3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Senator STEWART presented a petition from four persons being officers and members of theWomen’s Christian Temperance Union of Queensland, praying the Senate to eliminate from the Defence Bill the words making the military training and service of the boys and young men of the Commonwealth compulsory.
Petition received and read.
– I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, the following questions : -
– I am very pleased to learn from the way in which the questions are couched, my honorable friend’s extreme dislike of strikes and strike methods. I ask him to give notice of them.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 25th November, vide page 6367) :
Clause 3 -
Constitution is altered by inserting, after section ninety-four thereof, the following sections : - “ 94A. From and after the thirtieth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and ten, sections ninety-three and ninety-four of this Constitution shall cease to have effect.” “94B.From and after the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and ten, the Commonwealth shall pay to each State, by monthly instalments, or apply to the payment of interest on debts of the State taken over by the Com monwealth, an annual sum amounting to Twentyfive shillings per head of the number of the people of the State as ascertained according to the laws of the Commonwealth.” “ 94c. - (1.) The Commonwealth shall, during the period of twenty-five years beginning on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and ten, pay to the State of Western Australia, by monthly instalments, an annual sum which in the first year shall be Two hundred and fifty thousand pounds and in each subsequent year shall be progressively diminished by the sum of Ten thousand pounds. “ (2.) One-half of the amount of the payments so made shall be debited to all the States (including the State of Western Australia) in proportion to the number of their people as ascertained according to the laws of the Commonwealth, and any sum so debited to a State may be deducted by the Commonwealth from any amounts payable to the State under the last preceding section or this section.”
– This clause contains various provisions, including three paragraphs and a sub-clause. I ask you, sir, to put each paragraph separately, so that we may get a more intelligible vote as to the feeling of the Senate.
– That course will be followed. In the first place, I shall put this question: “ That clause 3, down to the end of proposed new section 94A, stand as printed.”
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [10.40]. - On this clause, which really involves the kernel ofthe very momentous question which we have been debating, I desire to record an emphatic protest against any business bargain or arrangement between the States and the Commonwealth being put into the Constitution. I do not propose to move an amendment, because I do not wish to introduce anything which may be of a subsidiary nature, and which may be only regarded as one element in the larger concrete question which we are considering at this stage. I think that I would fail in my duty if I did not point out the extreme inconvenience and the danger of adopting the practice of putting into the Constitution commercial bargains of any sort or description. It was not framed for that purpose, and there is no more necessity for doing that sort of thing here than there is in regard to the business arrangements between man and man. We are forgetful it seems to me, of all that we have done in the past ; of the provisions, and the effect of the Constitution under which we are working. Of course, when it was framed by the Convention - and it was framed in point of fact, by the people, as the result of the two-fold referendum - there were certain matters introduced which were more or less of a business nature, whether of a temporary character or not - temporary, I think, for the most part, but that was because the Constitution at that stage was in itself a bargain. The moment it emerged from that category, it became the Magna Charta of the nation. Under that Constitution, we have appointed a Judiciary, and made arrangements under which the Commonwealth and the States can be sued ; under which bargains entered into between them can be enforced just as bargains between individuals can be enforced. If we find that an arrangement is being made which ought to stand whether for a term of years, or subject to determination on notice between the States and the Commonwealth, we have a great tribunal - the HighCourt of Australia - for the purpose of enforcing contracts between the States and the Commonwealth, just as it enforces contracts between individuals. To ray mind, it is derogatory to the Constitution, and to us, and it is foreign to the character of the Constitution, that we should seek at any time to put in the Constitution any bargain which it may be essential for us to make between the States and the Commonwealth. There is no object in it It is making the “ ark of the covenant “ of this country a repository and a register of business bargains of more or less importance. That is not the purpose for which the Constitution was established. That is not the purpose for which we act under it, and it is not merely derogatory to our position, but wholly needless.If we enter into an arrangement, whatever it may be, for a proper bargain, to the advantage of the Commonwealth or to the advantage of the. States, there it is enforceable. I cannot understand on what principle it can be suggested that commercial arrangements for business bargains should be embodied in the Constitution. I hope that honorable senators will give their attention to that point of view, and ask themselves whether or not they are plaving the Constitution very low down in making it a sort of receptacle for the registration of business bargains of that description.
– On the introductory paragraph of this clause. I want to call the attention of the Committee to one view of the case which I think ought not to escape notice. The Bill, especially in this clause, is asking for a variation in the deed of partnership between the States and the Commonwealth.
– It is a settlement, not a variation.
– In the first place, it is a variation, and, in the second, I doubt very much whether it could ever possibly prove a settlement. But I wish to call attention to the fact that it was not this Parliament which made or ratified that deed of partnership. It was not the State Premiers who made or ratified it; it was the people of Australia. Yet this Parliament coolly proposes to shear itself of all the power and authority with which the people of Australia clothed it. I have no objection to the repeal of section 93 of the Constitution, because it has already been virtually repealed by effluxion of time.
– There is no need to repeal it.
– Effluxion of time has robbed that section of all vitality. The proposed new section, which we are row considering, also contemplates the repeal of section 94 of the Constitution, which reads -
After five years from the imposition of uniform duties of Customs, the Parliament may provide, on such basis as it deems fair, for the monthly payment to the several States of all surplus revenue of the Commonwealth.
That provision clothes this Parliament with complete authority, although, so far, we have not exercised that authority to the full. It is now coolly proposed that we should surrender that authority. I join with Senator Symon in protesting against this Parliament laying down and betraying a trust which has been reposed in it by the people of the Commonwealth. The Senate was specially elected to look after the interests of the various States, and especially their financial interests.
– The honorable senator does not bother about the interests of the States.
– From my standpoint, the people of the States are the people of the Commonwealth. They are one and the same. They elected the Premiers of the States to look after their State affairs. But they did not elect one of those Premiers to poke his nose into Commonwealth affairs.
– And the Premiers are not doing that.
– They have been doing nothing else all the time.T he people elected this Parliament to conserve their interests so far as those interests are intrusted to us under the Constitution. We have nothing to do with anything else.
Introductory words and proposed new section 94A agreed to.
– I trust that the Committee will vote against proposed new section 94B. To my mind, that provision contains the greatest sting in regard to curtailing the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament. If it be negatived, I shall propose to insert in its stead a new provision, which, from the expressions of opinion that have been indulged by honorable senators, ought to give effect to the wishes of a majority in regard to the adjustment of the future financial relations of the States to the Commonwealth. The new provision which I shall move reads -
That during a period of 15 years from 1st July, 1910, and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides, the Commonwealth shall pay to the States by monthly instalments or apply to the payment of the interest on the State debts taken over by the Commonwealth an annual sum equal to 25s. per head of the people of the States as ascertained according to the laws of the Commonwealth.
Honorable senators generally admit that the time has arrived when some new financial arrangement ought to be made with the States, and they are willing that the Commonwealth should return to the States annually 25s.per capita. They think that such an arrangement would confer the greatest amount of liberty upon the Commonwealth. If honorable senators who have expressed themselves in that way are sincere in their utterances the proposal which I have outlined will give them an opportunity of doing what they have avowed themselves desirous of doing. I hope, therefore, that proposed new section 94B will be eliminated so as to give me an opportunity of moving in the direction that I have indicated.
– I appreciate the brevity of the speeches which have been delivered this morning, and in no sense do I wish my remarks to be interpreted as raising any objection to the debate which preceded the Committee stage of this Bill. That debate was not prolonged in any way. But I ask honorable senators to assist the Government by making their remarks upon this clause as brief aspossible.
– It will be time enough to ask us to do that when we have offended.
– I have a reason for preferring that request. It is desirable that the determination should be arrived at upon this matter to-day in order that a call of the Senate may be fixed for next week. The tactics which have been followed by the Leader of the Opposition will give the opponents of this Bill every advantage under our Standing Orders, because, should a tie result upon proposed new section 94B, that provision will be resolved in the negative. Honorable senators opposite have therefore placed themselves in the best possible position to secure victory. The numbers entitle them to it, and therefore no advantage can be gained by an unduly long discussion.
– When the Vice-President of the Executive Council rose I quite expected that he would make some statement as to why the Government intended to oppose the proposal outlined by Senator McGregor.
– And have another second reading debate?
– No. But the VicePresident of the Executive Council had a right to explain what are the objections to the provision in question.
– That proposal, if carried, would kill the Bill.
– I protest against that statement. It is not an accurate one. Indeed, it is most misleading. If the Government are sincere in their desire to arrive at an adjustment of the financial relations of the States and the Commonwealth, this Bill can be proceeded with, even if the proposal outlined by Senator McGregor be carried. Why can it not then be submitted to the people ?
– The reason is selfevident.
– Honorable senators have declared their willingness to submit the Bill in its original form to the people.
– But the Bill is based upon the agreement which was arrived at with the State Premiers.
– If Senator McGregor’s proposal be carried, the Government will be afforded an opportunity of asking the people whether they approve of the Commonwealth annually returning to the States 25s.per capita.
– But honorable senators opposite desire to strike out the provision in the Bill which provides for the return to the States of 25s. per capita.
– But we propose to reinstate it, and to make that the only issue. We propose to give the electors an opportunity of saying whether they are content to allow the Commonwealth to return 25s. per head to the States, and to retain the balance of our Customs and Excise revenue.
– For how long, and under what conditions?
– For fifteen years, and absolutely without any conditions.
– What guarantee will the honorable senator give them for the continuity of the agreement for fifteen years ?
– The guarantee of this Parliament.
– Of which Senator Clemons is a member.
– Of which I am a member, and the guarantee of which I would not ask the electors to accept.
– My reply to the observation of Senator Clemons is that under the proposal which has been outlined by Senator McGregor, the States would have the same security as they have enjoyed under the Braddon section of our Constitution. The arrangement suggested could not be altered except with the consent of the people themselves,, within a term of fifteen years.
– Then the honorable senator is prepared to tamper with the Constitution ?
– The proposal which has been indicated by the Leader of the Opposition will enable the people to register their opinion as to whether they approve of the allocation to the States of 25s. -per capita for fifteen years, In this connexion we must recollect that the Commonwealth Parliament and the people could have altered the Braddon section at any time. But nobody ever dreamed of doing such a thing. A similar remark is applicable to the scheme which has been propounded by Senator McGregor. I wish to pillory the inconsistency of those honorable senators who oppose that scheme. A few days ago they taunted us with being afraid to put the proposed allocation of 25s per head annually to the States before the people. Under the proposal which has been outlined, that very allocation, stripped of every other issue, would be submitted to the electors. Let us see who are afraid to put it before them.
– Let us see who wish to kill the Bill.
– If the Bill be killed, it will be killed by the Govern ment. If proposed new section 94B be carried, and the Government decline to proceed with “the Bill, it will be killed by the act of the Government. I wish the country to understand, so far as my views will reach them, -per medium of Hansard, that this is an attempt to arrive at an agreement with the States upon the basis of a return by the Commonwealth, of 25s. per capita.
– We desire to secure a better agreement.
– From the honorable senator’s own side it has been pointed out that if we do not attach a time limit to the agreement proposed by the Government, this Parliament and the people may, at any time, make an alteration in that agreement. If that statement be correct, the agreement in question is not a better agreement, because the proposal which has been outlined by Senator McGregor would have a fifteen years’ currency, whereas the agreement proposed by the Government might be altered at any time. I hope we shall have a straight-out issue submitted to the people, stripped of all conditions, so that this Parliament, at the end of fifteen years may have the power which it now enjoys under the Braddon section of the Constitution.
– honorable senators are aware. I have given , notice of an amendment, the effect of which, if adopted, would be to limit the operation of the agreement to a period of ten years. But having discovered’ that the proposal, which has been outlined by Senator McGregor, is more likely to prove acceptable to the Committee, I do not intend to proceed with it. Several honorable senators have signified that they are more inclined to favour a time limit than to support an arrangement in perpetuity. We are being placed by the Government in a most peculiar position. The Vice-President of the .Executive Council has informed us that if the amendment foreshadowed by Senator McGregor be carried, the Bill will be killed. Why? Because, he says, an agreement has been arrived at between the Government and the State Premiers, and, if its terms be departed from. in the slightest degree, the whole proposal falls to the ground. But I should like to ask the members of the Senate of the Commonwealth to have a look at themselves, to examine their position, to ascertain what power they have. According to the Vice-President of the
Executive Council they have nothing to do here but register, or refuse to register, an agreement which has been made with people who have no standing whatever in the affairs of the Commonwealth. This agreement, so far as this Parliament is concerned, is not worth the paper it is written upon. It has been made with individuals or officials who have no standing in this Parliament. It is an insult to the Commonwealth Legislature. Just look at the thing. We were elected by the people of the Commonwealth to look after their affairs. Yet we are told that if we refuse to accept an informal arrangement entered into between the Commonwealth Government and individuals who have no standing in Commonwealth affairs, and who have no more right to speak than any ordinary man in the street, the Bill will be killed. What a position in which to place the Parliament, of the Commonwealth! The acceptance of it would deprive the Senate of the right to discuss a Bill submitted to it.
– That is a “ bit tall.”
– The honorable senator’s intellect appears to me to be exceedingly short if what I have said is 1 “a bit tall.” We are told, “ Here is a measure which, if you alter it by no matter how large a majority, the Government will withdraw.” Is that not a. threat held over our heads? Is it not a distinct intimation that we are not free agents? I maintain that when a Bill is laid upon the table of the Senate, it becomes the property of this Chamber. If it does not, then this gathering, which is dignified with the name of a Senate, is a mere farce, and we are only pretending to legislate; we are here merely as a recording machine for some outside power. Some honorable senators are fond of talking about the caucus. The caucus never attempted anything like this. This is caucusism intensified a hundred fold. It rs caucusism which stabs the representative idea in its most vital part, and which takes away from a House of Parliament its representative character. We become mere instruments for registering the dictates of some power outside. I ask honorable senators to assert themselves. Some of them have been sent here by the votes -of over 100,000 trusting citizens - men and women who believed that their interests could be safely placed in the hands of those whom they elected. Are they prepared to deceive the people who sent them here, and to hand over the affairs of the Commonwealth to persons with whom the Government were not empowered to make any agreement? In fact, there is no agreement. There can only be an agreement between people who have authority to come to terms.
