3rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30, and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, a question relative to a statement he made to the Senate the other evening as to the supply of ammunition waggons for the fieldartillery. I wish to know if he has seen the statement made in the other House by his colleague, Mr. Hutchison, and the dialogue which followed, and which the Argus reports in these words -
Mr Kelly asked a question in the House of Representatives yesterday with reference toa statement made by the honorary Minister (Mr. Hutchison) that there was an absolute want of ammunition waggons for the field artillery. He wished to know whether this shortage had been brought under the notice of the Ministry by the experts of the department, and, if so, would those reports be made available for the information of members?
Mr. Hutchison said that he could not say whether the experts reported upon the mattei to the previous Government, but he had no doubt that they did so.
Mr. Deakin asked Mr. Hutchison if he had acquainted himself with the statement of the Minister of Defence in the Senate, in which he denied that there was any shortage of ammunition waggons, and said that they were either supplied or in course of construction, and in due course would be delivered.
Mr. Hutchison. There are some ammunition waggons, but certainly there are none for the field forces.
Mr. Deakin. That is not what the Minister said.
Mr. Kelly asked if Mr. Hutchison were aware how many waggons were necessary for the artillery brigades. In England three artillery brigades required 186 waggons?
Mr. Hutchison asked for notice of the question.
I ask the Minister if he can explain, as I have no doubthe can, what appears to be a discrepancy between that statement and the one he made to the Senate, and also if he can state approximately how manyammunition waggons are required for the field artillery, the number to be provided under a contract which we know is current, and the date when it is expected that the waggons will be supplied ?
– I do not think that there is any contradiction between the statements. It is simply a misunderstanding as to exactly what is referred to. What originated this discussion was a statement made by Mr. Kelly that in Australia there was not a single battery of artillery supplied with ammunition waggons. The Honorary Minister in another place said that there were no ammunition waggons for the infantry. In referring to Mr. Kelly’s statement, I said that it was incorrect that a number of the field batteries had been supplied with ‘ these waggons, that under a local contract the waggons were still being supplied, but that I was not in a position to say whether there would be sufficient to supply the whole of the field artillery when that contract expired. The position is that a firm in Melbourne obtained from the Department a contract to supply field artillery ammunition waggons. It has already furnished a sufficient number to supply some of the batteries. As I did not know that this inquiry was to be made to-day I am not in a position to say how many batteries it has supplied, nor am I able to say whether the contract is sufficient to supply the whole of the field batteries ; but I do know that it is for a considerable number. The statement that there are no ammunition waggons for the infantry is perfectly correct. There are no ammunition waggons, nor is there in existence any contract to supply them.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, if. it is the intention of the Government to bring in next session a Bill for the appointment of a High Commissioner ?
– The matter will receive serious consideration.
– A few days ago I put to the Minister of Defence a question with regard to the removal of tools of trade from the free list to the dutiable list, and I desire to know if he can now supply me with an answer?
– The question which the honorable senator asked the Other day reads as follows : - 1 desire to bring under the attention of the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, without notice, the fact that under departmental by-laws tools of trade may be removed from the free list and made dutiable. I know a case where a man who had expected to land a machine for about £200, suddenly found that it would costhim about £230. I desire to know whether the Minister will consult with his colleague to see whether it is not possible, before removing tools of trade from one list to the other, to give a little notice of the intention, so that importers may be prepared ?
I have been furnished with the following answer : -
It is the rule to remove from the Exempt List any Machine Tools which we may find are commercially manufactured in Australia. Whilst it is desired to avoid any case of individual hardship when this action is taken, it is difficult to arrange for any definite notice, since the lapse of time may be availed of to defeat the purpose we have in view. A similar difficulty arises in the case of all Tariff alterations which, perhaps, may be to the disadvantage at times of the individual, hut are, nevertheless for the general benefit of our industries.
The Department has also supplied a list of the machinery, with the names of the importers, which came under the operation of that alteration of the law.
– With regard to the bounty on smoked fish and other forms of fish which was granted by Parliament, and suddenly removed by a Customs regulation, I desire to ask trie Minister of De fence, without notice, whether any intimation of such action was given to the firms engaged in the industry in the various States, and whether any claims are now being made upon the Department in connexion therewith?
– I am not in a position to say, whether any notice was given. But as the question is practically a repetition of one standing in the name of Senator Sayers -to-day, perhaps the answer will supply some of the information desired by the honorable senator. It reads as follows -
Smoked Fish -
Lowe, Brunswick, Victoria, £899s.1d.
H. Jenkins, South Melbourne, £520 18s.11d. - Tuckey, Western Australia, 10s. 3d.
Hosking and Bissenberger, Western Australia,
Pender, Hobart,£208 3s.1d.
Gates, Hobart, £154 3s. 7d.
R. Burnett, Hobart, £465 16s. 2d.
G. Bowtell, Hobart, £882s. 3d.
Total, £1,542 2s. 4d.
Dried Fish. -No claims for bounty on dried fish have been presented.
Preserved Fish. - Information is not available, but it will be procured.
– Arising out of that reply, it is very natural for one toask how bounties have been paid at all in small sums, seeing that the Act prescribes a minimum of 5 tons, and that the smallest payment should be £20? TheMinister has quoted a payment of10s. 3d. in one case. In view of the considerable sums which have been paid, is it not evident to him that this variation of the conditions could not take place without a great deal of inconvenience to the firms concerned ?
– It is obvious that I cannot have the information to answer the question on the spur of the moment. I can only assume that the Minister hasacted inaccordance with the law.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether, in administering the vote of £20,000 for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth, he will be guided by a consideration of the actual facts or by the statement which some members of the Labour Party made here last night ; and, secondly, whether he will bring under the notice of his colleagues the information given in thepress this morning that in Victoria there is an association of land-owners who are offering to the Government more land for closer settlement than it is able to take, and that at this moment thereare available in this State alone 50,000 acres?
– Before any portion of the money is paid the Government will make full inquiry, and take into consideration everything which it is necessary to consider in the best interests of the country.
– Following up that question, I desire to ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council if it hasbeen brought under his notice that, according to a statement made by the head of the Government, in Victoria, 170 persons in that State are in possession of holdings averaging in value ,£105,000, with a total of £I7’853,675 ‘
– That does not alter the fact I have stated.
– My attention has been called to the statement, and, of course, every .opportunity will be taken to verify it before anything is done.
Despatching Officers : Eight-hour Principle.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence the following questions which I put to him the other day, and which he was then unable to answer -
– I have been furnished with the following answers -
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, the following questions which I put to him the other day, and which he was then unable to answer -
– The Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Brisbane, has furnished the following information -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The information will be supplied as soon as possible.
Influx of Chinese
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The following answers have been supplied to the honorable senator’s questions: -
– Is it not probable that many of these Chinese came overland from the Northern Territory to Queensland?
– I think it very improbable.
Letter Carriers and Sorters : Temporary Employes
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Melbourne, has furnished the following information as regards questions 1 to 4 : -
The answer to the last question is -
– Arising out of the Minister’s answer, I wish to ask him whether any temporary men have been appointed as sorters? The answer which he has read says that “ no temporary unqualified men “ have been applied for. But are temporary men being applied for?
– The question to which Senator Stewart alludes was whether it was a fact that some of the men. referred to have been sent back to letter-carrying this week, and that temporary unqualified men are being applied for to fill their places. The answer which I read was that three officers have been acting as sorters, and that no temporary unqualified men have been applied for in their places. I think that is definite enough.
– It is an evasion.
– I do not think that the answer to my fifth question was definite. I asked whether the Department had applied for and been refused additional sorters.
– I think that question was definitely answered. The reply was that the Treasurer has been asked to provide funds for six additional sorters. He has not refused up to date, or that fact would have been stated in reply.
– I have to lay upon the table, pursuant to Statute, the seventh annual report of the Auditor-General, together with the Treasurer’s statement of receipts and expenditure during the year 1907-8. This document was laid upon the table in the House of Representatives last night, and it was there ordered to be printed. Consequently, it is not necessary to make a similar order in the Senate. I may add that the document was not received by me until late last night, when it was impossible for honorable senators to use it.
– There is no complaint to make concerning your action, sir. I have no doubt that you have laid the report on the table at the earliest possible moment after receiving it. But in order that honorable senators might have been assisted in considering the Appropriation Bill, I think that the document should have been made available some daysago.
– The honorable senator is not in order in making a statement on that subject now.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Agricultural Areas and Land in Cities and Towns in each State.
Naval Defence of the Commonwealth of Australia - Report by the Director of the Naval Forces for the year 1907.
Ordered to be printed.
Report by Commissioner for Lands, Papua, dated14 November, 1908.
Audit Acts1901-1906 - Seventh annual report of the Auditor-General upon the Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure for the year ended 30 June, 1908, together with that Statement.
– I have to report the receipt of a message from the House of Representatives, acquainting the Senate that the House has agreed to amendments oneto six made by the Senate in the Manufactures Encouragement Bill. The message adds -
Whilst the House of Representatives is of opinion that the remaining amendments, Nos. 7 and 8, made by the Senate, strictly are in excess of the powers of the Senate, as declared by the President of the Senate on the 3rd October,1907, yet in view of the insignificant nature of the excess the House of Representatives has agreed to those amendments, but declares that the matter is not to be drawn into a precedent.
– May we ask you, sir, to express an opinion with regard to the message ?
– It is perfectly within the competency of the House of Representatives to send up such a message as it sees fit with regard to any Bill that we send down, so long as the message is couched in respectful terms. The reference in the message to a. ruling by the President of the Senate alludes to a ruling given by me from the chair in October, 1907, when a question arose as to the powers of the Senate.
– We are not called upon to take any notice of that message.
– We simply receive the message. We do not assent or dissent from the statements made in it.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent this Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
Bill read a first time.
That this Bill be now read a second time.
At this late period of the session it is not desirable that a long speech should be made in submitting this Bill for the consideration of the Senate. It has been for a long time suspected by members in both Houses of the Federal Parliament, and by citizens in every part of Australia, that evasions of the Immigration Restriction Act have taken place. It is with a view to still further prevent the influx of undesirable immigrants that it has been deemed necessary that this Bill should be introduced. Honorable senators are aware that up to the present time 39 stowaways have been discovered, 20 of whom were on board one vessel, the Eastern. But in the opinion of a great many people, those 39 are but a small proportion of the Chinese stowaways who have made their way into Australia. In a question asked by Senator Croft this morning, allusion was made to statistics, showing that in Western Australia alone, if the figures can be verified, over 400 persons who might rightly be deemed to be prohibited immigrants have come into Australia. As there are similar facilities for stowaways to enter other parts of the Commonwealth, we may form an idea of the numbers of these people who make their way into this country in an improper manner. The legislation already enacted by Parliament has been effective in many directions, but, after considerable experience, it has been found that evasions have occurred. Of course, if a prohibited immigrant is found on board a ship, and it can be proved he was brought here, the captain can be fined. But the punishment already specified is not deemed sufficient to deter shipmasters and others from conniving at the introduction of prohibited immigrants under the guise of stowaways. This Bill is a very short measure, amending the existing Act. It comprises three clauses. As in the case of many other pieces of legislation, the effective part is the last clause.
– There is not an effective provision in the Bill.
– It is considered by those who have some knowledge and experience of the subject that the Bill will be of great assistance in preventing the influx of Asiatic stowaways.
– Show us where the Bill will be effective?
– The Bill provides that not only the master, but likewise the owner, agent, and charterer of a vessel shall be jointly and severally responsible.
– When we find them out.
– What would Senator Guthrie do if we did not find them out ?
– We cannot punish a burglar until we find him out. This Bill is for the purpose of giving facilities for finding them out.
– Would Senator Guthrie hang a man before finding that he was guilty of murder?
