill with the question of paraffine wax or plaster of Paris. The Bill does deal with glucose, and I take it that it is perfectly competent for us to submit a request for an amendment dealing with glucose in confectionery, but we must stop at glucose, and cannot carry such a request any further. Allu-sion has been made to one or two other recent decisions’ of the Chair, but those were evoked in another direction, and upon a different character of Bill. The last matter referred to was the Bounties Bill - a Bill which clearly we had the right to amend in certain particulars, and to request the amendment of in others. The decision given from the Chair in that case was that the Senate had no power to make alterations that would have the effect of altering the destination of the grant sought, or of creating another bounty. As far as creating another bounty is concerned, that would run on very similar lines to inserting another clause in the Bill. What I want honorable senators to realize is ‘that this is a Bill which we may not amend in any respect whatever. That power is specifically taken away from us, and a limited power is given us in exchange, .and beyond that limited power 1 do not think we can go. Under these circumstances, I have, of course, to up: hold the opinion expressed by the Chairman of Committees.
– I wish to know, foi my guidance, if I am to understand from your ruling, Mr. “President, that it is quirt competent for me to move a request that confectionery containing ‘any glucose be subject to an Excise duty ?
– I think it is.
– Under these circumstances, is it not competent for me to move that request at the stage at .which we have arrived? I do not know whether the President is aware that I moved the request after the Committee had finished dealing with the item “ Snuff.”
– I will not give a ruling on that point now. I would point out that we have to deal with th, item “Glucose, per cwt., 4s., and on and after nth October, 1907, is.” I think that when the Committee reaches that part of the schedule the honorable senator will be perfectly in order in submitting his request.
– Is that to say that I will be out of order in bringing the request on now?
– Before that question is answered, Mr. President, I would suggest that no honorable senator can ask you to give a hypothetical ruling.
– These matters have first of all to be referred to the Chairman of Committees, who is the first authority. Clearly I am’ not entitled now to give a direction which the Chairman of Committees may or may not agree with. It is open to him to consider what is the best place for the request to be moved, but I ‘think that the proper- place would be after the word “ Glucose.”
– I was only asking for the President’s guidance in order to save time..
In Committee :
Item (Starch) agreed to.
Amylic Alcohol and Fusel Oil, 12s. per gallon.
Tariff Act amounts to 13s. per gallon, and amylic alcohol and fusel oil, if they are to be excisable, should really come under the same rate as spirits n.e.i. Honorable senators will observe that amylic alcohol, and fusel oil appear as a new item in the schedule of Excise duties. ‘ The reason for that is that they are specifically mentioned for the firs’t time in the Customs Tariff Bill, where an import duty is imposed on them. They are included in the schedule to this measure in order that tha Excise duty may also be shown. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to - make the duty on Amylic Alcohol and Fusel Oil 13s. per gallon.
Request agreed to.
Glucose, per cwt., 4s.; and on and after nth October, 1907, is.
– - I am somewhat surprised 1,0 find that with an import duty of £& per ton a moderate Excise duty equal to -£4 per ton has been cut down to 20s. per ton, and therefore I propose to ask the House of Representatives to rec’on’sider the matter, with the view of restoring the Excise duty of £4 per ton.
– Are you not in favour of keeping duties low?
– I am, and lam in favour of keeping protection low. ‘ I am in favour of admitting glucose free altogether, and having neither Customs nor Excise duties; but it is absurd, from my point of view, that we should charge one dealer in glucose a duty of per ton, and another man only j£r per ton. I am not sure what the value of glucose per tora is.
Senator Clemons. Twenty pounds to £22 per ton.
– Is that free of duty ?
– That includes the import duty.
– I take it that the value of glucose at the present time ‘ in America, which . is the chief country of production, is, roughly, about £12 per ton, and an import duty of j£8 on am article valued at £12 per ton is a very big duty’; but when’ there is a sudden reduction’ of the Excise duty from £4 per ton, to £1 in favour of local manufacturers, the protection afforded is very great indeed.
– Are you not in favour of local production?
– I am quite willing to see all sorts of production here, but I do not want to see any one industry in Australia favoured with duties which penalize other industries. I do not wish to go into the principles of freetrade and protection now, but I suppose every honorable senator knows tha’t we free-traders hold that if one industry is favoured by the imposition of a duty, all” the others are penalized. I am not in favour of penalizing all the users of glucose in order that a particular, firm may get a very large benefi’t.
– If you increase the Excise duty, will not that penalize the users of the glucose?
– I wish honorable senators to note the enormous difference between the Excise duty of £x per ton and- the import duty of £8 per ton. Is there any reason for it? Is not a protection of £4 per ton quite sufficient on an article prepared and sold in the United States at somewhere about £12 per ton? If a protection of £4 per ton will not enable us to make glucose in Australia at the present time - the raw material is, I believe, maize-
– That is not the only raw material.
– If that is not the only raw material I take it that the manufacturers have got something cheaper still.
– Would not an Excise duty of £4 per ton be a greater burden on the consumer than an Excise duty of £i ?
– No, not so long as there is an import duty of £8 per ton. The honorable senator knows that this industry is to be started because that import duty of £8 per ton is in existence, and the object is to work the industry under that duty and so divert into the pockets of the proprietors of the industry as much as possible of the £8 per ton. Honorable senators must know that very well. In my opinion, it is not right to give a protection°f £a Per ton, but -£4 per ton is as much as even the most. ardent protectionist should desire. I therefore moye -
That . the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on Glucose 4s. per cwt.
. -Senator Pulsford knows that I agree with him on broad principles, but really the question before the Senate is - Shall we increase the Excise and increase the cost of the article? - because I admit the increased Excise means an increased cost, just as in the same way an increase in an import’ duty means an increased cost. I am sorry to say that Senator Pulsford, myself, and others have missed our chance. Feeling as we do, we ought to have reduced the import duty. It is too late now to do that.
– In regard to Senator Pulsford’ s proposal I wish to say that as the schedule was introduced in the House of Representatives it was proposed to make the Excise duty on glucose 4s. per cwt, but my colleague in another place thought that if glucose was to be used in Australia it was desirable that what we use should be manufactured in Australia under our own supervision, and therefore the duty was reduced to1s. per cwt.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item “ Glucose “ by adding the following new sub-item : - “ Glucose, Confectionery containing, per lb., 2d.”
In common with other members of the Tariff Commission I have given this question the most earnest and careful consideration. Honorable senators may be reminded that in the schedule to the Customs Tariff Bill the Committee has inserted a request to the House of Representatives to add a new item making confectionery containing glucose and certain other ingredients dutiable at 4d. per lb. This was decided upon because we thought that an import dutyof 4d. per lb. would practically prohibit confectionery glucose coming into Australia.
– It will be a very strong deterrent, anyway.
– I agree with Senator Givens in that. As to why it was desired to prohibit confectionery containing glucose coming into Australia I will read the report of the Tariff Commission on the subject signed by myself, Mr. Fuller, ex-Senator Higgs, and Senator McGregor -
Important and definite evidence was given on this subject by Mr, Wilkinson, Government Analyst for Victoria. Hisevidence, detailed on pages 527-529, may be summarized as a clear indication that the use of glucose in confectionery is undesirable and unnecessary : that it means a commercial advantage to manufacturers and a disadvantage to consumers, and that it is used as a substitute for sugar or fruit juices. This opinion was supported by a manufacturer. It was further confirmed by the crossexamination of a witness in Victoria. An important witness, who to some extent defended the use of glucose, had no objection to provisions for identifying confectionery in the manufacture of which glucose had been used ; as to the amount of glucose in imported confectionery ; in locally manufactured.
The recommendation made was that confectionery of any kind whatever containing glucose, and certain other ingredients, should be subject ‘ to a duty of 4d. per lb. The report I have read was approved of by two free-trade members of the Tariff Commission and two protectionist members. I should like to make some reference to the actual evidence we took. The signatories to the recommendation I have quoted were influenced largely by the evidence of Mr. W.. P. Wilkinson, Government Analyst for Victoria and Analyst of the Central Staff of the Department of Trade and Customs. While I deprecate personal allusions, I venture to say that, in my opinion, we could find no better guide in the Commonwealth than that gentleman. Opposition to my proposal has already appeared before the Committee in a circulatory form. I would sooner be wrong with Mr. Wilkinson on a matter of this sort than right with those who want to use glucose for commercial advantages. Because, after all, the question is whether we shall make an honest and determined effort to improve the quality of the articles which we allow to be made in our midst, or whether we shall lean to commercialism, and have regard not merely to the facilities afforded to manufacturers, but to their possible profits. While we are at times apt to boast of the advance in Australian legislation dealing with food adulteration and kindred subjects, I venture to state that, in very many respects, we are still, despite all our progressive notions and ambitions, very far behind older countries. The object of my request is to make an effort to reach the level which has been attained in Europe. In Switzerland there was passed, in 1899, a law forbidding the use of glucose in food. In Germany there was a politically-inspired scientific inquiry, and the resolutions which were arrived at are all set forth in strange language, because it represents a translation of the original text, in Mr. Wilkinson’s report. In scientific attainment England cannot pretend at times to get beyond Germany.
Even in Germany it is recognised that the use of glucose as an article of food is undesirable, and, I venture to say, also, unnecessary .
– Would not the proper thing be to prohibit its use?
– The object of this duty is to prohibit its use, but, as the honorable senator knows, we do not say that confectionery containing glucose is hereby prohibited. We take the other means, which Senator Best suggested to us, of putting on a duty which, in the opinion of Senator Givens, will be a strong deterrent. I “do not wish to mention any names, but the largest confectionery manufacturer, I think, in the Commonwealth, and certainly in Victoria, gave the Tariff Commission particulars of the quantity of glucose that he used. He instituted a comparison, and stated that for every 1,000 tons of sugar that he used he- employ ea 350 tons of glucose. Sugar, for which glucose is a substitute, is undoubtedly a valuable article of food. Every scientific authority will support that statement. It is a pity, I think, that most of us do not eat more sugar than we do. Its value- as a food is undoubted, and yet the Committee has been ‘circularized by the other side to oppose my request. Glucose is made, as many starchy subjects are’ made, from practically any kind of vegetable matter. It is only a few weeks since I quoted from a Melbourne newspaper an extract ^detailing some horrible disclosures made by a sanitary inspector, who was prosecuting an individual because he had 60 or 70 tons of rotten potatoes with maggots creeping all through them, which rendered his house and yard an offence to the neighbourhood generally. . The man was convicted; but the point of the whole thing was that he said in his defence that .the potatoes were there stored to be converted unto glucose.
– If they had been there for the purpose of producing alcohol, would not they have been equally objectionable ?
– I agree with the honorable senator that alcohol affords an excellent simile; but. I merely mention that instance to show that glucose is made from practically any kind of vegetable matter, whether it is in a state of decay or in a wholesome condition. Glucose is made usually from maize or potatoes. The supply of maize is very limited. If we have glucose manufactured here, probably it will not be made out of maize. On the other hand, the supply of potatoes is excessive in some years, and discarded potatoes, which cannot be used for human consumption, will no doubt be converted into glucose.’ Senator’ Millen’s interjection reminds me of how we dealt with the Excise duty on spirits. It was decided, with a unanimity of which I felt decidedly proud, that when brandy or whisky was made from the proper ingredients - that is, made under such conditions as to secure the purity and the comparative perfection of the article - it should pay a lower Excise duty. It is notorious that a large quantity of the brandy and whisky which are put into human consumption is derived almost entirely from by-products, waste products, and refuse matter.
– And the alcohol, as alcohol, is just as good.
– The honorable senator knows that that is a debatable point. A vast majority of the members of the Senate said that it was not, and I venture to say that the balance of the medical evidence supports their view. At any rate, it was decided here that, if in the case of whisky, a distiller derived practically the whole of the article from the distillation of the refuse products of the Colonial Sugar Company, he should pay an extra Excise duty, but that if a man distilled brandy from grapes and whisky from malt, he should pay a lower Excise duty, and, of course, our object was to encourage the proper production of the articles. If we did that then, we ought to do so now. The opponents of my proposal have apparently relied on this argument, and on no other - that glucose is harmless. But that is a mistake. It is manufactured out of potatoes, or maize, or vegetable refuse. In order that it may be used by confectioners, it has to be clarified. In Other words, it has to be made colourless, and, therefore, it is necessary to treat it with sulphuric acid, which subsequently is removed. It is stated that with the removal of the sulphuric acid every other substance of a poisonous nature, such as arsenic, which has been found occasionally in glucose, is also removed. One of the first reasons for objecting to the use of glucose was because there was an appreciable risk of its containing poison. If vI concede to the opponents of my proposition that glucose, as put into confectionery, can be guaranteed to be free from arsenic or sulphuric acid, or any other deadly poison, to what stage do we come? We arrive at the stage which they reach in their circular. We arrive practically at a bald negation, which cannot commend itself to any honorable senator. Practically, the confectioners say, “ We will guarantee . that the glucose we use shall not contain any poisonous substance.” They are careful not to give any description of the properties of glucose. They are careful not to say, what is an undeniable fact, and what Mr. Wilkinson, who surely is far above them, has emphasized more than once, namely, that glucose when freed from every possible poison is a highly indigestible substance. In the language of these very confectioners, it is used in order to make the confectionery “more chewy.” It gives greater substance to the confectionery than, does sugar. What induces them to use it is the fact that it is cheaper than sugar.
– But the price per ton is about the same?
– It costs a little more per ton than does sugar. Is it likely that the makers of confectionery would import glucose at a duty of -£8 per ton, bringing its cost up to £22, when they could get sugar at between £i& and -£20 per ton, unless they derived a commercial advantage from its use? There is not the slightest doubt that they do. Mr. Wilkinson disclosed to the Tariff Commission the advantage which they derived, and other competent authorities on the subject have confirmed everything that he said. The special property of glucose which makes confectioners give £22 for it, as a’gainst, perhaps, /j8 per ton for sugar, is that it has a wonderful property of absorbing water. It is obvious that if a manufacturer, by putting in 1 lb. of glucose, can absorb into the confectionery :i: lb. of water, and sell the whole product at the price of his confectionery, he is doing better than he could do if, by putting in a pound of sugar, he managed to absorb about one-eighth of a pound of’ water. I will admit that that is not the only reason, but that is why they want the article. They also say that the use of glucose makes’ the product “ more chewy.” In regard to the quantity the confectioners use, let me quote the evidence of a Victorian manufacturer, and it will show why the manufacturers are reluctant to touch the question of glucose. They would much rather it was left untouched. I propose to quote from the evidence given by Mr. Hoadley, who came before the- Tariff Commission in Melbourne, as giving a fair indication of what is being done in the confectionery trade in connexion with the use of glucose. I direct the attention of the Committee to the answers given by. this witness, and to the way in which he gave his evidence. I quote from page 568 of the Minutes of Evidence, Vol: II., question 3829 - .
You are asking us to assist you with regard to sugar? - Yes.
Will you tell me ,the composition of your jujubes? - Principally gum and gelatine.
The jujube I refer to now is the jujube of’ which you reduced the price by 3¼d. a lb. yesterday ; what is that made of ? - From gum principally. . .
Wholly gum? - -Sugar and gum.
Is there any glucose in it? - Yes.
Then why do you not answer distinctly, and say what is in it; are the contents of that jujube one-third ‘ glucose, one-third gum, and one-third sugar? - It is about that.
I invite the Committee to notice what was the demeanour of this witness. He was first asked what was in his jujubes, and his answer was glib, prompt, and ready, “ Gum and gelatine.” His next answer was “ Gum principally,” and he was still evading the question and reluctant to make an admission. Then’ he was asked whether they were made wholly of gum, and he said, “ No, of sugar and gum,” and he would not make any admission except to a leading question. He was then asked the ordinary leading question, “ Is there any- glucose in them?” and then he admitted that his jujubes consisted of onethird glucose.
– It had to be dragged out of him.
– As Senator Lynch says, it had absolutely to be dragged out of him, and his final answer was that his jujubes contained one-third gum, onethird glucose, and one-third sugar. I could quote largely from the evidence to show what is going on, and I may be permitted to quote from evidence given by a manufacturer who objected to the use of glucose and said why. A witness named Caffrey was asked -
Do you. make glucose jujubes? - I have great objection to using glucose.
Why ? - I consider it deleterious to health.
Do you _ consider that is a fair statement to make about jujubes made of glucose? - I believe that it is injurious in whatever form it- is consumed. I am only giving you- my personal idea of its effects. I find it- has a tendency to produce constipation in children, when a confection made of pure sugar would not do so.
With regard to the adjective “chewy,” to which I have referred, I may say that’ this witness was asked -
Is it not found that glucose keeps a lolly softer than sugar?- It has a tendency to produce a lolly that will be “chewy,” and that is the lolly I spoke of as likely to produce constipation.
We know that that is one of the effects of the use of glucose.
– These are indiarubber lollies.
– I agree with Senator McGregor that that would be the best description of them. I am glad that he and I are at one in this matter. I have perhaps occupied more of the time of the Committee than I should have done, but I feel earnestly and strongly in this matter, and fortunately it is one with which we can deal quite apart from any fiscal consideration. Whatever happens, I am delighted that in regard to the imported article we have inserted an item in the Customs Tariff which we hope and believe will have the effect of prohibiting the importation of confectionery containing glucose. My pleasure on that account would be very largely added to if we could succeed in preventing the use of glucose by Australian manufacturers of confectionery.’ Reverting for a moment to the commercial aspect of the question, I am satisfied that if Australian manufacturers were bold enough to face this question fairly, and advertise to every one that they sold no confectionery containing glucose, they would not merely enhance the estimation in which they are held by the public in deciding to produce an article of high quality, but they would also undoubtedly increase their own profits. I cannot imagine why they do not see that. They have not now the opportunity to say that they cannot afford to do so, because we permit the importation of confectionery containing glucose. I should have been prepared to go to the length of imposing a duty of 6d. or 8d. per pound to prevent the use of glucose in imported confectionery. But it is equally desirable that it should not be used in confectionery locally manufactured. Honorable senators whoare animated by a desire to promote the establishment of industries in Australia should make a determined effort to see that self-respecting manufacturers are guided by a desire not merely to make good profits and pay good wages, but also to produce a superior article of which
Australians can be proud. Honorable senators of the Labour Party would not only join with me, but would desire to lead me in an effort to improve the wages conditions in any Australian industry, and I ask them especially to say now that they are animated by a desire to achieve the object I haveindicated.
– Did the honorable senator quote the evidence given by. Mr. Wilkinson as to the indigestibllity of glucose ?
– I did, but I could quote further evidence given by that gentleman. I quote the following three questions and answers from his evidence -
You would not, I suppose, encourage the use of glucose in preference to the use of sugar? - No, I would not.
You would tend to discourage its use? - Yes.
The only way we can discourage it is by means of the Tariff? - That is the most direct method.
He was also asked this question -
You are distinctly of opinion that the use of glucose should not be permitted in jellies or wines unless a declaration to that effect ‘ is made? - Its use in wine is prohibited under the Wine Act of Victoria.
I am glad to know that in the State of Victoria, at any rate, it has been decided that there shall be no glucose used in the manufacture of wine. I go further, and ask the Commonwealth Parliament to decide that there shall be no glucose in any article of food, and certainly not in confectionery. ‘ I feel that I have delayed the Committee too long, and I offer an apology and excuse. The apology, that I think the subject very important, and the excuse, that I have given it much consideration quite outside my labours in connexion with the Tariff Commission. I have not been content to rest upon the authority of Mr. Wilkinson, high as his authority on the subject is, but I have taken privately every step by questioning, verbally and through correspondence, the best authorities on the question.