– I do not feel justified in allowing the whole question to be discussed on every paragraph of the Bill.
– With all deference to you, my remarks are founded on a statement made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, that if this paragraph be altered the Bill is killed, i am directing the attention of honorable senators to the fact that the Senate appears to be no longer a free and representative agent, but merely a sort of registering machine for somebody who has no authority under the Constitution.
– The honorable senator must be thinking of his own party when he says that. He has described his party accurately.
– I do think of my party. I thank Heaven that I have a party. Every one knows what my party is, but I do not think any one could tell to what party Senator Clemons belongs. I have not the slightest idea. I would appeal to him, however, if h be possible to influence him at all, to remember that he is a representative, and has some responsibility to the people who sent him here. They expect him to scrutinize closely every measure submitted. They do not expect him to be terrorized by a threat that if any line of this Bill is altered, the whole thing goes by the board. The Government wish to place us in a position more dishonorable than any representative body ought to consent to occupy.
– The utterance of the VicePresident of the Executive Council gives us a fair idea as to how the Bill was carried in another place. When we hear the whip cracked in the Senate, we can form an idea as to the pressure which must have been exercised elsewhere. If honorable senators are going to stultify themselves, and place themselves in such a humiliating position that they must not make any alteration in this so-called agreement, it will be a clear admission that we have totally abandoned our position in respect to the maintenance of State rights. Whilst I have every respect for the gentleman who represented Western Australia at the so-called Conference of Premiers, I have a much greater respect for the position I occupy with respect to the people of Western
Australia. That gentleman, Mr. Moore, represents only a small portion of the people. His position is so precarious, that, notwithstanding that he is anxious to go to London as Agent-General, his party will not permit him to go, because they know his seat would be in danger, and would probably be captured by our party. I mention this fact to show the nature of the representation of Western Australia at the Conference at which the agreement was arrived at. I represent every portion of the State. In the very town of Bunbury represented , by Mr. Moore in the State Parliament, I headed the poll when I was returned. At the last election, Senator Pearce did likewise. The people of that electorate will expect us to do our duty when a question of this kind comes before us, no matter whether the Premier of the State gave his consent to what is proposed or not. I am not quite sure, indeed, that Mr. Moore did consent to this agreement. I do not know that he did. We have no proof. I do know, however, that so far as concerns the actual amount in question, little or no opposition has been shown. But there is a great deal more in this agreement than the per capita sum proposed to be paid. There , is no denying the representative character of the Senate. There are six senators from Western Australia, as against the one gentleman who represented that State at the Premier’s Conference. Are those six Western Australian senators to stultify themselves, and to admit that they represent nobody in Western Australia? Are they to accept, holus bolus, an agreement merely because it is alleged to have been consented to by one man from their State? The proposition is so preposterous that if it were accepted, the Senate could no longer be regarded as representative of the States. What is proposed in the suggested amendment is so eminently fair that the Government, if they really wish to place the question before the people of Australia in an honest manner, cannot possibly refuse to accept it. There is nothing catchy about the amendment. It presents a clear-cut issue. The Labour party has been twitted more than once with favouring the principle of the referendum on Democratic grounds. Therefore, it is urged that we cannot possibly oppose this referendum, but if the question at issue is put in such a way to the electors that it is designed to catch their votes, and to place us in a false position, we have every right to oppose it. To show our bona fides, and to prove that we are not opposed to the 25s. per capita payment, we ask that the question shall be submitted to the electors in a fair and honest way, and that there shall be no attempt to make points at the expense of political opponents. We desire the people to have a fair chance of registering, their opinion honestly, and the amendment gives that opportunity.
– No amendment has yet been moved.
– An amendment has been indicated, and unless the Government wish to confirm the suspicion that the introduction of this Bill is nothing but a party move, they cannot do other than accept the suggested amendment. I hope that an honest question will be submitted to the people.
– What question would the honorable senator put to them?
– We are discussing a suggested amendment. I am anxious that the matter should be put to the people.
– In what way?
– In a way in which they will be able to express their views fairly. I do not think they should be asked to say “Yes” or “No” to such a question as “Have you stopped beating your mother-in-law ?” We should put this matter to them in such a way that an answer “ Yes “ or “ No “ can be given which will register the people’s will. Knowing as we do, how this Bill was carried in another place, we need not be surprised at the action proposed to be taken by the representatives of the Government in the Senate.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has said that if we adopt the course sugested by Senator McGregor, it will mean killing the Bill.
– Is not that the object of putting the amendment in the suggested form ?
– I wish to emphatically deny that it would mean killing the Bill. If that were the effect of the suggested amendment it could only be because the Government would drop the measure and throw it under the table. Let me point out what the course suggested by Senator McGregor is, so that there shall be no misapprehension. We have already agreed to clauses 1 and 2 and to clause 3. of the Bill to the end of the proposed new section 94A. That is the section which would repeal sections 93 and 94 of the Constitution. Now we come to the pro- posed new section 94B, which provides for the payment of 25s. per head to the States in perpetuity. The course suggested by Senator McGregor is that if the Committee desires a limitation to the operation of the agreement - and if honorable senators are true to the pledges they have made, there is a majority in favour of the limitation - we should negative the proposed new section 94B and substitute for it one suggested by Senator McGregor.
– If honorable senators believe they have a majority in favour of a limitation, why do they not propose to insert a limitation in the proposed new section 94B?
– Senator Millen has a perfect right to adopt the most effective course he can to carry his proposals.
– Honorable senators opposite do the same.
– We have a perfect right to do so, and no explanation or apology is due from us to any one on that account.
– If honorable senators are trying to kill the Bill, why shouldthey deny it?
– The course suggested by Senator McGregor is that we should eliminate the proposed new section 94B and substitute for it a provision for the return to the States of 25s. per head of their population for fifteen’ years after the expiration of the Braddon section, and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides.
– For that purpose, all that honorable senators need do is to move an amendment upon the clause.
– That is absurd. We propose to eliminate proposed new section 94B, and to substitute a new one for it.
– Honorable senators know very well that they will be unable to substitute a new one, and that the course proposed would mean the killing of the Bill.
– I repeat that if it would, it would be ‘because the Government would drop the Bill. If they are in earnest, and desire to see this measure become law, why should they not go on with the Bill ? Was an agreement a necessary preliminary? We know that it was not. We know that the people intrusted this Parliament with the power to take the initial step to secure a modification of the Braddon section: We have a right to do that, and if we please to submit the proposed modification for the acceptance of the people-
– If honorable senators” have a majority, yes.
– So far as I am con’cerned, I am prepared to go to a vote on the matter now, and for that purpose, I shall sit down.
– There is only one remark which I wish to make as to the effect of the vote about to be taken. I repeat in all sincerity that if the course suggested by honorable senators opposite were adopted, it would mean the absolute destruction of the Bill.
– Why? Senator MILLEN. - The honorable senator need not. pretend to be so innocent. I intend to speak with a candour which is not usual on the floor of this chamber. We all know perfectly well that there has been manoeuvring for positions.
– Is the honorable senator referring to the Premiers’ Conference?
– No; I am referring to what my honorable friends opposite are doing, and I find no fault with them. It is well known that under our Standing Orders, if the voting upon any question is even, the question is carried in the negative. For that reason honorable senators abstain from moving the insertion in this proposed new section of a provision for a time limit. That is an admission that they know that they have not a majority to carry it.
– We are moving for a time limit.
– Honorable senators are not moving to insert a time limit in this provision. If they knew that they had the majority of which Senator Givens talks, they would have proposed such an amendment. It is because they know that they have not a majority that they are now seeking in a roundabout way to carry a time limit. They also know quite well that while they might succeed in striking out the proposed new section 94B, they could never put in the amendment they have suggested afterwards.
– Not if the Government drop the Bill. But why should they do so?
– How can honorable senators opposite expect these who are supporting the Bill as a part of an agreement to stultify ‘themselves by agreeing to the course they have suggested? Despite the appearance of surprise and indignation we know that the fact is that a manoeuvre is proposed. We know that if honorable senators opposite could strike out the proposed new section 94B, that would be the most they could hope for. They know that they would be impotent to insert anything in its place, and the result would be that the Bill would be absolutely killed.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON .(South Australia) [11.25]. - I quite agree with Senator Millen’s first remarks, which, I think, were in better temper and less provocative than the later remarks he made. I agree that it. is unnecessary to re-open the second-reading debate, or to prolong the discussion. I - think there is no room either for any particular display of temper. What is proposed is to negative the proposed new section 94B, with a view to substituting for it that which I believe a ma>jority of the Committee desire, namely, the same agreement and the same bargain, with a time limit. The amendment foreshadowed by Senator McGregor is the most direct and the best way in which to test the opinion of the Committee as. to whether, in the first place, the proposed new section 94B, providing for the operation of the agreement without any limit as to time meets with the approval of a majority of the Committee - and if it does there is an end to the matter - or whether a majority prefers a time limit. If the majority say they desire to abandon the power given to us under the Constitution, and to put this agreement into the Constitution without any time limit whatever, there is an end to the matter. But if, on the other hand, they believe in their conscience that there ought to be a time limit, they will be given an opportunity, under Senator McGregor’s proposal, of saying so in direct and clear terms. I am not going over the whole of the ground again. I admit that I feel very strongly, and hold very pronounced views upon this question. I hope I have given, as I shall always desire to do, due consideration to the opinions and views of others. I have been most anxious to do so in this case, but I confess that I cannot understand how any believer in the principle of national unity, and in our national institutions - the highest of which and the one of which we should be most proud is Parliament - can agree to give up the power, small or great, with which the people have clothed” us, and which they have asked us to exercise. No one has attempted to prove that we are unfit to exercise it. When I’ say “we,” I do not speak of the members of the present Federal Parliament. We are here to-day and gone to-morrow. The personnel of. this Parliament is like the grass that perishes. Its time .comes and there is an end to it. When I say “ we,” I mean the Federal Parliament in its corporate representative character. In my view, the condemnation sought at our hands is not the condemnation of this Parliament, because it is admitted we are doing what is right and fair. We are to be trusted, but we are asked to condemn the continuity of Parliament. We are asked to say that, although the bargain which we make is fair, and that if we were returned to the next Parliament -we should maintain it, the Parliaments subsequently elected by the people would not. We are asked to declare that the Parliaments of the future will not be fit to be trusted with the destinies of this country and the financial safety of the States; and we are asked, therefore, to take this power away from them lest they might use it mischievously. The question is a momentous one, and it is not to be met, if .the Vice-President of the Executive Council will pardon me for saying so, by references to manoeuvring for position, and that sort of thing. The provision we are now considering is one of abject surrender. If agreed to it will stand as a record of our confession of guilt in respect to the Parliaments that are to come. It is a provision which hauls down the flag of our financial supremacy and control. For that reason I shall vote against it. Senator McGregor’s suggestion is that we shall substitute the same agreement, the same concession, if you like, though I do not want to call it a concession, the same just right, if you like, as the States are getting under this provision, and give them a guarantee for a term of” fifteen years. I do not think that they are entitled to a guarantee, but I am willing to sacrifice my own conviction and make the agreement for a term. There is no indignity in that to the Commonwealth. They can make their bargain for a subsidy for five or ten or fifteen years without loss of dignity.
– Is the honorable senator urging that the matter should be left to be dealt with on each year’s Appropriation Bill ?
– Of course I am not. I told the honorable senator that I am willing to make a concession - to agree that it should be done for a period of fifteen years.
– Without the Concession, would the honorable senator still say that it ought to be dealt with from year to vear ?
– I do not understand the question.
– The honorable senator said that, as a concession, he would make the payment for fifteen years, but suppose there was no concession, what then?
– I am not going into that matter. I am quite willing to do that, and for the reason that that is the period - from ten to fifteen years - which, the Prime Minister suggested as a time limit. I am willing to give more if it can be done. But we can discuss that when the second branch of the matter is dealt with. The Vice-President of the Executive Council said that he could not see into the future for more than ten years, and no one can blame him. Senator Vardon said the other night that he did not expect the agreement to last longer’ than the term of three Parliaments? Why is it to be put into the Constitution, if you please ?
– The honorable senator would put it into the Constitution for fifteen years.
– Why does my honorable friend want an arrangement which will last for nine years put into the Constitution?
– So that we can alter it at any time, if necessary.
– The provision will have more elasticity if it is left as it stands.
– The National Parliament is worthy to be trusted, and I tell my honorable friend, who is one of the most distinguished members of the Senate, that if the public faith pf Parliament is plighted to this term, or to any arrangement’, by the representatives of the people, the public plighting of that faith will be maintained.
– Because the Parliament is, until the contrary is shown, an honorable and honest body.
– Can it be Bound by the Act of some Parliament years ahead ?
– M.v honorable friend is too good a constitutionalist to pui? a thing like that to me or anybody. It is quite beside the question under debate.
– Will the honorable senator accept that position? No.