– The honorable senator would probably hang the man before he committed the murder. But that is beside the question. If we consider the number of stowaways who have been discovered, particularly on the Eastern, we must admit that this amendment of the law is necessary. It must be acknowledged that a number of men could not be hidden in a vessel, and supplied with food and water for four weeks, without the connivance of some one on board. We must come to the conclusion that the officers or some one else on the vessel have been aware of the presence of these stowaways. Under the existing Act, the master of a vessel is liable to a certain penalty if stowaways, when they are landed, are found to be prohibited immigrants. But we require some more effective provision, and in this Bill the master, owner, agent, and even the charterer of die vessel are made equally responsible for the introduction of prohibited immigrants as stowaways. It has been quite an easy matter for a prohibited immigrant, having the means, to make an arrangement with a master of a vessel to cover all the risks he would run; but under this Bill all the persons connected with the vessel, to whom I have just referred, are made’ responsible, and could be punished if a stowaway were found on board. This, and the penalty provided, must lead to very much greater care on the part of all concerned to prevent the introduction of prohibited immigrants as stowaways. Very wild things have been suggested in this connexion. It has been said, for instance, that if a stowaway were discovered on a vessel, the master might be so cruel and unprincipled that, rather than run the risk of landing him, he would throw him overboard j would maroon him on some island, where he would very likely die for lack of food and water, or would fumigate his vessel in such a way that every living thing in the holds would be suffocated. ‘But honorable senators will see that under this Bill the master is given an opportunity to protect himself against the consequences of carrying stowaways ; because, if any are discovered, the master may relieve himself of liability to the heavypenalties imposed under the Bill if, when he gets into Australian waters, he communicates at once with the officer whose duty it is to prevent the landing of prohibited immigrants. Machinery is, of course, required to give effect to the provisions to which T have referred, and it is provided in this Bill in a very simple manner. Power is given to the Government officer to search and to detain a vessel, and penalties are to be imposed upon the master or any one connected with a ship who attempts the removal of the vessel without authority. The proposed new section 9D contains a definition of a stowaway. The provisions of this Bill, if adopted, will enable the policy of the Commonwealth in the restriction of undesirable immigrants to be carried .out more effectively than has been possible in the past. I admit that amendments might be suggested which would make the Bill even more effective than it is to prevent the traffic in stowaways, which it is clear has been carried on ; but I hope that no attempt will be made to overload it by the introduction of amendments which might endanger its passage through Parliament at this late stage of the session.
– I anticipate that this measure will have a smooth, and, I trust, a rapid, passage through the Senate. It is merely complementary to what is the accepted policy of the Commonwealth. We have, if I may use a simile, erected a fence around Australia for the purpose of keeping out undesirable aliens. It has been discovered that there are one or two gaps in the fence, and it is the purpose of this Bill to stop up those gaps. I have every reason to believe that undesirable immigrants are finding their way into Australia despite the existing law, and that being the case, I desire to do nothing more than express my entire approval of what is sought to be done by this Bill. Senator Guthrie, judging by an interjection which he made, appears to believe that its provisions are scarcely drastic enough. But I take it that the Customs authorities, who have had the administration of the existing law, must have gained experience, the result of which is presumably represented in this Bill. I suppose very few honorable senators are able to say exactly what provisions are required to give complete effect to the principles of the Alien Immigration Restriction Act, but those intrusted with its administration have decided that the provisions of this Bill offer a, guarantee of success sufficient to justify Parliament in passing it. If later on it is found that there are still one or two gaps in the fence, I have not the slightest doubt that whatever Government is in power, they will feel it incumbent upon them to submit a measure asking for further power. This Bill is intended to put an end to what I am afraid has developed into something like a traffic. I took the trouble to make inquiries from mercantile and shipping people, and I found they were not at all disposed to deny the existence of the traffic in stowaways.
– It is so evident that they could not deny it.
– I put it in that way because, although it might have been expected that shipping people having relations with the eastern trade would discount the statements made in this connexion, I found that on the contrary they led me to believe that a traffic of some magnitude does exist. That being the case, it seems to me desirable that we should pass thi:> measure at once rather than wait for the introduction of what might be a more effective measure next session. lt is possible that the proposed new section 9D will require some little attention in Committee, but, with that exception, I am prepared to assist in the passage of the Bill in its present form.
– I do not intend to oppose the passing of this Bill. Circumstances which, have recently occurred have made it imperative that the Government should give close attention to the question, and should seek to amend the existing law. Yesterday I stated that no less than four years ago L had received from what I believed to be an unimpeachable source information that a traffic in stowaways was going on, and that it was comparatively easy for Chinese and Japanese to find their way into this country. That information was communicated to the Department of External Affairs. Senator Guthrie said that the information was sent to the wrong Department, but the fact remains that official attention was called to the matter, and the statement made to me appears to have been confirmed by what has since been brought to light. We require some information from the Government as to the inquiries which were made after the disclosure of which I have referred. We ought to know whether any steps were taken by way of inquiries in Chinese ports to ascertain whether a traffic in stowaways was going on. That is where the business begins. The Vice-President of the Executive Council in replying to the debate on the second reading of this Bill, might say whether the Department has received any information on the subject from Chinese ports, and especially from Hong Kong, Kowlung, and Shanghai, which may be said to be the head-quarters of this traffic. There are conflicting statements on the subject, and some persons who are competent to pass an opinion say that we have no reason to be alarmed, in view of the supervision exercised in the Chinese ports and at this end. But it is peculiar that thirtysix stowaways should come here in a vessel under the extraordinary circumstances which have been mentioned, and that I should have been assured in more than one quarter in Queensland that an illicit traffic in stowaways has been going on, and that means are at the disposal of a certain class of persons in that State, if they desire to take advantage of them, to secure all the Asiatic or Chinese labour they require. I feel that we are being asked to pass this Bill with insufficient information, and I think that if it were not for the imminent danger of the traffic with which it is intended to deal,, the Senate would scarcely pass such a measure without further assurances. If the Government have not in the past made inquiries at Chinese ports, they must be blamed to some extent for the alleged failure or partial failure of the Immigration Restriction Act.
– I do not intend to oppose the second reading of this Bill.
– It would be singular if the honorable senator did.
– I do not know that it would, because I look upon the Bill as likely to be about as much use as a fly-blister on a wooden leg. The whole of its provisions are to be found in the Immigration Restriction Act. In that Act the words “ a person “ . are used, whereas in the present Bill the term “ a stowaway “ is employed, notwithstanding that a “ stowaway “ is a “ person.” In my opinion, the leakage which undoubtedly exists is. due to the fact that because the Customs Department derives no revenue from the discovery of stowaways it exercises practically no supervision in this direction. In regard to the importation of opium, the same remark is applicable. Because Parliament has imposed a-prohibition upon opium, the Department is indifferent as to whether or not that drug is introduced. Had a heavy duty been levied upon it, the Department would have taken up an entirely different attitude. I might further point out that under the Tariff a duty is imposed upon timber. But the Customs authorities declare that it is so small that it does not pay them to exercise supervision over the landing of timber cargoes, and consequently they accept the consignee’s statements regarding them. As a result. large discrepancies have been disclosed
– I do not believe a word of the honorable senator’s statement, and I will give him£5 if he can prove it.
– I believe that the Customs authorities will confirm my statement by instituting prosecutions at an early date.
– A mere clerical error, I suppose.
– It was merely a clerical error in South Australia which resulted in the Department being defrauded of£60,000. Had we imposed a poll tax upon every undesirable immigrant entering the Commonwealth, the Customs officers would have been very careful to collect it. But at present we practically hand over to them the policing ot 8,000 miles of our coast-line, notwithstanding that there is no revenue collected from undesirable aliens entering the Commonwealth. The Department of External Affairs has no officer under its direct supervision whom it can employ for the purpose of enforcing the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act. As a result, that duty devolves upon the Customs authorities, who virtually say, “ What is the use of our undertaking the administration of the Act when there is no revenue to be derived from it?”
– The officers of the Department have their duty to perform without regard to the collection of revenue.
– The duty levied upon timber is so small that not a single officer of the Department has been called upon to supervise the discharge of timber cargoes within the port of Melbourne. Consequently, the Department is utterly ignorant of the amount which ought to have been collected upon those cargoes.
– You are charging the Department with gross negligence. Its officers are paid for doing their duty.
– The Department will admit that it exercises no supervision over timber cargoes landed in Melbourne. Who are the jerquers of vessels who will have to police the provisions of this Bill? They have probably been trained as clerks in the Customs Department. They will go on board vessels to search them without possessing any more knowledge than the man in the moon of where stowaways are likely to be found.
– They gave us very close supervision when we were going to and returning from the Northern Territory.
– The work which will be undertaken by them should be per formed by officers who are familiar with the places in which stowaways are likely to conceal themselves. I do not think that, in operation, the Bill will prove effective.
– This Government, and every other Government, will be compelled to carry out the law. Whatever views we may entertain upon the subject of the exclusion of undesirable aliens, I think that we all desire to see the law effectively administered. At the same time, I am bound to express my regret that a measure dealing with interests so grave as those dealt with in this Bill should have been brought forward in the dying hours of the session. I contend that it ought not to have been submitted until the shipping companies, and all interested in the matter, had been afforded an opportunity of expressing their views upon it. Certain of its provisions I regard as very drastic. I am not quite sure that under existing legislation, the Government do not possess the power to proceed much further than they have hitherto done. Under the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901 they are empowered to frame regulations under which I apprehend they could have succeeded in remedying the evil which now appears to exist, though, to my mind, it is extremely probable that it has been grossly exaggerated. Senator McGregor stated that thirtynine stowaways had recently been discovered upon certain vessels. Canthe Minister inform me over how long a period those discoveries have extended? It is alleged that there has been an increase of 400 in the number of Chinese in Western Australia. But that statement has not been authenticated. Honorable senators must recognise that when we attempt to deal with shipping we are touching upon questions of international law. The great majority of the vessels which visit our ports are of British or foreign origin.
– Will the honorable senator allow me to state now that those discoveries were made within the last six months? I believe that since then our officers have caught another stowaway, making the number forty.
– Honorable senators win see that it is really a very serious matter for the Government to ask Parliament to enact that any officer may detain a vessel in any port. I thought that, perhaps, in the Customs Act the term “ any officer “ might be limited to an officer having written authority in connexion with his work ; but I find that it is not. In this Bill there is this wide provision, that any officer of the Customs may detain any vessel ; it may be a Peninsular and Oriental boat, or an Orient boat, or a vessel from China. Any one officer of the Customs who might be informed, rightly or wrongly, of the presence of a stowaway, might interfere with the movements of a mail boat. Is not that carrying things a little too far?
– That can be done under the Customs Act now.
– On being satisfied as to the need of doing so.
– No, without suspicion.
– What is the difference between smuggling opium and smuggling a Chinaman ?
– No ship would be detained on a voyage because she might have opium on board.
– Yes, even if she has a bit of tobacco on board, she can be stopped.
– The honorable senator is mistaken. A ship which is going from one port to another in the Commonwealth can be dealt with in any port, without being detained; but in this Bill the Government are taking power to detain a vessel, which I say is not reasonable. It may involve the Commonwealth in trouble with other countries. I am not at all sure that the British Government, or its representative, might not feel that the Bill is one which should be referred to the Colonial Office, before it can be dealt with finally.
– It seems to have been carefully drafted to prevent that reference.
– While I regret that the measure has been dealt with so hastily, and that the important interests concerned have no opportunity of being “heard, I do not see my way to resist the motion for the second reading.
– The situation is so serious that we are quite justified in dealing with a Bill of this kind, even in the eleventh hour of the session. I am not very familiar with the north-east coast of Australia, although I have been as far as Cape York; but I am sufficiently familiar with the north-west coast to know that the means of getting into the Commonwealth are so easy that we must amend the law if we desire to exclude undesirable Asiatics. Many of the people living at the small ports on the north-west coast, more particularly at Broome, are interested in the pearling industry. Having lived in India for a considerable number of years, and imbibed the opinions of men living in Oriental countries, they seem to entertain a supreme contempt for any white man who has to earn his living by means of heavy or laborious work. They think that the white man should be “ boss “ of the coloured man, and consequently they look upon Asiatic immigration quite differently from the average Australian. They own a very large fleet of vessels operating all over the pearling grounds, and I think that if they could assist an influx of Asiatics, they would not be at all backward in doing so. The feeling amongst these Anglo-Indians at Broome is so strong that they can scarcely tolerate a white working man. With that sentiment prevailing at the ports, where there is the greatest probability of Asiatics landing, we need a much stricter law than we have.
– A stricter law than even this Bill will be.
– Yes. I agree with a great deal of what the honorable senator said. When he and I were in Western Australia there was brought under the notice of the Navigation Commission at Fremantle an instance of the evasion of the law by the line of steamers plying between Fremantle and Singapore. The same ideas regarding Asiatics prevail at Fremantle as at Broome, as a large trade is carried on from each port with Singapore. The persons who are engaged in that trade do not see any harm in assisting the introduction of Asiatics. Unless we amend our law and see that it is administered strictly, we might as well have no law. I suggest to the Government that if an officer were placed on board an incoming foreign vessel at her first port of call on the north-west coast - Derby; or Broome - and kept on board until he was leaving her last port of call in Australia, he would have an opportunity to get familiar with everything which was going on. 1 think that it would be found to be a most effectual way of checking the Asiatics who are now coming in from Singapore.
