3rd Parliament · 4th Session
A quorum not being present at 2.30 p.m., the bells were again rung, and a quorum formed.
The President took the chair at 2.35 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator MILLEN laid upon the table the following papers : -
Electoral Acts 1902-1905. - Provisional Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 18.
Commonwealth Electoral Acts 1902-1905 and Electoral Act 1907 (Tasmania). - Regulations relating to Joint Electoral Rolls.- Statutory Rules 1909, No.29.
Defence Acts 1903-4. - Financial and Allowance Regulations (Provisional) for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth -
Amendment of Regulation 143. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 51.
Cancellation of Regulation 78, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 52.
Regulations (Provisional) for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth -
Amendment of Regulation 558. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 54.
Amendment of Regulation 121a; and new Regulation 121b. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 55.
Amendment of Regulations 2 and 4. - Statutory Rules 1909, No.53.
Transcontinental Railway Survey, Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta. - Report by Mr. H. Deane, M.T.C.E., on the progress of the work (dated 21st May. 1909).
War and Peace Establishments of the Military Forces of the Commonwealth of Australia.
– I have to announce to honorable senators that, in response to the Senate’s vote of condolence with the widow and family of the late Premier of South Australia, I have received the following telegram: - presidentofsenate,melbourne.
I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of your telegram conveying the resolution of the Senate expressing its profound regret at the untimely decease of our Premier, also its deep sympathy with Mrs. Price’s familyand the people of South Australia. I have communicated its contents to Mrs. Price, who desires me to’ thank the Senate for its sympathetic message of condolence. I also desire to thank the Senate on behalf of the people of South Australia.
Adelaide, 3rd June, 1909.
That reply will be recorded in the Journals.
– I beg to move -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until Wednesday, 23rd June.
I am submitting identically the same motion as that which was discussed at considerable length ‘yesterday. An amendment was then submitted, and the debate was terminated by a count-out. I trust that, in view of the fact that the other House has adjourned until the 23rd inst., honorable senators will be content to allow the present motion to go without discussion. I would point out to them that, even if they should re-submit the amendment which was offered ‘ yesterday and’ it should be carried, they would not in any way further the work of the Senate, whilst they might greatly inconvenience other honorable senators.
– We have the Navigation Bill to go on with.
– Under no possible circumstances will there be a Ministerial statement made on the 16th inst., and until that statement is made I take it that it will be incompetent for the Senate to seriously address itself to the business of the country. I have no desire to say anything that may lead any honorable senator to import into any debate which may take place to-day any of. that bitterness which, unfortunately, marked some of yesterday’s proceedings. But I do feel that I am entitled to ask honorable senators to extend to the Government the ordinary courtesy which has been extended to every Government since the (Commonwealth was founded, and particularly do I again remind Senator McGregor that it was on his motion that an adjournment of three weeks was granted when the Watson Government took office.
– That was not in this Parliament.
– Is my honorable friend going to take refuge in the quibble that it was not done in this Parliament?
– Yes ; I say that the present Government established a new precedent in (his Parliament.
– My honorable friends created the precedent.
– It was already created for us.
– My honorable friend is now repeating, though in different words, exactly the same statement as he made yesterday - that, in the course he was taking, he was not acting in the interests of business, but out of a vengeful feeling because of something under which he is smarting now.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable senator yesterday said distinctly that he was going to give us some of the treatment to which he complained he had himself been subjected. I say that is absolutely subordinating the public interest and the requirements of decency to the feeling of vengeance that is evidently animating the honorable senator.
– Public decency requires that this Parliament should be dissolved.
– Is the honorable senator going to bring in here a dispute he may have had with the Governor-General ? If he is going to do that, let me say at once that the sooner he ceases to talk of public decency the better.
– I referred to what is going to happen in the future, not to what happened in the past.
– I have asked honorable senators opposite to extend the usual courtesy to the Government. I ask them for no generosity, and no magnanimity, but that they should follow the precedent always followed by every Parliament in the civilized world ; and that is that, upon the formation of a new Government, a fair and reasonable time should be granted them in which to draft their policy into statutory form.