– Isnot Mr. Wilkinsonconnected with the administration of the Pure Foods Act in Victoria?
– He is the Government Analyst of Victoria, and the analyst specially retained by the Commonwealth Department of Trade and Customs, and stands as high in his profession as any one in the Commonwealth. I have had his opinion confirmed by every inquiry I made from the best sources to which I could go for sound information on this subject. I have had correspondence with Mr. Wilkinson apart from the evidence he gave before the Tariff Commission, and he is as strongly as he possibly can be of the opinion that we might do decidedly beneficial work in the interests of every one in the community if we practically prohibited the use of glucose in confectionery. I say, finally, that in so doing we should be inflicting no injury on any protected manufacturer in Victoria. We have removed from our Australian manufacturers all competition from glucose confectionery imported from abroad. We have imposed a duty of 4d. per lb. upon imported glucose confectionery, . and, in suggesting the imposition of an Excise duty of 2d. per lb. on confectionery in which glucose is used, I am careful to preserve the same modicum of protection that has been decided upon under the Customs Tariff Bill.
– No member of the Committee can take the -slightest exception to the time which Senator Clemons has- occupied in submitting his request. Some time back, when we were dealing with the items in the Customs Tariff, the honorable senator dealt earnestly and at some length with the use of glucose in imported confectionery. I speak for myself, and, I think, for several other members of the Commit- tee, when I say that the arguments brought forward by the honorable senator on that occasion against the use of glucose in confectionery were very strong indeed. He greatly impressed the Committee and Ministers. So much- so that when we had listened to what he had to put before us, we took steps to make further inquiry into the whole question of the use of glucose in any article of food. The honorable senator, on the occasion to which I refer, quoted Mr. Wilkinson, and referred to the fact that he had given evidence before the Tariff Commission strongly discouraging the use of glucose in articles of food. After reading Mr. Wilkinson’s evidence and the honorable senator’s remarks, the Customs authorities thought it necessary to make inquiries as to the exact effect of glucose upon the human system. Before consulting Mr.’ Wilkinson, reference was made to Dr. Norris. the Chairman of the Board of Public Health of Victoria, and the officer charged with the administration of the Health Acts of that State. That course was thought desirable because Dr.
Norris is a pathologist, and Mr. Wilkinson an analyst pure and simple. The ‘ report which Dr. Norris furnished to the Comptroller-General of Trade and Cus-toms; on 23rd March, 1908, was very brief, but to the point. It was to the effect that glucose is not necessarily an injurious article for human consumption, but that it may be, and is, used in certain circumstances, in connexion with the manufacture of jams from what may be called spent fruits, or fruits of which the juices have already been extracted and used for other purposes. Dr. Norris’ . report, which speaks for itself, is as follows -
From the physiological point of view, there can be no objection to the use of glucose in confectionery and other foodstuffs. This is, of course, on the assumption that proper standards of purity for the substance are fixed and maintained, a course which is necessary in view of the fact that the substance is now largely prepared by chemical means, and that bv the use of impure chemicals the finished product may be impure. In this connexion, I’ inclose a copy of the standards fixed under our Pure Food Act, for different forms of commercial glucose.
To show the absurdity of objecting to glucose as a foodstuff, only one physiological fact need be mentioned, viz. : - That cane sugar is valueless as a tissue food until it has been converted in the digestive tract into what is practically glucose, whereas glucose can be absorbed and utilized bv the system without any digestion or fermentation.
Glucose is the sugar of fruits, and a large proportion of the cane sugar used in the manufacture of jam is, by the action of the fruit acids, in the presence of heat converted into glucose.
– There is a remarkable difference there between the Chairman of the Board of Public Health and the analyst.
– I shall read Mr. Wilkinson’s report shortly. The final para-, graph of Dr. Norris’ report deals with the uses to which glucose can be improperly put in connexion with the . manufacture of jam -
Perhaps it may be well to mention the one objection to the use of glucose in jam manufacture, viz. : - That owing to its freedom from liability to crystallization, -it can be used to make jams from inferior fruit, or partly exhausted fruit pulp, the juice of which has been used to make syrups or jellies. This, however, is a matter which should be controllable by other means.
That is the opinion obtained from the chief public pathologist of Victoria. He distinctly states that glucose is more digestible than ordinary cane sugar, and that the process of digestion of cane sugar actually involves its conversion into glucose.
– He also says that inferior fruit can be made to appear like good fruit by the admixture of glucose.
– I said that Dr. Norris drew particular attention to the possibility of its use in making Jams from inferior fruit or partly exhausted fruit ..pulp, the juices of which had been used to make syrups or jellies. After receiving that report, the Department invited a communication upon the subject from Mr. Wilkinson, the Government Analyst of .Victoria, who also acts, as Senator Clemons stated, as the analyst for the Central Department of Trade and Customs for the Commonwealth. His report, received on ist April, 1908, reads as follows -
In evidence before the Tariff Commission I endeavoured to make the point clear that authorities on food and food analysis do not regard the use of glucose in foodstuffs as detrimental, provided the glucose used is pure. Since the date of that evidence additional information on this subject has appeared, and I attach translation hereto of the recently expressed authoritative opinion of the President of the Imperial Department of Health, Berlin. It is to be noted that the opinion is expressed that it has never been proved that commercial glucose is injurious to health, and that no objections can be raised against its use from a health point of view. Another- authority, Dr. Wiley, Chief of the Bureau of Chemistry, United States of America, in his work on Foods and their Adulteration, Philadelphia, 1907, states on page 485 : - “ Glucose containing harmful substances : - The bleaching of glucose by sulphurous acid naturally leads to the introduction into candies of this substance. It is present in minute quantities, however, and, if the glucose is carefully made, I may add - negligible quantities. The danger of over-sulphuring must not be forgotten, and it is difficult to draw a line of demarkation between what may be regarded as negligible and injurious quantities. The abandonment, therefore, of the use of sulphur must be regarded as’ the only safe way of protecting the consumer against an adulteration of this kind.” Dr. Wiley also states on page 384 :- “ In the present state of our knowledge, glucose is not regarded by the majority of hygienists as a substance injurious to health. Ii it be injurious, it is due more to a lack of care in manufacture than to any inherent properties. Pure glucose, being simply a hydrolyzed production of starch, cannot be regarded as a substance injurious^ to health. The objections to glucose which have been legitimately made are due to the fact that the acids which have been used in converting the starch, and also the sulphurous acid which has been used in bleaching the product, have not been entirely removed. It appears that the glucose used for food purposes can be freed from all objection by inverting the starch with which it is made with diastase and avoiding the use of all bleaching reagents. The glucose thus made would not be water-white, nor is it desirable for edible purposes that it be so, since it is always, except, perhaps, in the manufacture of certain candies, used in connexion with natur ally coloured food products. There is no reason to believe that a glucose made as above, and possessing, as it naturally would, an amber or reddish colour would be made less desirable than a product which is absolutely colourless. Thissuggestion, therefore, is made to the manufacturer pf glucose for edible purposes, in the in’terests of public health, and to avoid any possible condemnation of the glucose by reason of the method of manufacture, namely, that the use of acid in the manufacture of glucose be discontinued, that malt or some other form of diastase be substituted, and that bleaching, except by passing through animal charcoal, be entirely omitted. The product made in this way would be free from the objections which hav been, and ma-v in the future still be, urged with reason against, the use of the article at the present time.”
– Is it not a fair commentary on that to say that it is a laboured argument to .prove a negative result ? The most that it is hoped to prove is that glucose is harmless, and not that it has the value of sugar.
– I followed Senator Clemons’ argument with regard to Mr. Wilkinson’s, statements, and will deal with it immediately. Mr. Wilkinson goes on to say -
Hutchison, the well-known English authority on food, states in his book on Food and Dietetics, 1906, page 274, that - “ Commercial glucose, on account of its incapability of crystallizing, is often used to make jam from inferior fruit or from the remains of fruit, the juice of which has been used to make fruit syrups and jellies. Such jam may have a good appearance, but is deficient in fruit flavour. It is, however, quite wholesome and nutritious.”
I come now to Mr Wilkinson’s concluding remarks. As typewritten, I’ may say, the word “ not “ appears, but the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs and the officers and I, too, consider that it is a slip, and that the word should be “now.” I will read it first with the word “ not,” and afterwards with the word “ now “ -
As a matter of fact, it is not (now ?) known that the glucoses (monosaccharids) are more easily of digestion than sucrose or cane-sugar (disaccharids), for in the’ process of digestion sugar cannot be assimilated until it has been converted in the alimentary canal’ into glucoses (dextrose and laevulose) for .the action of the enzyme ferments.
Glucose containing an undue proportion of sulphurous acid compounds, as I stated before the Tariff Commission, would certainly be objectionable for use in foods, as the compounds of sulphurous acid, as proved by the experiment of Wiley and the Health Department of Berlin, are decidedly poisonous to human beings. The fixation of standards in regard to the permissible proportions of sulphurous acid compounds in glucose and other foods (is) vested in State control under the several State Health Acts and Pure Food laws.
The last sentence seems to be involved, as apparently the word “is” has been omitted.
– The honorable senator can have his choice of “now” or “ not “ in the first sentence, because the whole argument is that the human being must do the digesting.
– How is it that the German Army authorities prescribe double rations of sugar because of its nutritive qualities, while we hear nothing of their prescribing glucose?
– That point also, I propose to deal with directly. It has been ascertained that in Germany an effort has been made to induce the authorities to place glucose on the same level as beet sugar in the uniform food standards of the Empire with regard to its use in the manufacture of foods. I have here a copy of a long memorandum, dated 23rd June, 1906, and addressed to the Imperial Board of Health, Berlin, presumably by some persons, whose signatures are not given, interested in the use of glucose. I have also a translation of the very much longer reply or advice given by the expert officer. I do not propose to read the whole of it, but the notes that have been made here for the Secretary of State of the Interior, in order, apparently, to enable him to give his reply to’ the petition, clearly show in various places that glucose is not regarded as inherently harmful or injurious when used as a food or in connexion with foods. It is pointed out in the report that in England glucose is used ‘very largely in connexion with marmalades, jams, and syrups, but that when it is present beyond a certain percentage the manufacturers are liable to prosecution.
– Why prosecute, if glucose is good?
– For the reason which I gave before, that.it may be used in connexion with spent fruits, and that its action then is to make the article appear to contain the juices of which the spent fruit has been exhausted.
– Did you not read the statement that it was perfectly healthy?
– Yes ; but that it was deceiving. That was in the concluding paragraph of Dr. Norris’ report.
– It would be waste matter except for making into glucose.
– The conclusion of the report’ in regard to the petition that has been made to the Imperial authorities in Berlin reads - .
If, therefore, according to the data so far collected, no objections can be raised against the use of glucose from a health point of view, we can still not recommend an increased use of it in the manufacture of food, not only on account of the above-stated inferiority of the goods, but also because an increased consumption of glucose would mean a decreased consumption of beet-sugar, which has undoubtedly proved itself a good food.
Even if glucose is not injurious, they could not recommend any course that would increase its use in connexion with foods, because the result would be to decrease the consumption of beet sugar. The report continues -
A remarkable fact regarding glucose should not be forgotten, that in spite of its relatively low price it has made barely any headway in the household as a substitute for beet-sugar.
All this goes to show that whatever defects glucose may have are defects, not due . to any inherent vices, but defects due to the process by which it is manufactured. The same may be said of ordinary sugar.
– If, in the manufacture or the handlingof sugar, certain methods were used, the honorable senator will admit that there might be injurious defects.
– Sugar is not made from spent matter.
– Neither is proper glucose. As far as the extracts I have quoted go, they show that there is no inherent defect or vice in glucose itself that caused steps to be taken in Germany to discourage its use beyond a certain extent, but that its injurious properties are due entirely to the method by which it is manufactured. Eliminating from consideration the injurious ingredients which there may be. in glucose manufacturerin a certain way, we get to what Senator Clemons regarded as a negative position. That is that glucose is neither good nor harmful as far as. food is concerned. In spite of Senator Clemons’ statement that glucose is indigestible, the evidence of Mr. Wilkinson, the Victorian Government Analyst, and Dr. Norris, the Victorian Government Pathologist, clearly goes to show that it is more digestible than cane sugar.
– Mr. Wilkinson does not say that.
- Mr. Wilkinson stated -
As a matter of fact, it is now known that the glucoses (monosaccharids) are more easy of digestion than sucrose or cane-sugar (disaccharids), for in the process of digestion sugar cannot be assimilated until it has been converted in the alimentary canal into glucoses.
The relative digestibility of glucose is greater than that of sugar, according to the testimony of both the Government Analyst and the Chief Health Officer of Victoria.As far as the prohibition of the use of glucose in . Germany is concerned, it is quite evident from the report made in order to enable a reply to be given to the petition, that they intend to discourage the use of glucose in order not to decrease the consumption of beet sugar-. I think the Com mittee will see. that it is not advisable to adopt any course with regard to glucose and its use in the Commonwealth that would indicate that the Committee had made up its mind that under no circumstances should it be used at all. We have dealt with the question of the importation of confectionery, of which glucose forms an ingredient. I contend that the better coursefor us to take is to so frame our measures as to practically make it impossible for any person who desires to use glucose in the Commonwealth to use any other glucose than that manufactured here under our own supervision.
– You will have six State authorities dealing with it.
– We shall not have six different State authorities. If glucose is to be manufactured under Excise conditions, it will, be under the supervision and control of the Commonwealth, unhampered and unfettered by the States.
– Why should the Commonwealth be burdened with that expense when the manufacturers could use sugar ?
– What expense would the Commonwealth be burdened with ?
– Expense will be incurred by the suggestion which you make.
– The very fact that we impose Excise is . to enable us to carrv out the necessary supervision, and instead of there being a burden, the resultant revenue will be more than sufficient to compensate the Commonwealth for any expense incurred. I hope honorable senators will see their way to give effect to apolicv of that kind. Then we shall be satisfied that all glucose manufactured in the Commonwealth is manufactured under conditions which will make it certain that it will contain none of the deleterious ingredients re ferred to by Senator Clemons. Glucose could be used for confectionery, or anything else, so long as it is manufactured under our supervision and our regulations.
– With regard to the evidence of Mr. Wilkinson and the question of the digestibility of glucose, it would be just as much to the point to say that water is more digestible than any article of food.
– I think the Minister for Home Affairs has successfully combated ail the arguments of Senator Clemons as to the wholesomeness of this product. In addition to the authorities quoted by Senator Keating, I hold in my hand the opinion of Mr. W.D. Hargreaves, M.A., F.I.C., who is the Government Analyst of South Australia, and who certainly should be as good an authority as either Senator Clemons or any of the witnesses who gave evidence before the Tariff Commission. ,
– I would not take him as a better authority than Mr. Wilkinson.
- Mr. Wilkinson gave evidence that glucose was only harmful if there was a great quantity of sulphurous acid in it. The argument in favour of encouraging the production of glucose in Australia is that its production can be supervised, and that the local health authorities can make sure that there is not sufficient sulphurous acid or other deleterious ingredient to be of any harm.
– How oftenis the Victorian Pure Food Act evaded?
– That has nothing, fo do with the case. I propose to give to the Committee the opinion of a qualified gentleman as to the wholesomeness or otherwise of glucose. A number of questions were sent to Mr. Hargreaves regarding this matter, and I have his answers. The first question was, “ Is glucose undesirable in the manufacture of confectionery?” Mr. Hargreaves replied -
Pure glucose, is wholesome and nutritious, and is more easy of digestion than cane sugar, for before cane sugar can be digested it has to be changed to dextrose and laevulose. Dextrose is chemically the same as pure glucose. Therefore, provided the glucose is pure, it is not undesirable in confectionery.
Question, No. 2 was. “ Is it necessary in confectionery ? ‘ ‘ The reply to that was as follows -
Certain forms of confectionery “which are popular can be made by the aid of glucose, and cannot be made from cane sugar alone. In this respect glucose is necessary in confectionery:
The third question asked was, “ Is glucose of commercial advantage to manufacturers?” To that’ question Mr. Hargreaves replied -
From the point ofview of question 2, it is a commercial advantage. If the question implies that glucose can be used as an adulterant to cheapen the manufacture, it would appear that there is no commercial advantage in its use, since glucose is dearer than cane sugar.
The fourth question was, “ Is it a disadvantage to consumers?” To that the reply was-
Having regard to the answers to questions 1 and 3, pure glucose is not a disadvantage to consumers with respect to either their healths or their pockets.
Mr. Hargreaves was also asked whether glucose is a substitute for cane sugar. He replied -
In respect to confectionery, glucose cannot be regarded as a substitute for cane sugar.
The sixth question asked was,”Is glucose a substitute for fruit juices?” The reply was -
Glucose is not a substitute for fruit juices in confectionery.
Mr. Hargreaves was also asked whether glucose is not more dangerous in confectionery than plaster of Paris; Honorable senators will see from the reply that glucose is not such a dangerous article to hearth as Senator Clemons would make us’ believe.
– Who sent those questions to Mr. Hargreaves?
– I sent them to Mr. Hargreaves through a mutual friend. Senator Clemons some time ago suggested that plaster of Paris and glucose were equally dangerous.
– I suggested nothing of the sort. I have not mentioned plaster of Paris.
– The reply of Mr. Hargreaves to the question respecting plaster of Paris is as follows -
It is difficult to understand this question. Plaster of Paris is indigestible, and would be decidedly objectionable in confectionery ; but I have never met with any confectionery in which it was used. Glucose is wholesome.
– Mr. Wilkinson says in his evidence thatmost commercial glucose Contains plaster of Paris.
– Mr. Hargreaves further states in answer to the question addressed to him -
– I should say that they did. Mr. Wilkinson warned us because he found one sample containing 5 grains per lb. and another containing 6 grains perlb.
– The writer continues -
There does not appear to be any reason why glucose cannot be manufactured so as to be practically free from sulphurous acid or its compounds. There will be less sulphurous’ acid in the confectionery than in the glucose fromwhich the confectionery is made, as some will be given off in the process of manufacture. It must be remembered in this connexion that some manufacturers use solutions containing sulphurous acid and sulphites in the manufacture of confectionery, and the quantity used is very much greater than that likely to be present in the glucose.
Glucose is an article of food which, among others, has been standardized in Victoria, so that there is not the slightest difficulty in determining whether or not any sample comes up to the standard and is fit for human consumption.
– Have the other States similar Acts? .
– Yes ; South Australia has a more drastic Health Act than has Victoria.
– Then how did the Government Analyst of South Australia get that variety of analyses?
- Senator Findley claims to be a protectionist. Last year we imported over 2,700 tons of glucose. All the raw materials from which it is made are grown in Australia, practically in all the States.
– This request does not touch that question.
– I am addressing a protectionist senator who has been very active in apparent opposition. to the item.
– Because it will mean a greater consumption of glucose.
– It will mean a greater employment of Australian labour in manufacturing the article. If all the glucose which is used in Australia were made locally it would take the product of about 6,000 acres of land. The best glucose is or can be made from potatoes.
– Not the best kind.
– Glucose can be made from potatoes which are grown largely in “Victoria, in the south-eastern parts, of South Australia and in Tasmania. At certain seasons of the year the market price is too low to pay the growers. On some occasions the price has been so low that they have not been dug out of the ground.
– Only once in seven years since Federation.
– If the Committee would assist to establish an industry for the’ manufacture of glucose anywhere in Australia or in each State the surplus crop of potatoes could be put to good use, and the growers would not be called upon at times as they now are to sacrifice a year’s labour. On a number of occasions Senator Clemons has said that he would be the last person to hamper or stifle an Australian industry.