– What does the honorable senator think of the proposal to give them a good fumigation on the vessel?
– That is an absolute necessity. A good rummage of the vessel is an admirable method ; but if what we hear as to the amount of stench and filth in which an Asiatic can live, be true, perhaps the strongest fumigation might not be found to be adequate. We are asked to believe that twenty of the Chinese who were attempted to be smuggled in the other day bv the Eastern had lived in a little hole for about ten days. How they were able to exist there I cannot explain.
– Does the honorable senator say that if the presence of a stowaway were suspected, we should fumigate the vessel for the purpose of finding out if the suspicion were wellfounded ?
– And destroy the cargo.
– First of all, I should rummage all the holds, and, after making a very careful search, fumigate the vessel.
– That suggestion is a disgrace.
Tha PRESIDENT. - Order. I. ask the honorable senator not to make an interjection of that character.
– No; it is not quite fair. Unless we have a much stricter law, -the Chinese cannot be controlle’d. Up to the present time it has apparently been the opinion of honorable senators on the other side that it has only been in the interests of coloured labour that this kind of legislation has been passed. But in Western Australia events have recently transpired which put a somewhat different complexion on the matter. Take the districts where the fire timber for the gold-fields is obtained. That industry is pretty much in the hands of a peculiar foreign element, and it is quite evident that many of them, although they are Europeans, are very undesirable persons to have in this country. Recently we had the greatest possible difficulty in getting them to comply with our industrial laws. They set every law at defiance.
– They were not Chinese ?
– No. But I think that time will prove them to be even more dangerous to us than Chinese. The employers and the Government had to appeal to the labour unions to help them tomaintain order and carry on the industries of the country. I mention that incident to show that it is not only the workers whowill benefit from the exclusion of undesirable people. If our ideals of civilization are to be maintained, we must be very careful as regards Europeans as well as Asiatics who wish to enter Australia. I feel quite sure that none of us desires to see a big importation of undesirable persons and a foreign colony established in Australia such as we have heard of in the UnitedStates, where a state of chaos andanarchy often prevails. In Western Australia we had a taste of this sort of thing recently, and therefore I contend it is time that we amended our Immigration Restriction Act in a radical way. I regard this measure as only atemporary one, but at this stage of the session we could not possibly deal comprehensively with this important question in all its aspects. I regard the present measure as one which is necessary, and it can, at any rate, be dealt with in the time at our disposal.
– The policy of this country beingto maintain a White Australia, and particularly to keep out undesirable immigrants, it is quite right and proper that the law on the subject should be improved and madeeffective. I believe that this Bill, if passed, will result in a scare. At the same time it will do no harm, and it will enable us tomore effectually enforce what we have been insisting upon. It gives power to detainships for one reason and another, and imposes severe penalties. It is necessary that some such provision as proposed new section od should be included. It is very difficult for Europeans to recognise one Chinaman from another, they are so much alike. The Customs officers are often extremely puzzled to know whether a particular Chinaman is identical with one who has been previously in the country or not. Chinamen on board ships mix with the crew, and it is extremely difficult for ships’ officers to know whether one of them is a stowaway or a member of the crew. Consequently, it would be unjust to make a captain responsible for every person aboard his ship. The stowaways who have come to Australia have been helped, not by the officers of ships, but by the crews. ‘ The Chinese help each other. Therefore, I think that the provision to which I have referred affords a safeguard enabling justice to be done, and the law to be carried out without injury to innocent persons.
– Could Chinamen be carried on board a ship without the petty officers knowing?
– It is quite possible. The stowaways could easily come out of their hiding places two or three at a time, and mix with the Chinese members of the crew, without being noticed. We know how ingenious sailors are in finding hiding places aboard ship. They help one Another. Some time ago some men were found in the air shoots of a vessel only 2 feet square.
– I shall support this Bill, and in doing so am simply following a course which I have pursued for many years past in connexion with such matters as the unauthorized immigration of coloured aliens. The suggestion of Senator Macfarlane that the Bill would not do any particular harm conveys also the contrary idea that it will not do much good. But I point out the attitude of the Senate towards the Bill. At the present time those who are accused of being the advocates of black labour in every shape and form are in attendance and keeping a House for the Government, whilst there is a beggarly array of empty benches opposite in the places usually occupied by those enthusiastic patriots who are always proclaiming that they are the fervent champions of white labour as against black. In no hostile sense, I direct the attention of the Government to the fact that the real question at issue is not going to be settled by means of this Bill. When I was last up in the north, I made inquiries amongst officers in connexion with the steamers trading with Manilla and Singapore. I learnt that up to about 1904 there was a constant stream of junks, feluccas, and other such vessels passing between the northern part of Australia, enst of Port Darwin, and the Malay Archipelago. In 1904, or thereabouts, consequent upon the attention directed to the danger by those supposed to desire the introduction of coloured labour to Queensland, the Government arranged that a certain amount of patrol work should be done with regard to such vessels. When I was in the Northern Territory last year, I found that, from the date mentioned, this constant intercourse between the Malay Archipelago and Australia had ceased to be directed to the cast of Port Darwin, and was now carried west of Port Darwin. An officer told me that only a few weeks before, coming across from Manilla, he saw quite a large number of these feluccas making for the north-west portion of Australia.
– It shows the need of an Australian navy.
– I am with the honorable senator to a greater extent than he is probably aware. Meanwhile, I point out that this Bill deals only with one very small and almost trifling source of leakage in reference to the unauthorized importation of coloured aliens.
– It is not trifling.
– I am not saying that it is not well to stop a small leak, but I believe the matter under consideration to be comparatively unimportant. I warn the Government that they must not sit down on their haunches, as Commonwealth Governments have done for years past, refusing to listen to those who have warned them, and saying that the importation of coloured aliens does not and cannot happen ; that the blacks in the north of Australia are so savage that they would keep out the Chinese, and all that sort of nonsense. The Government should remember that there is an immense danger of coloured aliens entering Australia at points where we imagine that they would not think for a single moment of coming in. I will give the Senate an interesting little bit of history affecting this subject. In the early part of 1904 the managers of a number of the sugar mills in Queensland were circularised by a firm which proposed to place at their disposal 5,000 Chinese coolies for the purpose of working in the mills. Certain conditions were stated, which I need not mention. I stated this fact in Townsville in 1904. Notwithstanding the Immigration Restriction Act, our other laws, and the temper of Australia, this firm actually offered to supply 5,000 Chinese coolies. Do honorable senators believe that a firm of financial standing would make such an offer unless it was satisfied that it could carry out any contract that it made?
– Was it a local firm?
– It was not a Brisbane or a Melbourne firm, but it was a firm in Australia. I do not know whether the firm was acting as agent for some one else, but the fact remains that this offer was made. It may surprise honorable senators opposite to learn that not one of the people connected with the sugar industry, although they are supposed to be ardent advocates of black labour, accepted the offer. They refused it point blank. If they had accepted it, this firm would either have had to produce the 5,000 Chinese coolies or would have been involved in heavy penalties sufficient to ruin it. I give this illustration to show that there is good ground for my belief that there is a mode of getting these Asiatics into Australia. I have not discovered what that mode is, but since 1904 nothing has been done to prevent Asiatics from coming in. A Bill of this sort deals with a paltry feature of the situation, but does not meet the whole case. We should adopt the measure, but I warn the Government that they must not sit down and think that they have settled the whole question. It is of no use saying to Australia, “We have passed a Bill to stop the Chinese influx,” when there is a serious danger of these people coming over in some way or other that we do not at present understand.
– We want a coastguard service.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Citation).
– I wish to allude to some remarks made by Senator Chataway in connexion with the administration of the legislation already in existence, and of this measure when it becomes an Act. I was requested to find out whether any steps have been taken to communicate with people in authority in Chinese ports, such as Hong Kong and Shanghai, with respect to immigrants intended for Australia. I do not know that anything of the kind has been done, but the Government will consider the hint that has been given by Senator Chataway, and no doubt if it is found advisable will act upon it.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
– I wanted to move an amendment on clause 3.
– I put the clause and declared it carried. I must be strict. I did not put the clause hastily.
Title agreed to.
– I move -
That clause 3 be reconsidered.
My object is to submit an amendment upon the clause.
– I hope the honorable senator will not persist with his motion. Every opportunity has been given for the consideration of the Bill, and it has been clearly stated that at this stage of the session it is unwise, and would serve no useful purpose, to load the Bill with amendments, which would involve its return to another place for further consideration there. It has been pointed out also that if the Department is to be given any advantage under the proposed legislation., the sooner the Bill becomes law the better.
– The first opportunity I had of seeing the Bill was when I entered the chamber this morning. The amendment B desire to move in clause 3 is not of great importance, but it would remedy an omission in the drafting of the measure. The proposed new section 9d makes a reference to a “bonâ fide passenger.” A bonâ fide passenger has not been defined, and might cover a person working his passage. I wish to introduce thewor ds “ whose name appears on the passenger list.” That would provide an absolute safeguard. The Customs officer might find on a ship halfadozen Chinamen whose names would not appear on the passenger list or on the articles as members of the crew, and the master might say that he was carrying them as a favour and that they were not passengers or members of the crew.
– The object of the Bill is to keep undesirable immigrants out of Australia, and so long as they are visible it. does not matter whether they are passengers or members of the crew, they can besubjected to the test provided fox in the Immigration Restriction Act.
– A bonâ fide passenger might be a person carried as a servant by any of the officers of the ship, or one who gave his labour in return for his passage. I ask the Committee to assist me to have clause 3 reconsidered, as my object is to make it effective and to make the duty of our officer absolutely clear. On going on board a vessel he would say, “ There are so many on your passenger list and so many on your crew list.” He would count them off and would find a surplus. What would they be - stowaways ?
– Yes; unless the master of a vessel gave notice that they were on board, and did not permit them to land until theofficer was satisfied that they were not prohibited immigrants.
– I was in Western Australia when a vessel arrived from Singapore with twelve stowaways on board. The master said they had been stowed away in the ship’s boats from Singapore to Fremantle. I examined the boats, and I found that they were as clean as if they had been newly painted.
– Under this Bill the men referred to would be deemed to be stowaways.
– No, the master might say that they were men who worked their passage.
– The honorable senator overlooks the fact that theix disclosure would bring them under the law.
– Not necessarily.
– It would if they were undesirable aliens.
– I am informed that many of the Asiatics who are being introduced at the present time are coached to pass an examination.
– But the test could be applied in any language.
– If the Act is properly administered. What would happen if these men were landed at Broome instead of at Fremantle. I have it on the authority of a shipmaster trading to Broome that he blew his whistle in that port for four hours before any official came on board. Honorable senators must see the opportunities which would be afforded to prohibited immigrants to get ashore in such circumstances. The administration of the law in remote ports is very lax. The Customs Department say that it does not pay to appoint an officer in some of those ports, and Senator Chataway was quite right when he said that, in order to carry out effectively the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act, we should require a coastguard service.
– Thehonorable senator should confine himself to reasons why clause 3 should be reconsidered.
– I am trying to give those reasons by showing that under the clause as it stands an opportunity is afforded for evasion. The Minister would be well advised in agreeing to the reconsideration of the clause.
– Senator Guthrie is under a misapprehension as to the effect of the proposed new section, 9d. All the persons on board a vessel are sufficiently classed under different headsv First there are those on the passenger list, next those on the articles, next those who are not on the passenger list and not on the articles, but who have been discovered by the master en route, or, it may be, have worked their passage, and in respect of whom the captain would be liable unless he handed a list of their names to the first officer he met.
– Yes, but there is no provision for a passenger list.
– In my opinion, if there were no reference to passengers in the proposed section it would not matter, since it is made abundantly clear that whew a vessel approaches Australia the master must tell the authorities what people are on board, and if they are disclosed by one list, or by three, the object of the provision is served. If, in addition to the number disclosed, any one was subsequently found on board the vessel, the master would be liable in respect to that person. That being so, I do not think that the amendment which the honorable senator suggests would have the slightest effect, and if agreed to. it would involve the return of the Bill to another place for further consideration. I should like to take advantage of this opportunity to correct an error into which Senator Guthrie and others have fallen, in the assertion that all the provisions of this Bill are incorporated in the Immigration Restriction Act. The proof that that is not so, is that under this Bill it would have been possible to fine the captain of the Eastern in respect to every one of the stowaways on board his vessel. As the law stands, the very fact that they were discovered by the authorities before they could effect a landing, secured the captain from any penalty. Honorable senators will see that if they had been landed without their presence on the vessel being known, no penalty would have attached to the captain, as under the present law a fine could not be imposed unless it was shown that a stowaway had effected a landing, and got away. Under this Bill the captain of a vessel would be liable in respect of any persons found on board whose names were not included in the list given to the authorities. That is not provided for under the existing law, and it is because the object of this Bill is to remedy what I think is an open invitation to unscrupulous captains to create an illicit traffic that I am glad it is being passed.