– We ought to have no National Parliament if we cannot trust it. It is a reflection on the National Parliament and on us who are members of it when you ask for guarantees, pledges, and bonds that we shall keep our faith. It is also a reflection on the people who sent us here. ‘ We. are a Parliament chosen by the people, and if you say that such a Parliament .is not to be trusted, that it will break faith, that it will destroy without just cause an agreement fri a term of fifteen or nine years, and that you must have it put into the Constitution, von reflect upon the people. If the people me honest and choose an honest Parliament it is to be trusted with the finances of this country. If the people are not honest and will not choose an honest Parliament, then we had better abolish the Federation. We ought to be ashamed of being members of a Parliament which would confess such a thing, not of us, but because of some fear that the Labour party or the other party - I do not care which - -Will be in a dominant majority after the general election, and will try to break the public faith. That is indeed a . pretty position. At the close of his speech the other day, the Vice-President of the Executive Council, in terms of eloquence which thrilled me, said, “ I do not understand this apprehension as to future generations. Brush aside all these fears.” But are we to confine that brushing aside of fears to the people; why are we not to apply that to the Parliaments chosen by the people? Why are we to say that we are to be in fear of future Parliaments? If you distrust the Parliament you distrust the people who chose them. If you have a Parliament that will not maintain the public faith as plighted through acts of legislation; if you have a Parliament that will not maintain those rights, then its members will have to answer to the people. It is those who want to put this agreement into the Constitution who really do not trust the people. It is not we who wish to maintain the powers of Parliament who distrust the Parliament and the people. It is for that reason that I take the strong view I do in respect of this matter. The people ought to be made to understand that certain members of the Parliament say they are not to be trusted to elect honest Parliaments - for that is what it comes to - and certainly they ought to be made to feel and understand that, as a precaution against this abuse of a privilege and a duty, we are going to take away a power which they vested in their Parliament because they are not likely in future years to elect Parliaments which can be trusted to exercise it. I was sent here to maintain the Constitution. I was sent here to maintain the powers of the Parliament, not to give them away. 1 was sent here to exercise those powers, not to abandon them. I was sent here to make bargan with, and do justly by, the States. But Iwas not sent here to accompany that justice with the surrender of powers of . Parliaments to come. If you pass proposed new section 94B it ought to be surrounded with a deep mourning band to signify to future generations the bereavement we are inflicting upon ourselves. Let us keep to the powers of the Constitution and we shall do well. Let us do justly, or if you like generously, by the States. We are here for that purpose. Let us give them this time - the longest time which the Prime Minister mentioned ; a longer time if you can show that it ought to be extended, or the term of three Parliaments, as Senator Vardon said - let us give them more time if they wish, and if it will console them in any way let us put the thing into the Constitution. Of course everybody knows that if a crisis, such as a war, or something that involved our immediate national existence arose, even the Constitution would not prevail. But the time for revision would be fixed. The time for ordinary revision, having regard to the fluctuations of revenue, population, and other things, would come in the ordinary course, and there would be no disturbance, any more than under the Braddon section as it exists, for the fifteen years. I think that you, Mr. Chairman, put it very well indeed in saying that what we were going to try to do was to substitute something fresh for the Braddon section. I agree with that. But is there any reason why we should not proceed on exactly the same lines as that provision, which had a fixed time limit, leaving the matter to be dealt with afterwards by the Parliament ? Why should not the substituted arrangement be in exactly the same position? I do not wish to re-open that part of the discussion, but I would like to say a few words as to a point to which Senator Millen has very candidly and, I think, very fairly referred, and that is the rule of the Senate with regard to a question passing in the negative on an equalityof votes. I think that Senator’s Stewart’s method would ‘have been a bad one. In my opinion, the proper method is to take a direct vote on the question as to whether this is to be an agreement unlimited as to time or not. I do not understand the Minister to complain of the fact that the rule is not at all in his favour if that method is adopted.
– I did not complain of the rule.
– I think that my honorable friend put the matter fairly. I would very much rather see the powers of this Parliament maintained by the enforcement of that negative rule than I would see it taken advantage of to takeaway those powers. To pass a Bill of this description, taking away a power of theParliament by the vote of one man, is contrary to every Parliamentary and constitutional principle We ought not to do such a thing unless with a majority of substance, and how much more so when the question passes in the negative? If, as has been suggested, an amendment had been moved in the way that Senator Stewart proposed, we should not have got a direct issue or a direct vote, and we should, by the mere operation of therule, have abandoned our powers. That would be a position of which the Parliament ought to be, to use the language of the boys, “jolly well ashamed.” Senator Millen, in his sense of fairness and constitutional susceptibilities, has put it very well. But, if it were a question of taking advantage of the rule, I ask every honorable senator whether, from the position of fair play and righteousness, and of fairness to the people of this country, it is not better to take advantage of it to prevent this serious thing being done, than to take advantage of it to let it be done ? It is said that the agreement is to goto the people. It is a doublebarrelled arrangement. It is going to the people, first of all, as a financial arrangement with the States, to which probably noone takes objection. But the other barrel is the surrender of this power; and the two questions are mixed up together.
– Would not the same thing apply with a time limit?
– If the time were limited, you would have unanimity, and there would be no surrender of a power. In the other case, there would be an absolute surrender of a power. This Parliament would be say ing to the people, “We ask you to take this power from us.” We can imagine honorable senators standing on the public platform for the purpose of expounding the effect of the proposed agreement and of the referendum upon it. Whilst doing so, a voice from the audience might ask, “ Why is this power to be taken from the Commonwealth Parliament; why does the Commonwealth Parliament wish to give it up?” What answer could be given to such an inquiry? We should have to say, ‘ 1 Because the Premiers do not think that we are to be trusted, and because we think that future Commonwealth Parliaments are not to be trusted.” That is the only answer which we could give to a question of that description. If we are fit to exercise this power, if we are an honest Parliament, we ought certainly to be careful as to what we do. If a doubt exists as to that, we ought certainly to solve it in favour of abundant consideration being given to the matter. We ought not rashly to take a step which may be irretrievable, and which will plunge the country into an agitation which the mere circumstances attendant upon a general election - vivid and active, perhaps, as they may be - will not equal. I only wish to add another word in reference to the statement of the VicePresident of the Executive Council that the adoption of the proposal outlined by Senator McGregor would kill the Bill. As to the terms of the arrangement which has been made with the States, I certainly think that they ought to be maintained. But if those terms are to be accompanied by a surrender of power on the part of- the Commonwealth Parliament, I shall make every effort possible to defeat- the latter portion of it. If the proposal indicated bv Senator McGregor be carried, I do think that the Government - and I hope they will not imagine that I am presuming to be wiser than they are - ought to do what I take it the Prime Minister would have done had -the omission of the word “The” in the other branch of the Legislature been carried to his satisfaction - that omission is obvious on the face of the Bill - namely, regard it as an indication that Parliament wishes to attach to the operation. of the agreement a time limit. I take it that, if the omission of the word “ The “ had been carried to the satisfaction of the Prime Minister, he would have communicated with the State Premiers with a view to securing their acceptance of a time limit, so that the agreement in a modified form might be adopted and be in operation. That, I think, expresses what the Government in the discharge of their public duty - if they will allow me to put the matter in that way - should do in . this case. They desire to carry out an arrangement with the States. If the State Premiers refuse to accept a time limit to the agreement, the responsibility will be theirs. The Braddon section will continue to be operative, and we shall have ample opportunity, without surrendering our power, to adjust matters as between ourselves and the States. I do not at all complain of the Vice-President of the Executive Council declaring that the effect of deleting proposed new section 94B would be to kill the Bill. That is a perfectly legitimate expression in political controversy. But when this Bill was first brought under public notice, its consideration was postponed for a period of two or three weeks, while more or less informal negotiations were in progress with the Premiers, with a view, as everybody understood, to inducing them to agree to a time limit. I do not see why that course should not be followed now. If the Senate, in the exercise of its constitutional functions, chooses to say that it will not subscribe to the proposed agreement for an unlimited period, and negatives proposed new section 94B, and if the Government, in a fit of petulance, then choose to throw the Bill into the waste-paper basket, the responsibility will be theirs. Parliament should be afforded an opportunity of exercising its freedom of judgment upon any matter that came before it. Of course, any Government is’ free to throw a measure into the waste-paper basket if that measure be defeated. But if the Senate is prepared to attach a time limit to the opera. tion of the proposed agreement, the Premiers, if they are wise men, who are care.ful of the interests of their States, will accept that time limit, and we shall thus secure a harmonious agreement which will be for the best interests of this country. I do hope that we shall be careful to clearly understand what we should be giving up under the proposal of the Government. I trust we shall realize that we shall not merely be surrendering our power as a confession of distrust in ourselves and in future Parliaments, but as a confession that the people of this country cannot be depended upon to elect honest Parliaments.
– - I can assure the Committee that I have no desire to repeat anything which was said upon the motion for the second reading of this Bill. But I do wish to make one or two remarks concerning that portion of the speech, which was a repetition of that delivered by Senator Symon during the second-reading debate of the measure.
– I do not think that the honorable senator is quite fair. He can do what he wishes without indulging in gibes.
– I am extremelysorry that Senator Symon should regard my remarks in that way. It was far from my intention to indulge in gibes. While I wish to speak of the procedure which we are about to adopt, and while I think that Senator Symon intended to refer to that in his speech, he must admit that he did again debate the merits of this question. The honorable senator has made almost a pointed attack upon me because 1 have failed, in his opinion, to show a proper egard and respect for the rights of this Parliament.
– I did not jay that at all. If the honorable senator thinks that I meant it, I am very sorry.
– I should like to point out to Senator Symon the difficulty in which he must inevitably land himself as the result of the position which he has taken up. He has affirmed that we must trust the Commonwealth Parliament, as if Parliament were a permanent and neverchanging body. But immediately afterwards he added that he is perfectly willing to embody in the Constitution a provision that for fifteen years no Parliament shall touch this question.
– That is to say, that he is prepared to trust future Commonwealth Parliaments, but is afraid to trust the present Parliament.
– Surely his statement means that, while we must trust the Commonwealth Parliament, he’, Senator Symon, the strongest advocate of the rights of this Parliament - and I frankly confess that I have never known those rights to be put so strongly, either in print or otherwise, as they were put by him - believes so implicitly in upholding the powers of the Parliament that he is not prepared to trust the next five Parliaments, because we must recollect that the Parliament dies, and is born again, at the expiration of every three years.
– Did he not say that he was prepared to do that by way of concession ?
– That may be so.. I could better understand his attitude if he said, “I am going to trust the Parliament “ - meaning thereby every Parliament - “I shall make no invidious exception inthe case of the next five Parliaments.” As most members of the Committee know, during the time that I have occupied a seat in. the Senate, I have enjoyed the advantageof sitting chiefly in opposition. Therefore I quite appreciate the tactics which’ are being adopted by my honorable friendsopposite. I can tell them that they are doing just what I would do myself if I were in opposition.. I should say that they were lamentably lacking in tactics if, in their desire to kill the Bill, they did not adopt the course which they have adopted.
– Every honorable senator on this side of the chamber has expressed warm approval of the measure.
– Let us see how our honorable friends have ‘revised their opinions when it comes to a question of expressing warm approval of the Bill. Senator Stewart had given notice of an amendment the effect of which would have been to impose a time limit to the operation of the proposed agreement. That amendment has been withdrawn.
– I do not wish Senator Givens to assume a modesty with which I can scarcely credit him. We all know that if my honorable friends opposite merely desired to limit the operation of the proposed agreement to a fixed term, they could easily accomplish their object bymoving an amendment upon proposed new section 94b. For instance, they mightpropose the insertion at the beginning of it of the words “ For a period of fifteen years.” But, as a matter of tactics, they are pursuing the right course from their stand-point. It would be presumption onmy part to congratulate them upon recognising the most effective method which they could adopt in this connexion.
– Every honorable senator who is in favour of a time limit will agree to the -proposal which has been outlined by Senator McGregor.
– -It is absolutely certain that if proposed new section- 94b be negatived in order that another provision may be substituted for it, it wilL be a case of good-bye to the Bill.
– For precisely the same reason that it would be good-bye to the measure if there were a majority against it upon the motions for its second or third readings.
– That will be due to the action of the Government.
– I am not concerned with that. I am merely stating the facts, so that there may be no member of the Committee who will not understand the exact position. And, further, in order that there may be no member of the Committee, who, wishing not to kill the Bill, but to put in a time limit, will fail to recognise that the true and honest way of putting it in is not to adopt the method of first rejecting the proposed new section, but to propose a direct amendment. Senator Pearce smiles. He may. He knows the game just as well as I do. I am not going to be so innocent ; and I hope that there will be no one so innocent as to fall into this very simple trap. It is, indeed, a trap of exceeding simplicity, if a man only keeps his eves wide open.
– In my speech on the motion for the second reading of this Bill, I said that the measure had one grave objection, but that it was not nearly so weighty as were its- intrinsic advantages. I further said that if, in Committee, I could remove the objectionable feature, I should do so, but that, if I were unable to remove it, I should regard the Bill, with all its faults, as better than no Rill. I am now confronted with the possibility of obtaining no Bill. . When I spoke at the second-reading stage, I had in my mind an amendment on the notice-paper. I should have supported that amendment had it been presented. If the amendment on the notice-paper were not submitted I intended to move one myself, with the object of limiting the time during which this agreement shall have currency.
– The honorable senator cannot extricate himself like that.
– There is no need for me to extricate m,self from anything, because I am not in any difficulty. I am dealing with a Bill of great importance to this country. Some honorable senators have pointed out this morning how seriously they view the fact that they are representatives of the people. I am here as a representative of the people, and to secure, as I said the other evening, not what in every particular meets with my approval, but that which is the nearest approach to what meets with my approval in every measure that is submitted.
– The honorable senator, by taking his present course, cannot get anything that he has been fighting for.
– I shall not get what I have been fighting for if this Bill is not carried. It is far more admirable in relation to its financial proposals than anything that I had the slightest idea of getting at the termination of the Braddon section. I hope to get this Bill without a provision that I think is highly objectionable.
