3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator MILLEN laid upon the table the following papers -
Customs Act 1901. - Regulations. - Statutory Rules1909, No. 126.
Census and Statistics Act 1905 -
Population and Vital Statistics of the Commonwealth for the quarter ended 30th June,1909. - Bulletin No. 16.
Trade, Shipping, Oversea Migration, and Finance of the Commonwealth of Australia for the month of August, 1909. - Bulletin No. 32.
Shipping and Oversea Migration of the Commonwealth of Australia for the year 1908.
Trade and Customs and Excise Revenue of the Commonwealth of Australia for the year 1908.
– I have received from Senator de Largie an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The administration of the Contract Immigrants Act in Western Australia.”
Four honorable senators having risen in theirplaces,
– I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 5 a.m. to-morrow.
The matter which I wish to bring before the Senate has attracted great attention in Western Australia. Although it has been, perhaps, a little more prominent recently than formerly, still it is rather an old standing public grievance, which is being aggravated by the fact that the unemployed evil is spreading in the State. I do not know whether that evil exists in all the States, but when men come to be thrown out of employment by strangers to the country they feel that “they have a genuine grievance which they naturally look to Parliament to remedy in some way. I have to complain that Australian workmen are being deniedwork in the timber-cutting industry of Western Australia, and that foreigners have practically obtained a monopoly of that work. Timber cutting in the State, more particularly on the goldfields, is in the hands of foreigners who, to a great extent, do not intend to become naturalized, or even citizens. That has been shown in more ways than one. A constant stream of new chums is employed, and when they have made a few -pounds the bulk of them return to their own country, only a very small percentage remaining in Australia. I do not mean to say that there are not a number of foreigners who come to Western Australia and are naturalized.
But the timber-cutting industry is notorious for the number of new chums which it employs, and who for the most part clear out when they have saved a few pounds, and leave the country very little the richer for their presence. When we consider how the Australian h-s been displaced in the industry, and has to travel in search of work, and new chums can go straight from the boats, so to speak, and get employment apparently without difficulty or delay, it is time, I think, that we looked into the working of our Immigration Acts, with a view to seeing whether advantage ‘ is not taken of our own people. The Government came into office to deal with the unemployment question, but it is of very little use for us to allow the employment -we have to be taken away from our people by those who are practically aliens, and consider ways and means to find employment in some other direction. We should endeavour to see that our own people get as much of the work available as we can possibly secure to them. At all events, we should try to prevent a preference from being given to foreigners. I hold in my hand1 some figures which will prove the accuracy of my statement. I assure the Senate that they have been supplied by a man who is in- a position to give reliable information concerning the labour engaged in this industry. Having carefully’ investigated the matter, I have every faith in the figures which he has compiled.
– Who supplied them?
– The figures have been supplied by an Australian who is employed in the industry on the goldfields of Western Australia.
– Do these men come in under contract?
– As my time for speaking is limited to half-an-hour, I . desire to state my case within that time, if possible, and I hope that honorable senators will not be offended with me if I refrain from replying to interjections. If these aliens were coming in under open contract, our complaint, perhaps, would take a different form from that we are now making. So far as I know, they are not coming in under written contract, but in another way. That they are coming in in a manner which is not satisfactory to the workmen of Western Australia is beyond any doubt.
– Order. The honorable senator has moved the adjournment of the Senate to discuss “ the administration of the Contract Immigrants Act in Western Australia,” and I hope that his remarks will be made applicable to the administration of that Act.
– Am I to understand, sir, that on a motion of this kind I cannot refer to the provisions of the Act without referring to the administration of it?
– The honorable senator will be perfectly in order in discussing the administration of the Act, but I understood him just now to refer, not to people who had come in under the Contract Immigrants Act, but to people who had come in apart from it. He may refer to those who have come in under the Act and to its administration.
– It. is hard to prove whether these persons came in under the Contract Immigrants Act or not’. A great deal of investigation would hi>ve to be undertaken before any definite proof could be obtained. All that I propose to do is to show that a very large percentage of the workmen who are engaged in timber cutting on the gold-fields are foreigners, and that, being foreigners, they apparently get a preference. I propose to give the names of the various companies by which they are employed.
– I am very sorry to have to interrupt the honorable senator and take up a part of his time. But under our practice he can only discuss the matter which is set out in his notice. He has moved the adjournment of the Senate for one distinct object, and that is to discuss “ the administration of the Contract Immigrants Act in Western Australia.” The debate must be connected with the administration of the Act. The fact that foreigners have come in and got work would be properly discussed on another motion for the adjournment -of the.. Senate.
– I think that I shall be able to show that if the Contract Immigrants Act were administered in such a way as to allow cases of this kind to be investigated we should know exactly whether persons had come in under contract or not. I hold that the Act is not properly administered, and it is for the r,ir pose of insuring that it shall be more strictly administered that I have moved the adjournment of the Senate. Do I understand, sir, that I can discuss the matter from that stand-point?
– If the administration of the Act is not satisfactory the honorable senator is perfectly entitled to discuss that question, but his remarks must be relevant to the terms of his notice. That is the only limitation that is imposed upon him.
– That is what I desire to discuss. I want to show that a very low- percentage of the men who are employed in the timber cutting industry are what may be called our own workmen. For instance, the timber concession, which is generally known as the Kurrawang Company, the managing director of which is Mr. W. N. Hedges, M.P., employs only 20 Britishers as against 316 foreigners. It will be seen therefore that there is an overwhelming preponderance of foreigners employed as against Britishers. At Kur.ramia 29 Britishers are engaged and 166 foreigners; at Lakeside 19 Britishers and 170 foreigners; and at Lancefield 15 Britishers . and 37 foreigners. At the Lancefield Gold Mine 70 foreigners are employed; at the Orion Gold Mine there are no Britishers, but 40 foreigners, making a total in the places which I have mentioned of 83 Britishers and 767 foreigners. These figures, so far as they relate” to Kurrawang and the Orion Gold Mine, were compiled on the 1 st June of the present year, those relating to Lakeside and Kurramia were compiled on the 25th June, and those relating to Lancefield on the 1st July. It will be seen that the existing state of affairs is far from satisfactory to our own people. I believe that if the Department of External Affairs conducted an inquiry into this question, sworn evidence would be obtainable, and absolute proof forthcoming, as to the accuracy of the figures which I have quoted. Of course, I can only submit circumstantial evidence in this connexion. But that evidence is so strongly in favour of my contention that the Contract Immigrants Act is not being properly administered, that I think it will be generally recognised that it is time we took some steps to prevent a continuance of present conditions. That the Statute is being loosely administered is best evidenced by the circumstance that immediately upon their arrival in Western Australia foreigners, are able to obtain employment in the timber industry, notwithstanding that nativeborn Australians who may be upon the ground are being’ refused employment. A very pointed illustration of the policy which is being pursued by the timber companies occurred quite recently, when an
Australian workman of very dark complexion, who bears a close resemblance to an Italian, was approached by the “ boss “ of one of the companies, and informed that if he had any friends in Italy, he might send for them, and they would be sure to secure work the moment that they arrived. When the “ boss “ discovered that he was talking to an Australian, his chagrin may well be imagined. Surely it is possible for the officers of the Department of External Affairs to ascertain whether or not a preference is being granted to foreigners.
– Cannot the Timber Cutters Union ascertain that?
– That Union is doing the best that it can, and may be relied upon not to neglect its duty to our countrymen. I hope that Senator Gray will back up its efforts.
– I will back up the efforts of anybody to introduce white men into Australia.
– Perhaps the honorable senator would grant a preference to foreigners ?
– I would grant a preference to good workmen.
– The remarks of Mr. Taylor, one of the gold-fields representatives in the West Australian Parliament, as reported in the West Australian Hansard, of 22nd September, of the present year, have some bearing upon the matter He said -
Every communication I receive from the back country, whether from my own electorate or not, contains complaints from secretaries of unions regarding the influx in the mines of foreigners, men who are unable to speak the English language, and expressing wonder as to how they creep in. If one goes to the railway station after the arrival of a steamer he will find these men making straight for the goldfields, and if they are asked where they are going, they reply, “ choppa de wood.” If one says, “Good morning” to them, they reply, “ choppa de wood.” If on the gold-fields they are asked what they are doing, they reply, “ shovel de mullock.” Wherever they go they are found work, and our own workmen may often be seen carrying their swags looking for work. The member for Fremantle in the Federal Parliament is responsible, in a large degree, and more than any other individual in the State, for the importation of these men and finding them employment.
– A very good thing.
- Senator Gray may think it is a very good thing for his own countrymen to be carrying swags whilst new chums are usurping the employment which they should get- If we arP: going to. insist that even’ Australian citizen shall defend his country, it is our bounden duty to see that he gets a fair deal in the matter of obtaining employment. To provide a foreigner with work which is denied to an Australian, and to insist that the latter shall defend his country, is obviously so unfair a proposition that it will never be countenanced by the people, as those who advocate granting a preference to foreigners will discover at the forthcoming general elections. Considerations of greed alone underlie the granting of this unpatriotic preference. The timber industry in Western Australia is worked by contract, and the men are paid for the timber which they cut at the rate ot 4s. 3d. per ton. The timber is weighed in trucks which belong to a private company, which company has had false weights painted upon them. This company does not sell its timber to the gold mines from the waggons in which it purchases it. The timber is purchased in its private waggons and is sold in the Government waggons.
– Does the honorable senator say that the company’s waggons have false weights printed on them?
– Yes. I can prove my statement.
– Are there no State laws in Western Australia to prevent fraud ?
– I shall place the Senate in full possession of the facts. The following is an extract from a letter which I received from a workman who is engaged in this industry -
The Kurrawang Company, which Hedges is managing director, were robbing the wood cutters and truck loaders, composed of 95 per cent, of foreigners, through having incorrect “ tares “ painted on their private trucks; those trucks only are used on Kurrawang line, and it is on weight therein the men are paid. The. wood is transferred at Kurrawang siding into Government trucks, and on that the mines pay the company.
On 2nd April Mr. Stuart, the Kurrawang Workers Union secretary, succeeded in compelling the company to “ retare “ their private trucks; the retaring showed that the trucks were lighter than represented to such an extent that the workers were robbed of ^70 per month, and the company acknowledged the robbery, offering to make restitution. They paid money into the hank in response to the union demand for a refund of the sum involved.
So that there are reasons underlying the employment of new chum Italians who are unable to speak the language of the country, and who are consequently at the mercy of more cunning and shrewder men. Members of the Labour party entertain no objection whatever to the introduction into Australia of Italians, but we do protest against granting them a preference in the matter of securing employment over our own people. I would object to such at preference being extended even to immigrants from the Old Country. As a matter of fact, I protested against Scotchmen’ being allowed to be brought out here, under contract, to work at Korumburra whilst a strike was in progress there a few yearsago. We do not object to the introduction of Italians upon the ground that they areforeigners.
– Then why lay such emphasis on the fact that they are foreigners ?
– I do not lay emphasis upon that fact. What I do sayis that they should not be granted a preference over our own workmen. Do we not all recollect the heroism exhibited by a trade unionist in Western Australia who risked his own life to rescue an Italian workman ? Do we forget the exploit of Diver Hughes at Bonnie Vale? He performed one of the most heroic acts recorded in Australian history, and I mention his exploit merely for the purpose of showing that the men who are complaining are not animated by any petty spite towards Italians. As a matter of fact, many good citizens on? our gold-fields belong to that nationality. My complaint is that they are being taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers. Those employers, I am pleased to say, are few in Western Australia. We have as fine employers in that State as are to be found in any part of the Commonwealth, but a few of them are prepared to make use of new-chum Italians for the purposes I have described, and that is what I want to prevent by the proper administration of the Act, which should be applied in such a way as to discontinue a practice that is unfair, unpatriotic, and ought to be ended at the earliest opportunity.
– In rising to make a few remarks on the question raised by Senator de Largie, I should, in the first place, like to answer one or two interjections that have fallen from honorable senators oppositeI quite indorse the whole of the senti-ments he has expressed, and I agree that those who support him have no antipathywhatever towards Italians. I have nothingto say against them, either as work mates or citizens. But I have a very great objection: to advantage being taken of Italian immigrants by men who are undoubtedly bringing them to this country for the express purpose of exploiting them.
– What advantage is taken of them?
– I will show quite clearly why this practice is being pursued. The question has been asked why preference is given to these workmen? The answer is easy. Those who administer the Contract Immigrants Act, if they take the trouble to find out the reasons,will soon discover that a close administration is necessary to protect Australian workmen, and in many cases to protect workmen who are being brought to Australia probably by the method of contracting. The task of discovering the devices used may be difficult, owing to the insidious methods of those interested. They ask Antonio to send for his brother, his cousin, or his uncle, and guarantee that Antonio’s relatives shall find employment immediately they arrive, regardless of whether the employment of the new arrivals means the displacement of an equal number of Britishers.
– Is not that done in farming, and in connexion with other industries in Australia?
– I do not think that it is done in connexion with farming, but, if so, it ought not to be. It ought not to be done, in connexion with any industry where men are supposed to be equal. These Italians are not employed because of their superior skill. The contrary is the fact. We have evidence which shows that Mr. W. N. Hedges and others engaged in the limber industry are content to employ Italians to cut their firewood, but nevertheless pay Australian carters 13s. 4d. per day. I will stake my existence on the fact that not a solitary Italian is to be found driving for Mr. Hedges. The drivers are all Britishers, but when it comes to cutting firewood at so much per ton it is to the advantage of the employers holding timber concessions to employ a thousand men in preference to five hundred, especially if they get the thousand for somewhat less than they would have to pay five hundred Britishers.Many of the men who employ Italians to cut their firewood also run stores, and naturally they desire to have the largest possible number of consumers on their books. They take all sorts of care to supply their workers, at the highestprices they can get,. with the necessaries of life. Any one can see that they can make far more from the consumption of one thousand men than from that of five hundred. Therefore, it is to the advantage of these people to attract numbers of men into their employment. Not long ago the Kurrawang Company had in its employment a man who was confronted by it with a book debt of some . £12. The company actually produced against him bills dated November and December of last year, just two months before he came to Western Australia. They kept the poor fellow working for four solid months, and then cheered him up by telling him that he was in the glorious position of owing a balance of about£3 to the company for stores. He was a new chum, of whom they thought they could take advantage. But the secretary of the Trade Union stepped in, and Mr. Hedges’ company, as usual, paid up the £12 that they had retained. As soon as they found that the business was getting into the hands of men who knew what they were doing they abandoned their tactics.
– They could not try those tricks with Australian workmen.
– No, they could not; nor could they work their stores to the same advantage with Australian workmen as they can with new chum Italians.
– Is not all this a matter of “hedging?”
– The honorable senator has been “hedging” ever since he began to live, and I suppose he will continue to “ hedge “ until the end of his time. I am showing the disgraceful position of affairs that is existent to-day in spite of the fact that we have a Contract Immigrants Act upon our statute-book. We have evidence of so strongly circumstantial a character that the Act is being evaded that very close investigation is needed, and if it can be shown that improper methods are being employed to induce Italian immigration, the Department should take action. If the Act is inadequate to meet the situation, I have not the slightest doubt that. Parliament would readily review the position, and pass such legislation as would prevent employers from using unfair means of taking advantage, either of men who are already in the country, or of those whom Italians now here are desirous of bringing to Australia.
Senator NEEDHAM (Western Austra de Largie are such as should make us pause, and they certainly furnish a case for inquiry. That foreigners are coming into Western Australia and displacing British workers there is not the shadow of a doubt. The number of foreigners employed on the wood lines in Western Australia is very much in excess of the number pf British workmen. I am not in a position to say whether they are brought in under contract. I cannot for a moment say that the Act is being broken, but that there has been evasions of the Act I am perfectly sure. It has come under my own personal observation in Western Australia that numbers of these men, on arriving at the Fremantle wharf, are met by one or two of their fellow countrymen.
– A great outrage, is it not?
– These immigrants are immediately transported f from the wharf to the wood lines controlled by the Kurrawang syndicate and other employers. They have no trouble about looking for work. But there ‘are Australians who are roaming about the streets unable to obtain employment. I would ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council whether that is not an outrage? There is another phase of the question which ought to be seriously considered. Under a Bill which is now before the Senate for consideration, it is proposed to ask the citizens of Australia to equip themselves for the defence of this country. But if we can give them no assurance of employment, and if, on the contrary, preference in employment is given to foreigners, how can we ask them to defend not only their own hearths and homes, but also the interests of employers? I have no antipathy to Europeans. I realize that they make very admirable citizens. We have passed a Tariff law giving preference to British goods, but Australian employers are giving preference to foreign workmen.
– What has this to do with the maladministration of the Contract Immigrant? Act?
– I am not responsible for the honorable senator’s density. We know that in the country from which most of these foreigners come conscription laws are in force, and men are obliged to go through a certain period of military training. After these foreigners have been in continuous employment in Western Australia for some time, and have displaced our own countrymen, they respond to the call of their country, and go back to serve their time as conscripts. Our own Australian workmen are denied a means of earning a livelihood in order that employment may be found for these people.
– That is all right for the gallery.
– Let the honorable senator disprove, the statements that have been made. One employer, the honorable member for Fremantle, has been named, and no one will deny the fact that Mr. W. N. Hedges is a large employer of these foreign workmen.
– Is not that the reason why this motion has been brought forward ?
– Nothing of the sort. I mention the name of Mr. W. N. Hedges, because, besides being an employer of these foreign workmen he is also a member of the Federal Parliament. He helped to pass the Defence Bill calling upon Australian citizens to defend the country. As an employer he is not helping Australian citizens to hnd employment, but is giving preference in his employ to foreign workmen.
– Is Mr. Hedges a direct employer of these men, or a member of a company employing them ? .
– He is a direct employer of men engaged on these wood lines. He is absolutely responsible for the employment of these men. The position is a very serious one, and demands close inquiry by the Government. Senator de Largie has put the case in a nutshell. He has not condemned the employers of labour generally in Western Australia, nor has he shown any hostility to European immigrants. The object is to direct the attention of the Department responsible for the administration of the Contract Immigrants Act to the fact that its provisions are being evaded.. When these foreigners land at Fremantle they are met by some of their fellow countrymen, probably under instructions from their employers, are taken direct to the Kalgoorlie express, and transported to the” wood lines. The disproportion in the numbers of Britishers and foreigners employed on the wood lines justifies a strict inquiry by the Government. I support the motion, and I trust that the Minister of External Affairs will see that an inquiry is made to discover in what way the Act is being evaded, and whether some arrangement cannot be made whereby Australian workmen will be given a preference over foreign workmen. If, after Australian workmen have been found employment there is room for others there can be no objection to the employment of foreigners by these companies. At present it is with the companies a question of employing cheap labour in order that they may work their wood lines as economically as possible. I hope that a full inquiry will be at once entered upon by the Department concerned.