– Senator Millen has no idea of the tricks adopted in these cases. In the case of the Charon, which arrived in Fremantle with twelve stowaways, on an examination of the articles it was found that the whole of the signatures of the crew were in the same handwriting.
– Were they Chinese signatures ?
– No, they were written in splendid English round-hand.
– So long as the captain said that he had the men on board he might call them passengers or crew, and the purpose of the Bill would be effected.
– I do not think so. Any one who is acquainted with the smuggling tradeknows the dodges that can be resorted to to evade the law. If the master of a vessel finds that he is likely to get off scot free he will put men on any list and will land them. But if he is discovered he will put them on one list or another. If he puts them on the crew list he must take them away again, or he will be liable to a penalty of£100 under the Immigration Restriction Act. Honorable senators may say that it will not matter if the men are not landed. But the master might take the risk of discovery. If, for instance, the discovery had not been made in the case of the Eastern the twenty stowaways might have been landed.
– And there being no discovery there would be no penalty.
– Under this Bill, as soon as the presence of stowaways is discovered, the captain will put their names upon the ship’s articles.
– If the captain of a vessel, makes the discovery he is all right, but if it be made by a Commonwealth officer, the Bill renders’ the captain liable.
– I do not think so. What is the position under the Customs Act? In Sydney it is the practice to allow consignees to make declarations regarding the nature of their gonds when they desire to clear, before the actual arrival of these goods. If their invoices be passed without question they are all right. But if the Customs authorities in checking those invoices, discover a mistake, they are afforded a chance of remedying it. In exactly the same way, the master of a vessel under this Bill will have a chance of remedying the evil that he has been doing.
– That provision must be inserted in the measure in order to prevent him from being convicted of evil intent.
– No ship can leave the nearest Asiatic port for Australia without the master knowing whether or not he has stowaways on board.
– Surely they might creep aboard at night.
– But they are bound to be discovered.
– The object of the Bill is to compel the masters of vessels to know a little more than they do.
– To put them upon their guard.
– To put them upon their guard, and thus enable them to evade its provisions. I do not think that the measure is worth twopence.
– But we all think otherwise. The honorable senator is not the only wise man.
– I feel certain that the Bill will prove absolutely ineffective.
Question resolved in the negative.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
– I hope that the Department will instruct its officers that, in giving effect to the provisions of this measure, they are to exercise every care that no danger shall arise to a ship as the result of moving her cargo. In the absence of proper precautions in that connexion, it will be quite possible for officers, in their search for stowaways, to move the cargoes of vessels to such an extent as to render them unseaworthy.
– In reply to the remarks of Senator Pulsford, I desire to point out that in Australia we have had considerable experience of the employment of jerquers on ships. Whilst Western Australia remained a convict settlement, and, indeed, up till the period when she was granted constitutional government, no ship was permitted to leave that State until after it had been examined from keel to truck.
– Do not go into ancient history.
– It is not ancient history.
– Well, it is unpleasant history.
– The system of which I speak obtained until 1890. Up to that time no person was allowed to leave Western Australia without a permit. Under this Bill, it will be necessary for the Customs Department to secure the services of competent jerquers, in order to insure that cargo which has been removed in the search for stowaways may be replaced in such a way that the seaworthiness of a vessel shall not be endangered.
– I must thank honorable senators for the assistance which they have rendered the Government in passing this Bill so rapidly. In reply to the remarks of Senators Pulsford and Guthrie, I wish to say that every care will be exercised in the replacement of cargo, with a view to insuring the safety of vessels. It will be noted that under its provisions “officer” means an officer appointed under the Act, or a Customs House officer, or a police constable of a State.” It is manifest, therefore, that there will be no haphazard method of inspection adopted by reason of the employment of boys.
– What does a policeman know about a ship?
– If he does not know anything about ships he will be instructed by the Department as to the way in which he is to carry out his duties. I am sure that the officers appointed under this Bill will exercise every care to prevent unnecessary damage being done to vessels.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That Standing Order 2, amendment of paragraph (c) first occurring, be adopted.
My reason for asking honorable senators to deal with the report of the Standing Orders Committee at this juncture is that some amendments will have to be effected in our Standing Orders before the expiration of the present Parliament. The report has already been in the hands of honorable senators for a considerable time, and the altera tions which it recommends have been the subject of careful consideration by the Standing Orders Committee. Those alterations involve no matters of principle, and I think that the present occasion affords us a good opportunity to fill in time whilst we are waiting for the return of the Appropriation Bill from the other Chamber. If they are passed, the necessary alterations in our Standing Orders can be made during the recess, so that they may come into operation next session.
– Only a few minutes ago I agreed with the Minister that the present occasion afforded us a good opportunity to consider this report. But I was not aware that it covered such a large area and involved such important issues. To ask us to address ourselves at this late hour of the session to the alterations which are proposed in our Standing Orders - particularly in the light of the revolutionary proposals of Senator Stewart - is, I think, asking too much.
– Many of the alterations are rendered necessary by the amendment of the Constitution.
– I call the proposals of Senator Stewart revolutionary, in view of the fact that with a specious selfsacrifice which is very rare in the annals of parliamentary government, he seeks to curtail his own right to speak.
– That is exactlv what I do not wish to do.
– Then I am afraid rhat the honorable senator must not look to me to support his proposal. I am sure that the Minister of Defence will recognise that no subject ought to demand closer consideration at our hands than ought our Standing Orders. I have not looked closely into the proposals which are now before us-
– We have a Standing Orders Committee which has given this matter careful attention, and upon which all parties in the Senate are represented.
– I am expressing the view that it is undesirable that, with only half -an-hour at our disposal, we should be asked to proceed to review our Standing Orders.
– We may have a couple of hours at our disposal.
– May I remind the Minister that last night we worked a little bit of overtime, and that even if we have half-an-hour to spare, it is not necessarv to spend it in this chamber? I am merely suggesting that the consideration of this matter might be allowed to stand over until next session, when we shall have more time at our disposal than we can possibly have to-day.
Senator Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [12.31]. - Senator Millen has raised some objection to Senator Stewart’s proposals for curtailing the right of speech as a reason why we should not proceed with the consideration of the report from the Standing Orders Committee; but I point out to honorable senators that that proposal cannot be brought forward during the present discussion. His notice of motion was that, contingent on the Order of the Day being read for the consideration in Committee of the first report of the Standing Orders Committee, he would move -
That it be an instruction to the Committee to consider the following alterations -
The -Senate is no.v in Committee of the Whole for the purpose of considering the amendments and additions, which have been recommended, and, therefore, Senator Stewart cannot now submit his proposals. He has lost his opportunity to do so.
– When did I have the opportunity?
– When the Order of the Day was called on.
– Why should I not have been informed of that?
– I cannot say.
– The thing was smuggled through in such a fashion that T had no opportunity. I could not hear what the honorable gentleman was saving.
– The honorable senator feels aggrieved with regard to the position which has arisen.
– I should have been informed.
– I have no feeling regarding the honorable senator, or any other honorable senator.
– - I should have been informed, instead of the thing being smuggled through in this fashion.
– If the honorable senator had asked the Clerk or myself as to what he could do, he would have been informed.
– I did not know that this business was coming on.
– That was not the fault of the President. The
Senate decided to postpone an Order of the Day in order to create an opportunity for this business to be taken.
– Surely I can obtain leave now to submit my proposals to the Committee ?
– Apart from the important proposals of Senator Stewart, which I admit at once are worthy of the fullest possible consideration, as indeed is any proposal which would tend to conserve the time of the Senate, the amendments recommended in the Standing Orders are consequent on the Constitution Alteration (Senate Elections) Act, under which the regular term of a senator is to begin from the 1st July instead of from the 1st January. A large number of our standing orders were made strictly applicable to a regular term starting from the latter date, that is, standing orders with regard to the election of officers arid the taking and subscribing of oaths by newly elected senators. Owing to the alteration of the Constitution, it has become necessary to alter those rules. I am quite prepared to go on with the consideration of this business, but, of course, that is a matter entirely in the hands of the Committee. I know that the Minister desires to proceed, and it is advisable that the proposals should be dealt with as early as possible.
– I agree with Senator Millen that this is a very inopportune time to bring forward a matter of this importance. Besides, I have to complain that I was given no intimation of the intention to bring it forward.
– That is the honorable senator’s own fault.
– No; I was given no opportunity of knowing the proper time to submit my contingent motion. I could not hear the Minister of Defence. He always speaks in a low tone of voice ; he seems to be afraid that people may know what bA is talking about. I did not know what he was saying.
– Was not the honorable senator informed that this business was to be called on?
- Senator de Largie told me about five minutes ago that it might come on, but the moment the Minister resumed his seat, Senator Millen jumped up to object, and, even if I had been apprised in time, I had not an opportunity to submit my .motion. However, I presume that with the leave of the Committee, I can submit my proposals now.
Senator Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [12.36]. - If I may be permitted to intervene for a moment, I, as chairman of the Standing Orders Committee, promise Senator Stewart that his proposals will be brought up for consideration when it .meets in the ensuing session. I think that that is all that he can desire.
– The Senate could not do more now than refer his proposals to the Standing Orders Committee, but I admit at once that, in formally moving his proposal, he would have had an opportunity of stating his reasons and urging that the Senate should agree to his motion. I assure him that his proposals will be brought before the Standing Orders Committee and fully considered next session.
– That will not suit me at all. I want to know where I am. I dp not wish to be juggled out of my rights. I asked the Clerk Assistant when would be the proper time for me to submit my,_motion, and his information to me was that as the amendment I proposed related to standing order 393, an opportunity would arise when it came to be considered.
– I think that I can suggest to Senator Stewart a way out of the difficulty. He will observe that the Standing Orders Committee have recommended a new standing order in lieu of standing order 393. Inasmuch as his proposals relate to an amendment of that standing order I think that he could submit them as an amendment to the recommendation of the Committee. It will be seen that it deals with the question of the length of a speech, because it reads -
A senator may, by leave, continue his speech on a subsequent clay, and if such leave be granted the debate shall thereby stand adjourned.
It would be competent for the honorable senator to ask the Committee to add to that rule a proviso in the terms of which he has given notice. But I do not think that he has any right to claim that the discussion on his contingent notice should take priority of the discussion on the report of the Standing Orders Committee.
– For two reasons I again urge the Minister of Defence to agree to postpone the consideration of this business. First of all, it is quite obvious that at twenty minutes to one o’clock, if we are to discuss the ‘ recommendations of the Standing Orders Committee and the proposals of Senator Stewart, we are not likely tomake any progress worth speaking of. The second point is that Senator Stewart hasinadvertently missed the opportunity provided by the Standing Orders to bring his contingent notice under review.
– We should be in exactly the same position next session.
– No. Instead of adopting the mild subterfuge of the Minister to bring Senator Stewart’s contingent notice under consideration now we can pursue the proper course. We can report progress, and when , the Order of the Davis called on again Senator Stewart, warned by what has happened, will no doubt move his contingent notice.
– I am not so much? concerned ‘with his contingent notice as with getting the report of the Standing Orders Committee dealt with so that the Standing Orders can be printed during the recess.
– I am more concerned with seeing that the Standing Ordersare properly reviewed than with dealing with that report to-day. I do not know how other honorable senators feel, but looking at these proposals for the first time to-day, I do not feel competent to say whether or not I can approve of them. For that reason I again urge the postponementof this business.
Senator Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [12.42]. - I agree with the Minister of Defence as to the desirability of getting the recommendations of the Standing Orders Committee dealt with to-day if possible. At the same time I realize that we have to consider the wishes of honorable senators on the subject. Personally, if the Minister has no objection, I am willing that this business should be allowed to stand over until next session. In regard to the suggestion he made just now I do not thm1that the proposals of Senator Stewart could be regarded as being strictly relevant to the proposals submitted by the Standing Orders Committee. Again, if we reported progress, and the Order of the Day were called on again, a difficulty would arise, because any instruction to a Committee must be given on the first occasion when the’ Order of the Day is called.