– A good industry.
– To-day the honorable senator told the Committee that he was very desirous to encourage the growth of tobacco, and yet heis now asking the Committee to accept a motion which if carried here and adopted elsewhere would certainly have the effect of hampering if not stifling an industry which ultimately would employ a large amount of labour.
– It will have the effect of vastly improving the confectionery industry. It is really the best advertisement it could get.
– It will” also have the effect of preventing the growers of maize, potatoes and other vegetable products from getting a higher price than they get under existing circumstances. I know that a company sent an- expert to Europe and America to acquaint himself with the most modern system of manufacturing glucose, and, if a protectionist inducement be given here, to purchase the most modern ma chinery. It is prepared to start right away to manufacture glucose, for which there is a large market.
– The honorable senator is doing the greatest damage to Australian confectionery by suggesting that sort of thing.
– On this question, the honorable senator has,” what the boy in the street would call a “ rat.” He refuses to listen to anything in favour of glucose. His mind is absolutely made up. From the report of the Tariff Commission, he quoted evidence which just suited his purpose, and which was intended to damage thequality of this substance in the eyes of honorable senators. No doubt, if time permitted, I could quote from the same witnesses evidence which, would very much modify his argument. He gave as one reason why it should. not be used that glucose absorbs a large quantity of water. As a matter of fact, it loses considerable weight in boiling.
– Of course, it does.
– Then how can it absorb and hold a considerable quantity of water?
– Of course, it can and does. The two things are not antagonistic.
– WhenMr. Wilkinson was giving evidence before the Tariff Commission, he referred to an article of which I presume he approved. I propose to quote a few lines in order to show that glucose, is not the dangerous compound w’hich the honorable senator would have the Committee to believe it. is.
– I did not say anything of the sort. I have always said that the most which can be proved is a negative.
-I invite honorable senators to listen to this quotation -
Can you give any information about its chemical properties or physiological effects? - Yes. I have here two or three articles on the subject of its use, translated principally from the German Journal of Foods and Food Products. I have condensed them, and perhaps I may read them.
On the question of the unrestricted use of starch syrup in the preparation of foods, he said that two German writers had recently discussed the various uses of starch syrup in the preparation of foods and emphasized that -
That statement is quoted by a witness who, according to Senator Clemons, has condemned the use of glucose in unmeasured terms.
That statement is quoted by a witness who, Senator Clemons wants the Committee to believe, has absolutely condemned glucose.
That is only one extract from the evidence given by a witness who, Senator Clemons desires the Committee to believe, has absolutely condemned glucose as an article of diet. I am sorry to hear that a protectionist like Senator Findley intends to oppose the encouragement of that which, if established, would’ be a very large and important Australian industry.
.- I think that this matter can be discussed quite apart from fiscalism. .When we talk about protection, we ought first to consider whether it is not of the highest, and the most supreme importance to protect the life and the health of every person in the community. The strongest argument used in favour of the use of glucose is that it is’ harmless. On the other hand, every one is agreed that sugar is nutritious and that glucose is used ‘because it is cheaper than sugar.
– No, it is dearer.
– The market price of glucose is apparently slightly higher than the price of sugar, but manufacturers of confectionery obtain an advantage by using it as a .substitute for sugar. They are not in business merely for the sake of their health but to make as much money as they can, and they would not use glucose, which is not nutritious, as a substitute for sugar; which is, if the expense were greater. Senator Story has stated that in all probability a factory will be established in Australia in which a large sum of money will be invested if we place no restriction upon the use of glucose . iri confectionery., I would not care if ten such factories were to be established if I had made up my mind that glucose is in jurious to health when used as a substitute for sugar in the manufacture of confectionery.
– But the honorable senator should not make up his mind to that.
– I have made up my mind that, though it may not be injurious, it is not nutritious. There is evidence that it causes constipation amongst children, if not amongst adults’,and we know that constipation is- accountable for very many derangements of the human system. Under the Pure Foods Act in Victoria glucose must be of a certain standard before it can be used in the manufacture of confectionery. That is all right for Victoria, but what about the other States. I am not aware that similar Acts have been passed in any of the other States.
– We have a more drastic law in South Australia.
– Nothing of the kind.
– I am not aware tha’t on the statute-book of any of the other States there is an Act similar to the. Pure Foods Act of Victoria. When we were dealing with the Customs Tariff. Bill, Senator Clemons submitted a request in connexion with the use of glucose in imported confectionery ; there was. not a discordant note, and Senator McGregor, the leader of the party with which I am associated, gave his hearty approval to the request. The unanimity of opinion as to the results which, follow the use of glucose in confectionery is evidenced by the fact that both sections of the Tariff Commission recommended that its use should’ not be permitted.
– Senator McGregor and ex-Senator Higgs agreed with me on the point.
– Senator McGregor and ex-Senator Higgs are known throughout the Commonwealth as consistent and strong advocates of protection. Senator Clemons is as well known as a consistent supporter of the other fiscal theory, and I say that protectionists and free-traders are agreed that something should be done in this matter in the interests of Australian citizens. Notwithstanding the evidence quoted from high scientific authorities with regard to the use of glucose no one ‘ has said that glucose is more advantageous to the human system than is- sugar. Sugar is a natural product of Australia, and- we have passed legislation which we hope will have the effect of permanently establishing the sugar industry in the Commonwealth. I remind honorable senators that if we refuse to’ permit the use of glucose in the manufacture of confectionery we shall ‘confer a considerable advantage upon the sugar industry,, and our action in this matter may mean merely the transference of employe’s from ohe industry to another. But if the proposal submitted by Senator Clemons were to have the effect of displacing some men in a particular line of business and against that were set the preservation of the health of thousands of children and adults who use confectionery, it would still have my support. Notwithstanding all the statements that have been quoted, and the circulars which have been sent to honorable senators in connexion with this matter, I have come to the conclusion that in the manufacture of confectionery sugar is preferable to glucose. I agree with Senator Clemons that -the confectionery industry of Australia would receive a world-wide advertisement if it were made publicly known that Australian manufacturers did not use glucose. I agree with him also that instead of injuriously affecting the manufacturers the result would be considerably to their advantage. It would ‘ be proclaimed to the world that the Australian Parliament was one of the first to lay down definitely and distinctly that confectionery should be absolutely pure and ‘ wholesome before it was placed on the market for sale. For the reasons- I have stated I shall support the request.
– - I shall not take up much time in debating this matter, but as it concerns (he health of the people, I do not care to give a silent vote upon Senator Clemons’ request. It seems to me that the grievance of honorable senators who are moving in the matter is not so much against the use of glucose in the manufacture of confectionery as against the adulteration of glucose itself.
– It is certainly not so, so far as I am concerned.
– There seems to be no evidence from any reliable source that pure glucose is injurious to health.
– Again, the most that the honorable senator can say is that it is harmless.
– I have had the opportunity of consulting one or two reports from reliable sources by men whose only interest was ‘the preservation of the public health, and it does not seem to . me that the imposition of a sweeping tax upon any particular commodity is the best means to -adopt to preserve the health of the people. I believe that the preservation of the public health can be best attended to by the health authorities of the States. It is apparent that the States that have not yet moved in this matter will do so at a very early date. In passing the Victorian Pure Foods Act, the State Legislature was extremely careful about the preservation of the health of the people, and in dealing with the so-called adulterants of confectionery, they prescribed the use of certain ingredients, but did not include glucose amongst them. I give the standard for confectionery from the. Victorian Pure Food Act -
Confectionery shall contain no pa’raffine ; nor any foreign mineral substance ; nor any injurious colouring agent, nor any chloroform or other injurious flavouring agent ; nor any drug concerning which any restrictive legislation is in force ; nor any glucose, other than standard glucose.
Whilst the Act distinctly prescribes the use of half-a-dozen ingredients in the manufacture of’ confectionery, it places no restriction upon the use of glucose of standard quality. That confirms my view that the remedy for the matter with which Senator Clemons- wishes to deal had better be left to State legislation. We might just as well propose the imposition of a heavy tax upon any article of consumption. We know that water is used in the manufacture of confectionery, but would any honorable senator contend that, because a particular manufacturer used water that contained injurious microbes, we should put a tax on- microbes to compel all manufacturers of confectionery to use pure water? We are dealing with an exactly similar case. I have had opportunities to learn the way in which glucose is used in many industries. It was used in connexion with one industry with which I was connected, and not as a substitute for sugar, because unadulterated glucose is much dearer than sugar. In connexion with that industry I never heard of any complaints because of the use of glucose. I have seen children eating glucose itself, and regarding it as a luxury. It was glucose of a very high standard, and I never knew any of these children to suffer in any way from eating it. I should be very loath to give any vote which might encourage the use of anything which would injuriously affect the health of the people. There are many articles in the confectionery line which could not be brought to the standard of perfection which they have reached to-day were it not for the use of a certain quantity of glucose. In this. State, at all events, by the passing of the Pure Foods Acts the State Legislature has made provision for the health of the’ people, and we might leave other States to follow on similar lines. We should certainly not, in protesting against the use of an adulterated and impure article, impose a quite unnecessary tax on a pure standard article. I should certainly not vote against Senator Clemons’ request if I thought that in doing so I should be doing anything which would tend to injuriously affect the health of the people. If 1 thought that the use of pure glucose in confectionery would have any such effect I should be prepared to absolutely prohibit it. But I do not think so, and I intend to vote against the request.
– I am as anxious as any one can be that all articles used for human consumption shall be pure and of the very best quality. I know that in Victoria there is in force what might be called an uptodate Food and Drugs Act - perhaps the most advanced legislation of the kind in any of the States. I think that Senator Storv was under a misapprehension in suggesting that the South Australian Act was a more drastic piece of legislation.
– The honorable senator referred to the Health Act.
– The South Australian Health Act is a very good Act. There has been prepared in South Australia a Bill for an Act which might be considered quite as up-to-date as the Victorian Pure Foods Act, and I think it is right that such legislation should be passed. The care of the health of the people with regard to foods is a nuestion more for the States than for the Commonwealth Parliament. There is being established in South Australia a factory for the manufacture of glucose.
– It is an impure article afany time.
– That is a matter of opinion. Senator Story has read replies from Mr. Hargreaves, the Analyst for South Australia, stating that there is no impurity in glucose when it is made up to stahdard. In the south-east of South Australia potatoes are very largely grown. I was in that part of the State a year or two ago, and saw acres of ground literally full of potatoes, into which the fork was not put because the potatoes were not worth digging at theprice then obtainable. One of the objects of the new factory in South Australia is to give potato-growers a better market for their produce. No doubt glucose is used very largely in confectionery, and it is thought that if its use is restricted in the wav proposed, the effect upon that industry will be very damaging. The whole gist of the matter is not whether glucose should be used, but whether it should be of a standard quality so that it shall not be injurious. Senator E. J. Russell made reference to the regulations issued under the Pure Food Act of Victoria, and to the standard set up for glucose. It is provided in Victoria that it shall not be used in confectionery unless it conforms to that standard. If Senator Clemons will propose that glucose shall not be used in confectionery unless it is up to standard, he will accomplish what he is really aiming at. He should add to the word “ glucose “the words”if containing more than 1 per cent, of ash, estimated on the basis of a degree of concentration equal to at. degrees Baume, or containing arsenic.” He would then be quite sure that the material used was up to standard, and could not be injurious.
– Does not the honorable senator’s suggestion presuppose that arsenic is occasionally present?
– It has been stated in evidence that there are sometimes traces of arsenic. We should, therefore, provide in the way which I suggest that there must be no arsenic in glucose. One manufacturer states -
Since the confectionery trade has used glucose, it has been the means of increasing the variety and keeping quality of sweets, and it is almost as essential as sugar in the confectionery of today. In all boiled confectionery the use of glucose adds to the lustre and brilliancy of the goods, and it has a decided tendency to prevent their becoming sticky and prevents granulation for a considerable period. In all the other softer classes of confectionery the use of glucose improves the texture and consistency and renders the resultant manufactures of a lesser sweetness (there is such a thing as having some kinds of confections too sweet). With the use of glucose confectioners have considerably altered the consistency of the old-fashionecl Comfit pan goods, such as aniseed balls and sugar almonds, which used to be made hard and brittle, but now do not affect the most fragile teeth.
The use of glucose is a matter of considerable importance. The testimony of scientific men is somewhat conflicting, but if Senator Clemons will add to his request the words which I have suggested, I shall be glad to support him as by that means we can provide that nothing injurious shall be used in the manufacture of confectionery.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item “ Glucose” by inserting the following new sub-item. - “ Glucose, Confectionery containing, per lb., 2d.” (Senator Clemons’ request) - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item (Invert Sugar and Invert Syrup), item(Saccharine, . &c), and item (Golden Syrup, &c), agreed to.
Title agreed to.
– The question is that I report the Bill to the Senate, with a request for an amendment, and ask leave to sit again on receipt of a message from the House of Representatives in respect of the said Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reported with a request.
Motion (By Senator Best) proposed-
That the report from the Committee of the Whole on the Excise Tariff Bill be adopted, and that the Committee have leave to sit again on receipt of a message from the House of “Representatives “in reference to such Bill.
– I take it that the effect of a request having been made in this Bill is tantamount to an amendment having been made in an ordinary Bill, and that notice must . be given before a motion is submitted for the adoption of the report. We are nof required, without notice, to adopt the report on a Bill in which amendments have been made, and I submit that the same rule must be applied to a Bill’ on which requests have been agreed to by the Senate. The PRESIDENT.- The procedure that has hitherto been adopted in connexion with Bills of a similar character to this, is that where a report has been submitted with a request, the Senate has adopted that report forthwith, but that may have been done in consequence of no objection having been raised. We have no standing orders specifically setting forth what is to be done in such a case, but our practice Is that the adoption of a report cannot be proceeded, with at once if there are any amendments reported. In this case we have a request reported, and I think the reasoning in the one case would apply to the other case. The Journals of the Senate in connexion with the first Excise Tariff Bill state -
Senator Best also reported that the Committee recommend that the Customs Tariff Bill be returned to the House of Representatives, with a message conveying the requests of the Senate to the House of Representatives to make certain amendments in the Bill as set forth in -a schedule to the message, and
That the Committee have leave to sit again on receipt of a message from the’ House o’f Representatives.
Ordered - That the report from the Committee be considered to-morrow.
Our Standing Orders do not deal specifically with cases of this character, but do deal with cases where we have an ordinary Bill reported, and there it is necessary to have a later date fixed for the adoption of the report. If any objection is taken to the report at the present time the proper thing would be to make it an order of the day for to-morrow.
– I do riot object to this motion, but we are in rather a novel position. I want to move the recommittal of the Customs . Tariff Bill on one or two specific items only, and if the report on the Bill is adopted I shall be unable to move such a motion. Also I wish to see the schedule of the requests that have been made, because I want to know what it is necessary to do.
– As there is no objection to the report of this Bill being taken at once, I will put the question to the Senate, and the question of adopting the report of the other Bill can be dealt with when it comes up.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reported with requests.
– I move -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the report to be adopted forthwith.
– I Object to this motion. No notice has been given, and there is no reason for such extraordinary haste.
– Standing order No. 433 which deals with this matter, is as follows -
In cases of urgent necessity, any Standing or Sessional Order or Orders of the Senate may be suspended on motion duly made and seconded, without notice ; provided that such motion is carried by an absolute majority of the whole number of senators.
– Under the standing order quoted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, the motion . has moved can be submitted to the Senate without notice, but it will be necessary for it to be carried by an absolute majority - that is nineteen senators must vote for the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable the report to be adopted.
– While I admit at once the relevancy of the matter under consideration1 to the standing order quoted by the VicePresident of the Executive Council, I think the Senate might have expected some explanation of the necessity for the motion, but I assume that the honorable senator will remedy that omission later on. I am, as the honorable senator . knows, ‘ desirous of bringing the session to an . early close ; but I think that before we make such a wide diversion on so important a Bill from the procedure established some reasons should be given. Whilst I am desirous of assisting the Vice-President of the Executive Council to complete the business of the session, I think the Senate should be told where the urgency comes in. If there is no other business for the Senate to do to-morrow we might follow the ordinary, course and take the report on the Bill then, but if there is business that requires our attention to-morrow, the VicePresident of the Executive Council , has some reason for the motion he has submitted. I am hopeful that the honorable senator will’be able to tell us that the Esti mates will be ready for us to go on with tomorrow. So far as I can see,there is a very grave danger of the Senate being left without anything to do, and if there is no work that requires our attention to-morrow there is no reason why we should not deal with the report On the Customs Tariff Bill then. There can only be urgency if it is necessary to get the Customs Tariff Bill out of the way, so as to make way for other public business.
– By getting the Bill to another place to-morrow, a day will be gained there.
– The Prime Minister has stated that when the Estimates have been dealt with, another place will- deal with the Federal Capital Bill.
– Start again.
– I do not think the honorable senator is fair. I have done everything to expedite the passage of the Tariff, but it is one thing to adopt the unusual course proposed, which is only intended to be adopted in cases of great urgency, and another thing to adopt it in order to avoid an hour or two’s work tomorrow. Some reason should be given why we should pass over the safeguards provided by the Standing. Orders. If the passage of the motion means that we shall be left without any- work to-morrow, I am utterly opposed to it; but if the VicePresident of the Executive Council can assure us that by giving effect to the present motion the Senate will be able to proceed with otherbusiness to-morrow, I shall support him.
– I wish to intimate my intention to move for the recommittal of the Bill.
– You can do it by moving an amendment.
– I do not wish to be put in the position of losing my opportunity of moving for the recommittal of the Bill. If the motion is passed, Will I have an opportunity of moving in that direction ?
– The motion at present before the Senate is that the Standing Orders be suspended as to enable the adoption of the report to be moved forthwith. I have already explained that it will be necessary to have an absolute majority of the Senate in favour of that* motion, and, if the motion is carried by an absolute majority, a motion for the adoption of the report will be submitted, and then the honorable senator would be in order in submitting, a motion of the kind he indicates.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [5.13]. - I shall vote against the motion to suspend the Standing Orders, for the reasons given by Senator Millen and for other reasons. When .the Senate has made requests numbering some 300, it seems exceedingly undesirable to proceed with this undue haste. I admit that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has the Standing Orders on his side, but those who take a different view have their right, to vote, and I do not think the honorable senator will succeed in carrying his motion. He will not get nineteen senators to support it, and we may just as well leave the adoption of the report until to- morrow, and go on now with another Bill on the notice- paper, which I am sure the honorable senator desires to have passed.
– I have interpreted the wishes of the Senate to be that we should complete the Excise and Customs Tariff Bills as rapidly as possible, so that the requests may be printed, and everything be done, in order to allow the measures to be taken to another place with the least possible delay. I consider that it is- of the utmost moment that these Bills should be in the hands of another place to-morrow.
– Will they be proceeded with then?
– I think the honorable senator should content himself with my assurance that it is of great importance that the measure should be received by another place to-morrow. I have practically assured my colleagues in another place that, so far as. my judgment went, with the cordial help of. the Senate, which I expected, these Bills will be ready tomorrow. So far as I know, they will be proceeded with bv another place. at the earliest possible moment. I am aware that honorable members of the Opposition in another place have asked . for time in which to consider our requests. I suggest to honorable senators that it would be unreasonable for the Government to hurry forward those requests in another place when the Opposition protested that they wanted further time for their consideration. The Government is anxious that their consideration shall be proceeded with elsewhere with the least possible delay. It is only by the co-operation of all parties here that we can hope to terminate the session soon. I trust- that I have satisfied my honorable friend as to the urgency of this motion, and if he is so satisfied I would appeal to Senator Neild whether he cannot see “his way to allow the report to be adopted without any dissent on his part, and thus avoid the necessity of taking a division. If I were to speak at’ great length I could not demonstrate more conclusively than I have done the urgency of the motion. The co-operation of all parties is required in order to achieve the end at which we aim, and that is the early closing of the session. The sooner these Bills are returned to the other Chamber the sooner - consistently, of course, with the’ reasonable rights of the Opposition - will they be proceeded with , there. Before I resume my seat, I shall be very glad if I can get an indication that .honorable senators are satisfied with the urgency of this motion. I think I may accept an assurance from the leader of the Opposition.