– The Government is not deserving of an hour.
– That is what Sir John Forrest said upon another occasion.
– I am afraid that if I were judge in the case, Senator Findley would find that I should allot him a much longer term than that. We are asking for an adjournment of three weeks, and it is impossible for any one to say that that is a moment too long. Even honorable senators on the other side said they regarded the proposal as a. reasonable one. Senator Needham said that he could not oppose my motion on the ground of unreasonableness. Some honorable senators said that, having a policy already formed, we ought to be able to meet Parliament in a day. Others said that we had no policy, and that, therefore, any time occupied in an attempt to formulate one would be time wasted.
– Honorable senators on the Government side wanted Parliament called together in April, in order to present Britain with a Dreadnought. Could we not go on with that proposition now ?
– That reminds me of the fact that the late Government had to depend on my help, and on the help of my honorable friends on this side, to get them into recess. We sat up here all night to save the late Government - from whom? From those redoubtable representatives of Queensland, Senators Turley, Givens, and Stewart. I say that but for the assistance of honorable senators on this side, the late Government would never have got their Estimates through. These are the gentlemen who object now to a fair and reasonable demand. The members and supporters of a Government who took six months in which to formulate their policy now deny to the present occupants of the Treasury Bench the very much shorter period of three weeks. I am not asking for any concession from honorable senators opposite. What I am asking for the Government’ in this motion is what any fair and reasonable Parliament would grant to any new Administration.. If honorable senators on the other side are determined to refuse it, they can do so.
Senator McGregor (South Australia) [2.44].- I have no intention to move an amendment on the motion submitted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council today. My reason is that in another placehonorable members have decided to adjourn for three weeks. Most ‘honorablesenators will agree withme that honorable members in another place having adjourned for three weeks it would berather absurd for us to adjourn for only a fortnight. It would be more reasonable to adjourn for a monthhere if in another place they adjourned for three weeks. But I should like to remind the Vice-President of the Executive Council that there has twice been failure to obtain a quorum of his supporters to discuss his motion, that it is only with the assistance of members of the Opposition that it can be discussed, and that if it went to a vote to-day it is very questionable how the numbers would turn up. I am putting these facts before the honorable senator to show him that we are not following our present course from any factious spirit, but in order that the honorable senator and his colleagues may know that they will have to be here if they wish to do business in the future.
– I wish to refer to a remark which was made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. The honorable senator has rather a habit of trying to put upon one’s words a construction that is not warranted, and of attempting to prejudice one by twisting words that have been used to mean something that was not intended. When the honorable senator just now was referring to public decency, I interjected that public decency required that we should g_et this Parliament to the people at the first opportunity. By inference. Senator Millen tried to twist that into a reflection by me upon His Excellency the Governor-General. His words could only be regarded as an attempt to do that. I am sure that in his calmer moments the honorable senator would give me credit for knowing better than to endeavour to reflect upon the Governor-General, either here or outside. He knows very well, as do those who cheered his remarks, that no such inference was to be drawn from what I sa:id.
– I shall rely upon H Hansard
– I am willing that the honorable senator should rely upon Hansard. It will be shown that the honorable senator attempted to twist what I said into something else. What I said at the time, and what I say now, is that honorable senators on this side and members of the same party in another place are endeavouring, and will continue to endeavour, in the interests of public decency, to bring the present Government before the people at the earliest opportunity ._ That was my statement. It was a reference to the public acts of the party to which I belong, and to what they intend to do, and had no reference at all to anything contained in the decision arrived at bv his Excellency the Governor-General.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland) [2.48). - I should net have risen at all were it not for the angry ‘tirade to which the VicePresident of the Executive Council has treated the Senate. The honorable senator is exceedingly angry because yesterday the
Government were subjected to the humiliation of a count-out through not being able to keep their supporters together. We have had a long experience in having to keep a House for the miserable little handful that aspired to run the Senate for a long time.
– We have had to keep a House for honorable senators opposite.
