3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
RIFLEMEN : INEFFICIENTS.
Senator DOBSON. - I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether, in view of the statistics setting forth the very large number of inefficient riflemen, the Cabinet will consider the desirability of affording to the men as great facilities as possible in the way of railway travelling and ammunition ; and in return for that concession compelling them to drill twenty or twenty-five times a year?
Senator MILLEN. - The suggestion of the honorable senator is certainly entitled to serious consideration, and I shall have very much pleasure in bringing it under the notice of the Minister of Defence,
Senator PEARCE. - In view of the large number of riflemen who are returned as inefficient and the disparity in the grants to the States per head of efficients, will the Vice-President of the Executive Council ask his colleague to look into the advisability of altering the basis on which grants are made, and to give them per head of efficients rather than as lump sums ?
Senator MILLEN. - The whole question of the rifle clubs is now under consideration, and I shall place the suggestion of the honorable senator before my colleague.
– I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether he is now prepared, or, if not, will he shortly be prepared, to give an assurance to the Senate that no -member of the present Federal Ministry will be ap- . pointed High Commissioner?
– I am not now prepared to give any assurance, and if the honorable senator desires a more definite answer I request’ him to give notice of aquestion.
In Committee (Consideration of first report of the Standing Orders Committee, session 1908) :
Standing order 2 (Proceedings on the opening of a Parliament not being a new one).
Ifthere be a President -
The practice is that after the proclamation is read His Excellency the GovernorGeneral is introduced by the Usher to the Senate Chamber, and after that he reads his address. Under this rule it would appear to be contemplated that the Senate should adjourn, and that at a future time the Governor-General should declare the cause of his calling Parliament together. It is proposed to leave out paragraph c and to substitute the following paragraph
That will be exactly in accordance’ with the practice. Then it is proposed to add to the standing order the following proviso -
Provided that if the first day of meeting of any Session of Parliament (after a periodical election for the Senate) shall occur before the date on which the places of retiring senators shall become vacant, the senators elected to fill the vacant places shall not make and subscribe the Oath or Affirmation of Allegiance or take their seats before the first day of sitting after the expiration of the term of service of such retiring senators.
That addition to the standing order is intended to meet the position which may arise under the amendment of the Constitution which makes the term of a senator’s office expire on the 31st December. It is thought necessary to provide that the gentlemen who are elected to take their seats after the 1st July following shall not be entitled to enter the chamber until that date. Assuming that certain senators were retiring and were npt elected for a further period, if the Senate met before the 30th June they would be entitled to take their seats, but the new senators could not do so until 1st July. In the first place I move -
That paragraph c be left out and new paragraph c inserted.
Proposed amendment agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Lt. -Colonel Sir Albert Gould) proposed-
That the proposed addition to standing order 2 be agreed to.
– I should like to ask Senator Gould to say why the proposed addition is necessary. The incoming senators will not be entitled to take their seats in this cham- ber until after the 30th day of June, because they will not be members of the Senate.
– They will be elected to become members of the Senate after, and not before, that date.
– That is so. The proviso refers to a meeting of the Senate held before the expiration of the existing term, and as the newly-elected senators will not be members of the Senate until after the 30th June, it is unnecessary to add this proviso, since it can have no reference to them.
– What will be the position of retiring senators who are reelected ?
– They will be able to attend in the Senate chamber, because they will be members of the Senate under the existing term until the 30th June. The proviso refers to new men, if there are any new men elected, and I hope there will not be, because the company here is so good that I have no wish to change it.
SenatorCLEMONS (Tasmania) [2.45]. -If Senator Stewart will look at paragraph d of standing order 2he will find that it is at least desirable, if not necessary, to add the proposed proviso. The standing order provides -
On the first day of the meeting of any session of Parliament -
the writ of election of each senator elected since the last sitting of the Senate, with the return indorsed thereon, having been previously delivered to the Clerk, shall by him be laid upon the table, and each senator may then make and subscribe the oath or affirmation of allegiance.
The standing order was drafted before the new arrangement for the election of senators was made. I think the honorable senator will see that it is desirable to accept the proposed proviso in order to prevent a newly-elected senator from making and taking the oath of allegiance on the first day of the meeting of the Senate, when it would not be competent for him to sit as a senator.
Proposed amendment agreed to.
Standing order11 -
The Speech having been reported by the President, a motion for an Address-in-Reply to the speech will then be made and agreed to with or without amendment.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [2.46].- A question has arisen as to whether it is necessary to go on with the de bate on the motion that the AddressinReply be presented immediately, whether it might be adjourned before it was concluded, or the initial stage adjourned. The Standing Orders Committee have thought it well to make perfectly clear the intention of the standing order, and they propose thatit should read in this way -
The Speech having been reported by the President, consideration thereof may be made an order of the day for a future day, or a motion for an Address-in-Reply to the speech may then be made.
The words . “and agreed to with or without amendments” are unnecessary, since if the consideration of the speech is made an order of the day a motion must be submitted and dealt with in the ordinary way. I move -
That after the word “ President “ the words “ consideration thereof may be made an order of the day for a future day or “ be inserted.
This would leave it entirely in the hands of the Senate to determine the course of action to be taken, and would make the standing order perfectly clear.
Proposed amendment agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Lt. -Colonel Sir Albert Gould) agreed to -
That the word “will” be left out, and the word” may “ inserted in lieu thereof.
Motion (by Senator Lt. -Colonel Sir
Albert Gould) proposed -
That the words “ and agreed to with or without amendment” be left out.
– I suppose that these words are regarded as merely surplusage.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - That is so.
– I hardly think that is a sufficient reason for leaving out the words. Even if they have no definite meaning they fitly complete the sense of the previous words, and it would be as well to leave them in. The standing order will conclude very abruptly if they are omitted. There is certainly no harm in allowing the words to remain.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - I shall not press the amendment.
– If we attach any sort of sanctity at all to our Standing Orders, it is not desirable to strike out words simply because they may have no very definite meaning.
– What is conveyed bv the words “ would follow as a matter of course”? Other standing orders regulate what follows when a motion is made.
– I admit that the words express only what would follow as a matter of course, but there would be no harm in allowing them to remain.
– There is always a danger in making an exception of that kind.
– There cannot be any danger in declaring that when a motion is submitted it shall either be agreed to or amended.
Proposed amendment agreed to.
Standing order 12 -
A motion will then be made that the Address be presented to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral by the President, and such senators as may desire to accompany him.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [2.51].- I move -
That at the commencement of the standing order the words “The Address having been agreed to “ be inserted, and . that the words the Address,” line 1, be left out, and the word “ it “ inserted in lieu thereof.
These amendments are consequential upon the alteration which has been made in the previous standing order.
Proposed amendments agreed to.
Standing order 13 -
The President shall report to the Senate His Excellency the Governor-General’s reply to their address.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [2.52].- I move -
That after the word “ Senate “ the words “ the presentation of, and “ be inserted.
Proposed amendment agreed to.
Standing order 14 -
No business beyond what is of a formal character shall be entered upon before the AddressinReply to the Governor-General’s Opening Speech has been adopted. Formal business which may be entered upon includes the fixing of the days and hours of meeting, and the appointment of Standing Committees.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [2.54]. - I move -
That the word “ and “ (second occurring) be left out, and that the following words be added, “and any motion under standing order 351.”
The standing order will then read -
No business beyond what is of a formal char acter shall be entered upon before the AddressinReply to the Governor-General’s Opening Speech has been adopted. Formal business which may be entered upon includes the fixing of the days and hours of meeting, the appointment of Standing Committees, and any motion under standing order 351.
Standing order 351 has reference to documents which are laid upon the table of the Senate and to motion being made that such documents be printed.
Proposed amendment agreed to.
Standing order 15 -
Subject to section 17 of the Constitution, the office of President shall become vacant on the 31st day of December following a periodical election, or on the date of any proclamation dissolving the Senate. But if the place of the holder of the office has not become vacant on the 31st day of December following the periodical election, the office of President shall continue until the day next before the meeting of Parliament following such periodical election. A periodical election shall be taken to mean any election for the purpose of filling the places of the senators of either of the two classes mentioned in section 13 of the Constitution becoming vacant in terms of such last-mentioned section.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [2.55].- I move -
That the words “31st day of December,” lines 3 and 7, be left out, and that in each case the words “ 30th day of June “ be inserted in lieu thereof.
These amendments are necessary, in view of the alteration which has been made under the Constitution Alteration (Senate Elections) Act, in the period for which the Senate is elected. Under the existing standing order the office of the President becomes vacant on 31st December following a periodical election, or on the date of any proclamation dissolving the Senate. Now, a periodical election may not take place during the coming year until the month of March or April. It will be seen, therefore, that under that standing order the President would be entitled to retain his office until 31st December next year. Now, it is not intended that any officer of Parliament shall hold his position for a longer period than the Parliament itself exists. Of course, under the old state of things, the Senate expired by effluxion of time on 31st December, and consequently no difficulty arose in that connexion. But now that the period of its election has been extended to 30th June, it has become necessary to insert these words.
Proposed amendments agreed to.
Standing order 26 -
At the commencement of the session, after each periodical or general election of the Senate, or whenever any vacancy shall occur, the Senate may appoint a senator to be Chairman of Committees, who, unless otherwise determined, shall hold office until the 31st day of December following the next periodical election for the Senate, or in the event of a dissolution of the Senate, until the date of the proclamation dissolving the Senate.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [2.57].- I move -
That the words “ 31st day of December “ be left out, and that the words “30th day of June “ be inserted in lieu thereof.
This will bring the office of Chairman of Committees into line with that of the President. The alteration is consequential upon the amendment which has been made in standing order 15.
Proposed amendment agreed to.
Standing order 38 -
A Committee, to be called “ The Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications,” to inquire into and report upon all questions as to the qualification of a senator chosen or appointed in accordance with section 15 of the Constitution, or as to the validity of such choice or appointment, and as to the vacation of his seat by any senator, shall be appointed at the commencement of each session in the following manner : -
The President shall, within four days from the commencement of the session, lay upon the table his warrant appointing seven senators to be such Committee.
Unless disapproved of by a resolution of the Senate in the course of four sitting days next after the laying of the warrant on the table, such warrant shall take effect as an appointment of such Committee by the Senate.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [2.58].- I move -
That the. following new paragraph be added -
Such Committee shall have power to send for persons, papers, and records. The President shall fix the time for the first meeting of the Committee. Four to form a quorum.
As the matter new stands, it is necessary upon all occasions to give this power to the Committee by means of a special motion. It is considered that the proposed new paragraph confers upon the Committee a power which should naturally follow the reference of any matter to that Committee.
Proposed amendment agreed to.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [2.59].- I move -
That the following new standing order be inserted - 42A. For the purposes of section 20 of the
Constitution a record shall be kept in the Journals each day of senators who fail to attend at some time during the sitting.
This proposal is intended to make provision for keeping a record of the attendance of honorable senators in case any question may arise in regard to their ab sence for more than the prescribed period without having obtained the leave of the Senate. As honorable senators are aware, if any honorable senator, without the leave of the Senate, absents himself for more than a certain period, his seat becomes vacant. There is no provision under which it is necessary to keep a record of the attendance of honorable senators, although, as a matter of fact, such a record has been kept. Under the circumstances we have thought it wise to embody this provision in the Standing Orders.
– By whose authority has an attendance record been kept?
– It has been kept under the instructions of the President. ‘
Proposed amendment agreed to.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [3.0]. - I move -
That the following new standing order be inserted - 49A. The bells shall be rung for five minutes prior to the President taking the Chair.
As honorable senators know, it is customary to ring the bell for five minutes prior to the assembling of the Senate ; but there is no authority, except that of the Chair, for this course being followed. In order to obviate mistakes, we have thought it necesary to include this provision in our Standing Orders.
Proposed amendment agreed to.
Standing order 51 -
The Chair shall be taken and prayer read at the time appointed on every day fixed for the meeting of the Senate; but if, at the expiration of five minutes after that time, the bells having been again rung for two minutes, there be not a quorum of at least one-third of the whole number of senators, the President shall adjourn the Senate to the next sitting day; the names of the senators present in either case being entered in the Journals.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [3.0].- The words “of at least one-third of the whole number of senators “ appear in this standing order. It does not seem to be necessary to retain them. The Constitution itself prescribes the number of senators constituting a quorum. I therefore move -
That the words “of at least one-third of the whole number of senators “ be left out, and that the word “present” be inserted in Heu thereof.
Proposed amendment agreed to.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [3.1]- - I move -
That the words “the names of the senators present in either case being entered in the Journals” be left out.
This amendment is proposed by the StandOrders Committee. There is a later proposed new standing order which will provide’ that in the case of a count-out the names of the senators present shall be entered in the Journals. We are now dealing with a standing order which relates to the want of a quorum before business commences. I consider that the whole provision should be dealt with in one standing order.
– Certain honorable senators may feel interested in the proposed alteration. Our present standing order provides - and I think rightly - that if at the commencement of business there is not a quorum, the names of the senators present shall be taken down. The proposed new standing order provides that if at any stage of our proceedings a quorum is not present, the names of those present shall be taken down and entered in the Journals. But, as we all know, there are reasons, both satisfactory and unsatisfactory, as to the presence or absence of certain senators on some occasions. I suppose there are some who will argue that any deliberate failure to make a quorum involves a neglect of public duty. On the other ‘ hard, there may be some who deliberately fail to make a quorum, and who think that they are thereby discharging a public duty. Both interpretations- can be fairly put upon the absence of senators on certain occasions. But if we passed the proposed new standing order, the fact would be placed on record that a certain number of senators were not here, and those senators might, or might not, be able to explain why they deliberately remained outside.
– A very effective negative vote.
– A very effective negative vote indeed. The recording of the names of the senators present in the Journals may, or may not, be fair; but I can quite conceive that it may in some cases be desirable to abstain from making a quorum. I am not at all sure, therefore, that a senator ought to run the risk of being pilloried for remaining out of the chamber. Personally, I do not like the alteration.
.- There does not seem to be much in the objection raised by Senator Clemons. If there are occasions when it may be desirable for certain senators deliberately to refrain from making a quorum, they will, in their own opinion, have a good reason for doing so. If their action is challenged by their constituents, they will be able to explain their absence. Therefore, there will be no great hardship in recording the names of .those who were present.
– The lack of a quorum does not generally occur owing to the fact that there are not sufficient senators present to form a quorum. It occurs because certain senators deliberately keep away.
– I can quite see that, the proposed new standing ““order may be used to show that certain senators have failed to attend to their legislative work. Consequently it may be used for party purposes. But from other points of view, I can see no objection to the proposed alteration.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [3.6].- The proposed new standing order would only embody what has been the practice since this Parliament was established, and that practice is in accordance with what is done in nearly, if not in all, the State Parliaments. In the first place, we want to form a House, and then if a quorum is not obtained, we want to place on record the names of those who _ were present. I think that that is perfectly right. As to the Senate’ being counted out, I can quite conceive that there may be occasions when certain senators think that they are doing the right thing by absenting themselves. But the public are entitled to know who are present on such an occasion. For that purpose, it is desirable to have & record made. The Journals of the Senate invariably record the names of senators who were absent at the beginning of any sitting, and it is only reasonable and proper, in the interests of the public, that a record of those present on the occasion of a count-out should also be made. We can hardly legislate for special circumstances. The public have a right to know how their representatives attend ; and senators who are absent on any occasion can make any explanation they choose if asked why they were not present when the Senate was counted out.
– I think that it would be well to pause before we accept the proposed alteration. The statement made by Senator Gould hardly meets the case, because the entry in the Journals gives no reason for a count-out. There is nothing to show why senators abstained from making a quorum. The Journals will show that certain senators were present; and they will also show that certain senators were absent when the sitting commenced. The record of those present on the occasion of a count-out will make it appear that certain other senators neglected their business when a quorum was called for. But,, as Senator Clemons has pointed out, there may be very good reasons for the absence of senators at a certain time. For instance, on Friday afternoons, when some senators want to catch InterState trains, we have known others to get up and talk right up to the time when the trains were about to leave. The only way for senators to protect themselves against that kind of treatment is deliberately to stay outside and count-out the Senate. Yet in such a case the Journals, without giving reasons, would show, that a quorum was asked for, and that certain senators were absent.
– And they were absent too.
– Why should they be penalized. They were absent in order to protect themselves.
– To catch the trains in order to go home.
– That is only one of many examples which could be cited. A record of the names of those present can only imply that they were doing their duty, and that the absent ones were not. What other value can it have? It is provided that if there is no quorum at the hour appointed for a sitting to begin the names of th.i senators present shall be recorded. I think that the Committee will be well advised in not agreeing to the proposal.
– 1 intend to support the proposed standing order. I think that the reason given bv Senator Pearce is one of the most” extraordinary reasons which I have ever heard advanced here. On Friday afternoon, no matter how important the business may be, there is a general scurry to catch the trains on the part of senators from South Australia and New South Wales. However important the business may be, those honorable gentlemen clear out.
– Not always.
– Occasionally they remain; but, as a general rule, they clear out whenever the train time comes. If it happens that the Senate is counted out on Friday afternoon, because of those honorable senators wilfully absenting themselves, the men who have loyally remained to do their paid duty are counted with the black sheep. I object to that. I do not want to shield myself behind any man. If I commit an offence I am willing to take my punishment, but I am not willing that any man should hide himself behind the skirts of my coat. If at any time the Senate is counted out and I am absent, I am quite willing that the public should know that fact. But I do not desire that those who are prepared to do their work should have to share with me the blame of a count out.
– It is a large begging of the question when the ‘ honorable senator speaks of senators doing work after 4 o’clock on Friday.
– If 1 had such a low opinion of the Senate as some honorable senators evidently have, I would not be here at all. I would not be a member of a body which only pretended to do work. We are sent here to take part in the legislation of the country.
– To attend within reasonable limits.
– The honorable senator knows, as well as I do, that the Senate sits for 8J or 8 hours on two days, and for 4 hours on a third day, making 20 hours in all.
– Which may be extended.
– The Senate sits for 20 hours a week, which sometimes is extended ; in fact, which ought to be extended. Surely the honorable senator does not claim that 20 hours a week exceed fair limits. I do not think that he will.
– No; but the- sitting on Friday ought to close at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
– When the Government have business to go on with, and a sufficient number of senators absent themselves, in order to leave the Senate without a quorum, their names ought to be recorded, so that the public may ascertain who the absentees are, if they so desire. Sometimes I have been a party to a count-out, but I felt even then that I was doing a thing which I ought not to do. I was acting more in the interest “of my party than in the interest of the country. Every time the country should come before the party. So long as the Government have business to do, it ought to be dealt with on its merits and be either passed or rejected. If honorable senators seek to harass the Government by remaining out of the chamber, and so bringing about a count-out, their names ought to be made public.
– Or, if they harass the Government, by “ stonewalling.”
– No, that is quite a different thing.
– The honorable senator would get too much publicity.
– There is not such a thing as “ stone-walling.” If I had to choose between a man who clears out, as if things here did not matter, and as if affairs elsewhere were of much greater importance, and a man who “ stone-walled,” as some of our honorable friends here have done for hour after hour I would choose the latter, because he at least shows some interest in the affairs of his country. I intend to support the proposed standing order.
– Unless Senator Stewart’s remarks are criticised a false impression is likely to get abroad. He spoke of the senators who leave on Friday afternoon to catch their trains, and argued from that fact that the members of the Senate have to put in only 20 hours a week. I should pity the work of the Senate if the time which honorable senators devote to public business were judged by the length of their attendance on the benches here. Outside the chamber a considerable amount of work has to be done. I do not know whether Senator Stewart does any work outside the period of 20 hours or not. But I should imagine from a number of his speeches that he puts in a considerable amount of time outside the chamber.
– That is only play.
– While I have ‘no strong feeling on the question either one way or the other, I think that there is something in the objection which is raised. Let me recall one or two cases which have occurred during my membership. It was only last session that a number of honorable senators were engaged in other parts of the building. Time after time the bells were rung as I sat in my place, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council made various remarks about the fact that a great many senators had not responded.
Suppose that a count-out had occurred on that occasion, I would have been a sort of white-haired boy, and Senator Stewart would have incurred, perhaps, the censure of those whom he was representing elsewhere in the building to the same extent as I was representing them within this chamber. There is no reason why on such an occasion I should* be able to score off the honorable senator. It does not seem reasonable that whenever there is a countout, as the result of a general understanding on both sides of the chamber, the few senators who happen to be present at the last moment should have an opportunity to say that they alone stuck to their work when, perhaps, they were parties to the count-out. Why should they have an opportunity to say that the absent senators caused the count-out, and that they were present looking after the business of the country? I ask Senator Stewart whether, “ in - the event of making a covenant with the members of his party to secure a count-out, and being in the chamber when it occurred, he would go on to a public platform, and say that he was the only loyal member of the party who remained to do his work, and that the others absented themselves? It does not seem to be reasonably decent that any senator should be able to make such a statement.
– I would not do such a thing.
– Would not the whole thing be very improper?
– Not necessarily. Sometimes there has been just as much work done in, the public interest by counting out obnoxious legislation as by employing other means. I think it is just as well to let the standing order remain as it is.
– Is this Democracy speaking ?
– I’ think so. . Has the honorable senator never taken part in a count-out?
– I think so. I believe that the honorable senator has taken part in quite a number of unsuccessful attempts to secure a count-out. I do not think that any stigma is attachable to the honorable senator for having taken that course, as he may have believed that he was acting in the interests of his constituents. It seems to me that the existing Standing Orders are sufficient in the public interest. When divisions are taken the votes of honorable senators are recorded, and if any member’ of the Senate is absent from a division, he can find an opportunity to explain his absence.
– I have much pleasure in supporting the proposed new standing order. We are elected for a particular purpose. The record of the attendance of honorable senators is not a good one. Several members of the Senate are very frequently absent, and some are not present during more than half the sittings of the Senate. I abstain from mentioning names, but it is unfair to honorable senators who are regular in their attendance that those who are frequently absent should not be treated according to their merits.
– Does the honorable senator attend regularly when he desires to secure a count-out?
– I took part in a count-out only on one occasion, but in similar circumstances I should do the same again.
– And under the proposed new standing order, if the honorable senator happened to be one of those who remained in the chamber, he would pose outside as one of the loyal members.
– I should do nothing of the kind. If I were caught napping, as some honorable senators would describe it, I should not hesitate to give reasons for my action. It is the duty of honorable senators to attend much more regularly than many of them do, and a record of the attendance in the way proposed should effect an alteration in the practice followed by some members of the Senate.
– It will not be done by this method. A standing order providing for a record of the names of honorable senators present each half-hour during the sitting might effect what the honorable senator suggests.