– Why did the honorable senator say that he was in favour of a time limit ?
– I am. I am going to ask honorable senators opposite to vote for one.
– The honorable senator is now going to vote against a limitation.
– My honorable friends opposite pride themselves upon their astuteness. I have heard it boasted in connexion with the amendment foreshadowed by Senator McGregor that it will place “some people” on the horns of a dilemma. My honorable friends opposite have made no secret of their purpose.
– The honorable senator is now going back upon what he said before.
– Honorable senators opposite have made no secret of the fact that when this Bill reaches the third-reading stage they will vote against it. The difference between them and me is that when the Bill gets to its thirdreading stage I intend to vote for it.
– The honorable senator would be opposed at the next election if he did not.
– My honorable friend ought not to make that gibe to me. I have been opposed at all elections, by every party - his own included - before now. I have faced that situation without fear, and voluntarily, because I would not sacrifice a principle in which I- believed. I have been opposed by every newspaper because I would not be dragooned into a position in which I did not believe. The people of this country who know me, placed me 5,000 votes ahead of every other candidate ; and they will do it again. I want no party nomination. The people of Victoria are my party. I secured my seat in the Senate without the support of any party or any newspaper, and in spite of the opposition of the party of my honorable friends opposite.
– The honorable senator now has “blue funk” in regard to his position.
– The honorable senator who interjects knows something about “ blue funk.” I- do not know what it means. Senator Symon - whom I will not twit with making a second-reading speech - has repeated with considerable warmth the major portion of the strong objection which he raised to this Bill in his former utterance. The principal objection that he has presented to ihe measure in its present form is that it abnegates a power of Parliament; that it means giving up one of our powers as a Senate; that it amounts to an emasculation of this Parliament. The honorable senator knows - with his logical mind he must know - that he has been tearing a passion to rags. He knows that Parliaments frequently give up powers that they possess, and that in so doing they do not contribute to their own emasculation.
– Give us an instance !
– The House of Commons and the House of Lords - the Imperial Parliament - gave up their power of control over Papua, or British New Guinea. That is one instance. I could give a thousand.
– Give us one that is parallel.
-Colonel Cameron. - The Commonwealth Constitution itself is the result of a surrender of powers by the State Parliaments.
– Formerly the Imperial Parliament controlled British Possessions beyond the seas, and amongst them Papua. But it was realized that it would be expedient in the interests of the Empire to hand over that power of control to another body. The Imperial Parliament did so. But it did not take that course, as Senator Symon suggests, because it considered that it was not fit to be trusted to exercise the power. It did not say that some future Parliament sitting at Westminster would be incompetent. And, similarly, the supporters of this Bill think it expedient to forego a power that we now possess because we think that to do so will be in the interests of the Commonwealth. We do not take this action because we think we are not fit to be trusted, or because some future Parliament may not be fit to be trusted.
– Does the honorable senator think that that is a parallel case?
– It is quite as forceful a case as any which the honorable senator himself presented, though I am afraid I have not put it as forcefully as he would have done. I wish I could simulate a passion as completely as my honorable friend can when he is in no passion at all. I should be delighted if I could. I wish I possessed that forensic capacity which he has acquired during many years of experience in deluding juries. I regret, in an emergency of my country’s history, that I lack that talent.
– Listen to the one-time tribune of the people being cheered by the Conservatives I
– The all-time tribune of the people !
– Cheered by the McColls and the Simon Frasers !
– The honorable senator should go on top of the chimney and deliver himself.
– There is no need for me to go on top of the chimney. I have many proofs that I enjoy the confidence of the people of this country. They have reposed trust in my integrity and have found me worthy of it.
– The honorable senator will not be able to delude the people much longer.
– He never has deluded them.
– He is deluding them now.
– There is the difference between my honorable friends opposite and me. Whenever they differ from me I credit them with honesty of purpose. Perhaps I do that in the face of experience. But whenever anybody differs from them, riot merely upon a point of principle, but upon the slightest detail, he immediately becomes a rascal who has made himself subservient to some improper influence.
– We always get suspicious when a man does not keep his word.
– I have kept my word, and always will. I shall endeavour to amend this Bill in the direction in which I desire to see it amended.
– The honorable senator wants to take a line of action which he knows will have no effect.
-I will not take a line of action which mv honorable friends know will have the effect of destroying a Bill of which, with all its limitations, I approve.
– The honorable senator is not game to take the only means by which he can secure the amendment which he professes to desire.
– The honorable senator need not talk to me about being “ game.”
– He has not the courage of his convictions.
– The people of this country, whom 1 represent, are well aware that I do not know what personal fear is. There is no need for me to fear with reference to my place in this Parliament. It is not very important to me whether I get into Parliament again or not, but it is a certainty, within my own knowledge, that I shall get inif I desire, with or without any party nomination.
– The honorable senator will get in anyhow; that is the great thing.
– Whether I get the nomination of any party or any newspaper does not weigh with me one whit in this connexion. But I see clearly enough the effect of rejecting this provision with a view of substituting something in its place. If the suggested amendment were agreed to and proposed new section 94B struck out, we should have a Bill with no kernel in it. I am not going to take that risk.
– If the honorable senator’s amendment were carried, would not the Bill be defeated in the same way?
– No, there would be a vast difference. Honorable senators opposite propose a course which would give us the Bill minus all its virility. I propose to preserve all its virility, plus a condition which I think a desirahle one, and which honorable senators opposite profess to think would he a desirable one, though I am not so sure that they do really think it.
– And the honorable senator’s friends say that they will not accept his proposal.
– As the amendment which I should have supported has not been proposed-
– The honorable senator would not move the amendment he has indicated if he knew he could carry it.
- Senator Lynch will pardon me. He is saying something which is not warranted. He has made an assertion which he ought not to make, and which he would not make outside this chamber. I propose now to submit an amendment on the lines of that given notice of by Senator Stewart, with the alteration of fifteen years for ten vears. I move -
That after “ 94B “ the words “For a period of fifteen years “ be inserted.
– When considering the method by which an amendment of proposed new section 94B was possible, the position of Senator Trenwith was considered. We thought that the honorable senator had an honest intention to seek to amend the Bill. I am sorry to find now that we were mistaken. The honorable senator knows very well that if the Bill was amended by inserting a time limit, the Vice-President of the Executive Council has said that the Government would drop it.
– He said no such thing ; and if he did that would be his responsibility. The honorable senator proposes to kill the Bill, and would leave the Vice-President of the Executive Council no alternative.
– If the proposed new section 94B were omitted, the very thing would take place which Senator Trenwith wishes.
– Which the honorable senator asks us to believe that he wishes.
– The very thing would take place which Senator Trenwith would like the Committee and the public to believe that he desires. But if the honorable senator wants to make me believe that his intentions are honest, he will have very great difficulty.
– It was for the honorable senator to make me believe that he was honest in regard to his suggested amendment, but he has failed.
– I honestly wish to amend the Bill.
– The honorable senator says that he does.
– But Senator Trenwith moves an amendment now in a way in which he is positively certain it can. not be carried.
– And if it were carried it would place him in the position in which he objects to be placed.
– It would, absolutely. If the proposed new section 94B were’ omitted, and the amendment I have suggested were proposed, even the objections urged by Senator Clemons might be overcome. I have proposed that we should say that during a period of fifteen years, after the ist July, 1910, and thereafter “ until the Parliament otherwise provides,” certain things should be done. If Senator Clemons desired that the matter should be left entirely to Parliament, and that there should be no time limit, he might move that the first words of the proposed new section I have suggested be left out, and that it shall commence with the words “Until the Parliament otherwise provides.”
– That would mean that it would be subject to revision with every annual Estimates.
– It does not matter. I am answering Senator Clemons’ objection to a limit of time. We proposed a time limit because a number of the members of the Committee declared themselves in favour of it. Senator Trenwith had declared himself in favour of it, but the honorable senator will only move his amendment in a way in which he knows it will not be carried.
– I have moved it in a way which will not endanger the passing of the Bill.
- Senator Millen has said that if the amendment we suggest were carried the Bill would be lost. I do not agree with that view. In my opinion it would be a better Bill than it is now, because, ultimately, the power to deal with the matter would be left to this Parliament. I am very tired of listening to the arguments of Senator Trenwith. If people will impugn his intentions, here or outside, I will impugn them anywhere. Does the honorable senator think that I am to be bullied by his threats or by those of any one else?
– The honorable senator knows that he can be impudent where he likes.
– If Senator Trenwith thinks that he is going to live for ever on the reputation that he gained through the instrumentality of the workers of Victoria he is making a very great mistake. It will not pay the honorable sena tor to get up amidst the cheers of Senators Fraser and McColl, and tell the people of Australia that he does not care for anybody or for any party or for any section in the Senate.
– They know that. I need not tell them; they have ample evidence of it.
– Order !
– I have not been seeking a label, like a sausage.
– Order ! A great part of Senator Trenwith’s speech was taken up in defending himself from irrelevant interjections. I could not stop the honorable senator. The interjections have been answered, and I cannot .allow Senator McGregor now to refer any further to Senator Trenwith except as to arguments used by him which were relevant to the question.
– With all due deference, sir, to your direction on this question, a great many things .were said by Senator Trenwith that were not in reply to interjections.
– I do not think so.
– The honorable senator’s statement that trie amendment I moved would kill the Bill was not due to an interjection, and that is what I am referring to.
– The honorable senator will be quite in order in referring to that.
– When Senator Trenwith moves an amendment which he knows in his heart that he has not the slightest possiblity of carrying, am I not justified in saying that it is an attempt to hoodwink the Committee, and to deceive the people of Australia as to his real intentions? If I am not to be at liberty to say that, and to characterize Senator Trenwith in the way I have done, then Parliamentary institutions are not what I always understood them to be.
– The honorable senator is not in order in reflecting on the honour of any member of the Committee.
– I do not know the term in connexion with a position such as this. When I recognise honour I pay respect to it, but for actions of this description my respect is something which cannot be expected.
– A great deal has been said about the tactics which have been adopted, but I do not know that any Government has a right to claim that they shall carry any measure if they have not a majority behind them. That seems to be the claim now made. I wish to speak without heat, and to put the position clearly. Senator Trenwith, no doubt, in a perfectly friendly way, spoke of Senator Symon’s eloquence and forensic ability in deluding juries. If Senator Symon has been successful in that, I hope that at least Senator Trenwith will not be successful in deluding the electors as to his intention in moving his amendment. The Vice-President of the Executive Council made a threat that if the amendment suggested from this side were carried the Bill would be dropped.
– It was not a threat, but a plain statement of fact.
– I ask why should it be dropped? Honorable senators of both branches of this Parliament have expressed a unanimous desire to give the States all that this Bill proposes to give them. The only point at issue is whether there shall be a limit of time. Senator Trenwith would not support an amendment which would bring about a limit of time, while proclaiming his desire for such an amendment of the Bill. The honorable senator knows, as does every other member of the Committee, that his amendment cannot be carried, because there is not a majority in favour of it.
– Then we shall have the Bill with all its faults, which is what I desire.
– Does the honorable senator really think that there is the slightest hope that his amendment will be carried? Does he not know that the numbers are against it? He does know it,and he would not have moved his amendment if he did not believe that to be the case.
– That is untrue; that is all.
– I am prepared to take the responsibility of saying in this chamber, or outside of it, and in the presence of Senator Trenwith, that behind his amendment is a hypocritical desire to delude the people, and to avoid responsibility.
– The desire of honorable senators opposite is to kill the Bill.
– We are honest in declaring that we wish to destroy certain provisions of the Bill. Let Senator Trenwith be honest, and give up this hypocritical pretence by which he expectsto delude the electors.
– Order ! I have ruled that one honorable senator must not reflect upon the honour of another.
– It is only Senator E. J. Russell; do not bother.
– Thank God it is, and not backed up by the position of Senator Trenwith this morning. If the amendment suggested from this side would kill the Bill, 1 believe that the amendment which the honorable senator has proposed will be the means of killing “ Bill” Trenwith ; at all events I hope so. We are taking the only course which is open to us to secure a time limit, and one which Senator Trenwith has indorsed. Every honorable senator knows that there is not the slightest chance of a time limit being agreed to. Senator Trenwith has given a promise that in the event of its rejection he will vote for the third reading of the Bill. Would it not have been more candid and more direct - at any rate, it would have let the public know exactly the position - had he said, “If it were not owing to my position in relation to the Fusion Government I would have voted for a time limit, but seeing that I am bound hand and foot to be their slave, their tool, I will make a pretence, praying to God that it shall never be carried out.”
– It must be evident to honorable senators, if they have not recognised the fact before, that this is merely a contest between the supporters of the Bill and those who are seeking to smash it. That is undoubtedly the intention of the Opposition. I would make some distinction between the members of the Opposition and gentlemen like Senator Symon who is supporting them. He takes the ground that we, in assenting to this Bill, will surrender one of our powers, but I think that he is not doing justice to the sovereign States of Australia.
– The honorable senator is not doing justice to the sovereign Commonwealth, to the sovereign Parliament.
-Thehonorable senator is willing to some extent to close his eyes to the overwhelming importance of the future financial position of the States.
– Not at all.
– I shall repeat a remark which I made here last week with regard to the State of Victoria. Although it is the smallest of the continental States, yet its area is larger than the combined areas of Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Switzerland, and Greece.
– What hasthat to do with the amendment?
– It has something to do with the necessity of the States to get an agreement such as has been arrived at. It shows that they have a vast amount of work to do.
– Nobody is objecting to the agreement to give the States 25s. per head.
– The honorable senator’s position is that the agreement is a very good one, but the longevity of it is what he objects to.
– I do not object to its longevity. What I object to is putting the agreement into the Constitution and taking away our power.
– Then the honorable senator should accept the Bill as it stands.
