3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 3.10 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator MILLEN laid upon the table the following paper : -
Post and Telegraph Act 1901. - Repeal of Regulations relating to telegrams within the Commonwealth. - Transmission of Telegrams by Telephone. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 115.
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether in view of the fact that repeatedly of late the mail steamer for Tasmania has been delayed for two, three, and, in some instances, four hours, steps cannot be taken by the Post and Telegraph Department to arrange that letters posted within an hour of the actual sailing time may be transmitted by her. Suppose, for instance, that a steamer is advertised to leave -for Tasmania at 4 o’clock, and the mail closes at 3 o’clock, but the boat does not leave until 8 o’clock, letters lodged at the General Post Office at 5 o’clock have, I understand, to wait for the next outgoing steamer. Would it not be possible, as is done in Tasmania in similar circumstances to have letters posted subsequently to 3 o’clock sent by the boat leaving on that day?
– I have no knowledge of the circumstances, but will take an early opportunity to place the representation of the honorable senator before the Postmaster- General .
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs aware of the fact that on the 21st July last, and then on the ground of urgency, he moved the suspension of the Standing Orders in order that he might proceed with the second reading of a. Bill to amend the Australian Industries Preservation Act; and that within a short period the Bill was sent to the other House and has remained there untouched and unconsidered? Can he give the Senate an assurance that it will be dealt with this session ?
– The Government is fully alive to the importance of the measure. Its passage elsewhere has only been delayed by matters of even greater importance demanding urgent attention. It is the full intention of the Government to deal with the measure elsewhere during the present session. case of ex -private macdonnell.
– Is the VicePresident of the Executive Council in a position to give any information in reference to a case in the Defence Department which I brought before the Senate so many months ago that I forget the exact date ? I refer to the claim of ex-Private John MacDonnell for injuries sustained when on duty.
– I have received the following statement : -
The District Commandant reports that a Board of Inquiry was held shortly after the accident, but that the Board did not deal with any question of compensation. No claim for military compensation appears to have been made by
Private MacDonnell until 15th December, 1908; and it having been ascertained that he had already been compensated by the “New South Wales Railway Department to the extent of £73710s., his further claim was apparently not recognised by the military authorities in New South Wales at that time.’ The Minister, however, has now instructed that the usual Board of Inquiry beheld in Private MacDonnell’s claim, and when such Board’s recommendation is received, the matter will h?ve due consideration.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Whether it is the intention of the Defence Department to bring al! or any of the employes of the Ordnance Branch of the Defence Department under military discipline?
It is not proposed to bring those at present under the Public Service Act under military discipline, but consideration will be given to cases of future appointments.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Patents Act 1906 provides - “ Where owing to any error or omission on the part of an officer of the Patent Office any application for a patent or any proceeding in relation thereto has lapsed, or any act or step in relation thereto required to be done or taken within a certain time has not been so done or taken, the Commissioner may -
permit the act to be done or the step to be taken “?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, nf on notice -
Has the Government arranged yet a timetable for the mail ships to the United Kingdom under the new mail contract; if so, will the Minister say what the new arrangements are?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is -
No. The Postmaster-General has been in communication with the contractors on the . subject, but sufficient information is not yet available to enable the details of a time-table to be arranged.
– Will the Government, when they are consulting the contractors, endeavour to arrange that our mail steamers shall leave Adelaide one clay in the week later than they do at present?
– Unless there be some special reason for the suggestion which has been put forward by my honorable friend, I can only add that the” whole of the questions which I assume are involved, are now under consideration.
– I desire to ask whether the Government can give us any idea of the arrangement that is likely to be made in regard to the new time-table, before Parliament prorogues?
– It must be obvious that it is impossible for me to supply that information. The reply which I have already given to the honorable senator is that the information at present available is not sufficient to enable a new time-table to bc arranged. It is impossible to pledge the Government to give a reply within a stated period, seeing that they cannot control the time within which the necessary information will be forthcoming. I will, however, bring under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral the desirableness of expediting thi completion of the new arrangement as far as possible.
– Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council direct the attention of the Postmaster-General tothe fact that under the new contract it. is very probable that. the mail steamers will leave Adelaide on Friday instead, of on Thursday, as hitherto. If that arrangement ,be made - and I believe that it is what is intended - will the PostmasterGeneral endeavour to arrange with the P. and O.. Company that the sailing of their vessels shall, for the convenience of the Commonwealth, be postponed until Saturday ?