.- I think that Senator de Largie has made out a strong case for an inquiry by the Minister of External Affairs into the operation of the Contract Immigrants Act. The fact that at one place in Western Australia 316 foreigners are employed as against twenty Britishers should be sufficient, even, though there be no positive evidence that these foreigners are being introduced under contract, to induce the Government to make inquiries as to how they are being brought here. In these times we hear a great deal of talk about preference to the Old Country. Some honorable senators who have interjected during this debate were ardent supporters of the principle of preference to British goods when the Tariff was under discussion. But when it is a question of giving preference to British labour they are loud in their protests against it. I wish to be clearly understood, that I have no objection to the introduction of Europeans. I am prepared to welcome immigrants from any part of Europe, but I object to their introduction under contract or under any kind of understanding that they will be given preference in employment over people who are already in Australia, and sadly in need of work. No one who is acquainted with Western Australia will deny that that State has suffered in the past and is suffering to-day more from the evil now complained of than any other State in the group. As soon as these foreigners land at Fremantle they are carried away at once to the busy centres of population, and somehow manage to obtain work whilst the men who have opened up the country for them are vainly looking for it. There is’ something more than a coincidence in this. Although these foreigners are not usually regarded as being very keen, it is evident that they are following the example of some of our commercial friends in Australia and are acting in accordance with an “ honorable understanding.” It is easy, to believe that if they do not come here under contract they come under an understanding that they will be given preference in employment when they land here. Evidence in support of this contention can be secured from every district in Western Australia in which the mining and wood-cutting industries are carried on.
– Has the contract price for wood-cutting been reduced?
– It has been considerably reduced since the industry first started. Honorable senators on this side have been charged with bringing forward this matter as an electioneering cry. The charge is so despicable that it is not worthy replying to. I need only mention that the Western Australian Government”, the members of which are inveterate opponents of labour, have actually proposed to limit the number of foreigners who shall be employed to every Britisher in the mines. They have brought forward a measure which provides that no person shall be employed below ground unless he possesses a know ledge of the English language. We know that whilst men who do not understand English may be prevented from working underground, there is plenty of work on the surface of a mine in which foreigners may be employed. I flatly contradict the suggestion that the submission of this motion is an electioneering dodge by pointing out thai the political party in Western Australia, which is opposed to the La ba* party, is alive to the necessity of regulating this traffic in European labour which has so far proved to be such an evil.
– How would the honorable senator propose to regulate it?
– It is not my business to suggest a remedy for the evil, further than to say that the officers of the Department concerned should make a strict inquiry into the methods by which these people are introduced into Australia and given preference in employment at the mines. If honorable senators opposite who interject were in the position of their countrymen in the West, who have “blazed the track,” they would take a very different view of this question, and they would not cavil at the efforts now being made to secure a reasonable preference in employment for the men who have made work possible in Western Australia. Some honorable senators . may not be aware that white people in Western Australia are sometimes obliged to work for Afghans and Hindoos in order to get a living. I do not know whether this is due to an eva’sion of the Contract Immi-grants Act or not.
– I ask the honorable ‘senator not to go into that question.
– I refer to the matter only in passing. Some persons believe that these Afghans and Hindoos have been introduced under a lax administration of our immigration laws. Some of them may have come to Australia before Federation, but since the passing of our immigration laws there is reason to believe that there has not been a sufficiently close scrutiny of the persons introduced under them. In my opinion, the fact that white people have to work for Afghans and Hindoos is, in itself, sufficient to justify an inquiry into this matter. It is said that we are “hedging” but, as a matter of fact, we are striving to put down “ hedging “ as much as we can. Quite, a considerable time ago 60 per cent, of the persons engaged in the wood-cutting industry were foreigners. I was engaged in an arbitration case in connexion with the industry and 60 per. cent, of the names of the persons employed in it ended in “i” or in “o.” It was common knowledge that the pay-roll of the company, controlled at that time by Mr. Hedges, was made up almost entirely of foreign names. Since that time things have been going from bad to worse, and when foreigners are being introduced, as they are at present in Western Australia, the closest inquiry should be made into the terms on which they are brought here?
– Is the pay very low?
– The work is often carried out under contract, which is resorted to by some employers for the express purpose of reducing wages.
– Can the honorable senator state what wages the men make under the contract system?
– I can only say that contracting has been universally condemned by the Labour unions in the western State, because it has been recognised that that system has been resorted to for the purpose of cutting down wages and trading on the ignorance of the foreigners. That has been shown to be the case over and over again. We have no positive evidence to submit that the Act has been violated. We” can only point to the effects of what we believe to be a lax administration of the law, whereby our countrymen are obliged occasionally to work for coloured people, because they have been elbowed out of the only employment there is, by foreigners. I hope that the Minister will take immediate action to see that a remedy is applied.
– The adjournment of the Senate was moved, I understood, as I assumethat you did, sir, for the purpose of drawing attention to a lax administration of the Contract Immigrants Act; but I listened in vain for any evidence that there is a lax administration of the Act in any particular. We have heard some statements of facts which have absolutely no relation to that question. It should be remembered that that Act is only effective at the port of entry. Whether an employer shall give preference to a man who has come from abroad or to one who was born in the country, is a matter quite beyond the ken of our legislation. Listening to the demands of honorable senators for preference to Australian, workmen, one would assume that that question was involved in the administration of the Contract Immigrants Act ; but that is not so. One half of the matterswhich apparently are troubling honorable senators to-day, are matters which are not under Federal jurisdiction. Take, for instance, the question of whether owners are allowed to defraud their workmen by false weights painted on their waggons. What has that to do with the administration of a Federal Act? It saysvery little indeed for the efforts of State politicians if they have not been able to take steps to punish a flagrant fraud like that, assuming, of course, that it has been committed. I remind honorable senatorswho ask that an inquiry shall be made into the administration of the Contract Immigrants Act, that an investigation has been, proceeding almost ever since it was brought: into force. This matter has been under close official supervision during the regimeof every Government. According to thepapers which have been placed in my possession, the first Minister who appears to> have taken action on complaints which apparently rested on no sounder foundation than the complaints made here to-day, was. Mr. Hughes. Apparently impressed by the complaints, he selected, not an official, but some person known to himself, to makean inquiry and to’ report. This gentleman made it his business to go on board theships, move amongst the men, and conduct an inquiry. He reported that he could find’ no evidence of any contracting having taken place; but he indicated what appears to me to be a natural solution of the difficulty. He said it appeared to him that a. number of these men, finding that they were able to earn good wages in the industry, were naturally tempted to write to friends and relatives, and point out to them that they would better their condition by coming to Australia. That men who came out on such an invitation should be met at the wharf - an act which Senator Needham seemed to regard as most outrageous - by their countrymen is natural.
– Is not the Government criminal in inducing persons to come to Australia ?
– It is not the Government which has introduced the men, and I am not now called upon to defend the policy of the Act, or to say. whether it ought to be enlarged or not. The point under discussion is whether it is being properly administered or not. The report to which I referred was, apparently, so far satisfactory, that Mr. Hughes could see ho room for action; and, consequently, none was taken. In 1904, the Government of Western Australia appointed a Royal Commission to inquire into the matter, and the report contained this’ paragraph -
We are of opinion that it is very unlikely that any aliens are imported under any actual contract or agreement, but we think it very probable that some of them have been induced to come by letters from friends already here who are in a position to get them work on their arrival. Many, however, seem to have come out quite on the chance of getting employment, and have had to go from place to place a good deal before finding any. It is quite possible, nevertheless, that some secret understanding may have existed at times between persons here and in Europe whereby men were sent out to work for contractors in this State, but we do not think that this has gone on to any considerable ex< rent, if at all.
That is probable, even with the qualifying words “ if at all,” which throw a doubt on the preceding sentences- the nearest approach which I think my honorable friends will find to any official countenance of the statements which they have made here this afternoon. Some time afterwards, exSenator Playford, who was then a. Minister of the Crown., visited Western Australia, and a deputation asked him to take steps to stop the influx of Italians and other foreigners. He pointed out that it was not the policy of the Immigration Acts, or the policy of Australia, to exclude Europeans and that that had never been the practice. He referred to a statement made by Mr., now Sir Edmund, Barton, in the other House, that in the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act it was not intended to apply the education test to reputable persons who might seek to enter our ports.
– There may be a limit even to that?
– I should like my honorable friend to indicate the limit.
– A limit is reached when Australian workmen are displaced in an industry by foreigners.
– That involves, not the administration of the Act, but the whole policy of this legislation. - If my honorable friend is going to advocate that we ought to close the door of Australia to every man who cannot claim British -descent, let him say. so. I regret that he should have announced that as his ideal.
– The honorable senator has no need to regret anything that I have said. I am responsible for my utterances.
– Sometimes I doubt whether my honorable friend is. It is worth while to look into the official figures. The Senate has been supplied with some figures, which, without wishing to impugn them, I would point out are not official. They have been put together - probably with the best intention - by some one who obviously felt interested, but they have notbeen subjected to any official check. They must be taken with that reservation. Listening to these figures, one would assume that there was a very large and increasing influx of foreigners into Western Australia, but that is not so, because the official figures show that more foreigners have gone out than have come in. From the 1st January, 1906, to the 30th September, 1909, 1,787 Italians arrived, and 1,888 departed. What appears to me to be going on is not that more are entering but that there is a tendency on the part of members of this nationality to concentrate in the industries.
– What are the figures in regard to the Austrians?
– The Italians, I understand, form the bulk of the foreigners who are being discussed on this motion.
– The Austrians constitute a large number.
– I believe that the Italians are in a large majority. A number of these persons having obtained employment in the industry for which, presumably, their previous life qualified them, have naturally, as persons of various races will do, for national reasons, invited friends to join them. There has been a tendency to concentrate which, I assume, will become more pronounced as time goes on. That applies to other industries throughout Australia. It is noticeable in our large cities with regard to the fish and fruit trades. It seems to me so natural as almost not to require comment, or excite surprise. I do not propose to weary honorable senators with the mass of papers which I hold in my hand, but they show that the Department has been keeping a very close watch as to any violation of the law. As late as February last, a report was obtained from the Inspector, in response to inquiries from the head office in Melbourne. Dealing with statements which had been made to the effect that the Act had been violated, he said -
I beg to report that no such information has ever reached this Department bearing on the question. On arrival of oversea vessels passengers are closely examined under the Immigration Restriction Act 1901-1908, all foreigners, viz., Austrians, Greeks, Italians, Swedes, Russians, &c, are separated from all other passengers and are personally questioned as whether under contract to perform manual labour. . . . T am unable to cite one instance of suspicion of any person attempting to enter the Commonwealth under contract.
That is a fair example of the type of reports which have been received, and which prove. I think, conclusively, that whether absolutely successful or not, the Department is alive to its responsibility, and is exercising reasonable vigilance in seeing that the Act is not violated. Within the last month, the Minister of External Affairs sent out another minute in which he asked that special vigilance be exercised, not merely to detect any absolute breaches of the Act, but to ascertain whether there is reason to suppose that there is any leakage. Unless honorable senators can produce some more definite evidence than they have done, I think it is a little unreasonable for them to imply that the Act is not being honestly and faithfully administered. If they have any information which points to a breach of the Act obviously it is their duty to communicate with the Department. But all that they have done to-day has been to argue that because there are certain concentration s_ of foreigners engaged in certain industries, therefore the Act has been evaded. I submit that that evidence is not sufficient. I mv that the efforts which the Department has made in administering that Act, vigorously, faithfully, and, I believe, successfully, are not being relaxed and are not likely to be.. I feel satisfied that the Minister of External Affairs would appreciate any assistance which might be extended to him by those who are possessed of local knowledge and which would enable him to detect and stop any leakage, if such exists. At the same time, honorable senators have scarcely brought forward sufficient evidence to justify the statement that the Act is being evaded, and the imputation that the Minister charged with its administration is lax in the discharge of his duty.
– It is a somewhat singular circumstance that whilst under similar legislation in the United States, hundreds of persons under contract are annually stopped at the port of entry and returned to the country from which they came, since the commencement of the Contract Immigrants Act I do not think that a dozen persons have been prevented from entering the Commonwealth. If more contract immigrants come to Australia than go to the United States, it must be because the inducements offered in the former case are very much greater. In the case of America an immigrant has to undertake only a few days’ voyage, whilst in that of Australia he has to face a voyage of some weeks, and there is a great difference in the cost of transit between the two countries. Yet, while hundreds of persons are annually stopped at the Customs House in the United States-
– Thousands gain admission to that country.
– Because they are not under contract. The legislation of the United States is effective in stopping those who attempt to enter it under contract. Is it not strange that in Australia not a single case of the kind has yet been sheeted .home to the offender by the Department of External Affairs? I can say without fear of contradiction; from documentary evidence which I have seen, that there has been at least one case of contract ‘immigrants being brought to Western Australia.
– During the time the timber workers’ strike was in progress in 1907.
– Why was not action taken ?
– During that strike some Norwegians who had been engaged at one of the timber mills in Western Australia went out on strike. They visited the office of the Defence Committee, of which I was then secretary, and produced for my inspection the letters and contracts which they had signed either in London or in Norway, and which had been resigned upon their arrival in Western Australia. These twelve men came to that State under contract and worked there in fulfilment of the conditions of that contract.
– Was any action taken ?
– The matter was ventilated in the Western Australian Parliament, and the men were returned to Norway whilst the strike was in progress.
– It does not take six months to prosecute a law-breaker, and the men who broke the law were still in Western Australia.
– But the agents who engaged these contract immigrants were still in London.
– The honorable senator knew that the law had been broken. Why did he not act?
– With his usual youthful impetuosity Senator Fraser rushes in before he is aware of the facts. I discovered that the law had been broken only when the men were about to return to their own country.
– The honorable senator stated that he saw the documentary evidence.
– So I did. What the law contemplates is not the prosecution of anybody, but the prevention of the introduction of persons into Australia under contract. In reply to the figures quoted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, I wish to say that from the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics Bulletin, No. 30, I find that for the six months ended June of the present year there was an excess of Austrian arrivals over departures of 230, and an excess of Italian arrivals over departures of 100; whilst for a similar period during 1908 the excess of Austrian arrivals over departures was 60, and of Italian arrivals over departures of 115. There was thus a gain of 175 foreign immigrants during a period of six months in 1908, and of 230 during a corresponding period of the present year. The monthly statistical abstract for September, 1909, shows that for the previous seven months the Austrian arrivals in Western Australia exceeded the departures by 99, whilst the
Italian arrivals exceeded the departures by 45, making a total gain of , 144.
– The figures of the Commonwealth Statistician absolutely contradict those which the honorable senator is citing.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council did not quote the number of Austrian arrivals at all.
– Do these people obtain admission in contravention of the terms of the Contract Immigrants Act?
– I cannot prove that they do, but all the circumstantial evidence points in that direction. In the first place, there is a motive which would prompt the introduction of these men. That motive is supplied by the fact that in the timber industry the work is done under contract. The contractor is also the supplier of stores to his employes. Consequently the more men whom, he can get upon a job the greater is the possibility of his being able to reduce the rates for timber cutting and the more customers will he obtain for his store. Further, owing to foreign immigrants being ignorant of local conditions, it is possible to exact from them higher charges for their provisions than could be exacted from Australians. Surely it is a significant fact that in certain districts in Western Australia there are hundreds of capable Australians - it must be borne in mind that loafers are not to be found in the back country - who are imbued with a sincere desire to obtain employmentat the recognised rates payable in those districts, but who are unable to secure it, whilst batches of Austrians and Italians find employment immediately upon their arrival. Is not that strong presumptive evidence that the latter come to Australia under some agreement or understanding? As a rule, they do not understand a word of English, and can only pronounce the name of their place of destination, whether it be Kalgoorlie, or Day Dawn, or Leonora.
-Are they compelled to go to these places under some bond ?
– I think thatthey are compelled to do so by necessity. They are the places to which they have been engaged to go. I recognise that it is most difficult to establish the fact that these immigrants are being introduced under contract. Hitherto the Department has taken up the stand that, if when the men land no evidence to that effect is forthcoming, it has discharged its duty. It seems to me (hat there is a lack of co-operation between the Commonwealth immigration officers and the police in the matter of following these men, with a view to ascertaining whether or not they have been brought out under contract. In the case of the United States, whilst a thorough investigation is made at the port of entry, it does not cease there. If subsequent events suggest that mcn have been improperly admitted under contract, the case is at once investigated. I do not object to immigrants coming to Australia who are prepared lo compete on fair terms with our own people. As a matter of fact, many of these immigrants prove most excellent citizens. But it is altogether opposed to the spirit oF the Contract Immigrants Act that they should “be brought here in large numbers and dumped down in a spot where they practically establish a Little Italy or a Little Austria. Yet that is precisely what is happening. The figures quoted by Senator de Largie, although very startling, are absolutely correct. When the strike occurred in the timber industry in Western Australia a couple of years ago, members of the Labour party visited the gold-fields for the purpose of inducing the men to come to an amicable arrangement with their employers. The Premier of Western Australia undertook a similar mission. The chief difficulty which was experienced on that occasion was that none of the foreign immigrants could speak English, and even after an agreement between the contending parties had been signed, it was impossible to get them to understand that they must resume work. I will undertake to say that if the Premier of Western Australia were asked what was the most difficult feature connected with that industrial trouble he would reply that it was the large number of foreigners with whom it was impossible to deal. That was the most serious strike which has ever taken place in Western Australia. I would suggest that the Department of External Affairs should go a little further than it does in the matter of checking these immigrants upon their arrival, and that it should make investigations as to what is being done in the United States in this connexion. If the legislation of that country be effective in preventing the admission of contract immigrants - and undoubtedly it is - I fail to see why our legislation cannot be effective. If this discussion should result in stimulat- ing inquiry into this matter, it will have served a useful purpose.
– It appears to me that our friends from Western Australia are not .quite conversant with the difficulties which exist in some parts of the Empire where racial differences to a real and serious extent prevail. In South Africa, for instance, the mixture of races is very great indeed, and causes immense trouble, owing to differences in language, and in many other respects. But in Australia the differences are so slight and so seldom seen that! whenever any little difficulty does occur, such as has been mentioned to-day, an immense amount is made of it. I think there was no necessity to occupy the time of the Senate - I do not say waste our time - with this matter. The discussion goes to show that our friends from Western Australia have really no complaint against the administration of the Act; and that, speaking generally, we may all desire that the persons who are referred to as foreigners, but who may now be regarded as Aus-! tra hans, shall come to this country in much larger numbers than they have done hitherto.
– Most of the remarks that have been made concerning the subject which I have introduced to the notice of the Senate have been directed towards the timber industry of Western Australia. But I can assure the Senate that it is not only in connexion with the timber industry that the evil exists. It exists in a very aggravated form on several of the mines, and particularly on those which are under the control of Bewick, Moreing and Company, a firm which acts as agent for several large mining propositions,’ and the management of which seems to have .a strong -penchant for the employment of cheap and nasty labour.
– What sort of labour does the honorable senator describe as “ nasty “?