– Why ?
– The honorable senator says that the Bill is a good one.
– Leave the power in the hands of the Parliament and I will assent to the Bill.
– The power of Parliament will be left in its hands.
– I have said repeatedly, and it must be clear to honorable senators, that at the end of six or nine, or eighteen years, the Parliament can again go to the people, and present a case for an alteration of the Constitution. I am not going to labour the matter as that is quite unnecessary. The position is clear and absolute. We are dealing with something more than a mere Bill. If we alter the Bill, we alter the agreement. I am here to support the latter. Going before the electors, as I shall do in the course of a fewmonths. I declare that I would rather go to them with the agreement defeated here than sustained, because I know how they would act. I know their wishes in the matter, and I am quite certain that they mean to have this agreement whether it is carried here now, or later. I think that honorable senators would do wisely for their own sakes to allow the agreement to be carried as speedily as possible.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania) cause so many honorable senators were anxious to speak. There are two or three things which have been overlooked. We are all of the opinion apparently that this agreement is a good one as to a per capita contribution. We are all in favour of it. The answer to Senator Symon and Senator Pearce, and others, is that you could not get an agreement except upon the terms which the heads of the States and the Prime Minister came to. It was a compromise. The States said that they must have the agreement embodied in the Constitution. Senator Symon, after objecting to that proposal, said : “ Yes, I will allow the agreement to go into the Constitution, but for a limited time.” Can he not allow it to go into the Constitution for a time, which may be altered by the will of the people. They gave us the authority which we have, and can take it away. We ought to think more of the people, and less of the party manoeuvres which are now being carried on. I would remind the senators from Western Australia that under the agreement their State will receive in the special grant , £3,250,000, but if there is no agreement, it will stand to lose.
– If it stood to gain £23,000,000, that would not justify us in being traitors to this Parliament.
– If there is no agreement, the probability is that the State will not get the large subsidy which it will otherwiseobtain. However, that is a matter for the consideration of its representatives.
– The last speaker has made an appeal to the representatives of Western Australia to assent to this agreement. We represent the largest State, and there is no telling what the future holds in store for a territory which contains such a vast unexplored area as it does. If a few gold- fields were discovered ten, or fifteen, or twenty years hence, that would send the receipts from Customs and Excise up with a bound. In a case of that kind, it is very necessary indeed that this Parliament should have in its hands the power to review the position with a view to giving fair play to the States. If, however, this agreement were embodied in the Constitution, then Western Australia would have to seek the assistance of the other States to remodel the Constitution, and I am very doubtful whether they would assist to do that.
– With the honorable senator’s principles, all that he would have to do would be a little log-rolling here.
– I shall always be found prepared to deal with the financial position of Western Australia or Tasmania, or any other State, on its merits. 1 am not in favour of fixing the duration of this agreement for such a short period as that which Senator McGregor indicated. I believe that it would be better to adopt a period of twenty, or twenty-five years. I am certainly not in favour of planting the agreement permanently in the Constitution, even if I thought that it would temporarily benefit my State. I think it is a vital matter for this Parliament to retain its powers. Senator Trenwith admits that the agreement is imperfect, and yet, rather than adopt a proper course, he has, in his useless way, proposed an amendment which can only end in defeat, and, at the same time, rob the Senate of the power of recording the will of the majority. There is a sufficient number of honorable senators who are prepared to so amend the agreement as to bring it into an acceptable shape, but Senator Trenwith will not embrace the opportunity to get what he professes to desire. I am sorry that he is not present to hear me say that he would not have moved the amendment if he had known that it would be carried. I am ready to repeat that statement here or elsewhere.
– A greater exhibition of mock heroics, make-believes, and backsliding on the part of a politician - I refer to Senator Trenwith - has not, so far as I am aware, been witnessed in any Parliament in Australia. When he addressed himself to the second reading of the Bill, he made it very clear that it contained serious and fatal defects, and that when the Committee stage was reached, he would do all in his power to remove those blotches. He assured more than one member of the Opposition that he would help that body and Senators Symon and Keating to make the Bill a better one than it is. Let us analyze the position in which he finds himself in respect to the amendment which he has submitted.
– The trouble is that he did not fall into the trap.
– No trap was set. Every move on the part of the main Opposition was clear and above board.
– Good tactics.
– If our action has been in accordance with the Standing
Orders, why this gibe that it was a trap? If it was a move which could not have been contemplated by the Government, that shows the wakefulness of those who sit on this side. It shows how conscious we are of the powers which we possess under the Standing Orders. True Australians desire to see the national powers remain for ever with the National Parliament, and, in order to attain that object, the Opposition desire the elimination of a provision which would place the financial agreement in the Constitution for all time. They decided to move for the deletion of proposed new section 94B, and afterwards to submit an amendment which would give those who favour a time limitation an opportunity of recording their opinions. Senator Millen has had the whip cracked in and around the building. If there was one uncomfortable being in Victoria during the last half -hour or so, if there was one person who was uneasy in regard to the attitude which he was to take, if there was one person who was in a state of perplexity as to what would be to his advantage, in respect to this measure, it was Senator Trenwith. It suddenly dawned on him - no, I do not think that it dawned on him, because he is not sufficiently wide awake to see a point when it is before him - but probably it was suggested to him that he should commandeer an amendment which was to be submitted by Senator Stewart for the purpose of saving his political skin. But he will not save it. When it was stated by members of the Opposition that, in the event of proposed new section 94B being negatived, Senator McGregor’s amendment would be submitted, the Vice-President of the Executive Council stated that the insertion of a time limit to the agreement would kill the Bill.
– I said that the striking out of proposed new section 94B would kill the Bill.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council said plainly that the insertion of a time limit in the agreement would kill the Bill.
– I said that the striking out of proposed new section 94b would have that effect.
– Suppose that the amendment which Senator Trenwith has commandeered from Senator Stewart be carried, what will be the attitude of the Government? Will they drop the Bill because an amendment which was to have been submitted by Senator Stewart has been carried at the instance of one of their supporters? We have made history this morning. Some honorable senators have been unmasked, and they will be marked men when they face the music at the next general elections.
– Cheer up.
– It takes a lot to cheer up some honorable senators. They have walked themselves to a standstill this morning in an endeavour to leg-rope one or two honorable senators to help them out of a difficulty. Nobody has been more active than has Senator Chataway, the Government Whip.
– The honorable senator himself is endeavouring to terrify another honorable senator.
-I am not.
– The honorable senator should not threaten that another honorable senator will be a “ marked “ man.
– I must ask Senator Findley to confine himself to the question which is before the Chair.
– I have endeavoured rigidly to confine myself to the amendment, but other honorable senators have been permitted to indulge in the use of the personal pronoun, until it became absolutely nauseating. Surely, then, I may be allowed for a moment or two to depart from the question which is before the Chair.
– The honorable senator was yelling at Senator Trenwith all the time that he was speaking.
– I will yell at him a little more.
– All the honorable senator’s yelling will not harm him.
– Of a political squirt or squib like Senator Sayers I take no notice.
– The honorable senator is a political squib of the lowest type.
– I am a true Nationalist. I dare say that the Government are now in an agreeable frame of mind, because they have obtained eleventh hour support for the Bill.
– Is that why the honorable senator is so angry ?
– Whatever may be the numbers recorded in the division upon proposed new section 94B, the Opposition have shown by the move which they have made that they are extremely anxious to uphold the dignity and honour of this Parliament, and that they do not desire its power to be emasculated at the behest of the State Premiers.
– A rather peculiar amendment has been submitted under peculiar circumstances.
– By a peculiar person.
– I intend to show that in submitting this proposal, Senator Trenwith cannot possibly be animated by any feeling of sincerity. It has been laid down by the Government as a sinequâ non that this Bill must pass in its present form, otherwise it will be consigned to the waste paper basket. The Vice-President of the Executive Council cannot deny that.
– I do deny it.
– The honorable gentleman cannot deny it.
– I absolutely deny it.
– Then the Opposition have offered him a road by which the Government-
– We do not want a road.
– Neither does Senator Trenwith. It would be idle for me to say that I was in favour of doing acertain thing if I religiously abstained from adopting the only effective way of doing it. Senator Trenwith reminds me of the farmer who declared his intention to grow a crop of wheat, but who, instead of cultivating his land, left it untouched, and then scattered the seed over it. As a result, he obtained no crop. As a matter of fact, he never expected one. He merely pretended to do so. Senator Trenwith assured me that he was in favour of attaching a time limit to the operation of the proposed agreement, and that he would vote for any proposal in that direction. He said that, to him, the most objectionable feature of the Bill was-
– The only objectionable feature.
– I accept the honorable senator’s correction. He said that the only objectionable feature of the Bill was that it did not contain a time limit. We now ask him to eliminate proposed new section 94B, and to substitute a provision containing a time limit.
– We ask him to do everything that he can to succeed in his intentions.
– We ask him to adopt the only effective means at his dis- posal to secure a time limit to the operation of the proposed agreement and he refuses to adopt it. Instead, he moves an amendment which he knows cannot be effective.
– An amendment which will save the Bill.
– It will do nothing of the sort.
– If it will not save the Bill, why is the honorable senator so angry ?
– It has been publicly admitted by the persons concerned that the chief reason underlying the agreement which is embodied in this Bill is a political one - that the Commonwealth Fusion Government gave their adhesion to that agreement so that they might secure the support of the various Fusion State Governments at the next election.I am perfectly certain that that is the very reason why Senator Trenwith is supporting the proposed agreement without any limitation.
– Is that why the honorable senator is endeavouring to kill the Bill?
– I am in, favour of the Bill with proper limitations. Senator Trenwith professes to be in favour of it with similar limitations.
– I am anxious to see a time limit imposed to the operation of the agreement, but I am in favour of the Bill either with or without limitation.
– The honorable senator knows that he cannot secure the support of the forces at the back of the Fusion Government at the approaching general elections unless he supports the Bill.
– Do not speak so loudly.
– I will speak just as loudly as I think fit, irrespective of any objection on the part of Senator Mulcahy.
– It will take a lot of persuasion to induce people to believe that I am not a friend of the Bill.
– The honorable senator boasts that at the first Senate elections he was returned at the head of the poll with a majority of 5,000 votes, despite the opposition of a great daily newspaper, but he omitted to tell us that upon that occasion there was a multiplicity of candidates, and that he received a large sympathetic vote from persons who imagined that he had been harshly treated by that great journal. At the next election, however, the public will know that any harsh statements which that newspaper may make concerning him will be perfectly justified. Senator Trenwith has succeeded in fooling all the people of Victoria for some time, and some of its people for all time, but he cannot hope to fool all of them for all time.
– He was returned upon a wave of tears.
– As I have already pointed out, a considerable number of honorable senators are in favour of adopting a certain courseof action. When a man wishes to do a thing, he will naturally endeavour to do it by adopting the most effective means at his disposal. He will not attempt to do it in a way that he knows it is impossible for him to do it. If Senator Trenwith wished to get to Tasmania, he would naturally go by the boat. He would not wait here till a railway was constructed, and he would not attempt to swim. He would know that neither of those means would be effective in enabling him to reach his destination. But in regard to this Bill, he says that though he has a certain object in view, he will not . adopt the most effective method of securing it.
– He would not pull the plug out of the bottom of his vessel and allow it to sink.
– Nobody is asking him to do that. There is a proposed new section in this Bill which requires to be eliminated before another provision can be substituted for it. Senator Trenwith declares that he is in favour of eliminating that proposed new section, but he will not do it. He thinks that the people of Victoria can be fooled for all time in that way. It is ridiculous to imagine that the electors of any State are so simple as to be gulled by such a transparent absurdity.
– They have given him a little more leg-rope than he expected, but he must not go too far.
– Up to the present I have credited him with being sincere.
– Everybody who knows me does that.
– I have endeavoured to credit him with every trait that is good and admirable. But I did so because I did not know him until the present moment.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15p.m.
– Immediately before the adjournment Senator Trenwith said, by way of interjection, that the people of Victoria believed in him because they knew him. My reply was that up to the present moment I had believed in him, but evidently that was because I did not know him. I perceive that my faith in him has been misplaced. I was one of those who believed when Senator Trenwith declared to me and the Senate that he was in favour of a limitation, that his statement might be accepted in good faith. I believed that he really meant what he said. But a number of others, who apparently knew him better, assured me that he did not mean anything of the sort. I stuck to him, but he has proved that their lack of faith in him was justified, and that my trust was not. I am very sorry for. that. I like to believe the best of a man. Senator Trenwith cannot blame me if in the future I decline to repose the same faith in any professions he may make, as I have done in the past; because it is very hard, when a man has once been deceived, to bestow faith in the person who has deceived him. I wish to point out to Senator Trenwith once more what the position is with regard to the course suggested by Senator McGregor, and that which he himself intends to follow. The position is prescribed by the Constitution. In order that there may be equal representation of the States in the Senate, each State has six senators, and every senator, including the President and Chairman of Committees, has one vote and one vote only. There is the further provision to prevent deadlocks, that when there is an equality of voting the question shall pass in the negative. The object of that is to leave things as they were. It is well known that” there are in the Senate eighteen who are absolutely opposed to this Bill in its present form; they prefer some other form. Senator Trenwith shares that view.
– I prefer this Bill in its present form to no Bill.
– The honorable senator said that if he could he would alter the form. But when it is shown how he can do that, he refuses to do it. There is one way to do it.
– I decline to take the way suggested by the Opposition, because that would mean losing the Bill.
– The honorable senator does not want to alter the Bill, or he would not refuse to take the only means of effecting that purpose. He says that he is opposed to making a provision for perpetuity. We show him the way in which he can secure a limitation. He refuses to take that course because a number of honorable senators opposite would then refuse to put in the substitute which he favours.
– Hear, hear; that is the difficulty.