– Is the honorable senator quite clear that it is not possible to give a direction to a Committee which has already commenced its work?
– The rule is that any instruction must be given beforehand. If, however, the consideration of this business be postponed until next session, Senator Stewart can give fresh notice of the contingent motion, and when the business is called on he can bring forward his proposals, and everything will be done regularly. I am quite agreeable to that course being taken, although, of course, I should prefer the report of the Standing Orders Committee to be dealt with to-day. Certainly it must be dealt with during the»coming session, otherwise we shall’ find ourselves in a difficulty when the Senate meets after the next general election. The matter would then have to be determined by the ruling of the President.
– I am informed that a message is about to be transmitted to us by another place. In the circumstances it would be as well to report progress.
Sitting suspended from 12.46 to 2.15.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with a message.
That the message be taken into consideration forthwith.
In Committee :
Senate’s Request. - Department of External Affairs, Div. II., “That the item, Secretary, £900, be reduced by£100.”
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amendment not made.
– I move -
That the request be not pressed.
In submitting this motion, I should like to say that Senator Henderson and other honorable senators were in error yesterday when they said that the Secretary to the External Affairs Department had received an increment of salary since his appointment to his present position. I am informed that he has received no increment, and I am at a loss to understand how honorable senators could have been led into the error to which I have referred. With respect to the statements which were made regarding the entrance of Asiatic aliens into the northern portion of Queensland, we have reports from the police authorities of those districts dealing with the subject, and extracts from a memorandum referring to an interview with the officer in question when he was in London. At a convenient opportunity I shall ask my honorable colleague to read these reports. We have had a fight upon this question in the Senate, and sent a request to another place. They have not considered it advisable to comply with our request, and, seeing that increases to other officers holding similar positions were granted by the Senate, I suggest that we should be acting a generous part if we agreed now to put the Secretary of the External Affairs Department on the same plane as those other officers.
– At the request of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, I shall read the documents to which he has referred. First of all, as regards the interview reported in the Pall
Mall Gazette, this memorandum has been supplied -
Though frequently interviewed in London by persons desirous of exploiting the Northern Territory, I invariably said that if their plans involved the introduction of coloured labour, I was sure that Parliament would never sanction such a step. I had the figures regarding the Queensland sugar industry with me, and repeatedly showed them in illustration of the contention that white men could do field work in the tropics.
Regarding the statement made as to the introduction of Chinese into the northern portions of Australia, Mr. Atlee Hunt says -
An inquiry made by the Queensland police this year shows a very substantial diminution in the number of Chinese in that State, about 26 per cent, since1901.
Attached to this document are the following reports from the Commissioner of Police in Queensland -
Office of Commissioner of Police,
Brisbane, 14th October, 1905.
Adverting to your letter dated the 14th August last in which you forward copy of a communication received from the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, asking for particulars concerning the alleged illegal entrance of Chinese into this State, and requesting that careful inquiry be made as to the number and whereabouts of these persons, I have the honour to inform you that careful inquiries have been made at all the northern ports, with the result that, so far, no trace can be found of any such arrivals.
My officers report that no Chinese surreptitiously arrive by oversea or coastal boats. The oversea boats mostly lie off the ports, and it is highly improbable that any Chinese passen- gers or crew could land therefrom without the knowledge of the police or local Customs authorities.
Inquiries are being made at stations on the north-west boundary of the State as to the entrance of Chinese from the Northern Territory of South Australia, the result of which will be duly communicated to you when to hand.
Commissioner of Police.
Chief Secretary’s Department.
There is this further letter from the office of the Commissioner of Police, Brisbane, dated 8th February, 1906 -
In continuation of my letter of the 14th October last, referring to a communication received from the right honorable the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth on the subject of alleged illegal introduction of Chinese into this State, I have the honour to enclose a copy of a report from the Inspector of Police. Normanton, advising that no Chinese or aliens have entered the State in the Turn-off Lagoon District.
A similarly negative report has also been received from the police at Campooweal ; and it may, therefore, be stated in regard to the concluding paragraph of my previous communication that no Chinese, so far as the police are aware, or can ascertain, have entered Queensland from the Northern Territory of South Australia.
Commissioner of Police.
Chief Secretary’s Department.
– Nothing I have heard in the brief proceedings to-day has in any way altered the opinion which guided me in the vote I recorded yesterday, or my views as to the merits of that vote. At the same time, one is confronted by the circumstances which surround us at the present moment. We are now seeking to bring the session to a close, and honorable senators must see that if this difference of opinion between the two Chambers is continued, it is highly probable that the session will not terminate this week.
– That would not matter.
– Probably not to the honorable senator, who, I know, would be just as much convenienced if the session terminated on Tuesday as if it terminated to-day. This would not influence me in the slightest degree if any matter of principle were at stake.
– The honorable senator is not going to back down?
– But it cannot be contended that any political principle is involved in thismatter. It is merely a dis puted opinion as to whether a certain officershould be paid£800 or£900 a year, and I am not prepared to continue a dispute with another place, which, viewed in that light, is not a serious matter.
– No dispute has started yet.
– If Senator Givens cavils at the word “ dispute” I shall call it a difference of opinion, and, in view of the fact that there is a general desire to close the session, I am not prepared to press that difference of opinion any further. Those who oppose the proposed increase of salary to the Secretary of the External Affairs Department stated that they were not satisfied with the method by whichwe were asked to proceed. A general opinion was expressed that some more satisfactory method of determining the emoluments to be paid to individual officers should be devised, and the debate which has taken place will not be wasted if those charged with the responsibility of considering these matters try to lay down a plan by which in future salaries will be fixed not as the result of accidental votes in Parliament, or Ministerial predilection, but upon, business-like lines, and after due consideration of the services each officer is expected to render to the Commonwealth. In the circumstances, I propose to support themotion submitted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– The attitude assumed by the leader of the Opposition appears to me to be extraordinary. Either the vote which the honorable senator gave yesterday was right and should be persisted in, or it was wrong. The honorable senator has given us no reason to believe that he considered yesterday, or even to-day, that the vote he gave was wrong. I fail, therefore, to see why heshould now propose to do the crab action, and slide away backwards from the opinion which he emphasized by his vote yesterday.
SenatorFraser. - Surely it is right to compromise in these matters?
– But why should the Senate always be asked to compromise? Why were not honorable members of another place button-holed and pressed to accede to the wishes of the Senate, as honorable senators have been button-holed and pressed to accede to the wishes of honorable members in another place?
– Can the honorable senator name any member of the Senate who.was button-holed on this question?
– I could name a dozen.
– The honorable senator should name them.
– I do not wish to do so, and it is a matter for myself to decide. For various reasons honorable senators were asked to let the thing go now.
– I was not.
– I was not.
– I was not.
– So far as honorable senators opposite are concerned it is probable that it was thought sufficient to have a quiet chat with the leader of the Opposition, and that out of loyalty they would be guided by any action he might take. I certainly do not intend to eat the leek in this matter. I hold the same opinion today that I held yesterday, and I propose to give effect to it. I ask why honorable senators who are now in such a violent hurry to run away from the action which they took yesterday, did not exert their influence to induce another place to cave in ? The whole system under which these increases are proposed is, as Senator Millen has admitted, absolutely wrong. I emphasized that view yesterday, and pointed out that while it might be desirable to have these officers under the direct control of the Ministers responsible for the various Departments, there should be no difficulty whatever in the way or getting the Public Service Commissioner to grade them and fix their salaries. When we have Ministers responsible for bringing down increases of salaries, we find that whether an officer really deserves an increase or not, if one Minister proposes an increase for the secretary of his Department, every other Minister, with a view to standing well with his chief officer, tries to get an increase of salary for him also. That is entirely subversive of the interests of the taxpayer, many of whom have to endure great hardships, and to submit to heavy taxation in order that these handsome emoluments may be paid to public officers. Whilst we have this cool proposal to grant an increase of £100 a year to a gentleman who is already receiving ,£800 a year, every Government of the Commonwealth, so far, has displayed no alacrity whatever to increase the emoluments of the. poorly paid civil servants. It has been said that that is entirely beyond the control of Ministers, and is a matter for the Public Service Commissioner. But in the various Departments temporary hands are frequently employed. I have in my mind a case in which applications have been invited for a temporary hand to fill the responsible position of storeman in a Customs Bond, and in which- notwithstanding that the standard wage paid foi ordinary labourers in that particular district, as is evidenced by the amount that is paid by the municipal authorities and by the Harbor Board, is 9s. per day - the Department are offering only 7s. per day. Yet we can afford to grant increases of £100 to officials who are already highly paid. I do not think that we should be continually “greasing the fat pig.” If any officers in the service are deserving of generous treatment, it is those unfortunates who are temporarily employed by the Departments, and who are in receipt of only 7s. per day. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has asked us to be generous on this occasion. But he has asked us to be generous, not at our own expense, but at the expense of the general taxpayer, and that is a very cheap sort of generosity. The officer whose salary is now under consideration has been in receipt of £800 for several years, and I believe that in the early days of Federation he had quite as much to do as he has now. Eight hundred pounds is a very handsome salary, and that is the net amount which he receives. If he has to incur any expenditure in the discharge of his duties that expenditure is defrayed by the Commonwealth. Yet this Chamber has, apparently, so little regard to its own dignity that it is prepared to back down and eat the leek upon every occasion.
– It is not correct to say that.
– Then I will say upon “nearly every occasion.”
– Why, in connexion with the Tariff, the Senate was granted its own way in dozens of instances.
– Why should we always do the submitting act?
– This is a period of peace and good will.
– And evidently we must purchase that peace by voting an increase of .£100 to an officer who is already well paid for his services, whilst ignoring the claims of other officers who are being sweated at 7s. per day, notwithstanding that the standard rate of wages in the district in which they are employed is 9s. per day. I enter my emphatic protest against the proposal which is under con- sideration, and intend to divide the Committee upon it.
– I have no desire to impute motives to any honorable senator, but the vote which I recorded yesterday was given after due reflection, and I see no reason whatever for changing it. When I am convinced that I am acting wrongly, I shall foe prepared to retrace my steps, but not before. I have been asked whether I cannot see my way to alter my vote of yesterday, in view of the fact that other departmental heads have been granted increases of salary, whilst the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs has not. Now we have either to acknowledge that we did wrong-
– Oh, no.
– We have either to acknowledge that we did wrong - that our vote was one which we should not have recorded - or to admit that we were biased, and to reverse our former decision. Personally, I do not propose to do either.
– There is a good deal in what Senator Millen has stated. The present is a very trying time. Yesterday we took a division upon this question, and, by an overwhelming majority, arrived at a certain decision. Now, simply because we’ desire to close the session, and to get away to our homes, we are asked to back down at the bidding of another place. I refuse to do so. We have certain privileges which we must maintain. The dignity of the Senate and its almost unanimous decision should receive some consideration at the hands of members of the other Chamber. I shall be one to vindicate, by my vote, the conclusion at which a large majority of the Committee arrived yesterday.
– I trust that we shall get to a division as speedily as possible. I am not going to back down upon this question at the dictation of another place, but because of what I regard as the unscrupulous voting of this Chamber.
– That statement is not fair.
– Then I will say that I intend to reverse my vote on account of the unfair decisions which were yesterday arrived at by the Senate.
– The honorable senator has no right to say that.
– I have merely stated what I believe to be a fact.
– But the honorable senator must not reflect upon a decision of this Committee.
– Then I will sav that they were wise decisions.
– The honorable senator himself submitted the motion to reduce the salary of the Secretary of the Department by£100.
– I was quite willing to vote to reduce the salaries of all the departmental heads by £100. But when the Committee decided to sacrifice only one officer, and to hold all the departmental heads up as emblems of merit,I felt compelled to reconsider my decision. It was only yesterday that it was discovered that the heads of other Departments are worth so much more than is the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs. I decline to subscribe to that dictum, and for that reason I intend to support the proposed increase.
– I, too, shall support the proposal that this request be not pressed. I do not regard my action as a back-down at the dictation of another place. If we did not sometimes adopt the course which I propose to take, it would simply mean that the Senate would be supreme on all occasions.
– The position which the honorable senator asserts, is that the Senate should always back down.
– There are two questions involved in this proposal - that of expediency and that of doing a simple act of justice to the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs, in view of the increases which have been granted to other departmental heads. I have heard a variety of reasons urged against the granting of this increase to Mr. Atlee Hunt, but I have yet to learn why he should be singled out fox persecution.
Honorable Senators. - Persecution !
– Say, for “ different treatment.”
