3rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Report (No. 3) presented by Senator
Henderson, and read by the Clerk.
– I beg to lay upon the table the following paper : -
Merchant Shipping Legislation. - Copy of Despatch No. 308, with’ copies of correspondence between the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Governor of New Zealand. 1 regret that I am unable to lay upon the table to-day our reply to the despatch, but it is only courteous it should be re. ceived by the British Government before that step is taken.
– Is the correspondence in regardto New Zealand?
– The paper contains copies of two letters constituting a correspondence between the British and New Zealand Governments.
– Will the Minister move that the paper be printed?
– I beg to move, by leave -
That the paper be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I think that I made myself quite clear to my honorable friend on the occasion referred to. I pointed out that there was no immediate cause for apprehension because New Zealand imported only£20 worth of South African wines, as against £22,000 worth of Australian wines. I mentioned that in the event of negotiations for a treaty taking place, the matter would certainly receive consideration. Of course, I conferred with the Prime Minister; but my honorable friend will see that nothing can be done until negotiations in regard to that and other matters are under consideration.
asked the Vice-Pre sident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The matter is receiving the consideration of the Cabinet. ‘ The Prime Minister hopes to be able to make a statement regarding it at an early date.
STATES AND COMMONWEALTH.
Interpretation of Constitution.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– I have requestedthat the information should be secured as early as possible. I suggest to my honorable friend that he should ask the questions on Wednesday next. I cannot guarantee that the information will be available on that day, but it will be got ready for him as quickly as possible.
EXPENDITURE ON IMMIGRATION.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follow : -
The comparison as asked would go back in the case of the States far into the last century, while in the case of the Commonwealth it would refer only to the lastseven or eight years. If the honorable senator desires these statistics i will endeavour to have them compiled for him.
– I shall give notice of a question in respect to the previous ten years. I wish that the Minister would give whatever information he can.
VALUE-PAYABLE PARCEL POST.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Senator KEATING. The answers to honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
STATE BALANCES: DEDUCTIONS.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Referring to the moneys which have been deducted from the States’ balances and put aside for old-age pensions, on what basis have the deductions been made?
– On a population basis.
DEFENCE FORCE: SOUTH AUSTRALIA.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice - 1.. Is it necessary, and in the best interests of. the Defence Forcein South Australia, that one officer should occupy the dual positions of
CO., South Australian Brigade?
– I had the question forwarded to the Department of Defence, but I have not yet been able to get the information desired. I ask the honorable senator to kindly renew the question on a later date.
– Arising out of the answer, I should like the Minister to ask the Department of Defence whether it is a fact that the same officer is also a member of the Military Board, and has a vote on matters of local administration, to which the local Commandant must submit?
– I point out to the honorable senator that the question does not . arise out of the reply, which was simply a request that the inquiry should be postponed.
– My question is in regard to further information.
– The question on the notice-paper asked for certain information. The Minister of Home Affairs has asked Senator W. Russell to postpone his question until Wednesday next. Obviously, then, Senator Guthrie cannot be in order in asking a question arising out of the answer of the Minister, because no answer has been given.
President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Is it intended to proceed, during the present session, with the Bill for the taking over of Norfolk Island by the Commonwealth?
– The answer to the honorable senator is Yes.
Motion (by Senator Colonel Neild) agreed to -
That there be laid upon the table of the Senate a return showing -
Date of accident,
Number of days adrift, of every vessel trading to or from Australia, which, during the period from1st January, 1901, to date, has been disabled by accidents to her propeller.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator
Best) read a first time.
Debate resumed from 4th November(vide page 1925), on motion by Senator Best -
That the Senate do forthwith proceed to determine the opinion of senators as to the site for the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth.
That the following be the method of selection of the site, and that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Senate from adopting such method : -
That the selection be made from sites nominated, without debate, by honorable senators, provided that no nomination shall be received unless it is supported by at least two senators, in addition to the senator nominating, rising in their places.
That the Senate do forthwith proceed to the nomination of sites, and that the President do declare the time for nominations to be closed as soon as sufficient opportunity has, in his opinion, been given to receive nominations.
That an open exhaustive ballot be taken on Thursday, 5th November, without debate, in the following manner : -
Ballot-papers shall be distributed to honorable senators containing the names of the sites nominated.
Senators shall place a cross opposite the name of the site for which they desire to vote, and shall sign the paper.
The ballot-papers shall then be examined by the Clerk.
The total number of votes given for each site shall be reported to the Senate after each ballot.
If, on the first examination, any site proves to have received an absolute majority of votes, the President shall report the name of such site to the Senate, and such site shall be deemed to be the one preferred by honorable senators.
If no site receives an absolute majority of votes, then the name of the site receiving the smallest number of votes shall be reported to the Senate, and shall be struck out.
If any two or more of the sites shall receive an equal number of votes, such number of votes being the smallest, then the Senate shall ascertain in the customary manner which of such sites should! in the opinion of honorable senators, be further balloted for, and the name of the’ other, or others, shall be struck out.
Further ballots shall then be taken onthe names of the remaining sites, and the name of the site receiving the smallest number of votes in eachsuccessive ballot shall be reported tothe Senate and struck out in themanner aforesaid, until one of the sites receives an absolute majority of votes.
When one of the sites has received an absolute majority of votes, the name of such site shall be reported to the Senate by the President, and such site shall be deemed to be the site preferred by honorable senators.
Upon which Senator Croft had moved by way of amendment -
That the first sub-paragraph of paragraph 2 be amended by leaving out the words “ provided that no nomination shall be received unless itis supported by at least two senators, in addition to the senator nominating, rising in their places.”
– It is not my intention to occupy the time of the Senate at any great length, because I recognise that all the essential features of this matter have already been exhaustively discussed. But I desire to refer to two or three observations which have been made by honorable senators who have addressed themselves to the question. I very much regret that during the course of the debate Senators Stewart and Givens have seen fit to misinterpret the feeling of New South Wales upon the Federal Capital site question., and to insult the people of Sydney.
-i rise to a point of order. The honorable senator has said that Senator Stewart and myself alluded to the people of New South Wales in insulting terms. As a matter of fact, I gave the people of that State the highest credit for the view which they entertained upon this question.
– That does not seem to be a point of order.
– I say that the statement of Senator Gray is incorrect.
– If the honorable senator says that I have misrepresented him I have the greatest pleasure in withdrawing my statement. But I certainly understood both Senators Stewart and Givens to declare that the people of Sydney, who represent New South Wales, have acted in mean, sordid, and contemptible fashion. I cannot conceive of more offensive language being applied to their attitude upon this question. Of course I recognise that the bark of both Senators Stewart and Givens is worse than their bite. But we must recollect that in this Chamber they speak in a representative capacity, and in the circumstances their references to the people of an adjoining State, who for a prolonged period have enjoyed friendly commercial and political relations with those of the sister States, are to be deplored. They appear to forget that their accusations against the people of New South Wales apply equally to Mr. Watson, the ex-leader of the Labour Party, and to Mr. Hughes, who was a Minister in the Labour Government. These gentlemen, amongst others, are thus charged by Senators Stewart and Givens with being mean, sordid, and contemptible. I repudiate the accusation levelled against them because they have endeavoured to bring about a satisfactory solution of the Capital site question. It is a pity that the representatives of Queensland in this Chamber should have seen fit to broadcast such charges, especially in view of the fact that they are unable to substantiate them. I consider that the Minister who had charge of this motion introduced it in a fair and equitable spirit. I have only one reason for finding fault with him. I refer to his interpretation of the word “ reasonable “ in the Premier’s minute. I will not waste the time of the Senate in expressing my own view when it has been better expressed by others. I may refer to a speech made by Dr. Nash in the Legislative Council of New South Wales on the 14th December, bearing upon this subject. He said -
As to the limit which has been stated in the Constitution Act, I consider the chief guide should be the qpinions which were held by those who took part in the framing of the section, and of those who spoke immediately after the section was framed, and after the decision was come to that the capital was to be in New South Wales territory, and not less than 100 miles from Sydney. A debate took place in the Legislative of this State on the21st February, 1899. It was a debate on the address in reply to the Governor’s speech, and it was spoken to by the Right Hon. G. H. Reid, who was at the time Colonial Treasurer, and by Mr. Edmund Barton, gentlemen who took a very leading part in the bringing about of federation. Mr. Reid had come afresh from making a compact with the representatives of Australia, in Melbourne to the effect that the federal capital should be in New South Wales, and that it should not be less than 100 miles from Sydney. Mr. Barton was accepted as the greatest authority in Australia upon the Federal Constitution and upon federation. I take it that there is no stronger proof to be found of what was intended by the Premiers when they met in Melbourne than the opinions of those two gentlemen; and for the information of the House I will quote what they said at the time. In regard to the 100 miles limit, Mr. Barton, now Sir Edmund Barton, said :
If the capital is a little more than 100 miles from Sydney, it will still be within a threehours rail journey, and I take it that it will be the endeavour, however federal and however patriotic-minded they may be, of a large number of the representatives of New South Wales, and most of them, so long as considerations of position and climate are faithfully observed, to see that that capital is not placed too remotely from either Sydney or Melbourne.
That was the expressed opinion of Mr. Barton on that occasion. Mr. Reid, in the same debate, expressed himself in the following manner : -
In my opinion, if I may give it for anything it is worth, the federal capital, although in a country district, will be as near as possible to the 100 miles limit.
That expresses fairly well what I remember was the opinion of the general body of electors in the State of New South Wales at that time. And I might repeat that, coming fresh as it. did from those gentlemen, when the matter had been under consideration, it proves to me that the intention was that, if a suitable site could be found, complying with the other conditions necessary, on the margin of the 100 miles limit from Sydney, that site was the one intended to be chosen.
That passage shows clearly the interpretation which the members of the Conference put upon the word “ reasonable.” Dalgety is situated at the extreme corner of New South Wales, nearly 1,000 miles from the extreme west, and the same distance from the extreme north. Surely the Minister, does not contend that “ reasonable distance from Sydney” means anywhere within the State. Honorable senators should repudiate such an interpretation. The whole agreement was in the nature of a concession. Dalgety is no doubt a healthful and beautiful place. Whilst it is not in my opinion suitable for the purposes of a Federal Capital, it is in other respects one of the beauty spots of New South Wales. The Snowy River is a lovely stream, and the site possesses qualities in respect of pure water and power with which we should like the Capital to be endowed. Persons born in the district are in physique and health superior to those born in warmer or milder climates. Experience teaches us that, throughout the world - whether in Norway, Sweden, Scotland, or even in the north of England - the finest types of manhood physically are those who are born where the climate is cold during part of the year. But it is a very different matter to expect those who have been accustomed to live in warmer or milder climates to go to a place like Dalgety at the beck and call of Ministers, and in conformity with conditions regulating the political atmosphere. Gentlemen who have reached middle life, or who are over fifty years of age, and who have been during the greater part of their career residing in Queensland or in the neighbourhood of Kalgoorlie, or anywhere in Western Australia, if planked down’ in the winter months in a climate like that of Dalgety, would suffer severely. The consequence of selecting such a place would be that we should lose the services of many of our ablest politicians, who would find it impossible to live under such trying conditions.
– Is the honorable senator really serious in those remarks?
– I am so serious that I for one, if I had the honour to be chosen a senator, should have to decline it, if itinvolved attending sittings in such a district. I do not think that I can submit to my honorable friend a clearer case than my own.
– That is very much of a “ yes-no “ declaration.
– I do not think that there has been a. speech delivered during this debate that was so characterized by the “ yes-no “ quality as that of the honorable senator who interjects. In connexion with almost every phase of the question referred to by him he managed to twist the evidence to suit the views that he was expressing. Another aspect of the question which has not been considered is the delicate position of the New South Wales Ministry in connexion with this subject.
There are in that State between fifteen and twenty sites, each of which the residents and those who are interested consider should be the site of the Capital of Australia. It is only in conformity with human nature that it should be so. The New South Wales Government have had to take these interests into consideration and to make a. compromise. They have shown their practical earnestness in the matter, and that. I. think, should be considered in the final solution. I believe that the New South Minis-, try and the people of that State are so anxious to bring the question to a satisfactory termination that they are prepared to meet the Commonwealth Government in the most generous manner possible in connexion with ‘the granting of territory, and in other respects.
– Is that the reason they withdrew Dalgety after offering that site?
– My opinion about Dalgety is that held by most people who are not politicians. The question is really not Dalgety versus Yass-Canberra, but YassCanberra versus the retention of the Seat, of Government in Melbourne.
– It is New South Wales. versus Sydney.
– The honorable senatormay think so, but I find it difficult tobelieve that he knows the feelings of thepeople of New South Wales better thanthose who represent them. It would be a piece of impertinence, which’, I am sure,. Senator Story would resent, if B were to set: my views of the feelings of the people of South Australia against his, when I know that he has lived in the State and represents the people there. I do not wish tolabour the question. But in reply to thecontention urged by the Vice-President of the Executive Council and Senator Pearce, that the majority of the people of New South Wales do not approve of the selection, of Yass-Canberra, I should’ like toquote some remarks on the subject fromarticles which appeared in three of the leading newspapers of New South Wales on the day when this debate began in the Senate. The Sydney Morning Herald’ said -
If the choice should fall on Yass-Canberra, the road is open not only for progress in regard ‘ to the actual planning and erection of the Capital itself, but also for the obliteration of a great deal of the provincial jealousy which has unfortunately arisen over this question. If Dalgety - can still find aid and comfort in the Senate, it will be because-
– Order. I think the honorable senator is transgressing one of our standing orders which prevents the reading of comments appearing in the newspapers upon debates in the Senate. Standing order 400 reads -
No senator shall read extracts from newspapers or other documents, except Hansard, referring to debates in the Senate during the same session.
I think the honorable senator’s quotation refers to a debate now taking place in the Senate.
– The article from which I am quoting was written before the debate began ?
– Was it written before the debate on the same motion began in another place?
– I should not like to say that.
– The standing order refers to comments upon debates in the Senate during the same session. There can be no objection to the honorable senator giving any particulars or facts. The standing order is intended to prevent the reading of outside references and opinions with regard to a debate that is in progress in the Senate.
– What I desire to do is to answer the statement made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, and by Senator Pearce, to the effect that a majority of the people of New South Wales do not view the selection of YassCanberra favorably. So far as I know the newspapers of New South Wales voice the feelings and political aspirations of the people of that State, and it seemed to me to the purpose to show that on the day on which this debate began in the Senate, three of the leading newspapers of the State confirmed the compromise which was arrived at in connexion with this matter, and in the interests of the Commonwealth at large very strongly urged the Senate to accept that compromise.
– I point out to the honorable senator that it appears that the articles he proposes to quote refer to a matter we have to discuss. He will see that if I. permit him to make the quota lions he desires to make, it would be competent for other honorable senators, while the debate is in progress, to produce articles from other newspapers taking a different view as repre senting, for instance, the opinion of the people of Victoria. In the circumstances the honorable senator must see the reason for the rule which has been laid down.
– I bow to your ruling, sir, and will not further refer to the newspaper articles, except to remark that they approve the selection of Yass-Canberra, and, in my opinion, they voice the views of the people of New South Wales. I further point out that twenty-four out of a total of twenty-seven representatives of New South Wales in another place voted for the compromise referred to. There could be no better proof of the views of the people of New South Wales than that I have given.
– New South Wales is only one State of the Commonwealth.
– I am speaking only of one State, and of the only State at present which, so far as I know-
– Is interested.
– Of course New South Wales is interested. I ask honorable senators to imagine the absurdity of the interjection. Every elector in Australia is interested, I hope, in having justice done, and in seeing that an agreement entered into in good faith by representatives of each State at a Conference called for that particular purpose, is carried out. It will be a bad day for the Commonwealth when agreements signed by representatives of the people are repudiated by those who come after them, because they happen to hold different views. The agreement to which I refer was entered into with a knowledge that it included a concession favorable to the State I represent. It would be idle to say otherwise. Though I was not satisfied at the time the agreement was made, I feel sure that Commonwealth affairs will in every respect be advanced if the agreement is carried out in the spirit in which it was made. Let me say that it comprises, perhaps, the only condition of Federation in connexion with which the people of New South Wales feel that they have not received the justice and fair play to which they are entitled. I venture to say that it must be to the advantage of the whole Commonwealth, in the immediate future, that the people of the wealthiest and most populous State should not continue to suffer from a sense of irritation, due to a belief that they are being unjustly treated. I can sav without any misgiving that if honorable senators will rise to the occasion, and, recognising that the settlement of thi’s question is not for a day, but for all time, realize that in securing the full friendship of a State like: New South Wales they will be doing that which, must be not only to the advantage of the different States, but in the interests of the Commonwealth as a whole.
– I agree with the last speaker that the essential features of this question have been fully discussed. I recognise one essential and that is that the numbers are up. That is the real essential r ot merely in this case, but in every other. I am very sorry that this, question has been reopened. Four years ago when it was debated here every honorable senator had made a recent inspection of the various sites. He had before him all the reports and all the information which are now available. And, as I said, he also had the additional advantage of having made a personal inspection of the country.
– Not of Canberra.
– Unfortunately, at that time Canberra was not considered worthy of an inspection.
– Oh, no. It was not known then.
– The only site worthy of consideration at that time, according to Senator Macfarlane, was Dalgety.
– Of the sites then known.
– According to the honorable senator Dalgety had the most beautiful climate in the world, enjoying a summer of ten months’ duration, and everything was delightful. Not only the honorable senator, who had not then been converted to Canberra, but also Senators Neild, Symon, and Walker, favoured Dalgety.
– No. I was for Tumut.
– At that time there were only two sites in the estimation of the honorable senator, namely, Tumut and Dalgety. With him, Tumut came first, and if he could not get that site selected, he recognised that the only other site with a water supply was Dalgety. AN these things can be verified by reference to Hansard. Senator Dobson was also a very strong advocate of Bombala. The Southern Monaro district was the only part of New South Wales which, according to him, was fit to establish the’ Federal Capital in. On this occasion I do not intend to make any reference to the previous debate, or to quote any extracts from the reports. These have been dealt with very! exhaustively, but have not made the slightest impression upon an individual senator. If one were to read the reports in favour of Dalgety from now until doomsday, it would not make the slightest impression on a member of the party sitting on the opposite side. I am satisfied that the selection of a site has been made a party question by the Opposition here.
– This is the only question on which the leader of the party has been able to round up the whole team by the crack of his whip. Even Senator Clemons and Senator Neild, who has been running an independent course on nearly every other question, have been roped in. I do not think that that fact is altogether due to the crack of the whip by the leader of the Opposition. It is partly due to the crack of the whip by. the New South Wales press. Honorable senators on the other side have referred to the influence of’ the Melbourne press, but undoubtedly the influence of the Sydney press is being felt by every one on that side. In my opinion, it is purely cowardice on the part of honorable senators, who really believe that Bombala or Dalgety is the best site for the Federal Capital, which allows them to come here and, for fear of provoking future opposition, vote for a site which they know is not the best.
– The honorable senator knows that he is going to vote for a site which he thinks is the worst.
– Honorable senators on the other sida have to do as the machine bids them.
– Order !
– Unfortunately, one member of the Labour Party was misguided enough to associate himself with a number of those honorable senators who have been influenced by the Sydney press.
– That is not true.
– Pie has associated himself with Mr. Watson, Mr. Hughes, and other prominent labour men.
Senator STORY. Unfortunately for Senator W. Russell, and certainly unfortunately for the settlement of this question, he was canoodled into promising to vote for Canberra.
– That is all the honorable senator knows about the matter.
– Order ! The honorable senator has had an assurance from Senator W. Russell that he has not been influenced in the way stated, and he is bound to accept it. It is also a general rule that no remarks of a personal character or offensive to honorable senators, or calculated to cause disturbance shall be made.
– I did not make the remark in an offensive sense, sir. Senator W. Russell has been unconsciously persuaded to do something which I think is wrong, and which I believe he, in his innermost heart, thinks is wrong.
– That shows the honorable senator’s ignorance on the question.
– Order !
– I listened to the speech of the honorable senator, and to the speeches of other honorable senators, whose interest was certainly not in the direction of voting’ for Canberra. As members of a party, they had agreed to vote in a certain direction, and the object of their speeches here seemed to be to find some reasons to justify to themselves, and, if possible to others, the attitude which they felt compelled to adopt.
– That is an accurate description of the honorable senator’s attitude at the present moment.
– If the honorable senator knows anything about my attitude, he will be aware that from the time I saw Dalgety,’ Canberra, and other sites, I favoured the first-mentioned. I visited Dalgety at three different seasons of the year. It will be remembered that, with the idea of inducing this Parliament to select another site, the Government of New South Wales invited all its members to visit Dalgety in the winter time, so that it could be seen at its very worst. What was the result of that inspection? The visitors struck the most delightful weather that any one could possibly imagine - the day was equal to the finest spring day in Melbourne, in fact, equal to the most delightful day in South Australia, and higher praise than that could not be given to Dalgety. I have also had the opportunity of driving through the district for some miles. When Senators W. Russell and Sayers paid their visit, they were most unfortunate. Practically, all they know about the Dalgety site is the character of the’ country over which they drove from Cooma to Dalgety, f in disagreeable and distressing circumstances.
– It has been said here” that the country is not good enough for a white man to live in.
– Some honorable senators will say anything to further their own ends.
– I object to that statement.