– I cannot understand why some of my colleagues of the Labour party, who are so regular in their ^attendance, should adopt such an attitude, unless it be that a certain honorable senator who sits in another part of the chamber has induced them to join in forming another Fusion. Honorable senators who are regular in their attendance should get credit for it, whilst those who do not attend regularly should be placed on the black list. For these reasons I intend to support the proposed new standing order.
– - I - I support Senator Stewart in this matter, though I find it hard to follow the honorable senator’s reasoning. He has said that he has taken part in a count-out in obedience to his party, and that the welfare of the country had very little influence upon his action. I am sure, .however, that when the honorable senator has joined in this villanous practice he has always had in mind the advancement of the interests of his party, and, ultimately, of the interests of the country. It might just as well be frankly admitted that every political party at times take advantage of a count-out. But “when the (business of a legislative chamber is brought to a stand-still as the result of the absence of certain of its members, the public are entitled to know all about it. It has been suggested that ‘ a record of the names of honorable senators present when the Senate is counted out might place absent senators in a false position; but I think that a record of those present when the Senate is counted out is very desirable. The matter may be looked at from two points of view. Honorable senators may take some pride on occasions in a successful count-out, and the political party to which they belong may quietly enjoy the discomfiture of those who have been unable to keep a quorum. On the other hand, members of the party on whose shoulders rests the responsibility of keeping a quorum may have a real interest in letting it be known which members of their party fail to assist them in doing so. I regard the proposed new standing order as a very fair one, and I am- prepared to support it, because it will enable the public to ascertain who are responsible at any particular time for bringing the business of the Senate to a standstill.
– - 1 have not an expert knowledge of the Standing Orders, ‘and have only a short experience of the work of the Senate. But I do not intend to support the proposed new standing order, It seems to me to be intended to relieve the Government of the day of responsibility. One-third of the members of the Senate is sufficient to form a quorum, but no Government has a right to control the business of the country without the assistance of a majority of the members of the Senate. There is a considerable margin between a majority of the members of the Senate and the number necessary to form a quorum. I do not remember an occasion during the time I have been a member of the Senate when it has been impossible to form a quorum because of absolute neglect of, or indifference to, their duties on the part of members of the Senate. The only counts-out I have witnessed have been brought about more or less from party reasons, or when it has been considered that an honorable senator by talking at too great length has not been doing a service to the country. The Government and their supporters should accept the responsibility of seeing that the business of the Senate is carried on by more than the few necessary to form a quorum. If an honorable senator has absented himself deliberately, he will be penalized by the publication of the fact, but to pass the proposed new standing order would relieve the Government and their supporters of the responsibility of insuring a good attendance of honorable senators, except when the vital clauses of a Bill were under consideration. I think I could quote fifty or sixty instances in which the attendance of honorable senators who are frequently absent, has been specially secured to carry the vital clauses of a Bill. Honorable senators protest against this sort of thing, and under the existing standing order the Government and their supporters are made responsible for keeping a quorum. It is within the knowledge of every member of the Senate that the count-out has been regarded as a necessary weapon by those who desire to protest against the failure of the Government to keep a quorum. It is not always used for party reasons, and it may be useful to prevent deliberate obstruction of private business.
– Hear, hear.
– I am glad to learn from the interrjection of Senator Walker that we have got beyond party in this .matter. The honorable senator as a member of the Senate in charge of a private Bill had an’ interesting experience of the kind quite recently. Honorable senators can explain their absence from this chamber to the electors. I am sure they will not be anxious to shirk responsibility for .it. Where .the Government of the day and their supporters neglect to keep a quorum, it is unfair to penalize other members of the Senate who desire to enter an emphatic protest against their neglect.
– - I intend to support the proposed new standing order. I do not admit that a count-out cannot be justified- I took part in one here not long ago, and I am prepared, at all times, to give my reasons for doing so.
– But the reasons are never put on record.
– If the electors at any time wish to know why I took part in a count-out I can give them my reason, and if they are not satisfied they will know what to do. I think that when a count-out takes place the names of honorable senators present should be put on record. I think the new standing order is fair to honorable senators and to the electors.
– I agree that it is right that the parties responsible for a count-out should be made known. I do not believe that a count-out is necessarily immoral, or prejudicial to the interests of the country. I have a very distinct recollection of one count-out which took place here and which I personally took a great deal of trouble to achieve. ‘When it. became known through the press on the following morning it gave rise to the expression of strong feelings of satisfaction by a large number of people. The circumstances were such that there was no other means at our disposal to abate a nuisance.-‘ At times circumstances arise which justify a count-out, and in such a case no honorable senator would be afraid or ashamed to have -his name associated with it. Still, it is true, as Senator Lynch has pointed out, that it is by no means an unimportant or trifling thing to bring the business of a legislative chamber to a standstill, and honorable senators should be impressed in every way with the importance of such a thing. There is just one danger which I foresee. The circumstances under which the work of this Parliament is performed are such as to render it necessary to extend a good deal of latitude to its members. It must be recollected that the representatives of States other than Victoria have to travel considerable distances from their homes, and consequently, if the business of this Parliament is to be transacted as it should be, there must be a liberal use of the practice of pairs. But our official records take no cognisance of pairs, and thus honorable senators who are absent when a count-out occurs are penalized, even although that count-out may be of an unjustifiable character. That is the only objection which I can see to publishing the names of those honorable senators who are present in the chamber when a count-out takes place.
– - It seems to be assumed by Senator W. Russell that the publication of the names of honorable senators who are present when a count-Out takes place has the effect of making them “ white-haired boys” with the electors, and of placing those honorable senators who are absent in a black list. I would suggest that the very reverse may be the case if those present when the count-out occurs are engaged in some little scheme which is not for the public good. I shall support the proposed new standing order, and I do not fear the consequences of mv action.
– - I intend .to support the recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee, because this question has been thoroughly considered by that body. Our Standing Orders differ somewhat from those of another place. In the other branch of the Legislature an honorable member may rise at any time and move, “ That the question be now put.” The standing order which we are now considering confers upon honorable senators practically the same power. In other words, by merely absenting themselves from the chamber they can count-out the Senate, and thus put an end to the transaction of business.
– That is altogether a different matter.
– If the names of honorable senators who are present when a count-out occurs are to be officially recorded, I am of opinion that the names of those who are within the Parliament building, but who do not consider the business that is engaging attention of sufficient importance to warrant their attendance ‘ in the chamber, should also be recorded.
– The honorable senator is suggesting an impossibility.
– Not at all. The messengers know what honorable senators are in attendance, and could record their names.
– How would the honorable senator ascertain the names of those who were within the building?
– We could provide machinery to overcome the difficulty.
– It seems to me that so much confusion exists concerning this standing order that a little more elucidation of it may be profitable. Only a few moments ago Senator Guthrie gave utterance to sentiments which were entirely opposed to democratic ideas - sentiments which were altogether out of harmony with the principle underlying representation in this Chamber. I would ask him to recollect that every member of the Commonwealth Parliament is sent here with a distinct responsibility to the electors, and that so long as he comports himself decently, and confines his remarks to questions of public importance, he has a right to be heard. It is highly improper that facilities should be granted to honorable senators to troop out of the chamber, thus leaving him without a quorum, and effectually gagging him.
– But each honorable senator has his individual opinions.
– Exactly. Nevertheless it is highly improper that facilities should be afforded honorable senators to gag a fellow senator. Let us suppose that Senator Guthrie was the solitary representative of the Labour party in this Chamber, and that he had behind him a certain number of constituents in the country. Let us further assume that every time he rose to address the Senate other honorable senators left the chamber and thus gagged .him.
– That has already been done.
– Is it proper that we should grant facilities for doing that sort of thing? Honorable senators might first decide amongst themselves that the business which was being discussed was not worth discussing - that it was not in the public interest - and they might then leave the chamber, thus depriving the honorable senator of an audience. But apparently they do not wish .the public to know when they do this sort of thing, and therefore they do not want their names recorded. If an honorable senator absents himself from this Chamber he should not seek to hide the fact from the public. But that is exactly the position taken up by those who wish to expunge from the records of this Chamber all evidence regarding their attendance on occasions when the Senate is counted out. The fundamental rights of honorable senators are affected by this proposal. A group of two or three honorable senators might constitute a small minority in this Chamber, and they might be continually silenced by other honorable senators trooping out and leaving them without a quorum. Those who leave this chamber ought not to be afraid of their constituents knowing the fact. If their words are to be recorded here, their actions ought also to be recorded. If ever I take part in a movement to count out the Senate I shall be prepared to justify my action to my constituents.
– Lock the doors and allow no honorable senator to leave the chamber.
– I would do nothing of the kind. Honorable senators should be prepared to accept responsibility for their actions. I hope that the Committee will agree to a record being kept of the names of those honorable senators who are present whenever the Senate is counted out.
.- It is rather difficult to follow the argument which has been advanced by Senator Stewart with a view to preventing the amendment being carried. He appears to imagine that the time may come when a solitary member of this Chamber may be anxious to express his opinions on some subject of interest to a large number of the electors who returned him, and when a majority of honorable senators by leaving the chamber may effectually gag him. Does Senator Stewart imagine that the publication of the names of those who remain in the chamber would insure for that solitary senator an audience? I do not think it would. Since I have been a member of the Senate, I do not think that any senator who has walked out of the chamber in company with others would have been afraid to have his name published as having done so. There have been periods in the life of this Parliament when a senator by walking out of the chamber has rendered a real service to the country. On one or two occasions certain senators, anxious to make record speeches, and filled to the brim with information on the subjects with which they were dealing, have repeated themselves time and again. Finally, having grown weary, some of us have walked out. I have done so for the purpose of having the Senate counted out.
– On one occasion, the honorable senator unfortunately walked in !
– I regret to say that I did. I have no fear of my name being recorded on the occasion of a countout, but I do not see that the’ publication of the names would insure an audience to any senator who wished to express his solitarv opinions.
Senator HENDERSON (Western Aus the arguments of Senator Stewart and Senator Lynch. I do not care whether my name is recorded or not in connexion with a count-out. I have to plead guilty to having taken part in counts-out. I have done so believing that it was my duty to the people who sent me here to take that course.
– Surely the honorable senator does not object to his constituents knowing ?
– I am not at all afraid of their knowing. But I see no earthly utility in publishing in the Journals the names of those present. The public mind would not be seriously influenced by the mere fact that eleven senators, or fewer, were present on a certain occasion, whilst the balance of the senators saw fit to remain outside in order to bring the debate to a conclusion. The public mind will be guided entirely by a consideration of the circumstances under which the count-out arose. I think it is useless to make such an amendment of the Standing Orders as is proposed, and I shall therefore vote in opposition to the suggested amendment.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … to
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed amendment agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Lt. -Colonel Sir Albert Gould) agreed to -
That the following new standing order be inserted - 58A. If the Senate be adjourned for want of a quorum either before or after the commencement of business, the names of the senators present shall be entered in the Journals.
Standing order 184 -
After the first reading, a future day shall be appointed for the second reading of the Bill.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) . - I move -
That the following words be added, “ and the Bill shall in the meantime be printed.”
Hitherto, the practice has been that when a Bill has been read a first time, a motion has been made, “ That the second reading stand an Order of the Day,” for a certain future day; and also, “That the Bill be printed.” It appears to me to be absolutely unnecessary for the Senate to direct that a Bill shall be printed, because, having read the Bill a first time, the desire would naturally be to have it printed, in order to be able to deal with it at the second-reading stage.
Proposed amendment agreed to.
Standing order 186 -
Amendments may be moved to such question by leaving out “now” and adding “this day six months “ (which, if carried, shall finally dispose of the Bill) ; or the previous question may be moved.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [4.6].- I move -
That after the word “Bill” the words “or to refer the Bill to a Select Committee “ be inserted.
Standing order 187 provides that no other amendment may be moved to the question for the second reading of a Bill, “except in the form of a resolution strictly relevant to the Bill “ ; whilst standing order 188 provides that -
After the second reading, unless it be moved “ that this Bill be referred to a Select Committee,” or unless notice of an instruction has been given the Senate shall forthwith resolve itself into a Committee of the whole for the consideration of the Bill.
At present, therefore, honorable senators are called upon to assent to the principle of a Bill on the motion for the second reading ; and, having assented to the principle, they can refer the Bill to a Select Committee. It has always occurred to me that that system places the cart before the horse. If the Bill be one about which further information is required, and it is desired to appoint a Select Committee, the Committee ought to be appointed before the second reading is agreed to. This amendment of the standing order is proposed to enable that course to be followed. If, therefore, a Bill comes before the Senate, and honorable senators say that they want more information about it, and that a Select
Committee should be appointed to report, the Committee may henceforth be appointed before the Bill is read a second time. When the Select Committee reports, the Senate will be called upon to vote for or against the second reading. It is surely better to obtain information before the principle of a Bill is affirmed, than to affirm the principle and then obtain the information.
.- I have no objection to amending the standing order; but the language of the proposed amendment is extremely clumsy, and, in fact, the whole provision as proposed to be amended, will be ungrammatical. 1 shall move an amendment with the object of leaving the sense of the standing order, as the Standing Orders Committee propose to leave it, whilst making the language grammatical. We ought not to make it a jumble of words. I suggest that the standing order be made to read as follows : -
Amendments to such question may be made by a motion to leave out “ now “ and add “ this day six months,” which, if carried, shall finally dispose of the Bill ; or by a motion to refer the Bill to a Select Committee; or the previous question may be moved.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [4.10].- The motion for the second reading of a Bill is a substantive motion. If it is proposed by motion to refer a Bill to a Select Committee, that becomes the question before the Chair. Our Standing Orders contain certain provisions with regard to the recommittal of Bills. A motion to recommit supersedes the question before the Chair. Standing order 205 reads -
On the motion for the adoption of the report, the Bill may, on motion, be recommitted, either in whole or in part.
The proposal for a recommittal is not taken as an amendment to the motion before the Chair, but under the standing order it becomes a substantive motion. Wherever the word “ amendment “ is used in a standing order, a motion and an amendment are presumed to be before the Chair, and the two questions are properly debatable together. Although the wording of the proposed new standing order may be somewhat clumsy, still that wording has been accepted hitherto and acted upon, and it has created no difficulty in the minds of honorable senators. If there be any charm in retaining words which have had an interpretation placed upon them, I think it undesirable to adopt the amendment of the honorable senator.
– It is utterly ungrammatical to say that an amendment may be made “by” doing something and then to continue with the words “or to refer.”
– I think that the wording of the proposed new standing order is clear.
– Would it not be better to use the words “ or that the Bill “ in preference to the words “or to refer the Bill?”
– Will that meet the wish of Senator Clemons?
– I have given some attention to this proposal. It does not matter to me personally what language is adopted, but I should like to see our Standing Orders grammatical.. My suggestion, if adopted, will not alter the sense of the proposal.
– I move-
That standing order 1S6 be amended to read as follows : -
Amendments to such Question may be made by a motion to leave out “ now “ and add “ this day six months “ (which, if carried, shall finally dispose of the Bill) ; or by a motion to refer the Bill to a Select Committee; or the previous question may be moved.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [4.14].- We are asked now to have a motion substituted for the motion before the Senate.
– The standing order says that “ amendments “ may be moved.
– What I want the honorable senator to realize is that the question presumed to be before the Chair is not an amendment, but a motion. He talks about amending a question by a motion.
– A motion may require notice.
– It may, but in this connexion it would supersede the question before the Chair.
– We cannot make an amendment except by motion.
.- The motion before the Senate would be “That this Bill be now read a second time,” and an honorable senator might propose, as an amendment, to omit “now” and to add “this day six months,” so that the motion would read “That this Bill be read a second time this day six months.” On the motion and the amendment the whole question would be under review and be decided. A motion is a substantive matter which is before the Senate and supersedes the original question. An honorable senator may say that it supersedes the original question with regard to the second reading taking place “now,” and the limitation would be, strictly speaking, as to whether the Bill should be read “now” or “this day six months,” without going into the whole merits, as honorable senators would be entitled to do if it were purely an amendment.
– There is no procedure by which the Senate can get an amendment except by motion.
.- While I do not defend the verbiage of the proposed new standing order as absolutely correct, I hold that it is sufficiently clear to enable any one to understand what the meaning is, and it is the wording under which our practice has grown up.
– I think that the form in which the proposed new standing order is submitted is the better one, with this exception, that instead of the words suggested we should say “ or that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee.” I do not see that there is much room for finding fault with the grammar.
– It is hopeless as it stands.
– I think that the honorable senator is losing sight of the fact that the proposed new standing order is to follow one which provides -
On the Order of the Day being read for the second reading of a Bill, the question shall be proposed “ That this Bill be now read a second time.”
The honorable .senator is treating the proposed new standing order as if it were to stand alone, whereas it is to be read in conjunction with the previous one. In our Standing Orders the words “motion” and “ amendment “ have definite meanings.
– It is ungrammatical to use the words “or to refer” and the simplest plan would be to say “or by referring.”
– I understand that Senator Gould has agreed to that suggestion.
-That will be all right.
– I think that the form which 1 suggested is the better one, but if the Committee think that there is some sanctity about the earlier words, I suggest that instead of using the crude phrase “or to refer” we should say “or by referring.” That will make the proposed new rule quite grammatical. If my suggestion be accepted I am prepared tolet the matter go.
– I am quite willing to accept the suggestion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion (By Senator Clemons), agreed to -
That the words “to refer” be left out of the proposed amendment, and the words “ byreferring” inserted in lieu thereof.
Proposed amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir Albert Gould), agreed to.
That the following new standing order be inserted - 187A. When a Bill has been reported on by a Select Committee, a future day may be fixed for the second reading.
Standing order 188 -
After the second reading, unless it be moved “ That this Bill be referred to a Select Committee “or…..
Senator Lt..Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. (New South Wales) [4.22].- A consequent amendment is required in this standing order, as it has now been provided that a Bill may be referred to a Select Committee before the second reading is carried. I move -
That the words “ unless it be moved ‘ That this Bill be referred to a Select Committee,’ or “ be left out.
Proposed amendment agreed to.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [4.23].- I move -
That the following new standing order be inserted - 188A. When a Bill has been referred to a Committee df the Whole by the Senate, no question shall be raised in the Committee as to any o’f the provisions of the Bill as so referred being properly before the Committee.
This rule is proposed because it is thought undesirable that after a Bill has been read a second time without any objection having been taken an honorable senator should have the opportunity of raising in Committee the question whether it is properly before honorable senators or not. The Senate is the proper place in which to raise that question. When a Bill is read a second time it goes to a Committee, which, of course, can only deal with that which has been referred to it. The function of the Committee is to bring the verbiage of the Bill into consonance with the wishes of honorable senators, so long as amendments are relevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill. It would be undesirable that a debate should take place in Committee on a question of validity, which ought to have been raised before the second reading of the Bill was agreed to. When that motion is agreed to, the principle of the Bill is accepted, and the assumption is that it is properly before the Committee. The Senate having taken the responsibility of sending a Bill to the Committee, the Committee should not be called upon to judge whether the Senate has acted correctly. It is probable that the Chairman of Committees would not permit a debate on a matter of that kind, but he might do so, and it is as well that it should be definitely settled by our Standing Orders. I ask honorable senators to assent to the proposed new standing order, on the ground that the Committee has to deal only with a Bill after it has been referred to it by the Senate, and as the superior body, the Senate must accept the responsibility of deciding whether the Bill is properly before the Committee or not.
– This proposes a very dangerous alteration in our procedure. I cannot agree with Senator Gould that it is the duty of the Committee merely to alter the verbiage of a Bill, the second reading of which has been assented to by the Senate. It is the duty of the Committee to give the Bill just that exhaustive criticism in detail which we are unable to give it in the Senate.
– The proposed new standing order would not prevent that exhaustive consideration in Committee.
– I think that it would. It proposes that no question shall be raised in Committee as to whether any of the provisions of a Bill are properly before the Committee. There are many ways in which the provisions of a Bill may not be properly before the Committee. It might be perfectly within the competence of the Senate to deal with a particular Bill, but some clause included in it might be ultra vi-res. Take, for instance, a BiH like the Navigation Bill, consisting of 467 clauses. Are we to assume that when that Bill is before the Senate for its second reading, honorable senators will be able to give all its clauses the careful scrutiny which might be necessary in order to discover whether, for instance, one of them was ultra vires? Our usual practice in the discussion of Bills has been that, on the second reading we address ourselves to the general principles of the measure, and deliberately leave to the Committee on the Bill, the close examination of all. the clauses intended to give effect to its principles. I venture to say that we should find it impossible in many cases to give a Bill the careful scrutiny in the Senate which the proposed new standing order implies that we shall give it. If we adopt the proposed new standing order, we shall find ourselves tied down in Committee, and may, to our discomfiture, “be obliged to accept some clauses which, if we could give them the consideration they deserve, we would strike out. What is our ordinary procedure? If, in Committee, an honorable senator raises a question as to the validity, tor various reasons, of the clause of a Bill, he appeals to the Chairman, but we can go beyond the Chairman of Committees to the President, and beyond the President to the Senate itself. We shall lose nothing by continuing to exercise a power which, under the proposed new standing order, we should not be permitted to exercise in Committee. If the proposed new standing order is agreed to, the moment a Bill passes its second reading, no question affecting the validity of a clause can be raised, and I venture to say that if we adopt this procedure, the Senate will on more than one occasion in the future, cover itself with confusion, because there will be many points which could only be conveniently raised in Committee which will have escaped the observation of the Senate.
– Would the honorable senator make the Committee the authority for determining whether a clause is ultra vires ?
– Certainly not, but I should not limit our opportunity to deal with such a question to the debate on the second reading of a. Bill. I should not say that once a Bill had passed its second reading, such a question must not be raised. To do so would be to manacle honorable senators, and to interfere with the opportunities at present afforded to enable the Senate to carry effective legislation. I ask the Committee not to agree to the proposed new standing order.
-‘Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [4.31]. - I should like to add a word to what I have already said. May lays it down that -
When the Speaker has left the Chair, the mace is removed from the table, and the Committee begin the consideration of the Bill. As its principle has been affirmed on the second reading, the details of the Bill are examined in Committee.
He further says that an amendment must be coherent and consistent with the text of the Bill and that irrelevant amendments are out of order. I point out that the principle of a Bill having been affirmed on the second reading, when the whole question of the validity df the proposed legislation can be, and ought fairly to be, considered by the Senate, the Committee should deal only with what has been referred to it, namely, the clauses of the Bill in detail, the general principles of which ha.ve already been approved by the Senate. If it be considered in Committee that a clause is ultra vires, or improperly included in the Bill, it is the duty of honorable senators to vote against its inclusion.
– They might be in favour of the principle of the clause.