– - Personally, after what the honorable senator has stated, I am satisfied, and had he so expressed himself at the first I should not have spoken.
– I thought that we thoroughly understood one another. I trust’ that Senator Neild will see his way to approve of the motion.
– I do not know that I can very well.
– The Minister can carry the motion without his help.
– Oh, no; I suggest that under the circumstances my honorable friend might ‘ waive his objection.
– All right, but I shall move for a recommittal.
– I can move the adoption of the. report if there is no objection to this, motion.
– There is a majority of the members of the Senate present.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed -
That the report from the Committee of the Whole on the Customs Tariff Bill be adopted, and that the Committee have leave to sit again on receipt of a message from- the House of Representatives in reference to such Bill.
– - I move -
That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clause 6.
I wish to explain the grounds on which I desire a recommittal of the clause dealing with the area of preference. In the first place, let me draw’ the attention of honorable senators very briefly to the history of the agitation on behalf of what is known as preference. I suppose the first movement in that direction took place inthe ‘ ‘ eighties at a conference held in London. At that time a delegate from Cape Colony, Mr. Hofmeyr, made a proposal that there should be an Empire agreement, whereby a Tariff charge equal to 2 per cent, on imports from all foreign countries into every part of the British Empire should be made, with the view to getting together a special fund for defence purposes. The ground which was taken by Mr. Hofmeyr and those who supported him was that it was an Empire movement, and that the object was to consolidate and strengthen the Empire. Mr. Hofmeyr defined his views in this way -
The feasibility of promoting a closer union between the various parts of the British Empire by means of an Imperial Tariff of Customs, to be levied independently of the duties payable under existing Tariffs, on goods entering the Empire, from abroad, the revenue derived from such Tariff to be devoted to the general defence of the Empire.
That was something like the first stage of the movement. I shall now refer to what took place at the Ottawa Conference which was held in 1894, when the first definite steps with regard to preference were taken. But I should like to have a quorum present, sir. [Quorum formed.]I was anxious to have as many senators present as possible, because I am quite certain that to the majority of the Senate the history of this agitation is unknown, and it is important that senators generally, should know what has been done in the gast and what the position is to-day. At the Ottawa Conference of 1894 the following resolution was carried -
That this Conference records its belief in the advisability of a Customs arrangement between Great Britain and her Colonies by which trade within the Empire may be placed on a more favorable footing than that which is carried on with foreign countries.
In 1897, when Canada brought in her Tariff, a preference was granted to the whole of the British Dominions. In her revised Tariff of last year I find thelollowing provision in regard to preferential rates -
The rates of Customs duties, if any, set forth in column 1, “British Preferential Tariff,” shall apply to goods the produce or manufacture of the following British countries when imported direct from any British country : -
United Kingdom ;
the British Colony of Bermuda;
the British Colonies commonly called the British West Indies, including the following : - The Bahamas; Jamaica;
Turks and Caicos Islands ; the Leeward Islands (Antigua, St. ChristopherNevis, Dominica, Montserrat, and the Virgin Islands) ; the Windward Islands (Grenada, St. Vincent and St. Lucia) ; ^Barbados ; Trinidad and Tobago ; “ [d) British Guiana ;
New Zealand ;
Cape of GoodHope ;
Orange River Colony ;
Southern Rhodesia; .
any other British Colony or Possession admitted to the benefit of the British Preferential Tariff, in Canada, in the manner hereinafter provided -
That is the position to-day in Canada. What is the position in New Zealand, which also has in her Tariff certain preferential rates? In that country the preference is given on goods “ the produce or manufacture of some part of the British Dominions.” That is very clear, very emphatic. The list of goods on. which a preference is given in New Zealand is smaller than the list of articles on- which a preference is given in . the Tariff which has been under consideration here lately. But whatever the preference is it is given to the British Dominions. It does not exclude a certain part of the British Dominions. I want to know why in our Tariff all parts of the British Empire except the United Kingdom should be excluded from the preference. If I had taken up the time of honorable senators, as I might easily hay.e done, fbr several hours, with an historical review of what has taken place, I should have been able to show that from first to last the whole basis of the agitation for preferential duties has been the strengthening and binding together of the Empire. From an economical point of view I have always opposed the preferential system. I disbelieve in it. I am quite certain that ultimately it will not be productive of good to the Empire. But when an important part of the Empire like Australia elects to give a preference to the United Kingdom, and excludes India with’ its 300,000,000 people, I think I am bound at once to call attention to the grave omission and to ask why it is made. There can be no question that in India and in other parts of the Empire, though the people may belong to coloured faces, we have people who possess the highest intelligence, and are capable of recognising when they’, are slighted. If we pass this measure and show the people pf India that we are determined to exclude them from what we allege to be a benefit, it will tend to increase that element of dissatisfaction which every lover of the Empire regrets to find’ existing in India at the present moment. I have no wish to delay the Senate, although, as I have said, this is a matter which might have been dealt with at very great length. I wish that it should be. dealt with apart from all the sordid considerations which arise in dealing ordinarily wilh a Tariff, and on the higher ground of statesmanship, from the point of view of what is good for the whole Empire, and what might really help the Empire, while at the same time, causing, as little friction as possible between it’s various parts.
– I wish to direct attention to some other matters dealt with in t’he Bill, but I presume that the discussion at the present stage must be limited to the specific motion submitted.
– At present there is a motion before ‘the Senate for the recommittal of the Bill, for the purpose of reconsidering clause 6. It is perfectly competent for any honorable senator, by way of amendment, to suggest the reconsideration of other clauses of the Bill, or of items in the schedule!. If that course is adopted, in order to prevent any difficulty in the minds of honorable senators in voting I shall’ put separately the question’ in respect of each proposal for reconsideration. That is to say, I shall put the question on Senator Pulsford’s motion, that the Bill be recommitted for the purpose of reconsidering clause 6, and then, as a separate question, that it be recommitted for the purpose of reconsidering any other clause, or an item in the schedule, if that be suggested, so that honorable senators . may have an opportunity of voting upon each proposal submitted.
– When this matter is disposed of, will it still be competent .for me to speak to the motion for the adoption of the report? ‘
– Yes, that motion will be revived. Standing order 205 provides that - .
On the motion for the adoption of the report, the Bill may on motion be recommitted, either in whole or in part.
The motion now before tha Senate is not’ an amendment of the motion for the adoption of the report.
– I do not wish to be precluded from .replying to any ‘ honorable senators who may desire to speak to this motion.
– - I think it is possible for me to put myself in order, since you have pointed out that it is competent for any honorable senator to move for the recommittal of any other clause, or an item in the schedule. There . is one portion of the schedule to which I desire to direct the attention of the Minister. It will be remembered that- a request was agreed to. for the imposition of a duty of 4d. per lb. upon imported confectionery contain-: ing glucose. That request was adopted by the Committee with the idea that when the schedule of the Excise Bill was reached a proportionate duty of 2d. per lb. would be imposed upon locally-manufactured confectionery containing glucose. I was one of those who voted for the request for a higher import, duty on confectioner)’ containing glucose. But in the interval, having ascertained, as other honorable senators have done, that there were- two sides to the question, I voted against the request made in connexion with ‘the schedule to the Excise Tariff Bill to impose an Excise duty on’ locallymanufactured confectionery containing glucose. We have declined to accept a .request for an Excise duty upon confectionery contain-: ing glucose, and it therefore does seem to me that we should review our requests for the imposition of a higher import duty on such confectionery. I think it was in the mind of every honorable senator when that request was agreed to that it would be followed later by a request for the imposition of an Excise duty.
– That is not correct. It was not in my mind that that would be done.
– I cannot pretend to say what was in the mind of any memberof the Senate. I can only refer to what honorable senators said, and the advocates of a higher duty upon imported confectionery, containing glucose, rested their case very largely upon the fact that thewould follow up the request then proposed with a proposal for the imposition of an Excise duty on the same class of confectionery. As we’ have decided not to re- quest the imposition of an Excise duty, we should certainly recommit the schedule of this Bill with a view to reviewing our request for an increased duty on imported confectionery containing glucose. Perhaps it would be better that I should not make any motion in connexion with this matter, and I should be content not to do so if I had an assurance from the Vice-President of the Executive Council that he would bear in mind the action taken in Committee on the Excise Tariff Bill, and would endeavour to have the anomaly corrected elsewhere.
– I think it would be better for the honorable senator to move an amendment in order that .he may be sure of an opportunity to deal with the matter.
– I shall do so, and with concurrence,- I can withdraw it later on if that seems desirable. I move -
That the following words be added to the motion, “ also for the reconsideration of item 45, requested paragraph g.”
– - Shall I ‘ be debarred from moving for the recommittal of an item earlier than that referred to by Senator Millen? .
– Ey leave, I should like to amend my motion by including clause 8 also.
Motion, by leave, amended accordingly.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [5.40]. - I desire the reconsideration of item 17, “Table Waters,” with a view to substitute for the duty of 25 per cent, under the general Tariff a duty of is. 3d. per dozen, and of 9d. per dozen on imports from the United Kingdom. I intend to propose a much higher duty than that which the Government submitted. The great bulk of the mineral waters imported are cheap Japanese and German waters, the price of which varies from 8d. to is. per dozen. A duty of 25 per cent, ad valorem upon these importations would amount to a mere fraction, no more than 2d. or 3d; per dozen. ‘ The imported English waters are. twice as costly and therefore under the schedule as it stands an enormous advantage is given to the Japanese vendor of cheap waters, there being no United Kingdom preference. The English Malvern Spring- Water, which, in half-pint sizes, costs is. 7d. per dozen, as compared with an average of- one-half, or less than one-half that price for Japanese’ and German waters. Unhappily, I had not an opportunity to bring the matter under the attention of the Senate before, because the second-reading debate terminated unexpectedly on the second day. I had an urgent call to Sydney, which I could not set aside, and so missed my opportunity to deal with the matter at the proper time. I, therefore, ask a little consideration from the Vice-President of the Executive Council. I have some confidence that my proposal will be assented to, because it would involve higher duties than the Government has proposed, an increase in the revenue to be derived from the Tariff, and, at the same time, a more equitable arrangement as between the vendors of different table waters. Another matter I wish to have reconsidered is the flashlight test of kerosene. This is dealt with, so far as I know, in item 234, paragraph pp, because the Tariff, iii. its amended form, is not before honorable senators, and I may not be accurately describing the item. That is one of the reasons why I did not desire that, at this stage, the consideration of the Bill should be hurried. I understand that we have agreed to a flashlight test of 97 degrees, and I wish the test to be reduced to 73 degrees. I wish to submit a lower flash point than 97 degrees, for reasons contained in what seems to be an important communication, that only came to hand to-day from one of the Farmers and Settlers’ Associations of New South Wales. The secretary writes in these terms -
I would like to point out that by fixing the flash test at 97 degrees F., such brands of kerosene oils as “Royal Daylight” and “ Petrol ite,” which flash at about 86 degrees F., will be classed under the item “ Oils n.e.i.,” dutiable at ‘6d. per gallon.
– Those are all fuel oils.
– Exactly -
The brands- of oils mentioned are for use in oil engines, which are now vastly used by farmers in shearing and chaff-cutting, &c. The action of the Senate in making them dutiable at 6d. per gallon will prohibit their importation, with the result that all users of oil engines will have to pay in future a higher price for a higher flash test oil than is required. Nor does the higher flash test give as good results in oil engines as the oils which flash quicker and give a greater amount of power.
The facts stated in that letter may materially alter the. views of honorable senators “as to the desirability of practically excluding those fuel kerosene oils. This is a matter of great consequence to a large number of consumers, and I’ submit the proposal in the interests of the great body of those who use oil engines. Another matter that I should like the Committee to reconsider is contained, I believe, in item 410, although I cannot be sure, as about a dozen amendments were submitted on that item last night. I desire to omit “ sensitized’ films and aristotv pe .paper,” and add a new paragraph as follows: - “Photographic sensitized films and aristotype paper, free.” It was stated last night, no doubt in the best of faith,that those articles were made in the Commonwealth.
– -Aristotype? Yes.
– I have excellent authority positively contradicting the statement. I have here a declaration signed by some of the leading photographers of Melbourne, and also the assertion of a large Melbourne dealer in photographic materials, so that I am not . coming -here as a champion of my State, or of anybody connected with it. In this communication a. strong protest is made against the unhappily inaccurate statement made in. this Chamber last night as to photographic sensitized films and aristo-type paper being made in the Commonwealth. That is positively denied, and in the circumstances I undertook to seek the recommittal of the item, so that the Committee might reconsider a decision which was clearly arrived at under a misapprehension. The fact that I have limited matters so much will, I hope, plead with the Ministry and with honorable senators in the direction of granting the reconsideration which I ask for. For my own part, I will pledge that no material time will be occupied in the consideration of these items if they are recommitted. I therefore move - -
That the following words be added to the motion - “also items 17; 2.34, requested paragraph I’F; and 410, in respect of photographic sensitized films.” »
– Does the honorable senator propose to deal with sensitized paper under item 410 ?’
– No, I am not touching that question, because the Committee understood and dealt with it with knowledge.
Senator MULCAHY (Tasmania^ [5.52]. - After the long discussion of the Tariff, I feel loth to nsk for the recommittal of items, because I know that the Seriate is naturally tired of this work, which has been hp fore us directly for two or three months, and indirectly since last August. I know that honorable senators are heartily sick of it, and desire to get through with it as quickly as possible, but at the same time a large public, duty devolves upon us, as we are now giving the finishing touches to a Tariff which we hope will remain the Tariff of Australia, comparatively speaking undisturbed, for some years to come. It is the duty of every honorable senator who feels that anomalies still exist to try to induce the Senate to correct them, in the hope that the other branch of the Legislature will fall into line. We have made a good many alterations in the schedule, some of which have not been wise, while other proposals have been negatived purely through a misunderstanding of what was intended to be done. I desire to move that the following words be added to the motion, “ also items 106, 107, 108, 114, 117, 120, 123 of paragraph b, and 132. Those are all in the Textiles Division. I sincerely hope that, in order to give the public a consistent Tariff, which shall be a great improvement upon the previous one by removing anomalies, the Government will listen to what I have to say, and consent to the recommittal of those items. If the majority are against me, after I try to convince them, I shall accept the decision willingly, but I consider that there is full justice in a request that, where we have made serious mistakes and rendered the anomalies rather worse than they were before, the Government should consent to a reconsideration. That honorable senators happen to be tired of the Tariff is no reason why we should forget our public duty. We are here, not to consider ourselves, but to try to perfect our work.
– If we. stay for the next twelve months, we shall have the same story.
– The honorable senator has no right to object in that strain. We have not had the same story for twelve months. We have been here for a considerable time, and the Senate has excelled itself in the consideration of the Tariff. But it is impossible to expect honorable senators to be so fully acquainted with all the technicalities of trade as.. to be able to deal fully, and at once, with items as they come up. I resent the Minister’s remark, although I sympathize with his desire to get the Tariff through. His anxiety to do so is not greater than my own, and any inconvenience that he is suf- fering is not greater than that which other honorable senators have to suffer. As a member of the Government, it is his duty to listen respectfully to any suggestion brought forward, not for personal ends or for trade interests, but in the interests of the ‘public. In -items 106 and 107, such articles as underpants, undershirts, undervests, and combinations, which really belong to hosiery, are included with other articles of apparel .and attire. We have not imposed so high a rate of duty on the hosiery items, in which those articles should properly appear. Surely, therefore, it is not unreasonable to ask the leader of the Senate to consent to. place them in the items to which they properly belong, and make them dutiable at the same rates as are borne by other goods of exactly the same nature, which are also being made here. The Committee has agreed to raise the rate on “Apparel and Attire n.e.i.,” in item 107, from 35 per cent, to 40 per cent., because a- great proportion of the articles covered, by it have to be made from imported, material’, which is already subject to a somewhat high duty. The object is to equalize the conditions of manufacture. But “that does not apply to hosiery goods, which are made from yarn, most of which is imported. The other articles in items 106 and 107 are made from tweeds or cloths of various kinds, which come . in under a much higher duty than they came in under before. In item 108, although both Houses have agreed to admit otherkinds of cotton goods duty free, there are included such articles as towels, counterpanes, quilts, and other cotton ‘manufactures which are not made here, will not be made here, give no employment of any kind here, and are household necessaries.
– Did we not have all this out prior to the decision of the Committee on the item ?
– That remark would be a sufficient answer to any proposition for the consideration of any’ item, no matter how absurd. Is the Senate so infallible that we have done everything perfectly ?
– It has been done very well.
– No doubt it has been done to suit the honorable senator, but not ‘to suit the. general public, as he will find out afterwards to His cost, and to the cost of the Government, if he takes up that attitude towards a perfectly reasonable proposal. I do not want to waste time. I hav,e no idea of doing anything of that kind, nor am I raising this question for party considerations. I am simply speaking about technical items in connexion with which I have a technical knowledge. ‘ In these items I know we have made some mistakes, and if the Bill is recommitted we can correct anomalies in duties which are insignificant from a revenue stand-point, but which will cause considerable trouble. Why should we allow certain articles to come in duty free and place duties on other articles of. the same kind called by different names? The Vice-President of the Executive Council may say I have used this argument, before. So I have, and if it is a right argument it cannot be used too often. With regard to item 114, which raises the. rates of duties on blankets and flannels, I have had the advantage of discussing the matter with some of those immediately concerned with the manufacture of those goods. They say that the duty is altogether unnecessary. They have more work than they can do now, and are laying down large additional plant. I am not so particular, however, about that item, because, fortunately, Australia is manufaturing blankets and flannels to a very large extent, and therefore the item is not so important as some of the other items I have referred to. The Vice-President of the Executive Council himself should be very glad to reconsider the item of gloves, which the Senate has decided to make practically free. I do not think gloves should be imported free. I voted for’ them coming in free because it was the lesser of two evils, and I could not get what I desired carried. The VicePresident opposed them being allowed in free, and he should be only too glad of the opportunity to have the item- reconsidered. The most important matter of all is ‘item 1.23, paragraph b. The Senate, in its desire to protect the local manufacturer, has gone to an extreme that will result, and is resulting, in extremely high duties being imposed upon fabrics on which I knowhonorable senators do’ not wish to impose such duties.
– When do you expect to get- finished with the Tariff ?
– If the leader of the Senate consents to a recommittal, the whole matter can be discussed and dealtwith in half-an-hour.
– The honorable senator’s, credulity is amazing.
– I am giving my reasons now for asking for a recommittal, and am assuming that the honorable senator may be induced to reconsider this. item. With a majority behind him, and a desire to get rid of the Tariff, he is- taking up the attitude of saying that he will not reconsider any item passed by the Committee, no matter what reasons are brought forward. Is it a solid reason to give to the public that the Tariff is not to be recommitted because we have been sitting here too long? Are we not paid to do public work?
– Should we recommit because of an individual expression of opinion ?