– I will see that the suggestion of the honorable senator is immediately placed before my colleague, the Postmaster-General.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, u00% notice -
– Theanswers to the honorable senator’s questions, are as follow : -
Revenue, £51,303 19s. gd.
Expenditure, £228,816 is. id. (including £20,000 redemption of Treasure Hills).
– I move -
That during the remainder of the present session, unless otherwise ordered, Saturday and Monday be meeting days of the Senate, an* that, unless otherwise ordered, the hour of meeting on Saturday be half-past Ten o’clock in the forenoon, the hour of meeting on Monday be Three o’clock in the afternoon, and that the hour of meeting on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday be Eleven o’clock in the forenoon ; and that on such days Government businesstake precedence of all other business on the notice-paper, except questions and formal moi tions.
In recommending this motion to the acceptance of the Senate, I need only say that it is submitted in the belief that it will be possible to terminate the present session during the ensuing week. In moving it 1 cordially invite the co-operation of honorable senators in seeking the consummation of what I believe is the very general desire.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [3.22].- -I do not see why the Seriate should not meet at 11 o’clock on Monday morning. It is quite clear that honorable senators cannot remain in attendance upon their duties on Saturday, return home at the week end, and be back here again by 3 o’clock on Monday afternoon. I therefore respectfully urge that we should meet on Monday morning as well as on Monday afternoon. There is another matter upon which. I should like a little explanation. It has been whispered - indeed, it has been broadly talked of - that although we are to meet on Saturday morning it is intended to adjourn at half-past 12 o’clock in order that honorable senators may attend a football match.
– - Surely there is no football match being played at this time of the vear?
– Then it is a cricket match. For the Senate to meet on Saturday, if it does not sit on Saturday afternoon and Saturday night, is a mere trifling with public business. The business of the country must be proceeded with. We often hear that observation. My honorable friends opposite raise that cry on most inopportune occasions, and I am repeating it on what I trust is an opportune occasion. I am anxious to assist the Government to proceed with public business, but I want to know whether the Saturday sitting of the Senate, is to be confined to a couple of hours in the morning, or whether it is proposed to sit in the afternoon and evening. I certainly object to the Senate not meeting until 3 o’clock on Monday afternoon. We ought to meet at ir o’clock in the morning.
– What about the Cabinet ?
– My honorable friend was once a Cabinet Minister, and he will insist upon reminding me of the fact so often.
– I do not. For goodness sake do not waste time.
– When the President tells me that I am out of order it will be time enough for me to take cognizance of the unruly interjection of the honorable senator. I desire to know whether it” is intended that the Saturday sitting shall extend beyond the luncheon hour.
– If that benot the intention I shall vote against themotion, much as it will pain me to do so. With a view to preventing myself from being excluded from further participating in this discussion after I have heard the explanation of the Vice-President of theExecutive Council, I move -
That the word “ Three,” line 7, be left out,, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Eleven.”
. -This motion makes provision for the sitting pf the Senate on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, but it is silent about the sitting on Friday.
– That sitting is already provided for under our sessional orders.
– Is it intended tomeet at half -past 10 o’clock on Friday morning and to continue sitting until halfpast 10 o’clock at night? .
– The condition of thebusiness paper will determine that.
– I wish to know where we stand. If we are to meet at half-past 10 o’clock on Friday morning and adjourn at the usual hour, namely, 4. o’clock in the afternoon, we ought to know it. Is that the proposal?
– It will be useless tosay that we will go on if we have cleared the business-paper by that time.
– Then we are to assume that if the business-paper is not1 cleared by 4 o’clock on Friday, we shall sit during the evening? We must, of course, submit to some amount of inconvenience at the close of a session ; but will Senator Millen elucidate the position, and tell me whether, if the Senate meets at half-past icon Saturday, it is proposed to sit late on Saturday night? I hope there is to be nocontinuous meeting through Sunday.
– I can ease my honorable friend’s mind with regard to a” Sunday sitting.
– It might make theresponse to the motion more friendly if the Minister could give us a definite undertaking with regard to the sitting on Saturday. I do not think that the Senate hasever sat on Saturday, nor Has the other House, except on one notable occasion.