– I mean cheap labour. Those who perform it can be “ diddled “ out of their wages, and those who come here with the intention of leaving in a few years’ time. I call such labour both cheap and nasty. We have no room for it in Australia. If Italians or Austrians come to Australia to be citizens of this country they are in our eyes equal to any one else; but if they come with the ideal of bleeding Australia of a few pounds and then going back to their native land, they are of no value to us. Notwithstanding the remarks of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, I say here and now that I am prepared to go upon any public platform in Australia and repeat what I have said - that there must be a limit to the practice of giving preference to foreign workmen, and that stage is reached when the foreign element practically monopolizes an industry. It is time then tor Parliament to step in and say that, such a state of affairs shall not continue. I care not whether the language test or any other test is applied ; we must do something to prevent the evils of which I have been complaining. I am sure that the sentiment of the people of Australia will support me when I so express myself. It may be admitted that sworn evidence has not been put before the Senate. We could only adduce circumstantial evidence. But 1 think we have brought forward evidence of a very strong presumptive kind to prove beyond the shadow of a. doubt that the evil exists. When we find that 90 per cent. of the employes in a certain industry are aliens, and that only 10 per cent.are natives of the country or Britishers, it will not be denied - that a genuine grievance exists, and that there is presumptive evidence of a strong character that something is wrong requiring a remedy. We should certainly see to it that the necessary attention is given to the Contract Immigrants Act so as to prevent the continuance of what is complained of. If the Act does not give the Department sufficient powers, a new measure will have to be introduced for the purpose. The subject has been before the Western Australian Parliament, and the Government of that State has thrown the responsibility on to the Federal Parliament. The Western Australian Premier has said from his place in Parliament that the blame rests with the Commonwealth. I mention this to show that we cannot shirk the difficulty, but that we must face it in the near future. As for the good wages argument, advanced by the Vice-President, of the Executive Council, it will be admitted that good wages are sufficient to entice Italians or any other immigrants into this country. But Australian workmen would also appreciate good wages; and surely men who belong to this country have a better right to such wages than have foreign immigrants. These Italians are not employed on the ground that they are superior workmen. They certainly are not superior to Australians. Sufficient figures have been quoted to show that these people do not, for the most part, come to Australia to stay. That, indeed, is one of the most regrettable aspects of the question. They are mere comers and goers. They stay for a few years and then clear out. The statistics prove so much. I know that many of those who do come to stay makevery good citizens, and are’ of value to the country. But the men who come for a few years, who keep Australian workmen out of employment, and then return to their own country, occasion an evil which we should put an end to. I have felt it to be my duty to the people who sent me here to bring this subject forward; and I am convinced that in doing so I am in accordance with public sentiment in Western Australia. It is for the Government to take such steps, as the responsibility devolving upon it demands, to put an end to the evil at the first opportunity. I now beg leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Senator de Largie attended?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow:-
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Last week, in introducing a measure which reached the Senate from another place, I intimated that I felt no inclination to deal with the subject at length, or in detail, inasmuch as I was convinced that honorable senators had made themselves fairly familiar with the larger principles involved in the Bill. Well, sir, that view is stronger with me to-day, when I have to move the second reading of the Bill now before the Senate. It has been so much in the public eye, so much, I venture to say, in the minds of honorable senators, that I may be pardoned for introducing it with a speech which, under ordinary circumstances, might be regarded as unduly brief. It is hardly necessary for me to refer to the importance of the subjectmatter covered by this Bill. ~ It is important upon at least four grounds. It is in the first place well known that finance plays a large, and, indeed, a vital part in modern government. The Bill must be regarded as important upon that ground. It is important in the second place because of the large amount of attention which it has occupied in Parliamentary circles. It is important because of the attention which it has received outside. More than all, it is important because the subject will have to go before the electors in some form or other at the ensuing general election.
– The Bill is also important on account of the methods adopted to get it through elsewhere, is it not?
– It is probably important from that point of view, and not less important on account of the way in which the minority on that occasion witnessed the registration of their defeat. Finance, from the preFederal days, has been recognised as one of the essential difficulties of our position. The earlier Convention had hardly met, and got to close grips with the question before it was frankly recognised that finance was one of the “ lions in the path “ leading to the accomplishment of Federation. Inevitably that was so, having regard to the varying financial conditions and circumstances of the several States. The States were asked to surrender their chief revenueraising instruments, whilst at the same time they had to continue to carry responsibilities for their great spending and nonrevenue producing Departments. It was, therefore, almost inevitable that they should look for some guarantee from the Commonwealth that their solvency would not be unduly attacked. Many expedients were suggested, and finally the Convention adopted what was known as the Braddon clause. May I remind honorable senators of the terms of that clause as originally adopted. It contained a proviso that, in a modified form, was adopter! later as part of the Constitution, to the effect that three-fourths of the revenue raised by the Common wealth from Customs and Excise should be returned to the States. But in the clause in its original form there was no time limit.
– Who put in the. time limit ?
– I will come to that. What I wish to lay stress upon now is the fact that in those days the first Constitution Bill submitted to the electors contained a proviso for the payment of 75 per cent, of the Customs and Excise revenue to the States for all time.
– As submitted to some of the electors.
– Yes, to some of them ; to the electors of four of the States - that is, to the electors of all of the States to which the Constitution was sub- .mitted.
– Every State to which the Consitution was submitted, containing the Braddon clause in that form, accepted it.
– That is a different way of putting the matter.
– It is what I said at first, but the honorable senator is at last beginning to understand me.
– The States accepted something else; namely, a different provision regarding the Federal Capital site than that which is in the Constitution now.
– We are not dealing with the Capital site question. When the Constitution containing the Braddon clause in its original form was adopted by a majority of the people in four of the States, it was not described as sacrificing the birthright of the people, and in other extravagant terms such as have since been used. But that provision, as I have said, provided for all time for the payment to the States of 75 .per cent, of the Customs and. Excise revenue. We all know that the movement which brought about a modification of that clause was instigated by New South Wales.
– By the Free Trade party.
– I am willing to admit that I was to some extent responsible. I was one of those who were not in favour of the acceptance of the Constitution Bill; and although at the first vote, we were in a minority, still ‘ that minority was sufficiently strong to cause a reconsideration of certain of the provisions of the Constitution. The result was the holding of the well-known Premiers’ Conference. It was at that Conference that the amendment was proposed limiting the operation of the Braddon clause to ten years. It is curious that whilst that amendment was accepted for some time afterwards as an important stop-gap, and was so known and recognised, it was not very lung before there was a demand for a more satisfactory and more permanent arrangement. It is worthy of note that the first move in that direction came, not from the States, but, in the early days, from the Federation itself. The Federal Treasurers made the initial move in that direction, and I believe that Sir George Turner was the first of them to take action. The reason why that action was take” was, I think, obviously because it was recognised that the position was eminently unsatisfactory ; that the Braddon section, expiring as it would, in the course of a few years, would leave the Federation in a position of too much doubt and uncertainty to make the continuance of the section, for a moment longer than was necessary, desirable from the point of view of a Federal Treasurer. As time went on, the State Governments began to feel the inconvenience caused by this provision. No State Treasurer was in a position to definitely submit his Estimates for the financial year until the Federal Treasurer had spoken. So, by degrees, in the States and in the Commonwealth, Treasurers and other public men were moving towards the one point - the reconsideration of the terms of the Braddon section - and were striving after some arrangement to take its place. As a result of that general frame of mind several Conferences on the subject took place. They were, however, all abortive in the sense that they did not achieve an agreement. Various schemes and plans were put forward as solutions of the difficulty, but none of them proved acceptable to all who met at those Conferences.
– The Premiers wanted too much.
– It was not until the Conference held in August last that success was achieved. At that Conference, the first of its kind, an agreement was arrived at. Senator Pearce smiles, and I hope that he will continue in the same happy frame of mind during the rest of the discussion upon this measure.
– The Conference referred to was certainly the first of its kind.
– The honorable senator is quite right. I can only regret that other Conferences were not equally successful some time before.
– It is a great pity they were not.
– I venture to say that, the August Conference, abused, maligned and libelled, as I believe it has been, was not inferior to any Conference previously held, or to that held at Hobart, which the colleagues of Senator Pearce attended. As a result of the agreement arrived at by the Conference held in August last-
– There is no report of the proceedings of that Conference. We see nothing but the bond.
– We do not know whether those present arrived at an agreement or not.
– Senator Stewart says that we see nothing but the bond. Has the honorable senator any objection to that? I suggest to the honorable senator that it is novel to find him objecting to a practice which is invariably followed bv thf bodies with which he is associated, of carrying on their negotations behind closed doors, and then deputing one of their number to hand a written statement of their proceedings to the press.
– Then the Conference was a party meeting?
– The honorable senator must know that he is talking nonsense when he speaks of a party meeting.
– That was the honorable senator’s defence.
– I made no defence at all. I am not called upon to make a defence.
– It is what the honorable senator is doing all the time.
– The only thing I shall be called upon to defend directly will be the disorderly conduct of honorable senators. The agreement arrived at by the August Conference provides for these several matters, which are set out in the various clauses of the Bill : First of all, there is a rebate or payment by the States in the present financial year of £600,000 to the Federal Treasury. I have said a payment, but, as a matter of fact, this provision will be given effect to by the Commonwealth Treasurer withholding that amount from the State Treasurers.
– That is the valuable consideration.
– It is one of the proposals of the Bill. I wish briefly to discharge what I regard to be my duty by explaining the provisions of the Bill before I get on to more debatable ground. The next provision is contained in the clause which abolishes the bookkeeping system. The third proposal is one which terminates the operation of the 87 th section of the Constitution, that is the Braddon section, on the 30th June of next year, or six months earlier than it would terminate if the Constitution were allowed to remain unaltered. The fourth provision is for the payment as from the 1 st July of next year from the Federal Treasury to each of the State Treasurers of an amount equal to 25s. per head of the population of each State. That provision is to take the place of the 87th section of the Constitution, under which, hitherto threefourths of the revenue from” Customs and Excise has been handed back to the States.
– Why does this Bill come to us with the words “ The Constitution.” at the commencement of one clause, and the word “ Constitution “ commencing another clause without the definite article?
– The honorable sena tor will have a full opportunity to attempt the correction of anything which he regards as an error in the Bill.
– The matter to which I. have called attention ought to be capable of explanation.
– The fifth proposal in the Bill is that which provides for a special payment to Western Australia, commencing at ,£250,000 per annum, and continuing for a period of twenty-five years, the amount being reduced each year by
– Why this favoritism?
– This special payment is to be contributed half bv the Commonwealth and half by the States, including Western Australia. The sixth provision is merely a consequential one, dealing with State debts. It is consequent upon the proposal to substitute the per capita contribution for the contribution under the Braddon section. The Conference agreement further provided, as the Bill does, for these proposed alterations being submitted to the people by means of a constitutional referendum. That briefly outlines the terms of the agreement arrived at between the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth and the State Premiers, which is now embodied in the Bill. Before I come to what I take to be the main subject of controversy between us, I invite honorable senators to consider the very, great advantages of the first three proposals in this Bill. First of all there is that which provides for the payment by the States to the Commonwealth this year of the sum of £600,000.
– That is the mess of pottage.
– The honorable senator may regard it in that way, but if he can for a moment lift himself out of the ordinary environment of his political surroundings he will admit that the Commonwealth Parliament in its desire - a desire shared in by all parties and people, and bv every member of every party - to hasten the payment of old-age pensions as much as possible, did undoubtedly outrun the constable before we had arrived at the period of financial freedom, the expiration of the 8-rth section of the Constitution. The result was that the estimates of expenditure for the present financial year disclosed an estimated deficit of £1,200,000. Although I do riot say that this should be regarded as out-weighing all possible disadvantages under the agreement, it is, regarded by itself, a great advantage that the Commonwealth, having entered into debt, should know that within the next twelve months before freedom from its financial embarrassment would come under the Constitution, the State Governments should be prepared to make this contribution to meet the deficit with which the Commonwealth is now faced. Now, as to the abolition of the bookkeeping system, I venture to say that there is no Federalist in Australia who will not hail with intense pleasure the fact that we have arrived at a stage when this last mark of State separation mav be obliterated from the Constitution. The provision for the bookkeeping system always appeared to me a distinct travesty upon the principle of Federation I have always so regarded the maintenance of this accountancy barrier, even after we had abolished the Customs barriers- between the States. Tt h.-vs seemed to me that there has been something manifestly unfair in the way in which the iw”1’keeping system .has operated. Without going into the matter deeply, I have no hesitation in expressing the opinion. which I believe is shared in bv a number of honorable senators, that, although the system was designed to secure to each State the revenue which properly belonged to it. it is impossible to resist the conviction that the State of Tasmania has lost very heavily because of the leakages which have occurred. By abolishing the bookkeeping system, we shall at any rate have prepared the way for the adoption of a system which will enable us to avoid that positive o?s to which Tasmania was subjected, and to which possibly other States also were subjected.
– Queensland has lost as well as Tasmania by the system..
– That may be, but perhaps Queensland has been better able to stand the loss than has Tasmania.
– The loss to Queensland was there all the same.
– I think so, teo. But I think that possibly in proportion to the resources of the States the loss wa*s greater to Tasmania than to the great northern State which Senator Sayers represents. I have mentioned the advantages attaching to the three first propositions. I wish now, to suggest another advantage connected with this agreement. It seems to me that it is a tremendous advantage that it is an agreement. I lay great emphasis upon that. Unless we are prepared to say that it is undesirable that the States and the Commonwealth should work in unison, I impress upon honorable senators the great advantage arising from the simple fact that in this matter the States and the Federation appear at last to have arrived upon a common ground.
– Who authorized the Premiers to come to any agreement at all. Who gave them any authority to deal with the matter?
– I am asked who authorized the State Premiers to deal with the matter. Their electors placed them in a position of responsibility.
– To manage State affairs, not to manage Commonwealth affairs.
– I venture to ‘say that it is a very great and important State affair to know what interest, if any, the State Governments should have in our future revenue from Customs and Excise.
– The States have elected representatives in the Federal Parliament to look after that.
– The very warmth which the honorable senator displays shows that he recognises that there is in each State an interest, apart from that of the
Federation. If it were not for that there would be absolutely no reason for the existence of this Chamber. I am surprised to hear those who occupy seats in this Chamber, under the provisions of the Constitution, venture to say that there are no State interests involved in this matter.
– No State interests in connexion with which the Premiers had any authority.
– If there are State interests involved in it surely the Premier of each State is beyond challenge entitled to endeavour to conserve them. I am assuming that there, is a practical acceptance of and, at any rate, no very strong dissent from that portion of the agreement which deals with the -per capita amount to be paid to the States. So far as I have) been able to gauge the criticism of the measure, and the trend of public and’ Parliamentary discussion, there is no serious objection taken to the payment of 25s. per head of the population to’ the various States. I, therefore, do not propose to weary the Senate with any figures which are obtainable, and which might be advanced in justification of the contribution agreed upon at the Conference. But I do think that it is very desirable that T should place before the Senate what this payment really means, both to the States and to the Commonwealth, lt is desirable that we should recognise the effect of the proposal to substitute a per capita payment of 25s. of the population of each of the States for a payment to the States of three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue of the Commonwealth. I first propose to show how much the States have given up and will give up, and when I use the term “give up,” I refer to revenue surrendered to the control of the Federal authority. Prior to Federation, the States received from Customs and Excise duties certain revenues. In 1900, New South Wales received £1 6s. 4d. per head of population ; Victoria, £1 19s. 3d. j Queensland, ^3 ?s. 8d ; South Australia. £1 15s. 8d. ; Western Australia, ^5 6s. 2d. ; and Tasmania, £2 16s. 6d.
– Can the honorable senator give the total Customs and Excise revenue for each State in that vear?
– It was somewhere about ^6,000,000.
– That is so.
– It is very different now.
– It is.
– It should give them less than , £6,000,000.
– At the date of Federation, the total revenue from these sources was £7,500,000. When Senator McGregor speaks of a total revenue of £6,000,000, he is, I think, using figures which were frequently referred to in the Convention. It will be remembered that that body proceeded on the assumption of a £6,000,000 Tariff ; but the figures were taken a few years earlier, and were admittedly on an extremely low basis, excluding Queensland, as Senator Pulsford reminds me.
– And excluding the fact that we were going to have Inter-State Free Trade, which was a very important consideration.
– In 1900, the average revenue for the States from Customs and Excise duties was £2 1s. 5d. per head. Compared with the amounts which were then received by the States, 25s. per head would represent to New South Wales, 94 per cent. ; to Victoria, 63 per cent. ; to Queensland, 39 per cent. ; to South Australia, 70 per cent. ; to Western Australia, 23 per cent. ; and to Tasmania, 44 per cent. So that, taking the States as a whole, they will, if they obtain 25s. per head, receive only 60 per cent. of the Customs and Excise revenue which they collected for themselves prior to Federation. I now propose to give the percentage which the 25s. per head will represent to the amount paid under the Braddon section for the last financial year. To New South Wales, it will represent 62 per cent. ; to Victoria, 78 per cent. ; to Queensland, 68 per cent. ; to South Australia, 79 per cent. ; to Western Australia, 55 per cent. ; and to Tasmania, practically 100 per cent. ; the average being 69 per cent. It will probably assist honorable senators to get a more concrete grip of the position if I state the aggregate amounts which will be surrendered by the States by the substitution of the per capita system for section 87. New South Wales will lose £1,321,000 ; Victoria, £488,000 ; Queensland, £346,000; South Australia, £148,000; Western. Australia, £65,000; and Tasmania, £3,800; making a total of £2,400,000.
– Is that allowing for the special payment to Western Australia?
– It includes the special payment to Western Australia, and her portion of the contribution deducted from the several States. I now invite honorable senators to look at the position from the Commonwealth stand-point.It is estimated that for the present year the Commonwealth will receive from Customs and Excise duties, £10,500,000. The States’ share of that will be £7,888,000, leaving £2,629,000 available for Commonwealth purposes. Assuming that the Customs and Excise receipts for next year are in the same ratio per head of the population as those for this year, the Commonwealth will receive, roughly, £10,750,000. The States’ share, at 25s. per head, will be £5,668,000, leaving available for the Commonwealth a little over £5,000,000, an increase of £2,400,000, as compared with the figures for the present year. In other words, the revenue of the Commonwealth will jump from £2,600,000 to £5,000,000, an increase which will leave a very considerable amount of financial sea room.
– But we shall be £1,200,000 short thisyear.
– No ; we shall be £600,000 short, because the rest is provided for by the contribution from the States. We shall start next year with a deficit of £600,000, and an increase in our income of . £,2,400,000 to meet it.
– Has not the revenue exceeded expectations?
– So far it has.
– We shall have £1,000,000 coming in six months in advance.
– That does not affect the figures as I have given them. I was dealing with the financial year commencing on the 1st July, when, if this Bill becomes operative, the new system will also come into effect.
– The defence expenditure will fall due about then, too.
– Under this Bill, we shall be in a position to face that difficulty with a certain amount of equanimity.
– The Government will not have much margin.
-A little while ago, I spoke of the amounts which the States will give up under the Bill as a surrender by the States. The question, of course, does suggest itself as to whether that was a correct term to use, seeing that under the Constitution as it stands, the Commonwealth could practically reserve for itself the whole of the Customs revenue. It may, therefore, be asked : How are the
States surrendering anything, seeing that at the expiration of section 87 the Commonwealth will have the absolute right to do what it likes vitn the money so collected.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that the Commonwealth could take the lot?