-‘Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - If honorable senators were in favour of the principle, .the Committee might agree to the clause, and a ruling be given against the will of the majority of the Committee, the matter being then referred to the President. If he supported the ruling of the Chairman, a majority of the Senate might afterwards overrule both Chairman and President. The object of Ihe proposed new standing order is to prevent prolonged discussion in Committee upon a matter which should properly be dealt with on the second reading of a Bill in the Senate. It has been suggested, with a view to conserving the time of a Committee of the Senate, and honorable senators understand that the members of the Standing Orders Committee have no personal feeling in the matter. They have suggested the proposed new standing order to conserve the time of honorable senators in the Senate, and in Committee, and to secure the de- termination, at the proper stage of a Bill, of difficulties and questions of the character referred to.
– - If the proposed new standing order is adopted the Senate, instead of gaining anything, will have placed itself at a very serious disadvantage. Every member of the Senate might be in favour of the principle of a Bill which contained a clause that for one reason or another might be held to be ultra vires. If the proposed new standing order were passed, and that were not discovered on the second reading, the Bill would have to be withdrawn, the time occupied in dealing with it would have been wasted, and a new Bill would have to be intro.duced. Without such a standing order the principle of the Bill could be affirmed on the second reading, and the Committee would have power to alter the objectionable clause. The only advantage which Senator Gould has claimed for the proposed new standing .order is that it would conserve the time of honorable senators in the Senate and in Committee. I would ask honorable senators to say whether after nine years’ experience of the work of the Senate they have known of such an inordinate waste of time as would justify the adoption of so drastic a standing order, which must deprive them of advantages which they now possess for discussion in Committee. As a matter of fact, we have,during the present session, been passing Bills with almost indecent haste. The business-paper in another place is overloaded with Bills which have already passed the Senate. I should like to say that, as Senator Clemons has so cogently urged, it is in Committee that defects in the clauses of a Bill are usually discovered, because it is in Committee only that they ran be subjected to close scrutiny and discussion. On the second reading of a Bill we can discuss only its general principles.
– We are confined to that.
– That is so. The President would very properly call any honorable senator to order who tried to initiate a Committee discussion on the second reading of a Bill. Honorable senators having only the opportunity to speak once on the second reading of a Bill would, if they raised a.question as to the validity of a particular provision, be unable to combat the opposite view if it were subsequently urged. I should like to know what advantage is likely to be gained from the adoption of the proposed new standing order. At present we are able to discuss the principles of a Bill on the second reading, and if it is shown that it contains a flaw we can remedy it in Committee. The adoption of the proposed new standing order would deprive us of that advantage. I think the good sense of the Committee will be against the adoption of the proposed new standing order.
– - I share the apprehension expressed regarding the proposed new standing order. It appears to me that by adopting it we should deprive ourselves of any opportunity to discuss whether or not a certain clause should be included in a Bill. It is true that on the second reading we could raise a question as to whether or not the Bill was in order, but we should not be at liberty to raise a similar question with regard to a particular clause. Having passed the second reading of the Bill with the objectionable clause in it, we should be debarred in Committee from discussing whether or not the clause was properly included in the Bill. We might, as Senator Pearce has suggested, favour the principle of the clause, but have grave doubts as to whether it should be included in the Bill. We should have no opportunity to discuss whether it was in order, as the moment the question was raised the Chairman of Committees would, under the proposed new standing order, say - “ Honorable senators can discuss the merits of the clause, but not whether it is properly in the Bill.”
– Suppose we wished to include a clause referring to old-age pensions in a Seaman’s Compensation Bill?
– It has been explained that any one believing the clause to be ultra vires could vote against it. But the records would not show whether he voted against it because it was unconstitutional, or because he was opposed to it in principle, and no opportunity would be given to an honorable senator to explain in the Senate why he objected to the clause.
– Except on the third reading.
– He might attempt at a later stage to explain his vote, butthat would not be satisfactory. I suggest to those who have this matter more directly in hand that it might be possible on further consideration to draft a standing order which, while achieving a good purpose, would be free from the objections which have been urged against the proposed new standing order by previous speakers.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [4.40]- I recognise that there is a good deal of objection to this proposal, and, personally, I am of opinion that more consideration might profitably be devotedto it. I admit that under the provisions of the proposed new standing order it is quite possible that some difficulty might arise in connexion with dealing with Bills in Committee. I, therefore, ask leave to withdraw the proposal.
– Negative it.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [4.41] - I would point out to Senator Clemons that if we negative the proposal, as he has suggested, it cannot be reconsidered in any similarity of form during the current session. It would be just as well, therefore, to allow it to be withdrawn.
Proposed amendment negatived.
Standing order 189 -
When a Bill has been referred to a Select Committee and reported, notice mav be given for its committal to a Committee of the whole Senate.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [4.42].-I move -
That the standing order be left out.
We have already dealt with the steps which have to be taken when a Bill has been reported upon by a Select Committee.
Proposed amendment agreed to.
Standing order 190 -
No motion for referring a Bill to a Select Committee shall be considered after the Chairman of Committees shall have reported the Bill.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [4.43]- As this provision is now unnecessary, I move -
That the standing order be left out.
Proposed amendment agreed to.
Standing order 198 -
Any clause may be postponed unless the same has already been amended.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD) (New South Wales) [4.44]. - I move -
That the words “ unless the same has already been amended “ be left out, and that the words “ whether the same has been amended or not “ or not” be inserted in lieu thereof.
Under the present standing order a clause cannot be postponed if it has already been amended. Now it often happens that after a clause has been partially amended the Committee desire that it should be postponed in order that more consideration may be devoted to it. Under these circumstances it has been thought wise to grant the requisite power which will be conferred by the proposed amendment.
Proposed amendment agreed to.
Standing order 208 -
Before any Bill shall be read a third time, the Chairman of Committees shall certify in writing that the fair print is in accordance with the Bill as agreed to in Committee, and reported, and the President shall announce that the Chairman has so certified.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [4.45]. - I move -
That after the word “ Bill,” line1, the words “ (except a Bill which the Senate may not amend) “ be inserted.
As there is no reprint required in the case of Bills which the Senate cannot amend, the certificate of the Chairman in such cases cannot be forthcoming. If a money Bill be reported without requests there is no necessity for the certificate of the Chairman of Committees that it is a fair print and is in accordance with the measure agreed to in Committee. It is, therefore, proposed that standing order 208 should remain inapplicable to Bills which the Senate may not amend. Of course, there are Bills which the Senate is empowered to amend in some respects, but not in others, and to these the standing order will not apply.
Proposed amendment agreed to.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [4.47].- I move -
That the following new standing order bo inserted : - 224A. If (whether in addition to amendments or not) requests for amendments in the Bill shall have been made, such requests, together with the amendments (if any), shallupon the conclusion of the Committee’s proceedings, be reported to the Senate, and upon the adoption of the report, a message shall be sent to the House of Representatives, informing that House of the amendments (if any) made bv the Senate, and requesting the House to make amendments in the Bill in accordance with the requests, and returning the Bill. Upon the disposal of such requested amendments, as provided in standing orders 240 to 246, inclusive, the Bill shall be read a third time, and thereafter the procedure in respect to amendments shall be followed.
In the early history ot this Parliament the question arose whether it was competent tor the Senate to amend a certain class of Bills in parts, and to make requests in other parts. The Constitution lays it down that certain “ proposed laws “ may not be amended by the Senate. Now, a Bill may be regarded as embodying such “ proposed laws,” and it is sometimes found desirable to amend in certain respects a Bill which we cannot amend in all respects. That is the practice which has been laid down by mutual agreement between the two branches of the Legislature, and it seems to be a most convenient course to pursue. For instance, we cannot amend the clauses in a Bill so as to increase the burden of taxation. But such a Bill may contain a large number of other provisions which do not affect the question of increased taxation, and the Senate may find it necessary to amend, them.
– The proposed new standing order says : “ The Bill shall be read a third time, and thereafter the procedure in respect to amendments shall be followed.’.’ What amendments can be considered after the third reading of a Bill?
– Those words refer to the message which would be sent to the other branch of the Legislature informing it that the Senate had agreed to the third reading of any Bill. In connexion with this standing order, the question arose as to whether the Senate should, in the first instance, request the other House to make amendments in certain Bills, and whether after those requests had been _dealt with, the Bill should not be again taken into Committee where amendments might be made in other portions of it. It was, however, considered that it would be fairer to the other House to indicate at once where the Senate had made amendments in a Bill, and where it bad requested that amendments should be made. The other Chamber would then know exactly what were the views of the Senate upon it. It appears to me to be very much better that a Bill should pass through all our Committee stage_s before being transmitted from this Chamber to the House of Representatives. The other Chamber is then in a position to see the effect of our requests and also of our amendments. The proposed new standing order will facilitate the task of dealing with Bills which we may amend in parts, but which we may not amend in other parts, although we may make requests in regard to those parts.
– I think that objection may fairly be taken to the concluding words of the proposed new standing order.. To say that -
Upon the disposal of such requested amendments, as provided in standing orders 240 to 246, inclusive, the Bill shall be read a third time, and thereafter the procedure in respect of amendments shall be followed - is a crude way of expressing what is intended to be conveyed. Of course, we all know what those words are intended to mean, but in their present form they certainly convey the impression that it will be open to the Senate to amend a Bill after it has been read a third time. If we are going to adopt this proposed standing order, I suggest that it would be wise to postpone its consideration with a view to permitting it to be redrafted in a better form.
.- I would point out to Senator Clemons that the proposal which we are now considering is a new one, and that standing order 227 deals wholly with the question of amendments. The latter lays down the whole procedure that must be followed in connexion with amendments made in Bills by the Senate. We know that it is not often that we are afforded an opportunity of dealing with our Standing Orders. These amending Standing Orders have been on the stocks for a very long time. Senator Clemons is himself a member of the Standing Orders Committee, and has had a full opportunity of thrashing out the questions involved.
– I consider that the latter portion of the proposed new standing order is obscure, i said so, by interjection, when Senator Gould was explaining it. The concluding portions of proposed new standing order 224b is, however, quite clear. Itreads -
After such a request has been disposed of, if the amendments of the Senate have not been agreed to, the procedure in respect to amendments shall be followed.
But I do not know what is meant by saying that when a Bill has been read a third time - thereafter the procedure in respect of amendments shall be followed.
– If it will assist honorable senators, I should be quite willing to leave out those words.
– I think that the standing order would be spoilt if those words were left out.
– The idea is clear enough, I think.
– I can well remember the meetings of the Standing Orders Committee at which this matter was discussed. The proposed standing order was drafted principally by Mr. Boydell, the Clerk of the Senate, or under his guidance. Mr. Boydell has made a special study of the difficulties into which we have got in regard to composite Bills. It was pointed out that we had no definite procedure in regard to them. But we have established a practice, and it is now sought to embody that practice in a standing order.
– What procedure can there be upon a Bill after its third reading ? Our requests are made before the third reading is agreed to.
– We are dealing with composite Bills, and the third reading of such a Bill is passed before we send the measure back to the other House.
– Surely that is not so?
– I have not had time to look up cases; but I think it will be found that we have passed a composite Bill a third time, and then sent a message to the other House stating what we have done.
– I cannot conceive of any further proceedings with regard to the details of a Bill taking place after we have read it a third time. I do not know what that stage is.
– Thereis such a stage in regard to composite Bills.
– What stage could it be?
- Mr. Boydell recommended that we should adopt the procedure laid down in this standing order.
– I think it would be better to leave out the concluding words, and, if necessary, draft a new standing order.
– I consider that it will do no harm to leave the words in. They will serve as a guide to us.
– I feel some hesitation about speaking on this subject after the state ment of Senator Pearce, who has occupied the position of Chairman of Committees; but my. impression as to the method by which we have dealt with composite Bills is this: Where a Bill was of such a character that we had to proceed by way of request, we suspended the third reading until our requests were disposed of. After the Bill came back to us, and our requests were disposed of, we read the Bill a third time.
– But suppose that the other House agrees to all our requests. The Bill may then be read a! third time. But still there may be” an interchange of messages with regard to amendments.
– I understand the honorable senator to say that after a Bill containing both requests and amendments is dealt with by this Chamber, our message goes to the other House; that the Bill then comes back to us ; and that then we pass the third reading, before the other House has dealt with our amendments. If such a procedure has been followed, I have no recollection of it. There is. a conflict of evidence. If the statement of Senator Pearce be correct, the concluding words of the proposed new standing order are required.
– Does not the honorable senator see the object another place may have in dealing with our requests before they deal with our amendments? The Senate might not press a certain amendment if the other House acceded to a certain request.
– I can, of course, conceive of the possibility of requests and amendments being made in the same Bill.
– Let me ask Senator Pearce to analyze the position which he states has been accepted by the Senate in the past. He has invited us to believe that our practice has been this - that we have read a Bill a third time in the Senate; that we have been told that all the requests made by us in the Bill have been agreed to by the other House, but that certain amendments which represent a form of our inherent right are outstanding and unsettled between the two Houses; and that, nevertheless, we have read such a Bill a third time. It seems to me to be incredible. If the Senate has read a Bill a third time under such circumstances - its requests having been agreed to, and its amendments remaining outstanding - it is a procedure that ought not under any circumstances to have been allowed. I trust that either the proposed new standing order will be postponed, or that the concluding words will be struck out.
– I have looked up the Journals of the Senate of the- 15th July, 1903. I find that the following message from the House of Representatives is there recorded -
The House of Representatives returns to the Senate the Bill intituled “A Bill for an Act to provide for a Bonus to Growers of Sugarcane and Beet,” and acquaints the Senate that the House of Representatives has disagreed to Amendment No. 3 made by the Senate, for the following reason : - Because the Bill is a proposed law appropriating revenue or moneys, and Amendment No. 3 is an infraction of the provisions of section 53 of the Constitution, which prohibits the Senate from originating a proposed law appropriating revenue of moneys or from amending any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people ; and the House of Representatives does not deem it necessary to offer any further reason, hoping the above may be sufficient.
The House of Representatives has agreed to all the other amendments made in the Bill by the Senate.
House of Representatives,
Melbourne, 14th July, 1903.
– The whole point is - what was the stage of the Bill?
– What happened?
– Unless the honorable senator shows that the Bill had been read a third time by the Senate his quotation is of no use.
– Let us read the proposed new standing order carefully. It says : -
If (whether in addition to amendments or not) requests for amendments in the Bill shall have been made, such requests, together with the amendment (if any) shall, upon the conclusion of the Committee’s proceedings, be reported to the Senate, and upon the adoption of the report, a message shall be sent to the House of Representatives, informing that House of the amendment (if any) made by the Senate, and requesting the House to make amendments in the Bill in accordance with the requests, and returning the Bill. Upon the disposal of such requested amendments - that is, upon our requests being disposed of- the Bill shall be read a third time - that is, by the Senate. That contemplates that something is left; and what is left consists of the amendments that the Senate has made. No mention is made of our amendments, but only of our requested amendments.
– But surely we have never read a Bill a third time while there were amendments outstanding?
– The amendments must be disposed of, one way or the other, before the third reading.
– Not necessarily. When the requested amendments of the Senate have been made, we pass the third reading of the Bill in question.
– Can the honorable senator show a case where we have done that ?
– The standing order under consideration contemplates that procedure, and I feel confident that that course has been followed, although I have not had time to look up an instance. There is a good reason why it should be so, because if our requested amendments have been made by the other House, the Bill is in the same position as if we had amended it. It then goes to its third reading, and, so far as the Senate is concerned, that ends the matter. Our amended Bill is then dealt with by another place, and it may further amend the Bill. It should be borne in mind that it has not disposed of the Bill.
– The other House can only deal with our amendments.
– A composite Bill is not in the same position as an ordinary Bill. But once the other House has intimated that it has made the requested amendments it ‘becomes an ordinary Bill, and then we proceed to the third-reading stage, although the other House has not dealt with our amendments. That is exactly what the proposed new standing order contemplates.
– What the honorable senator means is that independently of our amendments our requests would be considered ?
– Yes. I feel sure that that procedure has been adopted. There is a reason why it should be adopted. If we send down a Bill with amendments we have agreed to the Bill as a scheme, but if we send back the Bill with requests for amendments, and also with amendments, our scheme may be altered entirely by the other House acceding to some of our requests and rejecting others. The Senate might not press its requests if it knew that some of them had been rejected elsewhere.
That is why the other House deals first with our requests, and that procedure is only fair to the Senate.
Senator’ Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [5.12].- My memory is quite clear with regard to the Sugar Bounties Bill. Mr. Boydell has made a note that this practice was established at the suggestion of the Senate in connexion with that Bill, and the proposed Standing Orders are designed to meet a case of that kind. The Sugar Bounties Bill was amended by the Senate in several respects. There was one amendment which Mr. Speaker held to infringe the rights of the other House, and which he pointed out should have been dealt with here by way of request. The Bill had gone through all stages here. When it was pointed out by Mr. Speaker that in his opinion the Senate had exceeded its powers, the other House sent up a message reciting that statement, and asking us to make a request. Sir Edmund Barton, the Prime Minister, pointed out very clearly what ought to be done, and his speech is very fully reported in Hansard. In that case the difficulty was that the Senate had practically dealt with the Bill finally. It had been read a third time here, but, notwithstanding that fact, it came back from the other House. We recognised that the Bill should not have been dealt with finally by the Senate until it had had an opportunity of knowing the attitude of the other House with regard to the request. Had we sent down amendments together with requests the other House might have accepted the Bill subject to our amendments, but declined to make the requests. It was felt that that procedure would place the Senate in a false position, because the amendments might be of such a nature that it had only been induced to insert them subject to the requested amendments being made. In the proposed standing order it is provided that after a Bill has gone through the Committee stage, and the report has been adopted, and before proceeding to the third reading, the Bill shall be sent back with a message requesting the other House to make the amendments desired. Upon the disposal of our request as provided in standing orders 240 to 246 inclusive, the Bill is to be read a third time, and thereafter the procedure in respect to amendments followed. Those standing orders relate to the proceedings on Bills which the Senate may not amend. Standing order 240 provides that unless otherwise ordered, after the second reading has been passed the Bill has to be referred to a Committee, of the whole. Then on the adoption of the Committee’s report a message has to be sent to the other House, and if we receive a message stating that it has completely complied with our requests, the Bill is read a third time here and passed.
– In that case we did not send the Bill?
– In the case of a composite Bill, would it not be in conformity with those rules to send down a message containing the requests only, retaining the Bill ?
– The other House must have the Bill before it can make any amendments in accordance with bur requests. If a Bill were sent back after it had been read a third time here, the other House might decline to make the amendments we desired, and send the Bill straight away to be assented to. In the new rule, it is provided that a message shall go to the other House containing the requests from the Committee for amendments. If the other House accedes to the requests, the Bill is to be returned and the Senate is to proceed right away to the third reading stage. If the other House does not agree to our requests, but agrees to them in only a modified form, then, under standing order 245, the Senate can deal with the Bill at that stage, and come to a conclusion. The difficulty has been as to what steps should be taken when we have considered a composite Bill, sent down a message indicating our requested amendments, and the requests have been dealt with by the other House. The Committee stage has been passed, and there is only one course to take, and that is to proceed with the third reading. On the receipt of our message, the other House deals with only our requests, but it knows the amendments we desire, and thereby it is enabled to deal more clearly with our requests. Then it sends back the Bill, and if we come to a satisfactory agreement as to the requests, we proceed to the third reading. If we have made amendments in the (Bill besides those which the other House has made, then a message is sent down to the effect that the Senate has agreed to the Bill with the amendments indicated in the schedule. The other House may accept the Bill with the amendments, or it may send back the Bill, saying that it declined to agree to our amendments, but had agreed to some, and disagreed with others. It is then necessary to refer the message of the other House to a Committee of the whole Senate to be dealt with. In accordance with standing order 245, the Committee deal with the message, and then a message is sent to the other House. If, after the exchange of messages, the Houses cannot be brought into agreement, provision is made in the Standing Orders for the holding of a conference, in order to ascertain whether the Bill can be brought into shape. The concluding words of the proposed new rule, “ and thereafter the procedure, in respect to amendments shall be followed,” are inserted in order to enable the Senate to deal with the various messages which may be received from time to time with respect to amendments. It will be observed that it only deals with Bills in respect of which both amendments and requests are desired. The other House has no opportunity of dealing with our amendments until the Bill has been read a third time here.
– Does the word “amendments,” in the final sentence, include “ requests “ ?
– No. It assumes that all the requests have been dealt with. They must be dealt with before we can proceed to the third reading. When I recall what occurred in 1903 in connexion with the Sugar Bounties Bill, I feel satisfied that it is necessary tomake this alteration, in order that there may be no cavilling or difficulty as to what may be done with regard to amendments.
Proposed amendment agreed to.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [5.25].- I move -
That the following new standing order be inserted : - 224B. If any Bill received from the House of Representatives, in which the Senate has made amendments, be returned by the House of Representatives with a suggestion that any of such amendments should be made the subject of a request by the Senate in accordance with section 53of Constitution, the “Senate may forthwith, or on a future day, take such message into consideration in Committee ; and if any requests for amendments are made, the Bill shall be returned to the House of Representatives with a message requesting that House to make such requested amendments. In dealing with anv such requests the same procedure shall be followed as is laid down in standing orders 240 to 246 inclusive. After such requests have been disposed of, if the amendments of the Senate have not been agreed to, the procedure in respect to amendments shall be followed.
This standing order is necessary in addition to that to which the Committee has already agreed, to meet cases where we make by mistake a request instead of an amendment.
Proposed amendment agreed to.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [5.28].- Difficulties have arisen from time to time with regard to the action which ought to be taken in making requests to the House of Representatives on Bills which we cannot amend. Under section 53 of the Constitution, it is provided that -
The Senate may at any stage return to the House of Representatives any. proposed law which the Senate may not amend, requesting by message, the omission or amendment of any items or provisions therein.
It will be seen that the Constitution says ‘ at any stage. ‘ ‘ It does not appear to me that in the circumstances any difficulty could arise with regard to the stage at which a request is made. But it has been considered wise that for the guidance of honorable senators we should lay down in our Standing Orders the stages at which requests may most properly be made. The Standing Orders Committee recommend the adoption of the following new standing order : - 240A. The stages of a Bill at which requests to the House of Representatives may be made shall be -
It will be seen that no proposal is made to prefer a request until after the second reading of a Bill has been agreed to. I propose instead of adopting the proposed new . standing order which I have quoted, to provide that the first stage at which a request may be made shall be on the motion for the first reading. I will explain the reason for that. In the early days of the Parliament a Bill was sent to the Senate which we had not the right to amend. It was an Appropriation Bill for the annual services. There was no schedule attached to the Bill showing the salaries to be paid to the various officials. The Bill was sent up to us very much in the way in which an Appropriation Bill is sent from a State Legislative Assembly to a State Legislative Council, or from the House of
Commons to the House of Lords. It simply included a summary of amounts for the various departments. The Senate determined that as under the Constitution we have a perfect right to review the salaries proposed to be paid to the various officials, it was necessary that we should have a schedule to enable us to ascertain what those salaries were ; and T quote the following from the record of what took place on the second reading of the Bill on the 14th June, 1901 -
The Postmaster-General, according to order, moved, That the Supply Bill be now read a second time.