– It is not an individual expression of opinion, but will be coincided’ in, if not by a majority, at am rate by a large number, of senators, and certainly by a vast majority of the trade. A high duty is being imposed on fabrics coming in for dresses for women . and children of the poorer classes. What do the Labour Party think of that?
– If we go over, these matters again it will be like beating the air.
– This is the time for me to put forward my reasons for asking for a recommittal. It is my duty to put forward such reasons as I think should induce the Vice-President of the Executive Council to consent to what I ask.
– Is there any prospect of the Committee arriving at a different decision if we do recommit?
– Is that any reason for not trying to convince the Committee of the necessity for a different decision ? The fact is that on both sides of the Senate honorable senators are- tired.
– I have asked a fair question. .
– It does not seem to me to be quire fair. We are trying to put this Tariff on the statute-book in the hope that it will be recognised as the Australian Tariff for a great number of .years. We do not want to have. Tariff anomalies brought up and dealt with year after year.
– Every honorable senator who was defeated in his proposals should, according to the honorable senator, have the right to ask the Committee to reconsider the matter because the majority was wrong.
–Undoubtedly. And no leader of the Senate has any right to attempt to deprive honorable senators of that privilege. I see that the desire of honorable senators to get rid of the Tariff is too strong for me. I have very briefly dealt with some important items which I think should be reconsidered. I move -
That the following words be added to the motion - “also items ro6, 107, ro8, 114,* 117, 120, 123 paragraph b, and 132.”
– Why not reconsider the whole Tariff?
– I am not asking for anything but the reconsideration of seven or eight items out of 450. Most of the matters to be considered are in subitems. It is not a question of reconsidering the whole Tariff at all. It is a question of trying, it seems against, fate and hope, to make the Tariff what it ought to be before it leaves the Chamber - that is a better Tariff than it was when it came -here.
Senator BEST (Victoria- VicePresident of the ‘Executive Council) [6.9 I.- With regard to the question of a recommittal, there are various features Tn the Tariff which personally I should indeed be glad to have reconsidered by honorable senators. Those items were submitted by the Government, and urged strongly by the Government, but a majority thought fit to vote against their proposals, and I therefore consider it my duty to respectfully bow to the decision given. The suggestion of Senator Mulcahy - because he still retains the opinion which he forcibly urged in regard to certain matters - is that honorable senators were wrong in coming to certain determinations after hearing the reasons he advanced.
– That is the opinion of a large majority of the public.
– The Senate represents the public, and I think the majority of the Senate may be taken for all practicable purposes to represent the majority of the public. The requests the honorable senator submitted received the closest scrutiny and attention, and the items in connexion with them were under consideration not merely for hours, but for days and day’s together. I will undertake to say. that if the honorable senator succeeded in getting the Bill recommitted and another twenty days were occupied in reconsidering the items, he and others would be prepared to rise up and urge precisely the same reasons as he did to-day. They would say that the majority were wrong and that some particular item should be placed under another item.
– I am not asking for a reconsideration.
– I am not dealing with the honorable senator now. No honorable senator can say that we have been too hasty in the consideration of the Tariff, and I look with pride to the fact that it has received the most careful scrutiny and thoughtful attention here. We have, done ourselves justice in regard to it, and I am quite certain that it will leave the Chamber much improved in many respects.” When the Senate’s requests are being submitted in another place I shall bring the ‘ representations that have been made by Senator Mulcahy under the notice of my colleagues there.
– They cannot be considered then.
– If not, so much the better.
– That shows your sincerity, and it is very worthy of you.
– It is just about the same amount of sincerity as came from the honorable senator when he reproached me for assisting him in connexion with the timber duties. That kind of hypocrisy I’ cannot stand.
– The honorable senator must not use the word “ hypocrisy.” I ask him -to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it. The honorable “ senator charged me with hypocrisy, and he is the last man who should do so. The suggestions for a recommittal, which I admit have been urged with much earnestness, are .really impracticable if we are to look for a reasonable termination of the session. If we had hastily gone through the Tariff it would be another matter. If I accepted the suggestion of Senator Mulcahy there would be no prospect of the Tariff leaving the Senate before Easter.
– Is that your argument against the recommittal?
– That is an argument completely satisfactory to me.
– Is there a chance of reversing the previous decisions ? That is the best argument.
– Seeing Senator Mulcahy used the same arguments when the Bill was in Committee, why should the honorable senator have any reason for thinking that the Committee will reverse its determination if the measure were recommitted?
I hope the honorable senator does not think that in challenging the position he is taking up and denying the reasonableness of the claim he has made, I am acting in any spirit, but that of the interests of the public. If I thought that these matters had not received ample consideration my attitude might be different.
– Those remarks do not apply to the proposition T have moved.
– One :matter on which my honorable friend laid great stress was with regard to kerosene and the flashlight test. It was fully discussed here, and a determination was arrived at. I am aware of the representations which have been made, and, without giving anydefinite promise, I may say that the matter will be reconsidered by, the Cabinet, not with the object of altering the test, but with the desire of furnishing a means whereby the oils for motive purposes shall at least be made available at the cheapest possible rates. I do not suggest that we are likely to come to a satisfactory conclusion ; but I assure my honorable friend that the Government have some proposals underconsideration.
– To distinguish between oils for light and fuel?
– How can they without an alteration of the flash-light?
– The matter will have to be considered in another place, and if , it is possible to find a practical solution of the difficulty, our request will be .open to amendment there. With regard to the proposition of Senator Pulsford, he must recollect that we have been engaged on tb” consideration of the Tariff for ten weeks. Its principle of preference has already been affirmed, not only by the other House, but also by the Senate. A feeling of duty . and loyalty to the Mother Country ; a recognition of the voluntary grant of our 1 liberty and autonomy - .these things prompted a desire on our part to show some preference” to her, but my honorable friend wants it extended to the British Possessions.
– Will the honorable senator explain why he wishes to differentiate ?
– For substantial reasons we differentiate between the Mother Country and the Colonial . Possessions. Possessing self-government like ourselves, .they regulate their own affairs; and impose Customs duties with a due regard to their individual interests. We have already entered into a preferential arrangement with South Africa on business terms, and a scheme of preference to New Zealand was rejected.
– Was not our offer to Great Britain also rejected ?
– No; if has not been considered. We are engaged -in negotiations with Canada for a reciprocal arrangement in regard totrade. There is a vast difference between the Mother Country and British Possessions which, like Australia, first look after their individual interests.
– The honorable senator is aware that the Possessions to which he refers contain only 12,000,000 or 15,900,000 people, whereas he excludes India and other parts of the Empire with a population of 300,000,000, and under the government of the Mother Country.
– I am pointing out, by way of illustration, that the policy of the self-governing Possessions is to look after their individual interests. We, being on precisely the same footing and owing no allegiance to them, apart from the question of common citizenship, are in a position to deal with them on a business basis.
– Then the honorable senator is throwing over the Empire idea ?
– No ; I recognise that in regard to trade a friendly rivalry exists between various parts of the British Empire. The reasons for extending a preference to the United Kingdom do not apply to the British Possessions. And what is more, the adoption of my honorable friend’s motion would involve the reconsideration of the whole Tariff. It would mean the undoing of all our work. It would mean that, whereas we had considered our position with regard to the United Kingdom alone, it would have to be considered In regard to the various’ British Possessions. Can he, coming in at the death, as it were, reasonably expect the Parliament to undo its work in a light and airy way?
– The honorable senator is not accurate in that statement.
– I think that I am strictly accurate. The quotations as to the imports from the United Kingdom and foreign countries influenced honorable senators in coming to a decision on each item. We considered how our trade with the United Kingdom might be affected by granting a preference, and we excluded from our minds all the British Possessions. It is quite true, as Senator Millen said, that a request was made in regard to item 45G, and the idea in the mind of the Committee was that a corresponding request should be made in regard to local confec tionery in the Excise Tariff Bill. The Committee saw fit to reject a proposal f or the imposition of an Excise duty on confectionery containing glucose.
– Yes, at the instance of the Government.
– Undoubtedly.I should say that the decision concerning local confectionery involves a reconsideration of item 45c I shall certainly bring the matter under the notice of my honorable colleagues elsewhere, and see that it is reconsidered in accordance with the suggestion made by Senator Millen. I ask ray honorable friends opposite to consider how impracticable, if we desire to rise within the next two pr three weeks-
– That is a nice reason to. give.
– My honorable friend did not wait until I had completed my sentence. If it is . desired to rise within a reasonable time, what folly it would be to waste time in the way which has been suggested ! From, that stand-point the proposals of my honorable friends are impracticable. If every honorable senator is to take it for granted that because his view on an item was not accepted, therefore he is entitled to a reconsideration, it will mean the reconsideration of a large proportion of the Tariff. I hope that my honorable friends will not press their proposals for the recommittal of items.
– I propose to submit the propositions seriatim, so that it may be open to honorablesenators tovote on each question as they think fit.
Question - That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clauses 6 and 8 - put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Question - That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of item 17 of the schedule - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 19
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of item 234, paragraph pp, of the schedule - resolved in the negative.
Question - That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of item 410 of the schedule - resolved’ in the negative.
Question - That the Bill be ‘ recommitted for the reconsideration of item 106 of the schedule - resolved in the negative.
Question - That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of item 107 of the schedule - resolved in the negative.
Question - That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of item 108 of the schedule - resolved in the negative.
Question - That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of item 114 of the schedule - resolved in the negative.
SenatorFindley. - Let the other proposals be put together.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear.
Question - That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of items 117, 120, 123, paragraph b, and 132 of the schedule - resolved in the negative.
Original question - That the report from the Committee of the Whole on the Customs
Tariff Bill be adopted, and. that the Committee have leave to sit again on receipt of a message from the House of Representatives in reference to such Bill - resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 6.35 to 7.45p.m.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a secondtime.
This Bill has been in the hands of honorable senators for some time. On the face of it, it purports to grant certain gratuities to the widows of certain officers under conditions and circumstances which I propose to explain. Honorable senators will be aware that, under section 84 of the Constitution, officers coming Over to the service of the Commonwealth with a transferred Department, or States officers subsequently coming into the employ of the Commonwealth Government, are entitled to retain certain rights which they possessed in the States service. The officers in respect of whom it is proposed to grant certain gratuities under this Bill, unfortunately for their wives and families or other representatives, would not be entitled to any gratuity or help from the States Governments. The reason I have referred to the 84th section of the Constitution is that it establishes a principle which in this Bill the Government invite honorable senators to ‘extend in respect of the representatives of officers who, if they had remained in the service of the State, would, as a matter of grace, have received the gratuities which under this Bill it. is proposed they should be granted.
– As a matter of grace?
– Yes, so far as the States Governments are concerned it would be as a; matter of grace, but in accordance with their practice.
– I should like the honorable senator to make that clear. Are we to understand that if the officers had remained in the employment of the States there would be no legal right to these gratuities ?
– That is so; but there was an established practice of granting such gratuities. In some of the cases dealt with in this Bill the officers referred to suffered death in the discharge of their duty. In other cases the widows of the officers concerned were deprived of gratuities by reason of the merely accidental circumstance that the State Executive Council did not meet in time to accept their resignation before they died. Under the Victorian practice an officer approaching death was entitled to resign in order to secure certain gratuities for his representatives. The mere fact of his resigning secured that, advantage for them. In other States it was the practice that the resignation should not only be made, but accepted by the Executive, and in some of the cases dealt with in this Bill there did not happen to be a meeting of the Executiveat which the resignations might have been accepted before’ the officers died. Unfortunately the widows are in straitened circumstances, and have lost the benefit of the operation of the rule. The States Governments were asked to consent to the payment of these amounts, but for reasons best known to themselves’ they have not seen their way to do so. The Government feel that the cases dealt with in this Bill are of so distressing and unusual a character, and are cases of such hardship that they have no hesitation in recommending Parliament to pay these gratuities even out of what is known as “ other “ expenditure. It would iiave been quite possible to have inserted amounts covering these gratuities in the Estimates, and that course would have been in accordance with the practice of the States Parliaments, but the Government thought it better that both Houses of the FederalParliament should have an’ uncontrolled discretion to deal with these cases as they thought proper. Apart from that, the inclusion of the amounts in the Estimates might have involved very considerable inconvenience and trouble should exception be taken to any of them, and particularly in the Senate, as that might have rendered necessary the submitting of requests for amendments in the Appropriation Bill. We thought that the proposals for granting these gratuities should be introduced in the form of an Act of Parliament, so that Parliament might be given the opportunity to decide whether, in each case, the merits warranted the granting of the proposed gratuity or compensation. I admit at once that the Bill involves a new departure, and it will be for honorable senators to exercise their discretion in dealing with it on that ground. But when I point out, ‘as I propose to do in Committee, the character of the cases in which honorable senators are invited to give relief, they will see that the Government are asking them to do only a bare act of justice.
– There is at all times a certain amount of hesitancy or delicacy in attempting anything in the nature of criticism of a proposal such as that contained in this Bill, because whatever views one may take of them he must always recognise that they bring under notice cases of hardship. There is a further reason which would probably induce honorable senators to regard this Bill with toleration, and it is that the cases with which it deals come to us as a legacy due to the transfer of certain functions from State to Commonwealth control, and it cannot be said that they have arisen through any fault of our Public Service Commissioner or of the Commonwealth Departments.
– Under the Commonwealth Public Service Act officers in the Commonwealth service must insure their lives, and that must limit the number of these cases arising in the future.
– That is so. I point out, partly as a justification for what I anticipate will be the brevity of the speeches to be delivered on the second reading of this Bill, that it provides for something’ like a dozen separate cases on which we can pass no general judgment, and each of which must be dealt with in Committee on its merits, as disclosed by the VicePresident of the Executive Council. There is only one matter connected with the Bill which seems to me to invite the serious attention of the Senate, and that is as to how far it is to be taken as a precedent guiding the course to be adopted in the case of all other officers - and whether they be few or many I do not know - who may have passed from the service of one of the States Governments to the Federal service. I am sure honorable senators would be glad to hear any information which the Vice-President of the Executive Council is in a position to give as to the liabilities it might be contended we should incur should this Bill be assented to.
– There is no liability.
– The very fact that the Bill has been introduced proves, of course, that there is no legal right to these gratuities. If the legal right existed_this Bill would not be necessary. - It is therefore proper that the Government should come to Parliament in the person of an employer, and represent that certain hardships involved in certain cases justifies them in asking Parliament to make special gratuities. But if we assent to this Bill I, and I suppose other honorable senators, should like to know to what extent we are committing ourselves- in future. The point is one on which, perhaps, it would be difficult for the Vice-President of the Executive Council to give information.
– It would not be possible to give any definite or reliable information. Each case must be dealt with on its own merit)*.
– I anticipated the reply, and Senator Best will agree that it places honorable senators in a somewhat difficult position. If I were asked definitely to assent to a proposition that every officer transferred from the service of a State Government to that of the Federal Government should be entitled, because of some incompleteness or defect in the State law, or by reason of the passing of this Bill, to consider that in his behalf a claim For a gratuity might be made against the Commonwealth, I should at once return a negative answer to the proposition. On the other hand, when we come to consider these cases in Committee we may see that they merit some consideration. My fear is that by assenting to this Bill weshall lay it down almost as a principle’ to be followed on future occasions that the Commonwealth will take upon itself a liability which, if it exists at all morally or legally, should properly have been, shouldered by the States Governments. These claims, of course, rest upon the idea that an employer is. in certain circumstances, to some extent under a moral obligation to those who serve him faithfully. The only point which I desire to bring under the notice of the Senate is as to how far the passing of this Bill will commit us to adopt a similar procedure in the case of every other officer who, having previously ‘ served one of the States Governments, passes over to the service of the Commonwealth, under circumstances which leave him without a legal claim on his previous employer. By consenting to the second reading of this Bill I should not care to be considered as assenting to a farreaching proposition of that kind. I shall not oppose the motion for the second .reading, but I should like it to be clearly understood that at present I do not assent to the proposition that, if we pass this Bill, every officer similarly transferred will be entitled to consider that we have given him- any claim or hold upon the consideration of this or any future Parliament of the Commonwealth.
.- I should like to ascertain if I can at this juncture whether any claims were made in respect of persons other than those whose names are referred to in this Bill. Eleven names are mentioned in the Bill, and the total amount involved is .£2,438. I notice that nearly all the gratuities proposed are in respect of the representatives of New South Wales officers.
– No. Some Victorian officers are included.
– I had not noticed what Senator Findley mentions, but it does, not affect what I have said.
– I am not finding fault with what the honorable senator has said. The greater number of the officers referred to in the Bill were in the service of the State Government of New South Wales, and I should like to ascertain whether any similar claims have been made by Victorians.
– Outside those referred i’o in the Bill ?
– Yes. ‘, ‘/ ‘.
– I have ho-.’ doubt ‘ f Hat other claims were made, but” the merit’s’ of these claims commended themselves to the Minister, and he therefore recommended the payment of these gratuities. -
– Am I to understand that all claims made for gratuities are considered by the Minister, and that If in his opinion they are entitled to serious consideration they are to be met by the passage of such a measure as that which is now before the Senate? Is this the beginning and end of the gratuities to be granted in this way ?
– Parliament can do what it likes at any time.
– The Government have not been very generous if we are to judge, by this Bill.
– It is not a questionof generosity, but a question of principle that is involved. I dare say that we shall be given particulars in regard to all these cases when we get into Committee on the Bill, but before we reach that stage I, should like to ascertain from the .VicePresident of the Executive Council if any appeals have been made for similar consideration to that proposed to be granted to the persons referred to in the Bill.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [7.59].- There is one word which I should like to say in support of the motion. The principal grant but one which I see proposed in the Bill is on behalf of the widow of an officer who many years ago caused me a deal of worry and trouble, and I am very glad indeed that I have the privilege of supporting a measure in which it is proposed to. give assistance to my late antagonist’s widow. I am very glad indeed to be permitted to take part in a matter of the kind, while I know well that some of the other cases are. thoroughly deserving of the consideration of any well-disposed member of any portion of the Legislature. I hope the second reading will go on the voices.
– One does hot care to oppose or even to criticise a measure of this character, because there are no doubt special features of hardship in connexion with each of the cases mentioned.. But we have also to consider that while only ‘a small sum of £2,438 is involved in this Bill, it may be the beginning of a long and severe bombardment’ of the Treasury.
-I shall be very glad if it is soif they. are only worthy of it.
– I have no doubt that each case, which, has been submitted by the Government is worthy, and that there are hundreds of other cases equally worthy. But we must never forget that outside of the Public Service there are hundreds and thousands of widows and orphans who have to find tlhe money to compensate these people, and who are themselves in much more impoverished circumstances than are those with whom we are dealing. The huge army of workers in Australia are, as a rule, very much worse off than are those employed in the Commonwealth, or States Civil Services. If State and Commonwealth employes do not receive princely salaries, they at least have the advantage of constant employment. They are never afraid of being out of work if they behave themselves, and their services are dispensed with only when age has rendered them to a certain extent unfit to perform their duties. Contrast their favoured position with that of thousands and tens of thousands of people who are not in the Public Service, who do not know whether they will be in work or out of work to-morrow; whose living is entirely dependentupon the exigencies of the labour market, andwhose life is one long con tinued struggle against a number of adverse forces. Those are the people who have to find the money to compensate the widows of public servants when they find themselves in difficulties. I do not rise to oppose the second reading of the Bill, but I think it is extremely desirable thatj Parliament should clearly indicate to the Publie Service that it is not to be regarded asa precedent.
– It is an obligation.
– I do not consider it as an obligation in the slightest degree. No man would be more willing than myself to provide for everybody if if were possible, but we know that thaf cannot be done, and in those circumstances indiscriminate charity at the expense of a number of people who themselves are in need1 of charity is not to be commended. If Senator Gray would only assist the Labour Party in so amending our social conditions’ that no one need be in want, there would not be the slightestnecessity for a measure of this character.