– But if his own amendment were carried the position would be just the same - the Government would refuse to accept the modification which he favours. What a ridiculous position to assume ! When he is shown a means of securing what he professes to desire to secure, he runs away in the most cowardly fashion - I do not accuse him of personal or physical cowardice, but of political cowardice - to save his own political skin. That is what it means. He knows that if he dared to put the Government in an embarrassing position in regard to this financial agreement, they would put up a candidate against him at the next election.
– I do not fear that.
– That is dreadful !
- Senator Fraser knows that as well as I do. He knows that he and his party now hold Senator Trenwith like a little puppet in the hollow of their hand.
– I must inherit all these bad qualities from my forefathers !
– I am not accusing the honorable senator of having bad qualities, but of being possessed of such astuteness that he knows he is able to make Senator Trenwith run away from his professions, eat his words, and be false to his declared intentions.
– We know him of old, and we know Turn better than that.
– There is no one in Australia who has abused Senator Trenwith more than Senator Fraser has done.
– I never did.
– But the honorable senator has been making a mistake all the time. Senator Trenwith was never an enemy of his class and party”. They had only to make things easy for him and he would do exactly as they pleased.
– The honorable senator is doing nothing but defame characters.
– I am doing nothing of the kind. I am establishing a position that cannot be denied. How could I go to Queensland and say to the people, “ I was ready to do the right thing, but when the chance offered itself, refused to adopt the only means of doing it?”
-Colonel Cameron. - I rise to order. I wish to know whether Senator Givens is in order in traducing the integrity of another honorable senator?
– I was about to remind Senator Givens that the question before the Chair is Senator Trenwith ‘s amendment, not his political character. I must say that too much language of a personal’ nature has been used throughout the debate.
– I have not abused any one. I have simply pointed out the real position of the case. If the facts are detrimental to Senator Trenwith, so much the worse for him. That is not my fault. I have not made the facts.
– Nor are the facts as the honorable senator has stated them.
– They are. There is not a single person in this Senate who can den the facts which I have stated.
– We do deny them. Senator GIVENS. - Senator *** Trenwith, by way ot interjection, when **Senator Sv mon was speaking, said that the honorable senator was pleading for reposing a trust in future Parliaments, and he added, “ You are willing to trust future Parliaments, but are not willing to trust the next five Parliaments.” Is not that the same position as Senator Trenwith himself occupies? If he is in earnest in wishing to impose a limitation, why should he find fault with Senator Symon for following the course which would have that effect ? He said plainly that he was in favour cf a limitation.
– I say so now. Senator GIVENS. - That means that he will not trust future Parliaments. We can more easily see what the requirements of the Commonwealth will -be fifteen years ahead than fifty. We have certain facts to go upon, and can fairly well gauge the possibilities for the next fifteen years. That being so, Senator Symon was willing to give the advocates of this agreement a certainty for fifteen years. Yet Senator Trenwith, who is in favour of a limitation, sneered at him for advocating the very thing which Senator Trenwith professes to favour.
– We are all ready for a division.
– There are several who are not ready for a division. By inviting the people of Australia to sanction this agreement in perpetuity. we are inviting them to put themselves into a strait-jacket. We hold up the agreement to them and say that we are offering them a nice garment to wear. At the same time, however, we carefully disguise the fact that the coat is a strait-jacket which isintended to tie up the people hand and foot for all time. “ Trust the people,” honorable senators opposite say. But we cannot trust the people when this garment is upon them, because the majority of them will not be able to get out of it if they want to. Four-fifths of the people might be in favour of throwing off the straitjacket, but they would not have the slightest possible chance, because the Constitution requires that there shall be a majority of the people and a majority of the States.
– Does the honorable senator object to that provision?
– I am not now spying whether it is right or wrong. I am merely pointing out ‘the position. Before an amendment of the Constitution can be secured, the Government of the day must initiate a measure for that purpose. Owing to the exigencies of politics, a Government might be unwilling to take that action. It might enjoy the confidence of the people on various other questions, but might refuse to bring forward a measure to alter the Constitution. The measure now before us was not initiated by the Commonwealth Government ; it came from a secret caucus of State Premiers. The Government, to save their own political skins, took it up. The majority of the members of another place declared against this Bill.
– Then how did it get here?
– Because the Government dragooned their supporters into voting for it. A majority of the members of the Senate has not declared in favour of it. In this Chamber the numbers for this Bil! and for an alternative are absolutely equal. How then could it be said that we are adopting the proper procedure for securing an amendment of the Constitution ? We are not fulfilling the first condition required by the Constitution. Not only were honorable members in another place dragooned by the Government, submitted to pressure of the grossest kind ; not only were threats and offers made to them to secure the passing of the Bill, but it was “ gagged “ through in that Chamber. Possibly it will be “ gagged” through the Senate also. Will any one contend that that is a proper way in which to proceed with an amendment of the Constitution? Senator Symon very properly asked this morning whether it is not a very serious matter that if this proposal is carried it will be because of the negative vote provided for under the Constitution. If Senator Trenwith’ s amendment were to go to a vote and eighteen members of the Committee voted for it, it would be only “Senator Negative” who would prevent its embodiment in the Bill. If Senator Trenwith had thought that his amendment would be carried, he would never have moved it, because he has been shown a way in which he might attain his object, and has refused to take it.
-Colonel Cameron. - “Timeo Danaos, et dona ferentes.”
– Who is that honorable senator when he is at home? I think that I have put the question fairly. Honorable senators on this side are willing to give a fair deal to the States. They are willing even to accept the dictum of the State Premiers as to the amount which should be returned to the States, and to agree to the return of that amount for a fairly long period.
– The honorable senator’s party believe in taking the lot.
– That is absolutely false.
– I do not propose to go into the whole question again ; but if it were not the desire of Senator Pulsford and his party to saddle the poor people of the Commonwealth with indirect taxation, there would be no need for the Commonwealth Parliament: to do any more than raise sufficient revenue for its own requirements. If our Tariff did bring, in more than we required, I have said that I should be prepared to return to the States the last farthing that we did not require for ourselves. I remind the honorable senator of the generous offer made to the States by the late Labour Prime Minister. Every member of the Labour party was and is prepared to stand by that offer. We are asked to let this matter go before the people in such a way as to leave them practically no alternative They would be unable tn say whether they desired that the amount returned should be £i or 30s., or any other amount, and they would be unable to say whether in their opinion the agreement should continue for five, ten, fifteen or twenty years. They would be left to accept the dictum of the Government which the Government have themselves taken from the State Premiers who were assembled in the secret caucus. The position in which this Parliament has been placed by a recreant Government is humiliating, lt is especially humiliating to the Senate, which was elected by the people to safeguard the interests of the States.
– How is it humiliating? Suppose the people refuse to accept this agreement?
– I say that we are being asked to abrogate our rights. Instead of being asked to arrive at a conclusion upon this question of our own volition, we are being asked to accept the dictum of the State Premiers. That is what Senator Clemons appears to be going to do.
– If the people reject the Bill, shall we not get back to precisely where we are?
Senators GIVENS. - I am satisfied that if people who had confidence in the ability and trustworthiness of ‘Senator Clemons appointed him with power to act as their trustee the honorable senator would not, merely because he found the position difficult, or because some one threatened him with opposition at an election, run whining to the people who trusted him “ Please relieve me of this trust.” I have too great a respect for the honorable senator to believe that he would basely give up his trust in such a way. The Senate was specially created in order to safeguard the interests of the States. I know some of the State Premiers, and I have read most of their speeches upon this question. I see around me honorable senators from every State, and of every political party, who know quite as well as does any State Premier in what direction the true interests of their States lie, and who are quite as capable of safeguarding them. That being so, I object to the interference of these outside people, who were never given any authority to interfere. I object to the Senate being asked to be false to the trust imposed in it by the people, and I shall do my level best to retain for this Parliament the power that it now possesses, and to put a just interpretation upon the Constitution which is the deed of partnership between the Commonwealth and the States.
– After the speech delivered by Senator Trenwith in moving his amendment, I realize that the race between the State Righters and the Nationalists is about run and the’ battle about to be decided. The discussion of this question in both
Houses of this Parliament has been a fight between the State Righters and the Nationalists. I did hope that Senator Trenwith would remain amongst the Nationalists.
– The honorable senator was never there.
– I thought at one time he was there and would remain there. His speech in moving his amendment has shown that he has left the Nationalists and has gone over to the State Righters. Realizing that the numbers are up, and that the Fusion agreement is about to’ be carried with the deliberate assistance of Senator Trenwith, I shall not prolong the debate upon the amendment. When Senator Givens was speaking, Senator Pulsford interjected that the Labour party ‘desired to take all the money from the States. I take this opportunity of challenging the honorable senator to mention any speech or vote in either House of the Federal Parliament which indicates that the Labour party are desirous of taking from the States the whole of the money.
– f think that Senator Givens very fairly stated the position when he said that the Labour party are prepared to treat the States liberally, and to give them all that the Commonwealth does not want.
– Then the honorable senator would give the States something that the Commonwealth* does want.
– I am not dealing with Senator Givens’ speech, or with the construction put upon it by the “VicePresident of the Executive Council. I am dealing with an interjection made by Senator Pulsford.
– Will the honorable senator allow me to say that the AttorneyGeneral of the late Labour Government in another place distinctly said “ Take the lot.”
– Here again Senator Pulsford is trying to get out of the unfortunate position in which he placed himself.
– No; I am only giving the quotation - for which the honorable senator asked.
– We know that one swallow never made a summer.
– The honorable senator asked for only one swallow, and I gave him one.
– I have no means now of checking the honorable senator’s statement, but even if the AttorneyGeneral of the late Labour Government did make the statement attributed to him, I defy the honorable senator to prove that the Labour party ever wished to take all the money from the States. In support of my statement, I have only to quote the proceedings at the Brisbane Labour Conference. That Conference was Labour’s Parliament for the time being. At it a platform of the policy was approved for the ensuing election. The Conference . also drafted a financial scheme. The speeches of the delegates on that scheme were printed and have been quoted in this debate, and there is nothing in them to justify the allegation made by Senator Pulsford, that the Labour party desired to take all the money from the States.’ On the contrary, the representatives of the party at that Conference desired, as the members of the party now desire, to deal generously with the States while preserving the right and the power given to this National Parliament by the people. I characterized Senator Pulsford’s statement when he made it as absolutely false. I repeat now that his statement was absolutely false.
Senator Pulsford. Is the honorable senator in order in saying the statement I made was absolutely false?
– The honorable senator is not in order. He should withdraw that statement.
– I do not think there is any necessity for me to withdraw it. The honorable senator attacked the Labour party, and said that it wanted to take ali the money from the States.
– If the honorable senator said that the statement of Senator Pulsford is absolutely false, he must withdraw the remark.
– In deference to you, sir, I withdraw the word “ false “ and say that the statement is absolutely incorrect, though I still - think that it is false. Senator Trenwith said that if his amendment providing for a time limit is not carried, he will support the third reading of the Bill.
– Hear ! hear !
– That is why I am now charging the honorable senator with having deserted the national camp and practically turned turtle upon himself. If he thinks that a limitation is necessary-
– I think it is ‘desirable, not absolutely necessary.
– If the honorable senator thinks that the amendment, if inserted, would improve the Bill, and it is rejected-
– Then the Bill, as it stands, will be better than no Bill.
– The honorable senator will stand in a very- curious position if he votes for the Bill as it is. It does not require any extraordinary process of reasoning to point out that he has taken up a false attitude. If I moved an amendment which T thought was absolutely essential to a Bill, and it was rejected, then I should give effect to my opinion by voting against the third reading.
– On that ground the honorable senator ought to have voted for the rejection of the Tariff. .
– There is no analogy between the two cases. Senator Pulsford has, I repeat, alleged that the Labour party want to take the whole of the money from the States. I refer the honorable senator to the report of the Hobart Conference, where Mr. Fisher made an offer which certainly cannot be construed Into a desire on his part, as Leader of the Labour party, to take away from the States all the money.
– Was that offer to go into the Constitution?
– Mr. Fisher made no such offer to the Premiers, but he did mention a sum. There was no intention on the part of himself or his colleagues to insert a permanent provision in the Constitution, nor was there any such intention on the part of the delegates to the Brisbane Congress. I attended that Congress from early morning until late at night for a period of five days, and, as 1 stated in my second-reading speech, there was no intention on the part of a single delegate to place the financial scheme in the Constitution in perpetuity. ‘ ,The opinions of the delegates have since been sought, but only one delegate has asserted that that was the intention. When he was speaking; to his amendment in his usual forceful style, Senator Trenwith said that he did not want a nomination from any party.
– I have never asked for a nomination from a party in mv life.
– The honorable senator said that he did not want a nomination.
– I do not. I cas do without it.
– Has the honorable^ senator been nominated by the Fusion party of Victoria ?
– I have no official knowledge that [ have been.
– It has been stated in the press that the honorable senator was nominated for Victoria by the Fusion party, [f he denies that report-
– I am not denying it. I do not know whether the statement is true or hot. I have not been asked to allow myself to be nominated, and did not ask for a nomination.
– The honorable senator will not deny that he has been nominated by the Fusion party. If it is possible to carry an amendment providing for a limitation, he is proceeding in the wrong way to attain his object. The other day he declared himself in favour of a limitation being made. Generally speaking, I have no fault to find with the agreement, except that it is to be placed in the Constitution in perpetuity. I am prepared to give more than 25s. per ^capita to the States-, and for a longer period than fifteen years. But if Senator Trenwith desires to secure such a limitation, he is taking the wrong way to attain that end. He is also aware that the leader of his party has stated that he will accept no such amendment. Colour is lent to that position by the statement of Senator Trenwith that, if his amendment is not carried, he will vote for the third reading.