– Using a phrase which, I believe, was first attributed to Mr. Hughes, 1 think that the Commonwealth could “ take the lot.”
– It would be an immoral thing if it did though.
– I am coming to that very point.
– The Commonwealth gave back to the States ^6,006,000 which it could have kept.
– My honorable friend is wrong in saying that the Com-monwealth could have kept that sum.
– He meant that the Commonwealth could have spent the money.
– The interjection almost suggests a point of view with which I have no sympathy. I refer to the attitude of those who seem to regard the States and the Commonwealth as two bodies seeking the one to plunder the other. I resent altogether the idea that this is Commonwealth money being given to the States or State money being retained by the Commonwealth. It is money which belongs to the people of Australia.
– Besides, the Commonwealth has had the use of all the transferred properties and paid no interest on them. Take that out of the £6,000,000 referred to.
– What we have to recognise is that when all is said and done both the States and Commonwealth Governments are mere agents for the electors, and in proportion as one Government withholds or pays over an amount it does so simply as an act for the benefit of one or other of agents of the same constituency.
– Is it not a fact that in order to do that we starved our own public works?
– If my honorable friend wants to go into the past, I would point out that we have done many things which have been wrong, but in the time which is placed at my disposal I should not like to attempt to indicate the many wrong things in public life for which the
Labour party is responsible. Let me explain why I used the term “ surrender of revenue to the States.” It is in accordance with a principle of the Constitution, and with, I believe, public sentiment, that we should recognise that the interests of the States require that we should secure to them a further share in the Customs and Excise revenue. The alternative to that seems to be something which is nothing short of an absolute violation of the Constitution and that is unification. It is impossible to conceive of the States going on if they are reduced to a state of insolvency. In order to secure their solvency it appears to be absolutely imperative at the present juncture that the interest which the Constitution gave them- in the Customs and Excise revenue shall be continued, at any rate, until other circumstances arise. The alternative to that is the crippling of the States financially thus making- them impotent to carry out the large responsibilities which devolve upon them, with the result that, from sheer force of circumstances, they would have ultimately to be transferred to the Commonwealth. That would be securing unification not by a direct appeal to the people, but by the simple process of starvation. Passing from that aspect of the case I assume, and I think, that honorable senators will say that I am entitled to assume that, -generally speaking, the agreement is acceptable, but for the one fact that no time limit is set to its operation. I want to examine that argument as far as I am able. It is alleged that as it now stands the agreement is too far reaching, that it lacks that flexibility which is necessary in a country like Australia with a Constitution like ours - in a country where it is impossible to determine with any accuracy what conditions are likely to prevail a few years ahead. Would it affect the flexibility of the agreement whether it was inserted in the Constitution or not ? I should like to get an answer to that question.
– It would not.
– My honorable friend will, perhaps, bear with me for a moment when I say that it probably would to this extent, that it would secure a reasonable element of permanency without going to the point of being irrevocably fixed. There is no way in which that permanency can be obtained other than that which is proposed in the Bill. Those who may favour the insertion of a time limit in the Constitution can, I think, hardly resist this contention, that there would be more of the element of fixity if the time were set’ out than there is in the Bill as it stands. If there were inserted a provision limiting the operation of the agreement to twenty or twenty-five years, I venture to say that that would be accepted as a definite and binding bargain for that time, and that no public man in State or Federal politics would dare to propose to disturb it or tear it out.
– That may be argued in reference to the present agreement.
– I do not doubt the capacity of my honorable friend to argue anything. But 1 would point out that if we embody, the proposed agreement in the Constitution without a time limit - as was originally proposed in regard to the Braddon section - we shall leave it in exactly the same position as that occupied by every other section of the Constitution, with the exception of two. In other words, it will be subject to review when the people think that the time for reviewing it is opportune. That circumstance seems to me to affirm that greater flexibility will be obtained if the agreement be inserted in the Constitution without a time limit, than would be secured if it were subject to a time limit. Another argument used by our opponents is that as time goes on our Customs and Excise revenue will become a diminishing quantity, and will be unable to bear the strain of the payment of the -per capita grant of 25s. I do not know upon what assumption that argument is based. Those who use it take a pessimistic view of Australia if they assume that this country is goings to stand still.
– We take an optimistic view of it. We say that we shall be able to supply our own requirements from our own factories.
– Surely the honorable senator will not deny that in a great protective country like the United States-
– How much per head does it collect from Customs and Excise duties ?
– We assume that a country like Australia which is just commencing, if I may be pardoned for using the expression, to “ feel itself,” which has all its development ahead of it, which will increase its production and its population, I hope, from this time onward, will have a similar experience to that of other coun tries. From 1887 to 1906 - the period for which the latest figures are available - the United States increased its population by 44 per cent. , and its Customs revenue by 63 per cent. Let me anticipate the objection that Tariff alterations were made during that period/ That is quite true. Within the period mentioned the Tariff of the United States was raised, lowered, and raised again. But throughout the whole of it the Customs receipts of that country increased in a greater ratio than did its population. Nobody will dispute the ability of the Commonwealth to-day to return to the States out of its Customs revenue a per capita contribution of 25s. If that revenue should increase more rapidly than our population it is obvious that in time to come we shall be able to bear that contribution with greater ease than we can bear it to-day. During the period that I have already quoted, namely, from 1887 to 1906, Canada increased her population by 36 per cent., but her Customs revenue increased by 109 per cent. Again, between 1887 and 1904, whilst the population of Germany increased by only 25 per cent., her Customs revenue increased by 114 per cent.
– By how much per head did it increase?
– That does not affect my argument. I will repeat the statement which I have already made. To-day the Commonwealth can afford to return to the States out of its Customs revenue 25s. per head annually. If our population should increase as that of Canada increased, namely, by 36 per cent., whilst we shall be required to return 36 per cent, more to the States, we shall, according to the experience of that country, have gained an increase in our Customs and Excise revenue of 109 per cent.
– By that time we shall be the most heavily taxed people through the Customs House in the world.
– I have reached the stage when I no longer indulge in prophecies myself, and when I am not content to be worried by those of other people. All sorts of dire predictions are wont to be made, all sorts of bogies and ghosts are prone to be raised, as to what will happen in the future. But in the course of a few years we discover that what was expected has not come to pass, whilst that which was not expected, has.
– Is that why the VicePresident of the Executive Council opposed the Braddon “blot”?
– That section in our Constitution was originally called a “blot,” but it was not long before we hailed it as a blessing.
– That is why the Vice-President of the Executive Council will not prophesy again?
– I admit at once my inability to know what is going to happen ten years hence, and I have not sufficient respect for thepredictions of others to follow their lead. But for a very long time the Commonwealth must expect to collect a large Customs revenue. Whether we raise or lower our Tariff we shall obtain a large revenue from Customs duties.
– Was the Tariff altered in the case of the countries which the VicePresident of the Executive Council quoted ?
– I have already informed the Senate that it was.
– To what extent?
– In the case of the United States, the Tariff was raised, lowered, and raised again. But throughout the whole of the period to which I alluded, it is obvious that the Customsreceipts increased more rapidly than did the population. I repeat that for many years Australia is bound to collect a large Customs revenue for the simple reason that it is sure to be a big exporting country. In view of our enormous natural possibilities it seems inevitable that no matter what losses may occur, Australia must continue for many years to export per head of its population a measure of wealth which willprobably be equalled by no nation in the world. Given that large export of products it necessarily follows that we must importheavily.
– That is the FreeTrader’s ideal.
– I do not say that we shall import goods which we can manufacture locally or that we shallimport dutiable goods. But Idefy Senator Givens to show how we can export heavily without importingheavily?
– We might apply the money gained from our export trade to the payment of ournational debt.
– But what then?
– It would take us a long time to pay off £500,000,000 worth of public and private debts.
– Nor doI think that Australia is going to set itself to-morrow to pay off its national debt. On the other hand I shall be very much surprised if that debt does not display the tendency of all national debts - the tendency to grow. I repeat that, vary our Tariff as we may, we shall, for many years, derive a large revenue from our Customs duties. I wish now to summarize the three arguments with which I have dealt. The first has reference to the supposed rigidity of this agreement, and the second to . the inability of our Customs and Excise revenue to pay the proposed annual contribution to the States of 25s. per capita. If I admitted the soundness of those arguments, which I do not, what do they mean? They amount simply to the third argument that when once this agreement has been inserted in the Constitution, it cannot be altered. I regard that as the crux of the whole debate which I anticipate will follow in this chamber. It is from the stand-point of its ultimate effect that I assume honorable senators will he inclined to criticise it. Now, is there anything which will justify the assertion that when once the agreement has been embodied in the Constitution’, it will be impossible, should it prove objectionable, to secure its amendment’ or removal ? I can see nothing in the history of Federation which will justify that assumption; on the contrary, I can see everything to refute it. In the first place, thecontention that when once the agreement has been embodied in the Constitution, it cannot be altered, no matter how unworkable it may prove to be, is based upon the utterly fallacious notion that all patriotism and public spirit, all loyalty to the Federation, rests with the big States, and that nothing but a mean and sordid selfishness characterizes the smaller States. . I wish to show how little there is in the history of Federation to justify the division of the Commonwealth into two camps of that kind.
– So far, New South Wales has been the most sordid State of the group.
– The theory that when once the agreement has been placed in the Constitution it will not be possible to alter it is based upon the assumption that having obtained their bond of 25s. per capita, the smaller States will never consent to relinquish it. Let ussee whether there is anything in the history of Federation to justify the fear that if a public emergency arose, there would be hesitation oh the part of the States to recognise and to meet it. Take the case of the .Braddon section as an, illustration. In the first place, that provision was inserted in the draft Constitution without any limitation as to the period of its operation. Was any serious demur raised by the States when it was pointed out that its limitation would open the way to the admission of another State? No. The smaller States without demur conceded what was asked.
– There was a distinct object to be gained then?
– Does my honorable friend say that all our big objects have already been attained? Just as surely as there is an object to be gained in a time of public emergency/ just as surely as time shows that the finances of the Commonwealth are so crippled that extraordinary measures must be adopted, will the public respond to the call.
– But they might say that the Commonwealth has other sources of taxation open to it.
– And they -probably’ would say so. But would not the States themselves recognise that it would .be better for them to surrender a further proportion of the Customs and Excise revenue to the Commonwealth than to force the latter to resort to direct taxation?
– It gives them the choice of two alternatives.
– Exactly. I look in vain for evidence of selfishness on the part either of the great or small States of the Commonwealth. I return now to the table which I have already mentioned in connexion with the adjustment of the future financial relations of the States to the Commonwealth. Does that table disclose any evidence of a determination on the part of any State to be niggardly in its treatment of other States? Take the case of the smallest State - that of Tasmania, as an example. She has agreed, not merely to forego a portion of her Customs revenue, but to make a special contribution to the needs of Western Australia. Wherever 1 look, I find an increasing disposition on the part of the States not merely to work strenuously - as they are entitled to do - in their own interests, but to take an enlarged view of the difficulties and responsibilities of each other. All this points to the fact that just as the States have falsified the predictions which were made when we entered into Federation as to the attitude which they would take up, they will exhibit similar public spirit in the future.
If we assume that when once this agreement has been embodied in the Constitution, the smaller States will prevent its removal - and the whole argument ot our opponents is based upon that assumption - we might reasonably anticipate that the smaller States would be unanimous in advocating its adoption to-day. But what is the position? Are the smaller States through their representatives in this Chamber, asking, for the adoption of the proposed agreement? Where are its most strenuous opponents to be found? Chiefly among the representatives of the small States.
– Especially the small State of Tasmania.
– The argument has been used that once this provision was inserted in the Constitution a minority of the people would be enabled to prevent an alteration of it, and could thus frustrate the will of the majority. That argument can only proceed from the assumption that the smaller States attach very great importance to the provision. But where is the evidence of that? If the smaller. States would not be prepared to give this provision up when they got it, that would suggest that they valued it. But are the smaller States fighting for it now, or are we to assume that they are misrepresented in this Chamber? If those who are here to-day - and I prefer to take this view - are the accurate reflex of the wishes of their electors-
– The honorable senator says that we are not, but that the State Premiers are the accurate reflex of our electors.
– I have never said anything of the kind. One of the difficulties which honorable senators opposite experience is to confine themselves to an argument without Tunning off into side tracks. The position is this. Let us assume - as I do without reserve - that my honorable friends opposite absolutely and completely reflect the views of their constituents. What does that indicate? It indicates that those who argue that the smaller States would not give up this provision once we gave it to them, are fighting now to resist the larger States in thrusting down their throats this 25s. per capita to which the smaller States are going to hang so tenaciously, which they will never surrender, and for the sake of which they would shake the very foundations of the Commonwealth itself !
– A nice sophistry, indeed.
– It is no sophistry. It is a simple statement of the position. If the smaller States attach so much importance to this provision why is it that honorable senators opposite! are fighting against it to-day?
– Has any one said anything about the small States in connexion with this matter?
– Some of my honorable friends opposite will be facing the electors of the smaller States within a few months. Some of them seem to think that they can ignore the States. Others of them, I fancy, are afraid that the State electors will ignore them. There is, it seems to me, ample evidence to justify the assertion that we have no right to assume that the people of the smaller States are going to view this matter any differently from the people of the larger States. They are just as capable of taking a broad, publicspirited view of the situation as are their neighbours. There is no tendency on the part of the smaller States to-day to secure an unfair advantage for themselves. I am therefore justified in saying that there will be no tendency later on, when the proposed amendment of the Constitution is adopted, for them to fight to retain it, if to do so is against the interests of the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable senator include South Australia as one of the smaller States?
– I do, and no one will resent the way in which I use the term. Speaking from the stand-point of population and share of the Customs and Excise revenue, South Australia is to-day one of the smaller States. 1 was mentioning just now the frequency with which prophecies as to the future have been falsified.
– South Australia is a big State for its age.
– Exactly ; and is there any one who can tell which of the States of Australia are going to be the smaller States, and which the larger ones in the next thirty or forty years? Even now, the telegraph wires may be bringing us news of some discovery which will convert a district now unoccupied into a sound and thriving mining centre. We can point to plenty of like instances in the past. The romance of Australia is not all over. We are hardly on the fringe of it yet. If those who live in this country fifty years hence turn up our debates, and read the gloomy predictions of some people regarding the future, they will come to the conclusion that we did not even appreciate the fact that we were hardly on the fringe of our possibilities. It is rather curious that the objection to the adoption of this agreement comes especially from a number of public men, and some public journals, which, in the first instance, fought strenuously for the acceptance of the original Braddon clause. I have no wish to refer to individuals by name; but I do invite attention to the fact that the criticism from which this Bill has recently emerged has emanated very largely from one ot two gentlemen who were equally prominent - one, at any rate, in mv own State - in advocating the adoption of ihe original Braddon clause, and in urging that it ought in no way to impede the future of Federation. They then assured the country that it could safely, in this matter, trust the people in the future. Yet we find these gentlemen now turning round and implying that the inclusion in the Constitution of a provision similar to the original Braddon clause, in respect of permanency, is going to have to-day effects which they said it could not have ten years ago. I say at once that I am unable to understand this change of views. I can conceive that in the early days of Federation, there might have been some justification for fear and anxiety. But there is none now. We have had ten years’ experience of the practical working of Federation, and that ten years has amply served <.o dispel all those fears, to .push on one side all those anxieties, to dismiss all doubts, and to satisfy us that, whatever shortcomings have to be registered against the Federation, it has, at all events, shown itself to be competent to work out the future of Australia satisfactorily. I have referred to the position of some public men. May I now give a quotation from a public journal - one which I believe has for the present taken my honorable friends opposite under its special care. It is not yet, as far as I know, their official organ, but it is working in unison with them. Writing on-29th August, 1898, prior to Federation, and when the Constitution was still under discussion, the Age said -
Victoria is not wedded to the Braddon clause, and New South Wales is practically unanimous for its abolition ; but then the question will arise with imperative force, what is to be put in its place? Without it, or without some equivalent, no State has any guarantee for its solvency. The Convention Bill of this year was a great advance, but it ignores some of the most useful lessons taught in Canada, which in the place of the Braddon blot secured the solvency of each State by giving a specified sum per head of the population to each.
– Times have changed. .
– Yes; times have changed and men and newspapers have changed ; although there is no connexion between the passage of time and the change of views.
– The Age wrote without experience then. lt has experience now.
– Whatever experience we have had shows that we can afford to trust the people in this matter. The same journal, at a rather later date, wrote -
The provision was about as clumsy as can be imagined, but the guarantee contained in it, such as it is, must be maintained in some better shape, or else the Federal Constitution would leave the colonies as mere helpless hangers-on in the Federation, dependent on the National Parliament, month by month, for their solvency. Such a Constitution would be a blow at State rights more staggering than anything suggested in any other quarter.
I say that the point of view taken then is not to be reconciled with the point of view of to-day by referring to the mere lapse of time. The contention put forward then, that it was essential to secure the welfare of the States, is a contention which stands for all time. The alternative to that I have already dealt with. It means that the revenues of the States would be absolutely crippled, and that, even if no amendment of the Constitution took place in a direct” way, it would involve the compulsory passing from the States to the Federation of functions which the present Constitution secures to the States themselves. In other words, it would mean unification. There is another point which I should like to emphasize. Honorable senators, in dealing with the possible working out of our Federal destiny, and with the influence which may be asserted through States having more than an equal share of voting power in the Federal Parliament in proportion to population, ignore altogether the effect that responsible government is going to have in the working out of the Federal Constitution. Your distinguished predecessor in the chair, sir, was responsible for the phrase that either responsible government would wreck Federation, or Federation would wreck responsible government. He did not mean that responsible government was going to wreck the Union. What he meant was that it would wreck that form of Federation which had been adopted, and which has its basis in what is known as the dual consent - that is, that every legislative proposition has to be assented to by a majority of the States and a majority of the people.
– Every alteration of the Constitution.
– Every law; because a majority of the people, as represented in the House of Representatives, and a majority of the States, as represented in the Senate, have to consent to every law. That is the underlying theory of our Constitution. That theory would work unsatisfactorily if it were not that we have superimposed upon it a doctrine quite foreign to it in its original form - the doctrine of responsible government. I am unable to shut my eyes to the fact that, even in the short experience of ten years which we have had, the fact that responsible government is superimposed upon our Federal structure is having an effect upon this Chamber. In the United States, where there is no responsible government, the same theory of Federation is working out in quite a different manner. I invite attention to the fact that, this country having adopted responsible government, there can never arise here any position in which a minority can dominate a majority. Apart from the constitutional safeguards, there is no reason to fear that selfishness on the part of the smaller States will ever thrust Australia into a position of jeopardy, or that the majority of the people will ever be placed under the domination ot a minority. I have referred to the many gloomy predictions that we hear as to what is going to happen if this proposal is inserted in the Constitution. May I remind honorable senators of the predictions that were made in regard to the adoption of our Constitution? The air was thick with predictions of woe.
– The honorable senator was one of the chief Jeremiahs himself.
– Yes; and everything that I said would not happen has happened, whilst nearly everything that I said would happen has not. That admission, however, still leaves me with quite as good a record as that of any of the other prophets whom I see around me.