– I do not think that there is anything wrong in the use of the term “ persecution,” seeing that all the other departmental heads have had their salaries increased. Certainly, a most invidious distinction has been made so far as the Secretary of this Department is concerned. I have had a little experience of that officer, and although it has been contended that his manner is rather brusque, I do not think that that should be regarded as a shortcoming.
– Who said that?
– Even some honorable senators pride themselves upon their brusqueness.
– But who urged that that characteristic should be regarded as a disability in the case of Mr. Atlee Hunt?
– I have heard the statement made in this Chamber. It sometimes happens that members of Parliament ring this officer up on the telephone, and receive perhaps a short or off-handed answer. But we must not forget that in speaking over the telephone we ourselves are not always able to suppress our own feelings any more than is Mr. Atlee Hunt. As regards the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act, I have come in personal contact with Mr. Hunt. When it was a question of dealing with a Chinaman who had got into Western Australia under false pretences, he administered the law with a rigidity which reflected credit upon him. When an endeavour was made to twist the Act there, this officer, who has been described here in various ways, for instance as a person who is not filling the office competently, stood rigidly by the law, and visited the Chinaman with the punishment he deserved. I hold that on this occasion the Senate is not asked to back down.
– The honorable senator is not asked to back down.
– I am just as ready as is Senator Givens to uphold what I consider to be the reasonable dignity of the Senate. But, in doing so, I am not prepared to go to an extreme length.
– The honorable senator is about to vote as he did previously, so that there will be no backing down on his part.
– I am striving lo address myself to the main reason which has been urged for opposing the motion, namely, that if it is negatived we shall not back down, and in that way, of course, we shall conserve the dignity of the Senate. If there is no sweet reasonableness shown at times, the Houses will be at perpetual war or the Senate will be supreme. What will be the result? The members of the other House will suddenly discover that they have some backbone and some dignity to conserve. If that condition of things were allowed to come about, it would lead to nothing but chaos. I do not intend to provoke a position of that kind, especially in view of the fact that in dealing with the Tariff the Senate was allowed to have very much of its own way. Whilst I recognise a desire on the part of the other House to extend that degree of reasonable consideration to the Senate which is its due, I do not intend, because a requested amendment is not made, to retaliate by saying that the latter must be supreme.
– When this matter was before the Committee yesterday, I gave certain reasons why I intended to vote in favour of maintaining the salary of this officer at £8oo instead of raising it to .£900. Nothing that has been said since has convinced me that those reasons were not perfectly sound. I based my decision, as well as my speech, on clear grounds. I did not discuss the question of whether other officers were worth a salary of ^900 or not. I discussed certain action taken by Mr. Atlee Hunt, and asked whether it was. such that we should show our approval of it by increasing his salary, or show our distaste for it by leaving the salary at the old figure. The Minister of Defence has read to us extracts from a statement by this officer, which purports - -and I use that word in its real sense - to be a reply to what I said last night. The extracts are an absolute admission of the truth of what I said in connexion with the interviewing of this officer in London. The VicePresident of the Executive Council appealed’ to us to pass the increased salary becausethe officer knew how to hold his tongue. I pointed out that I had evidence - which is now practically admitted to be true - to show that he did not.
– Did the honorablesenator quote the utterances of this official’ in London ?
– I did, and if the honorable senator had been here, instead of being asleep, or out of the chamber, he would have known that.
– I put in more time in the chamber than did the honorable senator.
– He was here, and he was not asleep.
– Then it is a marvel that he did not hear me reading, the extracts, which will be found in Hansard.
– The honorable senator does not expect us to stop here to listen to all the drivel which is talked.
– The honorable senator now admits that he did not stay here last night. If he had been here, he would have known what I said. Among the extracts I read was one from the Pall Mall Gazette of London, and this was the particular matter on which I laid stress. In reference to the policy of the Commonwealth Government, as to Northern Australia, especially the Northern Territory, Mr. Atlee Hunt was asked, “ Will not tropical agriculture be encouraged?” and he replied, “ No.”
– If he said that, it was not true.
– I am only quoting his reply to the question. He said -
No. That would mean something akin to slave labour, impossible to admit amongst a people who hope to build up a free white nation.
– What is wrong with that?
– Is Senator Best, who was a member of a Government which offered bounties for the production of tropical fruits by white labour, going to say now that tropical agriculture can only be carried on with slave labour?
– No, I say nothing of the kind. The policy is to discourage tropical agriculture by black labour.
– There is no reply to that clear definite statement. What does it amount to? This officer told the people that tropical agriculture would mean slave labour, which could not be allowed.
– What is wrong with that statement?
– That part is true, I have not the slightest doubt. But the other part - that the Commonwealth will not encourage tropical agriculture, because it means slave labour - is not true. This is a matter of vital importance. It involves a question of policy regarding, not only Queensland, but the whole of tropical Australia. It plays right into the hands of the Immigration Bureau in London, or the Imperial Government Bureau - which - ought to be ashamed of itself - which said that white men could not go to the north of Australia, and live there. Whether Mr. Hunt did it on purpose, or whether he did it by mistake, he put for ward a statement which plays right into the hands of people at Home, and which is bound to seriously interrupt and prevent the introduction of permanent white settlers in the north.
– Is that the sole reason why the honorable senator voted against giving Mr. Hunt an increase of £100?
– If . half that reason were true, it would be ample for ma.
– It was an ample reason for discharging him from his position.
– I could not discharge the officer, but I could vote to prevent his salary being increased, and that was my method of lodging a protest against what he had done. As regards whether certain policemen knew that some Chinamen did or did not enter the far northern ports, all those matters are beside the question at issue. It is admitted by the Government that the question of the authorized inspection of coloured aliens is still receiving their attention, and is still a subject of inquiry.
– It has taken place principally at the capitals.
– I can only repeat in a few words what I said last night at greater length. When the matter was brought before the Department previously, Mr. Hunt assured others, and also assured me, that I was barking up the wrong tree, and was not correct, as such things had not been done. But two years afterwards, when that point is put before the Chamber, we find that while he denied it to a member of Parliament, who went to his office in an official capacity, he now puts forward a statement to the effect that some policeman in Queensland says that it is not true. It may be another case of Mr. Samuel Mauger and his sergeant.
– I propose to reverse my vote. Although I did not speak on this Question yesterday, I desire to explain why I voted then in one way and propose to vote to-day in another direction. Whenever an Appropriation Bill had been submitted, Senator Stewart or Senator Givens has been ever ready, if not to decrease a salary, to prevent any officer from securing an increase. I have always declared here that I would oppose any attempt to decrease the remuneration of any officer. I have also stated that I would oppose any unwarrantable increase in the salaries of highly paid officers. Here was a ca&c of an officer against whom certain charges were whispered, and for the first time today we get them openly made bv Senator Chataway. It was proposed that the officer should receive an increase of £100. I know nothing of his duties. I have met him twice, and then only for a few minutes, during four years. To me he was most courteous, and what he was asked to do, he did. I voted against his salary being increased on the principle that I knew nothing of his position. I had no warrant to say that he deserved an increase of £100. Next came an increase for the Parliamentary Draftsman. The efficient way in which he does his work is obvious to any honorable senator, and so I voted for an increase to him. Then came the case of the Secretary to the Home Affairs Department. Who does not know the extra work which he was called upon to perform last year, and which he will be called upon to oerform for some years to come ? Perhaps he may be relieved when the Federation is working more smoothly. But certainly in thu early years of the Union, this Department needed at its head a man who was capable of performing a vast amount of very important work. I voted for an increase to him. Our request to reduce the salary of Mr. Hunt was sent to the other House. The Minister under whom that officer serves is a member of that Chamber. Obviously, its members come more in touch with the External Affairs Department, and with Mr. Hunt, than we do. In the other House, I have a number of colleagues who are as anxious for economical and proper administration as I am. With a better knowledge of this matter than I have, they decided that the request of the Senate should not be entertained. I am prepared to be guided by their better knowledge.
– Why should they know more than we do?
– I am prepared to trust my colleagues in the other House, and when I cannot trust them in judging the worth of Mr. Hunt, I cannot trust them in dealing with the policy in which they and I believe.
– Evidently they do not trust the honorable senator.
– The honorable senator must remember that we have been up all night keeping a quorum, not against the Opposition, but against some of my colleagues who have been fighting so hard against the Government which they are supposed to be supporting. The Government obviously have a duty to perform.
– Is it their duty to rush the “ Estimates through in a couple of hours ?
– The honorable senator knows that he “stone-walled” last night outrageously.
– The honorable senator is entirely wrong.
– It is my opinion that the honorable senator did.
– It was our business to discuss the Estimates. The way in which they were rushed through was disgraceful.
– An unreasonable amount of time was occupied on itemswhich were utterly unimportant.
– The honorable senator does not know what he is talking about.
– Who is “stonewalling” now?
– I am not “ stonewalling” ; I am simply explaining. The honorable senator, however, is himself not far behind when there is any “stonewalling” t6 be done, especially against the Labour Government. I have sufficiently stated my reasons for changing ray vote. I commenced to vote against increases because I thought that I had warrant for doing so. But in view of the fact that the other House has thought fit not to accede to our request, and that the reductions proposed” in the other salaries were riot agreed to. I shall reverse my vote.
.. - I shall vote with the Government, but do not in any way retract the views which I expressed yesterday with regard to the principle that every departmental head should not be placed upon the same basis in respect to salary paid.
– I shall repeat the vote which I gave last night. I shall do so without imputing motives or weak or false reasons to any other honorable senator who may choose to reverse his vote. We are all entitled to act on second thoughts. But it has been made abundantly clear by what was said yesterday and again to-day, that there has been great weakness in the administration of the Department of External Affairs, in reference to a question which is of vital importance to Australia. It is evident from the criticism that has been di- rected at the Government from their present supporters, that there had been laxity in administration. The Department of External Affairs was warned in the strongest way that, notwithstanding the efforts professed to be made to keep out alien immigrants, they were entering Australia. That warning was disregarded. The information that I received with regard to the influx of Chinese was explained in detail. It should have been evident to the Department that a stringent scrutiny was necessary. But nothing was done. The Department neglected its duty. The ex-Prime Minister, who was in charge of the Department, could not be expected to attend to all the details personally. It was the duty of the Secretary to bring the facts under the notice of his chief. Yet I find that on a vital point the Secretary neglected the strongest warnings as though they were not more substantial than the breath in which they were uttered. In view of the quarter from which the warnings came it was the duty of this official to give them ‘grave consideration. If he did not see fit to take action on his own account, he should have informed the Prime Minister that he had weighed the reasons and considered that there was nothing substantial in the allegations. If the Prime Minister had stated to Parliament that he was of opinion that the statements had no basis, we might have exonerated the Secretary. But nothing of the kind was done. There has recently been strong corroboration of the assertions made by some of us two years ago. The laxity in the administration of the Department on a vital matter of policy is evident ; and, holding this view, I shall persist in my vote for the reduction of the Secretary’s salary.
– I trust that I may be permitted to say a word or two with regard to the question under consideration, without being charged with “stone-walling,” because the business is under the control of a Labour Government. I am under the impression that I was sent to the Senate to express what I believed to be the opinions of those who elected me. Whether I sit behind a Labour Government or a Conservative Government, or any other Government. I shall not sit like a dumb dog at the instigation of others, who choose to charge me with “ stonewalling.” So long as I am a member of this Parliament, honorable senators may depend upon it that if I believe it to be mv duty to express my views in connexion with any matter, I shall do so to the best of my ability. I did not speak upon this question yesterday, but I commenced the consideration of the Estimates with a welldefined policy. When I first examined them, I saw that increases of salary to the heads of four Departments were proposed. I said to myself, “ Well, I do not think that any of these officers are entitled to the increase.” I considered that the officers were fairly well paid at£800 a year. Therefore I determined to vote against the increases. I did so. But I did not pick out one particular salary. I took up a definite line of policy, and as the reductions were proposed, I voted steadily in favour of the requests to that effect. The Committee decided on a reduction in one case, but not in, the other three cases. 1 thereupon expressed a view which seemed, and still seems to me, to be eminently reasonable. I stated that I declined to be a party to victimizing one particular officer, whilst allowing others to get their increases, That is the position which I maintain. I decline to single out one individual, either because he may have a brusque manner when I go into his office for information, or for any other reason. I know very little about the Secretary for External Affairs. I have seen him about twice since I have been a member of this Parliament. But because, perhaps, he does not kow-tow to me sufficiently when I go to see him on a matter of public business, I am not going to record a vote in opposition to the increase of his salary. It is the right thing, from my point of view, to record a vote on personal grounds. I believe in dealing fairly with matters of this description. I have contended all along that the system is wrong under which these increases of salary to permanent Heads are recommended to Parliament, not by the Public Service Commissioner, but by the Minister. But. as I have already said, I decline to show any partiality or favoritism, and when a vote is taken, I am prepared to extend the same consideration to the head of this Department as has been given to others.