Senator Fraser moved an amendment, viz. : To leave out all the words after the word “be,” with a view to add “ returned to the House of Representatives with the following message” : -
– The Senate returns to the House of Representatives the Bill intituled “ An Act lo grant out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund the sum of Four hundred and ninety-one thousand eight hundred and eightytwo pounds to the service of the period ending 30th June,” 1901,” with the respectful request that the House of Representatives will so amend the Bill that it may show the items of expenditure comprised in the sums which the Bill purports to grant to His Majesty.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question - put and negatived.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be added - put and passed.
Then the main question as amended was carried, and the Bill was returned to another place, with a message requesting that it might be so amended as to show the items of expenditure comprised in the sums which it purported to grant to His Majesty. If we had had in force a standing order in the form recommended by the Standing Orders Committee, we would have been confronted with the difficulty that we should have had to carry the second reading of the Bill before any request could have been submitted for its amendment in such a way as to supply a schedule of the salaries. It is very much better that a request of the kind should be moved on the first reading, because it does not deal with individual items, but with a general principle desired to be affirmed. In another case some difficulty arose with regard to the preamble of a Bill in which it was stated that the House of Representatives had granted certain sums of money to His Majesty for the services of the year. It was pointed out that the grant of Supply was not by the House of Representatives only, but by both Houses of the Federal Parliament. ‘ The Bill in .question was returned to the House of Representatives with a request for amendment, and the wording of the preamble now used to such measures was adopted. The grant of Supply is initiated in another place, but both Houses of Parliament make the grant. That is an amendment which might properly have been considered on the first or second reading of the Bill. At the time it was not competent for a request to be submitted on the motion for the first reading, which had to be accepted or rejected. The request in that case was, therefore, proposed on the second reading. The Standing Orders under which we are working to-day are not the Standing Orders which were in existence at that time. At present, as. honorable senators are aware, they are entitled to debate the first reading of a Bill which the Senate may not amend, and are not confined in that debate to the subjectmatter of the Bill. It has occurred to me, and in this matter I have been acting since the Standing Orders Committee met, -that it would be wise to afford an opportunity on the first reading of such a Bill for the making of a request. So that if a Bill of the character of the measure to which I have referred had been dealt with in the early part of 1901-2, were before the Senate, we might on the first reading, carry a motion requesting the House of Representatives to make- any amendment in it we thought desirable. On the Bill being returned to the Senate, we could continue its consideration in the ordinary way. In order that large powers may be given honorable senators under the Standing Orders, I desire that the proposed new standing order shall be amended in the way I have indicated. Honorable senators may ask why we should not take the power to move a request on the second reading, and my reply is that, if upon such a Bill being presented in the Senate, it is found that there is any omission to recognise the powers of the Senate with regard to it, it is very much better that before it is read a first time, we should intimate to the House of Representatives our objection to its form, and request it to make the necessary change.
– The Bill might be submitted without notice, and we should not have time to examine it.
.- That is so. But honorable senators are at liberty to debate the first reading of such a Bill and during the debate they would, no doubt, discover whether any amendment was desirable. I think it is very much better that on the second reading discussion should be confined to the subject-matter of the Bill, and we should take advantage of the opportunity afforded by the first reading’ to make such requests as may be considered necessary.
– Then we must see that such Bills are not submitted without notice.
– If it is intended to proceed with the consideration of such measures I think that the President might be given an opportunity to examine them before they are brought before the Senate to see whether it is desirable that any request for an amendment should be submitted. Another question has arisen in this connexion. It has been contended by another place that the Senate has no right tomake a request more than once. We have” made a request which has not been acceded to, and have then sent a message insisting upon our request. Although the House of Representatives has considered such a message they have always, on the reconsideration of a request, carried a motion that it is not to be considered as a precedent in any way interfering with their rights and privileges. 1 think it is wise that we should definitely affirm by our Standing Orders that we claim the right to make a request more than once. We should lay down what we consider to be our rights, duties, and privileges in this connexion. It is contended that the wording of section 53 of the Constitution -
The Senate may at any stage return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate may not amend, requesting by message the omission or amendment of any items or provisions therein, means that we can prefer such a request only at one stage, but under the Acts Interpretation Act where necessary, the singular, when made use of, is held to include the plural. Our position will be made clear by the adoption of the proposed new standing order in the amended form in which I intend to submit it, and it would impose no limitation on our powers. If at any time it were held to be urgently necessary that the Senate should make a request at a stage other than that mentioned in the proposed standing order the adoption of if would not preclude that being done, but, of course, a very strong reason would have to be advanced to justify the adoption of such a course. I move -
That the following new standing order be inserted - 240A. Requests to the House of Represen tatives may be made at all or any of the following stages of a Bill which the Senate may not amend -
Upon the motion for the first reading of any such Bill ; or
In Committee after the second reading has been agreed to ; or
On consideration of any message from the House of Representatives in reference to such Bill ; or
On the third reading of the Bill.
I’ have devoted a great deal of attention to these amendments in order to obviate the possibility of any difficulty which might be foreseen and guarded against arising hereafter. Honorable senators will recognise that the rights of this Chamber are involved in these proposals, but while we should always endeavour to uphold those rights, we ought, as far as possible, to avoid trespassing upon the rights of the other Chamber.
– I take it that in respect of a Bill which the Senate may not amend, all its requests must be disposed of before the Bill is read a third time. Now, in standing order 224A, we have clearly laid down when and how requests may be made by the Senate. It seems to me, therefore, that we are now attempting to reassert a right which we abandoned in that standing order, the latter portion of which reads -
Upon the disposal of such requested amendments, as provided in standing orders 240 to 246, inclusive, the Bill shall be read a third time, and thereafter, the procedure in respect to amendments shall be followed.
– But on the motion for the third reading of a Bill fresh requests may be made by the Senate.
– If that be so, the proposed new standing order is inconsistent with standing order 224A, which we have already adopted.
Senator. Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [5.47].- Standing order 224A provides that requested amendments in any Bill must be disposed of before thatBill can be read a third time. But under the proposal which we are now considering the Senate would have power to amend the motion for the third reading of the Bill by making requests for further amendments. If that course were adopted the Bill would then be returned to the House of Representatives with a request that certain amendments should be made. When those requests have been finally disposed of the Bill would be read a third time. This proposal is really- an extension of the power conferred by standing order 224A, and not a contradiction of it.
Proposed amendment agreed to.
Standing order 241 -
Upon the adoption of any report from the Committee, or of any report as amended by the Senate, a message shall be sent to the House of Representatives requesting that House to make amendments in the Bill in accordance therewith, and returning the Bill.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [5.50].- I move -
That after the word “ Upon “ the following words be inserted : - “ any amendment containing a request to the House of Representatives being made upon the motion for the first reading of any such Bill or the motion for the third reading thereof and upon”; and that after the word “ Senate “ the words “ recommending requests for amendments “ be inserted.
As we have determined that the Senate shall have the right to make requests on the motion for the first reading of a Bill, it is necessary to provide how those requests shall be dealt with.
Proposed amendments agreed to.
Standing order 243 -
If a message is returned from the House of Representatives completely complying with the requests of the Senate as originally made or as modified, the Bill, as altered, may be read a third time and passed.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [5.53].- It will be necessary to make a consequential amendment in this standing order. I therefore move -
That the words “ read a third time and passed “ be left out, and that the words “ proceeded with in the usual way “ be inserted in lieu thereof.
The usual way means, of course, the next stage of the Bill.
Proposed amendments agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir
Albert Gould) proposed -
That the following new standing order be inserted - 393A. A senator may bv leave continue his speech on a subsequent day, and if such leave be granted, the debate shall thereby stand adjourned.
– The present practice is for the Senate to give leave to a senator to continue his speech on a subsequent day. But the granting of that leave does not automatically adjourn the debate. I take it that the new standing order is proposed so that when leave is given to a senator to continue his speech the debate shall thereupon be automatically adjourned.
– Yes ; and then it will be necessary for the Minister to move that the resumption of the debate stand an Order of the Day for a subsequent day.
– While the new standing order is designed to meet such cases as have occurred more than once, there are nevertheless some dangers which it is desirable to avoid. Let us see what may happen. A senator might begin a second-reading speech at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. At 5 o’clock he might desire to get permission to resume his speech on a subsequent occasion. If that leave were granted it would operate as an adjournment of the debate, and other business could be taken. I do not think that that is what we mean. When a senator gets leave to resume his speech, it is not intended that the Government should have power to bring on fresh business. That would be a very dangerous innovation.
– Suppose a senator, through indisposition, wanted to continue his speech on a subsequent occasion, would some other senator be able to continue the debate ‘c
– The proposed new standing order might operate in such a way as to cut off from other senators the opportunity of debating a certain Bill for a considerable time. The provision is rather dangerous as it stands, and will be followed by consequences wider than are contemplated. I do not think it is desirable that a debate should be adjourned while there is full time to continue it during the sitting of the Senate then proceeding. Nor do I think it is desirable that if a senator at 20 minutes to 10 o’clock at night gets leave to continue his speech the following day, the Government should be allowed to bring on fresh business.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [6.1].- What Senator Clemons has stated is quite correct. The proposed new standing order contemplates that if a senator obtains leave to continue his speech, the result shall be to close the debate automatically for the time being. It would be quite competent for a senator at half -past 5 in the afternoon to obtain per- mission to continue his speech at a later time, and the Government might then proceed with other business. If, however, a senator, through indisposition, obtained leave under the standing order, it would not be right, and would indeed be extremely awkward, for three or four other senators to intervene with speeches, and then - perhaps in the following week - for the senator who obtained leave, to deliver the remaining portion of his speech. I do not think that such a course should be permitted. But, nevertheless, the standing order will be useful in some cases. Take the case of a Minister who moves the second reading of a Bill at half-past 3 o’clock on a Friday afternoon, expecting to conclude by about half-past 4. In consequence of interjections of a very pertinent character, perhaps, he might not be able to conclude his speech before the usual time for adjournment, and might wish to obtain leave to finish it on the next sitting day. If, however, there be a fear that the proposed new standing order contains an element of danger, I shall not feel justified in pressing it upon the Senate. It simply embodies what has been our practice.
– Why put the provision in the Standing Orders at all ?
– If there is a feeling against the proposal I shall consent to its’ being negatived.
Proposed amendment negatived.
Standing order 405 -
No senator shall digress from the subjectmatter of any question under discussion ; nor anticipate the discussion of any subject which appears on the notice-paper.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [6.5]. - I move -
That the following words be added : - “ Provided that this standing order shall not prevent discussion on the Address-in-Reply of any matter, and provided further that if a period of four weeks shall have elapsed since any notice of motion or order of the day was first placed on the business-paper, and no debate thereon shall have been initiated, the rule as to anticipating discussion shall have no effect in relation to such motion or order.”
The point which the new proviso is intended to meet is this : It is within the power of any senator to give notice of a motion with regard to a subject as to which he may simply have a desire to evade debate. He may place his motion on the notice-paper with the express purpose of preventing a debate upon it being initiated. The debate on the Address-in-
Reply affords an opportunity for honorable senators to criticise the conduct of the Government, the administration of the Departments, the legislation proposed to be. introduced, and the necessity for other legislation being submitted. Under a strict interpretation of our Standing Orders, a senator might be precluded from alluding, during the course of a debate on the Address-in-Reply, to any subject with regard to which a notice of motion had been given. A case of the kind came before me as President some time ago. I then declined to prevent an honorable senator from discussing a matter during the AddressinReply debate, although notice of motion had been given with regard to the subject in question. I considered that it was not right to block debate by such a method. In the Parliament of New South Wales, of which I was a member, notice of motion was at one time frequently given for the express purpose of preventing discussion on certain questions. The motion having been placed upon the business paper, it would remain there for two or three months. When it was called on, the mover would simply decline to proceed with it, and would give fresh notice immediately afterwards. Under this proposed new standing order, it would not be possible to block debate on any matter for a longer period than four weeks. The proviso may be commended to the Senate as an improvement on our present standing order.
– Would not standing order 405 as it stands prevent the discussion, on the motion for the first reading of a Supply Bill, of a subject about which notice of motion had been given ?
– The practice of the Senate is that on the motion for the first reading of a Supply Bill, matters which are not relevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill may be debated, but the ordinary rule would apply to such a motion. The new proviso does not affect motions for the first reading of Supply Bills.
. If on the second day of a session an honorable senator gives a fortnight’s or other notice of a motion relative to a subject that fact would not be allowed under this amendment to interfere with the discussion on the Address-in-Reply. On first reading of a Supply Bill ample latitude is allowed, because that is practically our grievance day. But, under the present rule, an honorable senator can give a week’s notice of a motion relating to a matter which other honorable senators might desire to discuss on the first reading of a Supply Bill. Is it not also necessary to provide that the debate on the first reading of such a Bill shall not be circumscribed by the presence of such a notice of motion on the business-paper?
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [6.11].- The standing order which allows an honorable senator to discuss irrelevant matters on the first reading of a Bill which the Senate may not amend, does not override standing order 405, which prevents the anticipation of debate on- a notice of motion.
– But should it not do so?
– I think it is a very wise thing that the rule against anticipation of debate should apply as much to a Supply Bill as to any other Bill, because the object aimed at is just as desirable in the one case as in the other.
– Except that in the former case the discussion can take a wider range.
– Yes; on the first reading of a Supply Bill an honorable senator can discuss any question which he may think fit, so long as he does not anticipate the discussion of a matter appearing on the business-paper, though it may have been there for months.
– Even though it may involve a grievance he is blocked by that fact.
– Under the proposed standing order the discussion of a subject could not be blocked for a longer period than four weeks. I think it is a wise rule that when a senator is discussing grievances on a Supply Bill he should not be allowed to anticipate the discussion on a specific motion. I draw a distinction between the ventilation of grievances on a Supply Bill and the discussion on the AddressinReply. The submission of the Address-in-Reply provides the first opportunity to honorable senators for discussing various matters which may have arisen during the recess. But after the Senate has been sitting for a considerable time an honorable senator has had many opportunities on motions for adjournment to bring forward grievances, before a motion dealing with a grievance was placed on the noticepaper. If an honorable senator wants to protect himself, he can give notice of a motion for a day or two prior to the expected introduction of a Supply Bill, then withdraw the motion and ventilate its subjectmatter in connexion with that Bill. I think it is much better not to allow the subject-matter of a notice of motion to be anticipated by honorable senators when they are ventilating grievances on a Supply Bill.
– I am thoroughly in accord with the spirit of the proposed standing order. But I am afraid that if the object is to stifle discussion it will not be successful. If an honorable senator wants to stifle a discussion which, in his opinion, would arise on the first reading of a Supply Bill, then, with the four weeks’ latitude granted to him, he- could do it easily.
– At present an honorable senator can set down his notice of motion for a date two months ahead, but the proposed rule limits his action to a period of four weeks.
– If an honorable senator wishes to stop the discussion of a particular subject on the first reading of a Supply Bill, then, with the four weeks’ latitude allowed to him by the new rule, he can achieve that object every time. Whilst it may do a small amount of good in the direction which Senator Gould indicated, still it will not be largely effective.
– Cannot this new rule be applied to the first reading of a Supply Bill, as well as to the Address-in Reply?
– Yes, it can be amended.
– I think it is wrong that any honorable senator should have the opportunity to stifle the discussion on the subject. I suggest that the proposed rule should be made more effective to protect honorable senators generally.
– The object of the proposed rule is practically to prevent the forestalling of any honorable senator who wishes to discuss a subject on a specific motion, but its application is limited to the debate on the AddressinReply. In a recess extending over four or five months honorable senators hear of matters of which, perhaps, they had no previous knowledge. In a new session they naturally do not wish to postpone the consideration of those matters. On the contrary, they desire to afford an early opportunity for discussion to honorable senators generally, and, therefore, they do not set down any motions on the noticepaper. One senator, however, may have heard of a subject which he may not desire to be discussed on the AddressinReply, and so, in order to block its discussion, he gives notice of a motion for a date some time ahead. That has happened from time to time. I quite agree with this proposal to allow freedom of discussion on the Address-in-Reply, but I think that the rule should be extended to Supply Bills. Whilst I recognise that on a motion for adjournment an honorable senator has an opportunity to discuss a matter which is not embodied in a notice of motion, at the “same time that may not afford sufficient time for a full discussion of it. No satisfaction is derived from moving the adjournment of the Senate to discuss a question, because, as a rule, the motion is withdrawn after the grievance has been ventilated, and no definite result has been achieved. Naturally honorable senators do not want to lose hours of valuable time by agreeing to such a motion. On the first reading of a Supply Bill the rule of relevancy does not apply. Some honorable senators may desire to secure the full discussion of a subject, But they can be forestalled by one senator giving notice of a specific motion. When we are depriving an honorable senator of the opportunity to hobble his fellow senators on the AddressinReply, would it not be as well to secure as free scope for discussion on a’ Supply Bill as on the Address-in-Reply? I feel inclined to move an amendment, unless a very strong reason is given for not extending the application of the proposed rule.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New. South Wales) [6.24].- Tt is a matter of fairness to an honorable senator who has given notice of a motion which he honestly intends to discuss, that it should not be anticipated. Month- after month a Supply Bill comes up, and if the rule against anticipating discussion is relaxed, an honorable senator will never be safe in regard to any motion he may have on the notice-paper. Would it be fair to allow the discussion of the subjectmatter of a motion to be anticipated whenever a Supply Bill came up? Senator Turley must see the reason for distinguishing between the Address-in Reply and a Supply Bill. It is only once in a session that the Senate is called upon to consider an Address-in-Reply, and it is the first matter submitted after a recess. An honorable senator will have been in attendance in the Senate, perhaps, for three or four weeks before a Supply Bill is introduced, and during that time he .will have had an opportunity to put a motion on the business-paper. If he does not do so why should he be enabled to take advantage of his own neglect, and at the same time prevent another honorable senator dealing with the matter later? It may be suggested that the proposal would fetter honorable senators to a certain extent, but it would be in their interests generally. If it be right on a Supply Bill to anticipate the discussion of a motion, why not on any other measure? Why not permit a motion for the adjournment of the Senate in order to discuss a matter of which an honorable senator has given notice weeks ahead ? The question of urgency in the case of motions for the adjournment of the Senate is not settled by the President, but by honorable senators, and any honorable senator who desires to move the adjournment of the Senate can always induce four others to assist him.
– But nothing is settled by such a motion.
.- Nothing is settled by the discussion of a matter on a Supply Bill,, because no definite conclusion upon it is arrived at. Whereas if an honorable senator submits a specific motion an opportunity is given to the Senate to arrive at a decision upon it, and a record of the decision is made in the Journals of the Senate. When honorable senators debate grievances on a Supply Bill they are aware that no decision as to their grievances can be arrived at. It was felt that it would be much better to give honorable senators an opportunity to discuss grievances on the first reading of a Supply Bill than to make provision for a grievance day once a week, or. once a fortnight. I think the Committee will be well advised in adhering to the standing order as now proposed, knowing that it is intended to extend the liberties of honorable senators, and that this amendment has been recommended by the Standing Orders Committee after very careful consideration. The protection is afforded that debare on a motion must be initialed within four weeks. As private business is to be ‘taken after dinner it is necessary that the Committee should now report progress, but I suggest to honorable senators, who have private business on the notice-paper, that they might agree to the remainder of the recommendations of the Standing Orders Committee being dealt with at a later stage this day.
Silling suspended from 6.30 to 7. 45 p.m.
– I move-
In submitting this motion, I desire to affirm that the present system of supplying cable news through the daily press iri Australia is costly, that the conditions associated with it are unfair and oppressive in their operation, and that the news supplied under the system is inadequate, garbled, and inaccurate. It is difficult, without an inquiry, to prove the first assertion that it is costly, but I am satisfied, from information L have received, some of which I am unable to use because it was given to me in confidence, that it is a costly system. It is so costly that we do not get the volume of news we ought to receive, that its dissemination throughout the Commonwealth is extremely limited. The character of the information regarding other parts of the Empire which we might reasonably expect is such that its dissemination ought not to be so limited. The reason why I am unable to give some of the information in my possession is that the persons who have supplied me with it have told me that they would be prejudiced in their business if their names were mentioned, or if the facts were given in such a way that they might be identified as the persons from whom they were obtained. I think, however, that without using this information, I shall be able, before I sit down, to give honorable senators some evidence in support of the contention that the existing system is costly. I can in an indirect way submit evidence on the point from the experience of the Dominion of New Zealand. The
Press Association of the Dominion is connected with the Australian Press Association, and news cabled to the Dominion goes through the Australian press syndicate.
– When the honorable senator says that the system is costly, will he say to whom it is costly?
– To the newspaper proprietors who desire to obtain it. In the Dominion of New Zealand they get their cable news from the same source that we get ours in the Commonwealth. The Parliament of the Dominion sanctioned the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the matter. I propose to read some of the evidence given to the Committee, and. portion of their report. I have been unable to secure a copy of the report itself, but I have before me a publication of it appearing in the issue of the Citizen newspaper published at Wellington, on 15th January, 1909. The Citizen first of all publishes a paragraph from a speech delivered by Sir Joseph Ward, the present Premier of the Dominion, in the House of Representatives on the 24th November, 1897. I quote the following : -
This Committee took a very great deal of trouble, and had newspaper men before it, and their evidence was exhaustive ; and the results of its inquiries went to show that there was no control over this monopoly - which was an extraordinary one - or say in its management by the large numbers of newspapers which were subscribers to it, and that the control vested in some twenty shareholders, whose whole paid-up capital amounted to only ^26,000 a year for the benefit of an organization which had only £41 17s. 6d. invested in it, and actually its benefits were denied to all but 55 journals on account of the extraordinary and monstrous prohibitive entrance-fee demanded from any newspaper proprietor who desired to join it.
– How many were there in that company ?
– There were twenty shareholders. ,
– Will the honorable senator say what the capital is?
– The honorable senator need not be so impulsive. I shall come to that later on. Prefacing the publication of the Committee’s report the Citizen says -
Before we look at what the Press Association has done for New Zealand, let us have a glance at what New Zealand has done for the press, and incidentally the Press Association. Parliament has done a good deal to encourage the newspaper business. It has admitted printing paper free through the Customs (except for a preferential duty). It has made press cablegrams copyright for eighteen hours after their receipt, and it has agreed that newspapers shall be carried through the post, and by rail at exceptionally low rates; newspaper exchanges can go free from one newspaper office to another; reporters can travel on the railways at one-quarter the ordinary fares; and press cablegrams are transmitted at rates so low that though they cost the Telegraph Department onethird of its expenditure, they bring in only about one-tenth of its revenue - at least so it was officially stated some years ago.