– There is a big combined party on the other side now, and we have to keep a House for them. They talk of having a majority in both Houses, but they failed to show that they had a majority in the Senate yesterday. Although there was no concerted attempt on this side to count them out - because there were four honorable senators on this side and six- on the Government side when the count-out took place - that organ of light and leading, the Argus, which ‘is the mouthpiece of honorable senators opposite, indulged in a wail, and endeavoured to pour contempt upon honorable senators of the Labour party because they were not here to keep a House for honorable senators opposite. Honorable senators on the Government side were not here to deal with the motion submitted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, but when it was a question of displacing the late Government, they were all here. When it is a question of doing the business of the country, there are not enough of them here- to form a quorum. The moment the late Government was displaced, and it became necessary to go on with the business of the country, three-fourths of them “skedaddled” off to their homes in the other States-
– Because there was no business to do.
– Then what did Senator Pulsford come here for to-da.y ? If there is no business to be done, what is the honorable senator doing here now ?. Why did he come over post-haste from Sydney this morning if there is no business to be done? The moment they succeeded in displacing the late Government, honorable senators who support the present Government “skedaddled” off to their homes. They have been taught a useful lesson, and one by which I hope they will profit in the near future.
– They thought that everything would be conducted in a’ straightforward and orderly way.
– Senator Fraser was within the precincts of the Parliament yesterday when the Senate was counted out, but so little did he think of his legislative duties that when a quorum was called for he failed to put in an appearance.
– I was in the other House at the time.
– But this .is the branch of the Legislature for which the honorable senator has been elected. The Government have endeavoured to saddle honorable senators upon this side of the Chamber with blame for what occurred yesterday.
– I naturally thought that a big man like the honorable senator would have been reasonable.
– Year after year I and other honorable senators who are associated with the Labour party have kept a quorum in the Senate for a Government which commanded only three supporters here. Now, when we ought to secure a little relief from that sort of thing, in view of the fact that a big combined party occupies the’ Treasury benches, we are still asked to sit here and listen to twaddle.
– We only expected the honorable senator to observe a matter of form.
– When I am asked to remain here and submit to the infliction of listening to speeches by Senator St. Ledger, I am being asked too much.
– I suppose that the honorable senator was teo exhausted to enter the chamber when the proceedings opened this a fternoon ?
– I was attending to mv correspondence. I was quite willing to allow the honorable .senator and his pious colleagues the privilege of listening to the reading of the prayer. I knew that he would be present, because he needs praying for very badly. The present situation would seem to indicate that honorable senators who have combined to form what is known as the Liberal-Tory party, or the Free- trade- Protectionist party, do not desire to proceed with the business of the country at all, notwithstanding that they have raised a continual clamour that Parliament should be called together earlier than usual this year. Why are not the Government prepared to proceed with the consideration of business? Surely a fortnight was a reasonable adjournment to allow them, especially in view of the fact that when the Fisher Government took office it was granted a- respite of only eight days. Seeing that honorable senators opposite have repeatedly declared that it was necessary that Parliament should be called together early this year, in order that it might demonstrate the loyalty of our people by pre.senting a Dreadnought to Great Britain, I ask - Why has that proposal now been dropped? Why have not the Government submitted a motion in favour of the course which they advocated so strenuously six or eight weeks ago? Why has this matter been permitted to sink into insignificance? Who has strangled it? Who wishes to thrust it into the background? Why, honorable senators opposite. They merely desired to use their professed loyalty as a lever with which to oust the Fisher Government. Directly their greed for office had been satisfied, they dropped the Dreadnought proposal as they would a hot potato.
– -They have dropped their life-long principles.
– I will not say that, because my honest opinion is that they never held any fixed principles. When some of them were telling the country that in a Free-Trade policy lay its only hope of salvation, they had merely persuaded themselves that they believed their own statement. In reality they did not believe, it at all. When Senator Best was telling the people that a Protectionist policy was the only one for Australia-
– I hope that the honorable senator will connect his remarks with the motion before the Chair.