– - What is the value of the quotations which the honorable senator has been making ? If he was wrong in all his predictions, why does he assume that others had better means of being right?
– I offer the best apology for the wrongness of others when I admit that I was wrong myself. I desire now to deal with some of the predictions which were made, and which go to show, in my opinion, how unnecessary it is to throw ourselves into a fever of anxiety about the future, when judging it from the stand-point of the present. Turning to Quick and Garran’s work on the Federal Constitution, I find this brief and fairly accurate description of the state of affairs which existed on the eve of the adoption of the Federal Constitution -
Criticism of the political aspects of the Constitution was concentrated chiefly on the principle of equal representation in the Senate, and the powers wielded by the Senate - provisions which, it was argued, would stifle the will of the majority, and enable the small States to rule the large. In a less degree, the provision for amending the Constitution was attacked, as making amendment practically impossible, and imposing a “ cast-iron “ Constitution for all time. A further objection, which consolidatedthe greater part of the Parliamentary Labour party against the Bill, was the rejection of the referendum - their favorite political institution - as a means for settling deadlocks. The financial objections were that the Bill necessitated the raising of an enormous Customs revenue, and, consequently, an immense increase of taxation in New South Wales ; that under the Federal Tariff New South Wales would contribute an undue proportion of the revenue, and that after the expiration of the bookkeeping period there was every probability that her share of the surplus would be “ scrambled for “ bv the other colonies, to meet their pressing needs.
– That is just what has taken place.
– I venture to say that every line of that paragraph has been absolutely falsified.
– Not a bit of it.
– I propose to run through each contention. First of all, there is not a man in ‘Australia, not even Senator Neild, who will venture to say that any dire calamity has overtaken this country by reason of the existence of the Senate. That is the first contention.
– The honorable senator misunderstands me. I referred only to the statement that the other States would be found scrambling for the ; revenues of New South Wales.
– I understood my honorable friend’s interjection to apply only, to the last portion of the quotation I made, but I am taking the contentions in the order in which they appear.. At that time I was one of those who did try to persuade, and very nearly succeeded in doing so, a large section of the people of New South Wales that it would be a great national calamity if we were ever to call into existence a Chamber constituted as the Senate is.
– And the honorable senator even loaded the dice with an artificial majority.
– I still say that there is an artificial majority created. But what has happened? That fear, like the interjection we have just heard from Senator Givens, proceeded from an assumption that the States were going to group themselves according to whether they were large or small. Nothing of the kind has happened. I represent a State which may be regarded as a large State, and I find that I am able to work most harmoniously with my honorable friends from Tasmania. Senator Pearce represents a small State from the point of view of population, but he finds no difficulty at all in working, with the representatives of a big State, from the point of view of population, like Victoria. There has not been that intriguing and log-rolling between the States that was anticipated at that time. There is no evidence that the States are going to group themselves according to their size.
– Does not the danger exist all the same?
– Of course, there is a danger that Senator Lynch may get up and run amuck in this Chamber, but we are not going to clear out on that account. The next contention is that we should never be able to amend the Constitution; that it was going to be a cast-iron document. We have already shown that it is not a document of that character, because we have amended it.
– We have made a very minor amendment in it.
– Exactly. The point was not that the Constitution could not be easily amended, but that it could not be amended at all. It was not made to be tinkered with and amended every day, but provision has been wisely made in it for machinery by which, on sufficient cause being shown, it can be altered.
– All parties favoured the amendment of the Constitution which has been made.
– That does not seem to me to affect the question Honorable senators will not contend that it will be easy to amend the Constitution if there is a party conflict over it, but we have shown that it can be amended when a sufficient justification for its amendment is put forward. No one now would venture to get up and predict, as those who opposed the Commonwealth Bill did predict, that the Constitution is so absolutely cast-iron that it cannot be altered.
– The contention was a reflection upon the common sense of the people.
– That is from a Democrat.
– I put it the other way then. As Senator Pearce has said something about Democracy, let me refer to the contention that the Labour party were against the Commonwealth Bill, because it made no provision for the referendum, a political institution much in favour with Democrats at the time.
– That contention is inaccurate in the first place, because the Labour party of Western Australia supported the Bill.
– So did the Labour party in Queensland.
– The contention was absolutely correct, so far as it applied to the big Labour party that existed in New South ‘Wales.
– And also in Victoria.
– r was going to say subject to correction, that in that respect the quotation indicated the attitude of the same party in Victoria. With all due deference to Senator Pearce, and without wishing to touch the honorable senator’s proper pride in his State, it may be said that at the time the Labour party were objecting to the Constitution Bill because it did not provide for the adoption of the referendum. I pass that by for the moment, but I have directed attention to the matter, because it has some bearing upon the Bill- now before the Senate.
– I was a member of the Labour party, and I supported the Bill the first time I got the chance.
– Were my honorable friend’s colleagues against it?
– A very small minorityof them were.
– The next contention in the paragraph which I have quoted from Quick and Garran deals with- the financial objections, and concludes with the state ment that probably if New South Wales showed a surplus it would be scrambled for by the other States to meet their own needs. . That is the portion to which Senator Neild objected.
– The other States get £1,750,000 belonging to New South Wales und’er this scheme.
– I would ask any honorable senator to say when the other States have engaged in such a scramble. It is true that New South Wales is called upon in ratifying this agreement to surrender the largest individual amount. I take some pride in the fact that my State is financially in a position to do that, and that so far as I’ can judge the people of that State are prepared to make the sacrifice in the interests of the Federation without the slightest suspicion ox a grumble from any one. Whilst New South Wales happens to surrender the largest individual amount under the agreement, it is a fact that the other States, though perhaps in a lesser degree, are called upon under this agreement, which their representatives have entered into willingly, to make sacrifices which may be to them as serious as the sacrifice which New South Wales is called upon to make. But this does not point to any desire to join in a scramble - each for himself and the devil take the hindmost. On the contrary, it shows that when an emergency, arises, and the people or public men of Australia are brought face to face with a matter of magnitude, they are capable of looking beyond narrow provincial interests, and of viewing the matter from a broad Australian stand-point. Just as they have emerged from this difficulty successfully with an agreement, so I venture to say that should a similar difficulty arise, as it undoubtedly will, in the years to come, our successors will be found equal to its successful solution.
– In spite of the shackles which the Government, wish to put upon them.
– When Senator . Givens talks of “shackles,” I would ask him what he was doing when he asked the electors of Queensland to accept the Constitution Bill.
– We cannot shackle the. people unless they are willing.
– I was leaving that for my last point, but my honorable friend has anticipated me. Such terms as Senator Givens has used may be useful on a public platform for the purpose of sway- ing a few votes, but they axe out of place here when addressed to those who are fairly familiar with the Constitution and with our political history. The term “ shackle” is utterly ridiculous as applied to this agreement. Every legislative provision shackles some one. Our Standing Orders fortunately, I think sometimes, occasionally shackle the honorable senator, and no one is the worse for it. Even the honorable senator himself is the better for a little salutary discipline.
– The honorable senator needs it more than does anybody else.
– The difference between us is that I need it and recognise that I do, and the honorable senator needs it but does not recognise that he does. To summarize what appear to me to be the advantages of the proposals embodied in this Bill, I say, first of all, that the agreement arrived at by the Conference and now submitted to the Senate for consideration, will insure security and definiteness. To these advantages I do not think too much’ value can be attached. It must be of very great value to the State Treasurers to be in a position to accurately estimate their revenue.
– They have a right to be placed in that position.
– I agree with the honorable senator that, if we can do so under an equitable and just agreement, it is our duty to place them in that position. There is this further advantage, that the agreement will leave the State and Federal Governments absolutely free to work out their own destiny, without being hampered by considerations of the necessities of each other. It leaves the Commonwealth absolutely free as to any powers of taxation it may choose to exercise. Apart from the one obligation upon the Commonwealth to find an amount which, under existing conditions, would be somewhere about £5,000,000 per year, the Commonwealth Parliament will be absolutely free to impose or remit taxation in’ whatever form it pleases. It is idle, therefore, to suggest ihat the adoption of this proposal will in any way shackle or hamper the future working of the great Federal Constitution. The final matter to which I invite the attention of honorable senators is that to which Senator Trenwith referred iust now when he said that we could not shackle the people unless they were willing. What is proposed by this Bill is to invite the people to say whether or not they will ap prove and adopt the. agreement provisionally accepted.
– The Bill proposes more than that.
– I am not conscious of it if it does. I say that the Bill clearly provides that thematters which the Senate is’ now called upon to discuss, and which are set out, shall be subject to the veto or approval of the electors of Australia.
– The Government ure telling the electors of Australia that the Federal Parliament is incapable of carrying out the functions intrusted to it.
– That is a curious argument to use. The honorable senator says that we are telling the people of Australia that we are not lit to discharge these responsibilities. We are doing nothing of the kind. We are proposing to say to our masters. “ Here is a matter which affects you, involving the distribution of your money. lt is for you to determine what amount you will allot to each of your two agents for the discharge of the duties intrusted to them.” It is a novelty to hear from men who call themselves Democrats, that it is an abandonment of dignity on the part of a servant that he should consult his master. Surely my honorable friends opposite are not right in the position they assume that, even a seat in this chamber places them above theelectors ? I say that to talk as Senator McGregor’s interjection suggests, as if this Parliament were abandoning any dignity merely because it places before the electors, who are primarily concerned, a vital question of finance, appears to me to be seeking to obscure the real issue.
– It is not proposed to give the electors full liberty to say what they think of the proposals.
– My honorable friend might just have reasonably asked why we should include in the Constitution any provision for amending anything. Why not have left everything to the Federal Parliament? The reason we did not was obvious. There are certain great questions upon which the people have a right to be consulted, and I class this one amongst them. If there is a matter which directlyintimately, and permanently affects the electors,” it is the manner in which the money they contribute is to be distributed. Rougly speaking, it is the same constituency which elects both State and Federal Parliaments.
– Could not the electors control this Parliament without putting this agreement into the Constitution?
– The honorable senator is aware that the electors can control this Parliament once every three years. But the question whether they should or should not have a direct hand in the settlement of this matter is one which I think we might very properly refer to them.
– The Government will not be giving them a direct hand in the matter. This Bill will not allow the people to suggest what they desire.
– My honorable friend is now bordering on the humorous. We propose to place before the people a proposition which, whatever its faults may be, is, at any rate, the only one on which an agreement has yet been arrived at, and it will be for them, if they take the view which the honorable senator does, and which he says they take, to veto it. On the other hand, if they regard the agreement as one providing for a fair apportionment of the revenue, and think that it is desirable to give it some measure of permanency by including it in the Constitution, they will vote “Yes.”
– But the Bill will give the people no opportunity to say whether they would prefer 20s. or 30s. per capita to be paid to the States.
– Let my honorable friend say what he likes about the proposition, it will give the people a chance of saying whether or not they agree to 25s. per head being paid to the States. But he will not give them a chance to say anything. My honorable friends on the other side have been making some very bold statements to the effect that the people are against our proposal. Surely they do not believe that ? Surely they do not think for a moment that the people are against the Constitution? If they do, they ought not to have the slightest hesitation in allowing the Bill to pass. Assuming as I do that the people can be trusted to amend the Constitution if it is found to be unworkable, there is only one contingency which can arise to prevent it from being altered.
– According to that argument every Bill of the kind which is brought in ought to pass without a division.
– Certainly not.
– That is the honorable senator’s argument.
– Are we to send on to the people every little emanation from a biased man who wants an amendment of the Constitution ? At the present the people are called upon to pay a certain measure of taxation. Prior to Federation the distribution of the money so raised was one of the big questions which troubled the public mind. A temporary expedient for the settlement of the matter was arrived at, and the term of the temporary expedient is about to expire. It is right and proper that in trying to find something to take its place a further opportunity should be given to the people to express their view.
– Why was the phrase “ until the Parliament otherwise provides inserted in section 87 of the Constitution ?
– So that the Parliament, if it thought fit, could make the provision which it is now asked to make. I have dealt with the measure at somewhat greater length than I intended to do. I want now to make an appeal to honorable senators, not on the merits of the Bill, but on another point. The consideration of this proposal has, I am afraid, gone toofar to allow any one to assume that any debate here is likely to influence the opinion of an honorable senator.
– Have the Government got the numbers?
– Surely the honorable senator does not pretend for a moment that he comes here open to be convinced on this subject. I am not making these remarks in any sinister spirit. This proposal has been too long before the public for me to suppose that there is any man in public life who has not definitely made up his mind about it. It would be paying a very poor compliment to honorable senators to suppose that a matter which has been engrossing the public mind for some weeks is new to them to-day.
– Will the honorable senator allow a discussion on the Bill?
– My honorable friend knows that I could not prevent a discussion if I would, and I certainly have no desire to do so. The session is drawing to a close, and there is yet some important business to be transacted - business in which honorable senators, irrespective of where they sit, are interested, and which, I believe, they are keenly desirous of transacting. I ask honorable senators, so far as they can, to assist in arriving at an early determination on this Bill. In other words, without suggesting that there should be any unnecessary curtailment of debate, I ask them to assist so far as they can in the expeditious settlement of this vexed question. I am quite unable, I repeat, to understand the fears which have been expressed so frequently as to what future generations may do. Let honorable senators ask themselves whether there is any reason to suppose for a moment that the practical genius of our race, which* has always solved problems whenever they have arisen, is going to peter out with us. Time after time, whenever a difficulty has arisen, especially in matters connected with government, that practical genius has asserted itself and triumphed. It has triumphed over stupendous difficulties.
– The Fusion, for instance.
– Exactly. The moment a pronounced public evil, dominance by a minority, was recognised, the genius of the people asserted itself, and provided a remedy. So in this particular matter, 1 brush on one side as unworthy of serious consideration all those dreads, and fears of what is going to happen at some future time. I believe that just as the people in the past, like the people in the present, were competent to take hold of and shape their political destiny, so will those who have to come after us, whether in the immediate or ultimate future. Whatever financial difficulties may arise, I have sufficient faith in the great unlimited future of Australia to believe that it will rise superior to them.
Debate (on motion by Senator McGregor) adjourned.
– I would suggest that the Minister should supply honorable senators to-morrow morning with copies of his speech.
– I shall see that a copy is supplied to every honorable senator who wishes to have one.
– I think that the better plan will be for me to instruct Hansard to forward to every honorable senator an unrevised proof of the speech.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 1 2th November, vide page 5774).
Clause 6 -
Section 32 of the Principal Act is repealed, and the following sections are substituted in lieu thereof : - “32. (1) The Citizen Naval Forces shall be divided into Militia Forces, Volunteer Forces, and Reserve Forces,
Upon which Senator Turley had moved by way of amendment -
That the words “ Volunteer Forces “ be left out.
– I hope that the Committee will agree to the amendment for the reason that the Bill, as it is, will make for ineffectiveness. I can quite understand that in the case of the Military Forces there is still some necessity for retaining the word “Volunteer.” Such bodies as the automobile corps and others we require to retain as volunteer corps. ‘But in the case of the Naval Forces this is practically an innovation. It was only instituted while Sir Thomas Ewing was Minister in order to meet the desire of a small section, principally yachtsmen, who use Hobson’s Bay, who wanted to have the right to wear a naval uniform. They had, and still have, the opportunity to render real service to the Naval Forces by becoming Naval Militia. The drills which they are required to perform are not exceedingly onerous, but represent the minimum of what naval officers think necessary to make a man in some sense efficient. On Friday Senator Turley pointed out that naval militiamen are required to put in twenty-one days a year on continuous service. The naval authorities say that if a man will not go through that term of service it is absolutely useless to have his name on the books. A man who goes1 into the Naval Forces to-day requires to be a skilled artisan. Now, the men who want to enrol as naval volunteer forces are not mechanicians, but clerks. The Naval Militia, I am pleased to say, is largely recruited from landsmen, who follow a mechanical occupation, such as, for instance, engineers and blacksmiths, who form a most useful class. They know a great deal before they enlist, and all that is needed is to give them the necessary sea training to make them efficient. It is proposed, however, to give clerks only five days’ training a year. What will be the use of that? The Naval Volunteer Forces, which this proposed new section takes power to establish, will simply be an ornamental appendage to our Defence
Force. The men are not to be called upon to do the same number of drills as others, although from the very nature of their occupation they ought to do more in order to become efficient. Are we justified in spending public money on a force of this kind unless it is to be efficient and useful for the purpose of defence? Can anybody claim that on a modern ship of war a man who follows a clerical occupation ashore can by five days’ training a year make himself efficient or of any value? According to a regulation issued by the Department to naval volunteers, and read by Senator Turley on Friday, that is the term of training which is proposed for these men. On the last Estimates a sum of £250 was set apart for naval volunteers. The Fisher Government took office towards the end of the session, and we had to consider whether we should amend the Estimates or take them as they were. It was found utterly impossible to amend them. I had marked this item of .£250 as one to be struck out, because I recognised its uselessness. I was also advised that it was useless to retain the item, but the Government decided that they would not revise the Estimates. I took good care, however, not to spend a penny of the- item, because I recognised that to do so would be to simply throw away the money. The Defence Act makes no provision for naval volunteers, and Parliament is now asked for the first time to legalize their existence. I trust that the ‘Committee will carry the amendment in order to show its determination that our Defence Force shall be a real force, not a piece of ornamental business or child’s play, and that men shall give such service as will render them effective when called upon to defend the country.
-45]– I trust that the Committee will allow the proposed new section 32 to remain in its present form. It seems to me that my honorable friends opposite take exception to it chief! v upon the ground that some yachtsmen appear to be anxious to commit the crime of voluntarily offering their service to the country. I understand that they entertain no objection to the retention of the word “Volunteer” as applied to the military side of our defence.
– Because there are some men who can render valuable service to the country without “a military training.
– And equally there are men who can render valuable service to the country from a naval stand-point. The whole argument of the honorable senator was directed at the slight training to which these men will be subjected. That is a matter which may require revision, but it certainly does not tell against the voluntary system.
– The regulations may be altered at the next meeting of the Executive Council.
– Exactly. The - whole matter may be dealt with by regulation. To say that a man who is willing to render voluntary naval service to the country shall not be allowed to do so unless he undergoes a longer period of training is absurd. The chief offence in the eyes of Senator Turley seems to be that certain individuals are members of a yacht club.
– That is a very offensive way of putting it.
– Only two speeches have been delivered by my honorable friends opposite, and in each instance that circumstance was given undue prominence. The question of whether we ought not to encourage naval volunteers was not touched upon by them. It is conceivable that circumstances may arise under which it may be eminently desirable to call a naval volunteer force into existence. This proposed new section merely provides the “machinery necessary for that purpose. I ask the Committee to retain the provision. If it be abused at any time, it will be open to Parliament to review the regulations. But to strike out the words “ Volunteer Forces,” and thus to declare that under no circumstances shall we avail ourselves of volunteer assistance in the naval defence of the country, would be going too far.
– I do not know that any exception has been taken to this proposed new section upon the ground that the naval volunteers would principally consist of yachtsmen. However, the Vice-President of the Executive Council has chosen to put- the matter in that way, with a view to creating the impression that we object to the proposed new section because of unreasoning class prejudice. But can he point to any naval volunteers in connexion with the Imperial Naval Forces?