– I said that the other night. T said it before to-day. «
– When this question was first brought before the other House, we were told that it was not to be treated from a party stand-point. But the manner in which the Bill was bludgeoned through that Chamber proves conclusively that it was made a party question. The volte face of Senator Trenwith to-day proves that the party whip is also operative in the Senate. There lies the difference between the two parties here. Every member on this side is free to vote for or against the agreement - either in whole or in part - without violating his pledge to his constituents. The whip has not been cracked on this side, hut it is evident that it has been successfully cracked on the other side. I regret to think that by the vigorous use of that whip national rights are about to be sacrificed for the sake of securing party advancement.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [2.56]. - I do not want to delay the division longer than to state the course which I intend to take. Senator Trenwith has moved this amendment knowing full well that it will be defeated. He has said over and over again, both in his speech and by interjection, that his great concern is to save the Bill. He knows quite well, as every one in the Senate knows, that if the amendment introducing a time limit is carried, the Bill will be doomed.
– Then the responsibility will not be with me.
– The honorable senator’s great concern is that the Bill shall be safe, but he knows that if his amendment is carried the Bill will not be safe.
– No !
– The honorable senator may assert “No!”
– I say that I do not know.
– If the honorable senator was here in the early part of the discussion to-day, he must have heard what the Vice-President of the Executive Council said. The statement has been repealed over and over again, and every one except the honorable senator knows, that if an amendment providing for a time limit is inserted, the Bill is to be dropped. That being so, we are entitled to infer that he moved the amendment with no desire that it shall be carried. I suggest to the honorable senator that his attitude is that of the sundowner, who goes about looking for work, and praying to God that he may not find it. The political sundowner moves an amendment, praying to God that it may not be carried, and, in this instance at least, knowing full well that his prayer will be answered, and that his amendment will not be carried. I decline to vote on an amendment moved in such circumstances.
– Senator Symon undertook to show that my amendment, if carried, must necessarily wreck the Bill.
– The Minister has said so.
– I did not hear the Minister’s statement, and if I had done so, I should not have believed that my amendment, if carried, would necessarily wreck the Bill. The question I have to consider is the means which are sought to the end desired. I have it in the most unmistakable terms that Senator Symon is opposed to the Bill.
– “Lock, stock, and barrel.”
– That is not the case.
– I have it that the honorable and learned senator is opposed to the first, second, and third readings of the Bill. I honestly desire to amend the Bill, but I have unhesitatingly arrived at the conclusion that, even if it is not amended, it is so advantageous that it ii preferable to no arrangement at all. Then the question of means arises. The political wreckers - not the sundowners - have sought to wreck the Bill. In the first place, they determined to strike out proposed new section 94B without any qualification.
– Has that proposal been abandoned?
– I think not. Surely a division will be taken on it.
– Those honorable senators who like the Bill, notwithstanding its faults, will certainly vote against that proposal. Then the wreckers asked themselves - “Is there any plausible means by which we can lure the friends of the Bill into voting in favour of our view, whilst deluding them into the belief that they are giving effect to their own view?” That was the net which was spread in sight of the bird by Senator McGregor. Indeed, all through the discussion my honorable friends opposite have adopted tactics which were ‘ calculated to wreck the Bill.
– We wished to give the honorable senator an opportunity of showing what his professions are worth.
– Nothing of the sort.
– The honorable senator is a politcal will-of-the-wisp.
– I do not know what my honorable friend is Two methods were presented for our consideration, neither of them capable of amending the Bill, but one of them capable of wrecking it.
– Were they not both capable of wrecking the Bill ?
– No. In this perplexing position I have adopted the only course open to me to avoid wrecking the Bill.
– The honorable senator is in the company of Senator Fraser.
– Never mind Senator Fraser and myself. We have never travelled very far together. But when Senator Fraser is right I prefer to go with him rather than go with those with whom I have been associated all my life when they are wrong.
– The honorable senator’s proposal, if adopted, will wreck the Bill.
– In spite of what the Vice-President of the Executive Council has said, I venture to say that it will not. If it be adopted, the Government will not dare to drop the measure. If they did their responsibility would be so great that they could not continue in office for twenty-four hours.
– Has the honorable senator any assurance from the Government that if a time limit be inserted in the Bill they will accept it?
– I have never had a word of consultation with them on the matter. °
– But we have had a declaration to that effect.
– I do not care anything for the Government declarations. I entered the Chamber rather late this morning and discovered that a certain proposal was before the Committee. I had to inquire to ascertain what was the exact position. I have taken a course which, has been condemned by Senator Symon-
– A course which is so futile that it seems a farce to persist in it.
– If those who think with the honorable senator are so impervious to reason, my position is, of course, a hopeless one. But if I cannot secure the adoption of my amendment 1 can at least obtain the Bill without that amendment.
– The’ honorable senator is not so sure about that.
– Perhaps not. I do not profess to know positively what are the numbers as does the honorable senator.
– I do not.
– These are the views which have actuated me in the course of action which I have taken.
– Be sure, and do not put in a belated appearance next Wednesday.
– I shall be in time. I was in time this morning, although I was not the first honorable sena- tor here. It might have been possible for Senator - McGregor, with his great astuteness, to delude me. I know that I am unsophisticated and easily taken in, but 1 have seen so much manoeuvring in connexion with this Bill that I had inquired “ What is the meaning of all this underground engineering. What is this thimble a.nd pea business in which certain honorable senators are engaged?” Then, when I saw what was going on to-day, I said to myself, “ This is rather clever. It is what I might have expected from the source from which it has emanated, but it is rather disappointing to my ideal of disingenuousness.” One can see just where the pea is.
– This, simple Sundayschool attitude does not become the honorable senator a little bit.
– The pea is the Fusion nomination at the next election.
– That pea does not trouble me. I have no object but to endeavour, under adverse circumstances, to secure the best arrangement possible for the Commonwealth.
– I am somewhat astonished at the developments which have occurred since the introduction of this Bill. I desire - and I have done so from the very outset - to support some of its provisions. But I am not so widely enthusiastic over >t as is Senator Trenwith. I am not prepared to accept it on any conditions. If the Bill is likely to be wrecked I think that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will be the person who is responsible for its wreckage. For days the measure was under consideration, but it was not until it had passed its second reading that he felt sufficient confidence in his docile followers to declare that unless certain things were done the measure would be killed. When he made that statement this morning I was rather tickled with his position, and for a moment I wondered whether effect would be given to his declaration in connexion with every other Bill which may be presented to us during the remainder of the session. The position which he has taken, up means that there is no further need for the existence of this Parliament. . It means that if the Ministry choose to enter into an agreement with any outside body there is no necessity for “them to submit that agreement for the indorsement of this’ Parliament. If agreements made by the Ministry are to be like the laws of the Medes and Persians, it is criminal for them to occupy the time of Parliament in their discussion, when they know that unless those agreements are approved in their entirety they will be thrown into the waste-paper basket. If Senator Trenwith is willing to subscribe to such a position of affairs, I am not. Neither do I accept the honorable senator’s definition of a “ wrecker “ of the Bill. I am sorry that he has seen fit to turn his back upon the Chamber at this particular moment, because I want to remind him of a former occasion when he was called upon to pull the Government, of which he is such a servile follower, out of a difficult position in almost similar circumstances. ^
– He is slavishly helping his erstwhile political enemies.
– It will be recollected that on the occasion in question the Government - having neither this Bill nor any other to occupy the attention of the Senate - had to call Senator Trenwith to their assistance and induce him to trump up a little private Bill to afford them time 10 consider their position. Similar circumstances have arisen on the present occasion. His declaration was emphatic that he was an opponent of the provision of this Bill which gives perpetuity to the conditions embodied therein. He made his position indisputably clear. But, after that declaration was made, I presume that the Government were disturbed, and they set themselves to think cut a method by which they might escape. They hit upon the plan of having Senator Stewart’s amendment moved in place of that which had been suggested by Senator McGregor. Now, if this amendment had been in the hands of Senator Stewart, I should have believed that there was some sincerity in the attempt of the mover. As it is in the hands of Senator Trenwith, I am decidedly of the opposite opinion. There is not only no sincerity in the action which he has taken, but there is a deliberate attempt to befool the Committee and the country with a proposal which he has no intention of endeavouring to carry. As n supporter of the Bill in every respect. a Dart from its perpetuity provision, I am of opinion that Senator McGregor has done wisely in sug gesting an amendment which, if carried, would meet with the approbation of a very large section of the people. But I recognise that it will fail to gratify the desire of those who, without a mandate from the people or from the Parliament, have sought to compel us to swallow whatever scheme they might connive at.
– As I should like to address some remarks to Senator Trenwith, I wish that you, sir, would procure a quorum. [Quorum formed]. The stage which we have reached is another peculiar development in the strange history of this measure.
– I desire to call attention to the State of the Committee. [Quorum formed].
– There have been many peculiar incidents in connexion with this Bill ; but one of the most peculiar is that which we have been witnesses of to-day. I do not intend to go over the arguments for and against the Bill. Neither shall I attack Senator Trenwith for the attitude he has adopted. But I do wish to comment upon one statement which he made. I wish he had had the courage to come in when the bell rang for a quorum. He rushed away while Senator Henderson was speaking. Perhaps the Government are keeping him under observation, in order that he may not slip them up. The honorable senator made a statement which was not denied by the Government, and which is of considerable importance. It should receive, either confirmation or contradiction from the VicePresident of the Executive Council. He stated that the amendment suggested by Senator McGregor would, if carried, have the effect of killing the Bill. The effect of that amendment would be to delete proposed new section 94B, and to put in another provision.
– No; the supporters of the amendment could not put in another provision.
– Certainly we could.
– They could not ; because they would not have the numbers.
– Senator Trenwith is not the only member of the Senate who believes in a time limit. There is another Ministerial supporter who believes in, and would vote for, a time limit if the Govern ment would say that the effect would not be to kill the Bill.
– The honorable senator has named one senator but not the other.
– The Government can make a statement if they like; and the senator to whom I refer would then soon disclose himself. There is, therefore, an opportunity of testing the truth of my statement.
– Is the honorable senator speaking for himself or for some one else?
– I am speaking for myself ; but I also know of whom I am’ speaking. Let the Government say, as Senator Trenwith said, that if his amendment is carried, the Bill will not be dropped. Then we shall see whether Senator Trenwith’s amendment will be defeated or not. That is the way to test the sincerity of the honorable senator’s declaration. The fact is, that ,the Government dare not make a statement, because they know what the consequences would be ; and that is Senator Trenwith’s justification for taking up the attitude he has done. He knows perfectly well that if the Government were prepared to drop the Bill in the one case, they would in the other. He also knows that his amendment gives the Government the advantage of a negative vote ; because he is well aware that the other honorable senator who would vote for his amendment if it did not mean the loss of the Bill, will vote in the contrary direction if he knows that the Government intend to drop the Bill in the event of. the amendment being carried. Senator Millen need not be informed that I am talking about something of which I know. If, however, he has any doubt about it, let him ask the Government Whip, who will tell him the name of the senator, to whom I am referring.
– I have the greatest possible doubt about the statement /the honorable senator is making.
– I have no doubt about it whatever; but if the Minister wishes to test the accuracy of my statement, he can do so by making a declaration to the effect that the Government will not drop the Bill if the amendment be carried. Then we shall see. What is the history of this matter? First of all, the agreement was conceived in mystery and secrecy, and in suspicious circumstances. It came _ before the other branch of the Legislature, where a majority of honorable members declared themselves absolutely in favour of a time limitation. Only by compelling representatives of the people to swallow their convictions did the Government succeed in enabling the Bill to reach the Senate. What has its history been here? AVe find that there is not a. majority of the Senate in favour of the Bill as it stands. Yet the Bill - which has not a majority in favour of it as it stands in either House - will be submitted to the country as representing the opinion of this Parliament. Was there ever such an extraordinary set of circumstances? Was ever a Bill submitted to the people by such means?. It only shows what peculiar tricks the Parliamentary machine is capable of. Yet, forsooth, the party which has engineered this measure in such a fashion has the audacity to talk of trickery, and to taunt the Opposition with the wiles to which they have resorted !
– And which Senator McGregor admitted.
– I do not wonder at his admitting it. I am going to make a candid confession myself. When Senator Trenwith’s vote was canvassed amongst the members of the Opposition, and inquiries were made as to how he was likely to vote, I was one of those who said I thought he would vote for a time limitation. He told members of our party that he was in favour of one. There were some of us who believed that he was sincere. But there were others of our party who said that they did not believe he would do anything of the kind. Senator McGregor was one of them. He said, “ I do not care what you do or how you do it ; I am quite sure that if anything that is proposed means carrying an amendment, Senator Trenwith will not be with us.” ‘Senator McGregor has been a true prophet. In other words, Senator Trenwith was only prepared to vote for a time limit if he was assured that as a consequence the Government would not drop the Bill. Now he says plainly that he is going to vote to save the Bill. Born in such an inglorious fashion, therefore, this Bill is to go before the people of Australia for their imprimatur. The people are to express their opinion upon it ; but they are to do so manacled on the one hand by their desire to do justire to the States, and on the other by their wish not to do an injustice to their Federal aspirations. The position in which the Parliament and the people are being placed is a most unfair one. But, apparently, the fates have willed it. Senator Trenwith, in an accommodating way, has come to the rescue of the Government, and they are able, by a piece of trickery, to get the Bill on the statute-book. They are welcome to their victory. It is worthy of the Fusion. The proceedings at every stage of this measure have reeked with the atmosphere that has surrounded the Fusion from its birth. The Bill is a worthy child of such unworthy parents. One could only expect such a measure from such a source. I hope that honorable senators opposite are proud of it. I hope that the Government are proud of the fact that they have carried this Bill by the votes of men who do not believe in it, and of men who have acknowledged that they have been compelled to vote against their consciences. In the circumstances they are welcome to any pleasure they can derive from their victory.