– I am pointing out as a reason why- the Senate should not adjourn for three weeks, that the country is entitled to know whether my honorable friends opposite were really sincere in their professions of a short time ago. It is also entitled to learn at the earliest possible moment what are the intentions of the Government. I have always objected to lengthy adjournments of the Senate. An adjournment for three weeks will be useless to me, because it is not sufficiently long to enable me to return to my home and to remain there for more than two days. As a matter of fact, I could not leave Melbourne until Wednesday next, so that the proposed adjournment is absolutely useless from my stand-point. But seeing that the Ministry are determined that the Senate shall adjourn for three weeks, we have a right to enter our protest against the adoption of that course, so that upon a future occasion they may be a little more reasonable and treat the legitimate wishes of honorable senators with a little more respect.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I desire to draw the attention of the Minister representing the Attorney-General to the statement in this morning’s Age that an affiliation between some steam-ship companies and coal owners has taken place. I have not a copy of the newspaper at hand, but I ask the Minister to see that the officers of the Department are careful to protect the public interest from any action which this so-called affiliation of companies may take in the matter of increasing the rates for the carriage of goods or passengers.
– I ask my honorable friend to be good enough to give notice of the question.
Senator BEST laid upon the table the following paper : -
Navigation Bill. - Further Correspondence with the Secretary of State for the Colonies, dated 27th November, 1908, to 31st March, 1909.
Ordered to be printed.
MINISTERS laid upon the table-
Census and Statistics Act 1905 -
Regulation (Provisional) relating to the Utilization of Statistical information for State Purposes. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 60.
Trade and Customs and Excise Revenue of the Commonwealth of Australia for the year 1907.
Trade, Shipping, Oversea Migration, and Finance of the Commonwealth of Australia for the months of -
August,1908 - Bulletin No. 20.
September, 1908. - Bulletin No. 21.
October,1908. - Bulletin No. 22.
November, 1908. - Bulletin No. 23.
December,1908. - Bulletin No. 24.
January, 1909. - Bulletin No. 25.
February, 1909. - Bulletin No. 26.
March,1909. - Bulletin No. 27.
Population and Vital Statistics of the Commonwealth for the quarters ended - 31st March, 1908. - Bulletin No. 9. 30th June, 1908. - Bulletin No. 10 30th September, 1908.- Bulletin No.11. 31st December, 1908.- Bulletin No. 12.
Transport and Communication. - Summary of Commonwealth Statistics for the years. 1901 to1908. - Bulletin No. 2.
Production. - Summary of Commonwealth Statistics for the years1901 to 1907. - Bulletin No. 2.
Finance. - Summary of Australian Statistics, 1901 to1908. - Bulletin No. 2.
The Desirability of Improved Statistics of Government Railways in Australia. - Report by Commonwealth Statistician, dated 12th February, 1909.
Official Year-Book of the Commonwealth of Australia : No. 2. - 1901-1908.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906 -
Adelong, New South Wales : Post Office. - Notification of the Acquisition of Land for Site.
Maryborough, Queensland : Defence purposes. - Notification of the Acquisition of Land.
Defence Acts 1903-1904 -
Regulations (Provisional) for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth -
New Regulations106a and106b. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 59.
Amendment of Regulation 304. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 62.
Amendment of Regulation 105. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 63.
Amendment of Regulation 79. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 64.
Audit Acts1901-1906 - Transfer in connexion with the Accountsof the Financial Year 1908-9. - Dated 5th June,1909.
Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. - Rules of Court. - Repeal of Form 4, Rule 26, and insertion of new form in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 61.
Customs Act1901. - Cancellation of Statutory Rules1909, No. 14, relative to Concentrated Varnish. - Statutory Rules1909, No. 65.
Excise Act 1901. - Amendment of Regulation 21 of the Sugar. Regulations, made by Statutory Rules 1907, No. 101, and cancellation of Statutory Rule No. 27 of 1909. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 58.
Federal Capital. - Proposed Site at YassCanberra :
Papers respecting selection of Territory and Proposed Site for the City.