– I promise that I will. I have always done so, and will continue to do so.
– I have not seen very strong symptoms of the honorable gentleman’s desire in that direction since he came into this Chamber. Probably he thinks he is on the right track. I think he is on the wrong track. I shall always watch very keenly any proposal of this kind, because I know that the money trr pay this compensation has to be taken out of the pocket’s of people who have very little left for themselves.
– Like other honorable senators who haver spoken, I regard this Bill with some apprehension. I know the custom in my own State, but I do not know that of some of the other States, and therefore it is difficult to deal on general principles with the whole of them.’ But in Victoria,there was a custom - indeed a law - which provided a retiring allowance. That law was frequently violated, because the spirit of if was designed to give a man who had served his time in the Public Service something to keep him in the evening of his life. Verv frequently there were deathbed resignations and the spirit and intention of the Bill was defeated by the man getting his allowance when he had really reached the end of his life.
– That wasnot only known but accepted as legitimate.
– And Victoria was an accessory to the fact.
– I know that it was winked at, but personally I was always opposed to it. I propose voting for the second reading of this Bill, and I assume that in Committee each of the special cases, and the circumstances surrounding them, will be explained, so that we may be empowered to arrive at a judgment on them separately. I think there is no great danger of this being a precedent that may involve us in a large expenditure, because although there are a considerable number, of State servants who came over, most of them had statutory rights in their States before, and those rights are preserved to them in the Constitution, and would have to be met anyhow. Apart from thaf, there cannot be a great many public servants who could have claims such as those made in this Bill.
– It is a vanishing quantity, of course.
– It will be a rapidly vanishing quantity. In any case there cannot be a great number because most -of the States provided either by insurance or some other method for retiring allowances, pensions, or other provisions for their public servants. The Commonwealth has provided, I think wisely., that the public servants shall be required to provide their own retiring allowances by an equitable system of insurance.
– Does that apply to military officers?
– I am not sure.
– Military officershave regulations.
– We can safely pass the second reading now, and then we shall have the cases before us on their merits, and deal with each of them as it commends itself to us.
.- I shallbe glad it the Minister, in his reply, will tell us whether these amounts or any portion of them have already been paid.
– None have been paid.
– I noticethat this Bill has been in existence now for many months, haying passed another place in November or December last. It seems pitiable that all theses widows should be kept so long on tenter-hooks while we have been discussing a miserable Tariff.
Senator GRAY (New South Wales) vernment upon what they are doing in this Bill. My only fear is that they have not fully recognised the necessities of the widows in the amounts which theiy are giving. A total sum of£2,440 at 5 per cent, is only£120 a year to be divided amongst eleven of them. There is very little bread about that, and I see still less butter. . I take it that the Government would not have brought forward the Bill unless they felt that there was a certain obligation upon them, in view of the fact that if the officers had remained in the State service certain sums of money would have been paid to them. I assume that the Government have fixed these amounts proportionately to those sums. I do not know whether the Vice-President of the Executive Council meant to indicate that the power to grant compensation of this kind is to be left i the future in the hands of the Minister. If so, fuller details should be given to us of the system to be followed, so that we may fully appreciate what we are doing.
– We onlydea.I with the cases mentioned inthe Bill.
– Thenis thepower of the Government to be limitedtothecases now before us?
– Will the Minister have power to consider other cases without bringing them before Parliament?
– We can consider them, but we cannot pay without the consent of Parliament.
– We cannot go into these particular cases, and so I do not propose to discuss that aspect of the Bill. But (here must be a large number of officers in the various services who will be in exactly the same position as these officers were in, and whose widows will have the same claim as these widows have. It is impossible for us to decide these cases on their merits. But the Government should endeavour to ascertain the number of officers now in the Commonwealth service who are not provided for either by insurance or by the rights which they brought over with them from the States. Of course, the officers who have joined, the service since Federation are not affected, because they are provided for by insurance. We have, therefore, to consider only that section who had not their State gratuity rights preserved to them. The Government, could easily find out how many of. such cases there are. I fancy that they will find a sufficient number to warrant the introduction of a Bill to lay down a definite principle upon which they should be .le.alt with. One objection to the course now being followed is that it practically puts the Minister in a position of distributing largesse, and the widow who can bring the most influence to bear, or who has ihe “best means of making out a strong case, may get the best treatment. ‘ That would not be the case if certain definite lines were laid down, as in the old States Acts, under which the gratuities were made. Under those Acts the length of service, the merit of .the officer, &c, had to be taken into consideration.
– That was “done under the old system.
– Yes; that was done instead of individuals being picked out, as ;is the case in this measure. We shall have more of these cases coming up, arid it would be well for the Government to “bring iri a machinery Bill to deal with the whole matter: The present measure will establish a precedent, and-, in future, every widow of ‘a* civil -servant will make a claim for compensation, and’ this Parliament, having voted .these sums, cannot, for the sake of decency, refuse in the future to give, to every widow of a civil servant the same consideration as that which the widows affected by the Bill are receiving. Instead of it being left to the Minister to decide on .the merits of the cases brought before him, it would be wise to have some definite lines laid down to cover all such cases in future. It might also occur that some poor woman who does not know what is being done in these cases, and who has no friends to see that she gets the same consideration that these people are getting, will receive no consideration at all, owing to her want of knowledge. But if there was an Act dealing with, all such cases in a uniform fashion, there would be no possibility of differential treatment being meted out, and no fear of any persons entitled to com.pensation being overlooked through their want of knowledge, or want of enterprise. The Government should institute inquiries to ascertain the number of possible claims in the future, and see if they would not be justified in bringing in a measure to place all cases on a uniform footing.
– I .agree with those honorable senators who have been looking on this Bill with some doubt. At first I felt rather inclined to oppose the second reading unless we got some further information. Of course, our sympathies go out to those in trouble, and I am not one who would endeavour to deprive these widows of some little recompense, but the point really lies in what would be the interpretation of the title of the Bill. The title is”Officers Compensation ‘ Act. “ That infers. that we have to compensate the people con- cerned for something that they have lost through our fault or through the fault of the States Governments, from which we have taken certain liabilities. If we come to discuss the cases in detail, we find that in ‘ a number of instances the States Governments have, refused to sanction the payments on account of the officers having been taken over by the Commonwealth, and that, therefore, the Commonwealth is obliged to compensate their widows. In one case compensation is being paid to a man, and I take it that he has been injured in the execution of his duties. When the Bill was in another place, I heard the case mentioned of a man in the Telegraph Department who lost his life probably through the neglect of the Department in “providing him with unskilled assistance. That is a case where compensation should be paid, and there are other cases which doubtless come under the same heading. I think that honorable senators would be entitled, in Committee, to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council to state whether the amounts are being paid ‘as compensation, or given ‘as gratuities. A gratuity is something that is given for nothing, butcompensation is a payment to wipe out some debt or moral obligation. That seems to me to be the point. If the Bill is a measure to honest! v compensate people in respect of that to whichthey are morally or legally entitled,. I shall vote for every item in it, but if the Ministry have sent down these proposals because they think gratuities should be given to some people because they happen to be the widows of persons who have been in the Public Service, I shall feel inclined to oppose the measure, no matter how unpleasant that duty may be. In Committee. I shall ask the .Vice-President of the Executive Council for further details.
– I am sorry I was not present to hear the second reading of the measure moved, because if I had been I should have some ‘ideal as to the principle guiding the Government in the matter. The Senate has now arrived at a stage when it is quite possible for us to make a very grievous blunder in this kind of legislation. That can be done very easily.
– I do not think we can do that.
– It all depends on the merits of the case.
– If the Government cannot give the information it would be better to throw out the measure at once.
– I cannot think that the small number of cases mentioned in the Bill are the only ones in the Commonwealth where the widows of public servants are entitled to receive consideration. We have a very large number of public ‘ servants, and to think that the small number of cases included in the Bill are the only ones deserving of consideration from the public purse can scarcely be credited.
– The Vice- President of the Executive Council pointed out that the great majority of Slate servants who came over to the Commonwealth were already provided for under the State laws.
– From the nature of the measure, I quite expect that it is only to meet exceptional cases. I can scarcely think that we are to have a recurring crop of similar cases coming before us, and only very exceptional cases would justify the Government in bringing forward a measure of this kind. At the same time, I should have preferred a wellthoughtout scheme of insurance of our public servants and those dependent on them to be brought forward. When we have such an army of public servants we can understand that there must of necessity be a large number of women deprived of their husbands whilst those husbands are in the service of the Commonwealth, and, therefore, a scheme must be formulated whereby the dependents of those public servants may, in the event of death, get some relief. This is a measure designed to overcome the difficulty for the time being. It does not provide for the future, and, consequently, as Senator Pearce has pointed out, we ma.f have a recurring crop of cases for compensation com ing up from time to time, which, on their merits, we shall be obliged to take up.
– These cases mur.t begetting less.
– Be that as it may, I think it would have been much more satisfactory in the long run had the Government, instead of bringing in a measure to deal with special cases, brought down ‘a scheme of insurance, or submitted an old-age pension’s scheme to deal with public servants thrown upon their own resources. I think that such a scheme, while it would impose a much larger responsibility from the financial stand-point, would prove more satisfactory in the long run than the measure now before iis.
– I thought the Government were going to bring in such a scheme ?
– I hope they will do it soon. Seeing that the cases dealt with in the Bill have stood over for so long, I think they might have been allowed to stand over until a scheme on broader principles than supplying the needs of a few individuals for the time being was brought down. I know most honorable senators will support the measure, as I intend to do, but I think many of us. in our better judgment, may have a suspicion that we are taking a step in the wrong direc-tion. Very often our sympathy gets the better of our judgment in such cases. At any rate, I am. glad to see the Government bringing down proposals of this kind from time to time. The party to which I belong have always tried to make the Government the model employer, so that it might be an example to private employers in the way of providing compensation when servants come to an untimely end. I am sorry the measure cannot be extended to take in all the widows ‘in the community who are in a. similar position to those being dealt with. That is the most regrettable aspect of the measure, but, seeing we cannot remedy it, I suppose we shall be obliged to accept the Bill. I hope the Government, will bring down a well-thought-out scheme, so that, instead of having cases brought before us in this way, the persons to receive compensation will know exactly what they are entitled to. That would be a more satisfactory thing than to have political influence used when the widow of some public servant requires help. That is what I am afraid of under the present circumstances, and such a state of affairs will not commend itself to this Parliament. We may be setting a very bad precedent by passing the Bill, and, later on, we may see the foolishness of the whole affair. However, I do not think any of us have the heartlessness to oppose a measure of this kind.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
This Act may be cited as the Officers Compensation Act 1907.
– I think it is clear that the date should be 1908. There is also the possibility that when we have gone through the measure we may wish to alter the word “ Compensation,” and, perhaps, put in the words “ Special allowances,” or something of that kind. I move -
That the clause be postponed.
Motion agreed to; clause postponed.
Clause 2 -
There shall be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, the following sums : -
.- This case, briefly stated, is that at the end of 1899 Lieut. -Colonel Bayly proceeded to South Africa. He was very ill when there suffering from enteric and exposure to cold. He returned to Australia in 1 90 1 very ill again, gradually becoming more decrepid until 24th August, 1904. He then went under a course of treatment unsuccessfully. He retired on the 17th of April, 1905. A. Medical Board reported on the 24th of July, 1905, that his . case was hopeless. He was’ suffering from paraplegic ataxia, resulting from exposure and enteric when on active service. Lieut. -Colonel Bayly died on the 21st September, 1906. The Military Finance Regulations, paragraphs 128 and 129, provide that compensation may be recommended by a Board appointed to inquire into the case, to the widow and family of anv member of the Permanent Forces who dies of any disease contracted on duty. It is provided that the. amount of compensation is not to exceed three years’ pay, regulated by scale from the maximum down to half the maximum amount. The Military Board has considered the matter, and recommend that a sum equal toone-fourth of the three years’ pay be granted to Mrs. Bayly. Lieut. - Colonel Bayly’s salary when Commandant in South Australia was£650 per annum, so that a quarter of three years’ pay would be£487 10s. Mrs. Bayly is in destitute circumstances, and is dependent on the charity of a few relatives.
– Is this “ other “ expenditure ?
– Is there no obligation on the part of the Defence Department of the State in which this .. officer served some years before he left for South Africa ?
– I dealt with that question before my honorable friend returned to the Chamber. For some years after the Commonwealth was established it was the practice to refer these cases to the State Governments, who, as a rule, consented to the payments which were charged as “ transferred “ expenditure. But for some reason or other, which I will not pretend to deal with at this juncture, the, State Premiers cannot see their way to consent to these particular cases being debited to “transferred” expenditure. We think, however, that, rather than that the relatives of these Commonwealth officers should suffer, we should meet the obligations so far as the gratuities are concerned.
– I desire to ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council if he is prepared to express an opinion as to whether, if the Commonwealth had not been established and this, officer had remained in the employ of ‘the Government of South Australia, he would have got compensation from that quarter?-
– I referred fully to that question when I was introducing the measure. In Victoria it was a practice in hard cases, where men had suffered death in the execution of their duty, or whilst in active service, to offer their relatives some gratuity or compensation. An amount for that purpose was usually placed on the Estimates, and probably a similar practice prevailed in the other States. I think that, in the circumstances I have mentioned, the relatives of these officers might have looked forward successfully to the grant of such gratuities by the States Parliaments.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [8.33].- Ithink that perhaps I ran throw a little light on the matter.’ This officer was only in South Australia for a brief while - he was a New South Wales officer, who would not have been transferred to South Australia unless there had been a Commonwealth. In New South Wales it was the practice prior to Federation for cases of this kind to receive liberal treatment at the ‘hands of the Parliament.
– The honorable senator does not call this liberal treatment?
– No. I think that in New South” Wales it would have been the. annual payment of a sum, which would have thrown this little dole utterly into the shade.
– The Minister’s explanation has convinced me that the proposal of Senator Pearce is one which the Government should take into’ their earnest consideration.
– In this case the proposal is in strict accordance with the regulations.
– I assume that otherwise the proposal would not have borne such 4a mean aspect as it does. It represents the payment of .£25 a year to the widow of an officer who “practically died in service.
– That is £25 a year with the right at her death to leave ^£400 to somebody.
– It is equivalent to about 12s. per week. I trust that in all these matters the Government, while acting equitably, will be as generous as it is possible for them to be. To my mind these amounts dp not appear to be equitable or generous.
– I remind honorable senators’ that a very important question is involved in this measure. It will be remembered that in the various States the practice of dealing with civil servants with regard to pensions or allowances varied. When certain Departments were transferred there was an understanding with the States that no officer was to suffer by the fact, that he had been transferred to the Commonwealth service. I know that in various cases there has been some not very creditable wrangling in regard to retiring or death allowances on the ground that the claims had hot been established by law. In Tasmania the practice in this matter was - not a good one. For many years a civil servant or the relatives of a deceased civil servant had to trust to the humanity Of Parliament and the good nature, of its members. It was only those who had influence at their com mand Who were able to bring their cases before the Parliament and get that full consideration which ought to have been extended to all claimants. That difficulty was removed by the Government of the day inducing both Houses to pass a joint resolution adopting a scale of retiring and death allowances. That is how the matter stood when various services in Tasmania were transferred to the Commonwealth. I believe that in other States a somewhat similar practice was in vogue. Are we by passing this Bill establishing a precedent - - and I hope that we are - which the Commonwealth will’ recognise, namely, that a transferred officer or the relative of a transferred officer shall be treated in exactly the same way as if he had retired from or died in the service of his State?
– Of course, we are not committing ourselves to any future cases. We are dealing with only these cases, but the step we are taking is in the direction to which the honorable senator suggests.
– I am very pleased to hear that. I hope that the practice which is being initiated will be continued, and that justice will be done in every case. the CHAIRMAN.- I ask the honorable senator to address his remarks to the particular part of the clause under consideration, as ‘it is not regular to discuss the principle of the Bill at this stage.
– I am sorry, sir, if I have transgressed the rule. I only want to express the hope that the practice which is being initiated to-night will beextended, and that we shall not be making fish of one class about whom we know something’ and flesh of another class.
Paragraph agreed to. .
To widow of Colonel Rica’rdo, formerly Commandant, .Victorian Military Forces … … … £[34
.– Colonel Ricardo had no leave of absence for the last few years of his life, and his widow and children .have been left -poorly provided for. This gratuity of £134 is equal to two months’ pay, as by the regulations he could have obtained two months’ leave.
– Is that all that the Government are proposing to give to the widow ?
– Well,’ the Government are wonderfully generous. .
.- I desire to know if there is any scale on which these payments are fixed, because on looking through the Bill it would seem that some persons are to get a great deal more than are others. I do not know what explanation the Minister can give to the Committee.
– I have explained each case very conclusively. In Lt.-Colonel Bayly’s case the sum represents a fourth of the amount in the terms of the regulations, and the grant to Mrs. Ricardo is in lieu of two months’ leave of absence to which her husband was entitled.
– Is no gratuity beyond that to be given ? .
– No. I shall deal with each case as it is reached.
Paragraph agreed to.
To widow of Muster Gunner Price, formerly Military Clerk, Central Administration … … … ‘^110
– Master Gunner Price died on the 17th February, 1906, having’ just commenced six months’ leave of absence on full pay which had been granted under the regulations. Had he lived he would have received a halfyear’s pay, viz., £110. He was stationed at Thursday Island and North Queensland between 1896 and 1899. In the latter year he went to South Africa, where he had typhoid fever, and returned to Australia in 1900. A board of medical officers re- ported that the disease from which he died was undoubtedly caused by residence in Thursday Island and North Queensland whilst on service, and that it might have been accelerated by enteric fever “contracted in South Africa/ The Military Board recommended full compensation under the regulations, viz., three years’ pay. The Crown Solicitor has advised, however, that no claim lies against the Commonwealth, because there is no proof that the disease from which Price died was contracted on active service or duty. His widow and young family, three in number,- are in straitened circumstances, and it is desired as an act of grace to grant a sum of £110 to her.
Paragraph agreed to.
To widow of Sergeant-Major Fraser, formerly of the New South Wales Military Forces … … … £30
Senator BEST (Victoria- VicePresident of the Executive Council) [8.43I. - This officer died in England while serving abroad for instruction, and it is desired to pay his widow a gratuity equal to two months’ pay at £180 per annum. The widow and family are in .poor circumstances’.
– In one case two months’ pay was granted to the widow because the officer was entitled to two months’ leave of absence. In another case six months’ pay was granted to the widow because the officer was entitled to six months’ leave, and now it is proposed to grant to this widow only two months’ pay. I desire to know if her husband was entitled to two months’ leave of absence when he died.
– I Cannot definitely say that that was so. The fact remains that Sergeant-Major Fraser was in service abroad at the time, and I can hardly say on what basis the two months’ pay has been estimated. The Minister went into the matter, and considered that in the circumstances two months’ pay would be a reasonable compensation. Only £30 is involved.
– The Minis-er will recognise that whether the amount involved is £30 or 30’ pence the principle should be the same. T was trying, as I did on the second reading, to arrive at some definite understanding as to the method of compensation adopted. We have dealt with three, cases, and so far they have been very well explained. But we have come to a fourth case, where the Minister will own he has been unable to give any satisfactory explanation.
Paragraph agreed to.