– I am one of those to whom Senator Givens has alluded as intending to reverse the vote given yesterday. Like Senator Turley, I voted against an increase in the salary of the Secretary for External Affairs with the intention of voting against increases in the three other prominent cases. I voted against increases in all four instances. The request was carried in one instance. It was not carried in the other three. I thereupon stated that if I had an opportunity I should reverse the vote that I gave as to the first. I intend to do so.
.- As several honorable senators have given their reasons for reversing the vote given yesterday, I desire to say that I intend to do the same. It was my determination to vote against all the increases to the heads of Departments. . I felt, in common with others, that under present circumstances, in view of the heavy financial responsibilities of the Commonwealth in various directions, and because a considerable army of men in the Public Service are not receiving increased remuneration, the proposed increases to the heads of the four Departments were not justifiable. We began with a motion requesting the House of Representatives to reduce Mr. Atlee Hunt’s salary from£900 to£800. Those of us who were anxious for judicious economy received such support from the Opposition, and in an indirect way so much encouragement, that we felt we were on absolutely safe ground, and that no invidious distinctions would be made in the treatment of departmental heads. But to our intense surprise the honorable senators who voted with us for the reduction of Mr. Atlee Hunt’s salary, voted for the increases proposed to the other officers.
– Let it go.
– I do not wish it to appear in Hansard that I voted in one way yesterday, and in another to-day, without any explanation. I regret very much indeed that honorable senators did not resist the proposed increases to all the departmental heads. I think it very unfair to Mr. Atlee Hunt that they should have made so invidious a distinction in his case.
– I should not have spoken to the motion were it not that Senator St. Ledger has suggested that this is a party question. So far as I am concerned, it is not a party question, nor is it a personal question. I gave a vote yesterday against the proposed increase in the salary of this officer.
– Is the honorable senator going back upon it now?
– I hope Senator Stewart will possess his soul in patience. The reason I gave for refusing to support the proposed increase was that I considered the duties of the office well paid for at£800 a year. I am not to-day to be driven into a state of fright because honorable senators are anxious to close the session, nor am I going to change my vote. I know of nothing which has occurred since yesterday to induce me to alter my opinion. Honorable members in another place have declined to comply with our request, and the fact that it is possible that by debating the question we shall delay the close of the session for an hour or two does not weigh with me, because, as I have said, my reason for the vote which I gave yesterday is that I believe that for the duties which have to be performed by the Secretary to the External Affairs Department, the salary of£800, attached to the office in the past, is ample remuneration.
Question - That the request be not pressed - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request not pressed.
Resolution reported ; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
– Before the third’ reading of the Bill is passed, I wish to refer to a matter which I think merits attention, and that is the fact that we have been asked to pass the Estimates without having the AuditorGeneral’s report in our possession. A curious coincidence occurred this morning. Immediately the Committee of the Senate had dealt with the Estimates, the report of the Auditor-General for the year was tabled. There may be an excellent explanation for the delay, and also for the coincidence. But, as one who has been a considerable time in politics, and who has noticed the frequency with which these convenient coincidences occur, I am inclined to be a little suspicious. We cannot properly review Commonwealth expenditure without the report of the Auditor-General. The Government are supposed not to have anything to do with the Auditor-General. He is an officer of Parliament, entirely independent of the Government, and we have a right to look to him for a careful scrutiny and review of the finances. In every State Parliament of which I know anything honorable members decline to lose their grip of the Estimates until the report of the Auditor-General has been in their hands for a sufficiently long time to enable them -to understand that officer’s review of the public finances. I have never known an occasion upon which the Senate has not insisted upon having before it the report of the Auditor-General before the Appropriation Bill was finally passed. The principle involved in that procedure is an excellent one. It is quite true that the Auditor-General cannot be expected to present his report to Parliament until the current year is pretty well advanced, for the reason that he cannot begin to review the accounts of the previous financial year until after the 30th June. But Parliament has a right to expect that his report shall be before it not later than 1st November. If his report be not then available, honorable senators are denied the opportunity of discussing the whole of the financial business of the Commonwealth. There is another matter to which I desire to refer, namely, the almost indecent wa V in which the Senate is expected to swallow the Estimates every year.
– I do not think that the term “ indecent “ is strong enough. I should say “impudent.”
– The honorable senator is at liberty to use his own term. I regret to say that both inside and outside the Senate, honorable senators have been accused in the most unwarrantable fashion of having “ stone-walled “ the Estimates. But what are the real facts. We were obliged to deal with the whole of the Budget upon the motion for the first reading of the Appropriation Bill, in one sitting, whereas the other Chamber occupied week after week in discussing the same matter. We were also compelled to pass the Estimates during the course of another sitting. Those who talk about “ stone- wal ling “ must be absolutely ignorant of the meaning of the term if they imagine for a moment that even the remotest effort was made in that direction.
– Personally, I have never accused the honorable senator of having done anything more than offer a few casual remarks.
– Probably the leader of the Opposition will become more familiar with the meaning of the term “ stone- wal ling “ after he has had experience as a Minister.
– That is both a threat and a prophecy.
– As a matter of fact, Senator Millen has insinuated that those honorable senators w;ho insisted upon criticising the Estimates have been guilty of “ stone-walling.” Yet during the pa,st fortnight he has been up to his neck in all sorts of intrigues with a view to displacing the Government.
– I would point out to the honorable senator that that observation is not relevant to the motion for the third reading of this Bill.
– Then why does the leader of the Opposition indulge in interjections for the purpose of drawing me off the track? It is unreasonable to ask the Senate to swallow the Estimates year after year, as we have been asked to swallow them by every Government which has hitherto held office. The only representative of the Government in this Chamber who endeavoured to provide the Senate with a fair opportunity for dealing with the Estimates was Sir Josiah Symon, who filled the office of Attorney-General in the Reid Administration. How can it be urged with any semblance of truth that the present year’s Estimates were “ stone-walled,” seeing that the general discussion upon them was completed in the course of one sitting, and that they were passed through Committee during the next sitting? It is a fact that last night hundreds of thousands of pounds were voted without a single word of discussion. I resent the imputation that honorable senators have been guilty of “ stonewalling.” We have been told that we should have remained silent. Why ? Because that course would have suited some honorable senators opposite, and some supporters on the Government side who, like a lot of frightened rabbits, want to scurry off to their homes - that is to say, into recess. But those who desire to look after the interests of the country in a serious manner do not entertain a similar view. They fail to see any necessity for Parliament proroguing ten or fifteen days prior to Christmas. If there is work to be done Parliament should be prepared to sit the whole of the year if necessary. I repeat that it is unfair to ask the Senate to swallow the Estimates without consideration, and that the best interests of the country will inevitably suffer unless some alteration in the present practice be effected.
– I also desire to protest against the manner in which the Estimates have been rushed through on the present occasion. It appears to me that honorable senators have entirely lost sight of the reason why they were elected to this Parliament and of what they are paid for doing. We were elected to take a co-ordinate part in the legislation of the country, and we are at least expected to subject to fair examination any proposals which may be submitted by the Government - especially proposals in regard to our finances. There are thirty-six members of this Chamber, and seventy-five members of the House of Representatives. I do not know exactly how long the latter Chamber took to deal with the Estimates, but I think I am within the mark in saying that the discussion there dragged itself over several weeks. Honorable members chewed away at the administration of the various Departments until everybody was growing disgusted.
– “ Linked sweetness long drawn out.”
– They rolled the Estimates like a sweet morsel under their tongues. They would not have relaxed their grip upon them but for the imperious necessity which they suddenly discovered that they should scoot off to their abodes. I think that honorable senators are not only faithless to the people who elected them, but that they are abrogating their functions if they deliberately accept the Estimates thrust upon them-
– If there is anything wrong with ‘the Estimates, the honorable senator’s party is to blame.
– No; the honorable senator’s party is to blame.
– Two days ago we entered upon a discussion of the Budget which was concluded in one sitting. On the next day of sitting, we commenced our labours at 10.30 a.m., and were coolly informed that we were expected to pass ;£6, 000,000 of Estimates before that sitting terminated. When I entered State politics, that was an expedient which was common to all the dishonest and corrupt capitalistic Governments with which I came into contact. Being a bit of a reformer, I set out with the idea of cleaning the Augean stable. But now that I find, not a corrupt capitalist, but the honest, upright labour man in power-
– And the honorable senator is not in the Government.
– Unfortunately, the same conditions prevail. If the party which Senator Millen so capably represents had been in power, and if it had desired to rush the Estimates through in the way that they have been rushed through, I should have been found searching those Estimates from top to bottom with a view to discovering what job they were attempting to conceal. Even Senator Millen went to the length of telling me that if his party had criticised the Estimates of the Government in the way that I criticised them, their conduct would have been considered infamous. In reply, I wish to say that I was elected to this Parliament to criticise the Estimates of every party. The Labour man who sits at the back of .a Labour Government and .fails to exercise the powers of scrutiny with which he has been endowed by the Almighty, degenerates from a reformer into a common party hack. When the hour arrives that I feel I am only a party hack, I shall be glad to be consigned to the political “ knacker’s yard.” When I feel that I am not free . to examine the finances, and everything in connexion with the policy of a Government, then the time will have arrived for me to quit politics. I feel that it will be useless to continue this discussion. My honorable friends on the right are anxious to get away to Sydney. It does not matter to them whether the finances of the Commonwealth are stated rightly or wrongly, whether the expenditure is insufficient or excessive. A number of other honorable senators are in exactly the same position. If honorable senators had been prepared to remain, I was quite willing to stay here to discuss the Estimates fully and properly. Unfortunately, on the present occasion, an opportunity to do that has not been given. I suppose that next year we shall find ourselves in a simi- lar position, and that a few years later the people will discover that the Senate is a useless excrescence on the body politic, and must be wiped out. Before I sit down I wish to refer to an answer which the Minister of Defence gave to me to-day, and for which, of course, he is notresponsible. I asked -
Is it the case that at the Brisbane General Post Office several men starf work on three days weekly at 5.30 or 5.45 a.m., and do not finish till 9.45 p.m., being on duty for between 15 and 16 hours? “ No,” was the reply. I am as sure as I am standing here that the statement made in the question is correct, and that the answer is inaccurate. To use a very mild term, the reply is evasive. It is on a par with a great number of the answers given by the heads of Departments. If the Administration is to be conducted on fair and efficient lines, then those officers must be straightened up. I invite the Minister to make inquiries, and if he does, he will find that what I say about the reply is correct. I regret exceedingly that the time at our disposal is so limited that it is impossible to go into a great number of other matters which I should have liked to refer to.
– I was under the impression, sir, that this motion would not afford to an honorable senator an opportunity to put to the Minister such questions as that which has been put by Senator Stewart, but, as it is evidently in order to do so, and I do not wish to delay the departure of honorable senators by speaking on the motion for adjournment, I ask the Minister whether he is prepared to answer the question I put to him in the mildest and most considerate terms that I could command, at twenty -four minutes past 4 o’clock this morning. I asked whether, before the session closed, the Government would tell us definitely if the Post and Telegraph Department is prepared to make the strongest recommendation to the Public Service Commissioner, with a view to granting leave of absence, as provided in the Public Service Act, to Thomas Brand, latepostmaster at Mackay, in Queensland.
– There are several honorable senatorswho wish to catch the Adelaide train. If I were to now give the reply, which is a rather lengthy document, it might inconvenience them. If the honorable senator does not mind, I should pre fer to answer his question on the motion for adjournment.
– I am prepared to meet the Minister and honorable senators in every possible way. 1 think that it is very much to the credit of the present Government, that whilst from the late Government we never could obtain a satisfactory answer to a question, they are prepared, apparently, to make up their mind one way or the other.
– Ihope that whatever Government is in power next year, they will take heed of the remarks made here to-day as to the extreme dissatisfaction which has been produced by delaying the presentation of the Estimates to the Senate until the eleventh hour of the session. There was quite a number of honorable senators who wished to speak at length on the Estimates, but, having no desire to inconvenience any honorable senator, and being anxious to close the session, we suppressed our feelings, though, at the same time, we felt that the Senate had been treated most cavalierly by the other House.