Reports respecting Topography, Water Supply, Sewerage, Railway Communication, Power, &c.
Report by the Hon. Sir John Cockburn, K.C.M.G., on the International Congress of Social Insurances (formerly “ Workmen’s Insurance “), held in Rome in October,. 1908.
Report by Mr. John Cooke, as Commissioner on behalf of the Commonwealth to the International Congress of Refrigerating Industries, held in Paris, 5th to roth October, 1908.
Royal Commission on Insurance. - Progress Report.
Copy of Letter from the Director of the Imperial Institute, respecting the work of the Institute, &c.
South African Union. - Message to the people of South Africa upon entering into Union.
The Clerk Assistant laid upon the table
Return to Order of the Senate of 27II1 May, 1909 - Exports to German Possessions in the South Seas.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to -
That a Message be sent to the House of Representatives requesting the House of Representatives to resume the consideration of a Bill intituled “ A Bill for an Act relating to Parliamentary Witnesses,” which was transmitted to the House of Representatives for its concurrence during the session of 1907-8, and was, in ‘ accordance with the Standing Orders, proceeded with last session.
t Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to -
That a Message be sent to the House of Representatives requesting the House of Representatives to resume the consideration of a Bill intituled “A Bill for- an Act relating to Bills oi Exchange,” which was transmitted to the House of Representatives for its concurrence during the session of 1907-8, and was, in accordance with the Standing Orders, proceeded with last session.
– I should like, with concurrence, to be allowed to submit the third motion on the notice-paper dealing with the Post and Telegraph Bill. It is the desire of the Government to proceed with that Bill, but some little difficulty might be presented from the fact that the notice of motion stands in the name of the Minister of Defence. I ask leave to submit the motion.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to -
That the consideration of the Post and Telegraph Bill, which lapsed by reason of the prorogation, be resumed at the stage it had reached during last session.
– I desire, by command, to lay upon the table -
Further correspondence regarding a Conference between representatives of His Majesty’s Government and the Governments of the selfgoverning Dominions on the subject of Naval and Military Defence.
I move -
That the paper be. printed.
I wish, in connexion with that motion, to intimate to the Senate the proposals which the Government venture to submit for the business during the present session. I need hardly remind honorable senators of the fact that, ordinarily speaking, Government proposals are submitted through the medium of a Governor-General’s speech. That course not being open to the present Administration, I can only fall back upon the one I am now adopting, and indicate in as brief terms as possible the measures which the Government propose to submit for consideration this session. I shall endeavour to complete my task as promptly as possible, and honorable senators will see at once that I shall be assisted to that end if I am allowed to proceed without interruption.
– Asking for quarter already ?
– Senator Needham need not be at all troubled about that. Appeals for quarter will not come from this side of the Chamber. I should like to say that, in order to simplify the synopsis of measures now presented, they have been grouped according to subjects, and not to their relative importance. The statement is as follows : -
The most complex series of measures to be submitted includes those affecting the Industrial interests of the Commonwealth. The pivot of several of these will be found in a Bill for the establishment of an Inter-State Commission, which, in addition to exercising the powers conferred upon it by the Constitution, will also be authorized to undertake many of the valuable functions discharged in the United Kingdom by the Board of Trade, such as a general oversight of production and exchange, supplying information in respect to markets and openings for trade abroad, and for the improvement and extension of Australian industries within our borders.
Among its duties will be those of a Federal Labour Bureau, comprising a study of unemployment and of a scheme for insurance against unemployment.
The Commission will also assist in supervising the working of the existing Customs
Tariff in its operation upon the investment of Australian capital and labour in Australian industries, advising the removal of any inconsistencies in its schedules, and also with the further view of developing Preferential and other trade relations within the Empire.
In the meantime any anomalies that may be discovered in the Customs Tariff Act lately passed by this Parliament, will be examined, classified, and dealt with in due course.
Any divergencies between industrial conditions in the several States which occasion an unjust competition between Australian industries in different States will be adjusted by the Inter-State Commission, with, of course, due regard to all the interests affected, whether or not the unjustly competitive rates exist under the authority of local industrial tribunals. Correspondence is now proceeding with the State Governments in respect to the procedure to be followed in order to endow the Commission with this power.