To ex-Gunner Watson, Royal Australian
Artillery, Victoria … … £24
– I find that Gunner Watson was granted three months’ leave on full pay under Military Regulation 437. He was then discharged as medically unfit on account of phthisis. He is being supported by his fa’ther, who .is sixty-eight years of age, and who has not means sufficient to support an invalid son. It appears that he .might, under the regulations, have, been granted six months’ leave on full pay prior to his discharge. Had the Department been fully informed of the circumstances, a further three months’ leave would have been granted.- . The gratuity proposed is in lieu of the three months’ leave of absence which would have been granted to him.
Paragraph agreed to.
– From the particulars supplied in connexion with this case, I find that Mr. Wilson was a senior lineman in the Construction Branch, Sydney. He died at St. George’s Cottage Hospital, Kogarah, New South Wales, on the 9th November, 1906, from shock from burns received while fixing a telephone cable on to a telephone post at Kogarah. He was not a contributor to the New South Wales Superannuation Fund. Mr. Wilson’s widow’ wrote to the Deputy Postmaster-General, Sydney, intimating that she had been left with two little children, and that when all her late husband’s debts and claims were satisfied, she would have absolutely nothing, and asked for consideration. The Deputy PostmasterGeneral submitted the case as one for special consideration of the Department for granting a gratuity, and the PostmasterGeneral approved, on the 24th June last, that a gratuity of £100 for widow, and£50 for each child, be granted.
– Is there anything to show that Wilson’s death was contributed to in any way by negligence on the part of the Department?
– I have no reason to believe that there was any negligence on his part, or on the part of the Department. His death was due to one of those unfortunate accidents which will always happen. The case seems to be a pretty hard one.
. -I think that this is a case in which we are all agreed that the compensation proposed is wholly inadequate. It appears that this man was killed in the performance of his duty. He did not contribute by negligence or otherwise to his death. His wife was left a widow, and his children fatherless. The breadwinner has been taken from them, and all the compensation the Government propose to give is a sum of £200. I consider that that sum is wholly inadequate, and that this man’s widow and family ought to be a charge upon the Commonwealth until the members of the family are able to provide for themselves, and the widow dies or remarries.
That is a principle which I think the Commonwealth Parliament might very well lay down in such cases. In addition to the lump sum of£200 proposed, I think we should provide the widow with an annuity.
– With 10s. per week.
– I do not think that 10s. per week would be sufficient. I understand that the deceased left two children, and£1 per week would not be at all extravagant compensation to pay until the children are able to provide for themselves. After that, the contribution might be’ reduced. The widow of LieutenantColonel Bayly is to be given£487, which is more than double that proposed to be given to the widow of this man Wilson. Her husband was cut off in the flower of his youth, I suppose, and in the full tide of his usefulness as a citizen, a husband, and a father, and I think that his widow and children ought to be a charge on the’ Commonwealth. I do not suppose that it would be competent for me to move an amendment.
– If the honorable senator desires to move for an increase in the amount he must do so by way of request, but it is competent for him to move for a reduction by way of amendment.
– I am prepared to move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to vote, in addition to the£200 proposed, an annuity at the rate of £1 per week to the widow of J. Wilson until the youngest child has reached the age of fifteen years. Thereafter, the weekly contribution to be reduced to10s., and to be wholly withdrawn should the widow re-marry.
– Before Senator Stewart submits a motion, I have a word or two to say. I have been supplied with some additional information in connexion with the case, and in a memorandum Mr. Young, the Deputy Postmaster- General, says -
In view of the recent special instructions issued as to granting compensation on the death or serious injury of an officer while in the execution of his duty provided there have been a contributory cause in the form of defect in departmental plant, &c, or negligence on the part of the Department through its authorized officers, it is not seen how anv special monetary compensation can be made in the late lineman Wilson’s case, as, although he met his death whilst in the execution of his duty, there was no contributory defect or negligence’ on the part of the Department. It is submitted by Mr. Burgess . (representing the New South Wales Electrical Telephone and Telegraph Construction
Branch Union) that Mrs. Wilson’s appointment as semi-official Postmistress at Marengo is not compensation, but whilst it may be argued that the allowances as Postmistress are only payment for services rendered, yet it must be remembered that the Department has specially afforded Mrs. Wilson the opportunity of earning such allowance, and in that respect it does amount to a material help to Mrs. Wilson, in her sad loss.
– What is she getting?
– She is evidently getting a reasonable livelihood, though it is true that she renders services for what she earns. The Department has sought to. give her help that she might not be destitute. I would point out to Senator Stewart that it would be a little unwise for us to attempt to deal with these cases on the generous scale, as it appears to me, which he has suggested, unless we are intimately acquainted with the circumstances. I have already explained that this case received the fullconsideration of the Minister, and the proposal in the Bill is the result of his determination. If honorable senators consider that£200 is not sufficient, it would, 1 think, be better to suggest an increase in the lump sum than to propose that provision should be made for an annuity, since that would take the form of a pension, and we have rigidly set our faces against pensions, and should not encourage them in any shape ‘or form.
– It is very easy to purchase an annuity.
– Undoubtedly. But I am talking about the Government establishing a system of pensions.
– This would not be a pension in the ordinary acceptation of the term.
– What Senator Stewart proposes certainly would be a pension. The honorable senator suggested that, in addition to the £200, there should be an annuity provided at the rate of£1 per week for a certain term and 10s. per week for a certain other term. Having regard to the fact that Mrs. Wilson has been given employment, and that the Minister came to the conclusion that £200 was reasonable compensation, I hope Senator Stewart will be satisfied. I shall direct the attention of the Minister to the honorable senator’s remarks on this case, and will ask him to say whether he thinks the circumstances warrant an increase of the amount. No doubt any expression of opinion on the part of honorable senators will receive full consideration at the hands of the Government, and if it is desired that this amount should be. increased, provision for that purpose might be made on’ the Estimates, since to endeavour to increase the amount now might involve the introduction of another measure and a fresh message.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.0]. - I had occasion to make inquiries recently into the matter of these contract or semi-official post-offices, and learned from the Deputy Postmaster-General of New South Wales that the minimum net amount was £78 a year. The minimum amount, actually paid is something over£110, but out of that the recipient has to provide a messenger, so that it is really reduced to about £78 as a’ minimum. Of course, in some post-offices it is much higher, running at times into over £200.
– I have the figures here, as follow : - Personal allowance, £78 per, annum ; light, cleaning, fuel, £7 per annum ; delivery of telegrams, £5 per annum ; rental value of quarters, £20 per annum; total,£110 per annum.
– We should do well- to consider the advice offered by the VicePresident of the Executive Council. However strong our sympathies may be in the direction of endeavouring to succour those who need succour, there would be great danger in adopting the course suggested by Senator Stewart.
– The honorable senator must remember the vastly different aspect that has been placed on it by the information which the Minister has now given us.
– Even if the Minister had not bsen ableto furnish us with that information, it would have been unwise for us to attempt to establish a system of annuities or pensions in the Commonwealth. I agree with Senator Stewart that the amount allotted to this widow is altogether too small. The Workmen’s Compensation Acts already in existence provide that the lump sum granted to the widow shall be at least equalto three years’ wages in full of her late husband when he was working.
– Where there hasbeen negligence on the part of the employer.
– No condition of that sort is necessary. If there has been negligence on the part of the em- ployer the compensation recovered at common law may go as high as from£500 to£1,000., This man as a senior linesman would have receiver at least £5 a week. That for three years would mean a total of£450, . and to that amount his widow is entitled. Whatever other arrangement the Department can make in the way of giving her employment, it is quite fair should be made, but the Commonwealth should,at any rate, discharge its responsibility to her by paying a stun in accordance with the provisions of the Workmen’s Compensation Acts. I therefore suggest to Senator Stewartto drop the question of annuities, and move a request that this widow shall receive a lump sum equal to three years’ wages of her late husband in full.
– I am entirely in sympathy with Senator Stewart’s effort to give further assistance to the widow of this linesman, but I shall not go with him so far as to request another place to grant an annuity. I am in favour of increasing the sum set down in the schedule, because it is entirely inadequate. Senator Henderson has put forward a phase of the question which deserves serious, consideration.
– It isnot three years clear in Western Australia.
– I was about to put forward the same point before Senator Henderson rose. According to the Minister’s statement this man met his death in the execution of his duty. The Department, of course, say that it was through no negligence of theirs.
– They gave the widow a job.
– For the moment, but if this man had been employed outside the service, his widow could have applied for compensation under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, if there is such an Act in New South Wales. In Western Australia the Workmen’s Compensation Act is almost a prototype of the Imperial measure.
– But it is important to remember that all law costs arid like expenses are deducted from the three years’ compensation.
-I will not dispute that. I would remind Senator Trenwith that an employer cannot plead contributory negligence when a claim for com pensation is made under that Act. The only way in which the action can be defeated is by proving that the fatality w.as caused by the wilful neglect or suicidal conduct of the employed This unfortunate woman has not had the opportunity of putting in motion any law, even the common law. We need not establish the precedent of annuities or pensions, but we should request another place to increase the sum proposed from£200 to an amount equivalent to three years’ wages which the man would have earned. 1 take exception also to the Vice-President of the Executive Council’s request to Senator Stewart to refrain from pressing his proposal, and his offer to place the honorable senator’s remarks before the Minister who has already considered the matter. This Committee should not waive its right to legislate, and wait for the opinion of any Minister of the Crown. If the Minister is to be the final arbiter, why wasthe Bill sent up to us? The Vice-President of the Executive Council has given the facts of the case is they have been dealt with by the Department, but the’ Bill has come before us in the ordinary consitutional manner for us to agree or disagree with. The Chairman has already ruled that it is within our . power to move a. request for an increase or an amendment for a decrease. That is the proper and constitutional course! to follow without remitting any item back to the Minister. The facts put before the Committee justify Senator Stewart’s desire to further help the widow, and. I shall be prepared to assisthim if he moves a request for an increase of the amount, so that the case may be brought into line with others that have occurred in the industrial world outside.
– I do not like the idea of taking these questions out of the hands of the Government. The Government, in introducing a Bill of this kind are responsible to Parliament to see that justice is done. They have better opportunities of inquiry, and of familiarizing themselves with the circumstances of each case than we have. Presumably, they have asked Parliament to do what is best. . The Commonwealth has adopted the. policy of paying adequate salaries, and leaving its servants to make proper provision for themselves. We have decided, so farnot to give pensions’.
– I ask the honorable senator to deal, not with the general principle, but with the particular case involved:
– What I have stated is a reason why we should not ask for an increase of any particular amount. What is proposed is to pick out one case, the circumstances of which happen to appeal to our sympathies. It is quite possible that if we do so’ we shall be doing a>i injustice in other cases. I do not like meddling with the amounts at all. If anything of this kind is to be done, I should prefer if to be introduced on some broad and general principle which could be given effect to without appealing to the humane sentiments of honorable senators in this way. I would sooner see the Bill passed as the Government have introduced it, if the Government see no reason for increasing the amounts.
– The Government are not all-wise in these matters.
– They ought to be much better posted up as to each particular case than ordinary members of Parliament can be.
– From inquiries which I have made. I gather that the claim, in this case is much stronger than I supposed. It appears that this man met his death owing to the employment of temporary hands who did not thoroughly understand their work. That is the statement that was made by the Minister who must be supposed to be conversant with the facts.
– Who made the statement ?
- Mr. Chapman. If it is true that owing to the employment of temporary hands who did not understand the work this man lost his life, it makes the case for the payment of increased compensation to his widow all the stronger. Some honorable senators have treated my proposal as if it were ‘an attempt to revive the old pensions system. It is nothing of the kind. “The principle I advocate is that if a man loses his life in the service of the community those dependent upon him should be a charge on the community until they are able to look after themselves. I think that is a principle which will find acceptance in the mind of every man. In the case under consideration a man was doing work for his country that had to be done by some one. Owing to a misadventure he lost his life. He did not contribute to the cause. Not only was he “free from blame as far as that is concerned, but the Department which employed him actually contributed to his death by placing with him at his work men who did not understand their duty. That is the statement of Mr. Chapman, and I think honorable senators will admit that the widow of this man has a double claim to the additional payment I have suggested. With regard to the question of an annual payment, I made that proposal in preference’ to a lump sum being paid, because I know that when people get a “comparatively large sum of money into their hands they are more likely to fritter it away.
– Suppose there was an annual payment and the widow married again ?
– To “give this woman £1 a week the Government would require to invest something like £1,700 or
– It would not be anything like that.
– The question of annuity would be determined by her age.
– It would not be very much less than the amount I have mentioned. Although personally I should prefer an annual payment to the payment of a lump sum, I gather from the speeches of honorable senators that there is not any likelihood of my proposal being carried, and I shall not proceed further with it. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to increase the amount of compensation to the widow, of J. Wilson to ^450.
– The statement made by Senator Stewart as to there being contributory negligence on the part of a Commonwealth Department in this case induces me to rise to again ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council for information regarding the matter, because when some time ago I asked the honorable senator if there was anything in the report from which he was. then reading as to whether there was a possibility of the Department, through employing incompetent hands, having contributed to the fatality, the honorable senator said that was not correct.
– That is so. I read the official memorandum.
– The honorable senator read the official memorandum, which indicated that the information of Senator Stewart was incorrect. Before voting, on this proposal we should have any further information the Minister possesses on the matter furnished to us. As far as I am able to judge, the suggestion that there was negligence on the part of the Department alters the whole aspect of the case. In the one instance it is not extending grace or charity to the widow, but paying a just compensation’ to her. But if there was no negligence on the part of the Department we fall back on the position first placed before us by the’ Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– I read the official memorandum on the subject, and it indicated most clearly that there was no negligence whatever on the part of the Department. I believe my colleague, Mr. Chapman, did say that some temporary inexperienced hands were engaged on the work in question at- the time the fatality occurred, but I do not think he went so far as to say that any-‘ thing clone by those inexperienced, hands brought about the fatality.
– That is practically what he said.
– The point is that the Deputy Postmaster-General - the responsible officer - was asked to report on this particular subject. I have given the House the. result of his report, and it establishes very clearly that there was no negligence on the part of the Department.
– I do not attach much importance to the question of contributory negligence on the part either of the Department or the ‘ man who lost his life. There is one good, sound, honest principle that Ought to govern this measure,, as it governs every Workmen’s Compensation Act, and that is that contributory negligence has practically nothing whatever to do with fixing compensation.
– The man has lost his life.
– The man has lost his life, and that is sufficient. We all ought to know what is the guiding principle in Workmen’s Compensation Acts. That principle is good enough for me, .and I hope it is good enough for the Senate.
– - You are not quite correct in your statement.
– I do not want the honorable senator to teach me what should be the guiding principle of a Workmen’s Compensation Act.
Senator- Millen. - Under the Workmen’s Compensation Act. where it is shown ;that there has been negligence on the part of the employer, he is liable to pay heavier compensation..
– I am not concerned with that, but with the argument that has been brought into the debate, that if the unfortunate victim of this fatality, had been proved to be guilty of negligence in the eyes of the law he would not be entitled to any compensation. That is an abhorrent principle, and ought not to find its way into any Workmen’s Condensation Act.
– It has not entered into this debate at all.
– I have heard it stated. I certainly intend to support the request. The principle, laid down by Senator Needham and Senator Henderson with regard to the method of ascertaining the amount of ‘ compensation is a sound one. With regard to Senator Stewart’s first suggestion about providing an annuity, I sympathize with him, and, while I do not agree that the Commonwealth Parliament should grant pensions, I sympathize with the desire to grant to the widow in this case an annuity instead of a lump sum. By doing so, we shall be endeavouring, not only to give her compensation, but to go a step further, and see that it continues for her benefit. It would be an endeavour to protect her, perhaps, against her own lack of knowledge in handling what might seem a fairly large sum of money in one lump. On the other hand, I cannot agree that the Federal Parliament should establish a pensions system. To my mind, there is. an easy way out of the difficulty. I do not know whether Senator Stewart would approve of it, but a direction might be given that the sum of £450. which he proposes as compensation, and which I hope will be carried, shall be invested for the purchase of an annuity in some thoroughly secure and sound company carrying on business in .Australia. I know of a company, the security of which is unimpeachable. I am not connected with it in any way. I refer to the Australian Mutual Provident Society.
– - How much would she get?
– It would depend on the woman’s age.
– It would not be a very large income.
– It would be a fair amount. . I -used to know the tables of annuities, but I have forgotten them. Speaking from recollection, if this woman happens to be fifty years of age .£45° would in all probability purchase for ,her an annuity of £40.
– She is spoken of as having young children, and I assume she is young too.
– Of course, if this widow were younger the amount would purchase a lesser .annuity, but whether Senator Stewart agrees to add my suggestion to his request or not I do not much care, except that I wish to say that I am with him in the view that we should carry this compensation a. little further and lend to this woman our protective aid. ‘ On the other hand, however, the money might be more useful to her in a lump sum.
’. - I think the Committee will make a rather serious departure if honorable senators accept Senator Stewart’s request. He is proceeding on a wrong basis in saying that following the lines of the Workmen’s Compensation Act the widow in this case would get £450, assuming that to be three years’ pay. Even under the Workmen’s Compensation Act she would only be entitled to £450 less the law costs, and those costs might amount to a .considerable sum of money.
– Why deduct law costs that do not exist? Why should we punish this woman at all?
– We are not punishing her. The Government have acted towards her with the greatest generosity. They have provided her with the means of livelihood, and that surely must be taken into consideration. Senator Stewart seeks to deal with the matter as though it were on the lines of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, and as if the Government were doing nothing at all but paying the £450 compensation.
– Your argument is one of two things’: Either that she would not otherwise get a means of livelihood, or that you are giving her money she does not earn.
– A workman under the Workmen’s Compensation Act would not be entitled to £45p.
– Very often there are no law costs in the matter.
– Very often there are considerable law costs, and if we strike an average there is bound to be something. My second argument is that the fact that the Government have provided this widow with a position worth something like £110 per annum is entitled to consideration, iri assessing the compensation we should pay her. The third matter I would emphasize is that this- ^200 compensation has been assessed by a sympathetic Minister after full inquiry. As far as I am aware, the ,£200 should be regarded as a generous contribution. ‘Of course we are not liable to pay anything at all. This is purely a matter of grace on the part- of the Governmnent, and we should not let our generosity outrun our discretion in cases of this kind. Having regard to all the circumstances, the Postmaster- General has assessed the compensation at £200, and the Committee would do well to- pass the amount as it appears.
– - A few minutes ago Senator Clemons made some reference to the term “contributory negligence,” spoke of it as a principle which was abhorrent, and, it seemed to me, endeavoured to infer that those who had previously used that term were trying to imply that this unfortunate man had been guilty of contributory negligence, and that we were using the term as a means of shielding the Commonwealth from making a just contribution to his widow. I do not know whether he was here when the term was used.
– I inferred that from what I heard.
– I assure the honorable senator that the term was not used in that sense, but with a view to showing that if the Commonwealth itself - the employer - had been guilty of contributory negligence there would have been’ a just and honest claim for a larger compensation than might otherwise have been looked for. What was said was spoken entirely in the interests of the widow of the unfortunate man, and certainly not with any desire to shield the Commonwealth, or other employer, if such negligence were shown to exist. The whole discussion rested on an interjection by Senator Henderson, who pointed out that the Workmen’s Compensation Act applied whether there was negligence on either side or not; but that outside that Act a claim for contributory negligence might be put in. It is that which caused me to raise the question, because I say unhesitatingly that if this man met his death because of any incompetence on the part of men sent out by a public Department, there was contributory negligence on the part of the Department, and the widow might have looked for a much larger sum than any which has been mentioned in this chamber to-night.
– And probably would have had a legal right to it.