– But I am perfectly satisfied that had Senator W. Russell the same opportunity as I and others had to drive round the country a few miles from Dalgety he would not have committed himself so quickly to deciding that it was such a dreadful place as he evidently desires honorable senators to believe that he thinks it is.
– What motive is the honorable senator imputing to me?
– It is most unfortunate that the only part of Dalgety which the honorable senator saw was practically the portion between Cooma and Dalgety on a very windy, dusty day.
– And a Godforsaken country it looked.
– The opinions of experts have been quoted to a considerable extent. No doubt honorable senators heard that when a certain person was asked to define an expert, he gave this definition - “ First there is the liar; next there is the d- liar ; and then there is the expert.”
I do not intend to say that Senator Neild is an expert, but he has had an opportunity of visiting, perhaps, a greater portion of Australia than most honorable senators.
– When ?
– I know from personal knowledge that Senator Neild has been a great traveller. When this question was discussed on a previous occasion he spoke in favour of Dalgety. He complimented Senator Trenwith- upon his speech. He explained that it was a most unusual thing for him to compliment that honorable senator; but he could not help complimenting him on his magnificent speech in favour of Dalgety. He went on to say that he had spent a fortnight in the Dalgety country, exploring nooks and crannies, and all the rest of it, and came to the Senate delighted to advocate it very strongly as the best possible place in Australia for the Federal Capital. On that occasion he was right, and the only reason 1 can assign for his change’ of front - and I hope that I am not doing him an injustice^ - is that he fears to reiterate his real opinion against the influence and interest of the daily press of Sydney.
– Surely a gallant colonel is not afraid ?
– Even a gallant colonel is afraid. Senator W. Russell dwelt very strongly upon the fact that the land about Dalgety was not fit for intense cultivation. But Senator Pearce, in his admirable speech - which would have convinced any one who was approaching the question with an open mind - clearly showed that part of the site of Canberra for which a water supply could be made available by gravitation, was absolutely useless for building purposes. In this Chamber there are not very many builders. I happen to be one, and Senator Pearce is another. But any one without building experience would know that if heavy buildings have to be erected on a mass of alluvial soil, or, as Senator Trenwith says, silt, there is no possibility of them standing. The only way in which heavy buildings could be erected on the proposed site at Canberra where a water supply would be available, would be to sink the foundations to the bedrock, a distance of 20 or 30 feet, perhaps even more, and to fill up the excavation with concrete. That would be a serious prospect to face in connexion with our public buildings. We must recollect that the decision of this Parliament - assuming that it now selects a particular site which has commended itself to a majority of honorable members in another place - will be unalterable. In that respect it will differ from our ordinary legislation, which, should experience demonstrate its unwisdom, can be repealed. In dealing with this question, I contend that climatic considerations ought not to enter into our calculations so largely as some honorable senators appear to think. Unless the climate of Dalgety can be said to resemble that of Siberia, so that it is absolutely impossible for people to live there in comfort throughout the year, I think that we may well dismiss climatic considerations from our minds. Official reports assure us that Dalgety enjoys a bracing and healthy climate. Senator Gray has argued that the strongest and hardiest men and women are bred in cold climates. I quite agree with him, and consequently, I say that Dalgety is a suitable site in which to establish the permanent Seat of Government. Upon its healthy, bracing tableland, we should be able to breed sturdy Australians, who would mix their blood with -that of the residents of the warmer portions of the Commonwealth to the advantage and improvement of our race. It has been pointed out that the inhabitants of Northern Queensland are not so sturdy as is Senator W. Russell, who hails from one of the coldest parts of Great Britain. Yet that honorable senator fears that he would perish from cold if he were removed to Dalgety. He need have no apprehension upon that ground. I do not think that this question ought to be approached from a New South Wales stand-point. It has been argued during this debate that our aim should be to allay the irritation which exists in that State. I do not think that we should do anything of the sort. There is no real reason why we should admit that New South Wales has any right to feel irritated. The position is that that State offered Dalgety as one of the eligible sites for the Federal Capital, and this Parliament selected that site. It was only then discovered that Dalgety was too far removed from Sydney to suit the interests of that city, and consequently our choice has ever since caused its people a certain amount of irritation. We have been told that we ought to permit them to have their own way in order that this irritation may be removed. But I hold that if the interests of New South Wales conflict with those of Austrafia so much ihe worse for New South Wales.
– What would the honorable senator prescribe to allay the irritation which exists in that State?
– I would prescribe a period of waiting. This Parliament has faithfully discharged its duty under the Federal compact. It has selected a site for the permanent Seat of Government within New South Wales territory, and if that State does not choose to acquiesce in its decision we can afford to wait a while. In the meantime, it is not improbable that another change will come over the electors of New South Wales. We must remember that six or seven years ago they did not entertain the slightest objection to the selection of Dalgety. It is only recently that all sorts of bogeys have been raised in that connexion. If we wait for another seven years it is possible that by that time New South Wales will have arrived at the conclusion that the proper course to pursue is for this Parliament to select the best site available within its borders.
– New South Wales might revert to its opinion of seven years ago, when it was so much in love with Dalgety.
– Exactly. It would te better to wait five, ten, or even twenty years, and make the right selection, than to make the wrong selection now. To my mind there are four essentials which a Federal Capital site should possess. The first is a healthy, bracing climate such as Dalgety undoubtedly possesses - a climate in which a hardy race may be bred. It goes without saying that wherever the Seat of Government may be located there will be an immense population settled within the next .100 years. A second essential is easy access to a port which can be made a Federal port, In the near future, I hope that the Commonwealth Government will possess a navy of its own. How necessary is it, then, that it should also have a port of its own, where docks might be established for the repair and construction of ships - a port in which not only vessels for our naval defence might be constructed, but also our mail steamers. Within a very few years it is not at all improbable that the Commonwealth will be carrying its own mails and its own merchandise. Honorable senators may jeer, but I am indulging in no wild dream. Within a very few years what I have outlined will be an accomplished fact, and it will then be absolutely essential that the Commonwealth should possess a port in which all these undertakings may be carried out to the best advantage. Again, it would be to the advantage of the other States to be afforded secure, easy communication with ‘ the Seat of Government by sea. Then all would have an equal opportunity of supplying its wants. There should be a port within an easy distance of the Federal city. The only district which offers this advantage is Dalgety. We have been told by some of the supporters of Canberra that the New South Wales Government will very generously regard the idea of allowing the Federal Government to have access to Jervis Bay. They may even go- so far as to give us a slice of foreshore. There is nothing definite, but they will probably consider the point. But do not honorable senators know that Jervis Bay cannot be Federal territory ?
– I do not think that that is so. The Federal Territory must be more than- 100 miles from Sydney, but there is nothing to prevent the Commonwealth acquiring other territory.
– Our experience of New South Wales leads us to believe that if there were any possibility of preventing the Commonwealth from enjoying any right, whether to Jervis Bay or any other place, New South Wales would be willing to resort to such means. Up till now that State has shown an, almost un-Federal spirit. Her Government have worked against the interests of the Commonwealth whenever they have had an opportunity, and or, one or two occasions have acted in an illegal manner. I consider that they were fortunate that nothing happened to them in consequence. Another advantage which senators from other States should consider to be necessary, is that the Federal Capital should be near the border of another State. T, for one, do not like the idea of the Capital being located at a place like Canberra, surrounded absolutely by State territory, where the Commonwealth authorities would be at the mercy of the State authorities for their means of access, water supply, and other requirements. For that reason it would be a very great advantage - in fact, I consider it is an essential - that the Federal Capital should be fixed somewhere near the edge of New South Wales, so that in the event of unFederal action by that State the Commonwealth authorities would have access to their Capital through a friendly State. Dalgety fills the bill in that respect exactly. It would be very easy there to secure access direct from Melbourne as well as from Sydney.. One other absolute essential is water supply. I do not propose to deal with the subject at length, because it has been thoroughly threshed out. But there is no question that the Dalgety water supply is superior to any other in NewSouth Wales.
– In Australia.
– I will not say that, because we have in the Northern Territory some rivers which are perhaps equal to the Snowy. But in New South Wales the only river furnishing a supply of water fit for drinking purposes, which could be relied upon, is the Snowy. Figures and contradictory reports from experts have been quoted. The latter are absolutely unreliable. But we do not need the opinion of experts regarding the water supply of Dalgety. We, who have seen it, know that the Snowy River is always running, that the country from which it derives its water enjoys almost the highest rainfall in New South Wales - I refer to the Kiandra district - and that there is no possibility at any time, no matter how great the drought, of a water famine at Dalgety. The same cannot be said for Canberra. We have at Dalgety a natural foundation for a beautiful city, a round hill in the middle of undulating country surrounded on two sides by a magnificent river, which by means of a comparatively cheap dam could be made into a beautiful sheet of water on which, the inhabitants of the city would be able to enjoy themselves. The city could by this means be beautified to a greater extent than could any other suggested site. It seems to be generally agreed that there are only two sites in the
Tunning. When a vote is taken the probabilities are that the decision previously arrived at will be upset. I regret that it should be so. But I feel, with Senator Trenwith, that even if the vote does go in * the direction I have indicated the question will not be definitely settled.
– Does the honorable senator really think that tha fact of the Senate taking a ballot and’ deciding in favour of Canberra will settle the question finally? Does he not recognise that it will be necessary to repeal legislation already in existence? Does he not realize the possibility that a change may come over the minds even of some of those who are voting for Canberra? Senator St. Ledger himself might have an opportunity of visiting and comparing the two sites, and he may change his mind just as Senator Macfarlane and Senator Dobson have changed theirs in the opposite direction, because the impressions that they gained on visiting Dalgety have become obliterated, and they have forgotten the beauties of one site and the disadvantages attaching to the other. If Senator St. Ledger had an opportunity of visiting the sites and making a careful examination, not only as to water supply but as to land settlement and other requirements, I believe that he, being in earnest in desiring to fix the best possible site, would probably return, and announce that he had made a mistake, and intended to alter his decision. In a question of this sort the cost is an important element. It will be remembered that in the Act of 1904 provision was made to the effect that any land that was repurchased should be obtained at its value in January of that year. That provision was inserted to prevent land speculation - the buying up of land and the re-selling of h at a high price to the Federal Government. What is the position in regard to Canberra? I am not in a position to know, but I think I am safe in hazarding the guess that the whole of the land surrounding Canberra which would derive an advantage from the establishment of the Federal Capital there is in the hands of private speculators ; and when the Federal Government propose to re- purchase they will have to pay a comparatively enormous price, which will add very materially to the cost of establishing the city.
– Senator Lynch yester- clay showed that the price of land at YassCanberra was less than the’ price at Dalgety.
– There is no doubt that some of the land at Yass-Canberra is absolutely worthless, whilst some of that at Dalgety is amongst the finest land in Australia - in spite of the fact that Senator W. Russell did not see it.
– I think I saw as much of it as the honorable senator did.
– I am sure that the honorable senator did not see half as much of it as I did, or, with his unfailing good judgment, he would have arrived at a different conclusion.
– Is the honorable senator a judge of my convictions?
– I am sorry if Senator Russell thinks that I am saying anything ill-natured of him. But I am satisfied that if he saw as much of the land about Dalgety as I did he would have recognised its value for agricultural purposes. I admit that he is a better judge of agricultural land than I am. He COUld form a better opinion of how many bushels of wheat a certain piece of land could produce than I could. But the fact remains that I know something about land. I have not lived so long as the honorable senator has done, but I have lived over fifty years in Australia, and my early life was spent in the cultivation of the soil. I have no desire to thrust my opinion down the honorable senator’s throat, but I feel aggrieved to think that he did not have an opportunity of seeing what I saw at Dalgety, or I am sure he would have arrived at a different conclusion.
– Did the honorable senator drive to the squatter’s house 10 miles from Dalgety ?
– I did.
– What is the honorable senator’s explanation of the fact that ^neither tree nor bush grows anywhere near Dalgety ?
– I will refer Senator Dobson to Senator W. Russell, who can tell him that in South Australia, at a place called Jamestown, at one time there was not a tree growing. The question might have been asked, “ Why do not trees grow there?” They did not grow at Jamestown because it was swept by wind. But trees have since been planted there, and now it is one of the best wooded parts in South Australia. -There is nothing to show that the whole of the Dalgety district could not’ be similarly treated.
– There are frees grow.ing at the farm-house that has been referred to.
– Trees have been planted and are growing luxuriously. It is merely a matter of planting.
– Not near Dalgety.
– Yes. At the farmhouse a few miles from Dalgety.
– The mere fact that trees are not growing in a certain place is no argument to show that they will not grow if planted. Senator Dobson had an opportunity of driving from Bombala to various parts of the Southern Monaro country, and of seeing some of the finest apple and other fruit trees there that he ever saw, not even excepting those grown in Tasmania. All the evidence points to the fact that the country of Southern Monaro is capable of growing everything that the residents of the Federal atv could require. We have the right to repurchase land around Dalgety at the price at which it was valued in 1904, which was, I think, roughly, 50s. per acre. That is the valuation which a local resident put upon the land. The establishment of the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth in the midst of that country would increase the value of that land from 50s. to £1 or per acre, which would be a low price for fairly good agricultural land. Even Senator W. Russell will not dispute that.
– The land the honorable senator refers to is not good agricultural land.
– I say that the establishment of the Federal Capital in that country would increase the price of the land to the extent I have mentioned, and possibly even to a greater extent. As the population of the Federal Capital increased, the value of the land would continue to increase, and the whole of the increased value thus brought about might be appropriated by the Federal Government,, and devoted to providing a water supply, the erection of public buildings, and public conveniences of all kinds. If the area upon which .this Parliament has decided* for the Federal Territory were acquired, the increase in the value of the land’ in the way I have described would go a very long way towards meetingthe whole of the cost of providing all the necessary public conveniences. With the selection of Yass-Canberra, nothing of this kind would be possible, because land in that district is already at its top price, and the Federal Government would have to buy it at that price. The enhancement of its value by the establishment of the Seat of Government there would only be slight, and would not take effect for years to come. What the citizens of Australia would gain in the saving of taxation to cover the cost of public buildings and conveniences at the Federal Capital were Dalgety selected, would, if Yass-Canberra were selected, go into the pockets of private speculators, who bought the land with the object of holding it that they might obtain the increased value due to the establishment of the Federal Capital.
– What the honorable senator means is that one is a settled district and the other is not.
– What I mean is that in one case the land speculator would gainthe advantage which in the other case would be secured by the people under the provisions of the Act which we passed in 1904. I do not think that I need detain the Senate much longer. I feel that the whole of the discussion on this motion has been useless, because, before it began, honorable senators had made up their minds. The only object which any member of the Senate could have in speaking to the motion is to place on record, as a. matter of history, his views on the question. If when the vote is taken the decision arrived at is final, the action of honorable senators will be either admired or condemned by those who come after us, who will be either benefited very greatly or injured very seriously. If certain honorable senators feel impelled, as the result of an influence against which they are unable to contend, to vote in a direction which in their innermost hearts they know will not be in the best interests of Australia - well, I have no wish to reflect upon them, but their position is unfortunate, even serious, and I pity, rather than blame them.
– I pity the honorable senator.
– On such a question as the selection of the Capital site, we should endeavour to set aside all party considerations.
– Why does not the honorable senator do so?
– As a matter of fact, I have done so. We should set aside party considerations, and, if possible, endeavour to forget selfish petty parochial interests, remembering that we are in a position which enables us to decide a question which must have a very considerable influence on succeeding generations in this Commonwealth. We are legislating in this matter, not for the 4,000,000 of people who at present form the population of Australia, but possibly for 400,000,000 of future Australians. We are asked to deal with a very big question, and should take a broad view of it, doing all that we possibly can to insure that a right decision is arrived at.
– With Senator Story, I fully recognise that it is only beating the air to prolong the debate on this question. I should not do so, but for the fact that I desire; to enter a protest against the procedure which Has been followed. I think it is fair to say that it is unprecedented in the history of parliamentary government that a body of legislators, having already decided by constitutional means the site of the Federal Capital, should be called upon now, by taking part in a ballot, to say whether they still believe, as they did in the days of yore, that Dalgety is the most suitable site, or whether they have altered their previous opinion, and consider that a different course should be adopted.
– How many new members are there in the Senate?
– I should not care if there were fifty new members in the Senate. I ask Senator W. Russell whether he is prepared to follow his argument to its logical conclusion? After the next Federal elections, there may be six or a dozen new members returned to the Senate, who may hold opinions on this question very different from those which
Senator W. Russell has expressed. Following the honorable senator’s interjection, they should, logically, take another ballot to decide whether, after all, the result of the ballot now proposed had wisdom on its side. Tt would be ridiculous to adopt such a course of procedure. Surely the honorable senator is not serious, and, if he be, he cannot have seriously considered the position before he arrived at a conclusion as to how he should vote.
– I have had enough of sermonizing, at any rate.
– Iti was the honorable senator himself who did the sermonizing, and he has now shown that, after all, his sermon had no logical basis. If the honorable senator had endeavoured to build up his sermon, upon a logical basis, he would have seen that the fact that he happens to be a new member of the Senate is no reason why the Federal Government should depart from the constitutional order laid! down, that when a measure has become an Act of Parliament, it shall continue in force until it is repealed by the voice of those who represent the people. The honorable senator certainly never dreamt of that phase of the question when he suggested that because there are new members in the present Federal Parliament, the question should be reopened. If the honorable senator’s argument were sound, it would afford a good reason why every measure passed by the Parliament in this session should be reconsidered after next session, because, in all probability, some new members will then have been returned, who, according to the honorable senator, should be given the right to say whether the Acts of the previous Parliament are Acts which should any longer be tolerated. But, to follow the course of procedure at present proposed, before doing so it would be necessary that they should take a ballot to express a.i opinion which might carry weight, but which just as likely might carry no weight at all. f agree with those who suggest that, should the question we are now discussing be settled in a certain way after the proposed ballot is taken, it will by no means have been finally settled by the Federal Parliament.
– The very fact that there have been changes of opinion, that representatives of New South Walesa - and I am not going to blame them - have never really had an opinion on this question; that is to say, have never given expression as representatives’ of the State in Parliament to any definite opinion, which might be regarded as a reflex of the views of the people of the State, leads me to believe that almost insurmountable difficulties still surround the settlement of this question. I venture to say that when the matter was first dealt with by the Senate, every honorable senator approached it with a view to doing what he believed to be best in the interests of Australia. Certainly he tried to be faithful to his charge in carrying out the provision in the Constitution. That having been done, and the present departure having been sprung upon us almost like a leak in a vessel, what is the position when we come down to the practical side of the matter? Yass-Canberra - which may mean, God only knows what, for I do not - is subdivided, showing a series of suggested sites. The probabilities are that after we have made a choice of one of the sites which we see sketched on the map here, the people interested in other sites in the district will come to the Federal Parliament with a petition, asking us to review our decision once more. Surely there is no one here who dreams for a moment that New South Wales intends to cede all that territory to the Commonwealth. I do not. If any honorable senator has been so deluded as to conceive of that possibility for a moment, he is the most innocent man who ever entered the political arena.
– The leader of the Opposition said that an area of 900 square miles might be obtained.
– When Mr. Wade and his colleagues have got this Parliament, to adopt the Yass-Canberra area, whatever that may mean, it is just possible that they will get down to what they call practical operations, and indicate the bit of country, which they think should be quite sufficient to satisfy the demands of the Federal Parliament. I recognise that this is an important matter, but I wish to enter a protest against its being brought before the Senate in this way. I believe that in selecting a site we shall be laying the foundation stone of the Federation. That remark may sound strange, but so far we have been dealing with simply the preliminaries of Federation. We have been digging out the foundation, and only when we fix the site of the Capital shall we lay the real foundation stone of the Australian nation. I was rather pained to hear certain expressions which Senator Gray used. Usually, he is a very mild man. But to-day he resented very strongly the references made by some honorable senators to the representatives of New South Wales and its people. I agree with him that there ought not to be any acrimony between the people of a State and the Commonwealth. In my opinion, he exaggerated very much the position as regards some important factors in the selection of a site. If we assume that the impending vote will settle this question finallly, there are several important factors which have to be considered. I do not propose to quote from the reports of experts, as they have been quoted from year after year, for the last five or six years. I am quite sick of reading them. But there are several points that we should keep in mind. One is climate. I am’ very sorry that Senator Gray made such a statement as he did this afternoon, concerning what is one of the most beautiful parts of New South Wales. That remark is not based upon knowledge gained in a momentary visit like that which was paid by Senator W. Russell.
– I was speaking on the authority of those who live there.
– I am speaking, not from the knowledge gained by what I call a momentary visit, but from st very close intimacy with Southern Monaro, during a period of fourteen or fifteen years.
– I. was speaking on the authority of those who live there.
– I challenge any representative of New South Wales to point to any district in that great territory where there is to be seen a more stalwart, healthy, and robust population than that of Southern Monaro.
– I have said so.
– Was the honorable senator born there?
– No; I was born in a place where the climate is vastly different from that of Southern Monaro. When an honorable senator deliberately states that if the Federal Capital is established at Dalgety the climate will kill the representatives of Queensland. Western Australia, and the interior of New South Wales, I confess to astonishment.
– Tasmania will be on top then.
– Undoubtedly. The representatives of Tasmania could stand a climate like that which Senator Gray has described, but I tell him straight out that no greater misrepresentation of that district has everbeen made than that which he made here to-day.