An Agricultural Bureau, associated with the Commission, will be established in order to employ the latest scientific means of co-ordinating and extending the good work of the State Departments.
An active policy of Immigration will be undertaken, and will be expanded in the light of the knowledge made available by the Commission and the Bureau, and with, it is hoped, the co-operation of all the States.
The appointment of a High Commissioner in London with a well-equipped office will be necessary for, among other purposes, our financial interests, the supervision of immigration, and co-operation with the Inter-State Commission in fostering trade and commerce.
In this connexion an endeavour will be made to cheapen the cable charges between Australia and the Mother Country, to extend the mail services, and to fully utilize in a Federal spirit the new facilities provided under the contract about to come into force.
To permit a better discharge of the national responsibilities of the Commonwealth, your authorization will be sought for the acceptance of the Northern Territory.
Among the first proposals of the Commonwealth Treasurer is that embodied in the Bill, of which notice Bas been given, for amendments of the Old-age Pensions Act.
This measure, by temporarily suspending the requirements as to naturalization, will permit all old residents of Australia, otherwise qualified, to secure a pension by obtaining letters of naturalization prior to the end of the year.
The second important feature of the measure is a reduction of the minimum qualifying period of residence in Australia from twenty-five years to twenty years - a concession which will, no doubt, be highly appreciated by the old residents whom it affects.
Bills providing for the Compensation of Seamen, the Prohibition of Inequitable Rebates by Trusts and Combines, for the amendment of the Post and Telegraph Act 1 90 1, and the Patents Act, together with measures consolidating on a Federal basis the laws relating to Bills of Exchange, Bankruptcy, and Marine Insurance, all of great value to the business community, will be brought forward.-
The negotiations in London, in 1907, concluded early last year, allowing the Coinage for the Commonwealth of an Australian Silver Currency, have been completed. In order to avoid further delay in securing the considerable profits thence accruing, a requisition for the new coinage has been despatched.
Another group of proposals will be submitted in connexion with the varied issues associated with National Defence.
The cable messages exchanged with the British Government, containing Australia’s offer to share in the responsibility of defending the Empire, have been placed before you.
Colonel Foxton, who has been appointed to represent the Government at the forthcoming Conference in London, will take advantage of this opportunity to consult the Admiralty upon the whole question of Imperial Naval Defence, and particularly is to the Marine Defence of the Ports and Coasts of Australia by the most effective vessels, manned and officered, as far as possible, by Australians trained to the standards, and sharing the opportunities of the Royal Navy.
The construction, at suitable sites in protected ports, of the necessary docks, shipyards, , and coaling facilities, will also be proposed in the light of the latest data available.
The policy of the Government in regard to Land Defence will be founded upon the principle of universal training, commenced in youth and continued towards manhood. A Bill for this purpose will be introduced founding the system in the schools, where immediate preparations will be made to qualify Senior Cadets and increase the
Efficiency of the Forces of the Commonwealth.
The success of a national scheme of discipline must depend upon the efficient training of a sufficient number of officers chosen for their natural aptitudes and capacity to command. A Military College, as well as a School of Musketry, and probably a primary Naval College, will be established to meet this end.
For the general development and disposition of our adult citizen soldiery, the counsel of one of the ablest and most experienced Commanders of the British Army will be sought.
Provision for local supplies of Small Arms and Ammunition is being pressed forward, in order to diminish dependence of the Commonwealth upon consignments from oversea. Tenders for an Ammunition Factory, and also for a Small Arms Factory, will be accepted as soon as possible.
Finance is in every year a vital question ; but it is no exaggeration to say that the obligations of the next eighteen months render it at present more important than at any period since Federation.
This being the last session of the present Parliament, it is necessary, not only to make provision for the current financial year, but to forecast the near future, and its problems, in order that the outlook may be made clear to all before the coming general election.