– Exactly. I trust that the clay is far distant when the Commonwealth will force any widow of a deceased public servant to go to the Law Courts to get compensation to which she is entitled. I hope that Senator Clemons will accept my assurance that I had not the slightest desire to shield the Commonwealth from any obligation, legal or moral, that rests upon it.
– When speaking previously on this matter, I had not before me the whole of the facts connected with the position I wish to put before honorable senators; and it is only fair that I should now point out what the position of the widow would be under the operation of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, so that honorable senators may form a correct judgment. A claim may be made for three years’” wages. That amount may be granted by the Court, but it should be borne in mind that a certain sum for law costs in the case is deducted. If for instance, a widow was entitled to a sum of£450, law costs amounting to, “ perhaps,£150 or £60 would be deducted from the total, and the balance would be handed to the widow.
– But the Government would deduct that because they would have to pay it to some one else. There is no analogy in this case.
– I was going to make that point. I have been referring to cases, in which a law suit is involved, and whilst the money is taken from the widow it is paid to persons who have rendered service in the effort to obtain for her what she is entitled to. In this case there is no such thing as law costs, but I do not think that should alter the position very much.
– Yes. As the Government deny all liability if the widow desired to recover, she would have to commence an action which the Government would resist, and then law costs would be involved.
– But the Government would still have to pay over the full amount. . The only difference would be that in one case the full amount would be paid to two people and in the other only to one. In one case the full amount would be paid to the widow, and in the other the Government would pay her the full amountminus the amount of the law costs, but they would still be called upon to pay the full amount all the same.
– Does not the honorable senator see that there would be law costs in. this case because theGovernment deny all liability.
– I sincerely trust that the Government and Parliament will see their way to deal at least as generously with this widow as she might expect to be dealt with if she made a claim under a Workmen’s Compensation Act.
– It seems to me that the sum set. clown in this case is totally inadequate. It has struck me that whilst there might be some justification for a denial of liability’ by the Government, on the ground that Wilson was not a junior officer but an experienced man aware of the risks of his calling, it should still be borne in mind that he occupied a responsible position, and we have in these days reached a stage when it has become recognised as a duty of those carrying on industries to maintain maimed servants and to provide for the widow and children ‘of one whose death has been due to the fact that hehas had to follow a dangerous occupation. I think it remarkable that- a sum of £,200 should be proposed in this case. I have heard Federal statesmen, amongst others, say that every adult is worth £300 to the State in which he happens to live, and although this man lost his life in the employment of the Commonwealth, it is assumed that his life was worth to his widow only two-thirds of what it would be worth to the State in which he resided. We are, however, not laying down general principles but dealing with individual cases, and we have to consider what is the best we can do for the widow of the man Wilson. I am glad to learn that the Post and Telegraph Department has secured suitable occupation for her. It is probable that otherHonorable senators have more experience of cases of this kind than I have, but I have known of cases where charitably disposed people have interested themselves on behalf of a widow, and as a result have handed over to her a lump sum. which has been devoted to the purchase of a business. A widow left with children is greatly hampered, and being without business experience and finding competition very keen, it has not been long before widows who have been assisted in this way have found themselves in a worse position than they were in before they received such assistance. Rather than that the Commonwealth should give this widow a lump sum, and then be free of all liability, it would, I think, be better that she should be given a little less and that the Commonwealth Government should take upon themselves the responsibility of providing her with some suitable occupation.
– They have done so.
– I am aware of that, but I should like to feel that it would not be considered that the Commonwealth would be clear of all responsibility by voting under this Bill a lump sum that might be considered adequate.
– Governments do not often turn widows out of employment.
– I hope the day will never come when they will do so. There should always be room in a large Government department for the employment of a person in the unfortunate position of the widow in this case. I trust that the proposed gratuity will be increased to some extent, but not to such an extentas would be considered sufficient to free the Commonwealth Government from the responsibility of providing this widow with suitable occupation.
. -This is a remarkably awkward position for the Committee to be placed in, and it seems to me to emphasize the wisdom of Senator Pearce’s suggestion that we should deal with these matters in some comprehensive way on general lines. We are here dealing with a very hard case. Senator Stewart’s proposal seems to imply that it would be well to adopt the lines of a Workmen’s Compensation Act, which would provide compensation to the extent of three years’ wages, with freedom from all further responsibility. I think that in this case something very much better has been done. We are not dealing with general principles, but with a special case, and it seems to me that the Government have dealt with it in a far more satisfactory way than that which has been lauded and which we have been asked to follow of paying compensation to the extent of three years’ wages, and then washing our hands of all further responsibility. I feel that if we weredealing with the question of the amount of compensation which should be given in. such a case in the form of. a lump sum, two or three years’ wages would be a very inadequate provision. I remember that I once succeeded in embodying in a Bill the principle that at least three years’ wages should be given in case of death, but I must confess that I suggested three years’ wages as the amount of compensation because I knew the difficulty of securing anything at all. Still, I believe that five or even six years’ wages in this case would not be as ample a provision as that which the Post and Telegraph Department has made. It has made it its business to find employment of a suitable character for this unfortunate widow, and we know that, in accordance with the custom of public employment, it will be permanent so long as she exerts herself to doher duty. She and her family are, therefore, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, permanently provided for, and in addition to that it is proposed that she should be given a lump sum of£200. I am sure that Senator Stewart would like to know that every unfortunate ‘widow was as well provided for. I shall vote for the Government proposal.
– Before the request goes to a vote I should like to say a word or two with reference to the argumentused by Senator Trenwith. He bases his support of the Government proposal on the ground that they have practically provided for the widow and family of this man Wilson. In moving my request I took that into consideration just as fully as Senator Trenwith has done. But it appears to me that the Government are hot doing anything by way of charity for this widow. If she is filling a position in the postal service for which she is receiving.£110 per year, it is to be assumed that she is earning the money, and is entitled to receive it without any stigma of charity being attached to her. I am very glad to know that the Government have provided for this woman to that extent, and I hope they will continue that provision, whether my request be carried or not. But I think that in the case of a woman who has been deprived of her husband, even if she be assured any work for a considerable number ofyears,£200 is not sufficient compensation. I hope that my request will be carried.
Paragraph agreed to. …. : To widow of S. Burnett, formerly Telegraph Lineman, PostmasterGene,ral’s Department, New South Wales £200
– On the nth November, 1902, Mr. Burnett was killed’ on the railway line whilst returning to Armidale on a railway tricycle after attending to some work on his section. ‘He was not a contributor to the New South. Wales Superannuation Fund. His widow’ wrote intimating that he had left her with four children ill-provided for, and asked for pecuniary relief. The Deputy Postmaster-General, Sydney, recommended that an amount of compensation be allowed, and on the 19th January, t9°3j the Postmaster-General approved of that course being, adopted, the Govern- ^ ment of New South Wales being asked to concur in the payment of the amount. The Premier of that State, however, protested against the proposed payment being made solely at its expense.
– - I desire to ask’ whether anything has been done in. the way of providing employment for this widow, because it is desirable to know if the Government are doing the same thing in all cases?
– I believe not.
Paragraph agreed to.
To widow of W. R. Child, formerly Sorter, Postmaster-General’s Department, New South Wales … £l37
– Whilst .on sick leave, on the 14th March, 1905, Mr. Child, who had not attained the age of sixty years, applied to be retired from the service on account of ill-health, but before the necessary Executive authority could be obtained, he died, and the Government of New South Wales declined, under the circumstances, to consent to the payment of a gratuity to his representative. Had Mr. Child been retired as desired, he would have been entitled to a gratuity amounting to £136 7s. 3d. He was not a contributor to the New South Wales Superannuation Fund. If a meeting of the Commonwealth Executive had been held, and the .resignation accepted before he died, his widow would have been legally entitled to the gratuity. It would then have been charged as transferred expenditure to New South Wales. But the New South Wales law and practice prior to
Federation did not allow of a gratuity being given unless the Executive had actually retired the officer. It was held that he could not be retired after his decease.
Paragraph agreed to.
To. widow of G. H.. Chapman, formerly Telegraphist, Postmaster-General’s Department, New South Wales … £297
– On the 24th June, 1901, Mr. Chapman applied to be allowed to retire on account of ill-health. ‘ This application was approved by the PostmasterGeneral on the 1st July, 1.901, but Mr. Chapman had died on the 28th June. The widow applied for payment to her of the gratuity which would have been payable to her husband had be been retired as proposed. He was an ex-contributor to the New South Wales Superannuation Fund, and consequently the amount contributed by him to that fund, plus interest - £122 1 8s. 4d. - was refunded to his representative. Had he been retired in due course he would have been entitled to a gratuity of £296 15s. 6d.. in addition to the amount of his contributions to the fund.
– That contribution was made by New South Wales.
– Yes. . Paragraph agreed to.
To widow of J. Clarke, formerly Inland Mail Clerk, Postmaster-General’s Department, New South Wales … £39*
– This is another case of a gratuity in lieu of six months’ pay. Mr. Clarke died on 18th October, 1906. He reached the age of sixty years on the 17th August, 1906, and on the 27th September stated that he desired to be retired, and asked for six months’ leave on full pay. Owing to the large amount’ of work in progress- at the General Post Office, Sydney, in connexion with the annual mail ‘tenders, he agreed to continue duty until the inland contracts came into operation, about the middle of January, 1907. At the time of his death he was a contributor to the New South Wales Superannuation Fund, and had he been retired, he would have been entitled to a pension. No gratuity, or refund of his contributions to that fund, was payable to his representative. . -Paragraph agreed to.
Paragraph agreed to.
Clause agreed to.
Postponed clause 1 -
This Act may be cited as the Officers Compensation Act1907.
– Senator Pulsford has pointed out that the word ‘ ‘ Compensation ‘ ‘ is not suitably used in the short ‘title of this Bill-. I think that the Minister has proved conclusively in every case that the Commonwealth is under no legal liability, and therefore a correct title should be adopted. That we’ have been granting gratuities is borne out by the recommendations of the heads of the Departments and the PostmasterGeneral. In each case the proposed payment is referred to in official papers as a gratuity, and therefore it is only fair to use that word in the short title: I move -
That the word “ Compensation “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Gratuity..”
– I suggest to my honorable friend that there is really not very much in a word. If any alteration is made in the Bill it will involve delay. To begin with, the report of the Committee could not be adopted to-night, and our amendment would have to be approved elsewhere. If we listened to the suggestion of my honorable friend it would be necessary to use the phrase “ Officers’ Widows and Representatives Gratuities Act 1908.” The pre sent short title is comprehensive, and I think meets the situation.
Clause agreed to.
– For the reason which the Minister has just given, I do not propose to move an amendment in the long title of the Bill, but I cannot refrain from drawing, attention to its extremely unsatisfactory wording. It is -
A Bill to provide for compensation to be paid on retirement or on decease of certain officers of the Commonwealth.
The retirement has already taken place, and the officers unfortunately aredead.
– Not in allcases.
– The long title is worded as if the retirement were to take place in the future, and as, if the money were to be paid on a death taking place in the. future. I suggest for the consideration of the draftsman that it would have been better if he had used the following long title - .
A Bill to provide for compensation for certain retired officers and the widows of certain deceased officers.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
– Owing to the consideration of the Tariff this Bill has been standing on the noticepaper since the 22nd January, and as there is almost unanimity with regard tothe payment of these amounts, may I suggest that the Standing Orders be suspended for the purpose of enabling me to move the third reading of the Bill to-night?
– Will that expedite the paymentof the money to a single person ?
– That is the object.
– Will the honorable senator assure me that if we do not suspend the Standing Orders there will be’ any delay in that regard ?
– If we do not suspend the Standing Orders to-night the third reading of the Bill will be made an order of the day for Wednesday next.
– I am not concerned with that, but with the payment to these persons. Would that delay alter the destination of the money?
– I should think that if we read the Bill a third time to-night it would expedite the payment of the money. Moreover, I am reminded by my honorable colleague that the Governor-General will be leaving Melbourne on Saturday next.
– Those are good grounds for asking for a suspension of the Standing Orders, but nothing else said was. Under other circumstances I. should object to their suspension.
Motion (by Senator Best) agreed to.
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the Bill to pass through its remaining stage .without delay.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ amendments) :
Clause 4 - >5B- () If the Comptroller-General believes that an offence has been committed against this Part of this Act, he may by. writing under his hand require any person whom he believes to be capable of giving any information in relation to the alleged, offence to answer questions and to produce documents to him or to some person named by him.
House of Representatives’ Amendments. - After “Act” insert “or if a complaint has been made in writing to the Comptroller-General that an offence has been committed against this Part of this Act and the Comptroller-General believes that the offence has been committed “ ; after “him” line S, insert “.in relation to the alleged offence.”
.’ - The first of these is a verbal amendment, the object of which is evidently to provide that in the event of a complaint being made, it shall be put into writing.
– The amendment does not make it compulsory to put the complaint in writing. It is quite _ optional ; but, if the complaint is made in writing, then certain things shall be done.
– By the first part of the proposed new section, if the ComptrollerGeneral believes that an offence has been committed, he may act of his own volition, and then, by the amendment of another place, if a complaint has been made in writing that an offence has been- committed, and he believes that it has been committed, he may act.
– There is nothing to prevent a verbal complaint being made, because then the Comptroller-General can take action under the first provision.
– The ComptrollerGeneral may get his information from- one source or the other, but the words which arc inserted are:-
– - -Surplusage.
– They are purely of a surplus character. They certainly, do not make the clause any worse. I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
– The Minister, said that the first amendment means nothing, or, if he did not say it, he ought to have said it. But it means something to the Senate if we accept it. It is really a curiosity in legislation. I do not suppose that we have ever had such an instance. The clause provided originally that if the Comptroller-General believed that an offence had been committed, he might do certain things. The other place add that if a. complaint has been made in writing to the Comptroller-General that an offence has been committed, and he believes that, it has been committed, he may do exactly the same thing. The amendment is an absolute farce. In the interests of decent draftsmanship, we should not allow such rubbish to be put into an Act. I do not know -who the author of the amendment is, but it is sheer unadulterated rubbish. It is adding to the Bill: so many words without modifying or altering one jot or tittle of its original meaning. Does not the Minister agree with what I am saying ?
– It is the amendment from another place.
– Does the Minister ask us to accept it? . .
– There is no harm in it.
-Surely we have more interest in decent legislation than to be content with the plea that there is no harm in it. The thing is farcical beyond credibility. Why put such stuff into an Act’ simply because it comes from another place? We are not perfect, but no honorable senator could possibly have moved such an amendment. If it had been moved, it would have been laughed out before the last word was enunciated. I hope the Committee will leave the Bill in a decent form.
Motion agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
– I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday next.
We have made excellent progress, and I have assurances that another place will have finished the Estimates by Tuesday next. We shall then be in a position to proceed with them at once when we meet on Wednesday. I propose, by leave, to give the necessary notice to-night to enable the second reading of the Appropriation Bill to be taken forthwith on that day.
– In view of the Minister’s statement, we may now take it for granted that his attitude and remarks this afternoon about desiring to get a little time for a little work were largely bluff. I suppose that that is now patent to every honorable senator.
– In the event of the Estimates not reaching us in time for consideration on Wednesday, will the Minister be prepared with business for the Senate to go on with ? Senators from distant States will be coming here for 2.30 on Wednesday. Are there any means whereby the Minister can intimate that there will be no work to do. and that it will not be necessary for them to attend?That would be a matter of convenience to senators who have to travel. I understand that the Minister is relying on the Estimates to give us an opportunity for work on Wednesday.
– Iam disappointed that the Minister has seen any justification for submitting the motion, as I was in hopes that he would be able toannounce that another place was likely to finish the Estimates tomorrow, and that we could go on with them on Tuesday. I gather that there is some doubt of that, and that, therefore, the Minister, Tather than keep honorable senators idling about, has proposed an adjournment until Wednesday. He gave us as full an assurance as any Minister can when dealing with the uncertain and eccentric proceedings of a House of Parliament, that the Estimates would be ready for us by Wednesday. I. assume that he is satisfied that there is very little risk that they will not be. If they are not, I hope he will tell us that we shall not be required to go on with anything else, for I do not view with pleasure the prospect of taking any fresh or serious business this session.
– To the best of my information, the Estimates are likely to be here on Tuesday. I am pretty well assured that that is so. If they are here on the Tuesday, we shall be in a position to go on with them on the Wednesday. If they are not here by the Wednesday morning, it will be too late for me to communicate with honorable senators. Another place may be engaged on them until midnight on Tuesday in order to let us have them on Wednesday.
– Unless they finish by midnight on Tuesday they cannot let us have them by Wednesday.
– There is no reason why they should not. If the other House finishes with them by that time, it will be seen that it would be too late to attempt to communicate with honorable senators. At present the consideration of the Estimates is the only business I can see before me, and I hope we shall have them here on Wednesday.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– There is a matter I wish to refer to with regard to the procedure this evening and the validity of certain work we have done. A little while ago there was a motion without notice to suspend the Standing Orders dealing, of course, with a subject with which we were all in sympathy. The President declared the motion to be carried. Standing order 433 reads as follows -
In cases of urgent necessity, any standing or sessional order or orders of the Senate may be suspended on motion duly made and seconded without notice; provided that such motion is carried by an absolute majority of the whole number of senators.
No steps were taken by you, Mr. President, to ascertain whether the motion was carried by an absolute majority of honorable senators. It was obvious to all of us that there were not nineteen senators in the Chamber at the time.
– There were.
– It is obvious that there were not, but further than that, if there were nineteen senators present, the President did not ascertain that fact, or declare that the necessary majority was present to carry the motion. I do not know whether there is any. risk of the work being invalidated, becauseI am at a loss to know what entry the Clerk will make in the Journals of the Senate. The usual, entry is -
And there being an absolute majority of the senators present, the motion was declared carried.
I venture to say that the Clerk will hardly make that entry at his own risk. I would like to know what entry will be made.
– I would point out that the motion was submitted to. the Senate, that it was declared carried, and that it was not challenged by any honorable senator, as it might have been if it were considered that an absolute majority of honorable senators was not present.While it has been customary for the President to say, “ There being an absolute majority of members present the motion is carried,” that forms no part of the requirements of the standing order. The order makes a certain provision, and the presumption is that the statutory number of members were present.
– I am desirous of knowing whether we are going to establish a precedent in this matter or not. You have indicated, sir, that the invariable practice is for the President to say, “ And there being an absolute majority of members present, I declare the motion carried.”
– You do not say that is necessary?
– It is necessary, for the reason that in the Senate we follow an established practice, and our established practice with regard tothis method of procedure has invariably been for the President to say, “There being an absolute majority of senators present, I declare the motion carried.” If such a statement is not made by the authority of the presiding officer, where is the slightest proof that we have complied with our standing order?
– It also has to be borne in mind that. the motion was submitted by the leave of the Senate. The Senate gives leave to submit motions when it sees fit, and, in this instance, the Senate appeared to give leave. The matter having been allowed to pass without anv challenge, even if there were ground for challenge at the time, is in itself strong presumptive evidence that the Standing Orders were complied with. An entry will be made in the Journals in accordance with the facts, and as far as I can judge there will be no danger of anything that has been done to-night being challenged.
– I wish to take this opportunity of seeking some information from the Vice-President of the Executive Council. Some little time ago I asked the honorable senator to make inquiries with regard to the action being taken by the- Government in connexion with a trust or combine amongst horse-breeders being brought about by a circular from the Remount Department of India. I would like to know the result of those inquiries.
– A telegram has beensent to the Indian authorities! I would ask the ‘ honorable senator to submit the question without leave on Wednesday next.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.22 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 April 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080402_senate_3_45/>.