– Has the honorable senator never heard of the Imperial Naval Artillery Volunteers?
– They are composed of persons who are employed practically all the time on shore. I am aware that there are permanent men in the Imperial Navy, and that there is also a Naval Reserve. But all those who are employed at sea are members either of the permanent body or of the Naval Reserve. They have to undergo a regular course of training, and no exception is taken to yachtsmen becoming members of the Naval Reserve. As a matter of fact, a large number of yachtsmen are members of that reserve, as are also a considerable number of men who are engaged in the fishing industry. They receive their retainer of £fi per annum, and a fee of £1 weekly during their period of service. I object to this provision on the ground that it is undesirable that we should have in our Naval Forces men who are not required to undergo the necessary drill to make them efficient.
– Are they not liable to be called upon?
– Yes, but what is the use of calling upon them if they are not efficient? Yachtsmen can gain admission to our Naval Forces upon the same terms as can other persons. But the VicePresident of the Executive Council wishes to establish a sort of class superiority, simply because certain individuals own a number of yachts which cruise round Hobson’s Bay. Nothing of that sort should be encouraged. Because men choose to invest a few pounds in a yacht, ought they to be recognised as superior individuals, who should not undergo the same training as the common garden variety of mortal ? According to the Vice-President of the Executive Council, it would be an indignity to ask these high fliers, who go pleasuring round the Bay, to submit to the same training as the man in the street.
– The honorable senator might sneak the truth.
– I am nearer to speaking the truth than was the’ Vice-President of the Executive Council when he declared that I objected to this proposed new section on the ground that some yachtsmen were anxious to volunteer for naval service. Apparently he thinks that a man who possesses a few pounds can be made efficient with two or three days’ training as against twenty-one days in the case of other mortals. What has happened in connexion with our Naval Forces in the past? Have we been able to secure a large number of officers from among men who earn their livelihood at sea? No. Some of them have told me that they declined to have anything to do with our Naval Forces because a few persons on shore were able to secure all the positions connected with those forces. As a result, men who joined them some time ago have dropped out. There should be no class distinctions created in a matter of this kind.
– 1 quite agree with the honorable senator.
– Yet the VicePresident of the Executive Council favoured the retention, of the regulation which I read last week.
– The honorable senator did not propose to abolish it.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council favours a provision under which one man is to be . made efficient with five days’ training as against twenty-one days on the part of ordinary individuals. I hope that the Committee will agree to my amendment. The only object which I have in view is that of securing efficiency. I have been informed that it was only on the application of a few yachtsmen in Hobson’s Bay that the word “Volunteer” was inserted in this proposed new section, and that is why I propose its excision.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [5.58]. - Senator Turley is quite inaccurate in his statement regarding naval volunteers in the Old Country. They do exist, or at any rate they did exist, in fairly large numbers, a very few months ago. If he will allow his memory to wander back to the pages of periodicals, he will doubtless recollect pictorial representations of naval volunteers at sea undergoing a variety of hardships with more or less comical results. Of course, he was perfectly right in his statement regarding the Imperial Naval Reserve, officers of which are to be found on many of our coastal steamers, and on nearly all our mail steamers. I sympathize with his remarks in reference to the regulation to Which he alluded, which seems to be paltry in the extreme, and utterly unfitted to a serious defence proposition. To say that certain men shall undergo only five days’ training out of 365 days, is to say that the) shall not perform any effective work. But the regulation in question has nothing whatever to do with this provision. It is a separate matter with which my honorable friend could deal, under ordinary circumstances, by submitting a motion.
– Why should not these men join the Militia?
– Will anybody be harmed if they join the Naval Volunteer Forces?
– In that case, the money will be squandered.
– If efficiency be secured, no money will be squandered. Whilst I support the proposed new section, I am not saying a word in favour of the regulations referred to. I do not see that it is absolutely necessary to compel all to do the same sort of work. Reference has been made to an automobile corps. That would not be required to do the same work as other corps. A volunteer corps might be useful in connexion with signalling stations.
– There are signalling corps in connexion with the Defence Forces already.
– Of course there are ; but I do not know that we have such corps in. connexion with the Naval Forces. Whatever the employment is, however, there must be efficiency, and apparently the existing regulations do not provide for that. I support the proposed new section as it stands, in the hope and belief that efficiency will be provided for in a proper manner.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority …. … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I think an amendment of this clause would be desirable ; but it appears to me to be impossible to carry one. The Government have cracked the party whip and resolved that no line or comma of the Bill shall be altered. Consequently, I shall not submit an amendment.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 -
In section thirty-six of the Act the words “ of not less than three years “ are omitted.
– I move -
That the following wordsbe added : - “ Section thirty-six of the Principal Act is also amended by adding the following provisos thereto : - “ Provided that the regulations may prescribe that any member of the Defence Force may, at his option, on the expiration of his original enlistment or subsequent re-engagement, reengage to serve for a further period without any fresh oath of enlistment, subject nevertheless to the veto of the Minister or other authority mentioned in the regulations and to such other conditions as are specified in the regulations, and such member who so re-engages shall sign before his commanding officer an agreement to re-engage in accordance with the said regulations to be indorsed upon or attached to the original oath of enlistment, and such member shall, during the period of such reengagement, continue to be bound by his original oath of enlistment. “ Provided also that, except in time of war, any member who has re-engaged after the completion of his original period of enlistment may claim his discharge under section forty and shall not be required to pay the sum therein prescribed.”
The amendment is intended to provide that members of the Defence Force may reengage at the end of their term of service, without having to go through all the formalities which are requisite on their first being enrolled. Provision was made for the same thing by means of regulations; but it appears that the regulations are ultra vires, and that a statutory provision is necessary. The words of my amendment are taken from the British Act.
– The final proviso ought not to be there. It nullifies the remainder of the amendment.
– I am advised that it is desirable that the final paragraph of the amendment should be inserted.
– It appears to me that the amendment would effect an improvement. An amendment was made in another place aiming at the same object. It was accepted by the Minister, but was afterwards found not to accomplish the purpose. Senator McColl’s amendment rectifies that error, and carries out what was in the mind of the other branch of the Legislature and of the Minister. The proviso to which Senator Givens has alluded, provides that where a man has enlisted, and has served his full period of three years, he shall not incur a monetary penalty if, having re-engaged, he resigns before the second period of three years expires. The reason for that is obvious. If a man leaves before the completion of the three years of his first term, the Government loses what has been spent upon his training. But that is not so if he resigns after re-engaging. There is no object in insisting upon a. penalty if the man does not complete his second term.
SenatorGivens. - He may leave the day after re-engaging.
– If he does, there will be no money lost; but there will be if he leaves before completing his original term.
– I have no fault to find with the first portion of Senator McColl’s amendment, except that it seems very prolix. But the second portion is not necessary. The original Act does not, I think, impose any penalty. It is the regulations made under the Act which do that. The practice has been that a man engages for. three years, and, if he retires before the end of that term, is subject to a penalty. Rightly so, because he has had to be clothed and trained, and the Government is put to a certain amount of expense. It is necessary that he should complete his three years’ service in order to justify that expenditure. But if he re-engages, and does not complete his second term, there need be no penalty. The matter was brought before me when I was Minister of Defence, and the regulation which provided for the imposition of a penalty regarding the second term was, I think, repealed. Senator McColl says that he has taken this provision from the English Act ; but the latter portion of it is not applicable to our circumstances, because there is nothing inour Act which imposes a penalty on a man who re-engages.
– Section 40 imposes a penalty.
– The section the honorable senator refers to provides as a penalty for such a sum “ as may be prescribed.” The Minister might prescribe no sum at- all, but, if he did prescribe any, it could not be more than £2 for the Militia, and £1 for the Volunteer Force.
– If this provision were inserted, it would prevent a regulation imposing a penalty.
– It would, but I think it is unnecessary,I think the penalty prevents re-enlistment.
– I see no object in allowing a man to reenlist if he is to be at liberty to leave the service again next day. It is very undesirable that a man who has re-enlisted should be allowed to leave again without the permission of the Minister. I could cite a number of instances in which great difficulty might arise, even though no state of war existed. We know that, at various times in Australia, gold rushes have occurred which have attracted people from every form of employment. If gold were discovered in New Guinea, and a rush to the place set in, members of the Garrison Battery stationed at Thursday Island, although they might be men who had only recently been re-enlisted, might rush away to the newly discovered gold-field without incurring any penalty whatever if the proposed provisos were inserted.
– And in such a case a penalty would have no effect, even if it could be enforced.
– It might present a very serious obstacle to men who desired to leave. They might not be able to pay the forfeit. The necessity for paying £1 would be a serious deterrent to a man who had only 10s. in his pocket.
– Not to a man going to a new gold-field.
– If he had not the money, he could not pay the penalty, and, until he resigned and. handed in his tools, he would be a deserter if he left, and might be treated as such. The objection would apply equally to the men forming a garrison battery at Fremantle, at Sydney Heads, or anywhere else. If a man is not prepared to carry out the terms of his engagement upon re-enlistment, and there is no means to compel him to do so, we might just as well have no provision for re-enlistment at all.
– There is another side to the picture. I presume that every honorable senator desires that men should be encouraged to reenlist. I have not the slightest doubt that if the penalty is continued it will, in a number of cases, act as a deterrent to reenlistment. There is no doubt some force in what Senator Givens has said. But we should do what we can to encourage men to re-enlist.
– Re-enlistment is of no use if a man is allowed to leave the service again next day.
– I admit that. But it must be very desirable to encourage men to re-enlist, and if we retain the penalty it is likely to deter men from reenlisting. I think that Senator McColl’s proposal should be agreed to.
– I should like to say that if members of the Defence Force are found to be physically fit, their reengagement after the short term of three years should not depend upon the whim of the commanding officer. A non-commissioned officer might come into conflict with his commanding officer, and, as the clause stands at present, he might consequently be unable to secure re-engagement. Many of these men are professional soldiers, and we should not leave the permanency of a man’s living dependent upon the whim of a commanding officer. Men may be sent up for medical examination at any time, and if they are physically unfit may be discharged. That is a sufficient power to hold over the non-commissioned officers and men of the Permanent Forces. I am prepared to accept Senator McColl’s amendment, because I think it would give these men something like security in their positions. I hope the amendment will be accepted by the Committee.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 8 and 9 agreed to.
Clause 10 -
The heading to Part IV. of the Principal Act and section fifty-nine of that Act. are amended by omitting the word “Militia” and inserting in lieu thereof the word “ Citizen.”
– I move -
That the word “ section “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ sections,” and that after the word “ fifty-nine “ the words “ seventy-five, and one hundred and twenty-four “ be inserted.
The reason for these alterations is that, as the clause was originally drafted, it was contemplated to alter one section, substituting for the word “ Militia “ the word “ Citizen.” It has since been discovered that there are two other sections in which the word “ Militia “ appears, and in which it is necessary there should be a similar alteration. The amendment 1 now submit covers the two sections which were overlooked in the first instance.
Amendments agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 11 -
Section sixty of the Principal Act is repealed, and the following section substituted in lieu thereof : - “60. - (1.) In time of war it shall be lawful for the Governor-General, by proclamation, to call upon all persons liable to serve in the Citizen Forces to enlist and serve as prescribed. “ (2.) A proclamation under the last preceding section may call upon all the persons liable to service in any military district or subdistrict……”
.- There appears to be one or two errors in this clause. A reference is made to a proclamation under the last preceding section, that is section 59, but there is no reference to a proclamation in that section. Later, the clause refers to “a district or sub-district.” But there is no definition of a sub-district in the Act.
– I move -
That the word “ section,” sub-clause 2, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “sub-section.”
That will correct the first error to which Senator McColl has directed attention.
Amendment agreed to.
Sitting suspended from6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 12 -
Section sixty-two of the Principal Act is repealed, and the following section substituted in lieu thereof : - “62. (1) All those liable to be trained as Junior Cadets shall be trained in physical drill, elementary marching drill, and the use of miniature rifles. The training shall be carried out in the manner and at the times prescribed. “Provided that where the required training is given by the masters of schools to the satisfaction of the prescribed officer, that training may be accepted as sufficient. “ (2.) All those liable to be trained as Senior Cadets shall be allotted to the Naval or Military Forces, and shall be trained in elementary naval or military exercises, and in musketry on open ranges up to distances of five hundred yards, and shall be organized in naval or military units. “ (3.) Uniform shall not be worn by Junior Cadets. Senior Cadets shall wear such uniform as is prescribed. . .
– I believe that you, sir, have the power to transpose the first two marginal notes to this clause, which at present are wrongly placed. When the Bill was introduced it provided for the prohibition of uniforms for junior cadets, but the amendment which I have risen to move will leave the way open for uniforms to be supplied or withheld according to regulation.
– That practically means that there will be uniforms.
Senitor MILLEN. - I am not pretending that it does not mean that, but it can only mean that if it is found desirable.
– That is, from the point of view of pressure?
– I have no doubt that the honorable senator is speaking in that way as the result of his experience in the Department, and that as he found it extremely convenient to yield to pressure, he presumes that others will follow his example. But he should remember that there are different kinds of pressure. I move -
That proposed new section 62 be amended by leaving out all the words down to and including the word “ prescribed,” in sub-clause 1 and inserting in lieu thereof the following words, “ A’l those liable to be trained as Junior Cadets shall be trained as prescribed and may be supplied with uniforms as prescribed.
I do not propose to speak at any length.
– Will the Minister tell us why the Government have changed their mind ?
– On further consideration of the question it has appeared to the Minister of Defence that there will be some considerable disability if the way is not left open to supply a simple uniform to the Junior Cadets. Otherwise he might have to come to Parliament with an amending Bill. On the other hand, if further investigation should indicate that it is not desirable there will be no compulsion upon him to introduce a uniform.
– Will the honorable senator allow the question of uniforms to be decided on non-party lines?
– 1 have no power to compel any honorable senator to vote. Let me remind the honorable senator, who has referred very frequently to divisions on nonparty lines, that I have yet to see a split in the party with which he is associated.
– On the amendment of Senator McColl the honorable senator saw Senator Givens opposing our party.
– -Yes: and occasionally one or two honorable senators from this side have voted with my honorable friend.
– I am with the Minister on this occasion.
– I am .very pleased to hear that, and, therefore, I have very much pleasure in accepting the proposition of Senator Pearce that the division on this amendment shall not be taken on party, lines.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South’ Wales) [7.50]. - I would suggest to the Minister that the best way in which to effect his amendment would be to amend subclause 3 of the proposed new section 62 so that it will read -
Cadets shall wear such uniform as is prescribed.
– That means that a uniform will be prescribed?
– I mean that a uniform shall be prescribed. I cannot submit an amendment at present, but I .feel inclined to speak against so much of the Minister’s amendment as would leave the matter of uniforms entirely open. I regard the amendment as an unsatisfactory way of dealing with a fairly large question, even if it does include small boys. I do not know what has been the rule in the Commonwealth, but in New South Wales’ I understand that the uniform of a junior cadet costs about 22s. 6d., and lasts for about three years. I believe that the parents willingly pay portion of the cost and the State the balance.
– Why should the parents be asked to do that?
– I do not think that the cost of the uniform ought to be paid by the parents. Whilst the Senior Cadets of Victoria have been a body remarkable for their ability, appearance, and enthusiasm, the Junior Cadets of New South Wales have not been behind-hand so far as their age and powers have permitted. They have been ‘and are numerous and reasonably effective. One of the worst features of this measure was the proposal to do away with the uniform for that which is to constitute the entire basis of the future Defence Force. I cannot understand how it can be expected that small boys will evince an enthusiasm for a service when from them is taken away a mark which gave them an element of distinction in the community as young soldiers. It would destroy esprit de corps if we turned the boys back into knickerbockers and ordinarygarments. I am in favour of an amendment which would make the wearing of a uniform compulsory. . I care not how simple or inexpensive it is. It must be paid for by the Commonwealth, and the matter should not be left to the whim of the Minister of the day, because one day we might have a Minister who would want to prescribe an extravagant uniform, and another day the whirligig of fate might bring along a Minister who would not have a uniform at all. So long as the question is to be left absolutely unsettled, as the Minister proposes, I regret my inability to see eye to eye with him. Last week, he objected to an amendment on the ground that it was indefinite. His amendment to this proposed new section is admittedly indefinite, inasmuch as he desires to leave the matter practically to the sweet will of the Minister of the day. We should have some finality in our legislation. We should approve- or disapprove of the wearing of a uniform. I want to vote for an amendment to be moved by my honorable friend which will remove the element of uncertainty, and I beg that he will submit his proposal in a form which will enable me to vote with him.
– I move-
That the amendment be amended by leaving out the words “ and may be supplied with uniforms as prescribed.”
I am very sorry that the Government have changed their mind on this question. I am satisfied that this proposed new section was not put into the Bill without consideration, and on pretty good advice. Senator Neild represents a mistaken view as to what the Junior Cadets are for, and what their training is to be. The Bill does not propose that they shall be part of the Defence Force. The honorable senator referred in most contemptuous terms to a similar Bill as one to provide for the training of legal infants for the defence of Australia. He scoffed at the very idea of a cadet system.
– The honorable senator knows that I never used such words in connexion with any Bill which was submitted to the Senate.
– No; but the honorable senator spoke in that way concerning a Bill which had been outlined by Mr. Fisher on similar lines, so far as the cadets were concerned.
– That may be, but the Bill was not drawn on similar lines.
– The Minister knowsthat the Junior Cadets are in no sense toreceive a military training, and are not to be part of the Defence Force. If we are to have a uniform, it must be worn by every junior cadet. Is it to be paid for by the Commonwealth? When I urged that the lads who are to receive military training should receive an additional year’s- instruction, it was contended that it would load the scheme too much. What will it cost to provide uniforms for the Junior Cadets? I venture to say that there will be at least 50,000 Junior Cadets, so that at £1 per uniform the cost would come to £50,000. The lads are passing out every year, and therefore new uniforms would be required.
– How does the honorable senator get at that number?
– I venture to say that there are 50,000 boys between twelve and fourteen years of age attending the State schools.
– The honorable senator’s own figures show that there would he 75,000 for four years.
– I estimated that there would be 75,000 Senior Cadets, but that system was only to apply to towns having a population of over 3,000. Does the Minister say that he is not going to extend the junior cadet system throughout the State schools?
– The restrictive clause in the Bill applies all round.
– I know that the Minister of Defence announced that the junior cadet system was to apply to all schools, State and private, and not merely to schools in districts where there was a population of 3,000 within a radius of 5 miles, as was the intention of the Fisher Government. If that is so, I am making a conservative estimate when I state that £50,000 will have to be found to provide uniforms. Surely it would be better and more sensible to use that money in giving another year’s training to lads between twenty and twenty-one years of age?
– The honorable senator is assuming that they will require a new uniform every year.