I think that much of that comment is applicable to Australia, and I quote it to show that when the claim is made that this is a private business, and should not be inquired into any more than any other private business, it must be remembered that the community gives to those engaged in this enterprise privileges and immunities which are not given to people engaged in any other business.
– Not to that particular business, because those engaged in any other business can get the same privileges.
– I am not referring to individuals, but generally to those engaged in the business of the press. Those engaged in no other business are allowed to send their periodicals or business circulars through the post at the rates charged on newspapers, and no persons engaged in any other business can send or receive telegrams at the rates charged to the press. I quote these observations to show that the business of the press is something more than a private business. The Citizen further says -
Now let us see what the Press Association is doing for New Zealand. A Select Committee of the House of Representatives in 1896 made a report in which it said, “ The evidence laid before the Committee shows that since the passing of the Protection of Telegrams Act in 1882 the whole cable service of the Colony has fallen into the hands of the United Press Association Limited. Prior to that date there were competing associations, and an alternative cable service was supplied by Reuter. All other organizations for the supply of news have dropped out of existence;, and the United Press Association has control of the entire news service from beyond the Colony. The Committee has also ascertained that a combination of the leading papers exists in Australia to supply the associated journals with news from foreign countries. The Press Association of New Zealand is connected with this Australian combinatien, and thus a monopoly exists as between New Zealand and the Australian Colonies, the information being received by the combination in Australia and then passed on to the Press Association in New Zealand. The Press Association appears in the first place to have originated as a co-operative movement on the part of the proprietors of a number of the leading papers. Its nominal capital is £500, divided into 500 shares of £1 each. The total capital paid upon each share is as. 6d., and the calls received up to the 19th November, 1895, amounted to£41 17s. 6d., which represents the total paid-up capital of the association. The uncalled capital is £293 2s. 6d. There are some twenty shareholders in the association, some of whom hold five shares and some twenty, which latter number provides the qualification for a director. The evidence goes on to show that out of no newspapers in the Colony there are about 55 which subscribe to the association as clients, paying annual fees, which are fixed by the association for cables and for interprovincial telegrams supplied. The subscribers as such have no voice in the control or management of the association, or in the fixing of the entrance or annual fees. Those matters are vested entirely in the shareholders, who appoint the directors.
Dealing with the Association, the Citizen goes to say-
It has used its power -
To restrict the amount of cable news supplied to the public.
To discourage the establishment of new papers.
To take the first point. The agreement which the Press Association clients are forced to sign contains the following extraordinary clause : -
– The proprietor binds himself during the currency of this agreement not to enter into any arrangement with Reuters Telegram Coy. or any other organization or person for the supply or publication of cable news, either English, foreign, or Australian, and shall not publish any cable news received from or through any such organization or person except with the the permission of the Association.
– The honorable member is dealing with the proposition which obtains in New Zealand.
-I understand that a similar state of things prevails here.
– I dealt with the Press Cable Service for years, and I never had to sign any agreement.
– The quotation continues -
If any breach of this clause is committed by the proprietor, the Association shall have power forthwith to determine this agreement, and the proprietor shall pay to the Association, as liquidated and ascertained damages for the breach by him of his engagement a sum equal to the aggregate of his monthly payments for a period of fifteen months after such determination.
Another interesting clause runs as follows -
If the proprietor shall at any time cease to obtain his supply of New Zealand news from the Association according to the rates and terms fixed by the Association for NewZealand news, then the Association may forthwith, or at any time afterwards, at their election, cease to supply to the proprietor the service of news specified in this agreement ; but the proprietor shall nevertheless and notwithstanding that the service of news specified in this agreement shall no longer be supplied to him, be bound to continue to make the monthly payments specified in this agreement as though the service of news was still supplied to him.
Here is what the- Select Committee of 1896 said on the subject -
The Committee had evidence before it that, while eight years ago in the town of Hastings, Hawke’s Bay, ^100 was demanded as the entrancefee for a daily paper, during the present year, an entrance-fee of. ^500 was demanded for a daily paper in the same place.
I can cite a case in which a newspaper was asked for £1,000 on proposing to join the Association.
– What becomes of the money thus paid ?
– It goes to the Press Association.
– Does that Association declare dividends?
– I do not know.
The Committee had also evidence that in the town of Hawera ^138 was demanded about two years ago as an entrance-fee from a triweekly paper, and that during the present year the sum of £168 was demanded as an entrancefee from a tri-weekly paper, and ,£250 from a daily in the same town. The Committee has been unable to ascertain any reasonable ground for these entrance-fees, beyond the statement that they are paid into the revenues of the Press Association ; and surpluses have from time to -time been transferred to a special reserve fund intended to protect the papers belonging to the Association from libel actions which might be caused through error or accident on the part of the Association or its agents. But the Committee is of opinion that to any such fund the whole of the papers connected with the Association should contribute, and that it is not equitable that a fund to protect all papers belonging to the Association, should be contributed to solely by new papers starting.
In 1000, after the matter had been discussed by Parliament several times, Mr. Seddon was able to announce that the directors of the Association had informed him of the reduction of the entrance-fees from ,£900 to ^450 in the case of city papers, and from ^100 to .£50 in the case of the small country papers.
That is the position, disclosed by the inquiry in New Zealand. No such inquiry has been undertaken in Australia, and the only information we have is that which has been volunteered by persons who have had dealings with the Association. My object is to discover whether the Association is working upon similar lines in Australia. I understand that it is.
– Does the New Zealand Association get all its cables through the Australian combine?
– Yes. I wish now to quote a few Australian: cases which have a bearing upon my motion. One of these has reference to the treatment which was meted out by the combine to Mr. Mahon before his election to this Parliament and while he was the proprietor of a newspaper at Menzies, in Western Australia. In a letter addressed to me, and dated Melbourne, 2nd October, 1905, that gentleman - as will be seen by reference to page 3467 of Hansard of 12th October, of that year - wrote -
I vouch for the substantial accuracy of this narrative, which you are free to use as you may deem fit. From 1895 to 1898 I carried on a newspaper at Menzies, W.A. . . . Suddenly, however, about May, 1898, just when public interest in the Spanish-American war was at its height, and on the day when Mr. Gladstone’s death was expected, I was informed, without the slightest premonitory hint, that my cable intelligence was to be stopped forthwith. . . . Ultimately, under the duress of circumstances from which there was no escape, I concluded a three years’ contract with the syndicate, by which they were to receive a royalty at the rate of ^150 per annum.
– What was he to get for that ^150 per annum? .
– I will tell the VicePresident of the Executive Council presently -
This contract bound me to use, their cables exclusively, so that I could have been penalized for the publication of a cable message obtained from any other source. A similar exaction was extorted’ from the rival journal. This was a crushing charge on small provincial journals having a sale of not more than 700 copies daily ; but the syndicate’s agent was adamant. No Shylock ever held more inexorably to his bond. But something even, more intolerable than the royalty impost was to follow. My contract was, it appeared, for the full cable service; and the full service, not any summary of it, the syndicate insisted I must take. This involved the payment of the inland telegraphic rate of rs. 6d. per 100 words on reams of messages which were absolutely useless, and for which the paper had no space. I asked to be allowed to follow the former practice of having the news summarized by my Perth agent. The answer was “No; you must take the cables as we send them, or not at all “ - an offer of freedom of contract somewhat after the Thunderbolt manner, but without Thunderbolt’s risks.
– Did those instructions go from Melbourne direct, and not via the Perth agent?
– The honorable senator will find his question answered in what I am about to read -
Having ascertained that the executive officer of the syndicate was the managing partner of the Argus, I wired over to Messrs. Alex. Cowan and Sons, of Flinders-lane, of whom I was then a customer, to interview this gentleman on my behalf. .They did so, and informed me later that they had seen a Mr. Mackinnon, and a Mr. Spowers, of the Argus, but that no modification whatever of the arrangement would be permitted. Soon afterwards Mr. David
Syme, of the Age, another member of the cable syndicate, paid a visit to Menzies, and I placed the facts before him. He agreed that it was a hard case ; promised to look into it on his return to Melbourne, but I never obtained any redress through him.
I come now to a case in South Australia which honorable senators will find recorded in Hansard of 12th October, 1905, page 3475. It is a case in which a newspaper in that State desired to obtain cables from the Press combine. In reply to its application the following reply was received -
The Argus and Australasian,
Melbourne, 2nd February, 1904.
In reply to your letter of the 1st inst., asking on what terms you could be supplied with the Cable Association’s telegrams, we beg to say that so far as Adelaide is concerned the matter rests entirely with the proprietors of the Register and the Advertiser as to whether they would consent to the journal there joining in the service, and we therefore refer you in the first instance to the conductors of those papers.
Wilson and Mackinnon.
– That condition of affairs has since been altered. No newspaper can now prevent another journal from obtaining theAssociation cables.
– That information was not forthcoming until my notice of motion appeared on the business-paper of the Senate. Mr. Opie then wrote to the proprietors of the Register and Advertiser, in Adelaide, and from the Register received the following reply -
The Register Office,
Adelaide, 3rd February, 1904.
T. Opie, Esq.,
Manager Co-operative P. & P. Coy. of
S.A. Ltd., Bray-street, City.
Dear Sir, - In reply to yours of even date we beg to say that at such short notice we are not in a position to give an answer to your questions in regard to the cable service to-day.
K. Thomas and Coy.
The following letter was received from the Advertiser -
Advertiser, Chronicle, and Exfress Offices,
Adelaide, 3rd February, 1905.
T. Opie, Esq.,
The Herald, Bray-street.
Dear Sir, - We have your letter of to-day’s date. Before we can furnish a reply we shall have to consult our partners in the other States.
L. Bonython and Co., per Robert Cooper.
After waiting a week Mr. Opie again wrote to the proprietors of these newspapers drawing their attention to the fact that he had written a week previously. In reply the Register wrote as follows -
The Register Office,
Adelaide, 10th February, 1904.
Mr. T. T. Opie,
Manager The Herald, Adelaide.
Dear Sir, - In reply to your further letter of 9th February, regarding the cable service, we wish to state that we are still in correspondence with our friends in the other States, and cannot therefore give you a definite reply to-day as requested.
K. Thomas and Coy.
The letter from the Advertiser read -
Advertiser, Chronicle, and Exfress Offices,
Adelaide, roth February, 1904.
T. Opie, Esq.,
The Herald, Adelaide.
Dear Sir, - Reply to your letter of 9th, we beg to inform you that correspondence between ourselves and our partnersin the other States is still passing, but we hope to be able to give you a final reply in the course of a few days. Yours faithfully,
L. Bonython and Co., fer Robert Cooper.
A week later Mr. Opie received the following joint note from the Register and the Advertiser -
Adelaide, 17th February, 1904.
Dear Sir, - In reply to yours of the 3rd and 9th inst., inquiry regarding the proposed sharing of our cable service, we wish to explain that the joint interest agreement regulating that service contains a clause which says, “ That no message shall be supplied to the proprietary of any newspaper published either in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, or Brisbane, other than in respect of the newspapers mentioned in this agreement, without the unanimous consent of the parties hereto, except to the proprietary of any evening newspaper or newspapers which may hereafter be published in Melbourne.” ln conformity with this obligation, we have communicated with our partners in the other States, and we find that it is impossible to obtain the “ unanimous consent “ provided for in the clause just quoted.
L. bonython and COY.
K. Thomas and Coy.
When ex-Senator Higgs was a member of this Parliament he declared that he knew of a similar case of hardship in Brisbane. He stated that a newspaper which had endeavoured to start operations there, had been refused the cable service.
– Can the honorable senator tell us the name of that journal ?
– I cannot.
– Subsequently a daily newspaper did start in Brisbane.
– I am aware of that. The cases which I have quoted are extremely hard and show that a monopoly has been established of the most exacting character, and one which is inimical to newspapers which are not members of the Press combine.
-There is nothing to prevent them from getting their own service.
– That suggestion is just about as impracticable as would be the suggestion that a man could step off a mail steamer in mid-ocean and walk home.
– A newspaper can provide its own cable service for£6,000.
– Every daily newspaper is a member of this Press combine so that it is impossible for new journals to compete with it successfully. I think I have shown that, prima facie, things are not as they should be in regard to the sale of news in Australia. I come now to the class of news that we get here. Dr. Alfred Manes, Professor of the Commer- cial University in Berlin, is reported in the Melbourne Herald, of 28th August of the present year, to have said - “ The information you get about us all comes from London. All you get comes through the cables, and what is given is very poor information, and not at all the best. I was really astonished to find that the whole of the information about Europe is given by one man sitting in London, and sending just a few lines about the most important things. From Perth to Wellington it is just the same. I was astonished to find five million people who are very intelligent people, content with this information. If you would have good representatives on the Continent of Europe, you would get valuable help for your social legislation.”
– A German suggesting to us that for what we want to know about Germany we should go there !
– I shall take up his statement as to the garbled news we get through our newspapers. I shall quote a case relating to what was probably the most important news which we have had cabled to Australia for some years. I allude to that relating to the Naval scare which some time ago agitated the public mind.It is, I should say, of first rate importance that at any rate, news concerning statements made by a responsible Minister of the Crown in Great Britain should come to us in something like an accurate fashion, especially when that Minister is dealing with such vital relationships as those between Great Britain and European nations, and when the statements reported are alleged to have been made by one holding the position of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
– The honorable senator wants tq get his news from the German professor ; we want to get information from a person who will tell us the truth.
– How would the establishment of more newspapers alter the character of the news, if they all published cablegrams from the same source?
– I do not say that it would. But if there were competition there would be a check upon any inaccuracy in the news published.
– The honorable senator does not propose competition.
– I do. I propose to break up the present combine.
– The honorable senator is suggesting a Committee, not competition.
– I am suggesting an inquiry, because I want to show whether the evils to which I am referring exist, what is the extent of them, and what is the true remedy.
– There is nothing to prevent others from competing.
– We want to know that. I think that something is being done to prevent competition. I have before me the Argus of Wednesday, 31st March. I shall quote it as showing the way in which the Naval scare was worked up in this country. The headings used in one column are, “ State Governments offer Dreadnoughts. British Naval Supremacy. Revelations in Parliament.” Then the following piece of news was published -
London, 30th March.
Intense interest was manifested in the proceedings in the House of Commons yesterday evening, when a motion censuring the Government, on the ground that its immediate provision of battleships of the newest type does not sufficiently secure the safety of the Empire, was moved, on behalf of the Opposition, by Mr. A. H. Lee, who was Civil Lord of the Admiralty in the Balfour Administration.
Later on the Argus said -
Sir Edward Grey, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, replied on behalf of the Government.
Here is the statement to which I particularly wish to draw attention. It was a statement that sent a thrill through every man that read it -
The House and the country were perfectly right to view the new situation created by the German programme as grave. When this programme was complete, Germany would have 33 Dreadnoughts, and the most powerful fleet in the world. That imposed upon Great Britain the necessity of re-building the whole fleet. This statement by the Minister produced a sensation in the crowded House.
– Is that the cabled report ?
– Yes; it is the cabled report published in the Argus. It is the report upon which the scare here was built.
– The report is absolutely accurate. I heard that same speech delivered. I was in London at the time.
– The honorable senator will see presently from the London newspapers from which I shall quote whether the report is accurate. I shall quote from the Times and the Daily Chronicle. It will be seen that there is a vital difference between these reports and what the Argus published as having been said by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
– Why does not the honorable senator quote the Hansard report of Sir Edward Grey’s speech? lt can be obtained in the Library.
– I am quoting from the source from which this cableman is supposed to get his news; because he is merely a scissors and paste collector of news. If I were to compare the newspaper reports with Hansard I know that objection would at once be made that that was not a fair comparison. I shall quote first the Times report of Sir Edward Grey’s speech. It is reported on 30th March, 1909, and I shall read the particular parts upon which the Argus paragraph is evidently built. Sir Edward Grey said -
In my opinion the honorable members opposite have stated, with regard to the Navy, the maximum of improbability as to what is likely to happen. (Cheers.) . . . The ordinary way for us to reply would be by stating the minimum of probability. I am not going to pursue that course. Let me review the situation in that light.
Then he went on -
A new situation is created for this country by the German programme. Whether that programme is carried out quickly or slowly the fact of its existence makes a new situation.
Not, as the Argus put it, “A grave situation.”
When that programme is completed, Germany, a great country close to our shores, will have a fleet of thirty-three Dreadnoughts. That fleet will be the most powerful the world has ever yet seen.
He did not say that that fleet would be the most powerful in the world. There is a very big difference. The one statement preaches the doctrine of helplessness. The other does not. The one statement represents that Germany would have the “ most powerful fleet in the world.” The other represents that Germany would have the most powerful fleet “ the world has ever yet seen.”
– If the German fleet is the “ most powerful the world has ever seen,” it must be the most powerful in the world.
– No, there is a difference. Other fleets to be built may be as powerful. Sir Edward Grey went on -
That imposes upon us the necessity of which we are now at the beginning, except in so far as we happen to have Dreadnoughts already, of rebuilding the whole of our fleet.”
– It is not worth while to read any more after what the honorable senator has quoted.
– Probably the honorable senator does not want me to read any more. But he should not be in a hurry.
– The more the honorable senator reads of Sir Edward Grey’s speech the better we like it.
– “ The lady protests too much, methinks !” . After what I have quoted there followed an argument in which Sir Edward Grey outlined the proposals of the Government, and showed that they adequately provided for a superiority of Dreadnoughts over Germany. I also have before me the London Daily Chronicle of the same date, and shall quote the portion of the report of Sir Edward Grey’s speech referring to the same statement. If honorable senators will turn up the newspaper reports for themselves, they will find that Sir Edward Grey showed that the plans of the Government would give Great Britain a superior fleet to that of Germany.
– The last sentence which the honorable senator read puts a different interpretation on the matter.
– Yes, it does. The Daily Chronicle report said -
A new situation is created by the German programme. When it is completed Germany, a great country close to our own shores, will have a fleet of thirty-three Dreadnoughts, and that fleetwill be the most powerful which the world has ever yet seen.
– Every one knew that a fleet of thirty-three Dreadnoughts would be greater than any other fleet that had existed.
– Every one did not know at the time of this Naval scare. Every one was not in England as Senator Clemons was. All that we knew was that Sir Edward Grey was reported to have said that the situation was “ grave,” and that when the German programme was complete she would have thirty-three Dreadnoughts, and the most powerful Navy in the world. But Sir Edward Grey never said anything of the kind.
– Does the honorable senator deny that Sir Edward Grey used those exact words ?
– I am denying that he ever said anything of the kind.
– I can quote his exact words from Hansard. I have a copy of it.
- Sir Edward Grey went on -
That imposes on us the necessity of rebuilding the whole of our fleet. That is the situation. (Cheers.) What we do not know is the lime in which we shall have to do it. That is the element of doubt and uncertainty. The first thing we have got to make sure of is our capacity to build. We have got to take stock of the plant in the country, of the power in this country to construct ships of this type in order that when we give orders for ships they may be completed in the shortest possible time. (Cheers.) By that, I mean orders, not for one ship, but for a batch of ships.
He went on to detail what the Government were going to do, and what the shipbuilders of Great Britain were able to do; and he proved that in comparison with any possible or probable German programme, the English programme which the Government had in hand would give to Great Britain a superior fleet. In another paragraph he went on to say -
Again, we are told nothing about what the situation may be in 1913 and 1914. When these thirteen German vessels are completed in 1912, according to their naval laws, twelve more will be under construction, and they might appear very rapidly in 1913 and 1914. That is the situation “with regard to Germany, and I think it disposes of the extreme apprehension which has been brought forward with regard to the early years of 1910 and 1911. I have told the
House frankly why I think we shall not suffer if we accept in perfect good faith this statement as representing the German mind at the present time. (Ministerial cheers.)
Sir Edward concluded by saying
Judge, if you like, when you have the full facts before you; but, in the meantime, I ask the House to stand with us (Ministerial and Opposition cheers) in resisting what seems to me exaggerated alarm and mistaken apprehension, and in resisting the attempt to force” upon us prematurely the extreme view which has been urged.
Not a word of that statement was cabled to Australia.
– How long was that before the British Government laid the extra Dreadnoughts down?
– I shall not argue whether the programme of the British Government was right or wrong, sufficient or insufficient. What I am pointing out is that cabled newspaper reports of Sir Edward Grey’s speech, such as I have quoted from the Argus, fostered the alarm by exaggerated statements.
– The same statements were published . in newspapers throughout the Commonwealth.
– I think that the cabled report is a fair account of what Sir Edward Grey said ; and I heard his speech.
– I know that the same statement was published in other newspapers, but I am picking out the Argus as an example. The Age did precisely the same thing. I quote this merely as one example of the way in which our news is garbled. The Citizen of 2nd July gives some illustrations to the same effect. It says -
The London cablegram is not only inefficient, but misleading. It needs no quotations to show the strong Unionist and Tariff reform bias running through all the English cablegrams.
– If this service is so inefficient, why is the honorable senator attempting to have other newspapers admitted to it?
– We want other sources of information. But I am not going to be led off the track. The Citizen said -
Under date 20th April, London cabled : -
Lord Charles Beresford, writing to a Navy League meeting at Bournemouth, wished the League success in arousing the nation to a sense of its grave danger. “If the country knew the real truth,” said the Admiral, “ there would be a panic.”
Coming from a naval officer of the standing of Lord Charles Beresford, this naturallycaused a profound effect throughout Australasia.
But not a word was cabled of the subsequent modifying statements, which appeared as follows in the Daily Mail:
The Press Association is authoritatively informed that the letter addressed to the Rev. E. J. Kennedy, Boscombe, Bournemouth, by Lord Charles Beresford, in which the words “ If the truth were known about the Navy there would be a panic “ appeared, was a private communication written some months ago, and the existence of which had escaped the recollection of his Lordship. The Press Association adds : It may be taken for granted that Lord Charles does not believe that any. panic would serve the cause of a strong Navy ; but that, on the other hand, all parties must be united in the demand for a strong Navy.”
Again, it was cabled from London, on 21st January, that the Central Office of the Conservative party will withhold official support from Unionist candidates who are unable to indorse the policy of Tariff reform laid down by Mr. Balfour at Birmingham in 1907. This cablegram appeared, on the face of it, to indicate that the “Confederates” (Tariff reform extremists) had had their way, and that the Free-traders were under the ban. But reports appearing in “ Confederate “ newspapers to hand by mail state an important reservation which was not cabled, in that the Central Office will not interfere in this matter with the decisions of the Conservative local associations. The Daily Mail states - “ Local associations will, as before, select their candidates, and the Central Office will not -veto the selection of one who is not a Tariff reformer or run a Tariff reformer against him. The decision must, however, be accepted as an indication of the attitude of those who are in a great measure responsible for the success of the Unionist party at the next general election.”