-i should be sorry to think so. I got the information from people who have lived there all their lives.
– I desire now to refer to the visit of Senator W. Russell.
– Is the honorable senator hoping for a death-bed conversion from him?
– I have no hope of converting him, because I know too well what a Scotchman is when he has made up his mind.
– He is almost as bad as a Northumbrian.
– I wish to remind Senator W. Russell of the fact that sometimes he comes to Melbourne on a very cold bleak, and blizzard-blowing day. I venture to say that as often as I have visited Southern Monaro, I have not been fortunate or unfortunate enough to meet with such blizzards as I have met in Bourkestreet, Melbourne.
– Is that a libel on Victoria ?
– Not by any means. Taking year in and year out, undoubtedly’ a man who lives in Melbourne faces a colder, and infinitely more variable climatethat he will ever be called upon to face in Dalgety.
SenatorTrenwith. -Sometimes men go from Melbourne to Dalgety to get warm.
– Exactly. If Senator W. Russell bases his preference for the Yass-Canberra site on his five minutes’ visit to Southern Monaro, I shall always be very sorry for his opinions politically.
– Oh. dear me.
– In the second place I think that the question of water supply ought to be always kept in the forefront in Australia, because it is one of those matters which conduce very largely to the maintenance of the public health. In the whole of Australia - not even excepting South Australia, where there are somevery good rivers, and the northern part of Western Australia, where there are also some good rivers - there is not to be found a better water supply than that which is provided by the Snowy River. The land as a factor in the determination of this question has been referred to. I wonder again what Senator W. Russell had inhis mind last night when he was giving the Senate the benefit of his great knowledge as a land expert.
– I did not profess to be one.
– The honorable senator said “ If I wanted to know the law I should go to Sir Josiah Symon.”
– If I could afford it.
-“ But,” continued the honorable senator,” if I wanted to inquire into matters concerning printing I should go to Senator Vardon. If I wanted to inquire into industrial matters I should go to Senator McGregor; if I wanted to look into a question affecting navigation I should appeal to Senator Guthrie; but when it comes to a question of land I am the man who knows all about it.”
– Why should not he know all about it?
– I am not questioning his right to do so. But when he was giving us the benefit of his knowledge as a land expert I should like to know what was in his mind. As he was in Dalgety for only a few minutes, and as he did not spend more than a day or two in Canberra, it follows that, unless he is an expert, his remarks yesterday are unworthy of notice.
– He is an experienced farmer.
– But he has not grown a crop at Dalgety. As a matter of fact, when farmers from the Old Country come to Australia they have to unlearn a great deal that they have learned. I have travelled over a large portion of Australia, and I know that a farmer who may be an expert in one part of it may be a fool in another. He may do well in certain patches of South Australia and be regarded there as an expert ; but when he settles in portions of Western Australia he willprobably be unable to grow even a cabbage. For a man to assume that because he has been a farmer for fifty years in one portion of Australia he possesses an absolute knowledge of the qualifies of the soil throughout this vast continent, is the acme of absurdity. I might just as logically claim that though I am a miner, I possess an intimate knowledge of farming and sheep-raising, when, as a matter of fact, I know nothing about those pursuits.
– What did the honorable senator desire Senator W. Russell to say?
– I desire to know what he meant when he was giving the Senate the benefit of his knowledge as an expert in land. Did he mean that we are going to select a site which will be pegged out in blocks of 2,000 acres for the use of a few individuals after the Federal parliamentary buildings have been erected there? If that is the idea which permeates his mind or that of any other honorable senator, it is vastly different from my own view of the matter.
– Will the honorable senator tell us what is in his mind?
– Certainly. Dalgety possesses a climate equal to that enjoyed by any part of Australia. It has an adequate water supply-
– And a soil better than that of which Senator W. Russell spoke.
– He did not see it.
– It is not there to be seen.
– I am beginning to think that Senator Millen does not know where Dalgety is situated. I desire to see that site selected because of its climatic virtues and because it possesses all the requisites of a great city.
– And particularly of its accessibility.
– Unquestionably it is accessible. It boasts a water supply sufficient for all industrial, as well as domestic, purposes. Personally, I hope that the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth will, in the future, become an industrial centre., and that we shall do all in out power to make industrial operations as cheap as possible. That is the whole trend of modern thought. Dalgety possesses all these essentials-
– Absolute nonsense.
– The honorable senator ought not to interject “ absolute nonsense “ upon the spur of the moment. I have again to reply that he does not know anything about this matter. He is here as the representative of Sydney, and I question very much whether he is ever outside Pitt and George streets.
– I have travelled over a greater portion of Australia than has the honorable senator.
– I question whether that is so. We have to select a site which will meet the future possibilities of the Commonwealth, and Dalgety fills the whole bill.
– I should not have spoken upon this motion, but for the fact that Senator Story has personally attacked me as one who is under the whip of Sydney influence. It is quite true that four years ago I voted for the selection of Dalgety. Put three years since I visited Canberra in company with another honorable senator. I saw its fine soil, its fine water supply, and experienced its fine climate. In many ways, its climate is superior to that of Dalgety. After seeing these things for myself, I resolved that if the question of the Federal Capital were again brought forward, I should, in the absence of a better site, vote for Canberra I advocated its selection because it is the best site that is available. Undoubtedly, Dalgety possesses a magnificent water supply. But, according to the reports of Mr. de Burgh and other officers, the Cotter River is capable of supplying Canberra with a water supply of 33,000,000 gallons per day, which I contend is ample to meet the requirements of six or seven times the number of inhabitants likely to be settled at the Seat of Government for a very long time. But even this supply could be augmented by tapping other streams, so that there is an abundance of water available to meet the needs of a large population. That is a very important consideration.
– By a gravitation scheme ?
– Both Dalgety and Canberra would benefit by being supplied with water by means of a pumping scheme. It has been found that a pumping scheme would be the most inexpensive way of supplying even Dalgety with water, by reason of the fact that the Snowy River is below the level of the township.
– But a few miles outside the township it is not.
– It was never intended to supply Dalgety with water from the Snowy River, but to tap one of its affluents. ‘ 1 hold in my hand a telegram from a resident of Dalgety, who declares that so far from possessing a Siberian climate, the spring temperature of the Southern Monaro district ranges from 65 degrees to 90 degrees. He remarks. “No
Siberian climate about that.” He further states that to-day the temperature of Dalgety is 84 degrees. That is warm enough for any of us. But my informant does not tell me what I was told by another resident in Sydney on Monday last, namely, that only the previous week the temperature at Dalgety was 10 degrees below freezing point. That being the case, it is idle to talk about producing small fruits there. In the Canberra district, the frosts are not so severe as those experienced in Southern Monaro, whilst the temperature is about the same. It will be seen, therefore, that there is very little to choose between the two sites from the stand-point of climate. But I rose chiefly to emphasize the fact that I am not wedded to any particular site, and that I am not prepared at present to vote large sums of money to enable Federal buildings to be erected at any site we may select. I decided to support the Canberra site long before it was mentioned in the public press, and consequently I am not open to the charge of being swayed by Sydney influences. I see no objection to changing one’s mind when a better site is discovered.
– But the Yass-Canberra site was not even suggested four years ago. lt had not then been discovered.
– The claims of Yass were considered, but were dismissed on account of its limited water supply.
– Then why is that site now bracketed with Canberra?
– It is embraced in the Yass-Queanbeyan district. Sir John Forrest has stated that he thinks an ample supply of water for the Federal Capital is available at the junction of the Cotter River with the Mumimbidgee.
– I do not think that any one disputes that plenty of water can be obtained at a price.
– It comes from a large catchment area that is often snowclad, and the water itself is pure. It is, moreover, a permanent supply. I was rather surprised to hear Senator Pearce say that the soil at Canberra was too good. That was an astonishing remark coming from a member of a party who say that they desire to have land upon which to settle the people.
– Does not the honorable senator think that there will be a disincli nation on the part of the New South Wales Government to give us a large area if the soil is so good?
– To say that fruits can be grown profitably in large quantities in a granite country full of boulders is rather absurd.
– Will the honorable senator quote Mr. Maiden, the Government botanist whom he quoted four years ago, and who stated that Dalgety is a beautiful place?
- Mr. Maiden says that trees would grow with cultivation. But that is different from fruit-growing. As to access from the sea, we have engineering reports which show that that access could be obtained more easily from Queanbeyan to Jervis Bay than from Dalgety to Twofold Bay. There is no doubt, also, that Jervis Bay is a finer port for extensive operations like the building of wharfs than is Twofold Bay, which is only limited in extent. Mr. Hutchison, the Chief Engineer of tramway construction, in his report, says that the distance from Queanbeyan to Jervis Bay is ninety-three miles, but the cost of a railway would be less than from Bombala to Twofold Bay, seventy-four miles, where the estimated cost would be ^1,300,000. So that there is nothing in the argument that Twofold Bay is easier of access than Jervis Bay. I also desire to-day to say that it is quite fictitious for the supporters of Dalgety to cry out that those who are supporting Canberra are influenced entirely by a Sydney microbe.
– At this stage of the debate I cannot hope to add anything new. But I should not like to give a silent vote on a question of such importance. Some of the honorable senators who have preceded me have indicated that I have been guilty of saying something in connexion with the Federal Capital which betrayed a change of opinion. Senator Sayers levelled the accusation against me that I had condemned Dalgety. But before making an attack upon me, he should have been quite sure that I had altered my view, and should not have attacked me for something which I am merely supposed to have said. I desire to say before proceeding further that not one of the sites which I have visited comes up to my ideal of what a site for the Federal Capital should be. Therefore, I am practically forced into the position of accepting the lesser of two evils.
If I thought that sufficient support would be forthcoming, I should have no hesitation in voting straight out for Tooma. But I have a strong objection to Canberra. My first ground of objection is that an attempt is being made to establish a Federal city where there is not the slightest room “for future expansion. A city established so close to Sydney must for all time be merely an appanage of that place.
– What does the honorable senator call “near” to Sydney?
– Canberra is close up to the 100 miles limit.
– How dees the honorable senator describe Tooma in relation to Melbourne ?
– It is further away than. Canberra is from Sydney. Further, the influences affecting Tooma would not be confined within the borders of one State. However accessible it might be, it would be a good distance from both Melbourne and Sydney.
– Canberra is about 200 miles from Sydney.
– Several honorable senators have praised Canberra from the point of view of the crops growing there, the splendid agricultural resources, and the possibilities of the district for closer settlement. I visited Canberra in company with a number of honorable senators, and did not see a crop of any kind in or around Canberra. What is more, there is no cultivation. If Senator W. Russell saw a single crop anywhere in the neighbourhood of Canberra, I should be glad to know what it was, and where it was growing. We have a map upon the wall, showing a creek running through the centre of the proposed site. I never saw a creek there, because it was absolutely dry. Senator Macfarlane has interjected about beautiful grass growing there. Let me remind him that the grass is so fine, and the climatic conditions are so good, at Dalgety that the honorable senator himself stated here, on a former occasion, that Tasmania derives its prime cattle from the Dalgety district.
– Tasmania gets its cattle from Bega, nearer to the sea.
– If my statement is mistaken, Senator Macfarlane is responsible for it, because he made the assertion in 1904 that Tasmania derived its best cattle from Dalgety.
– I did not say that about Dalgety, but about Bega.
– If the honorable senator will turn to volume xvii. of Hansa,d. page 6989, he will see that my statement is correct.
– The cattle are shipped at Twofold Bay, but they come from Bega.
– I consider that in selecting a site for the Capital of the Commonwealth we should choose a position that is not restricted, where a large population can thrive, and which has possibilities from the commercial and manufacturing point of view. That means that we must have a Federal port, under Federal control. It has been said - and I feel inclined to anticipate that before the debate closes a statement will be made by an honorable senator acting as the mouthpiece for the New South Wales Government - that the State will concede Jervis Bay to the Commonwealth for the purposes of a port. I trust that the leader of the Opposition will not make such a statement in the closing moments of the debate.
– Let the honorable senator wait until the leader of the Opposition makes his speech. He has no right to anticipate what Senator Millen will say.
– I do not think that I have said anything to Kurt the feelings of the leader of the Opposition. If so, I am very sorry. But assertions have been made in the State Parliament, and in this Chamber, that certain territory will be ceded which will make a Federal port possible in the event of Canberra being selected. I hope that, as nothing has been said on the subject throughout the debate, no honorable senator will make a definite statement about it towards the close of the debate, because that would be unfair to the Senate. But even if New South Wales does concede a port, what are the facts regarding the country between Canberra and Jervis Bay ? It is not worth anything whatever. Furthermore, we must consider the great cost of a railway between Canberra and Jervis Bay.
– The cost will be less than that of a railway from Dalgety to Twofold Bay. We have had a survey made, although the honorable senator evidently knows nothing about it.
– The country between Canberra and Jervis Bay is amongst the very worst in New South Wales.
– The honorable senator is absolutely wrong.
– A railway from Dalgety to Twofold Bay would be one of the cheapest pieces of work that the Commonwealth could undertake, as Senator Dobson showed on a former occasion, because the ultimate effect of it would be to open up the district and to create a future for the Capital. Senator Dobson, on the occasion to which I am referring, said -
The harbor works and railways which would be required were the Federal Capital established at Bombala, would tend to make that the most expensive site suggested. I grant that were those railways and harbor works constructed they would not only benefit the Federal Capital, but the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales, as they would be the means of building up a commercial city, and would give another port to New South Wales and the Commonwealth. In that view, it is, perhaps, not correct to say that Bombala would ultimately be the most costly site.
But Senator Dobson, after making such a statement in 1904, has suddenly discovered that the cost of building a railway would be prohibitive ; whilst, on the other hand, he professes to believe that a railway from Canberra to Jervis Bay would be cheap. As a matter of fact, a line from Canberra to Jervis Bay would have to traverse some of the most hilly and difficult country in New South Wales.
– The honorable senator is absolutely wrong. He must admit that he knows absolutely nothing about the subject.
– I do know, something about it. I have had a look at the country, and have been over the hills at Canberra. I must admit that the city site there is a very pretty little spot. The surroundings are pleasant. If the intention were merely to look for a place for a little village, where there were to be no manufactures, no teeming population, no industries of any kind, but where there were to be merely a number of peasant farmers cultivating the soil, I should have no hesitation in voting for Canberra. It is one of the beauty spots of New South Wales. But we are looking for a site for a large city, which is to have extensive suburbs, and in connexion with which there are to be manufactures. It is to have di,ect communication with a port, and must have water power in unlimited quantities for use for manufacturing purposes. 1 do not think even the most enthusiastic supporter of Canberra would for a moment call in question tha superiority of the Snowy River over the Cotter in that respect. There is another difficulty. There are no less than eight sites marked on the map. While many senators have indicated that they want to have Canberra selected, I wish them to realize that the site indicated on the map is not the site sought to be obtained from the State Government. The State Government expert who accompanied the party with whom I visited the site said that the best site in the YassCanberra group was the one indicated as “J” on the plan. If that is to be the site chosen, let me say that Senator W. Russell did not see it, because, although I took the honorable senator up to the top of a hill, he could certainly get no idea from that position of the quality of the soil at a spot 20 or 30 miles away.
– Was not the soil good all the way up the hill?
– Perhaps it was, but, unfortunately, a man could not put a plough into it, and he would not care to have to dig a farm with a shovel. That would be a kind of close settlement which I think even Senator W. Russell would not believe in.
– The honorable senator certainly would not believe in it.
– I feel sure that the interjection carries just a little more than Senator Millen says, but I do not mind saying that there are more blisters on my hands, as the result of work done in my garden, than there are on the hands of the honorable senator.
– That is because the honorable senator is so unused to work. I could do the same work without blistering my hands.
– It has been stated by honorable senators representing New South Wales, and others who are very anxious to help them, that Victorian senators dare not vote for any site but Dalgety, because they have been intimidated by the scare headlines in the Age, and have been led to believe that something terrible will happen to them if they do not vote for Dalgety. I want to say that I have never taken my views from the Age. I have had the courage in this Chamber to abuse the Age for things that I have believed to be incorrect. In the circumstances, to charge me with being frightened of the Age, after I have condemned the views expressed in that newspaper, is rather unfair. No honorable senator representing Victoria has expressed a narrow view regarding the Federal Capital site. If one has done so, honorable senators opposite, instead of making wide and vague assertions, should indicate the particular member who has expressed narrow views and the statement about which they complain. I may be said to have no reason to te enthusiastic about the removal of the Seat of Government from Melbourne, but 1 am enthusiastic in my desire to see the Federal Parliament established in its own home. If the decision of the Senate should result in the selection of YassCanberra, I can say, as a representative of Victoria, that I shall place no obstacle in the way of the removal of the Seat of Government to that district at the earliest possible moment. Above any interest which Victoria’ or New South Wales may have in the matter I place the necessity of the Federal Parliament being established in a home of its own, having control of its own territory, and being independent of the particular views held in various States. If there be one thing which, more than another, proves the necessity for the establishment of the Commonwealth Parliament in a territory and home of its own, it is the action of the New South Wales Government, from time to time, in connexion with this very question.
– And of the Age.
– I do not think that the Age affects the honorable senator very much. When an honorable senator charges others with cowardice, it is generally because his own conscience pricks him. To those who charge us with being dominated by the Age in this matter, I want to say that our fears of the Age, as Victorians, is not one-twentieth part of the fear exhibited by other honorable senators of the influence of the State Government and daily press of New South Wales.
– I thought the honorable senator deprecated the making of such charges ?
– I did not deprecate the making of charges. What I did was to defy honorable senators opposite to give a specific instance of a statement made by any Victorian representative indicating any prejudice against the establishment of the Federal Capital in New South Wales or at any place outside of Melbourne. I do not desire to continue longer. The reports have been torn to tatters. Every honorable senator is seized with the advantages and disadvantages of the various sites suggested. I wish to say that in voting for Dalgety that site would not be my first choice, but I accept it as inevitable, since it is a better site than the only alternative site left me, YassCanberra. In giving my vote for Dalgety I intimate my regret that I am unable to record a vote for Tooma, on the border, which I regard as the best of the sites suggested.
.- I approach the reconsideration of this matter with very great reluctance. The heat engendered, the ill-feeling created, and the atmosphere which now surrounds the consideration of the matter are not conducive to a wise -decision. 1 have never varied in my views about the selection of the Federal Capital site. Every day I believe that my views are still further confirmed. I hold that we commenced the consideration of this matter altogether too early. We are in too great haste, and having regard to the financial position, I desire to te no party whatever to the spending of money on the building of another city which we do not want. Although I am forced now against my will into choosing a site, I protest with all the earnestness that I possess that we are going ahead too fast, and do not want a Federal Capital now. I have said again and again, and I am prepared to repeat the statement from anyplatform, that in order to do justice to New South Wales, to carry out the spirit of the Constitution, to give us ample time to think the matter over and see where, on national grounds, we should place the Federal Capital, it would be tetter that the Federal Parliament should continue for a session or two longer in Melbourne, and that we should then remove to Sydney for twelve years, when we might talk about the selection of the Capital site. In the meantime, we could watch the trend of population and the progress of railway construction, and when we have a greater population than we have now, we should be better able to decide where the Capital should be situated, and what sort of a city we should build. I contend that there has been the most mischievous impatience and haste displayed in this matter from the very beginning. I am borne out1 in that view when I remember that it was twentyseven years after the creation of the Dominion of Canada that the Dominion Parliament was housed in the Federal Capital at Ottawa, and that it was twenty-four years after the Declaration of Independence before the great republic of the United States established its Federal Capital in Washington.
– I suppose that is why the honorable senator is fighting now to unsettle the whole affair?
– The honorable senator will see that I am not at the present moment referring to the sites suggested, but dealing with the question on general principles. I thought I made myself very clear, but Senator McGregor, as I have told him before, is a past master at making interjections which are irrelevant. What did the United States Government do? They did exactly what I have seen suggested in the press here again and again, and there should be no objection to our following their example, by remaining here for twelve years, removing to Sydney for another twelve years, and then deciding as to the best thing to be done. Here we are with a handful of 4,000,000 of people, with the population in some of the States positively declining, and our annual increase of population below anything the statistics foreshadowed-
– Will the honorable senator permit me to ask him a question? Did he preach this doctrine before the compact was adopted.
– I did not: but is there anything unfair to New South Wales in this doctrine?
– I think it is too late now for the honorable senator to repudiate the bargain.
– Senator Dobson has preached a number of doctrines on this subject.
– I shall be glad if the honorable senator will point out any others. I can answer him if he does. I have never varied in the slightest degree in my attitude on this question.
– I know why the honorable senator is voting for Yass-Canberra now.
– The honorable senator can hardly know what is in my mind.
– I think I do.
– I ask the honorable senator to do me the justice to listen to what I have to say.
– It is because I have been listening to the honorable senator that I say what I do.
– Order. I ask honorable senators not to interject.
– It would have been better if* the honorable senator had waited until I had given my reasons before he in terjected with a remark which I consider a little uncalled for. I desire to deal with Senator Millen’s interjection. The honorable senator accuses me of wishing to repudiate a bargain. How can we repudiate the bargain, when, according to the Constitution, the temporary Seat of Government is to be in Melbourne, and it is here now ? Is that repudiating the bargain?
– Certainly it is not. When I wish to have the matter delayed for various good reasons, and in justice to the Mother State, and I suggest, as the Argus suggested years ago, that after remaining here for twelve years we should go to Sydney for a further twelve years, and then begin to consider the question of the selection of the Capital site-
– Could we do that under the Constitution?