– The uniform which will be purchased when a lad enters the
Cadet Force will serve him only for two years. Therefore, we shall have to face an initial expenditure of £50,000 upon cadet uniforms, and a subsequent expenditure of £25,000 annually. Now it would be far better to spend that money in lengthening the period of training in camps by a single day, or, indeed, in any other direction. Here, it is proposed, that it shall be spent merely upon idle show. It is nonsense to suggest that a uniform is necessary in connexion with a compulsory system of physical drill. It is not necessary to supply uniforms to induce boys to join the Junior Cadets. They have to join. Will anybody tell me that the boys atttending our public schools do not march properly because they are not supplied with uniforms? The physical drill which they will have to undergo will form a part of the school curriculum. Where then is the necessity for providing them with a uniform? They are not required to take part in field movements until they become Senior Cadets. Under these circumstances I appeal to the Committee not to waste money in the way that is proposed. It was necessary to attract lads to the old voluntary cadet system by providing them with a uniform, but under the compulsory system which is outlined .in this Bill, no such step is needed. Further, as the clause does not declare that the Department shall supply the uniforms; we may revert to the old system under which class distinctions were created on account of the inability of some parents to provide their sons with uniforms.
– That -is an argument against the Boy Scouts.
– The Boy Scouts are a voluntary organization. The Vice- President of the Executive Council professes to be opposed to any unnecessary expenditure under this Bill, and yet he coolly moves for an extension of it which will involve the Commonwealth in a considerable outlay. I say that if once this clause be passed, the Minister is not born who will be able to resist the pressure which will be brought to bear upon him by fond parents who wish to sec their lads in uniforms.
– I think that the amendment by the Vice-President of the Executive Council will commend itself as a desirable, via media. I quite agree with a great dea’l that has been said in reference to the wearing of expensive uniforms by officers. We can have far too much in the way of uniforms. But 1 strongly disagree with the idea that our Citizen Forces generally ought to have no uniforms. If there were any boy between the age of twelve and fourteen years, who would be prevented from joining the Cadet Force, owing to the inability of his parents to provide him with a uniform, I should sympathize with the remarks of Senator Pearce. But I do not know of any case in Queensland in which the sons of the poorest parents have been prevented from joining the Cadets for that reason. I admit that it may not be necessary to provide lads who are between twelve and fourteen years of age with a uniform which will cost 10s. or 12s. What the Vice-President of the Executive Council asks is that the Minister of Defence shall be vested with discretion to prescribe some sort of uniform for our Junior Cadets. Should experience prove that a uniform wild assist in consolidating the Cadet Force, no doubt it will be provided. In that case I am sure that the Minister will take care to cut down its price as far as possible so that it is the veriest hypocrisy’ for anybody to urge that the children of any workmen will be unable to obtain it.
– Under this clause the Government will supply the uniform.
– Do the Government intend to supply it?
– The proposal is that it may be supplied as prescribed.
– Then all that Senator Pearce aims at will be achieved by the clause. No Minister of Defence is likely to unnecessarily pile up expenditure by prescribing a uniform which will cost even £1.
– What about the pressure from without ?
– A Minister who cannot resist outside influence is not fit for his position. Further, Parliament will be able to control the expenditure in that connexion. I desire simplicity in the matter of uniforms from the top to the bottom of our Defence Force. But I think that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will be prepared to give us an assurance that the expenditure upon uniforms for Junior Cadets will be rigidly cut down.
– I do not gather from this clause whether the training of lads between twelve and fourteen years of age will be undertaken exclusively in public schools.
If it will be, I imagine that the lads will never have occasion to go outside the schoolyard. That being so, 1 see no reason why they should be provided with uniforms. I take it that they will simply be put through physical exercises, either with clubs or dumbbells, within the school-grounds, and when performing evolutions of that character the less clothing they are required ‘to wear the better will it be for them. But I do not understand how trace is to be ‘kept of lads between twelve and fourteen years of age who have left school. In South Australia any boy of ordinary intelligence can pass the compulsory educational standard at ten years of age. As Chairman of a School Board of Advice 1 have no hesitation in saying that hundreds have passed the examination at that age.
– Can they obtain work before they are fourteen years of age?
– Yes. When they have passed the compulsory standard they are exempt from attending” school.
– That is an excellent argument in favour of making the period of their physical training extend from ten to fourteen years of age.
– I fail to see how trace can be kept of boys from twelve to fourteen years of age who are exempt from attending school. Some of them, are the sons of widowed mothers, and the latter are very glad for them to go out into the world and earn a little. Who will provide them with the necessary apparatus for their physical training? I venture to say that there are more lads between twelve and fourteen years of age outside of our public schools than are to be found in them. Then, I would ask whether every boy. is to be subjected to exactly the same drill? I recognise that by putting a weak chested lad through certain physical exercises it is possible to absolutely ruin him. I think that some medical inspection ought to be provided which will insure that every lad shaM be put through that physical exercise which is best suited to him - that which will develop him and make him a strong and robust lad. If we are not going to do that,, we shall do more harm than good. I do not see that such instruction is provided for in the Bill.
– Yes, provision is made for it.
– I am satisfied if provision is made for medical inspection which will insure that a boy will not be subjected to a drill too severe for him. I should like the Minister to withdraw the proposal to provide uniforms for the little fellows.
– The Minister has said that the supplying of the uniforms would be left to the discretion of the Minister of Defence. That means that if we had a Minister who was inclined to cut down his vote, he would probably expect the parents to supply uniforms for their boys. That would lead to an element of discrimination. Imagine the position of a boy whose parents could not afford to pay for his uniform. He would be constantly reminded by his class fellows of the fact that he was in a different position from them.
– That would not occur, because the uniform would be provided by the Government.
– I am satisfied on that point, if I am given to understand that under no circumstances would the parents have to pay for uniforms. The Minister, when he spoke, did not seem to be clear in his own mind as to how they would be supplied. There is another objection which should be borne in mind, namely, the positive cruelty of expecting lads to wear uniforms of military pattern under a hot sun in the tropical parts of Australia. Military authorities in Western Australia have assured me that no purpose is to be served by compelling youngsters to wear uniforms, and that it would be cruelty to expect them to wear tunics while going through exercises in a broiling sun. There would be no objection to letting boys wear badges of . distinction ; but to clothe them in tight-fitting uniforms which they would burst through in a year or two, would be positive foolishness. I shall vote against the amendment, in the belief that “it is unnecessary, and that the money proposed to be devoted to the purchase of uniforms might be better applied to improving our defences in other directions.
– 1 am sorry that the Government propose to depart from a sound and sensible proposition contained in the’ Bill, to the effect that the younger boys who are trained shall not wear uniforms. Whatever arguments may be used for giving uniforms to the Senior Cadets, 1 cannot appreciate any argument for supplying uniforms to the little fellows whom it is proposed to train. This is one of the least defensible ways of adding to the cost of our military system. lt may lead to killing the whole scheme. Later on, we shall have quite enough to do to provide for essentials, and should be careful at this stage not to throw money away on uniforms for growing boys. No boy. at school at the age of twelve could wear a suit of clothes for two years.
– The boys would not wear their uniforms every day.
– They would surely perform their exercises every day, otherwise the exercises would be of very little use; and if they are not to wear the uniforms when doing their exercises, when are they to be worn ?
– Boys could not swing clubs if they wore uniforms.
– Certainly not. A boy is much more comfortable in an ordinary suit of clothes. It would be folly to expect boys in the warmer portions of Australia to do their exercises in uniform. Clothing that might be suitable in Tasmania or Victoria, would be quite out of place in Western Australia. Apparently, the decorative military school desire to carry their ideas to such lengths as even to put our boys in uniforms. This is a very grave mistake for the Minister to make. He is taking a short cut to bringing the whole scheme into ridicule and disrepute. We already have, in connexion with our regiments, too many elements of distinction. We see some regiments parading in kilts. I have seen more kilts in Australia than I saw in Scotland. What with the St. George’s Rifles and their box spurs, and the Scottish Regiment with their kilts, we are in danger of bringing our whole defence system- into ridicule. The sooner we wipe out these distinctive features the better. At any rate, I hope that the Committee will r.ot agree to the amendment.
– I am not quite clear as to what is meant by a uniform in this case. If it is meant to give the boys some little distinctive badge, I see no objection.
– That is possible; but not probable. The amendment will mean, in practice, the whole bag of tricks.
– I should be inclined to vote for the adoption of a distinctive badge to be worn by a boy as an indication that he had commenced his training as a defender of his country. Probably, that would lead to the development of a feeling of patriotism and esprit de corps-, which would be good for the boys. But I regard with some alarm the idea of spending £20,000 or £30,000 a year on uniforms for boys. I think that Senator Pearce’s estimate of £50,000 is beyond the mark. I can conceive of a uniform that would not cost more than 10s., or 15s. at the outside.
– The present uniforms cost 22s. 6d.
– These boys will not be, strictly speaking, part of our Defence Force; but we propose to commence training them physically in order that some day they may be defenders of their country. To put them into uniform while undergoing physical training would be both unduly costly and inconvenient. I shall vote against the amendment.
.- I wish to elicit from the Minister some information to guide me in the vote I shall give. I wish to know whether the Government intend to make no distinction in the uniforms to be provided for all the boys who will have to undergo this particular drill.
– That is so.
– Then we are to understand that the Government will provide all the boys attending every school throughout the Commonwealth with a certain uniform free of charge.
– And many who will not be attending the schools.
– We are told that the Junior Cadets must put in 120 hours drill in each year. That will mean half an hour’s drill every school day. So that it will be necessary for these boys to attend school in uniform every day.
– Does the Minister confirm that statement?
– I understand that the boys are to go through physical drill for about thirty minutes every school day,
– Not necessarily every day. They are to go through 120 hours * drill every year.
– That will represent about half an hour’s drill every school day. I should like to know what this uniform means. I attend a physical culture school, and I enjoy the exercises I go through in a uniform which consists of a. sweater, a pair of knickers, and a pair of shoes., better ‘ than T should do if T attempted to go through them in mv ordinary clothes. ‘ I am sure that the boys would rather go through their exercises in such a uniform than in their ordinary clothes. If it is made clear that the uniform is not to be of a character which would inculcate in the boys a military spirit I shall not object. If it is to be such as would be prescribed by an instructor in physical culture, I shall be prepared to support it. The uniform should not be such as would inculcate the military spirit, but such as would make it easy for the boys to go through their exercises. ,
– And make it easy for the parents to supply them with uniforms.
– Yes, if that is the kind of uniform proposed I shall be prepared to support the amendment.
.- I think it would be a pity if the extreme views of either Senator Neild or Senator Pearce were adopted. We must assume that the persons who will have charge of this matter will be possessed of some common sense. They will not put the boys into strait- jackets, but will have some regard for the exercises which must be gone through, and for the conditions of the climate. I think that the Minster has endeavoured to hit the happy medium between the extreme proposals made, but unfortunately we are not quite clear as to what the uniform proposed is likely to be. If it is to be distinctive and at the same time suitable for the exercises no objection can be taken to it. We must give these lads some uniform which will distinguish them from the lads who will not be going through these exercises, to show that they have been honored by being entered in the ranks of His Majesty’s soldiers. I think it would lie an improvement upon the amendment to insert after the word “uniform” the words “ in whole or in part.” I believe that honorable senators are agreed as to the kind of uniform desired if we could hit upon the exact terms in which £0 describe it.
– Before the Vice-President of the Executive Council replies to the various questions which have been put to him. we should consider whether the uniform suggested in the amendment is to be one in which the boys will go to school, wear while they are at school, and wear on their way home again. There would be something in such a proposal, but I do not think that that is what is intended. If that is not what is intended I am afraid that the parents of the children will not be assisted as some honorable senators think, they should be. If the uniform were to be a pair of knickers, a sweater, and a. cap, as suggested by Senator Findley, the boys would not be able to wear it going to school. They would have to go in their ordinary clothes to school, and when the hour for their physical exercises arrived, they would have to change their ordinary clothes for the uniform, and at the close of the exercises change again into their ordinary clothes. If that is the idea, thenthere is nothing in it. That would be of no assistance to the parents, but it would” involve a serious charge upon them with very little advantage to the boys. At present lads at school discard some of their ordinary clothing when going through physical drill. As a rule they go through physical exercises in a shirt and trousers. If it is proposed that the uniform should consist merely of a distinctive cap or belt to show that the boys are junior cadets, I think no honorable senator would object to that. The Vice-President of the Executive Council would do well to explain to the Committee just what the amendment really means.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [8.41]. - I think I can throw a, little light upon this discussion. I have takenthe trouble to go to the Library and have brought back a few figures which will be of interest to honorable senators who takean interest in this question. I intend to direct the attention of the Committee to theuniform worn by the Boy Scouts. In New South Wales at the present time there are between 6,000 and 10,000 Boy Scouts, whowear a uniform which after* all meansmerely a distinctive dress. The Boy Scoutsform a voluntary body, and in view of the fact that they were associated in England with the Army manoeuvres there, the work of the organization is not to be set on oneside as merely child’s play.
– They are getting, excellent physical training.
– That is so.. We have thousands of these boy scouts at present wearing a distinctive dress or uniform, and it would be upending things altogether to provide that the State school’ soldier should wear no uniform whilst thesemembers of a voluntary organization are all clothed in uniform. Quoting from theofficial organ of the Boy Scouts, I find that the’ prices of the various articles of their uniform are as follow : There isa khaki shirt, which is a garment open at the neck after the style of the jumper of a sailor suit. It is merely a shirt which is tucked into whatever dark coloured pants the Boy Scouts wear. It costs 2s. 6d. Then there is a leather belt, a pouch, straps for carrying a great coat, a knife and sheath, together costing 2s. id. The hat, of the Baden-Powell pattern, costs 3s. There is a haversack for carrying rations required during the day which costs is. sd., and a muffler to protect the boys’ throats in cold weather costing is.
– And a broom handle.
– The Boy Scouts provide the broom handles themselves. The whole outfit costs about 10s., including a knife, a sheath, a belt, and straps for carrying an overcoat. I think that we have in some such scheme as that a solution which will commend itself to the majority as supplying a useful garb, fulfilling all the propositions which have been made about lightness and ease, and meeting all the objections about the tightly buttoned, and altogether too thick, clothing which I see small boys wearing about Melbourne streets. I think that the grey olive shade of cloth which is worn here is a great deal too heavy for active work. For dumb-bell exercise it is out of place, except possibly in the winter months.
– These boys will not go on parade. They will never go outside the school grounds.
– The idea is that, on occasions, the boys will go outside the school grounds. Many ideas have been thrown out. I have not made any new suggestion, but simply indicated to the Committee that which is being worn by thousands of boys in New South Wales in connexion with a movement which is rapidly extending to other parts of the Commonwealth. I dare say that within a few months there will be from 10,000 to 15,000 boys in the Commonwealth garbed in this free, easy, and inexpensive manner.
– Is the clothing provided by the parents or by the State?
– Tt is provided by the parents.
– I wonder, whether the Minister recognises the danger underlying his amendment. I have listened to arguments from both sides of the chamber, and it is only fair to say that the position put forward by Senator Pearce has not yet been attempted to be answered. I give Senator St. Ledger credit for having put forward, as usual, a fanciful idea, which, though possibly embellished with his own views, points to a very great danger underlying the amendment. He has pointed out that if the question is left entirely to the Minister, he will keep the cost of the uniform at the lowest possible point. Whilst one Minister might approve of a brass button being worn on the lappel of the coat, another Minister might desire a ,.ap to be worn, and still another Minister might direct the use of other articles. After having listened here for six years to very many speeches on the question of defence, and quite a number with reference to the decoration of our defenders, I am convinced that some day we shall have a Minister who will run the country almost to ruin in his desire to look at a nicely decorated person in arms.
– He could not do that against the will of Parliament.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council has not proposed that the choice of a uniform shall be made subject to the approval of Parliament. What he means by his amendment is that it shall be left subject to the will of the Minister.
– What is the* meaning of the words “as prescribed”?
– That means a regulation issued by the authority of the Minister.
– Subject to the approval of Parliament.
- Senator St. Ledger was perfectly right when he stated that the Minister of Defence would have full control, and would be able to weigh his wants by his means. There are many persons who have very little regard for the use to which a soldier should .be put, and there are some who have a great desire to see a soldier decorated like a peacock. Surely it is not necessary that the boys should have uniforms when being drilled in club swinging? In some parts of Australia, a man who swung clubs in a sweater would be regarded as a new chum.
– The honorable senator does not want to make it appear that the same kind of uniform will be worn all over Australia?
– That is one of the substantial arguments put forward by Senator Pearce why uniforms should not be worn By boys between twelve and fourteen years of age. Undoubtedly, the boys will be trained in the schools for halfanhour each day, because the Bill does not mate provision for them to be trained’ elsewhere.
– Then half of them will not be trained.
– I fully recognise that difficulty. Surely every one will admit that there are schools which now give all the physical training which will be. required of the lads by the Bill ? Perhaps, not all of them, but certainly a large number of the boys, and the girls too’, are to-day receiving a physical training which will not be eclipsed by that which is laid down in this measure. At present, no uniform is worn. The boys carry their clubs and broomsticks to school, and are taught physical exercise day after day. What we are aiming at is to compel all boys who go to school to perform this drill, if physically fit, according to the provisions of the law. As the drill will be given within the precincts of the schools, there is no necessity to provide for uniforms. Senator Vardon pointed out a serious difficulty when he suggested that a large number of boys between twelve and fourteen years of age would not be trained. Clever lads, whose parents are oppressed by the conditions of life, are forced to seek employment as soon as they succeed in getting a permit. Unquestionably there is alarge number of such boys.
– A large number ?
– Unfortunately, there is. I would rather that every boy should remain at school until he was fourteen years of age; in fact, I wish we could compel every boy to go to school until he was sixteen years of age, and that we could make the conditions such as would enable parents to do without assistance from their sons until that age was reached. We are confronted with a difficulty which the Bill does not seek to overcome. It is certainly one which ought to be carefully considered by the Minister. I know a school in a country town where, every year, a very large percentage of the boys receive a permit to work at the age of twelve years,or very little over that age-
– And plenty who are under that age get a permit.
– Some do. In most cases, the lads are drafted out to whatever employment can be found for them. Unless better provision is made in the Bill, the physical training of such boys will be neglected. 1 Tecognise, of course, that when the age of fourteen years is reached, every lad who is physically fit will become a senior cadet. I trust that the Committee will not empower the Minister to order even a button to be worn on a cadet’s coat. The lads ought to be trained in the clothes which they ordinarily wear at school.
– It seems to me that we are liable to forget that the Junior Cadets are to be trained, not in a military school, but in the ordinary schools of the State. If we attempt to make them all soldiers, at an expense of £25,000 a year, according to Senator Pearce, or 10s. each, perhaps less, according to Senator Neild, if we give them only a cap, we shall still saddle the country with the onus of providing the uniform, whatever it may be, for practically all the boys between twelve and fourteen years of age, because proposed new. section 125 reads -
All made inhabitants of Australia (excepting those who are exempted by this Act), who have resided therein for six months, and are British subjects, shall be liable to be trained, as prescribed, as follows -
From twelve to fourteen years of age, in the Junior Cadets;
If we decide to provide these boys with uniforms we shall be undertaking a very large order indeed. As Senator Vardon has already pointed out, the great majority of these lads will never be required to go outside the school yards to obtain their physical drill, and there is no necessity to attempt to breed a military spirit in children of that age. I hope that the Committee will hesitate before vesting theMinister of Defence with discretionary power to provide these lads with uniforms.