Those are indications of the way in which our cable news on most important points is garbled. I have no time to go into the matter fully. I have only looked at one particular point, but I am certain that if a comparison were made, innumerable instances of similar garbled reports would be found.
– Does the honorable senator regard this arrangement as a combine?
– Undoubtedly. I know that this combine has been buttonholing honorable senators, and lobbying. I am aware that the very newspaper which denounced lobbying here in most emphatic terms has been lobbying during the last week in order to secure the defeat of this motion, and the argument is being used that it is a private business. In this State certain trains are run at a loss in order to give cable news circulation throughout the country. I do not complain of that. But it is a recognition by the State Parliament of the fact that this is not a private, but a public, business.
– The argument has always been used that newspapers educate the public.
– Education is not a private matter, but a State matter, which affects the State. The Commonwealth allows the press to have cablegrams at a lower rate than other persons in order that news may be disseminated. I ask honorable senators when they are buttonholed to ask the representatives of the combine if they claim protection from the proposed inquiry on the ground that they are engaged in a private business, and’ whether they are prepared to give up all the concessions which they now enjoy on the ground that they are conducting a public business and benefiting the people. In the United States, this has been dealt with as public business. Under the Anti-Trust law of the State of Texas the following corporations, co-partnerships, firms, or individuals, are also adjudged monopolies, and subject to all the pains and penalties therein provided -
Every corporation, co-partnership, firm, or individual which may gather items of news or press dispatches for sale to newspapers, and which shall refuse to sell said items of news or press dispatches to more than one newspaper to a stated number of inhabitants in any city, town, or sub-division of the State of Texas or within a certain radius of territory.
Every association of newspapers formed for the purpose of exchanging items of news and press dispatches which may require of its members under paying of forfeiting their membership that they do not sell to or exchange with newspapers not members !of said association any items of news or press dispatches.
– That is not the only freak legislation which has been enacted in America.
– I remind the honorable senator that this Senate has also passed similar freak legislation. In the Copyright Bill, we inserted a prohibition against the exclusive dealing of this combine, but it was dropped by the Government in another place. Certainly, the Senate did attempt to make the ground of copyright conditional upon the right of the other newspapers to share in the news. I ask the Senate to grant an inquiry into the conditions so that the facts may be ascertained, and perhaps some means suggested by which the news service both within and without the Commonwealth may be better conducted than it is at present.
Debate (on motion by Senator Colonel Neild) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 2nd September (vide page 2941), on motion by Senator Colonel Neild -
That in the opinion of the Senate -
The Commonwealth should bearthe legal expenses paid and incurred by the Agricultural Implement Makers’ Employees’ Unions in enforcing the provisions of the Excise Tariff Act
[8.32]. - In submitting this motion, Senator Neild appealed to the sympathies of honorable senators in connexion with a case which occupied public attention a little time ago. It will be remembered that in 1906 this Parliament passed an Excise Act, the effect of which was to impose Excise duties on certain agricultural machinery in the event of the manufacturers not giving fair and reasonable terms to their employes. One provision was that if on an application by a manufacturer it was shown to the Arbitration Court that fair and reasonable wages were paid an exemption from the Excise might be made in his favour.
– Would be; not might be.
– In connexion wilh the manufacture of harvesters an application for exemption was made by Mr. McKay, and heard by the Arbitration Court. Mr. Justice Higgins fixed certain wages in connexion with various departments of the industry, and ultimately the manufacturer, as he had a perfect right to do, challenged the constitutionality of the Act. The decision was appealed against, and in the High Court it was held by a majority of three to two that the Act was not constitutional.
– And it was shown clearly that the manufacturer was not paying anything like fair and reasonable wages.
– That does not matter.
– It does matter.
– I ask honorable senators not to cloud the issue with any such irrelevant considerations. Whether Mr. McKay was paying fair and reasonable wages or not has nothing to do with the issue, which is that the Senate should affirm that the agricultural implement employes are entitled to some compensation in connexion with the expense to which they were put in the Arbitration Court. I ask honorable senators to view the application calmly, but in its serious light. Naturally our sympathies would go out towards the employes who it is alleged have suffered some loss.
– Does not the Minister know that they have suffered loss? Everybody knows that.
– And they have lost their jobs in fighting for their rights.
– I ask honorable senators not to get off the track. My statement was that it is alleged that the employe’s have suffered loss. I understand that a bill pf costs for£1,127 has been furnished by the legal representative of the unions in connexion with, the arbitration proceedings. Practically what the Senate is asked to do is to approve of the payment of that amount.
– Does not the Minister recognise that the unions have already paid hundreds of pounds?
– I hope that my honorable friend will listen to the other side.
– I only asked the honorable gentleman a very courteous question.
– I shall endeavour, if it is repeated later, to answer it. I want honorable senators first to view the matter from this stand-point, that the application referred to was, to all intents and purposes, an ex parte one on the part of the manufacturer to the Court for an exemption. It is quite competent for the Court to call to its help any evidence which it can procure for the purpose of enabling it to determine whether, as a matter of fact, fair and reasonable wages are paid. It is not a question of law which is involved, but of fact. It is usual for the Court to solicit the assistance of representatives of the unions- those who are technically acquainted with the industry - to enable it to arrive at a proper determination. If any question of law had been involved the Court could have asked for legal assistance in order to come to a correct interpretation of the question at issue. I want honorable senators to bear in mind that it was an ex parte application. As a matter of grace only the unions are permitted to be represented in such cases and, if I may say so, still more as a matter of grace are legal representatives permitted to appear.
– Not as a matter of grace, but of legal right.
– It is purely a matter of grace.
– No, a matter of legal right.
– As my honorable friend speaks somewhat dogmatically, I shall quote for his benefit some remarks on the matter by Mr. Justice O’Connor. Dealing with the case of in re Bagshaw and the Excise Tariff of 1906, and an application for a certificate of exemption from payment of Excise duties made thereunder -the particular class of application which I am discussing - His Honour said - .
The only party that the Act contemplates, that is, the only person who has a right to appear before the Court, is the applicant. . The inquiry is not a cause, it is not an industrial dispute, and I take it to be merely an inquiry in which the duty is imposed upon the President, from any source and in any way he can obtain it, provided his method of inquiry is judicial and in open Court, whether the wages are fair and reasonable. But although there are no parties except the applicant, I must recognise that the workmen employed in the factory are persons directly interested. There are other persons indirectly interested. Those are the general body of workers in the same trade. It would be of assistance to me in this inquiry, and it would probably be a better method of representation of the workers and all those interested in the inquiry, if I could have at these inquiries the assistance of the representatives of the Unions to which the men belong. For many reasons it would be much more satisfactory than having representatives from the persons employed.
His Honour went on to say -
Therefore I propose in all inquiries to allow a representative of the union of any trade or trades concerned to be present at the inquiry, and to ask questions and to cross-examine witnesses, provided always that the inquiry is entirely under my control, and that the questions put in examination and cross-examination are always subject to my direction.
Referring to Mr. Nesbit, who was counsel for the Union, His Honour said -
In these circumstances, Mr. Nesbit, although I cannot say that you have the right to appear in the ordinary sense of that term, I take it that you represent the men on the inquiry, and, in those circumstances, I shall allow you to have the same privileges as counsel representing a party in an ordinary case.
So honorable senators will see that the right to appear is a matter of privilege and grace only.
– And by invitation.
– And it is a custom established by Mr. Justice O’Connor.
– The honorable senator will pardon me. It is not an established practice. Mr. Justice O’Connor permitted it in that case, and might or might not permit it in other cases ; but what I have said must be borne in mind in considering the request now made. So that under such circumstances the Unions could not become entitled to costs at all. What they did was of their own volition, and for their own prospective benefit. The second matter to which I wish to refer is that we are being asked to establish a most serious precedent. I remind honorable senators that Parliament acted in the utmost good faith in exercising what it believed to be a power within its jurisdiction. As has happened in some other cases, the constitutionality of the Statute was successfully challenged. If, as Senator Neild proposes, it is to be laid down as a principle that compensation is to be paid to those who may suffer by reason of the unconstitutionality of any law bond fide passed by this Parliament, we shall be exposing Parliament to heavy claims for compensation in the future.
– The honorable senator presupposes that Parliament is going to blunder everlastingly.
– In this case . Parliament must not be assumed to -have blundered. It acted in the most careful way, and in good faith in the discharge of what was believed to be its duty, and no one was to blame.
– It blundered all the same.
– Parliament acted according to the best advice it had, and the interpretation given to the law is not one on which any very dogmatic opinion canbe expressed, having regard to the fact that out of five Judges three took one view of the matter and two the other view of it.
– The two who took the other view were responsible for the Act.
– I say broadly that it would be alarming to lay it down as a principle that, if an Act passed by this Parliament in good faith is proved to be ultra vires, any loss or damage that may be sustained by reason thereof is to be compensated for out of the Commonwealth Treasury.
– What was alarming was the rotten administration of the Government to which the honorable senator belonged.
– I did not catch what was said by Senator W. Russell, but it must be recognised that honorable senators representing a majority of the Senate were parties to this legislation. Parliament speaks only through its majorities.
– Parliament was not a party to the administration.
– Parliament, speaking through its majorities, enacted this law in good faith. That is our justification, and why I say that no one was to blame.
– Why did not the Government enforce the law passed in good faith by this Parliament?
– My honorable friend is aware that the object of the law was not to seek revenue, but the regulation of the industry.
– And the Government neither sought revenue nor* regulated the industry.
– We went into the whole of these matters long ago, and it is not worth while to revive them now. I repeat that it would be an intolerable condition of affairs if we were to lay it down as a principle that damages and compensation should, follow where Parliament enacts a law which is subsequently declared to be ultra vires. I go further and say that if in this particular case we are going to reimburse the workers the large sum of money that is asked for under the motion, it is inevitable that we must likewise compensate the manufacturers. There is no escaping that position.
– Why should we do that when the manufacturers ‘ were given Protection on the condition that they would pay fair and reasonable .wages, and did not do so?
– That is beside the issue. I say that if we pay the costs of one side we must pay the costs of the other side also.
– The other side have received their full whack.
– If we are to pay the costs of both parties I suppose the next thing will be that some other private individuals will say that they have suffered serious loss through acting in good faith under .a law passed by this Parliament, and will appeal for compensation in consequence.
– The manufacturers secured high protection under false pretences.
– If we establish the precedent that men are to be compensated for losses incurred because they have acted under a particular law, we shall do so for the first time in the history of this Parliament. It will be an exceedingly dangerous position, and will prove to be extremely expensive.
– What have we done under the Electoral Act?
– My honorable friend can scarcely suggest that the cases under the Electoral Act present the remotest analogy. We are dealing in the present case with a matter which was taken before a judicial tribunal, involving the interpretation of a law. In the cases to which Senator Neild, and now Senator Guthrie, have referred, the reimbursements were made because of the negligence of a particular officer in the administration of an Act. That is a vastly different thing. An officer of the Government was negligent in the carrying out of his instructions.
– Just as in this case the Government were negligent in carrying out their duties under another Act.
– For that matter, Parliament may also be said to have been negligent.
– Parliament had nothing to do with the administration of the Act
– Honorable senators are suggesting irrelevant issues.
– The Government desire to relieve themselves of responsibility.
– There is no responsibility upon the Government in the matter.
– Is there not? The honorable senator WIll find that out later.
– 1 do not know whether Senator E. J. Russell is suggesting that I am to be punished because I take this view of the matter.
Senator- E. J. Russell. - No, but I say that the manufacturers would not have got the Tariff they did, if it had been thought that they would not comply with the conditions.
– It is not a popular thing for me to get- up here and say what the Government deem it to be their duty to do in the honest discharge of their responsibility to protect the Treasury. Nothing would be more gratifying to me personally than to be able to say, “ We will concede what is asked.” I am well aware of what will be said of the attitude I am taking up, but it would be unworthy of any honorable senator to be deterred by a threat of that kind from properly discharging a duty.
– The Government to which the honorable senator belonged misled the workers absolutely.
– It is not worth while going into that, because there is such a complete answer on the other side.
– It is worth while going into it, because Ministers make no effort to redeem their promise.
– I have referred to the main features of the question before the Senate, and in the circumstances as I have stated them, I say that we are called upon to refuse to establish so serious a precedent as would be involved in the carrying of this motion. It is with great regret that I have to say I feel myself unable to give it the support for which Senator Neild has asked.
– I hope that the motion will meet with the approval of the majority of the Senate. During the speech made by the Minister of Trade and Customs, I ventured upon one or two pertinent interjections, to which the honorable senator replied by saying that it was of no use to try to cloud the issue. I think that the Minister was endeavouring to cloud the issue. It is just as well to review the whole of the circumstances. Every member of the Senate is familiar with the fact that a fair measure of protection was given to the manufacturers engaged in this particular industry, conditionally on fair and reasonable wages being paid to every one employed in it. The Government provided machinery whereby Excise duty was to be collected from; those who did not .pay fair and reasonable wages. ‘We were assured that the method proposed by the Government for regulating the matter was constitutional. In my opinion the duty of the Government at the time was to have collected the Excise and the onus of proving that they were paying fair and reasonable wages should have been cast upon McKay and the other manufacturers. The responsi bility for testing the validity of the Act was thrown upon a number of workmen, who, although they were poorly paid, risked their employment to defend an Act of this Parliament. When the case was before the Arbitration Court, Mr. McKay had the brazen-faced audacity to submit what he called evidence to show that he was paying fair and reasonable wages to every one in his employ. Those who saw his list of wages paid, are aware that some of the work done in his factory was carried out under the worst form of sweating. The workmen found that they had to defend the Act in defending themselves, and their union was involved in law costs to the extent of hundreds of pounds. I say that it is not right to ask any union that expected to obtain relief under an Act of Parliament to defend its validity.
– Why did not members of the honorable senator’s party put pressure on the Government to test the validity of the Act when they had an opportunity to do so?
– The Government were asked to do so numbers of times.
– The Government were asked many times to give effect to the law and collect the Excise, but they made no attempt to do so.
– And honorable senators kept them in office all the time - for years.
– It was on a some- what similar matter that they were turned out.
– The Government, made no attempt to collect the Excise. If they had done so the union would not have been put to the expense and trouble of going to the Arbitration Court. That is a perfectly true statement of the position. Under these circumstances, why should not the Commonwealth pay the expenses incidental to the hearing of the cases ?
– Why did not the honorable member’s party force the Government on the matter ?
– For the reasons which have been advanced by Senator Neild, and for many others which might be adduced, I hope that the Senate will approve of the motion.
– I admit at once that this proposal is surrounded with some difficulty. At the same time it is highly desirable that we should separate questions of legality and justice from considerations of personal sympathy. If the Senate were to agree to this motion, it seems to me that it would establish a precedent the consequences of which it is impossible to foresee. If Parliament is to become responsible for losses sustained by industrial organizations whenever a Statute is declared to be ultra vires -
– That is not the point. The Government are responsible for the administration of Acts of Parliament.
– I” do not see how the Commonwealth can honestly accept this liability. I have a great deal of sympathy with the Agricultural Implement Makers’ Employes Union, which has been mulcted in a very heavy expenditure. I think that something ought to be done on behalf of that union, and if an arrangement can be made to assist it by private subscription, my guinea will be ready at any moment.
– Its members merely want justice.
– I presume that they want justice in the form of money, and I am prepared to do my share in assisting them. In that way we shall preserve the undoubted rights of the Commonwealth, and at the same time alleviate the suffering of men who have met with a severe blow, and who are entitled to our sympathy.
Senator TURLEY (Queensland) r?°j;When Senator Pulsford spoke about justice, I did not expect that he would conclude his remarks with an offer of charity. The agricultural implement makers’ employe’s do not ask for charity. They do not ask Senator Pulsford to contribute towards the expenditure which they have incurred. The motion under consideration merely contemplates doing them a bare act of justice. When this proposal was submitted by Senator Neild last week, he was followed by Senator Trenwith, and then the Minister of Trade and Customs moved the adjournment of the debate. At the time, Senator Neild was not aware that the Government had declared their attitude upon this matter in another place, and consequently he was agreeable that the debate should be adjourned. But before the House had time to divide upon the motion for adjournment, Senator Pearce remarked, “ I do not know why the Government desire an adjournment of the debate, seeing that in another place they have already stated that they do not intend to do anything in this matter at all.”
– I made the same statement in this Chamber.
– I did not. hear it. I told Senator Neild of the attitude which had been taken up by Ministers elsewhere, and he therefore voted against the motion to adjourn the debate. I object to these hocus pocus tactics on the part of the Ministry. Upon Thursday last, after about four questions had been asked in the House of Representatives, Mr. Tudor put the following question to the Prime Minister -
Is it the intention of the Government to place on the Estimates a sum to reimburse the Agricultural Implement Workers’ Union the costs incurred in fighting the Excise Harvester case on behalf of the Commonwealth?
To that question Mr. Deakin gave the following reply -
To place a sum on the Estimates ‘ for these costs incurred by private persons would involve similar consideration in all cases in which it may be held by a Court that, in consequence of some addition or omission, some expression or want of authority for an Act, any person has been prejudiced. Such a far-reaching precedent should not be established, and, therefore^ such a sum cannot be placed on the Estimates.
Yet in this Chamber the Minister of Trade and Customs requested time to consider the matter, with a view, .1 presume, to informing the Senate at a later date what was the Government attitude in regard to it. If he knew the intentions of the Government in this connexion, it was his duty to frankly tell the Senate the position. In the report presented by the Royal Commission on Stripper Harvesters and Drills-
– Who were the members of that Commission ?
– They consisted of Messrs. Poynton, Fuller, Chanter, Sampson and McDougall.
– Mr. Fuller is a fair man.
– That gentleman apparently retired from the Commission before they presented their report, which was ordered to be printed on the 13th July last. Paragraph 41 of that report reads -
Legal expenses incurred by Agricultural Implements Makers’ Employes Unions. - Another important matter brought under the notice of your Commissioners was a claim by the representatives of the Agricultural Implement Makers’ Employes Union for expenses incurred in assisting the Arbitration Court to obtain such evidence as would enable Mr. Justice Higgins to arrive at just conclusions as to what were fair and reasonable wages. It is contended that all applications submitted by the employers in Victoria for exemption from paying Excise were proved to be not fair and reasonable in the opinion of the Justice presiding, and in arriving at this conclusion the Justice was materially assisted by the action of the Trades Unions.
In order to do this, it is stated that it was necessary to have legal assistance, and the expense incurred by them, with no funds to meet the expenditure, was£1,127. In South Australia there was a similar experience, although not so finally disastrous. The only result the unions obtained for this enormous liability was that they proved to the satisfaction of the respective Justices who heard the cases that they had in both States shown that fair and reasonable wages were not being paid. In addition to these legal costs, individual members of the unions lost considerable time in attending the Courts and. working up the cases. One of their leading officials was employed for nearly two months in collecting evidence, for which he received no remuneration. It is further stated that the members of the unions subscribed among themselves , £255 17s. 2d., which was all spent in organizing in favour of the New Protection. It is claimed for the men that their action was not alone in their own interests, but was for the public weal, and it is in this connexion that your Commissioners call attention to a leading article in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 20th May last, which bears out the contention of the representatives of the unions that a living wage, based on the great principle laid down by Mr.. Justice Higgins, is not necessarily in the interests of the wage-earners alone, but of society itself. The article in question says, “ Not only the wage-earner, and the wagepayer, but society as well, is profoundly interested in the success of industrial legislation, and the Courts which interpret that legislation. The attempt to regulate wages and conditions of labour according to law must be recognised as one of the most intelligent and creditable efforts ever made by society to safeguard itself from loss and strife. Socially considered, it is protective in its essence, and, at the same time, humanitarian in its incidence; and in order that it may knit more firmly the fabric of society, industrial law must have the most sympathetic interpretation in the industrial Courts….. Mr. Justice Higgins laid down that great principle in declaring that the living wage should be such as will support the workman and the workman’s wife and family in frugal comfort.”
I shall not say that honorable senators opposite publicly deny a statement of that description ; but I do say that their actions in connexion with legislation . of this kind speak far louder than their words. If they had their way the condition of the workers and of their wives and families would not be such as was so graphically described by Mr. . Justice Higgins.
– The honorable senator has no right to say anything of the kind.
– The action of honorable senators opposite is sufficient to show what the position of the workmen would be if they had their way. The report goes on -
It cannot be claimed that these menwho have been put to such great expense in per forming a public duty should be in a position to know that after all their expenditure of money and time in assisting the Arbitration Court that the opponents of this humane principle would be successful in appealing to the High Court, and have all their work in the public interest declared unconstitutional. The Federal Parliament is responsible for the creation of the Act, and by a majority of one the High Court is responsible for its being rendered ineffective. Your Commissioners are, therefore, of opinion as the Act was passed in the public interest, and the legal expenses incurred by the Agricultural Implement Makers’ Employes Union were also in the public interest, that the’ existing liabilities of the union should be. paid by the Federal Parliament.
A considerable amount of evidence is quoted by the Committee in support of the statements in their report. The wages recommended by Mr. Justice Higgins were gazetted by the Government as fair and reasonable. In November, 1907, the Minister of Trade and Customs issued a schedule containing the standard wages laid down, by the Judge. Only two employers were paying those wages, both being small men who employed at the outside only two or three employe’s. None of the big employers paid the scheduled rates. Time after time members of Parliament appealed to the Government to do something effective. But the Government coolly ignored the requests made to them. They allowed the amount due by the manufacturers to mount up.
– The Government issued a writ for £20,000.
– One firm alone owed the Government . £26,000. The statement made by the Minister of Trade and Customs cannot be called a defence. He reminded one of the squid which, when an enemy approaches, makes no attempt to fight, but ejects from its own body a mass of black fluid which obscures the water around it, and enables the squid to escape. The statement of the Minister of Trade and Customs was very muchlike that. He made no attempt to justify the action of the Government in connexion with the administration of the Excise Act. He simply said that it would be a bad thing if we were to take up questions of this sort which might involve theCommonwealth in considerable expense.
– Meaning that Parliament was going to perpetuate the blunders marie.
– He meant, I suppose, that we should go on perpetuating blunders for which we should be called upon to pay. Then the honorable senator ingenuously said that if the Government were to pay the expenses of the men, they would also be called upon to pay the expenses of the employers who “ did “ the Government out of nearly ^50,000. That is an awfully nice proposition to put before the Senate- that these manufacturers who, up to the time the Act was declared to be ultra vires, owed the Government something like ^50,000, would have to be recompensed if we dealt honestly with’ the employes. What a proposition for a Minister to put before the Senate ! I cannot understand how he had the audacity to say such a thing.