– No; we should have to alter it.
– Exactly ; and if we are to alter the Constitution where are we to stop?
Sneator DOBSON. - If we proposed to alter the Constitution, is it suggested that any member of this Parliament, or any elector of the Commonwealth, would desire to deprive the Mother State of the right to have the Federal Capital established in New South Wales?
– -There might be plenty who would wish to do so.
– Will my honorable friend, who now talks to me of repudiating a bargain, assert that any single elector in the Commonwealth would be such a rascal? It is all subterfuge and nonsense-
– The honorable senator wishes to repudiate the bargain now.
– I wish to do nothing of the kind. Let me accentuate a fact which honorable senators do not appear to realize, and which is due to the haste and indecent impatience exhibited in dealing with this question. We have never once, when this question has been placed before us, been prepared to settle it. I make that statement from my own knowledge, and in view of the ignorance which honorable senators have displayed with regard to the various sites, not forgetting the fact that many of the members of this Parliament have not seen any of them, and the fact also that Sir John Forrest, who is a surveyor, and knows something about land, has said in another place that hardly any of them have been sufficiently examined to enable Parliament to make a wise choice. I have been told by a dozen members of this Parliament that Toomais the best site for the Federal Capital. That is said in the most positive way ; but it is the only site that I have not seen. I have been given no opportunity of visiting it. I availed myself of every opportunity afforded to inspect the various sites proposed, and now I am told that the one site I have not seen is the best of all. I do not know whether it is or not; but I say that we have not half the information we should have before we are asked to settle this question. Long ago I took up the position, in dealing with the proposed selection of Dalgety, that we had no business to plant our Capital in a place that was inaccessible, without first making bargains and contracts with New South Wales as to the railways which should be built, and the land to be acquired. But New South Wales representatives and others pressed the Government, and suggested that they were guilty of gross delay. As a result of the pressure, the Government commenced to act before they were ready, and beforewe had nearly enough reports from engineers and surveyors. Senator Givens, who comes from the Green Isle, said, with all the earnestness characteristic of an Irishman, that in every singular particular, Dalgety was superior to any other site suggested. When I asked the honorable senator, “What about its accessibility?” he said. “ Of course it is accessible.” When the Government of New South Wales build the railway from Cooma to the Monaro. and the Government of Victoria build the railway from bairnsdale to the border, and it has been decided, after a big fight, who is to continue the line from the border to Monaro, and when we have constructed another railway from Monaro to Eden, there is no doubt that it will be accessible. Notwithstanding all this, Senator Givens says that it is accessible now. This is the kind of argument we have from the other side. I venture to say that even if my eloquent friend. Senator Keating, takes a part in the debate, it will be found that the weight of argument is on this side. Senator Pearce commencedby finding fault with the water supply of Canberra, when everyone knows that if there is one spot in New South Wales which is teeming with rivers and water, it is that particular spot. There are four or five different water supplies available at Canberra, and it isfolly, and I might say hypocrisy, for any honorable senator to suggest that there is not available there a water supply sufficient for the requirements of 500,000 people or more.
– It is below the site.
– That is a gross misstatement.
– Order ! I ask honorable senators not to make these littlespeeches.
– We have the printed reports of the engineers and surveyors showing that it is not below the site. We have a large area to choose from, and we would not be so silly, I take it, as to choose a site at which the main source of supply was below.
– The Cotter River, which is the main source of supply, is admitted by Senator Pearce to be 400 feet above the site.
– Does not the honorable senator remember that, from the hill above the Cotter River, we looked at the valley of the Murrumbidgee and saw the watershed which feeds that river, and also the bold distant mountains from which the Cotter River flows? From what I have heard and seen, I venture to say that in Australia there is no purer streamof running water than the Cotter River. That was one of the matters which made me think seriously of preferring Canberra. If I have to cast my vote in favour of one of these sites, I still hold to my former opinions. I believe I am correct in saying that on this question the Senate does not correctly and truthfully represent the feeling outside. I have made it my business to converse with all sorts and conditions of men - from men in the street to men in very high places - and I have not found any indication of the slightest injustice or unfairness on the part of Victoria. Two-thirds of the Victorians I have spoken to have said, “ Take the Capital to Sydney and be done with it.” There has been no effort made on behalf of Victoria by those who have a right to speak to keep the Federal Capital here for one hour longer than is necessary. But we all shrink, I believe that thousands of men shrink, from the financial responsibilities which are not only in frontof us, but at our very doors. Do not my honorable friends believe that the questions of old-age pensions, naval defence, military defence, transcontinental railway, and other matters of that sort are of far more importance than the establishment of the Federal Capital ?
– All these are arguments against carrying out the provision in the Constitution.
– No. My honorable friend seems to me to be suspicious that should there be any delay, some kind of trickery or dodgery, or whatever it may be called, will be resorted to by somebody to take from New South Wales a’ right that is as clearly implanted in the contract as is the provision that we shall have a Senate and a House of Representatives. I appeal to his common-sense, and ask what reason he has for entertainingthat suspicion ? One great reason which has led me to change my mind is that of finance. I believe that Dalgety is about the most costly site which it would be possible to select. If Senator “W. Russell, who read part of my previous speech, will do me justice, he will admit that at its close I showed I was impressed with the costliness of that site. But I said, “ If we could build a commercial city with a railway and a port, in the future it might be the” cheapest site of all.” But what is the prospect of the near future? Here we have a Prime Minister who professes that the very foundation of his policy isto people this great continent by means of immigration. But every one of the twenty-eight members in another place and fourteen senators here who keep him in office object to anything of that kind being done. They are opposed to the foundation of the Prime Minister’s policy. What hope have I that a commercial city or a great city can be built up when the Government are not to be allowed to bring people to the Commonwealth? I am astonished at the attitude of my honorable friends. And even Senator W. Russell talked about building up agreat city. Do they think that cities are built for flies to inhabit?
– Does the honorable senator think that Australia is always to have a population of only 4,500,000?
– Certainly not; but I think that the outlook in that regard is absolutely disappointing. I have good authority for saying that the Labour Party do not want the population to be increased by immigration.
– That is not true.
– I rise to order. Yesterday, sir, you ruledthat it was out of order for an honorable senator to discuss the opinions and the desires of certain parties. It is certainly subversive of concord in the Chamber, and I submit that Senator Dobson is out of order in discussing the attitude of the Labour Party in reference to immigration.
– I do not think that the honorable senator is entitled to go at: any great length into a matter of that kind. He may allude to the matter with the view of showing the impossibility of obtaining money to carry out work at one site as against another site. But I do not think that he has the right to discuss the question of immigration.
– I have no wish to say anything which would irritate my honorable friends, and I withdraw any remark which is regarded by them as offensive. When I am told’ that a big city is wanted, I naturally ask myself if our population is to increase in the future at the same rate as it has done during the last twenty years. I contend that we do not want a big city. Last night Senator Lynch proved most conclusively that one of the curses or disadvantages of the Commonwealth is the fact that it contains large congested centres.
– With the land locked up !
– Yes. The only thing which can justify the establishment of a big Federal city is an enormous scheme of immigration and the unlocking of the land. Let me carry the recollection of honorable senators back to our first picnic, when we drove from Cooma, and well do I recollect it. In order to get to Bombala we had to pass through Dalgety, and according to Senator Pearce the worst approach to it is the one which we took. I ask any member of the first picnicking party if we did not pass through Dalgety, bathe in the Snowy River, camp, eat, and drink by its bank? Did it cross the mind of a single person then, from Mr. Oliver downwards, that Dalgety was going to be’ chosen as the site for the Federal Capital? No. It is most amusing now - simply because Sir John Forrest has said that our first love, Bombala, is not as good a site as Dalgety - to see my honorable friends opposite work themselves into a state of enthusiasm and try to make out that Dalgety is a perfect paradise, although we saw no evidence of anything of that kind at the time of our visit. On the contrary, we saw not a tree, not a bramble, or a bush big enough to hide a rabbit, and there were granite rocks all over the place, with an inch or two of soil upon them, which accounts for the fact that there is not even a single stunted gum tree visible for 10 or 15 miles around. That is my recollection of Dalgety, and it is confirmed by Senator W. Russell, who, I think, made a most useful speech. Passing on to Bombala we got rid of the granite rocks, the treeless and little-grassed country, and saw undulating country which was fairly wellgrassed ; a very pretty township, a beautiful river and smiling homesteads. I was very much struck with Bombala; first, because there was access to a port, and secondly, because it was not in the middle of “New South Wales, but somewhere near the border of Victoria. If we intend to consider the theory of a. Capital it is better to place it between two States, if that can be done under the contract, than in the middle of a State, and to have a port than to have no port at all. Then came Sir John Forrest with his great knowledge, which we all recognise, and he told us that Bombala would not do as a site, and suggested that Dalgety ‘ should be selected. As it was the nearest to our first love, as it included the Snowy River, as we still thought that a port would be available, we all voted for Dalgety. I am thankful to Senator Lynch for reminding me of what I said. Does not the whole of my short speech bear disappointment on its face? It discloses the very thing that I felt. I was giving up Bombala, which I liked, and driven by the superior opinion of Sir John Forrest to accept a place which, in spite of the Snowy River, has no attractions for me, because I am accustomed togreen trees, bushes and flowers. I am not accustomed to great granite rocks and no soft.
– Can the honorable senator tell us when he came to the penitential form?
– Order ! I ask the honorable senator not to make an interjection which he must realize could only be regarded as offensive.
– I did not catch Senator Lynch’s interjection which I am sure was not intended to be offensive. I think he will admit that there was no enthusiasm of sentiment in my speech. I wound up by saying that the locality was suitable as a site for a Federal Capital. That shows that I was quite unenthusiastic. I did not express the optimistic views of
Dalgety which my honorable friends opposite have given utterance to to-day. I was disappointed. However, I voted for Dalgety. Now I am forsaking Dalgety first on the ground that it is the most costly of the sites, and, secondly, because the financial outlook is very serious indeed. How are we going to carry out, without overloading the taxpayers, schemes of naval and military defence, provide ^2,000,000 for the Post Office, and, eventually, I suppose, build the transcontinental railway in addition to establishing a Capital? I do not know. Of all things, the establishment of a Capital ought to come last. At Dalgety, we cannot have the Capital which honorable senators have been orating about unless we have four expensive railways. Until those lines are built - and some of them cannot be built for years- Dalgety will be most inaccessible. I think that one honorable senator has made that admission, and Sir John Forrest expressed regret that it was not more accessible. The questions of cost and accessibility are two very important factors. The next important factor - and at one time I think I put it first - is accessibility to a port. Leaving Bombala at 6 a.m., we arrived at Eden at 4.30 p.m.
– And a beautiful drive it was.
– It was a beautiful drive in which we saw a few dairy farms scattered about, but the honorable senator will admit that it was most broken country. There was not one big mountain round which a railway could be taken. It was a mass of sugar-loaf hills, 500, 800, and 1,000 feet high, all jumbled together. That gave the country we drove through its beauty. Every report shows that a railway through that country would be most expensive. I do not believe that without a proper survey - not a flying survey - any engineer could estimate the cost within ^500,000. We were afforded facilities to inspect Twofold Bay. Seated in a launch we saw what some honorable senators have called an open roadstead. I think that a Court would say that, technically, it was not an open roadstead. But for practical purposes it may answer that description. We were shown that it would be necessary to> build two breakwaters; in fact, to incur a.r expenditure of over /[i, 000, 000 to make the port available for snipping. It must be admitted that from the standpoint of a port, Jervis Bay is infinitely superior to Twofold Bay. It is a safe port - a port where the cost of insurance will be very small, where the warships can engage in gunnery practice, and where 30 feet of water can be obtained alongside the shore. All that we should have to do at Jervis Bay would be to erect wharfs. Further, I believe that the journey by rail from Dalgety to Twofold Bay would be 7 miles longer than would the journey from Canberra to Jervis .Bay.
– But in one case the line would have to climb and descend a range.
– From what 1 saw of the country - of course, I had merely a bird’s eye view of it - I do not believe that a railway from Canberra to Jervis Bay would be as expensive as one from Dalgety to Twofold Bay. The site for which I intend to vote, namely, Yass-Canberra, would provide us with a far better port than Twofold Bay, and’ at no greater, if not less, expense.
– The honorable senator is forgetting that New South Wales might pull up the rails.
– I am just coming to that. The fourth reason why I intend to change my vote upon this question is that whilst Dalgety is pretty close to the Victorian border, and whilst we should not be dependent upon any one State for access to the Seat of Government, we have now to consider what is fair and just to the people of the Mother State. Two most important points must be considered in this connexion. Upon one of these I am quite opposed to New South Wales, but upon the other I am in favour of that State. We have’ been told that certain minutes of the Premiers’ Conference have been unearthed which show that the intention was that the Federal Capital should not be within 100 miles from Sydney, but that it should be within a reasonable distance from that limit. When the Premiers agreed to that compromise, it had to be drafted in legal form and embodied in the Constitution for the ratification of the electors. Does any honorable senator mean to say that when that provision was inserted in the Constitution it did not accurately represent the meaning of the Premiers? I contend that it did. We have not to trust to hearsay in this matter, or to the document itself, or to any form of words. We have to consider the acts of New South Wales. We must recollect that at the very inauguration of the Federation, that State offered the Commonwealth the choice of Albury and Bombala, amongst other sites, and that she sent her Commissioner along with the members of this Parliament upon certain visits of inspection. I do not think that any; honorable senator had more chats with Mr. Oliver than I had, and he seemed to be quite pleased that we were favorably impressed with the claims of Bombala. In the face of these facts, and of the silence which has been maintained upon the point for three or four years, it is perfectly idle to contend that we ought now to read into the Constitution something which is not already there. Simply because Mr. Barton or Mr. Reid expressed the hope that’ a good site would be found within a reasonable distance of the 100 miles’ limit, are we to be bound by that expression of hope? I cannot, for a moment, consider that point. . If there are two sites available, and we cannot very well make up our minds as to which is the better, and if the selection of one of those sites is absolutely opposed to the wish of the Mother State, whilst the other has . her approval, is it unfair for honorable senators to choose the latter? Ought we to be lectured for so doing? I have abundant justification for reversing my vote on this occasion. For honorable members to talk about an insufficient water supply being available at Canberra is positively ridiculous. Has anybody attempted to forecast the population of the Federal Capital ten years after its establishment? Do honorable senators imagine that it will then be 10,000, or that in twenty years it will have a population of 20,000. The idea is ridiculous. I believe that the Federal Capital will be a small place for generations to come. We do not want another big city in Australia. We have not the people to fill it. If we had, we could put them in a better’ place, namely, upon the land. There is no room for another big city in the Commonwealth.
– My honorable friend talks as if we had merely to build a city and people would flock to it. Does he forget that the first result of building a Federal Capital would be to take away from Melbourne hundreds of public servants, who draw salaries ranging from £160 to £1,000 a year?
– A good thing, too.
– Will there be any great advantage in that? Certainly not. It will interfere with certain rights which have grown up in our two largest cities. We cannot make bricks without straw, nor can we establish a big city without population. Another point which we have to consider is how much money we are prepared to spend upon the Federal Capital. Can we afford - as Sir John Forrest pointed out the other day - to erect a Capital as fine as that of Washington? I have had the pleasure of visiting Washington, and I say it would be ridiculous for us to attempt to build a city as fine as that. Then I would ask, “ Is the Governor-General’s residence to be established in the Federal Capital, and is he to be required to remain there? Do not the people of Melbourne and Sydney wish to see him?
– What would “society” do without him ?
– It is not merely a question of “ society.” The late GovernorGeneral made himself familiar with every institution and good work in the Commonwealth. The people like to have the ViceRegal representative at their different meetings. Under such circumstances, are we going to require the Governor-General to reside at Dalgety or Canberra, and, at the same time, ask him to take part in our civic and industrial life ? The whole thing is a great mistake. Just as Senator Millen does not appear to trust anybody in this matter-
– I am trusting the honorable senator to the extent of believing that if he had his way he would tear up that provision in the Constitution which deals with the location of the Federal Capital.
– Only to enable me to vote for the selection of Sydney. That is the only reason why I should like to see the Constitution altered. If I am in this Parliament some years hence, I should like to vote to make Sydney the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth, either per*manently or for a period of twenty or fifty years.
– Would the honorable senator support a proposal to alter the Constitution in order to permit of that?
– Yes. When we come to select a particular site, I maintain that the conditions under which our choice is made ought to be embodied in the Act. I wish to give the Minister of Home Affairs notice that when that Act is under consideration, I shall move to insert in it the conditions under which our selection is made. One of those conditions will be that the line of railway from Sydney to the Capital shall be constructed by New SouthWales. That railway will certainly be ai paying one, although it may not pay for seven years. The Bill should also providethat if this Parliament desires to obtain a portion of Jervis Bay, it shall be ceded tait. The measure should also stipulatethat unless the Capital site question be finally determined, to the satisfaction of this Parliament, within two years from triepassing of the Act, that Act shall be null’ and void. I do not think that we want the New South Wales Government to treat us liberally in this matter. We merely desire to be treated justly.
– New South Wales has not treated us liberally yet.
– I think that shehas. I suggest to the Minister of Home Affairs that provisions of the character I have outlined ought to be embodied in theSeat of Government Bill which will require to be brought forward. After that measurehas been passed, I do not desire to be told that Mr. Wade will treat us liberally. Heis the Premier of New South Wales, but, after all, he has to trust to the Parliament of that State. I propose that we should’ safeguard the Commonwealth by declaring in the Bill itself that our choice hasbeen made subject to the construction, by New South Wales, of a railway from Sydney to the Federal Capital, and to thecession of a port to the Commonwealth, with access from that port to the Capital.
– Does the honorable senator mean /hat we should have access to a port, or possession of the port itself?
– That is a point which remains to be considered. We should not tie ourselves up, but should make the conditions of the settlement elastic. We could do that by providingthat unless the Governor- General in Council were able to come to an agreement with the Executive and Parliament of New SouthWales, as to water supply, railways, and access to a port, on terms of which we could approve, our choice should be null and void. It is, 1 think, only in that way that the rights of the citizens of Australia can be safeguarded, and I am quite sure that it is the only way in which we, as men of business, and mer* of sense, can justly carry out the vast responsibility which rests upon us.
.. - I do not intend to prolong the debate*. because it has already lasted long enough in all conscience. I have risen partly for a selfish reason, although a justifiable one. On this occasion I shall vote differently from the way in which I voted when the matter was last under consideration, and it is desirable, in my own interests, as well for the information of the Senate, that I should give a few reasons for doing so. A great deal of unnecessary heat has been imported into the discussion. It is not a matter that need involve the breaking up of friendships, or quarrelling among parties. I am quite sure that what we all want to do is to select that site which will be the test possible one for a Capital for Australia. I cannot gee the possibility of the existence of any personal element, or interest. A desire on the part of members of Parliament representing particular localities to have the Capital chosen in the areas which they represent is natural enough. But in the Senate we do not represent particular localities at all. We represent States, and Australia as a whole. Therefore, there seems to be no possibility of our falling into the mistake of being parochial. Throughout the debate there has seemed to be a certain amount of prejudice in the minds of some honorable senators - quite honestly, no doubt - against New South Wales and her desires. If we. try to ascertain what New South Wales wants, it seems to me that the representative Parliament of that State is entitled to speak.
– Why should we not try to find out what Tasmania wants?
– The Tasmanian senators are here to speak for what Tasmania wants, and to see that her rights are considered.
– And the New South Wales senators are here as the representatives of that State. There is no necessity for the New South Wales Government to speak upon the question.
– And I am paying regard to the fact that the New South Wales senators are of one mind on this question. I was referring to the unreasonable amount of prejudice in regard to New South Wales, and particularly as to Sydney. It has been stated over and over again that the desire to change the site from Dalgety to some other territory or area has been inspired entirely by selfish people in Sydney. It seems to me to be rather a curious thing that these selfish merchants and business people of Sydney have found such exponents as Mr.
Watson, the ex-leader of the Labour Party, and a large number of other labour members, who have come into this Parliament to advocate some other site than Dalgety.
– They are under Sydney domination.
– The honorable senator is surely discounting the intelligence, and, to some extent, the honesty, of some of his own colleagues in the Labour Party when he makes that’ statement. There has been in reference to this subject an amount of squalid bargaining that is not creditable to Australia. Even when the Constitution was being framed the wretched parochial spirit crept in and caused to be inserted in the bond of Union what I regard as the only real blot upon the Constitution, lt is a greater flaw than the so-called Braddon blot, because it puts on record for all time the fact that Sydney and Melbourne were so jealous of each other that one was determined that the other should not have the Capital of the Commonwealth within its area. But we have nothing to do with that feeling. We are confronted with the fact that the Constitution enacts that the Capital shall be somewhere in New South Wales. It is our duty to select what we believe to be the best site in that State.
– We have done that.