In addition to the ample provision required for Defence purposes, and for the industrial projects already noticed, the outlay upon the Federal Capital Site, the taking over of Ocean Lighthouses by the Commonwealth, and the construction, when authorized, of the railway line to Western Australia, have to be borne in mind.
A principal departmental outlay will arise in connexion with the works, appliances, and equipment for the services carried on under the Postmaster-General’s control, especially 1hose relating to the telephone branch. A new departure is called for in order to provide for the early construction of necessary reproductive works in connexion therewith.
In the meantime, the vexed question of the rates properly chargeable for telephonic communication, is being made the subject of expert actuarial investigation.
Above all, the approaching termination of the ten-year period for which the Constitution provides a distribution of the Customs revenue, marks the close of a critical era, and suggests the pressing importance of this great financial problem.
A temporary arrangement for a term of years to replace the existing distribution, in which the obligations of the Commonwealth are recognised, is being prepared for submission.
The future financial relations between the States and the Commonwealth, taken together with their present and future Loan obligations, are being carefully considered in principle and in detail, in order that a satisfactory and permanent settlement may be achieved.
Communications with the Board of Trade have provided a working agreement upon several important points, which should facilitate the passage of the important measure relating to Navigation now before the Senate
Bills, accepting the control of Norfolk Island, and of Cables and Wireless Telegraphy in time of war, for amending the Audit Act and the Electoral Law, will be proceeded with.
It is hoped that, allowing for a searching criticism of all Government measures in the public interest, the business programme now presented will be proceeded with in a business-like manner during a fruitful session.
– In view of the importance of the statement which has just been made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, I think that he might extend to myself and other members of the Opposition an opportunity to discuss it to-morrow. I believe that he has no objection to doing that.
– I had hoped that the character of the measures which the Government propose to submit to Parliament would haveinduced a desire on the part of my honorable friends opposite to at once proceed with their consideration. Of course, I willingly accede to the request of the leader of the Opposition by extending to him the usual courtesy accorded under such circumstances.
Debate (on motion by Senator McGregor) adjourned.
Reflections on the Labour Party.
Senator MILLEN (New South WalesVicePresident of the Executive Council) ment made with the leader of the Opposition, and having anticipated the motion which has just been carried, I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– In seeking an adjournment of the debate just now, I was prevented from saying very much, because, had I done so, I should have been blocked from speaking to-morrow upon the statement made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. But I wish to congratulate the Government on the shaking-up of the dry bones which seems to have taken place in connexion with this Parliament, and particularly in connexion with the Senate. I am sure it is a pleasure to members of the’ Opposition to see to-day a much larger attendance of those honorable senators who used to be chiefly conspicuous by their absence. I am satisfied that neither Senator Neild nor any other honorable senator need object to an adjournment until to-morrow, because Melbourne is such a pleasant place to live in - especially to those honorable senators who come from Sydney. I wish them all joy during the short adjournment that is proposed.
– I noticed recently in the Adelaide newspapers a statement by the VicePresident of the Executive Council, referring particularly to the Labour Party, to something that it was going to do, and to something that it had done. To my mind, it was a little bit unbecoming on the part of the honorable senator to say that he wanted the people of Australia to know it.
– Is the honorable senator referring to a speech of mine?
– I am, and I have it here in print.
– Where was it made?
– In Sydney.
– When ?
– A report of the speech appears in the Adelaide Advertiser of 6th June.
– Of what year?
– The speech was made since the honorable senator became a Minister in this Chamber. I do object to honorable senators opposite taking it upon themselves to refer to the Labour Party in the way that the Vice-President of the Executive Council did.
– Read what I said.
– If it be the desire of the Senate I will read it
I have no desire to misrepresent Senator Millen, although it amuses me to see him sitting alongside Senator Best. I remember how we used to have to make peace between them formerly. I also see Senator Dobson sitting there. He looks so peculiar in his present company 1 Singular reflections occur to me also when I observe Senator Walker sitting in the very seat that I used to occupy, and recognise that he is supporting the Deakin crowd.
– I hope I shall manifest the wisdom which distinguished the honorable senator.