– It was simplicity, not audacity.
– Is there not a Wages Board in the harvester industry?
– A Board was established some years ago by the Victorian Government, but I understand that the manufacturer who is principally interested shifted his works outside the area to which the Wages Board applied, thus enabling him .to collect labour from any part of Australia, and to work his men any hours he liked for any pay he could induce them to accept. What did the Government do when the manufacturers neglected to pay the wages that had been gazetted? They never attempted to collect a penny of Excise. They knew that the law was being broken. They knew that the proper wages were not being paid. Representations were made to them time after time, but they declined to put the law into operation, and to collect the Excise. The Government knew, very well how the manufacturers had buttonholed members of Parliament, and said that they were prepared to pay fair and reasonable wages if more protection was extended to them. They knew the manufacturers had not carried out their promise. In the face of that, to say that these law-breakers should be compensated for .breaking the law, and that the men who assisted the Government in the public interest to see that the law was carried out, should be penalized to the extent of having to pay their own expenses, is a most remarkable proposition. Some one, by way of interjection, made a remark about the Government paying expenses in connexion with a rase which arose under the electoral law. The Minister then sheltered himself under the plea that that was due to the blundering of an official. In other words, because an official under the electoral law made a blunder, the Government were pre pared to compensate those who were the victims. But who made the blunder in relation to the law affecting the’ harvester Excise? Was it an official in that case? I suppose that the Customs officers were responsible, unless the Minister at the head of the Department refused to allow the officials to take the necessary action. If so, the blunder was made by the Minister who had sworn to administer without fear or favour the law which he himself was a party to passing through the Legislature. It seems to me to be nothing more than a reasonable proposition that if men are put to great expense through the neglect of a Minister to carry out the law, they should be compensated.
– What are the head* of Departments for?
– It is their duty to advise the Minister. We do not know what advice they gave to him. If we knew that we should be able to sheet home the blame to the proper quarter. I do not propose to read any more from the report of the Royal Commission. There is, however, one striking passage in which a comparison is made between the wages paid by some manufacturers and the rates laid down in the schedule compiled by Mr. Justice Higgins. What I want to do is to put forward the evidence on which this Commission based its recommendation that the amount should be paid. On page 175 Mr. E. F. Russell, who, I believe, is the secretary of the men’s organization, gave the following evidence: -
The union is mainly composed of working men, and I am sorry to have to say that many workers in the industry stand out of the union, and do not assist us, although they share in any benefit secured as the result of our work. We consider that some assistance should be given us to enable us to pay off our debt of £1,127 to the lawyers; otherwise it must be many years before we can pay it off, and it must cripple our operations in the meantime. We are hoping that as the outcome of the inquiry by this Commission, it will be recognised that the action we took was in the interests of the community generally. We claim that by our action we proved that the Constitution was not what it was thought to be, and in that respect we did work which should have been done by the Federal Parliament. We trust that the Commission will recommend to the Parliament that we should be reimbursed some, of our expenses in the matter. As an organization we consider that the object of Federation was to bring about better conditions, not merely for manufacturers, but for the whole of the people of the Commonwealth. From a national stand-point, we say that the States Parliaments are unable to legislate properly in regard to industries, and that in order that industrial conditions in each State shall, as nearly as possible, be brought into line, it is essential that the National Parliament should have control of industrial legislation.
He proceeded to make some statements, and then, on page 176, gave the following evidence : -
By the Chairman. - What is your chief reason for suggesting that Parliament should bear the costs to which you have been subjected. If Parliament did so, would it not have to bear the cost also of the other side? - Yes; we say that the whole of the costs in the case should be borne by the whole of the community, considering that the litigation was forced upon those engaged in the industry. We had to prove our case, and we did so. When the Act was proved unconstitutional, employers were able to evade the regulation. We consider that the whole body politic, and not merely a section of the community, has been benefited by our action, and we, therefore, think that the community as a whole should bear the expense. Another argument in support of our contention, is that we are working men in receipt of only very limited incomes.
We can easily understand that. Mr. Jus,tice Higgins did not fix what was considered an extortionate wage. On the contrary, after making inquiries wherever he possibly could, and getting evidence throughout Australia, he fixed what he considered to be a fair and reasonable wage from the stand-point of a worker, so that there might be frugal comfort, as he stated, for the worker, his wife, and his family. But not one of the employers paid- this wage. There were only two of them who, as I have said, attempted to pay a wage near the rate. When the workers ask the State to pay their law costs, how are they met? They are met by Senator Pulsford, just as if they were asking him for a drink on the pavement, or for something of that sort. He turns round and says: “Oh, yes, I will subscribe.”
– I rise to order. The honorable senator’s observation is an insult, and ought not to have been made.
– As exception has been taken to the remark, it must be withdrawn.
– II Senator Pulsford regards my remark as an insult, I take it back, although I am quite satisfied that the members of the union on whose behalf this application is made will regard as a greater insult his offer to contribute a guinea. Then, on the same page, this evidence was given -
By Mr. Chanter.- ls it not possible that, if the Government had attempted to collect the Excise from the commencement of the Act, the same legal action would then have been taken by the employers as was afterwards taken?-
Undoubtedly, and I firmly believe that that is one of the “reasons why they tried to upset the award.
Why? Because there were some thousands of pounds which they practically owed to the Treasury, which they thought they could keep if they could get the law set aside. I am not blaming the employers at all.
– I blame the employers very much.
– I am blaming the employer. The honorable senator does not blame him, because he has never paid an employ^ more than he has been compelled to do.
– Order ! The honorable senator must not make use of personal remarks.
– If honorable senators choose to interject, they must expect to receive a reply.
– Order ! I point out to the honorable senator that the interjection was not of such a character as would justify a reply which is insulting.
– I said that I had nothing against the employers. I do not blame them for taking a step which, if successful, would have enabled them to keep in their pockets a large sum which previously it was believed they owed to the Crown.
– And I interjected that I did blame the employers.
– In his evidence this witness wad undoubtedly right. Had the Government attempted to enforce the law then, the manufacturers would probably have appealed to the Court, but, instead of the workmen belonging to ihe union being mulcted in large expenses, the Government would have been called upon to fight the case, in order to ascertain whether the law was ultra vires or not.
– That is to say, the Government should have been forced to test the case.
– The Government should have tested the case.
Senator- .Guthrie. - They should have collected the Excise.
– I will let the honorable senator off.
– I do not want to be let off by the honorable senator. What he implies is that because the members of the Labour party did not take action to oust the Government on this question, they were responsible for the result.
– No,1 I would not go so far as that.
– What was the use of the Labour party doing anything unless they were prepared to take that step? What is the use of an honorable senator submitting a motion which he believes is right, unless he is prepared to press for a division, as the honorable senator is always prepared to do?
– The honorable senator does not quite understand me. I do not hold the Labour party wholly responsible, but I think that they might have applied the spur a little more vigorously than they did.
– Had we said to the Government : “ We shall withdraw our support unless )-ou do a certain thing,” we should have been wholly responsible. What was the alternative to our not passing out the Government? The Fusion might have been brought about a little earlier than it was, and, perhaps, under more favorable conditions.
– Will the honorable senator say why he demands that the Government should pay money which previous Governments did not pay?
– And which the Labour Government proposed to pay.
– Who says that ?
– I do.
– I1 shall kaye it to Senator Pearce to make a statement on that point if he is so inclined.
– There is no record of the kind, anyhow.
– Nor, so far as we know, is there a record of the last Deakin Government ever having done anything to enforce the Taw.
– There is no record of the Labour party having done anything until Senator Neild moved in the matter.
– If the honorable senator will only turn up Hansard, he will find that the last Deakin Government were continually asked by the Labour party to enforce the law. Surely he must know that ‘members of that party were not idle in regard to the matter, that time and time again Mr. Deakin and his colleagues were approached! with the object of getting the law enforced. There was only one alternative for the party to take, and perhaps we were to” blame for not giving the Government notice to quit unless they were prepared to carry out the law. We realize to-day what the result of such a notice would have been.
– Yes, but there would have been another result - it would have saved the union a good deal of expense and trouble.
– I am not sure. The honorable senator is suggesting that Ministers who now lay down the dictum that this would be a pernicious principle to adopt were then plastic, and could have been moulded into almost any shape so long as they could keep their portfolios. That may be so. and I would not contradict the honorable senator for a moment. The Government were not tested to that ex tent, and therefore none of us is able to say definitely to-day whether they would have bee/i sufficiently plastic or not. At any rate, they do not seem to be in that mood now. One must conclude that, having got rid of the support which then kept them in office, they are able to depend absolutely upon their present supporters, and so they have .mustered up sufficient courage to say that in their opinion this is a pernicious principle which, if adopted, would be prejudicial to the interests of the Commonwealth. On page 177 of the report of the Harvesters Commission, Mr. E. F. Russell gave the following . evidence -
By Mr. Sampson. - It was your duty to tender evidence, in support of what you considered fair and reasonable wages? - Yes. The position was this. The schedules put in by the manufacturers were not, in our opinion, fair and reasonable, and they would have been assumed to be so if our society had not stepped in.
If the men had not been prepared to fight the case they would have had no opportunity to take exception to the schedules submitted by the manufacturers, except by going out on strike. I take it that even honorable senators opposite are not continually agitating for a strike. They believe, or at least they profess to believe, that there is a method by which industrial disputes can be settled.’ When a union employs the onlymethod which appears to be available - that is to appeal to the Arbitration Court to collect evidence, and to obtain an award - then the Government are not prepared apparently to enforce the law under which the action has been taken, because members of an employers’ association are the law-breakers. It is wrong, I submit, to expect those in whose interests legislation was passed to incur a very large expense to induce the Government to enforce the law, or to prove that that law was not what it was pretended to be. I admit that there may be some arguments on the other side of the question. I knowthat in other States there have been cases of a somewhat similar character, but the Legislatures have never taken the view that because they intend to do a fair thing bv the employes they will have to go put of their’ way to compensate those who tried to defeat the legislation, and deprive the country of a large amount of Customs revenue. The cases have always been treated on their merits. A State Parliament has said : “There is a case where there has been neglect of some sort, but we do not say who was responsible. We recognise that owing to the neglect of those who were employed in the interests of the community, you were put to very considerable expense, and we think that the community should bear a portion of it.” The case which has been brought before the Senate is a peculiar one. It is not a case where the employers were fighting against a rise in wages, but a case where they stood to win .£30,000 or £50,000 of public money, and convert it to their own use. I venture to say that there has never been a case of this description in Australia before. When it is looked at from that point of view, I think it will be recognised that the employers were well ‘ paid by the enormous sum of which they were able to deprive the Commonwealth.
– Is that the honorable senator’s view of the protection given to these people?
– I admit that they “ did “ the people of Australia out of a very large sum of money. Up to the time that law was declared to be unconstitutional they were liable for Excise. They had not obtained exemption from the Court, and the Excise should have been collected from them as a just - debt: to the Crown. When the law was declared to be unconstitutional they were able to retain the money.
– Which they got through Protection.
– I frankly admit that Senator Clemons is able to mount a pretty high fence to-night and flap his wings because he opposed the legislation in question. I think he expressed a doubt as to the efficacy of the law we passed.
– But the honorable senator had this advantage : He had met the gentlemen before we did.
– Yes, and he had been able to form an opinion. It should be borne in mind that the Senate acted, not upon the opinion of any member of the Opposition, but upon the opinion of the Crown Law Department, and of the Prime Minister and other legal members of the Government. It was on their advice that the majority in this Parliament passed that legislation. I know of no case on all fours with that now before the Senate. The Federal Parliament has never been asked to bear’ the expenses of unions who have gone into the Arbitration Court in the ordinary way. Numbers of unions have applied to the Arbitration Court in the different States, some have lost and some have won, but they have never applied to the State Governments to pay their legal expenses. The bushworkers ‘appealed to the Federal Arbitration Court and won their case, but if they had lost they would not have asked the Federal Parliament to recoup their legal expenses, because they got a fair deal. They sought something from their employers who resisted an increase in wages. The pastoralists of Australia were not in the ‘ same position as the harvester manufacturers. They did not hold public money in their pockets which they might retain if they could upset the Federal law. That is the great difference between the present case and all other cases that have come before the Arbitration Courts. I should like now to say a word, not as to the Government or the employers, but the men who are interested in this matter. I think they are justified in asking , Parliament to bear a considerable share of the expense to which they were put. I have made personal inquiries about many of them. I am not speaking in this way merely because my sympathy is with unions generally. This is not a party matter.
– I made that most distinct.
– Every honorable senator on this side is free to express his own opinion on the motion, and I hope that honorable senators opposite are equally free. From inquiries I have made I learn that a number of the men at one time expressed themselves satisfied with the wages they were being paid. They were even prepared to take lower wages than those awarded by Mr. Justice Higgins. This does not in any way relieve the Government of responsibility, hut it shows that these men realized that it would be impossible for them to retain, their employment if they asked for higher wages. If they refused the ‘6s. 6d. a day they were being paid, because Mr. Justice Higgins said they should be paid 7s., they knew they would find it hard to obtain other employment. A man who goes to work for a low wage does so either because his stomach compels him to do so, or because those dependent upon him are in want. If these men had behind them a strong union they would have realized the advantage of organization. They would not have delayed taking action as they did. It was some considerable time before they attempted to take action to prove that they were entitled to benefit by the legislation passed by this Parliament. lt seems to me that they should realize that there is one thing which can protect them more effectively than an Act of Parliament, and that is a powerful organization amongst themselves to which all of them are loyal. I have been told that a number of these men thought it necessary at election time to have nothing to do with Labour mcn. They were altogether .too common for them. 1 hope they are learning a very useful lesson in connexion with this matter, and that they now realize the amount of trust they can put in the so-called Liberals, whom they have been supporting for a number of years. I hope they will realize that they are likely to get more by supporting men who are in sympathy with them than they will get by supporting those who merely profess to be in sympathy with them.
– Order. I ask the honorable senator if he is going to connect his remarks with the motion?
– I thought my remarks were strictly relevant to the motion, but I have said all I wish to say in connexion with this particular matter.
– I thought the honorable senator was not going to make this a party question.
– I say that this case presents a fair claim for the consideration of the Government. Apart from the establishment of any precedent, and without attempting to bolster up people who have improperly obtained from the country thousands of pounds, the claim of these men should be treated on its merits. If it v:, I arv -satisfied that a very large majority of honorable senators will be found to be in favour of the motion.
– The case submitted by Senator Neild is one of quite an exceptional character. I do not think there was any doubt in the minds of either the majority in both Houses of this Parliament or of the people of Australia with respect to the new Protectionist policy. The fact that the President of the Chamber of Manufactures stumped this State from one end to the other as an advocate of the new Protection was a guarantee to the workers that the manufacturers of this State, at least, professed a desire to extend justice to their employes. I have been induced to speak, chiefly because I wish to jay that Senator Best, who has addressed himself to the motion, cannot avoid his share of responsibility for the position in which these men find themselves to-day. I might almost say that the honorable senator has hardly treated the question seriously. ‘ He was as” evasive as he could be in the effort to extricate himself from a difficult position. He gave the Senate a long quotation from Mr. Justice O’Connor, to the effect that h”is Honour desired to deal directly with representatives of the manufacturers and the unions, and to exclude lawyers from the case. ‘ Senator Best conveyed the impression that he regarded the men as being illadvised in running into expense in connexion with the case, and especially in employing counsel to put their position before the Court. Let me say that they had no option but to procure the assistance of the best counsel available. The manufacturers had applied for exemption for the ‘ payment of Excise duty. They submitted to the Court their schedules of wages, and engaged the best counsel available to sup.port their claims. What was the position which, in the circumstances, the men were called upon to face? In the first place, they had to depend only upon a weak union. The duty was cast upon them of rebutting the evidence of men who were not free to give evidence according to their conscience. The men engaged in the industry were prevented from forming a union for their defence, and the employers were able to bring into Court men who were prepared to say that they were satisfied with the conditions under which they were working. In the circumstances, the men who protested had to take the responsibility of proving that the schedules of wages submitted by the manufacturers were not fair and reasonable within the meaning of the
Act, They had to engage counsel to assist them, and in many cases they had to put their wives into the witness-box to prove that the wages paid in the industry were not fair and reasonable. In my opinion, Senator Best is undoubtedly responsible for what . I may term the hocussing of the workers in connexion; with the new Protection policy. He declares that there was no necessity for the men to be represented by other than the secretary of their union. It seems to me, however, that he can ill afford to chide the agricultural implement makers’ employes with having acted unwisely, seeing that he, as a member of the former Deakin Government, was responsible for compelling the men to employ counsel in such cases. It will be recollected that some time ago, when a certain Bill was before the Senate, I moved that the following amendment should be inserted in it-
On the hearing of any application no party shall, except by consent of all the parties or by leave of the President, be represented by counsel or solicitor.
Under that amendment it would have been impossible for counsel or solicitor to have appeared before the Conciliation and Arbitration Court without the consent of all the parties to the suit, or of the President of that tribunal. But what happened? The only members of this Chamber who supported my proposal to abolish lawyers from the Arbitration Court were members of the Labour Party. I should like to place upon record the names of those honorable senators who made it compulsory for the employes engaged in the agricultural implement industry to employ counsel on their behalf, and thus to incur an indebtedness of £1,100. They are as follow : - Senators Sir Robert Best and J. H. Keating, both of whom were members of the then Deakin Government; Sir A. J. Gould, R. J. Sayers, J. T. Walker, and J. H. McColl Senators H. Dobson and S. Fraser also paired against my proposal. Seeing that Parliament has made it mandatory’? not that men shall engage counsel for the purpose of initiating proceedings before the Arbitration Court, but to advise them as -to the best means of rebutting the evidence given there, they had no option but to incur expenditure. Some of the employes who fought this case - who embraced the opportunity to prove what was the constitutional law on the matter - have never been able to obtain re-employment in the industry. For months they have been compelled to idly walk the streets, and some of them have been so boycotted that in sheer desperation they have had to leave the State. I do hope that the Senate - apart from all party considerations - will realize that the case of the members of this union is a particularly hard one. I believe that the men may justly claim that at least some portion of the costs which they have incurred should be borne bv the Commonwealth.
– I congratulate Senator Turley upon having made a very admirable speech from his point of view. . Unfortunately, the whole of his arguments were based upon an absolute fallacy - upon the statement of the secretary of the Agricultural Implement Makers’ Employes Union that it was essential that the National Parliament should have control of industrial legislation. That officer might just as well have declared that it was essential, in the interests of the workers of the Commonwealth, that this Parliament should flout the Constitution by wresting from the States the powers which they ought to retain, and by being guilty of a gross injustice. From the moment I heard of that extraordinary measure, the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Bill, I denounced it as being absolutely unconstitutional. Some honorable senators opposite must have realized that it was a gross violation of the Constitution. Instead of giving the agricultural implement makers’ employes who have suffered a guinea - as Senator Pulsford has offered to’ do, and as I would gladly do - what right have I to permit them to say of me, “ What a soft-hearted old fool he is to vote £1,100 of the taxpayers’ money to reimburse us “ ? Senator Turley does not believe in his heart that I ought to do that, or that he ought to do it, because at the end of a most admirable advocate’s speech he affirmed that the Commonwealth ought at least to pay “ a portion “ of the indebtedness incurred by the agricultural implement makers’ employes.
– I merely quoted the evidence of the secretary of the union.
- Senator Turley ought to have been more logical, and to have argued that every shilling of that indebtedness should be paid by the general taxpayer.
– I repeat that I merely quoted the evidence of the secretary of the union.
– The honorable senator quoted too much of that officer’s evidence. Such evidence is absolutely worthless. A man who will say it is essential that the industries of the States should be under the control of the Commonwealth might just as well say it is essential that the police of the States should be under the control of the Commonwealth, and that we should pay them 7s. per day. Up to within six months of the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act being placed upon the statute-book, there was not a single member of this Parliament who did not know that the industrial affairs of the Commonwealth were vested in the States, and that the Commonwealth had no control over them. But apparently somebody started the idea of the new Protection who thought that Mr. Deakin would do whatever his Labour allies asked him to do. But how could anybody who understands the difference which exists between the functions which are vested in the States and those which are vested in the Commonwealth deceive himself into the belief that this Parliament is empowered to use the weapon of taxation for the purpose of regulating industrial conditions?
– Were all the officers in the Crown Law Department fools?
– -Any member .of this Parliament who voted for the measure in question was exceedingly foolish. We cannot wrest from the States, powers which, without equivocation, have been vested in them.
– How far is industry represented in the Courts of Tasmania?
– What has that to do with this question? My sympathies are with the agricultural implement makers’ employes, and against Mr. McKay. I am endeavouring to argue the question from a strictly legal point of view, and to show that we must not establish a precedent which we cannot justify. We are trustees of the public, and we ought not to allow our judgment to be warped by considerations of sympathy. I repeat that all the arguments adduced by Senator Turley were based upon a fallacy. Senator E. J. Russell talked about the men having been “dragged before the Arbitration Court.” Has not the Minister of Trade and Customs pointed out that nothing of the kind occurred? On the contrary, an application was made by Mr. McKay in the exact terms of the Act, and the Court was asked to declare that he was conducting his business under fair and reasonable conditions, so that he might be granted exemption from the payment of an Excise duty of £12 upon every harvester which he manufactured. The employes, realizing that they had a majority in the Parliament which passed this unjustifiable Act, thought that it would be wise for them to fee the best counsel available for the purpose of proving that the Act was constitutional. They were not “ dragged before the Court,” but went there solely in their own interests, and thus wasted £1,100. If they had not gone there, Mr. Justice Higgins would have called the necessary witnesses and the whole case would have terminated just as it did terminate, without the expenditure of a single shilling upon the part of the employes. The men were not parties to the cause. They chose to obtain leave to intervene for the purpose of showing that Mr. McKay’s workmen were not receiving fair wages- although a great many of them were getting fair wages.
– Very few of them were receiving the wages that were laid down by Mr. Justice Higgins.
– In any case, the result would have been the same. But the result of their action was regarded as a triumph for the men. I am not at all impressed by the fact that two of the Justices of the High Court have declared that the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act is quite constitutional. I cannot understand how such a view can be taken bv any person. To my mind, the question is not arguable. If the validity of the Act had to be determined before the Privy Council, I do not think that one member of that body would entertain a doubt upon it. Six months before the Act was passed, there was not a member of this Parliament who did not know that it was unconstitutional.
– Is it correct for the honorable senator to make that statement?