– That remains to be seen. On a former occasion, believing that I was doing what was right, I gave my vote for Dalgety. At that time I had not seen the place. I was influenced very much by what I had read, particularly in the Bulletin. I was also influenced by the well-known fact that there is a large amount of water power available at Dalgety, as well as a permanent water supply. Above ‘all, I was influenced by the fact that Dalgety could be connected with a. sea port by a railway of moderate length. Since that time, however, I have seen the site. I saw it under two totally different aspects. I reached Dalgety on a dull forenoon when the outlook was anything but inviting. Certainly, the road from Dalgety to Cooma was not such as one cares to travel over very frequently. But in the middle of the clay the weather cleared up, and I do not think that I have ever seen a clearer sky or enjoyed a more beautiful atmosphere than we experienced during the remainder of that day. I came to the conclusion that Dalgety was a reasonably good site. But I also visited
Cooma, and came to the conclusion that it possesses almost every one of the advantages that Dalgety has. Although it has not the Snowy River, it ‘has an adequate water supply and is surrounded by beautiful scenery. I do not set myself up as an authority on land questions. But I am informed that there ate large areas of good agricultural land around Canberra, while this site also possesses equal advantages with Dalgety in regard to a sea port. It is true that Dalgety possesses a large amount of water power, but we know that with the march of modern science, the transmission of energy is a comparatively cheap thing. If we select Canberra, we shall not part with the water power in any way. Canberra is only 100 miles away from the source of the power, which can be transmitted over a copper wire j just as from the Falls of Niagara to Toronto in Canada 10,000 horse-power is transmitted over a single copper cable a distance of about 100 miles. So that we shall not lose this great source of power which Dalgety possesses. That being so, and the two areas being other- wise, in my opinion, equal, I think that the wishes of New South Wales are deserving of respect. I take- the Parliament of New South Wales as being authorized to speak on behalf of that State. To say that the State Parliament is dominated by Sydney, is to cast a reflection upon our modern system of government. We have been clamoring to give the people power, and they have the power by election. The people of New South Wales, having elected their Parliament, it has a right to speak for them.
– The New South Wales Parliament has no right to speak here. New South Wales has elected senators for that purpose.
– The New South Wales senators seem to be one and all in favour of the Yass-Canberra area, so that if the honorable senator is going to pin me down in that way, he must feel that I am justified in viewing sympathetically the choice of the New South Wales representatives. As far as Tasmania is concerned, there is no feeling about the matter at all. Canberra, being much mora accessible than Dalgety, and it being much less costly to connect by railway, possesses in those respect points over Dalgety. But what weighs with me is that the people of New South Wales, through their Parliament, express a desire that Dalgety shall not be selected, and, so far as I can judge, have expressed an equally strong feeling in favour of the Canberra district. That being so I feel justified in altering my vote,, and consider that I am doing the right thing in supporting Canberra instead of Dalgety on the present occasion.
.- I regret that I shall shortly be called upon to record a vote on this question, for the reason that I, in common with many others, thought that we had fixed the site of the Federal Capital for all time. It is somewhat remarkable that although Dalgety was approved of by a fairly substantial majority in another place, and by a very good majority in the Senate, influences should be exerted in certain quarters with a view of having another site than the people’s site chosen, in order to placate a small but noisy minority in New South Wales. For a considerable period, the daily morning newspapers in Sydney have been endeavouring to create animus against the idea of the Seat of Government being located in Melbourne. In almost every issue, there have appeared misrepresentations and incorrect statements as to the advantages which cause Victorian representatives to seek to retain the Seat of Government for all time in Melbourne. When I, on one occasion, pointed out that no Victorian had a greater advantage than any other senator, that statement was not agreed to by those representing New South Wales. What has been the moving force in favour of YassCanberra? A certain section of the commercial world in New South Wales, aided by two powerful newspapers, the Daily Telegraph and the Sydney Morning Herald, have enunciated outrageous propositions. To me it seems an outrageous proposition that the Federal City, which we hope will endure, should be established within a stone’s throw of one of the biggest cities in the Union.
– What does the honorable senator call “a stone’s throw”?
– One hundred and eighty miles is within a stone’s throw of Sydney, and that is what Yass-Canberra would be. The Federal Capital established there would have a Sydney atmosphere, and for all time the Sydney newspapers would exercise the greatest influence in the Federal city.
– Surely the honorable senator does not desire that the Melbourne newspapers should exercise all the influence?
– The Sydney newspapers would exercise a greater influence on the Federation in the future than they have hitherto exercised in connexion with the Yass-Canberra site.
– Then the honorable senator acknowledges the influence of the Melbourne press?
– I do not acknowledge anything of the kind. It is said that certain Victorians are under the whip of either the Age or the Argus; but there has never been, an occasion when any member of the party to which I belong has not given a conscientious vote quite irrespective of newspaper criticism.
– And yet the honorable senator says that others will be influenced by the Sydney newspapers.
– I am not going to mention any names in connexion with the criticism of the Age or the Argus; but last night Senator Sayers told the Senate that some Victorian representatives are so afraid of the power exercised by news.paperdom in this State that they are chased by nightmares and cannot sleep at night. The honorable senator may not have used those words, but that is in effect what he said. The statement can have no application to myself or to other members of the Labour Party, because we hold our seats in spite of the opposition of both Age and Argus. Who are the Victorian representatives referred to? Probably those who are not going to vote for Dalgety. If this matter is to be decided from the point of view of .State interests, Victorians ought to vote for Dalgety.
– Because it is the people’s choice. Dalgety meets with the approbation of the! Australian people.
– Does the honorable senator speak for the people?
– I speak as one of the people. The people’s voice in this matter was heard in this Chamber when the question was decided on a former occasion. How did the people’s representatives in the Senate express themselves on that occasion, and how did they record their votes? In favour of Dalgety.
– The honorable senator is aware, of course, that the direct vote here was for Bombala.
– Which is practically the same site.
– Nothing of the kind.
– It was in favour of Southern Monaro, which embraces Bombala and Dalgety. Speaking as a Victorian, I say that Dalgety would be as far removed from Melbourne as from Sydney. Its selection would advance the development of a portion of New South Wales that possesses immense resources. It would create a new territory. Honorable senators should be moved to record a vote for Dalgety by the magnificent reports which have been presented by those authorized to investigate and report upon the various sites suggested. The main objection urged against ‘Dalgety is that it is a cold place. But honorable senators who have visited Dalgety at various seasons of the year have told the Senate on many ocasions that, so far as they are able to judge, there is no better climate in any part of Australia than the climate of Dalgety.
– It is the sanatorium of New South Wales.
– True, and it ought to be the sanatorium of Australia.
– Why, that is Mount Lofty.
– Dalgety stands higher in the opinion of the people of Australia than either Mount Lofty or YassCanberra.
– It is not anything like so attractive or so healthy.
– I admit the bene fits which one who is not in the best of health might derive from living at such a magnificent place! as Mount Lofty. Those who are better qualified to speak than I am say that Dalgety is one of the healthiest places in Australia. .
– No one disputes that.
– What, then, are these recent objections made to the site originally approved of?
– The top of Mount Wellington, near Hobart, is the most salubrious spot in the Southern Hemisphere, but no one lives there.
– The site of the Federal Capital having been decided, the people of Australia naturally thought that no opportunity would be given to any one who felt so disposed to exercise an undue influence in order to have the question reopened.
– But the New South Wales Parliament objected.
– Are we to understand that this is a question for the New South Wales Parliament to settle?
– Are we to be guided in the votes we record in this Chamber by any action taken in New South Wales?
– Why not?
– Are our views as to any site suggested to be influenced by opinions expressed in the State Parliament of New South Wales?
– We should respect them to some extent.
– Senator Fraser suggests that we should be guided by the statements made by the representatives of the people in the New South Wales State Parliament.
– If we had consulted the Queensland Parliament, black labour would have been fastened on to Australia for the next fifty years-
– We are not here to consider the views of the parliamentarians in any State in the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator does not seriously say that?
– In dealing with this question, I do say so.
– New South Wales is a party to this bargain.
- Senator Symon asks me whether I am serious in the statement I have made. I am absolutely serious. It is true that New South Wales is a party to the bargain. That State is in the Union, but New South Wales is not the only State in the Union.
– New South Wales is specially a party to the bargain about the Federal Capital site.
– New South Wales entered the Union on the clear understanding that the Capital should be in that Slate, and there is no member of the Senate who is not disposed to carry out that provision of the Constitution.
– But New South Wales has to give the land.
– Or the Commonwealth has to take it.
– Are we to understand, then, that unless we are given a
Capital site by New South Wales, we shall never have a Federal Capital established ?
– That is a new doctrine.
– We could hardly force New South Wales to give the land. I can tell the honorable senator that.
– Does that mean that we have no choice ; that unless we accept a site which meets with the approbation of the State Parliament of New South Wales, we shall get none? If that is to be the attitude of New South Wales, let us understand the position clearly and distinctly. Unless we vote for the site which meets with the approbation, not of the people of Australia, but of the representatives of the people in the State Parliament of New South Wales, we cannot obtain the site we select?’
– That view is not put forward.
– That is the .view expressed by Senator Fraser.
– No, the honorable senator is misstating it.
– That is the view which I believe is held by certain honorable senators, who are disposed to vote for Yass-Canberra.
– This is another instance in which the honorable senator’s opinion is wrong.
– I may be wrong; but the statement was made by Senator Fraser in all seriousness.
– I said that there were two parties to the bargain.
– So far as I am concerned, there is only one party to this bargain, and that is the people’s representatives in the Federal Parliament, who desire to select a site which will meet with the approbation, not of New South Wales, but of the people of Australia. It will be within the recollection of honorable senators that when Albury was suggested as a suitable site, the suggestion was scouted. Some of the people of New South Wales who took the proposal seriously were up in arms against it on the ground that Albury was too near Melbourne. For that reason, and because of other objections, Albury received scant consideration, and yet Albury is further removed from Melbourne than Yass-Canberra is from Sydney. I have mentioned the influence exercised by the newspapers. I do not suppose that in the history of Australia there has been, on the part of newspaperdom, anything like the attempt that has been made by certain sections of the Sydney press to influence and to coerce members of this Parliament to vote for a certain site - to coerce them by making known to all the electors of the Commonwealth those who did as the newspapers told them to do. I have here a copy of the Sydney Mail, the weekly publication issued from the office of the Sydney Morning Herald, which has been extremely anxious to have the YassCanberra site chosen. This issue of the Sydney Mail, of Wednesday, 28th October, contains two pages of photographs, two pages of “Australia’s Noblest Forty,” who did as newspaperdom dictated they should do. We hear much about machine politics, but the Sydney Daily Telegraph and Sydney Morning Herald have been working their machines to such effect that, in my opinion, three or four votes in this Chamber have been changed in consequence. The letterpressat the head of these pages of photographs is somewhat interesting. It is as follows -
For Yass-Canberra : Here are the forty members of Parliament whose names should be remembered, because they have stood for loyalty to the Constitution and for far-seeing wisdom. By their selection of the Yass-Canberra site they gave a stunning blow to petty provincialism and raised the tone of Australian parliamentary institutions.
They gave “ a stunning blow to petty provincialism “ ! If going back upon their former choice - the people’s choice - and voting, as Senator Lynch said last night, in favour of a site which might be called a suburb of Sydney, can be called a “ stunning blow to provincialism,” the pictures and names of Yass’s forty deserve the widest publication. At one time it was thought that there would be little or no serious consideration given to it, because many persons in different parts of Australia felt that it would be premature, not only to select a site, but after having made a selection, to begin the erection of buildings suitable for governmental and’ departmental purposes. However, so much publicity has been given to the question within the last few months that the people of Australia are commencing to realize that it is a matter of great moment to them. And every representative in favour of Dalgety is anxious to do that which he conceives to be in the best interests of the Commonwealth. The advantages of Yass-Canberra have been stated on numerous occasions. Although I have not had an opportunity of visiting the proposed site, I have perused much of the printed literature in regard to it. I have seen innumerable photographs or pictures descriptive of the country, but the pictures of Yass-Canberra pale into insignificance when compared with the magnificent surroundings and scenery of Dalgety. As regards that all-essential - water - there is no comparison between the Snowy River and the miserable trickle called Cotter Creek.
– The honorable senator should not say that, when he has a report which says that it contains enough water to supply 250,000 persons. That cannot be a trickle, can it?
– I have not had an opportunity of visiting Yass-Canberra.
– If the honorable senator did visit it, he would say that it is an ideal site for a Capital.
– It is said that at certainperiods of the yearthe Cotter River - it is called by many persons a creek - is almost dry.
– Sir John Forrest says that it is only equal to supplying 50,000 persons with water.
– Look at Kalgoorlie. In any case the water supply is not a difficulty of any moment.
– The honorable senator says that the pumpingof water is not a difficulty.
– No; I did not say that.
– The honorable senator asked us to look at the distance which the water for Kalgoorlie has to be pumped.
– Any difficulty in regard to water supply can always be overcome.
– Not at Broken Hill.
– No sensible business man would think of pumping water for a distance of 300 miles-
– But it will not be necessary to do that at Canberra.
– Or 300 yards, if he could get a natural supply.
– Of course not. If one had a lake in his backyard, he would be satisfied.
– If it be true that water will need to be. pumped, YassCanberra ought to be passed out when compared with Dalgety as a site, because, in the Snowy River, there is a never-ending water supply.
– And there is a neverending supply at Canberra, as the report shows.
– There is a neverending influence exercised upon the minds of the honorable senator and others in regard to Yass-Canberra. All sorts of influences have gravitaited through certain channels in regard to five or six votes which will be recorded on this motion.
– If the honorable senator had only visited Canberra he would not have made those remarks at all. One hour’s view would have satisfied him.
– It is true that I did not visit Yass-Canberra, but I do not think that it would be possible for anybody to view any sites under more favorable circumstances than did the parliamentarians when special opportunities and facilities were given to them three or four years ago. Special trains, coaches, and conveyances were made available for them. Programmes were mapped out for them, and, having no bias in respect to any site, it does seem strange to me that YassCanberra should have received no consideration at their hands.
– In 1904 Yass-Canberra was not known.
– But Lake George and Yass were known.
-Senator Symon has interjected that Yass-Canberra was not known a little less than four years ago.
– It was not mentioned then.
– May I ask the honorable senator why it was not known? If it was a suitable site for the Federal Capital, does it not seem remarkably strange that it should not have been known at least to those who represented that district in the State Parliament?
– The honorable senator said that it was not voted on in 1904, and I interjected that it was not known then, to account for the fact that it had not been voted on.
– I did not say that it had not been voted on. I mentioned incidentally that many sites had been visited, that nearly every member of this Parliament had availed himself of the opportunities placed at his disposal to acquire information and knowledge which would guide him in making a choice ; and that at that time, no mention, so far as I can remember, was made of Yass-Canberra.
From that fact, I can come to no other conclusion than that anti-Australian influences are being exercised in favour of Yass-Canberra.
– “ Suspicion haunts the guilty mind.”
– I have no guilt in regard to Dalgety. I voted in favour of that site before, and am prepared to do so now. The determination of this question depends upon one or two votes. Is it fair that, after the people of Australia through their representatives have approved of an Australian site, it should be relegated to the limbo of obscurity by one or more votes - votes that were not capable of being recorded when it was previously approved of?
– Because a better site has been found.
– One vote has upset a Government before now.
– The vote of Senator W. Russell will mainly decide this question.
– I wish to goodness that the honorable senator had seen Yass-Canberra. If he had, he would vote with me.
– It is said that this has become a party question. With the Labour Party, it is essentially an Australian question.
– In the other House, thirteen members of the Labour Party, including Mr. Watson, voted for Canberra.
– I am not concerned for a moment about what the members of the Labour Party in another place did. The members of that party in the Senate represent States, not constituencies, and on a question of this kind a senator can, perhaps, take a broader view than can a member of the other House. We view this question from the Australian aspect, and from no other. On the other hand, we know that as regards the other House, the representative of a district in which a site is located is anxious to gain kudos, and get as many votes as possible recorded in favour of it. The membersof the Senate are only concerned about getting a truly Federal vote on this question.
– The honorable senator wants to stand well with the Age.
– I am not concerned about the Age in this matter. What is its view to me? I voted in favour of
Dalgety before, and intend to do so again. The Age has no influence with me on this or any other question.
– Will the honorable senator allow us to get to a vote?
– The question is too important for a vote to be taken without the last word having been said. Senator W. Russell entered this Parliament as a member of the party to which I belong.
– I am vet.
– The honorable senator is; but seemingly, the atmospheric influence on the other side has had an evil effect upon him.
– I deny it.
– He must have met some Labour members from the other House.
– Never mind about the other House.
– Order ! I must ask honorable senators not to interject.
– In my opinion, Senator W. Russell, during the short period that he sat behind the pillar opposite, was influenced both upon this and other questions. With the exception of that honorable senator, the members of the Labour Party in this Chamber, viewing the matter from a national stand-point, favour the selection of Dalgety. Senator W. Russell has teen more or less prejudiced against that site by .reason of the peculiar atmospheric conditions which prevailed upon the occasion of ‘his visit to it. We all know how very susceptible some persons are to weather influences. I have heard visitors who arrived in Melbourne upon a dull, murky day, declare that its climate is the worst in the world, whilst others who have reached here upon a typical spring day, have been just as emphatic in their declarations that it is most delightful. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.27. to 7.4.5 p.m.
Debate resumed from 1st October (vide page 630) on motion by Senator Pearce -
That, for the better carrying out of the wages and labour conditions of Commonwealth contracts, it is essential that inspectors should be appointed to supervise their observance.
– In dealing with this motion, it is well to remind hon orable senators that as far back as 1901 or 1902, a resolution was adopted by both Houses of this Parliament affirming the necessity of imposing conditions in respect of contracts carried out on behalf of the Commonwealth, and conserving the interests of those who’ might be employed on those contracts. From the terms of this motion and from the remarks made by Senator Pearce in submitting it, I take it that he desires effect to be given to the principles which we then affirmed by providing proper machinery for the purpose. If the motion is to be regarded as an instruction that a special staff of inspectors shall be created to attend to nothing more nor less than supervising the observance of those conditions in the performance of Commonwealth contracts, I think there is no necessity for it. But, speaking more particularly for the Department of Home Affairs, I wish to say that every reasonable effort has been made in connexion with every contract that has been entered into to insure the fulfilment of the conditions which were laid down by Parliament in the resolutions to which I have referred. So far as general contracts are concerned, it will doubtless be recollected, as Senator Pearce pointed out, that in four of the States, Commonwealth contracts are carried out by the Public Works Departments of those States. Generally, the results which have flowed from this arrangement have been very satisfactory. In New South Wales and Victoria the contracts entered into by the Department of Home Affairs are carried out directly with the Commonwealth. In .every contract entered into by or om behalf of the Commonwealth, conditions are inserted, which are precisely similar in language, tenor, and effect, to those which were affirmed by the two Houses of this Parliament in 1901 or 1902. The question then arises, “ How do we know that those conditions are fulfilled by contractors? How do we know that in every instance they pay the rate of wage ruling in the district in which the contract is being carried out, and that they observe the conditions of labour which we say should surround their employes?” Well, in all contracts with the Commonwealth we provide that the contractor shall pay not less than the minimum rate of wages ruling in the district in which the contract is being carried out. We recognise that the rates of wages vary in different portions of the Commonwealth, and in different portions of the States.
Therefore, we provide that contractors shall pay not less than the minimum rate of wage ruling in the district in which the contract is being performed. In the case of particular localities, the ruling rates are specified in a schedule. But it is impossible to make that schedule applicable to every locality, and to every contract. So far as overtime is concerned, we also provide that the contractors shall pay as a minimum at least the additional wage that is payable in respect of overtime in the district in which the contract is being carried out. We further declare that the hours of employment shall not exceed those ruling in that particular district. Of course, it is necessary that some check should be imposed upon those engaged in these enterprises, in order that we may assure ourselves that the requisite conditions are being fulfilled. We recognise that those employed in the performance of Government contracts are fully cognisant of the conditions which this Parliament has decreed shall be observed, and that they know that their interests are being carefully looked after by their representatives here. To use a phrase, which was employed by Senator Pearce in addressing himself to this motion, we necessarily trust to the employes to police the provisions of the Act. Although there may be an indisposition on their part to complain, the Department of Home Affairs has rigorously enforced the principles which have been laid down, and whenever there has been the slightest scintilla of doubt that an employer was complying with those conditions, it has insisted that before any progress payments shall be made to him he shall file a declaration made before a justice of the peace, or some other competent authority, that he has fulfilled r.ll the terms of the contract. I merely mention this for the purpose of showing what has been the policy of the Department in giving effect to the resolution which was adopted by both Houses of this Parliament.
– Is the same practice followed in connexion with the contracts for clothing which are made with the Defence Department?
– I am not in a position to say. But whether it has been followed or not, I have no doubt that it will be followed in the future. Since Senator Pearce submitted this motion, 1 have had his remarks brought under the 1 notice of the various Departments of the Commonwealth, as well as the practice which has been adopted by the Department of Home Affairs, and I feel sure that if they have not hitherto followed a practice at least as rigorous, they will do so in the future. In addition to bringing tha observations of Senator Pearce under the notice of other Departments, my own Department has issued special instructions to the public works inspectors of all the Statesto pay strict attention to these features in connexion with every contract. As a matter of fact, they were already under an obligation to do so. I think there was no special instructionto that effect. But since the matter has been ventilated by my honorable friend Senator Pearce, and reference has been made to departures from those conditionsby contractors, we have thought it advisable to instruct all inspectors on behalf of the Home Affairs Department throughout the Commonwealth, to attend specially to these features of every contract in respect of which they are carrying out their inspectorial functions.