– When I entered politics twenty-three years ago, the custom in the Victorian Assembly was to take the Estimates early in the session, and to vote the money before it was spent. But of late years, the practice has grown up of postponing the consideration of the Estimates as long. as possible, and then rushing them through. I agree with much of what has been said by those who have protested against that practice. I trust that what Senator Lynch has said will bear fruit. It is only right to admit that this year there have been exceptional circumstances which have caused the consideration of the Estimates to be delayed. Therefore it is riot fair to put on any one the blame for their late submission to the Senate. I trust, however, that in future they will be sent up early, and that the money will be voted before it is spent.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Friday,18th December, at half-past 10 a.m.
Close of Session : High Commissioner : State Debts : Government Representation in the Senate : Case of exPostmaster Brand : Bounty on Fish : Excise Tariff (Spirits) Act : Card Cutting Machines : Charge of ‘ ‘Stonewalling. ‘ ‘
– - In moving - .
That the Senate do now adjourn,
I desire to thank you, sir, for the great assistance you have rendered to the Government, and the Chairman of Committees, and those who have acted for him on occasions, for the way in which they have endeavoured to conduct the business of the Senate. I also thank honorable senators for enabling the Government to keep a quorum in all the difficulties which have arisen. Although at times the debates have been strung out to some length, yet I think that the utmost harmony has prevailed all the time. I thank honorable senators on this side, as well as on the Other, for the treatment which they have extended to us. On, behalf of the Government, too, I have to thank the officers of the Senate, and the Hansard staff, for the way in which their duties have been carried out, and the attendants, who in the trying circumstances of a long sitting, have been put to a great amount of inconvenience. On behalf of the Government, I wish you, sir, the Chairman of Committees, honorable senators generally, the officers of the Senate, the Hansard staff, and the attendants a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
– - I desire briefly to acknowledge the very kindly terms in which the VicePresident of the Executive Council has wished us good-bye on breaking up for our holidays. I am sure that since the recent change of Government took place things have moved with a rather pleasant smoothness in the Senate. We have had lately a spectacle which has relieved our proceedings of their ordinary monotony. For instance, it has been a little out of the beaten track, and, perhaps, to that extent welcome, that the Opposition, for some reason or other, has, apparently, abandoned its benches and ranged itself on the side which is usually occupied by Government supporters, whilst on the other hand, the Government, for reasons best known to themselves, have evidently asked’ their friends to take up a position on our benches. I am sure that we all wish the Government a very pleasant time indeed inthe recess which they are about to enter, and which I imagine they welcome as cordially as we do. I hope that during that period they will be able to recuperate mentally and physically, and meet us herestrong in both body and mind for such; fate as the gods may have in store for them.
– - f join with my honorable friend and leader in his kindly wishes for the Government. I desire to mention a few points which I should like them to consider during the recess. From a statement made this morning, I gather that the intention is to bring in a Bill sooner or later for theappointment of a High Commissioner. I hope that when it is brought in it will provide for a salary of ^5,000 a year, be- cause it will be useless to send Home a representative if he is not placed in a position to maintain his office properly. I hope that during the recess the Governmentwill endeavour to look carefully into the matter of the consolidation of the State debts. It has been hanging fire for nearly eight years, and I am very disappointed that, prior to this time, some more definite action has been taken. I hope that, should unfortunately, a vacancy occur in the Ministerial party, they will not hesitate to see that a member of the Senate is selected to fill it. I think it will be admitted that since thepresent Government took office we on this side have endeavoured to rise above party. Our motto has been - “ Country above party.” It has been a great pleasure to me to see the two Ministers on the Treasury bench. I recognise that ever since this Parliament assembled, nearly eight years ago, they have rendered good service, and that if two members of the Labour Party are to be on that bench, they are the two whose claim should be preferred.
– - I wish to reply to a few inquiries which have been made by honorable senators. The question of Senator Chataway is reported by Hansard as follows -
I desire to ask the Minister of Defencewhether he will take steps to supply me, before the session closes, with definite information regarding the refusal of the Public Service Commissioner to accept the recommendation which is to be found in the minutes of the Post and Telegraph Department to grant the leave of absence that is required by Thomas Brand, postmaster in Queensland ?
The following answer has been supplied to me -
The case referred to by Senator Chataway is evidently that of Mr. T. Brand, late postmaster at Mackay, Queensland.
In this case the officer was charged under the provisions of the Public Service Act with disgraceful and improper conduct disclosed in a series of seven offences. The decisions arrived at by the Board were of such a peculiar nature that they evoked considerable comment at the time. The offences were of a palpable kind, and the Crown Solicitor, on having the case referred to him, advised that if the charge had not been inquired into by a Board he would have advised that a prosecution would have been Justified. The Department, finding it could not prosecute him, was so dissatisfied with this officer that it asked for his retirement, and this was effected. The Crown Solicitor stated that among other things the Board held : -
That receiving £2 2s. and giving a receipt for10s., and not paying the rest back to the man who paid it or to the Department, but retaining it himself, was not improper conduct, because he was careless or forgetful.
That engaging his own son in a fictitious name for temporary work, and getting another officer to witness the signature of his son in the fictitious name to the receipt on the voucher was neither improper nor disgraceful conduct, because he did it through a false sense of pride.
That to receive a sovereign for a private box and to neither issue a receipt nor account for the money was not improper conduct, because he forgot all about it.
That to receive £2, issue a receipt for £2, and enter on the butt of the re- ce.pt that only £1 had been received, and to account to the Department for only £1, was not improper conduct, because he intended to refund it.
But for the legal technicality mentioned by the Crown Solicitor, the officer would probably have been either prosecuted criminally or dismissed the service, and it was not considered that under such circumstances he was entitled to the privilege of six months’ leave of absence on full pay, which is reserved for the diligent and well-conducted officer. Furlough is not mandatory, and cannot be claimed by an officer, no matter what his conduct may be. It is permissive and is only granted where the merit is zeal, and general conduct of the officer warrant it. Faithful and meritorious service is always recognised by the grant of this privilege, but in this case, the whole of the facts and the officer’s general service were against the granting of any such privilege.
– A most disgraceful and improper thing to read to the Senate. It was a properly constituted Board that acquitted the man of the charges against him.
– Senator Sayers asked a question regarding the bounties paid on smoked and preserved fish. I was not able at the time to give the whole of the information which the honorable senator required. I have it now. The official answer is as follows -
Regarding the request made by Senator C lemons for information as to the operation of the Excise Tariff Spirits Act 1906, the following is the reply received from the Customs officers -
There is only one remaining question with regard to which I was requested to furnish information. It was put by Senator Vardon, and had reference to card cutting machines. I have to inform the honorable senator that I have not the necessary information at present, but when it is obtained it will be forwarded to his Adelaide address.
– - I can find no words sufficient to condemn the absolutely mean and contemptible manner in which the Public Service Commissioner has endeavoured to brand as .a criminal a man who, having been tried on a charge by a Board properly appointed, and having been acquitted, has since been denied what was due .to him. If the Board was improperly constituted well and good. Let the constitution of such Boards in future be altered, in order to prevent mistakes of this kind occurring. Here was a man who was tried before what was practically a jury, and acquitted; but then somebody turns round and, like one of the Judges in Victoria some time ago, says to the jury that they have done their work in an improper manner. What is the position as between the Public Service Commissioner and the Department and this officer? I defy the Minister in charge of the Department to state publicly the reasons for the treatment that this man has received.
– Has the Public Service Commissioner stated anything that does not appear in the evidence ?
– The Commissioner has given a verdict of his own after a Board was appointed to inquire into the case.
– Does the honorable senator know whom the Board consisted of?
– What has that to do with it?
– I happen to know something about the case.
– Does the honorable senator want to know the colour of their hair? Probably he had something to do with the appointment of the Board. It is an absolutely disgraceful thing. Here is an ex-Minister beginning to question a jury because one man has red hair and another has black, or something of that kind. The honorable senator ought to be absolutely ashamed of himself. This Board was constituted under an Act of
Parliament, and it arrived at a certain” verdict. Now the honorable senator turnsround, and says that the Board was packed, or some one was on it who ought not to have been there, or some one wasnot there who ought to have been.
– Who saysthat ?
– This man has not been treated honestly, fairly, and squarely. The public servants of Australia ought to know about the case, and those who think about entering the Public Service should know about it also. If they do they will say, “ Is this the kind of treatment that we may receive if we enter the Public Service of the Commonwealth?” A Board is appointed under an Act of Parliament to inquire into, charges made against an officer. The Board inquires into the evidence. What happens? According to the ordinary regulations the verdict of the Board which acquitted the officer should be accepted. But we have an ex-Minister here who says that knowing who was on the Board-
– I said nothing of the kind. I asked the honorable senator whether he knew who was on the Board.
– The honorable senator said that he knew. So long asthe Board was properly appointed under the Public Service Act, and performed itsduties in a proper manner, its conclusion ought to be respected. What is there that gives the Crown Solicitor the right toreview the findings of the Board? If it can be shown that the Commissioner had’ the right to do what he has done, well and good. All that I say is that this man was acquitted by the Board which tried him, and that the Commissioner hasgone behind the finding, and penalized the officer, in my opinion absolutely illegally.
– Who went behind the finding?
– The Public Service Commissioner did.
– Had he a right to do that ?
– Considering that I am standing here, and arguing that he had no such right, I wonder at the honorable senator asking the question.
– Was it not Parliament that was foolish enough to give the Commissioner the right that he has exercised?
– Parliament gave him certain powers. The Commissioner, in the exercise of his authority, has declined to give this officer the six months’ leave of absence to which he was entitled. I say again that the man has been treated in a shameful manner.
– I extend my sympathy towards the Government on emerging from a very trying time indeed. I recognise the ordeal to which they have been subjected. The members of the Opposition, in dealing with them, have acted upon the principle that no matter who may be in occupation of the Treasury bench, there are times when the King’s Government must be carried on. We have adopted that view in our treatment of the Government, and I think that the country will commend us for doing so. I join with my leader in expressing the hope that the Government and their supporters will have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and that we shall all meet again at the beginning of next session. May I add that I think the whole public of Australia wish that we shall meet again soon.
– When speaking with regard to the question of the reduction of the salary of Mr. Atlee Hunt, in answer to an interjection by Senator Guthrie, I charged him with having shown a disposition to “ stonewall “ while a Labour Government was in office. On further looking into the matter, I find that I was mistaken. I forgot, for the moment that I was attributing conduct to Senator Guthrie of which ho was not guilty. I desire to make this explanation in justice to him, and to say that the statement was not justified.
– Hear, . hear 1
Senator Sir ROBERT BEST (Victoria) [4.14]. - I was somewhat amused at the heated remarks which fell from Senator Chataway in connexion with the case of a Queensland public servant. Incidentally, I had heard of the case before. I knew that it was stated that a serious miscarriage of justice had taken place. But as to the details, I knew nothing until I heard the mast striking statement read by the Minister of Defence in reply by Senator Chataway. Such serious statements cannot be overlooked by any honorable senator. I am aware that under the Public Service Act a certain Board had to be appointed. The Board was appointed. Who the members of the Board were, I am not aware. I simply know that a statutory Board had to be appointed. But surely such statements as these could not be ignored. Honorable senators know what the question asked by Senator Chataway was. All I wish to say is that if rhe evidence discloses such serious offences that the Crown Solicitor deems it his duty to point out that but for some technical reason they would have involved a criminal prosecution, the Public Service Commissioner had a sufficient Justification for acting in the way he did. I do not pretend to any further personal knowledge of the case.
– The honorable senator will not dispute the fact that the departmental authorities, having all the facts before them, advised the Public Service Commissioner to grant this officer leave of absence.
– That may be; but the evidence discloses, as is shown by the memorandum, a miscarriage of justice took place. Exception is taken to the finding of the Board, and for what reasons they, came to their conclusion I cannot pretend to say. Surely the Public Service Commissioner was justified in coming to an honest conclusion that, by reason of the evidence in the case, he was not warranted in granting the concession. That is all that I desire to say.
– Why try a man twice ?
– This is a mere recommendation.
– If the Commissioner is justified in the decision at which he arrived, are not the officers of the Department placed in an invidious position when, with the same knowledge before them, they recommended the concession?
– I am not sure that they had the same knowledge before them.
– They made a recommendation to the Public Service Commissioner, who said that he could not accept it, because of the reasons given. I do not think that, in the circumstances, Senator Chataway was justified in attempting to cast an unworthy reflection upon me for utilizing information which had been supplied to the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.18 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 December 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19081211_senate_3_48/>.