– I do not believe there was a single member of this Parliament who doubted that the control of industrial legislation rested with the States, and could not be taken from them, except by means of an amendment of the Constitution. When honorable senators opposite got a weak Government in power they attempted to take the control of industrial legislation out of the hands of the States my means of an ‘Act of Parliament which I really believe that Senator Pearce himself must have known was a gross violation of the Constitution. Both Senators Pearce and Turley are so clear-beaded that they must have known that the Act was ultra vires. We are, therefore, asked to pay the legal expenses of some people, because they tried to uphold an unconstitutional Act. I cannot lend myself to a procedure of that kind. I recollect the time when senator after senator got up and said that the union label was a trade mark. I remember denouncing that proposition with all the vehemence of language I was permitted to use. But the Act was passed ; and now that it has been declared to be mere waste paper will any one contend that a person who went before the Court and maintained that the union label was a trade mark should have his expenses paid? If this sort of thing is allowed we may have other outrageous claims made. We may have them made with regard to questions of picketing and boycotting. When a policeman is sent to maintain law and order it may be held that he is sent to stir up strife.
– Picketing is allowed by English law.
– I know that; but kicking a man so that he becomes unconscious for twenty-four hours is not allowed by English law. But we may have picketing, not always peaceful, regulated by an Act of Parliament, and claims may be made for the payment of the legal expenses, of those who try to sustain such legislation. The Government themselves must have been perfectly well aware when the Act was passed that they were building on shifting sand.
– Will the honorable senator give an instance of a man who was kicked and rendered insensible for twentyfour hours?
– I trust that Senator Dobson will not attempt to do anything of the kind.
– If the honorable, senator cannot give an instance he should not make such a statement.
– If Senator Needham wished to take exception to the statement he should have done so at the time.
– I take exception now. lt is not too late.
- Senator Dobson was speaking as to possible future legislation and was pointing out what might happen.
– He spoke of what had happened.
– The honorable senator’s point was that, if such a thing did happen, it might be that Parliament would be asked to pay legal expenses.
– I am exceedingly sorry to hear that some men, on account of the action they took, have been dismissed from their employment. That is an element in the case that appeals to one’s heart. But I cannot take it into consideration in this matter.
– Crocodile sympathy !
– Honorable senators opposite seem to think that no one has a heart hut themselves. I have not only a heart but a conscience and a head; and my conscience and my brains tell me that I must not vote for this motion.
– I desire to make a statement to the effect that this subject was considered by the Fisher Government. Mr. Fisher himself brought it before the Government, and it was decided bv the Cabinet that they would, in framing the Estimates, set down a sum for the purpose of paying the expenses of the men in question.
– Why did not Mr. Fisher announce that at Gympie ?
– Why did he not leave a record of the decision?
– The Gympie speech was not a Budget. The statement has been made by the Minister of Trade and Customs that no memorandum on the subject was left by Mr. Fisher. Of course, the ex-Prime Minister was not so versatile in writing memoranda as the present Prime Minister is; but, nevertheless, I can assure the Senate that the decision I have mentioned was arrived at.
– Was it communicated to anybody?
– It was communicated to the Cabinet.
– Was it communicated to the Secretary to the -Treasury in order that the amount might be set down upon the Estimates?
– I do not know that it was. I understand that no written record was left by Mr. Fisher, but I make the statement now. Every one knows that the Treasury has few estimates of its own. The Treasury deals with the Estimates submitted by other Departments. The stage reached by the late Government when they met Parliament was that the Estimates had only commenced to be compiled by the spending Departments. When the time arrived for the Estimates of the Treasury to be framed, possibly they would have had riot more than halfadozen items on them. There was no necessity for a written record of the decision of the Cabinet to be made, because when the Estimates of the Treasury came to be compiled, a sum would have been put down for this purpose. The point which we considered was that Excise was payable by the manufacturers if they did not pay to the men fair and reasonable wages. A large sum of money was recoverable from them by the Government. But no action was taken by the Government. Action had to be taken by the trade union. We thought, therefore, that the union had a right to look to the Government for the expenses to which it had been put in the case.
– I do not desire to prevent a division on this motion, and if I find that honorable senators opposite - who perhaps are more interested in the subject than other honorable senators - do not want an adjournment of the debate, I shall not move for one. I am prepared to offer a few remarks on the motion, because I have been listening to the debate very carefully. It has interested me vastly. Perhaps I should first pay attention to what Senator Pearce has said. He made an interesting statement, and, of course, I, and every other honorable senator, believe it. But it would have been very much more instructive to me if Senator Pearce had told us that the late Ministry, when considering this question in Cabinet, had ascertained, or were sure in their own minds, that this sum of £1,100 had actually been paid, or was going, to be paid, by the Labour union on account of costs incurred in the case.
– The sum we decided to place on the Estimates was not £i,roo, but £500. It was to be paid to the union.
– I am glad to hear that statement. I have to remark concerning it - without any innuendo whatever - that, so far as I know from what has transpired during the course of this debate, no proof has been offered that the Labour union, or the employes personally, have become liable, without any possibility of escape, for £1,100, or have actually paid any such sum. As an ordinary business man, before I could consent to vote for the payment of £1,100 for this purpose, I should want to be absolutely cer tain as to its destination, and as to the fact that indebtedness to that extent had been incurred.
– Mr. Fisher had satisfied himself about the matter.
– I gather from Senator Pearce’s admission that Mr. Fisher, who had investigated the subject, came to the conclusion that £500 would meet the case.
– - That sum would not have covered the whole of the expenses to which the ‘union were put.
– They had paid nearly £500 out of their own pockets.
– I should like to know whether there is an absolute legal liability on them to pay more than £500?
– - Oh, yes.
– I believe there is.
– If so, I am astonished that Mr. Fisher, when he came to the conclusion that the men had a good case, only proposed to pay them £500. It seems to me that he should have paid all or none.- That being so, I should feel great . reluctance in voting for the motion, on the ground that I am not prepared to say that £1,100 ought to be paid.
– No definite amount is stated in the motion.
– Suppose this amount is accurate, does any one believe that the sum of £1,100 will be paid? We have no guarantee that if we carry the motion, the money will be paid by the Government? If not, we shall be simply beating the air. I am not in the confidence of the Government, but, personally, I do not believe that they will pay the money.
– We shall want to know the reason why, if they do not.
– I am dealing wilh the subject in a practical way.
– There is a similar motion before the other House.
– Speaking for myself, I do not believe that the money will be paid if we carry the motion.
– It ought not to be paid.
– Whether it ought or ought not to be paid is not the point with which I am dealing. The consideration that in all probability the Government would not pay the money, induces me not to support the motion. I want also to look into the merits of the question. We have been told that this is a special case. I admit that it is a very special case. It is not special entirely for the reasons given by Senator Turley and others who support the motion. There is nothing unusual in a man having wasted a great deal of his money in going to law. That sort of thing happens to thousands of people. There is nothing special in having to spend money in endeavouring to get a verdict from a court of law. What were the circumstances in this case? They were that Parliament had passed an Act which purported to confer special benefits upon, a special class.
– The men believed that the Act did so.
– I grant that the men believed that the Act was good. I merely state that the circumstances were special, that the Act was special, and that a special class was to be specially benefited. With regard to the class, let me remind honorable senators that the men working at this industry were specially treated. There are hundreds of thousands of deserving men in the Commonwealth for whose benefit no special legislation has been passed. There are hundreds of thousands of men who could have derived from such an Act of Parliament no possible material advantage. What was the position of these men? An Act was passed to give them special advantages. lt is true that the Government were very slow to put the Act into operation. In fact it was never properly put into operation at all. We all know where the blame for that lies. But as to one part of the Act - the penalty part - a point was reached when the employers were risking having a serious penalty enforced against them. The employers, in their own interests, took it upon themselves to test the matter of whether the Act was ultra or intra vires. The object of their application was, of course, to ascertain whether they were liable to be mulcted in the penalties which had accrued. Up to that point the men who were to benefit from the Act had had to do nothing. I do not know whether they ought to be blamed or not.
– They had moved before that case was brought.
– They had not to go to the Court They had not to incur any expense in regard to the subject-matter of this motion.
– Yes ; they had to move before the case was tested in the Court, and declared ultra vires.
– I think not.
– They had to go before Mr. Justice Higgins.
– They might have privately consulted a solicitor. The case was started, not by the men, but by the employer.
– By his application to the Court for an exemption.
– The employer being afraid, though I think he need not have worried, that the time was rapidly approaching when he might be mulcted in a penalty of £30,000 or £40,000, decided to test the validity of the Act, and the men, seeing that the case was going to be heard, decided to appear.
– The honorable senator is mixing up two cases.
– One case was in the High Court, and the other was in the Arbitration Court.
– In which case were these costs incurred?
– In the Arbitration Court. Mi. McKay moved for an exemption, and the men had to show that his statements were not fair and reasonable.
– That is where the expenses were incurred, and nowhere else.
– It is a pity that in discussing the motion we have not been provided’ with proper evidence.
– Senator Best gave the information to-night, and last week I gave it fully.
– When a public demand of this kind was made, the details of the bill of costs ought to have been: supplied. In my opinion, it was not necessary for the men to incur an expenditure of £1,100, or anything like that sum j and I quite expect that that consideration moved the mind of Mr. Fisher when he came to the conclusion, as apparently he did, that a contribution of £500 would meet the case.
– That was in regard’ to the original claim.
– I am not to be shifted from one case to the other. This sum is required, I take it, to reimburse the men their expenses in the Arbitration Court.
– When the manufacturers secured the services of two of the best men at the bar, the employe’s had to brief counsel.
– I shall not necessarily blame the employes because they engaged counsel; but I hold that that was not absolutely necessary. I do not think that this bill of costs need have been run up. Because the men chose to be represented by counsel before the Arbitration Court, we are told that they lost £1,100. I do not propose to waste words of sympathy, because that would be idle. I have been sorry for many men who have thrown money away in the Law Courts. The case of these workmen is not the first by a long way, and it will not be the last. To a certain extent, they were gambling with so much money, in the hope of getting a very good prize.’ If they had succeeded, they would have put themselves into a position vastly better than ‘that which nine out of. every tenworkmen in the Commonwealth can get into, any way.
– And they would have benefited the Commonwealth revenue, too, if they had succeeded.
– That is not a fair answer to the argument. If they had succeeded in compelling Mr. McKay and other persons to pay, say, £30,000 to the Treasury, I should have been delighted. But on this motion it is not fair to use that argument. The men really ran the risk of losing . £1,100, in order to put themselves into a vastly better position than nine out of every ten men in the Commonwealth had any chance of attaining, because of any legislative action.
– In order to get what Mr. Justice Higgins said was a living wage.
– That is not a fair way of putting the case either. If it is a question of getting a living wage, my only reply is that nine out of everyten men in the Commonwealth are not getting it.
– Not in Tasmania.
– I can ignore a contemptible remark about Tasmania.
– The proportion is not nine out of every ten.
– I think that for every one man employed in protected industries, there are nine men who are not so employed. I believe that the honorable senator will agree with me that for every man who can come under the scheme of new Protection there are nine men who cannot.
– I think that the honorable senator is overstating the position.
– I do not wish to do so.
– The employes in most of the secondary industries could come under the policy of new Protection.
– A long time ago 1 had to investigate this matter, and in America, which is a highly protected country, an official Board came to the conclusion that out of every ten men nine are outside the scope and operation of the protected industries.
– It has a much larger proportion of urban population than we have.
– If the honorable senator likes I will say that the proportion is five out of every ten. 1 merely accepted an official statement. Seeing that the employes in this industry were investing £1,100 in the hope of getting a good reward, are we justified in recouping them because they failed ? As a matter of justice, I do not think that we are. Of course, we can all be sorry for them. We cannot dispense justice equally all round if we pay these men. Honorable senators on the other side may say that that should not matter.
– Why should we not do justice as far as we can?
– My honorable friends may say: “ Never mind how many others may suffer in comparison, if this is a case of justice, let justice be done.” That is not a bad argument. If I could persuade myself that it represented the whole of the case, I should vote for the motion ; but I cannot. I am not going to vote against the motion simply because if these men were reimbursed, they would be getting a benefit which other men would have to be deprived of. In my opinion, they merely invested so much money, and had an excellent risk. Parliament seemed to be entirely on their side. No doubt it seemed perfectly justifiable to them to spend £1,100 or £2,000 on the basis of an Act which had been passed by the Parliament of Australia after full consideration of eminent legal opinions.
– It saved the Government the expense of testing the validity of the measure.
– I do not know whether it would have saved that expense to the Government, because so far as I could ascertain they did not intend to test the Act in any case. It is perfectly certain that if we reimburse the men their costs in the Arbitration Court, we shall have to pay Mr. McKay’s costs.
– Was it he who tested the case?
– Perhaps 1 should not have used his name, but should have referred to the harvester manufacturers.
– It was Mr. McKay who tested the case.
– He was the figure-head anyhow.
– Probably he was, but I do not like to use a person’s name, and therefore I say that if we agree to this motion we shall have to reimburse the manufacturers their costs.
– T - That is a strange question for the honorable senator to ask. What is the position of the manufacturers ? Their argument is that because of an Act which this Parliament had passed they were threatened with the imposition of a fine amounting to many thousands of pounds, and that in self-defence they had to take a case into Court and test the Act, probably at very much more cost than the men incurred.
– And ‘ they stuck to £30,000 or £[40,000.
– Surely the honorable senator is too fair a man to allow that point to interfere with the consideration of this application for costs.
– We must look at the effects of the whole legislation. The manufacturers had the benefits of the Customs Tariff Act, and refused to their employe’s the benefits of the Excise Tariff Act.
– These remarks about the manufacturers having all the benefits are vastly interesting to me. 1 welcome an admission that the . protected manufacturers get all the benefits of this scheme of Protection. Unfortunately, these admissions are only made when the Tariff is out of the way, and votes are not to be given. We are asked by Protectionists to note what an abundant harvest the protected manufacturers have made out of the Tariff; and we are positively told that, because - the manufacturers do so benefit, we should not give them bare justice in a case where they have been compelled, by a faulty Act, to incur expense.
– They did not get the benefit so much out of the Tariff as by not - observing fair and reasonable conditions.
– That is another matter. So far as I know, they are getting it still ; but I do not think it touches the point under consideration.
– I do not think that they have sent in an application for reimbursement of costs.
– Does the honorable senator imagine that if this motion were passed and acted upon, the manufacturers would not make a demand?
– I do not know.
– I venture to saythat the spirit which nearly always moves a man to look first after his own interests, animates the manufacturers, especially the Protectionist manufacturers in Victoria., as well as the ordinary working men in their factories. It is obvious that if this motion is passed and acted upon, we shall have to vote for the manufacturers being reimbursed their costs, unless it is desired to be woefully inconsistent.
– The cases are entirely distinct.
– I intend to vote against the motion, but if it is carried, and a similar motion is submitted on behalf of the manufacturers with whom I have not the faintest sympathy, I shall be compelled, in bare justice, to vote for the reimbursement of their costs.
– Would that not also apply to an application for the refund of the costs incurred by New South Wales brewers ir. testing an Act which proved to be unconstitutional ?
– I think that it must apply, to every such case. I can see no escape from that position. I doubt if any man who allows full play to his sense of justice could refuse to vote for a similar motion. I wonder what the mover of this proposal thinks? I have not the slightest doubt that he is imbued with a sense of justice. Does he think that if costs are given to the men, because they have had to test the Act, costs should not also be given to the other side who had to test it also ? I should like him to give me an answer to my question.
– The manufacturers did not have to test the question.
– I am waiting for Sentor Neild’s answer.
– Then the honorable senator will wait a long time. He can surely wait until I speak in reply
– I can wait ‘if Senator Neild wishes to give me an answer when he speaks in reply, but the question is so simple that I think he might have answered it by interjection. For the reasons I have given, I cannot vote for the motion. I have indicated what I may have to do as a consequence of it. I am convinced that it will produce no practical results so far as the men are concerned. It may give those who will be on the winning side in that division a certain amount of satisfaction, but I think it can have no other result.
Motion (by Senator Gray) proposed -
That the debate be now adjourned.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I confess to a very strong feeling of regret that in this case I shall have to vote against a motion which I should very much like to support. The men in this case have been most hardly used, and there is no doubt that up to a certain point, justice is on their side. Two things have convinced me that if I am to do my duly to the Commonwealth, I can only give my vote in one direction.
– The honorable senator promised me over and over again that he would vote for the motion.
– The speeches delivered by Senators Clemons and Pearce have put an absolutely different construction upon the facts as I understood them when I gave a half promise-
– A half promise !
– My word is at any time as good as that of Senator Neild. I have never definitely given a promise to vote for the motion, but I have given a half promise that I would vote for it.
– What is a half promise like? I should like to see one.
– I feel very strongly in the matter, and I should like very much to be able to support the motion.
– Then the honorable senator should do as he feels, and what he likes.
– The honorable senator should not do. as he is told.
– The first circumstance which has influenced me as to the vote which I should record is the information given to the Senate by Senator Pearce. If Senator Neild was aware of what Senator Pearce has told the Senate, it was his duty to have informed every honorable senator of it. Senator Pearce has stated that the Labour Government, in Cabinet, decided to give a sum of £500 to these men. If it is not a question of charity, and if these men have absolute right and justice on their side, will any honorable senator tell me that a Government supposed to specially represent them would decide to give these men only one-half of the amount which they have expended in costs? This is a case in which the men should be paid the whole of theirexpenses to the last halfpenny, or it is one in which the Government should not be called upon to pay anything. In my opinion, the arguments adduced by Senator Clemons are irrefutable. They were of such a nature as to make me decide to give my vote with the Government. I feel that if I do not do so, I shall be voting to expend money illegally. We should be governed by the law of the country, and I regret very much that I cannot give my vote, as I should like to do, in support of the motion. I may say that I shall be very pleased to give my contribution to a fund established to recoup the expenses of these men, and an honorable senator beside me is willing to do the same.
. -I am sure that every member of the Senate has given this motion very serious consideration. We are being asked now merely to pay the penalty for having passed hasty and ill-considered legislation thrust upon thelate Government by honorable senators opposite.
– Mr. Reid approved of the policy of new Protection over and over again.
– I sympathize with the men who are suffering, and with the Minister of Trade and Customs, who, I am sure, if he followed the dictates of his own heart, would be very glad indeed to vote for the motion. In opposing it, he is acting to-night from a stern sense of duty, and perhaps loyalty to the Cabinet. J feel that the men have presented a case of abstract justice. We have made mistakes in the Federal Parliament, and by our mistaken legislation have led them into very heavy legal expenses. If we make mistakes, it seems to me that we ought to pay for them. We should not ask other people to pay for our mistakes. If I made a mistake in the management of my own business, which involved another person in loss, I should feel that it was my duty to make good the loss incurred as a consequence of my error. I should very much rather, as has been suggested, contribute to a fund to defray the expenses of these men. 1 should be prepared to be one of fifty who would give £10 each towards their expenses; but I feel that, as a matter of abstract justice, I am bound to vote for the motion. T think it is our duty to protect the’ revenue; but if Parliament makes mistakes, and allows itself to be rushed into passing ill-advised legislation, when it is told that it is unconstitutional
– Who said so?
– A great many warned Parliament that this legislation was unconstitutional. If Parliament passes such legislation, and thus leads men into expense, it ought to pay for it. I shall vote for the motion, not because I seek popularity ; as a matter of fact, if anything would deter me from doing so’ it would be the somewhat scurrilous remarks which have been, passed upon honorable senators on this side by honorable senators opposite.
– I rise to a point of order. Is Senator McColl in order in saying that scurrilous remarks were made by honorable senators on this side ?
– The honorable senator is not in order in stigmatizing as scurrilous any remarks made in. this chamber.
– I withdraw the statement ; but I felt that the remarks made were of the character 1 ascribed to them. I feel that, as a matter of abstract justice, it is my duty_ to vote for the motion. I put myself in the place of these men, and I say that if I were one of them, I should expect that something should be done to recoup the expense to which I was put as a result of the action taken by this Parliament.
Senator Colonel NEILD. (New South Wales) [10.54]. - During the debate, there was one speech made which I think met with the approval of every member of the Senate, because it was entirely free from any party complexion, and made no personal attack. I refer ‘ to the address of Senator Clemons, who steered as absolutely clear of offence as I feel assured I did in moving the motion last week. I must own that I deplore the very natural and inevitable drift of the debate into the channels which it has taken to-night. No one could really expect that the motion would be kept entirely free from party complexion ; but I desired, and still desire, that it should be dealt with, as - Senator McColl has just said, as a question of abstract justice. 1 deplore the fact that I find myself unexpectedly in antagonism to Ministers of the party of which I am as true a member as is any member of the Senate.
– Does the honorable senator own allegiance to the Fusion?
– I necessarily belong to this side of the Senate ; and, notwithstanding my action, I had no idea that Ministers would have taken up the attitude they have assumed on this motion. As reference was pointedly made to the matter to-night, I must refer to the accuracy of the statement as to why I voted against the adjournment of the debate this week. I had agreed to the adjournment of the debate because I -was asked to do so, to enable the Minister to properly consider the arguments I had advanced, and to consult his colleagues. I was informed that in another place the Prime Minister had made a statement which placed the consideration of my motion outside the category of common sense, and I felt I should be stultifying myself by voting for an adjournment of the debate.
– Surely that statement was made after a similar declaration had - been made in this Chamber.
– The statement to which the Vice-President of the Executive Council refers was made months ago - long before I put my notice of motion upon the business-paper. I gave notice of this motion fully six weeks ago, and the answer to which the honorable gentleman alludes was given in reply to a question put by me some time before then. As a matter of fact, I had forgotten all about that answer. The whole question at issue is one of simple justice. I cannot see any wisdom in the argument that the adoption of my motion would open the door to all sorts of attacks upon the Treasury. Such a contention presupposes that this Parliament will continue to enact legislation which is ultra vires of the Constitution. In conclusion I desire to say one or two words in reply to the argument of Senator Clemons that if the agricultural implement makers’ employes are compensated for the expenses which they have incurred, the manufacturers should also be compensated. The speech which he delivered conclusively proved that he did not know anything about the question. He mixed up two totally different sets of legal proceedings, and succeeded in getting himself into a hopeless knot until some of us went to his assistance and disentangled him. He entirely overlooked the fact that the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act, which has been declared ultra vires of the Constitution, was linked with another Act which placed heavy duties in the pockets of the manufacturers to the extent of scores of thousands of pounds. The issue of a writ by the Commonwealth Government for £20,000 against one . firm alone is conclusive proof of this. I cannot understand how any supporter of the new Protection can vote against my proposal, which merely seeks to give the employes abstract justice, and which does not raise any question of personal difference or party disloyalty.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.5 p.m.
Senator Colonel Neild.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 September 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19090909_senate_3_51/>.