– If a contractor hasdeparted from the conditions he has committed perjury. Would it not be better to cause him to make a statutory declaration ?
– In the State of Victoria that practice has been followed in. every instance, whether there has been ground for suspicion or not. I do not say that as a reflection upon the contractors in Victoria, but greater opportunities have been given to the Department to enforce the conditions in this State than were afforded in any other State. That was the only reason. If my honorable friend Senator Pearce will accept my assurance that sofar as my Department is concerned all reasonable efforts are being made to achieve the fulfilment of the conditions prescribed in. regard to all contracts, ~1 will go the length of saying that, provided it be understood that the motion is not to be interpreted’ as an expression of opinion on the part of the Senate that a special staff of inspectors should be appointed, I see no objection toit. We can utilize those officers who arealready dealing with our contracts.
– I said so.
– My honorablefriend fairly and frankly recognised the difficulties of the situation, and pointed out that it was not his object to bring intoexistence a new staff of officers who would! have nothing to do except to see that the labour conditions in connexion with contracts were fulfilled.
– Should we not change the word “essential” in the motion into “ desirable” ?
– I am not concerned with that. With regard to the general principle, I agree that it is desirable that there should be thrown on some of our officers the responsibility of certifying to us in regard to each contract that, after proper inspection, observation, and inquiry, he is satisfied that the labour -conditions are being fulfilled by the contractor.
– Does the honorable senator ask us to pass this motion on the understanding that it is not to mean what it says?
– Not at all; but Senator Pearce pointed out that he did not wish to bring into existence a new staff.
– Then why not alter the word “ essential” ?
– It is essential that there’ should be inspectors; but not that they should only inspect for this particular purpose.
– Many of the’ officers are now performing inspectorial func tions, and to have these new duties intrusted to them would be no hardship. lt will be possible for us to utilize the existing officers to see that the proper conditions are fulfilled; and so long as that is understood, I have not the slightest objection to the motion, because it has been the object of the Government to see that what has been laid down by Parliament with regard to contracts shall be adhered to in regard to every contract entered into with the Commonwealth. The steps that we have taken in the past, and the steps taken by previous Commonwealth Governments, go to show that. But if the passing of the motion involved the creation of a new staff who would have nothing to do than to fulfil the functions suggested in the motion, it would mean a considerable increase of the cost of public works, and that increase would be more emphasized in regard to works carried out in the remoter localities, and especially in the smaller centres of population.
– The resolution that has been submitted by Senator Pearce, and that was supported’ by him in an extremely fair-minded and able speech, is a desirable one. I agree with the Minister of Home Affairs, however, that it is not possible to create a body of inspectors for the purpose of carrying out the functions mentioned in the motion. But it is desirable that there should be in connexion with every Commonwealth work inspection, and supervision to insure that the labour conditions are observed. I know, having had a good deal of practical experience in enforcing such conditions, that there is a difficulty unless there hasbeen a priori some agreement in detail.. While it should be the duty of the inspectors to see that the conditions are observed, it should also be somebody’s duty to specify in detail what the conditions are”. Because, in case of a prosecution, or a refusal to pay, the officers charged with the duty of inspection would have to make inquiries to ascertain what the conditions really were. It seems to me that it would be better that they should ascertain beforehand and specify in the agreement the exact conditions demanded.
– What does the honorable senator mean by a prosecution? What is the penalty for not carrying out the conditions ?
– Failure to carryout the conditions is a breach of contract, and when a contract is broken, I presume that the party aggrieved may proceed for damages, or the contract may be cancelled, or a certain penalty may be enforced, or there may be a deduction from the amount to be paid to the contractor. What I wishto impress upon the Minister is that at some stage before the Commonwealth can proceed for a breach of contract, inquiriesto ascertain the ruling rates must be made by some one. That being so, it would be very much better for those inquiries to be made beforehand, and specified in the agreement. Then the added security could’ be given that the agreement, so far as it relates to wages and conditions of labour, should be posted wherever the work is being done, so that the persons engaged upon it might know exactly what they were entitled to. In Victoria I know that that condition was prescribed, and insisted upon, in one Department over which I had control for sometime. Of course, it was easier to do that in Victoria - as it is also in New South Wales - than it would be in some other districts, because ruling rates are more clearly defined, and, in some instances, are almost statutorily defined, here than elsewhere. We have Wages Boards, and where suchmachinery exists it is very easy to specify conditions as to wages. But, in any case,. it seems to me that the safer and better way is to make the conditions part of the contract in specific terms. That is to say, the Department, before a contract is entered into, should specify what the labour conditions are to be.
– That is hardly possible in all cases, because the Department cannot always tell in what particular district the work would be done.
– I am assuming that for the securing of the principles of this motion each district is treated separately, and each contract separately. I understood the Minister to say he recognised that there are varying ruling rates in various States and in different divisions of States. There are conditions that render it desirable to pay better wages in some States
Than in others, and higher wages in some portions of States than in other portions. Wherever the work is being carried out the contractor must pay not less than the standard rate.
– The difficulty is as to whether you can insert in your contract the wages conditions without knowing where the work is to be done. Take a contract for the supply of clothing, where there may be competitors in two adjoining districts at different rates.
– That is a difficulty that commends itself to my judgment at once. But we are all anxious to have done what Parliament has decided shall be done. I can see that it might not be practicable to state the conditions of work in all contracts. But after a tender had been accepted, it might be held liable to be not accepted subject to certain conditions, which should then be put into the contract. It seems to me that it would be very much better before work is done for the persons engaged upon it to have some means of knowing exactly * and specifically what labour conditions were to prevail.
– That is all right where there are Wages Boards. But if there are no Wages Boards, there may be no ruling rates at all.
– If that is so, the motion is meaningless. But I do not think it is so. As far as I know, there are in every district what may be described as ruling rates.
– If there are districts without Wages Boards, there is no reason why we should shut out those districts in which there are such Boards.
– That is so; and there is no reason why we should not create the equivalent to Wages Boards where such machinery does not exist. An anxious person, desirous to know what was the ruling rate, could arrive at a general average, which might be described as the ruling rate. But I admit at once that we must, in considerations of this sort, give a little elasticity. Otherwise, we render action impossible. Wherever practicable, however, the conditions ought to be in the contract; and wherever, they are stated in the contract there ought to be an obligation to post up at the works the conditions applying to every person engaged.
– How would it do to accept tenders for work only where there are ruling rates?
– That is not before us just now. Parliament has not carried such a resolution as my honorable friend suggests. I am dealing with this question with knowledge derived from experience. I know that where Wages Boards exist, and where there is no doubt whatever about the wages ruling and the conditions to be observed, there is still very great difficulty iri compelling their observance. I can refer to one instance in my own experience, in which I learned that it was indisputable that a man had not been paid the ruling rate of wages, to the extent, I think, of ^27. There had been, if I may so express it, some collusion, that is to say, the man in question had not the courage to insist upon his rights. I felt that the principle involved was so important that I sought out this man, and, having found him with some difficulty, insisted upon the ^27 being paid to him. That was only possible because the wages he ought to have received were prescribed in the contract, and, as he did not receive them, there had been a breach of the contract. I make another suggestion, arising from my experience, and it is that payment should not be made in connexion with contracts of this character until a statutory declaration has been ma’de that the conditions prescribed have been observed. Even then, of course, there will be evasion, as there would be evasion of any rule we laid down. There has been a law in operation for a very long time against the picking of pockets ; but it is still being done. All we can do in such matters is to adopt every possible safeguard against evasion, and I have taken the liberty to suggest to the Minister one or two practical safeguards which might be adopted in the carrying out of these contracts.
– Whilst I support the motion, I realize all the difficulty of giving it effect. The suggestion put forward by Senator Trenwith, that the nature of the work should be defined in the contract, is a good one, because that is even more necessary than the appointment of an inspector, although such an officer might be very useful under existing conditions. In connexion with many of these matters which have come under my notice, I have found the Minister of Home Affairs and the officers of his Department very fair in dealing with difficulties that have cropped up. I ‘ recognise that very many difficulties are likely to arise under a condition that the ruling rate of wages shall be paid. The Minister of Home Affairs is particularly anxious that no new appointments should be made; but I should like to see at least one officer of the Department given a power beyond that of inspection, and the right to define the various classes of labour required in carrying out a contract. I might give an illustration of the difficulties to be met by a reference to a case which came under my notice, and which I have in hand at the present time. It occurred in connexion with the undergrounding of telephone wires, when the ruling rates of wages were clearly defined in the contract. Under an award given in Victoria by Mr. Justice Cussen at the time of the building strike, the wages of plasterers’ labourers were fixed at 9s. per day. Under the Commonwealth, they were fixed at 8s. per day. I regret to have to say that the rate fixed by the Commonwealth authorities was is. per day less than the ruling rate of wages in Victoria. The contractor states that the work is labourers’ work, and is paying 7s. 2d. per day. Honorable members will understand that if the men engaged in the work were to go to the contractor and make a noise about the way they are being treated, there is so much labour available in Melbourne at the present time that their positions would very soon be filled by other men. The trade union investigated the matter, and when I waited upon the officers of the Home Affairs Department, I found them inclined to agree with the contractor that the work is labourer’s work. If we had an inspector with power to make inquiry, and define the various classes ot work required to be done under a contract, honorable senators will see that it would then be unnecessary for those engaged in the work to contest these matters with the contractors. I have no hesitation in saying that the fact that no officer of the Works Department is given this power is likely to be a source of trouble. We know that it is only too true that men enter into collusion with contractors. There is, unhappily,’ some difficulty in getting some men to stand up for what are their legal rights under these contracts. The resolution to which reference has been made was carried because it was recognised that the men occupy a weak position, and should not be called upon to engage in an unequal contest with a contractor. We require an inspector with power to define the character of the work to be done, and then for that work the contractor should have to pay the recognised rates, and so the’ men would be relieved from the necessity of a personal quarrel with the contractors on the subject of the rate of their .wages. My experience, and I suppose it is the experience of most honorable senators, is that the rates of wages ruling in the metropolis determine the rates paid throughout a State. There may be some increase given in certain districts tq meet travelling or living expenses; but men belonging to trade unions are generally able to look after themselves in that respect. I hope that the Minister of Home Affairs, and the officers of his Department, will assume the responsibility which I. believe honorable senators generally desire to place upon their shoulders, and insist upon good conditions and fair rates of wages ‘ in the carrying out of all contracts let by the Commonwealth. In my opinion, the power to define the class of labour which must be done in the carrying out of a contract, is more essential than the fixing of a minimum wage. Where a number of men are engaged on a contract, it would be ridiculous to have the whole staff involved in a labour trouble because there is no responsible officer charged with defining the nature of tEe work in which each of the men is engaged. In the case to which I have referred, the contractor, who is paying 7s. 2d. per day for what he describes as labourers’ work, is willing to make a declaration that he is paying the ruling rate of wages. On the other hand, the trade union authorities are willing to make a declaration that 9s. per day is the ruling rate for that particular class of labour. There may be only half-a-dozen men concerned, but their workmates will naturally sympathize with them, and considerable delay, expense, and trouble, might be avoided by the appointment of an inspector, with such powers to act as I have suggested. I trust the motion will be carried, r.nd that the Minister of Home Affairs will consider the advisability of clothing some officer wilh power ‘to define the various classes of work under a contract.
– I can offer no objection to what Senator Pearce seeks to obtain by the passing of this motion. As I understand it, the honorable senator desires to take such steps as will insure that a resolution, previously arrived at by the Senate, shall be given effect. What the honorable senator proposes is exactly what we do with regard to every law and regulation we pass. We take steps, in extreme cases by the appointment of a policeman, and in other cases by the appointment of various officials, to see that the .will of Parliament is given effect. I take that to be Senator Pearce’s object, and with that we must all be in agreement, not merely because of a desire to see that a fair wage is paid to those who do manual labour in carrying out a contract, but quite as much in the interests of contractors who are prepared to do a fair and decent thing. For these reasons I anticipate that the motion will commend itself generally to the approval of the Senate. -I had not an opportunity of listening to the remarks of the Minister, but if I understand the position he takes up, it is that he is not disposed to at once commit himself to sanction the appointment of additional officers, but he is prepared to take steps to arrange that the officials already concerned in the supervision of Commonwealth contracts shall have thrust upon them the additional responsibility of seeing that standard rates of wages are paid. I have no reason to suppose that any honorable senator desires unnecessary appointments to be made merely that employment may be given to an additional number of persons, and” if the officials, to whom the Minister referred, are in a position to exercise the supervision sought by Senator Pearce under this motion, I think that should satisfy the honorable senator. Let me say that I think the Minister’s remarks have justified the tabling of the motion, because it is quite evident that hitherto these officials have not been in a position to exercise that supervision, or it would not now be necessary to require them to do it.
– It is part of their obligation, and as soon as the motion was tabled, they were given particularly explicit instructions to do this work.
– That seems to be a little contradictory. If they were doing the work in the past, there could have been no need either for fresh instructions, or for the tabling of the motion.
– As soon as the motion was tabled the instructions were issued.
– That brings me back to my original statement that the Minister’s remarks have justified the tabling of the motion. I take it, from what the honorable senator said, that he will see that the officials charged with this work of supervision will be required to carry it out for the benefit alike of the contractors and those whom they employ. For that reason I feel that the Senate is under an obligation to Senator Pearce for having brought under its notice what undoubtedly has been a laxity in the administration of a rule or regulation which I am certain has its cordial support.
– I desire to thank the Minister for the very sympathetic consideration which he has given to my proposal, and also honorable senators for supporting it. In reply to a question I asked on the 15th October, the Minister practically showed the necessity for the proposal. Referring to the standard rates of wages on Government contracts, I asked, “ what persons, if any, are charged with the administration of such conditions?” and the Minister gave this reply -
It is considered that these provisions are now well known to employes, and that they will make representations themselves, or through others if .they have any cause of complaint. The ruling rates in a district can only be known to those engaged, and to have to refer to the Minister save in exceptional cases would obviously cause delay and hardship.
I am sure that honorable senators will recognise that that was not adequate. The Minister has now practically adopted the spirit of the motion, and I have much cause to be thankful that it has been received in so friendly a way.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 24th September (vide page 332), on motion by Senator Walker -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– The object of the Bill is set forth in its long title, which reads as follows: -
A Bill for an Act authorizing any joint stock company formed or incorporated in any State to form reserve funds for the express purpose of providing or accumulating funds to protect the shareholders in such companies against their liability in respect of the uncalled capital or reserve liabilities on their shares, and to provide for the creation of corporate bodies in which such reserve funds may be vested.
I want Senator Walker to understand that any criticism I offer will be tendered in a friendly spirit. I feel sure that the object he has in view is of the highest character, and that he believes that some substantial benefit would accrue to the public from the enactment of the measure. I am disposed to think that it is not such an innocent Bill as at first it might appear. It is one which is capable of danger in the hands of fraudulent individuals, and, of course:, it is from that stand-point that we have to criticise all measures. I shall endeavour, as succinctly as possible, to formulate my objections.
– The Minister will remember that it is a permissive Bill.
– Yes, it is very permissive - in a wrong direction in some cases. It falls specially within the province of a practising lawyer, who is consulted at all times by companies andfinancial institutions in regard to importantdealings under such legislation, to give help and advice about a measure of this kind. So far as I can judge, the Senate would not be justified in accepting the Bill in its present form. In the first place, its constitutionality, is not quite clear. Section 51 of the Constitution Act provides -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to - (xx.) Foreign corporations, and trading or financial corporations formed within the limits of the Commonwealth.
According to clause 2. of the Bill -
The words “Joint Stock Company” and “Company “ in this Act mean any company now or hereafter formed or incorporated as a company in pursuance of any Act of Parliament of the Commonwealth or of any State, or being otherwise duly constituted by the law of the Commonwealth or of any State, and having a permanent paid-up or nominal capital of fixed amount.
That clause exceeds the scope of the legislative power which I have quoted, which confines Commonwealth operations simply to the companies therein specified.
– Has not paragraph xiii. of section 51 a bearing on this matter?
– No; that deals with another matter. The scope of the Bill, I repeat, is not confined to foreign corporations and trading or financial corporations formed within the limits of the Commonwealth, but, of course, its operation in that regard could be limited. In the second place, there is no demand for a measure of this kind at the present time. It contains a principle which is not only new and experimental, but also most debatable. The principle has not yet been incorporated in any companies law in Australia, and is unknown to British companies legislation; and, as I have said, it is largely experimental.
– Doesthe honorable senator remember that the Real Property Act of South Australia was introduced by alayman and copied by other countries?
– That has nothing to do with the case.
– There was no precedent for that measure.
– Undoubtedly there was the precedent of the Merchant Shipping Act. The Torrens Act was based on the principle laid down for dealing with the ownership of vessels. This measure is somewhat complicated as regards the working out of the details, and the Senate would certainly require further expert advice and assistance before dealing with it. If its principle! is a sound and good one. it should form part ofa Commonwealth scheme of companies legislation. As Senator Walker is aware from the Governor-General’s speech, a Bill has been drafted to make the companies- laws of the States uniform. It is undesirable to legislate in a piece-meal manneron this subject. But more important is it to remember that each State has its own companies law. The companies laws of the
States vary considerably. They are drawn more or less with regard to local conditions, and embody for the most part general principles 0f British legislation. This measure is brought forward as a sort of plaster on the State laws, quite irrespective of their character. It is a proposal to graft on those laws a new principle, regardless of whether it will harmonize with them or not. That is not only an interference with State matters, which would be reprobated by my honorable friend in many circumstances, but also a meddling with State companies.
– If this were a compulsory Bill, the Minister’s remarks would bc very much to the point; but, as it is not, they are not relevant.
-If the honorable senator will be patient, he will realize that his innocent Bill bears many traces of danger. It directly interferes with existing companies, because it is made applicable to them.
– If it is a voluntary measure, how can it interfere with existing companies ?
– A majority of the shareholders of an existing company may take advantage of the measure for their own benefit, although it never formed part of the memorandum and articles of association, funder which the minority took up their shares.
– Could not any company do voluntarily now what Senator Walker is proposing to empower all companies to do?
– If certain dividends were declared and paid over by a company, and it by that means discharged its obligations, the shareholders could, if they thought proper,, apply those dividends as they chose, even to providing for their uncalled liability; but that is a vastly different thing from what the Bill deals with. As it is made applicable to existing companies, it may amount, so far as a minority is concerned, to an adverse alteration of the memorandum and articles of association. In the constitution of a company, nothing is more serious than such an alteration. As a matter of fact, while the articles of association may be altered in the manner therein prescribed, an alteration of the memorandum of association is practically a recasting of the very basis on which the company was formed - a new agreement altogether - and it can only be done within limitation, with the consent of the Court.
– And in the case of chartered banks, it is a variation of the charter.
– Yes. In other circumstances, they would have to go to Parliament for a variation of the kind. Honorable senators will recognise that the Bill would thus place in the hands of a majority of the shareholders of any company, the power to alter the terms of its memorandum and articles of association. Of course, the exercise of such a power might be in the best interests of the company if the shareholders were honest. But we have to guard against dishonest operations. From that stand-point, this Bill represents what is known as ex post facto legislation. The measure would also have the effect of altering the relationship between debtor and creditor. Let us look at clause 3.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council should read that clause in the form in which it is proposed to amend it.
– As far as I can see, there is very little difference between the clause, in its original form, and the form in which the honorable senator desires to amend it. That provision reads -
From and after the passing of this Act it shall be lawful for any joint stock company to form a reserve fund for the purpose of protecting its shareholders against their liabilities in respect of the uncalled capital (if any), and the reserve liabilities (if any) on the shares held by them in such company, and to pay and to carry to the credit of such reserve fund such a sum out of the net profits of the company in any half-year or other period as shall be determined by the company in general meeting, and also the premiums from the sale of new shares and the proceeds of sale of forfeited shares, or any portion or portions thereof respectively, and such sums (if any) as represent the recovery of debts previously written off as bad.
Honorable senators will see that under that clause it would be competent to apply the reserve fund which had been created to the payment of uncalled capital.
– Bank shareholders are at present liable, to an unlimited extent, for their note issue. This clause would free them from that liability.
– It is possible that that may be so. In the balance-sheet of any large financial institution the reserve fund and uncalled capital are all-important factors to creditors. Let us suppose that a financial institution advertised a substantial reserve fund, and a larger amount of unpaid capital. Upon the faith of that advertisement deposits would, probably, be made. But under this clause it would be quite competent for that reserve fund to be transferred to the payment of uncalled capital.
– That is not the intention of the Bill.
– I understood that it referred only to future profits.
– Undoubtedly. But for the moment I am talking about reserve funds which may be created in the future. The depositors might wake up some morning, and find that their reserve fund had vanished, it having been transferred to meet uncalled capital.
– The reserve fund would be in the hands of trustees outside the company.
– There is nothing to suggest that it would not appear as part of the funds of the company-
– Suppose that it did appear as part of the funds of the company?
– Deposits would probably be made on the faith of the security of the uncalled capital.
– The company could not show both uncalled capital and a reserve fund to meet it.
– Of course it could.
– In that case, it would be guilty of preparing a fraudulent balancesheet.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council is under a misapprehension.
– I have read the clause exactly as it appears-
– The reserve fund would be in the hands of trustees outside the companies.
– I repeat that a creditor would naturally think that that reserve fund was available to be drawn upon if necessary, whereas, to some extent, it would be merely a duplicate of the uncalled capital.