Quetion- That proposed new section 94B stand as printed - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed new section 94B agreed to.
Proposed new section 94c agreed to.
Tote of the Committee. I asked the messengers to see that the bells were ringing the moment I heard that some of them were not ringing.
– I move -
That the following proposed new section be inserted : - 94D. (1) The Commonwealth shall during the period of twenty-five years beginning on the first day of July nineteen hundred and ten pay to the State of Tasmania by monthly instalments an annual sum which in the first year shall be Seventy-five thousand pounds and in each subsequent year shall be progressively diminished by the sum of Three thousand pounds. “ (2) One-half of the amount of the payments so made shall be debited to all the States including the State of Tasmania in proportion to the number of their people as ascertained according to the laws of the Commonwealth, and any sum so debited to a State may be deducted by the Commonwealth from any amounts payable to the State under any section of this Act.”
It will be seen that I have followed the wording of the proposed new section 94c with the exception of the last words. The last words of that proposed section are - from any amount payable to the State under the last preceding section or this section.
For those words I have used the words. “ from any amounts payable to the State under any section of this Act,” because I anticipated that there would possibly be some opposition on the part of certain honorable senators who might desire to urge some objection to my proposal on account of its order. I have only to say, in support of my amendment, that, so far as Tasmania is concerned, if the sum of 25s. per head is to be the return to the States, the Parliament of Tasmania will have to find between ,£60,000 and £80,000 per annum in order to liquidate the yearly indebtedness of the State in respect of interest on debts already incurred. Western Australia has been singled out - I do not know why - for special treatment in this regard. It has been contended from time to time that, by reason of its proximity to Victoria and New South Wales, Tasmania has lost considerable Customs revenue because it has been impossible to trace all the goods which have gone into consumption in that State, and in respect of which it should have received Customs revenue. Many attempts have been made to overcome that difficulty. It has not been overcomes yet. We are now, for the - first time, and for all time, going to make a permanent agreement as between the Commonwealth and the States, and I do say sincerely, as I said last night, that if an agreement of this character is to be entered upon, I believe that the provision made is inadequate to meet the requirements of Tasmania. I have no further reasons to offer, at the present juncture, in support of my amendment. I ask the Committee, if there is to be a permanent agreement, to agree to apply to Tasmania for at least a period of twenty-five years a provision somewhat similar to that made in respect of Western Australia.
– An amendment has been moved by a Tasmanian senator which has thrown upon his colleagues in the representation of that. State the responsibility of appearing to vote against some special grant from the Commonwealth to Tasmania. It is not a question of whether Tasmania has been badly or fairly treated. I think that State has not been fairly treated’, but I contend that a proposal of this kind should not have been submitted bv a Tasmanian senator without some intimation of his intention being conveyed to those who are called upon to deal with it. We are not going to be placed in any false position. I am for this Bill, and have been for it throughout, and1 1 am not going to assist Senator Keating or an other member of the Committee to wreck it by any means, direct or indirect. If the honorable senator really believes that what he proposes should be done he had an opportunity, as a Minister of the Crown for many years, % to bring forward his proposal. Let him take a proper opportunity, and enable honorable senators to give proposal proper consideration. I shall not be entrapped-
– Now is the time.
– Now is the time at which 1 am about to meet the electors of Tasmania, and yet I am not going to support Senator Keating’s proposal. My conscience is satisfied, and I shall be able to tell the electors why I oppose it.
– Practically since the establishment of the Commonwealth we have had a continuous cry from Western Australia ai>d Tasmania that through uniting with the other States they have laboured under a disadvantage. This Bill recognises the disadvantage under which Western Australia has suffered, and we are prepared to do something in the direction of placing that State in a more favorable position. I am surprised to learn that a representative of Tasmania is prepared to vote against a similar provision being made for that
State, although it has suffered more than Western Australia.
– What has the honorable senator ever done to help that State ?
– I have always done what I possibly could. No one has had more sympathy with Tasmania than I have had. I have continually deplored the sufferings of its people from the misrule which has continued for fifty years. I shall support the amendment of Senator Keating to do something towards placing the State in a favorable financial position. I consider that it is my duty to support the amendment, seeing that the Senate is prepared to make special provision for Western Australia.
– I am extremely anxious that Tasmania should have justice done to her. I think that the BUI ought to have contained a special provision for Tasmania as well as Western Australia, but as no such provision was made in the agreement, I do not intend to throw away the agreement which has been arrived at.
– There is an offer made now to get a special provision for Tasmania.
– It is an offer which will not be carried, and cannot become law.
– - I hope that Senator Mulcahy will vote for the amendment.
– I am very sorry to hear that.
– If the honorable senator will bring up his proposal in the proper place, he will get a lot of support.
– Will the honorable senator indicate the proper place or the proper time for submitting the proposal ?
– I am indicating that I shall support the proposal, but not now, when the honorable senator wants to wreck the Bill.
– In what circumstances can such a provision be brought up, except here, and now ?
– The honorable senator had ample opportunity, when he was a Minister, to act.
– When I was a Minister I had no opportunity of dealing with this matter. Ministers from the several States met together, agreed upon certain terms, and said to the Commonwealth, “ Take them, or leave them.1’ It was. put in the position in which the people of this country are going to be put directly with regard to this- agreement - “ take it, cr leave it.” There was no question then of meeting on a common ground. So far as I know, no Federal Minister went into a Premiers’ Conference until this year, except, as 1 said last night, without prejudice. He went in there to hear their views ; he went in there to give the most sympathetic consideration to any expression of consideration thev might make ; but he bound himself to nothing, because he recognised - and properly .recognised - ;as the responsible representative of the Parliament and’ people of Australia, that at the end of 1910 with this Parliament alone would rest the determination of this most important question. So far as I know, no honorable senator has any record of the proceedings of the last Premiers’ Conference., but we do know that, as a result of its deliberations, amongst other things, special provision is again proposed to be made for Western Australia. It has enjoyed such treatment for some years. Last night I said, fairly and openly, that it is not the terms of the agreement I am quarrelling with, so much as the idea of embodying it perpetually in the Constitution.. I said last night, and I repeat now, that if the terms were to be discussed, I do not think that they are satisfactory to Tasmania. Finding that the measure is going through the Senate with a perpetual provision of this character, I ask that at least the circumstances of that State shall be considered, and considered justly. I want nothing further than that. I indicated last night that if the terms, and the terms, only .. were to be considered, I’ had no quarrel with them, but that they did not seem to me to be just to Tasmania, and that, if I had the opportunity of doing so, I would see that she got better terms. I ask Senator Mulcahy to. extend the same measure of justice to- that State as he will to Western Australia. The Government can- easily do it.
– Will1 the honorable Senator propose to make the same extension to alt the States while he is about it ?
– No ;. because I do not know that there has been any claim or outcry with regard to any of the other States. So far as the amount is concerned I may be incorrect, if the Minister likes to substitute £50,000 for £75,000. I do not mind if he assures me-
– Any amount would serve the purpose.
– Will not that alter the agreement?
– It is not a question of altering the agreement. If we are to be bound to a perpetual agreement, at least our people should start on a fair basis with the people of the other States.
– Will the honorable senator support another method to get help for Tasmania ?
– Will the honorable senator indicate the method he refers to?
– In the next Parliament, if I am there.
– If -the honorable senator will ask the question now, I shall give him an. answer.
– I think that the honorable senator ought not to have moved this amendment at this time.
– I do not agree with the honorable senator. This is the first and only occasion on which the question of adjusting the financial relations between the States and the Commonwealth has ever been submitted to this Parliament. We now have the first, and, apparently, the only opportunity of adjusting what has been regarded as a financial blunder, so far as Tasmania is concerned. Will Senator Mulcahy support my amendment?
– The honorable senator could support me if he chose. He knows that if he did he would get the support of the people of Tasmania.
– I shall take all the consequences.
– -Why did not the Premier of Tasmania stand out for more at the Conference?
– The proceedings of the Conference have been kept so secret that nobody knows whether or not he did stand out for more. I ask Senator Mulcahy to at least acquit me of any feeling other than that which I expressed’ last night, when I said that, so far as the details were concerned-
– Why did not the honorable senator give notice of ‘this amendment, so that it could be considered?
– Because I thought that the feelings of equity and justice and the sense of responsibility which permeate honorable senators would have prevented the Bill from ever arriving at this stage. I hope that the Committee will consider the amendment on its merits-.
– I decline to discuss the amendment on its merits or demerits. If it has any merits, we have no time in which to give them proper consideration. If Senator Keating believes that Tasmania, should have any allowance, as I think every representative of that State does, he should have given notice of this amendment some time ago, and then we should have been able to form an idea as to whether the amount which he proposes, and the terms which he desires to embody in this provision, were fair to the State or not. At the last hour, when we are dealing with a most important Bill, he has sprung this surprise upon us. I have too high an opinion of him to think that it has been submitted with the object of placing other representatives of the State in a false position. If it had emanated from the other side. I should have been disposed to take that view. The support which it is receiving from honorable senators opposite is extended in order to give some of their colleagues in Tasmania an opportunity of reminding me that I voted against a grant of £75,000 to the State. It does not want any grant from the Commonwealth ; it only asks for its own. I am prepared to take all the consequences of my action. I resent the fact that, in relation to a measure which has been very amplydebated in both Houses, and which we are about to deal with finally one way or the other, the representatives of Tasmania should have been placed in the position of having to apparently, vote against its interests. I resent an amendment of the kind, by whomsoever it is moved, even though it should emanate from a personal friend.
. -Apparently Senator Mulcahy could not make a personal explanation as to his attitude towards the amendment submitted by Senator Keating, without insulting honorable senators upon this side of the Chamber. He stated that he was quite prepared to credit Senator Keating with having submitted that amendment without any ulterior motive, but that had it been submitted by a member of the Opposition he would have thought that it was prompted by an ulterior motive.
– I did say that.
– If such a statement had been made by any other honorable senator I should have said that it was unworthy of him, but I say it is quite worthy of Senator Mulcahy. Whether or not he is prepared to support the amend- ‘ ment is a matter for himself to determine. I intend to deal with the proposal on its merits. If there be any State of the group which is entitled to special consideration it is Tasmania. What are the facts? Under the proposed agreement a large subsidy is to be granted to Western Australia over a term of twenty-five years - a subsidy beginning at £250,000 per annum, and decreasing until it finally disappears. Senator Keating, in order to do justice to his own State, is endeavouring to secure similar assistance for it. Undoubtedly there is more justification for granting special treatment to Tasmania than there is for granting it to Western Australia. There is a provision in the Constitution under which the Commonwealth may grant assistance to any State. Section 06 reads -
During a period of ten years after the establishment of the Commonwealth and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides, the Parliament may grant financial assistance to any State on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit.
– I am not asking for assistance to Tasmania under that provision of the Constitution. Make no mistake.
– If the honorable senator did ask for it under that provision he would probably get it.
- Senator Keating is not asking for anything in the way of charity. But the section in the Constitution which I have quoted enables the Commonwealth to grant assistance to anyState.
– But I am not asking for assistance to Tasmania upon that ground at all.
– I quite realize that. A State might be the most potentially wealthy of the group, and yet require assistance at any juncture.
– I recognise that under the agreement Western Australia is securing special consideration on account of geographical and other conditions, and I ask that Tasmania should be similarly treated.
– The reason why Western Australia will receive special treatment under the agreement is that a large proportion of her population are adult males who are engaged in mining pursuits, and consequently her contribution to the Customs and Excise revenue, which is collected by the Commonwealth, is correspondingly larger than is that of any other State. But there is an equally good reason why special consideration should be extended to Tasmania. Nobody has insisted, more than has Senator Mul- cahy, that owing to her geographical position Tasmania is losing revenue every year. He has repeatedly affirmed that she is not being credited with the amount of Customs and Excise revenue to which she is entitled to be credited, owing to the impossibility of keeping track of the goods consumed within her borders. I shall vote for the amendment, which I hope will be carried.
Question - That the proposed new section be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 and title agreed to
Bill reported without amendment ; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to -
That so much of standing order 271 as refers to a period of twenty-one days be suspended for the remainder of the session for the purpose of expediting the passage through its remaining stages of this Bill.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to -
That the Bill be read a third time on Wednesday next.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to -
That there be a call of the Senate on Wednesday, the 1st day of December, 1909, for. the purpose of considering the third reading of the Constitution Alteration (State Debts) Bill.
Bill returned from House of Representatives without amendment.
Bill returned from House of Representatives without amendment.
– I was under the impression that the motion which I moved a moment or two ago provided for a call of the Senate on the 1st December, for the purpose of considering the third reading of the Constitution Alteration (Finance) Bill. But I am informed that I inadvertently made the motion in reference to the Constitution Alteration (State Debts) Bill. As a mistake has occurred, I should like to be permitted to rectify it.
– We have already decided that there shall be a call of the Senate on Wednesday next for the purpose of considering the third reading of the Constitution Alteration (State Debts) Bill. Does that mean that we shall take the third reading of that measure on Wednesday next?
– On Tuesday next the Constitution Alteration (State Debts) Bill will be dealt with. If the Senate then deems it undesirable to act on the callwhich has already been approved, we can postpone that call until a later period. If, on the other hand, it is then considered advisable to deal with the Constitution Alteration (State Debts) Bill, as every honorable senator will be present on Wednesday in response to the first call, no objection can be urged to dealing with both Bills upon that day. I therefore move -
That there be a call of the Senate on Wednesday, the 1st day of December, 1909, for the purpose of considering the third reading of the Constitution Alteration (Finance) Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.17 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 November 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19091126_senate_3_54/>.