- Senator Trenwith is there, too. Oh, it is very remarkable ! As to South Australia, that State did not return to this Parliament a single supporter of the Deakin Government since the Honorable Thomas Playford was rejected at the last election. God knows how many South Australians are supporting the present Government ! Some of them were returned as followers of Mr. Reid. Where are they now ?
– Where is Mr. Reid:?
– Well, I like him ; I will npt say a word against Mr. Reid. This is the statement made by Senator Millen in Sydney on 6th June - “ It is quite obvious from their tactics and utterances/’’ remarked Senator Millen, VicePresident of the Federal Executive to-day in discussing the attitude of the Labour Party in the Senate last week, “ that they intended then and intend in the future, not only not to facilitate business, but to do all they can to obstruct it. This was made abundantly clear by the admission of some of their members that the)’ did not regard the motion for a three weeks’ adjournment as at all unreasonable, even while they opposed it. Personally I should take no exception to any tactics that they may employ, but I think it is only right that the public should have an opportunity of noting that at the same time that a party is threatening obstruction it clamours loudly that the Government ought to press on immediately with business that it declares to be extremely urgent, but which it yet threatens to obstruct.”
How ill it comes from the other side to talk in that fashion. Take the last year’s record of the members of the Labour Party. It will be found that there was a difficulty in securing the attendance of sufficient Conservatives to keep a quorum. Out of thirty sitting days last session, some honorable senators opposite were absent seventeen days. I regret that I was not able to be here on the occasion of the last sitting of the Senate. The reason why I was absent was that I was attending the funeral of the late lamented Premier of South Australia, the Honorable Thomas Price. It amazed me to read such base insinuations coming from Senator Millen.. I have considered it to be my duty as a senator, since I wa* elected, always to be in my place if possible.
– I said nothing about the honorable senator’s absence.
– The honorable senator made insinuations, and I- have no doubt that they were put into the Adelaide newspapers for a purpose. He represented that we intended to block business.
– And do not honorable senators opposite intend to do so?
– He insinuated that we were absent when we should have been here. I want to know where Senator Gray was, and where were other honorable senators who sit behind Senator Millen ?
– Do not honorable senators opposite intend to block business?
– Certainly not.
– A new leader !
– But there are questions as to which it will be my duty to enter an emphatic protest. I allude to such a proposition as that to squander/ perhaps, .£2,000,000 without consulting the people. If by blocking or doing anything that would be fair I could prevent the carrying of that proposal, then, my God ! it would be my duty to do it. That is my position. But I rose to call the attention of Senator Millen to his unfair tactics in making this -statement. I wish to remind him that he cannot - afford to play that game. Senator Best now sits by his hide smiling. It is so nice for the honorable senator to have sitting by him the senator who used to fight him. In those days, the Labour Party used to stand between the two of them. But now here they are, sitting side by side, banded together, and have made a sacrifice of their pledges. The Labour Party must be abused, come what may. I say again to Senator Millen that if nothing else will appeal to him, at least he will recognise that it does not pay for a Minister to indulge in this sort of abuse of a party the members of which have been more regular in attendance than have the members of any other party here. Who kept the old Deakin Government in office? Who assisted the late Government ‘o pass the Tariff in both Houses ? We see the gallant colonel from New South Wales, v. ho was always a straight-out free-trader, supporting this new Government. Where does the honorable senator stand now?
-The honorable senator should not talk twaddle here.
– If the honorable senator had been alongside his new leader in Sydney when he was making use of the expressions which I have quoted with the object of damning the Labour Party, he would surely have pulled his coat and said, “ Millen, hold your tongue; be careful; these men are Tegular in their attendances, and the members of your party cannot throw stones at them.” In the future, as in the past, I trust that, health permitting, I shall be here regularly to do my duty. 1 told my constituents that provision ought to be made for the compulsory attendance of members of Parliament. Senator Mil len’ s party need some such regulation as that to compel them to do their duty.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.7 p.m.
Senate adjourned at 2.58 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 June 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19090603_senate_3_49/>.