– Both could not exist together.
– They certainly should not exist together.
– Has the VicePresident of the Executive Council really studied the Bill?
– Judging from the speech delivered by the honorable senator in moving its second reading, he has not much idea of its provisions.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council himself told me that he had not had time to look into the Bill.
– Into the amendment, I said. I have already quoted clause 3 of the measure, and I can see very little difference between that clause, in its original form, and the form in which the honorable senator desires to amend it. The whole point largely turns upon the question of net profits, which is one of the most debatable of questions. How profits are to be ascertained is a problem of very considerable difficulty. Sir Roundell Palmer, in dealing with that question in the 9th edition of Palmer’s Company Precedents, page 735, after referring to both the single and double account system, says -
The system propounded by the Court of Appeal in Lee v. Neuchatel Company, 41 C, D.I. ; according to which, whenever the ordinary revenue of the company for any specified period exceeds the ordinary outgoings of the company for such period, the excess is to be regarded as profit available for dividend, even though the revenue be derived from a wasting property, which, in the course of a few years, will be exhausted, and even though the company has lost capital during the same period.
Later on, in dealing with the general principles laid down, particularly in the Neuchatel case referred to, he says -
It was held by the Court of Appeal, affirming the decision of Stirling, J. - (1) that there was not sufficient evidence of depreciation or loss ; (2) that if the property of the company was not sufficient to make good its share capital, there was no obligation to make it good out of revenue ; and (3) that, although the property was a wasting property, there was no obligation to make any provision for depreciation.
– That argument must be applicable to all reserve funds.
– It may be. I am now dealing with the creation of reserve funds for a special purpose. I am endeavouring to show that under the heading of- profits there might be paid away as dividends as the apparent excess of revenue over expenditure for the year, what was really part and parcel of the capital, so that a company might be left at last without a single shilling of capital. Of course, I am putting an extreme case. But certainly, under this Bill, the capital of a company might thus be largely, if not completely, exhausted. The result might be that the so-called profits having been paid to uncalled capital, and that capital being of a wasting character, the creditor might get nothing.
– The profits might be paid away as dividends.
– It is quite true they might be disbursed in that way. The net profits may be appropriated to reserves or paid away as the case may be, and so, under this Bill, there mightbe no capital with which to meet liabilities. The law is further laid down by the same authority in the following terms -
Accordingly, if a company with a paid-up capital of£100,000 likes to buy, say, ten acres of coal for£100,000, and works one acre per annum, and, after paying expenses of raising the coal and of management has, say,£15,000 per annum in hand, that sum is profit available for dividend, and there is no obligation on the company to treat any part of it as capital ; and when at the end of ten years the coal has been worked out, and the £100,000 has disappeared and the capital has thus been reduced to nil, we are not to regard this as a reduction of capital prohibitedby the Act. Yet it is obvious that each half-year’s income includes a return to the company of part of its capital outlay, and, therefore, that the company each year pays dividend consisting in part of capital.
That principle has also been acknowledged in a Victorian case in which my firm happened to act in 1890 - the case of Phillips v. The Melbourne Soap and Candle Company Limited, in which it was laid down -
It is only a matter of prudence, and not of law, whether or not dividends shall be paid when the assets of the company are of less value that the original capital. And, so long as a company pays its creditors, there is no reason why, in an apparently flourishing concern, it should not go on and divide profits, though every shilling of the capital may be lost. This is entirely a question for the shareholders themselves to determine.
– Was there any reserve liability in that company?
– I cannot say. The position was that the company sought to declare a dividend of 10 per cent., and the balance-sheet showed losses amounting to£1,367, the result of a flood which had occurred. Litigation was resorted to by one of the shareholders to prevent the distribution of the dividend in consequence of the capital having been lost. Under this Bill, after the capital of a company had disappeared, the net profits might have been placed to the uncalled capital account to protect shareholders, so that creditors would have nothing upon which to fall back. I am putting matters in an extreme form, to show what is possible.
– Do I understand the honorable senator to mean that the loss of £10,000 a year might go on year after year, and that there might be no statement in the balance-sheet to show that such a loss had occurred?
– There might, or might not, be such a statement is to wasting capital. If the£10,000 a year was called net profit, it might be paid over to the shareholders, although the business was a wasting concern, and ultimately resulted in the complete exhaustion of the capital.
– That is to say, although the £10,000 a year was paid as profits, £10,000 a year might be wiped off the capital at the same time.
– That is quite possible. Under those circumstances, the creditors, not being aware of the loss of capital, might, when they came to seek their remedy, find that there were no assets for them. But, as it well-known, such efforts are made by unscrupulous individuals to evade the law, that we have to legislate against them. It is not that we are legislating against the honest man at all. because the honest man would not commit himself to any action of the kind.
– Has there been an illustration of such business as the Minister has instanced ?
– Yes; I have quoted one case from Palmer, and have also given the name of a case where the capital being actually lost, the directors desired to pay a dividend of 10 per cent., and the Court said that it was perfectly legitimate for them to do so. It may be suggested that this is a fictitious system of trading, so far as the general public are concerned. They do not know that this ostensible profit which is being paid away is practically a payment of capital. That is the position that has to be legislated against.
– Is not that argument rather in favour of the Bill? If you earmark a reserve fund, it strengthens the company.
– No; the argument is not in favour of the Bill.If the Bill is to be read literally, even the present reserve funds may vanish though I admit that that is not intended; but the Bill authorizes the payment to the special reserve fund of such a sum as shall be determined out of “ the net profits of the company in any half-year or other period.” Mark the words “other period,” which might, I say, jeopardize even existing reserve funds. Honorable senators will be aware that we have frequently had before our Courts applications either for the reduction of capital or for the cancellation of uncalled capital. In those cases, the greatest publicity must take place, and the fullest scrutiny must be made. When an application is made to the Court, the matter is referred to the creditors. Meetings of creditors are called. The Court satisfies itself in this way before it exercises a discretion as to whether, under the circumstances, the proposed reduction shall be allowed. That was what was usually done in regard to the reconstruction of companies which was so frequent in this country some years ago. The companies had to go to the Court in a public way, and the relationship of the shareholders to uncalled capital and the rights of creditors were matters most carefully scrutinized and considered.
– In the cases to which the Minister refers, would it not have been an advantage if the uncalled capital had been available in the hands of trustees?
– Yes; but my honorable friend omits to state that this uncalled capital is supposed to represent net profit, and that the net profit which is going to the payment of uncalled capita! to protect shareholders may actually be the paying out of the capital of the whole concern, the detriment of creditors.
– Which might otherwise be distributed in dividends.
– It might be distributed in dividends, but that is not the point. Whether it was distributed as dividends or not the uncalled liability of the shareholders would remain. The position is this. Here is money going out every year in the shape of net profits. The term net profits practically means in some cases so much capital that is being paid away - under the terms of this Bill to a separate fund - in order to satisfy the uncalled liability of the shareholder. Therefore, that profit having gone to protect the shareholder, the creditor is left lamenting.
– The shareholder might otherwise have received it in the form of dividends, and it was as a self-denying ordinance that part of his profit was paid to a reserve fund.
– Under the Bill, there would be an amount to meet liabilities, but, as the law now stands the creditor has to take his chance of getting what is due to him from a number of shareholders.
– Under the Bill, the capital might be actually paid away into a fund to satisfy uncalled capital, and in that way the shareholder might be unfairly and unduly protected at the expense of the creditor. In other words, part of the capital might be paid into a fund supposed to be made up of profits, but which were not really profits.
– The accounts of companies are audited. If such a state of things occurs, the auditors must be rogues.
– It is possible to provide safeguards to meet such contingencies, and to satisfy the Court that the capital is intact. If safeguards of that kind are properly applied, and with care, the principle may be a good one. But then I come back to what I originaliy said. We cannot pick out one feature of the companies law in this fashion. If there is to be Commonwealth legislation on this subject at all, it should be introduced as part and parcel of a general system of uniform legislation. This piecemeal legislation cannot be satisfactory. It is calculated to interfere with the memoranda and articles of association of existing companies.
– This is a permissive Bill.
– But it would give power to the majority to coerce the minority in a company. The minority might fairly say, “ When I joined this company there was no such legislation as this.” To interfere with the memorandum of association of a company in such a fashion would be grossly unfair to the minority. This is a very serious aspect of the case, and it affects the relationships of debtor and creditor very closely. I have put matters in an extreme form for the purpose of showing that in the hands of unscrupulous men the Bill might operate in a direction far different from what my honorable friend contemplates.
– The same might be said with regard to any limi,ted liability companv.
– Perfectly true; and it is also true that we have to legislate from the stand-point of controlling the dishonest man rather than the honest man.
– We do not need legislation for honest men.
– It is seldom necessary to legislate to control them. I find it difficult” to apprehend the full purport of clause 7 of the Bill, which Senator Walker now proposes to alter. He proposes to take out the latter portion of it, which I think will effect an improvement. There is another feature of the measure to which I direct attention, namely, that it provides for the creation of a kind of company within a company, and to some extent would interfere with the control by a company of its own finances.
– That is for .the benefit of the creditors.
– That- may or may not be so. Although it may be said to be for the benefit of creditors, yet the capital may have been taken away in the meantime. It is for the benefit of the shareholder primarily.
– The honorable senator will admit that it is to the advantage of the creditor for the company to have money in hand instead of having to call upon Dick, Tom, or Harry to pay up.
– That may or may not be the case. As to the provision for the appointment of trustees, it will be observed that they are to be under the control of the directors of the company.
– Mere creatures of the company.
– They are mere creatures of the directors. As to how, under those circumstances, the funds might be misapplied, I am not prepared at this moment to say. But that is a feature of the Bill that cannot be overlooked. First of all, I put it from the stand-point of a company to some extent losing control of its funds, and then seeking to continue the control by the directors, not the shareholders, keeping their finger on the trustees. How far, of course, those trustees will be influenced and controlled by the directors is a matter for subsequent consideration. The last two clauses of the Bill are of a delicate and complicated character.
– I am willing that they should be left out.
– I have read them carefully, and it is impossible even to realize what they mean. They introduce complications.
– Those were the law- ‘ vers’ clauses; the others are the bankers’.
– The clauses to which I refer introduce such complications, that I cannot see that they would be of any practical advantage.
– I am willing to leave them out.
– If the honorable senator is leaving out first one clause and then another, I do not know what is going to become of the Bill.
– Those clauses are not mine.
– I have to deal with the Bill as I find it. I agree with the honorable senator that the clauses to which he refers are objectionable. By striking out the latter portion of it, clause 7 will certainly be improved. For the moment I see very little difference between clause 3 as it stands in the Bill and as set out in the amendment which has been circulated. As I said in the beginning, I would urge upon my honorable friend that this is not the way in which to introduce legislation of this kind. It should form part and parcel of a general scheme of legislation defining the Commonwealth law, on which upon its introduction, the honorable senator would have an opportunity of engrafting his views, the object, of course, being to secure uniformity throughout the Commonwealth.
– I received somewhat of a shock when the Vice-President of the Executive Council commenced to speak. Bearing in mind that this Bill was introduced by Senator Walker, I heard the VicePresident of the Executive Council commence with some reference to the possibility of the measure affording encouragement to fraud. It seemed to me inconceivable that anything introduced by Senator Walker could justify the use of such terms. I listened to the Vice-President of the Executive Council very carefully, and it may be said that the honorable senator condemns the Bill upon the following grounds. First of all he says that the principle is bad.
– No, I said that the principle might be good if properly safeguarded.
– I understood the honorable senator to say that the principle was bad ; that even if it were good it was introduced in a bad way ; that even if it were good and the way in which it was introduced was also good, it was not desirable ; that even if the principle were good, the method of introduction good, and it was desirable, its constitutionality was in question; and that even if all these difficulties were overcome, it was still undesirable to deal with banking business in this piecemeal fashion. 1 wish to follow some of these arguments as well as I can; First of all, Senator Best said that one objection to the Bill is that it involves a new principle. Is that going to stay the hands of the Senate in the passing of the Rill if otherwise it is shown to be a good measure?
Since when has the Vice-President of the Executive Council been afraid of the introduction of a new principle? Ever since he has been in charge of the Treasury Bench he has been doing nothing else but bringing forward things - I shall not dignify them by the name of principles - which have been new and fantastical. Surely the Senate will not approve the proposition that merely because a measure embodies a new principle it is therefore to be condemned. Another objection brought forward was that the States have laws dealing with this subject, and that this measure might to some extent override or interfere with them. That is a- curious objection to be urged by the VicePresident of the Executive Council.
– I never said so.
– The honorable senator said that this was putting a plaster on them.
– What a modest, innocent little plaster this measure would be as compared wilh the enormous legislative plasters we have been placing over States laws, at the instigation of the Government, since Federation was established? This is hardly a postage stamp as compared with such an enormous mustard plaster upon States laws as our Quarantine Act. The Senate has never been restrained for a moment in the passing of a law merely because some State had already passed a law dealing with the same matter. All these objections have nothing whatever to do with the question, which after all is simply : Does this Bill seek to do something which would be advantageous? I approach its consideration from that point of view. I can state the object of the Bill, as it appears to me, very simply indeed. It is to enable shareholders to do what they like with their own profits. At present they can, if they please, pay them away in dividends.
– But everything depends upon what is meant by the word “ profits.”
– Yes, that is the whole point.
– Surely Senator Lynch does not consider his interjection an answer. The argument I offer applies just as forcibly whether the profits be legitimate or illegitimate. The question is whether they shall be paid away in the shape of dividends or to the special reserve which Senator Walker seeks to create. If we are to have business so badly conducted that moneys which under any legal definition may be called not profits but capital can be paid away as dividends to be. used by the ordinary shareholder as income, the position would be different. What the Bill proposes is that the profits, whether legitimate or not, instead of being paid away to the shareholders, to be spent by them as income, shall be put to a special trust account to meet uncalled capital.
– In that reserve fund they would be showing a profit, and that would be an inducement to others to invest their money.
– I shall deal with one thing at a time. Senator Lynch appears to be under the impression that this Bill will in some way or other facilitate the paying away of money, under the head of net’ profits, in some way which could not be done to-day. I admit at once that the doctrine read out by the Vice-President of the Executive Council as the decision of one of the English Judges, that a public company can legally pay away a portion of its capital under the guise of net profits, was a revelation to me. But if that might be done now, the Bill will not affect it.
– It was done by one of the Tasmanian banks. They paid a dividend just a week before they closed up.
– That confirms my argument. The honorable senator says that he knows of a case in which a bank paid away as dividends what was really a portion of its capital.
– Or deposits; money that was not genuine net profits.
– It appears to me that from the legal definition of net profits it might have been, though the money would certainly not be what a business man would understand as net profits. The decision quoted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council would uphold the contention that the difference between receipts and expenditure would be regarded as net profits, although there may have been a wasting, as in the case quoted, which was that of a coal mine, or a depreciation of plant, as in other cases which honorable senators will more readily call to mind, greater in value than the amount of net profits actually earned. Whether the profits called net profits are legitimate or not, and legally available for distribution, it has been shown that the power to distribute them in the way described exists to-day, and this Bill would in no sense alter that position, nor would it add to the facilities with which that species of fraud - for I call it fraud, though the law permits it - could be perpetrated.
– To say that what the law permits is fraud is a horrible doctrine.
– Senator Clemons, as a lawyer, may feel called upon to defend the law, and I admit that it requires defence, for I still say that if a public company pays away a portion of its capital and calls it profits, that is a fraud upon the general public, whether it is sanctioned by the law or not. I say that Senator Walker’s Bill in no sense creates that position or alters it. What it provides is that a portion of the) money handled by a bank, and which is available, according to the discretion of the directors, for distribution as profits, can be paid, as is done to-day, as dividends which the shareholders may spend as ordinary income, or, if the shareholders please, may be put on one side.
– Or a portion of it.
– Or a portion of it may be put on one side as a special reserve fund for the purpose of meeting the contingent liability represented by the uncalled capital.
– It would improve the security of the depositors.
– I think so. I propose to deal with that directly.
– It would protect the shareholder.
– That is just what it would do.
– I think that I can show that it would also protect the credit of the bank. It would protect the shareholder in this sense : If I am liable, for instance, to be called upon at any time to make a certain payment, and I say that every month I shall pay into the bank a certain amount of my income to meet that payment-
– And hand it over to trustees. That is what is proposedby this Bill.
– Why not?
– Because the creditors could not get it.
– The honorable senator must surely see that the money is put into the hands of trustees for the specific purpose of meeting the demand for payment when it arises. To continue my illus tration : I am liable at any time tobecalled upon to meet a payment of£100. Seeing that to have to meet it at once might cripple me, I decide to put on one side every month, or to pay into the hands of trustees, if honorable senators please, a certain amount of my ordinary income until the £100 is made up, so that when the demand is presented, I shall have at hand the money to meet it. How could I injure my creditors by the adoption of that course ?
– Some of the creditors’ money might be used to place the person required to make the payment in that position.
– Let me remind the honorable senator that if any one was inclined to indulge in that sort of business he might, under the existing law, use his creditors’ money, and pay it away as dividends, to be spent by shareholders in the ordinary course as part of their regular income. Profits, whether genuine or imaginary, may, under the existing law, be paid away to shareholders,many of whom will receive them in all innocence, and spend them, regarding them as their ordinary income.
– And their uncalled liability remains.
– As it would under this Bill, which proposes the establishment of a fund invested in public securities.
– We can discard the consideration whether the profits are legitimate or illegitimate. They are paid away to shareholders as the law now stands, and regarded by them as part of their annual income. Under this Bill a portion’ would be put on one side to a special reserve to meet the contingent liability of uncalled capital.
– And invested in public securities.
– We can leave it to Senator Walker and his banker friends toinvest the money.
– It would be muchsafer there than if used in the business.
– Let me proceed to show whom it might injure. It is clear that the man who might feel a little hurt would be the shareholder. Hitherto he may have been receiving a dividend of 8 per cent. on his shares, and the directors, under this Bill, might decide to pay him only 6 per cent., and put the other two per cent. to the credit of the special reserve proposed. He might feel a little aggrieved at first about it, but he would have the consolation that the 2 per cent, would be in a reserve fund to meet the liability on his shares which, in the event ot a banking crisis, might cause his ruin. How does the creditor of the bank stand? At present there is the uncalled capital on which he can fall back ; but let me ask any honorable senator whether he would prefer a security, under which he could make me bankrupt by calling upon me to pay up uncalled capital in respect of shares in the bank, to the knowledge that in the hands of trustees there was money safely invested to meet the whole of my liability?
– But that is not the whole question. Which would any one prefer? Surely he would prefer to have both rather than one?
– He cannot have both.
– Yes, he can.
– Certainly he can by an act of self-denial of which I never suspected any shareholder. At the present moment the shareholders of a bank can, if they like, say : “ We shall forego all our dividends, build up a reserve, and still hold ourselves liable for the uncalled capital.” But does my honorable friend think that they are likely to do that? Would he ask them to do it?
– Is it the object of the Bill that they should?
– Certainly not.
– Then the object of the Bill is to create a reserve to wipe out a contingent liability?
– Exactly, and what is the objection to it?
– The honorable senator forgets the case I put as to the prospectus.
– The honorable senator raised an objection which appeared to me to be too fanciful for serious consideration. He said that if a portion of the profits which are being distributed as dividends were hypothecated and set aside for the special security of the creditors of the bank-
– But that is side by side with the uncalled capital.
– I point out that under the Bill it will be possible for a bank to show a special reserve fund on a prospectus as part of its assets, and also to set out on the same prospectus the uncalled capital, to meet which the special reserve fund had been created. Of course, it is possible for any one to publish a most fraudulent statement.
– That would not be a fraudulent statement.
– It certainly would he wrong to take it into account as part of the assets of the bank. Let us assume that the uncalled capital of the bank is ^1,000,000, and that it has a special reserve fund to meet .£500,000. It would be wrong for the bank to say that it has in reserve £1,500,000. What it has is £500,000 of a special reserve fund, and £500,000 of uncalled capital, because, in proportion as it builds up the special reserve fund, it must write down its uncalled capital, otherwise it will be making it appear that it has two assets when it has onlyone. I can see no possible chance of any fraud being committed in that way other than an absolutely intentional fraud, and, of course, we cannot guard against that. We may take steps to punish persons, but we cannot pass a law that no body shall at any time publish a fraudulent prospectus. Let me again apply mv argument in a personal way. If any person here is dealing with a firm and he knows that it is setting on one side a certain sum as a nest egg, or, in the language of this Bill, as a reserve fund for the purpose of meeting any claims which may arise, he will feel greater confidence in doing business with that firm. What is proposed in the Bill exactly fits that situation. It takes certain power for the shareholders of a bank to exercise if they like, but not otherwise. They can forego a portion of the profits which they are receiving, and pass them to a special reserve fund so that when a crisis arises, instead of each shareholder having, perhaps with great difficulty, and, possibly, with the prospect of insolvency, to find the money in respect of which he is liable, a special reserve fund built up with the dividends of which the shareholders had denied themselves, will be available for the purpose. Had a measure of this kind been in force when the bank crisis occurred in Glasgow many years ago, or in New South Wales, a good many individuals and a great many homes which were ruined would have been secured from the result of that crisis.
– They were ruined by the philanthropic bankers.