– In the course of this rather comprehensive discussion one or two questions have been raised on which I should like to make an observation or two. I was rather surprised at the remarks made by some honorable senators, one of whom pictured these poor cadets in uniforms costing half a sovereign each as “ gilded soldiers.”
– That is an absolute misrepresentation.
– My honorable friend spoke of “ gilded soldiers.” But I would ask him what connexion there is between a poor, inoffensive lad who is obtaining instruction in physical drill at school, and who is clothed in a simple uniform costing jos. or 15s. and a “gilded soldier”? “ It requires a very big effort of the imagination to picture any one of these plainly-clothed cadets as a “ gilded soldier.” Senator Vardon has raised the question of how trace is to be kept of boys between twelve and fourteen years of age who are not attending school. That is a matter upon which it is not possible for me to make any definite pronouncement now. All I can say is that such lads will not escape their obligation to undergo physical training. Proposed new section 62 provides -
All those liable to be trained as Junior Cadets shall be trained in physical drill, elementary marching drill, and the use of miniature rifles. The training shall be carried out in the manner and at the times prescribed ;
Provided that where the required training is given by the masters of schools to the satisfaction of the prescribed officers, that training may be accepted as sufficient.
If a boy is not under the master of a school it will be the duty of the Defence Department to see that he receives physical drill at such places and times as may be considered convenient.
– That will mean expenditure.
– -Exactly. That is why it is not possible for me definitely to lay down the conditions under which the training will be supplied. Another question has been raised by Senators Findley and Lynch. They need entertain no doubt that under this proposal at it stands the uniforms, if authorized, will be supplied by the Defence Department. Senator Findley desires me to tell him what those uniforms will be like. I must frankly admit that I cannot do so, nor, indeed, can any other man. The amendment merely provides that the uniforms shall be “as prescribed.” One Minister may prescribe a certain uniform to-day and another Minister may prescribe a different one tomorrow.
– That is not good enough for me.
– But every regulation framed by the Minister must receive the approval of this and the other branch of the Legislature. It must be subject to review and challenge. In addition, Parliament will exercise a measure of control over the supply of uniforms in connexion with the Appropriation Bill.
– Seeing that some thousands of cadets possess khaki uniforms today, it is pretty certain that that style of uniform will, be continued.
– The honorable senator has reminded me of a circumstance which must necessarily come under review when this matter is considered. It is that a large number of our cadets already possess uniforms, and entertain a strong objection to parting with them. It would astonish honorable senators to learn the attachment which exists between these lads and their uniforms. We should require to call out the Citizen Forces to take those uniforms from them. Senator Neild has made a suggestion which has a great deal to recommend it from a practical stand-point, and assuming that the amendment is approved by the Committee, I shall certainly bring it under the notice of my colleague the Minister of Defence. This provision has designedly been left open, because of the difficulty that has been experienced in determining what course we ought to take. At present we cannot lay down the exact nature of the uniform which will be supplied, or say the expenditure which will be incurred upon it. These matters must be left to regulation.
– Could we not put the cadets in Baden-Powell hats and Wellington boots?
– I can hardly conceive of any Minister of Defence doing that. In this provision, it is not proposed to do anything more than to leave the matter open. If the Committee agree to it in its present form, and the Minister upon inquiry finds that it will be advantageous to prescribe by regulation a simple and inexpensive uniform, it will be competent for him to do so. That regulation will be subject to review by both branches of the Legislature. If, on the contrary, he does not prescribe a uniform the position will remain just as it is to-day. Under all the circumstances I ask the Committee to agree to the amendment as it stands.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out, be left out (Senator Pearce’s amendment of Senator Millen’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …2
Question so resolved. in the affirmative.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 13 -
Section sixty-three of the Principal Act is amended by inserting therein, after paragraph (d), the following paragraphs : - ” (da) Establish and maintain factories for the manufacture of naval and military equipment and uniforms ; ” (db) Authorize the employment of persons in a civil capacity for any purpose in connexion with the Defence Force, or in any factory established in pursuance of this Act;” and by adding thereto the following subsection : - “ (2.) Persons employed in a civil capacity in pursuance of this section shall not be subject to the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1902, but shall be engaged for such periods and shall be subject to such conditions as are prescribed.”
– I move -
That after paragraph (db) the following paragraph be inserted : - (dc) “ Establish and maintaindepots and farms for the breeding and rearing of horses for military purposes.”
The original Act gives power to the Government to acquire, or build, and arm vessels, and to construct and maintain forts, ammunition factories, artillery and rifle ranges, and other defence works. The Bill before us also proposes to give power to the Government to establish and maintain factories for the manufacture of military clothing. My amendment proposes to give power to establish farms for the breed ing of horses for defence purposes. Honorable senators who have at different times watched military manoeuvres and reviews must have been struck by the unsuitableness of the horses used by the Field Artillery. It has been the custom of the Department to hire, and naturally many of the horses so obtained were not very suitable for the work. Manoeuvres have sometimes been spoilt for that reason. The expense of hiring has been considerable, and the system has been condemned by the best military authorities. On a recent occasion, the Minister of Defence admitted that £5,000 per annum was being spent on hiring unsuitable horses. During the present year, a Committee was appointed to consider this question. It consisted of Mr. James. Hutchison, M.P., representing the Minister, Major Grimwade, of the Field Artillery, and Major Dangar, Director of Artillery. They reported that the present method is. altogether unsuitable, and made certain recommendations, giving their reasons for advocating that the Government shouid own artillery horses. They urged that untrained horses hamper training, and have in many cases proved a positive danger. Further, that they bring ridicule on the troops. The Committee urged that the hiring system was very much more expensive in proportion to the efficiency obtained than would be a system of breeding and training. Another reason is that the hiring system only gives four horses per gun during military manoeuvres, whereas the proper number is six per gun. In consequence of having only four to a gun, heavier horses are used, and this further militates against the success of manoeuvres. The Committee furnished a comprehensive table of figures showing the number of horses required under the proposed system.
– How many?
– The number they give is 1,352, namely, 768 horses for the Field Artillery, and 584 riding horses.
– Is no provision made for mounted regiments.
– No; the report relates only to the Artillery. Apparently no consideration was given to mounted infantry. During, the South African war, mounted infantry was the most useful arm in the field, and probably in the event of hostilities would be found to be the most useful branch of the Australian defence system. We must have a suitable supply of horses in order that our troops may be mounted, and re-mounted, in case their services are required for the defence of the country. The Committee pointed out that the saving in money would be £21,552 per annum; and they summed up as follows -
The Committee are of the opinion that the question of breeding horses is worthy of the immediate attention of the Government. Horsebreeding has been carried on for a long period in South Australia, on a limited scale, in connexion with the post and telegraph services, and has been found very satisfactory and profitable.
Attached is a report supplied by the Deputy Postmaster-General of South Australia.
The Committee feel satisfied, from extensive information gathered, that (he establishment of a horse-breeding stations, if only for renewals, would still further decrease the annual expenditure on the proposed scheme.
The Committee pointed out that the Post and Telegraph Department in South Australia has for a number of years bred horses for the purposes of . the overland telegraph system.
– Will the honorable senator give the actual facts about that?
– I was about to do so. On the line between Adelaide and Port Darwin, 342 horses are used. The whole of them have been bred at the various stations along the line. In a report furnished to the Military Committee, it is pointed out that when the construction of the overland telegraph line was completed, a number of mares which had been used in connexion with the work, instead of being sold, were divided amongst the various stations along the line. A stallion was procured, and sent from station to station. The result has been that not only have enough horses been bred to do all the work on the overland line, but the Department has been able to supply other stations at Streaky Bay, and down the West Coast with horses bred by the Government.
– Can the honorable senator furnish any information as to the breeding of horses for the State Police Forces?
– I believe that the police do not breed their own horses. When Sir Philip Fysh was PostmasterGeneral, a number of surplus horses bred at the overland telegraph line stations were sold. Speaking from memory, I think the sales realized something like £7°°- The Military Committee estimate that three men and two or three blackfellows would be sufficient for each of the different stations established for horse-breeding purposes. Sure.’y it would be quite easy to proceed immediately to increase the number of horses bred at the telegraph stations, and to utilize them for military purposes. If the horses that are being bred for the work of the Post and Telegraph Department are not of the kind required, it would be an easy matter to procure mares and stallions for the breeding of horses useful for military purposes. Of course, the horses used by artillery would require to be heavier than those used by mounted infantry ; but all kinds of horses might be bred in unlimited numbers in Central Australia, and at a very low cost indeed. In one of the reports, it is mentioned that the whole cost of horses bred there for the Post and Telegraph Department is 30s. per head.
– Nothing has been allowed for the cost of the dam or sire. ,
– That would be a first cost which would have to be provided for; but what would be the progeny of one sire and a number of dams if they were allowed to continue breeding in such a place as Central Australia ?
– That would depend on whether the drought carried them off in the first year or the second year.
– If the sires and mares were properly selected, it would be possible to breed a very great number of all kinds of horses suitable for’ military purposes. If the Defence Department wish to purchase a horse to-day, they cannot secure one suitable for their requirements for less than £30.
– A man who breeds horses at Oodnadatta sends them here and gets from £30 to £35 per head for them.
– That is so. The Federal Government is proposing to take over that part of Australia, and it would be possible to breed an unlimited number of horses there. We shall require, in -the near future, thousands of horses for military purposes ; and it seems to me that as we have extended the scope of our defence law by enabling the Governor-General in Council to establish clothing factories and ammunition factories, we might go further and permit the establishment of farms for the breeding of horses for military purposes, and of depots in which to keep them. What 1 propose is to include in the Bill a permissive power which, if it were not used, would entail no expense. Such a provision might easily and simply be inserted in the Bill now, whereas, if in the course of a year or two it was found necessary that the Government should have this power, special legislation would be required for the purpose.
– Senator Story seems to have fallen into the same error as the members of the Committee who prepared the report from which he has quoted. The honorable senator has referred to the disadvantages and cost of the hiring system. In that I agree with him entirely. But, like the members of the Commit :ee, the honorable senator assumes that the only remedy is breeding. He has overlooked the fact that there is an alternative, and that is the owning of horses by the Government.
– Breeding is very much cheaper than buying would be.
– That is the honorable senator’s opinion, but it is not the experience of a large number of men. I venture to say that I could almost count on the fingers of one hand the men who in New South Wales have devoted themselves solely to horse-breeding, and have managed to keep out of the Insolvency Court.
– How much per acre did their land cost?
– I have said that I am with the honorable senator as to the inconveniences and cost of the hiring system. What is more, the disabilities under which the Department has laboured in the past on this account will, no doubt, be increased in the future, because we are proposing the adoption of a compulsory system under which we shall have practically continuous periods of training.
– All of which will not be in holiday time.
– Exactly. The hiring system is absolutely condemned, and has been justified in the past, only because of the limited periods for which horses were required. Some other system must be adopted ; but I hope that the Committee will hesitate before it approves of Senator Story’s proposal at this juncture. The alternative to which I think the Department should have recourse is one which they have ample power at present to adopt, and that is to buy their horses.
– Just now the honorable senator told us that we could get as many as we required at Oodnadatta. Horses are to be had, it is merely a ques(ion of paying a price for them.
– Does not the honorable senator know that horses are now, and have been for some years, very scarce?
– They are scarce, and so are sovereigns ; but both are in the country, and to be had. If Senator Story desires to get a £4.0 horse for £30, he will not get it in Australia; but I could get him a £30 horse for £35 every time 1 tried.
– The honorable senator could not get 2,000 horses suitable for military purposes in Australia in the next six months.
– Could we breed that number in that time?
– Certainly not.
– I will undertake to buy horses more rapidly and economically than the honorable senator will breed them.
– That is a silly argument.
– We could not make sure that we should be able to meet future requirements if we trusted to private people only to breed horses.
– Senator Story has been talking about the breeding of horses in the centre of Australia. The honorable senator went into an elaborate calculation, the results of which I am glad he did not give the Committee, to show that one dam would in a few years have a numerous progeny. If such enormous profits might be derived from the breeding of horses as the honorable senator suggested, men would have gone in for breeding them long ago, and would have made fortunes. As a matter of fact, there is no class of stock breeding in which the risks are so great, and the results so precarious as they are in horsebreeding.
– The honorable senator should have accompanied the party that went to Oodnadatta.
– I do not know Oodnadatta, but I do know an enormous stretch of country of somewhat similar character in- the western portion of my own State, where horse-breeding has been carried on. I do not wish to decry the country in the neighbourhood of Oodnadatta in any way, but it is admitted that it has a very light rainfall. It necessarily follows that in such country there are periods of years in which the rainfall is so small that the fatalities to stock are very great. That is the great drawback to horse-breeding in any district such as the western division of my own State. The land is cheap enough, but it has been invariably found that the class of stock, the breeding of which involves the greatest elements of risk owing to precarious seasons, is large stock, and of large stock the risks in the case of horses are greatest. In the report to which Senator Story referred, the Committee pointed out that a saving of £20,000 per annum might be made bv the breeding of horses.
– By the owning of horses ; and an additional saving by breeding them.
– If Senator Storysuggests the desirability of the Defence Department owning these horses, I am with him. But I cannot conceive the adoption of a system under which horses would be trained to a particular kind of work for military purposes, used for that work for a week or two, and then handed over to a variety of hands to be used for other kinds of work during the rest of the year.
– That is what it is advocated should be done with the horses to be bred by the Government.
-The Committee proposed that horses bred by the Government should be trained for military work and then used to carry butchers’ baskets, or for other useful purposes. The financial proposals of the report have onlyto be considered to be condemned. They are based on the assumption that horses purchased for about £30 per head should be used by the Department for purposes of training, and then hired out to various individuals under most restrictive conditions, and the Committee anticipated that the Department would receive a rental for them of about £20 per head per year. No man in Australia would pay £20 a year for the hire of a Government horse which might be called in for Government purposes at a moment’s notice, and at a time when it would be most inconvenient for the person hiring the horse to lose its services, especially when he would be under all sorts of restrictions as to the use . to which he should put it. The Committee propose, for instance, that persons hiring these horses should not be allowed to use them for ploughing, or for anything that could be described as heavy draught. They assume that the person hiring one of these horses would keep it as a sort of fancy animal for light jobs about the place, subject to conditions of shoeing and veterinary attendance which the average horse in Aus tralia never gets, and that for less thana year’s use of the animal he would pay twothirds of its market value. The average Australian who uses horses is not quite such a fool as to do that. I would advise Senator Story not to press his amendment now. He might submit an amendment substituting the ownership of horses by the Department for the hiring system, but that would be unnecessary because the Department and the Minister of Defence favour the ownership of horses. I suggest to the Committee that we have not yet sufficient information on the subject, and Senator Story has not” made out a sufficiently good case to induce us to launch out into this new experiment.
– My proposal is merely permissive.
– Quite so. We might be told that it does not mean anything, but on the strength of it we might find that some Government had committed the Commonwealth to the experiment. The matter is one in connexion with which a definite proposal should be made before any expense is incurred. When a definite scheme has been thought out the Government contemplating it should bring down a specific proposal.
– They would have to do that in any case, in order to get the money.
– I do not know. Sometimes Governments have committed the country to expenditure, and it has then been a question of throwing good money after bad.
– A Commonwealth Government spent £200,000 or £300,000 only a little time ago without authority.
– No, with the absolute authority of Panliament.
– I leave the amendment to the Committee with what I have said upon it.
. -I hope Senator Story will not withdraw the amendment. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has exhibited a great deal of unnecessary alarm. As Senator Story pointed out, under the original Act, the Government are given the power, if they think it desirable or necessary, to establish clothing factories, ammunition factories, and so on. But not one of those things is compulsory upon the Government. Nor would the establishment of horse-breeding farms be compulsory if the amendment were carried. But a time might come when the Government of the day would find that it was opportune to do so, and then they would have the necessary power to ‘act. I am sure that no one need be alarmed at the prospect of awakening one morning and finding that the Government had established horse-breeding farms, or anything else of the kind, throughout Australia. Any action of that description would be only taken after a good deal of investigation and consideration, and I am sure that it would be undertaken bv a Government which could count upon the support of Parliament. The establishment of horsebreeding farms would be dealt with in exactly the same way as the establishment of clothing and ammunition factories. I hope that the Committee will see the wisdom of inserting a permissive provision, which may be availed of whenever an opportune time arrives.
– I desire to support the amendment for a reason which I think has not yet been mentioned. If we are to get the best service from our mounted infantry, our artillery, and other branches of the military service which require horses, we shall need to have the best class of horses for that purpose which can be procured. In the circumstances in which horse-breeding is now carried on in Australia, it is not possible to secure the best class of horses for that work. I have dabbled a little in horse-breeding, and I know that throughout Australia it is carried on in the most promiscuous fashion, and without any thought or care for breeding any particular stamp of animal, except in a very few cases. A good deal of attention is bestowed on the breeding of first-class racehorses and a first-class stamp of heavy draught horse. But those are not the classes of horses which we require, although they may be good material to draw upon in order to build up a suitable stock. Outside those two classes, the breeding of horses is carried on in the most haphazard and promiscuous fashion. Every little farmer who has one or two horses has an old mare of a nondescript character, which he puts to the nearest stallion, without thought as to what the progeny may be.
– That is just the class of breeding which has been going on along the overland telegraph line.
– Probably. I think that the honorable gentleman will agree that my general statement as to the kind of horse-breeding which is carried on is fairly accurate. In order to obtain the best class of horses for military purposes, we want to establish a better system, with a definite purpose in view. We cannot rely upon the promiscuous efforts of the little men who are breeding one or two horses a year. There must be a consistent and systematized effort by some one who will have a definite object to attain, and plenty of money to back it up with. The only body which I can think of as having the necessary enterprise, the proper object in view, and the necessary funds is the body which will need the horses. The Commonwealth would be in exceptionally favorable circumstances for carrying on the project. It would be able to procure the best stock, and to set aside in the Northern Territory a suitable area for the purpose at practically no cost. In addition to the advantage which it would be from the military point of view to always have a large reserve of horses suitable for any military emergency which might arise, ve should be able to largely improve the breed of horses in Australia, and they need improving very badly. The Government would probably import some suitable stallions, and, after they had had the use of them for a certain number of years they would be able to sell or rent them to other persons, and by-and-by we should gradually build up a breed of stock at the Commonwealth farms whose improved qualities would be stamped on other horses throughout Australia. From that point of view, the amendment is a most advantageous one. I think that the Government ought to take the power to enter into this enterprise whenever they think it desirable to do so.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I should like the Vice-President of the Executive Council to state whether the Defence Bill or the Constitution Alteration (Finance) Bill will be the first business taken to-morrow?
-53]- - It is intended to take to-morrow the Constitution Alteration (Finance) Bill, the second reading of which was moved to-day, and continue the consideration of it until it is disposed of or carried through the Chamber.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.54 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 November 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19091117_senate_3_53/>.