– No, they were ruined by the fact that they were liable. Many persons who had purchased shares and received dividends year after year, using them as their income, which they were entitled to do, suddenly found, when a financial crisis swept over the country, that the banks were in difficulties, and that they themselves were liable for their amount of the uncalled capital. It would have been far betterfor them if, instead of receiving 8 per cent. for a number of years, they had received 6 per cent., and the balance had been set aside to meet that claim ; and it would have been a thousand times better for the credit of the bank, which, instead of having to sell off household furniture and ruined persons to get its own, would have been able to look to the trustees in charge of tht special reserve fund to meet claims.
– There was nothing then to prevent a bank from doing what is provided for in this Bill.
– There is nothing now to prevent a bank from doing that. The only point is that it is sought to pass a simple measure which will apply all over Avstralia.
– In the case of the hanking crisis in Svdney a reserve fund would not have been of much good unless the securities had been very liquid like Government stock.
– That is about as good and liquid a form of security as a man could possibly have, and if the honorable senator is dissatisfied with any security of that kind he can hand it over to me.
– I should not object to Government stock, as it is fairly liquid. But I should object to other kinds of security.
– My honorable friend should remember that it is proposed to have the special reserve fund in as liquid a form as we can have any profitbearing investment. The Minister has raised the objection that it is proposed in some way to confer a special favour upon the shareholders. To my mind the Bill contains a wise provision, not only on their behalf, but on behalf of those who may have claims against them. Nothing is better to meet a demand for a sovereign than twenty shillings. Under this Bill power is taken for a bank to put aside twenty shillings to meet a demand for one pound when it is made, instead of having to run round and look for the man who owes a pound, and if he cannot pay it, sell him up through the Bankruptcy Court. For that reason I propose to support the second reading of the measure. It contains one or two provisions which, I trust, Senator Walker will see his way to amend in Committee. He has already indicated a desire to abandon two provisions which I confess I was unable to understand. There is one other proposal which I think may require amendment. Under the Bill a majority in value of shares is to determine whether or not a company or a bank shall be brought under its provisions. I am not quite certain whether it may not be desirable to require the sanction of a majority of another kind, or, at any rate, something more than a bare majority. I suggest to Senator Walker that if he will make some provision by which a larger majority will be required before the measure can be applied to existing banks it may facilitate the passage of the Bill through the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Givens) adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 8th October, vide page 933) :
Clause 2 -
Part II. of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904 is amended by inserting therein after section nine the following seclion : - 9a. - (1) No employer shall dismiss any employee from his employment by reason merely of the fact that the employee is an officer or member of an association that has applied to be registered as an organization.
Penalty : Twenty pounds. (2.) In any proceeding for any contravention of this section, it shall lie upon the employer to show that any employee, proved to have been dismissed whilst an officer or member of an association that has applied to be registered as an organization, was dismissed for some reason other than that mentioned in this section.
Upon which Senator Needham had moved by way of amendment -
That after the word “ employment,” line 6, the words “ or do anything to his detriment as an employee “ be inserted.
– On a previous occasion I pointed out to Senator Needham that the words proposed to be inserted were hardly consonant with the rest of the proposed new section of the Act, and so far as I know there is no precedent for them. On referring to the Excise Procedure Act of 1908 I found this provision -
Those words help us very little in this case, and I suggest to the honorable senator that the only way to overcome what seems to be a difficulty is to insert the words “ or injure him in his employment.” If that amendment is made it will be necessary to make a similar alteration in the second part of the proposed new section. In law the word “ injure “ has a technical understandable meaning when it comes before a court. But “ to do anything to his detriment as an employe “ is rather a vague form of words to use. I think that the object which we all have in view will be effected if my honorable friend will adopt the words Ihave suggested.
– I am prepared to accept the amendment suggested by the Minister, because I think it will attain the object which I have in view. I merely wish to protect the employe in every possible way, so that no employer shall be able to prejudice him in his employment because he may have taken part in the formation of an organization of which he is a member.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause consequentially amended.
– I move -
That the following words be added : - “ 10a. - (1.) No employee shall cease workin the service of an employer by reason merely of the fact that the employer is an officer or member of an association that has applied for registration as an organization under this Act.
Penalty : Twenty pounds. (2.) No proceeding for any contravention of this section shall be instituted without the leave of the President or the Registrar. (3.) In any proceeding for any contravention of this section, it shall lie upon the employee, proved to have ceased work in the service of an employer whilst the employer was an officer or member of an association that has applied to be registered as an organization, to show that he ceased so to work for some reason other than that mentioned in this section.”
When this Bill was previously before the Committee, I pointed out that the provision which I have just read was the necessary complement to new clause 9A, which it is proposed to insert in the principal Act. Senator Needham wishes that clause to be inserted to prevent an employer from penalizing an employe because the latter is a member of an applicant organization. Now, if the employe is to be protected from dismissal and from injury in his employment, because he is a member of an applicant organization, it necessarily follows that the same mantle of protection should be thrown about the employer under analogous circumstances. What is sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander. On a former occasion I also pointed out that the second paragraph of this proposal is necessary to prevent vexatious litigation under this measure.
– The remarks of the Minister of Home Affairs have revived recollections of the chief difficulty which confronted us when we were dealing with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. He has indicated where the root of that difficulty lies, but he has not told us how we can get at it. In declaring that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, he conveniently overlooked the essential fact that by providing for the imposition of a penalty upon an employer, and of a similar penalty upon an employe, he does not place both in the same position. We know perfectly well that if, by legislative authority, we inflict a fine of , £20 upon an employer, in 99 cases out of 100 that penalty can be recovered. But in 99 cases out of 100 it cannot be recovered from an employe.
– The number of cases in which it cannot be recovered is not so large as that.
– Perhaps I am exaggerating a little, but we know that upon mining fields we have to deal with a very migratory population. It is practically impossible to enforce a penalty of £20 in the case of a miner who may choose to leave the service of his employer. But in almost every instance an employer has funds adequate to meet such a penalty, and, therefore, it can be enforced. When the Minister of Home Affairs talks about what is sauce for the goose being sauce for the gander, he knows that he is merely playing with words. It would be infinitely better for us to devote ourselves to an attempt to achieve something practical. There is only one way in which that can be accomplished, namely, by compelling labour organizations, as well as employers’ organizations, to show their bona fides in this matter. I would prefer that in the case of an employer, the penalty of £20 should be enforceable against his organization, and that in the case of the employe it should be enforceable against his union.
– Surely the honorable senator would not say that both unions possessed an equal capacity to pay fines ?
– In the case of the employer, I say that the union to which he belongs should be liable to pay the penalty, and similarly, the employes should provide a fund, out of’ which penalties might be recoverable. Everybody knows that the Arbitration Acts in the different States have broken down chiefly because they do not provide any means of enforcing penalties against employes.
– When the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was under consideration, the honorable senator asked us to register new unions with no funds.
– Does the honorable senator refer to me personally?
– I refer to the party to which the honorable senator belongs.
– It is sufficient for me to bear my own sins, without being burdened with those of my party.
– The honorable senator was the Government whip at the time.
– And I stated that I should welcome a preference being extended to unionists, if unionists would give any substantial evidence of their bona fides. The only way in which they could have done that would have been by allowing some portion of their funds to be earmarked for the purpose of paying penalties. The whole of the members of the Labour Party objected to that. The Arbitration Acts throughout Australia have broken down chiefly because of the reason I have mentioned.
– The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act has not broken down.
– It will do so the first time that it is tested. I repeat that if members of the Labour Party are anxious to secure an Act which will prevent industrial disputes, they should be prepared to show their bona fides in the matter by declaring that penalties which are recoverable against the employer shall also be recoverable against employes.
– If the employe breaks the law at the instance of his union.
– What is the basis of any Arbitration Act? Undoubtedly it is industrial organization. If your industrial organizations and your Arbitration Act is a farce, let us acknowledge it. We all admit that the same basis should be applied on each side.
– Would the honorable senator make the fine against the employe one-twentieth of the fine against the employer, in a case where there were twenty employes on the one side and one employer on the other?
– To make the thing bond fide, I am prepared to throw the onus, not only upon the employer, but upon his organization. But I say that there is a remedy in that case. The remedy against the employer would be a better one than that against the employe. But what is the use of giving to the employer the remedy of recovering £20 from an individual miner, when you know that he can pay nothing?
– If the fine were£20 against the employer, and £1 against the employe, the two sides would be on an equality.
– I cannot listen to that argument.
– It would not be fair to penalize a union for the action of an individual member, taken on his own responsibility.
– I say that it would be fair. The union should take the responsibility on behalf of its members. If we were to allow that exception, we should have the same kind of evasion as we have now. If Senator Turley is keen and honest about this thing, as I am sure that he is, he will recognise that this is the great fault of Arbitration Acts. It is a perfectly simple thing, but most of us foresaw, and indicated long ago, that the penalties were enforceable on the one side, but could absolutely be ignored on the other.
– Does the honorable senator regard an Arbitration Act as an Act to assist trade unions?
– Of course I do.
– No; they are Acts to protect the public against either trade unions or unions of employers.
– Arbitration Acts are based upon industrial organization.
– But they are not for the benefit of trade unions ; far from it.
– They ought to be. Personally, I think that unions, as well as the public, should benefit; but if we accept this clause as proposed by Senator Keating-
– It does not matter much.
– If we are prepared to parade our hypocrisy with regard to arbitration, of course it does not matter. But we are providing for penalties, and in the one case we are providing penalties that may be enforced, whilst in the other they cannot. There is only one way of proceeding, if we are to bring arbitration within the scheme of practical legislation, and are not merely parading our hypocrisy, and that is to put into this Bill a clause which will offer to the employers the same guarantee that the penalty may be enforced against the employes, as the employes have in the vice versa case.
– What about preference to unionists?
– Preference to unionists ought to be based on the fact that penalties are equally recoverable from either side.
– I agree with the honorable senator.
– But the Act which we have passed contains no such provision. I said at the time that if such a provision were inserted, I should vote for preference with the greatest of pleasure.
– The Labour Government went out on that principle.
– The history of the question is a very complex one, and I do not want to argue it now. I am dealing with an essential principle of earmarking the funds belonging to the employes, through their industrial organization, for the purpose of the payment of penalties. We have not got that; and I shall vote against this clause, simply because it represents another piece of hypocrisy, by means of the imposition of penalties that are of no use at all.
– When this Bill was before the Committee some few weeks ago, Senator Needham intimated his intention, as he did when he circulated the measure, of making provision to prevent an employer from penalizing an employe who belonged, not to an organization as the term organization is used in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, but who belonged to an association which was applying to be registered as an organization. Provision is made in clause 9A, and in clause10a, which is now before the Committee, with regard to penalizing employes who are members of associations which have applied for registration, but have not been registered. But it was found that it was quite possible, in actual practice, that an ordinary penalty that would attach to those who were attempting to prevent persons from belonging to a registered organization, might be evaded in the particular period which must necessarily elapse between the intimation by an association of its intention to apply for registration, and the entertaining of its application. During that period, the body is known as an association. When it receives a certificate, it becomes an organization under the Act, and has, no doubt, all the attributes of an organization. Senator Clemons knows - probably no one in the Senate knows better - how difficult it is to deal with what are regarded as unincorporated bodies. He has had experience of such bodies in connexion with mining enterprises, and is aware that the law can hardly comprehend such bodies while they are in an unregistered state, and while they are simply bodies of men voluntarily associated for their own purposes, and having practically no legal capacity whatever. lt would be an. extremely difficult matter to attach legal obligations to associations of that character. Attempts have been made in different States to endow with a limited legal capacity such bodies as that in relation to mining, and to impose upon them legal obligations. Those attempts have met with more or less success. But where success has been achieved, it has only been by providing, by a large number of clauses, a certain amount of machinery for what I might term semi-registration of a semi-organization. If Senator Clemons’ views were to be given effect to, this would hardly be the place to do it, but we could do it with regard to organizations once they have been registered, have come properly within the ken of the law, and have imposed upon them the obligations and attributes referred to in Part V. of the Act, dealing with registered organizations, how they may be registered, the adoption of rules, and so on. I am sure that my honorable friend will see that that would be a difficult matter.
– We could do it with organizations.
– That is the point. But it is a difficult matter also to do it with respect to these embryo organizations - which are in an embryonic stage, and which are applying for registration. This Bill is intended only to cover that particular period, which, in any case, must be at least one of thirty days. It would be difficult to say that the funds of a body in that particular condition should be earmarked. I do not think that we could so provide by any single clause.
– If we cannot, I hold that the whole thing is one-sided.
– That may be so, but it is a matter of very great difficulty, even by a succession of clauses, to impose obligations upon associations in that stage of their existence. . The clause which I am now moving is in harmony with clause qa, which has already been adopted. If the clause is passed as it stands, we simply put in this measure corresponding provisions to those in the existing main Act with regard to registered organizations.
– It is only a kind of rhyme without reason ; there is nothing behind it.
– I have no objection to offer to clause 10A, which has been moved by the Minister of Home Affairs. I recognise that just as we penalize an employer who may dismiss an employe” because he is ai member of an association that has applied for registration, it is only right that the employer should be protected if an employe leaves his employment in consequence of the employer being a member of another organization that may apply for registration. On that” ground, it is only right that the clause should be inserted. Arbitration, as administered in Australia, is not for the benefit of employes only. 1 understand it to be for the benefit of both employer and employes. It is also intended to protect the interests of the public at large. As to Senator Clemons’ objection that a fine would not be recoverable from an employ^, I submit that the honorable senator’s sense of proportion is not just. The organization behind an employe is on a different footing financially from an organization behind the employer. But it an employe is fined, the fine is recoverable, and, I think, is usually paid-
– In hundreds of cases it could not be recoverable.
– I think there have been cases where fines have been recovered. But the organization of, say, fifty employes cannot be pitted against an organization of ten or twelve employers from the financial stand-point. Still, as I have just said, if an employer is penalized for a certain action, it is only right that the employ should also be liable in the event of similar action being taken by him. The amount of the fine may be ai subject of contention, but, so far as the clause itself is concerned, I am prepared to accept Senator Keating’s proposal.
– As has been explained by the Minister, a fine imposed on an employe, whatever may be its amount, bears no proportion in its effect to a fine inflicted on an employer. As a general rule, an employer would be employing a large number of men, and would probably be carrying on business in a large way. A fine of £20 against such a man would be no punishment at all. But a fine of £20 imposed on a working man earning £2 2s. per week would be more than he could pay, because such a man would probably not have £20 to his credit at any time. Senator Clemons says that rather than put this on the workmen, who, he knows, could not pay it, we should put it 011 the organization to which he belongs. But the honorable senator knows that the action taken by the Government to which he was attached prevented such a thing. The unions had to register under the Act, and it is impossible to inflict a fine upon a union.
– Why not?
– I can refer the honorable senator to the rules of employers’ associations that had not one-penny piece in their funds. There is no provision in their registered rules to meet a fine. There is provision for only a small annual fee sufficient to meet working expenses. I take the case of the federated shipowners. They have formed a new association for the purpose of registration under the Act, which they call the Commonwealth Steamship Owners’ Association. Although they comprise six large firms, carrying on business on a very large scale, they have formed this new association for the purposes of registration, and it has absolutely no funds at all.
– The honorable senator does not doubt their ability to pay any penalty under the Act?
– Their rules do not provide for the contribution of a single shilling for such a purpose.
– But the penalty would be enforceable against them severally.
– The honorable senator has just been arguing that the fine should be recoverable from the union.
– In the case of employes. We could make the same provision applicable to employers if the honorable senator thinks it necessary.
– The employers have taken the course I have mentioned for the purpose of registration under the Act, and they would have no funds to meet a fine. The labour unions have not done that. They have been more honest. They have said : ‘ ‘ Here are our funds ; we make ourselves liable.”
– For what? For any penalties?
– Yes, for any penalty under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
– There is not a single labour organization in Australia that would be liable for a penny under the Act.
– I hope that is correct, but I read the Act differently. Parliament said that if unionists contributed funds to any political body, they should not be entitled to preference, and so they were forced into their present position. In fact, they were advised to take the course they have taken. I remember Senator Symon laying down here the course they should take if they desired to secure preference. It was necessary that they should form new unions altogether, apart from the old political unions.
– That was provided for in the measure when it was first introduced.
– No; that was forced upon the employes by an amendment on which the Watson Government went out of office. I think the fine should be reduced. A fine of £2 or would bear heavily upon a workman.
– The fine stated is the maximum penalty under the Act.
– I do not think the Act is right in that respect. Ibelieve that a lower penalty should be imposed upon a working man than that imposed on an employer.
– I agree with Senator Guthrie that it is unreasonable to impose the same penalty in both cases.
– Has the honorable senator considered the fact that an employer might have to pay a £20 penalty for each of 100 men?
– Of course, it is the maximum penalty in each case, as the Minister has pointed out. In my opinion it would not be unreasonable that the penalty in the case of a workman should not exceed£8 or £10. I move -
That the amendment be amended by leaving out the word “ twenty,” line 6, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ ten.”
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
Question - That the amendment, as amended, be added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 3 -
Section twenty-seven of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904 is hereby repealed and the following section is substituted in lieu thereof : - “ 27. On the hearing or determination of any industrial dispute an organization may be represented by a member or officer of any organization, and any party not being an organization may be represented by an employee of that party ; but no party shall be represented either directly or indirectly by counsel, solicitor, or agent except with the consent of all the parties and by leave of the President.”
– As I said in my speech on the second reading of the Bill, I think it is very undesirable that the latter part of section 27 of the principal Act should be amended to read -
No party shall be represented either directly or indirectly by counsel, solicitor, or agent except with the consent of all the parties and by leave of the President.
According to section 27 of the Act -
No party shall except by consent of all the parties, or by leave of the President, be represented by counsel or solicitor.
The object of the proposed new section is not to make it an alternative matter, for consent by all the parties or by leave of the President, but to make it absolutely necessary, before counsel, solicitor or agent is employed to represent a party, not only that the President shall give his consent to that course, but that all the parties shall be agreeable. This question was discussed at some length at the secondreading stage. I pointed out then how unjust and unfair such a provision would be in very many instances. One party, by simply refusing to assent to the representation of the other party by- counsel, attorney or agent, could prevent the Court from getting the facts in relation to a particular dispute presented to it in proper sequence, and by those who were trained and experienced in assembling for proper presentation to a judicial tribunal, a number of facts, and dissociating them from matters which, in the minds of inexperienced persons, might seem relevant, but which were wholly irrelevant to the issues to be determined. I hope that honorable senators will see their way not to interfere with section 27 of the Act, and to leave tha matter to be determined by. the parties or the President, who may be safely trusted to determine correctly whether the assistance of counsel or attorney in a particular matter is required or not. I think that honorable senators will be acting wisely if they will not interfere with the section,, which I may mention was debated at very great length, both here and elsewhere, a few years ago.
– The arguments to which the Minister has referred might be resurrected; but I do not think that such a course is necessary. He will remember that a large number of honorable senatorsopposed the form of section 27, when it was under consideration. In my opinion, the proposed new section ought to be altered to read -
But no party shall be represented either directly or indirectly by counsel or solicitor except with the consent of all the parties and by leave of the President.
– Then, the honorable senator is proposing to create an army of lay lawyers?
– I want to insert i”-or” before “solicitor!,” and to omit “ or agent.”
– With a view to allowing agents to be used indiscriminately ?
– In the first place, I move -
That after the word “ counsel “ the word’ “ or “ be inserted.
– At the expiration of twelve hours, to-morrow’s sitting of the Senate will commence, and I think that as we have reached a clause which is of very great importance indeed, and involves much controversy, we might very well defer its consideration to another occasion. Therefore, I move -
That the Chairman do now leave the chair, report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
Motion agreed to; progress reported.
Motion (by Senator Keating) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– To-day, the VicePresident of the Executive Council, who I regret is not here, laid upon the table further correspondenca bearing upon the Navigation Bill. I wish to draw attention to the fact that he did not also table the reply to that correspondence, although, on the 30th October, he promised that he would. On that date, he laid one despatch upon the table, and said -
There is another despatch which I have not laid upon the table and which refers to resolution No. 9 of the Navigation Conference. I thought it was only fair that the despatch and our reply thereto should be tabled at the same time.
The Minister’s reason for not tabling the reply with the correspondence to-day was that he thought it was fair that the reply should first reach the Colonial Office in London. In view of the fact that the Navigation Bill is before the Senate, I think that the reply ought to be placed in our hands. It may be that the Minister does not intend to proceed with the Bill; but I suggest to him that if he does, the despatch ought to be laid upon the table, in accordance with his promise of the 30th October.
– Iamnot aware of the facts advanced by Senator Pulsford; but if they are correct, as I assume they are, it adds another to the many instances in which the Government have evidently shown an intention to delay as long as possible placing the Senate in possession of correspondence relative to the Navigation Bill. On very many occasions, Senator Macfarlane sought to elicit from the Government information as to the correspondenceinits earlier stages. It is known to honorable senators that time aftertimethe answers given were evasive, and that a desire was manifested to put off the presentation of the correspondence.I think that the attention of the Senate should be drawn to the matter, because it is entitled to be placed in possession of a correspondence of this character, particularly as it relates to a Bill in its possession. Certainly the Government ought not, I think, to attempt to play fast and loose with the Senate in the presentation of documents which are not only of public importance, but also of importance to us, bearing in mind that we are dealing with the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senateadjourned at 10.36 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 November 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19081105_senate_3_48/>.