. I support the motion. I am prepared to sit every day from early till” late to assist in disposing of business. Senator Neild, however, has suggested that if we sit on Saturday morning, there is a possibility of adjourning at half-past 12 in order that honorable senators may attend a sports meeting. I shall certainly vote against the motion if such be the intention. There is a general desire to bring the session to a close, but it will not be justifiable to have a meeting of the Senate on Saturday morning and to close the sitting shortly after noon. If we have an assurance that we are asked to sit extra days and hours in order to dispose of business, I shall be quite willing to assist.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.38]. - I seconded Senator Neild’s amendment, because I thought with him that the hour of meeting on Monday might very well be 11 o’clock in the morning instead of 3 in the afternoon. If we are to sit on Friday evening and on Saturday, there will be no possibility of getting away to the other States. But if it were possible to dispose of business so that honorable senators might be able to get away over Saturday, it would suit some to meet on Monday at 3 in the afternoon, because there is a train which leaves Sydney for Melbourne on Sunday evening. But there is no possibility of South Australian senators going home if we are to meet at all on Monday, because there is no train from Adelaide on Sunday. Perhaps, therefore, the Minister will be able to give us some idea as to what is intended. If there is business to be disposed of on Monday, we must, of course, sit. As to the Saturday sitting, the inquiries which have been addressed to the Minister might very well be answered. An intimation from him as to whether it is intended to sit late on Friday would not in any way bind him. The motion contains the words “ unless otherwise ordered.” It is therefore entirely flexible. An intimation as to the probabilities would be very convenient. As one who has been associated with the conduct of Ministerial business. I know that inconveniences and irregularities of sitting towards the end of a session have to be put up with, but the Minister would secure the friendly sympathy of the Senate for his motion if he could give us an intimation of the probabilities with regard to the hours of sitting.
– The Senate will readily believe that I have no desire to come here one minute earlier than is necessary, or to remain in attendance one minute longer than is necessary. I have submitted the motion not merely with a view to the business which the Senate has to transact, but with an eye on the possibility of business coming to us from another place. Towards the end ‘of every session, there are occasions on which one House is kept waiting for business from the other. Having studied the businesspaper of another place, I have thought it wise to ask the Senate to meet on Monday afternoon. If there is a desire to meet on Monday morning, I have no objection. Indeed, I am perfectly willing to meet at daylight. I have no desire to sit late on Friday. My own impression is that it will not be necessary to sit later than 6.30 p.m. Possibly, if business is disposed of expeditiously, we may adjourn even earlier. As for Saturday, I shall be only too glad to adjourn at noon, if honorable senators assist me to clear the business-paper. But if there is business to be done, and it is not finished by noon, we may have to sit in the afternoon.
– Will the honorable senator limit the sitting on Friday to 4 o’clock ?
– I cannot give an undertaking to that effect. Honorable senators will see that I could not give a definite promise to close at a particular time. That might involve the postponement of a decision upon a matter which had been discussed during the whole of the day until the next day. If honorable senators will assist, I hope it will be possible to close at 6.30 p.m. on the Friday, and at 1 p.m. on the Saturday. Otherwise no alternative will be left to me, charged as I am with the responsibility of putting the business through, but to ask honorable senators to sit until the business is completed.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message) :
Clause 7 -
A person appointed to be the High Commissioner shall not during his tenure of office except as prescribed or allowed by the Minister, be or act as director or agent of or hold any office in any company or syndicate whether incorporated or unincorporated or hold any other office or employment, whether within or without the Commonwealth. ” Senate’s Amendment. - After “ hold,”’ line 6, insert “ or exercise.”
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amendment disagreed to, and in place thereof the following amendment made- after “ employment,” line 7, insert “or engage in any business.”
– 1 may be permitted to make a brief statement as to the effect of the amendment made by the Senate in the first instance in this clause, and the subsequent modification proposed by the House of Representatives. The clause read originally as follows -
A person appointed to be the High Commissioner shall not during his tenure of office except as prescribed, be or- act as director or agent of or hold any office in any company or syndicate whether incorporated or unincorporated or hold any other office or employment whether within or without the Commonwealth.
The Senate struck out the words “ except as prescribed,” which would have left the discretionary power to the Minister, and at the instance of Senator Symon, Ave inserted after the word “hold” the words “or exercise.” The House -of Representatives has accepted the amendment striking out the words “ except as prescribed,” but has disagreed to the insertion of the words “or exercise,” and proposes instead the insertion after the word “employment,” of the words “or engage in any business.” I think that Senator Symon, when he proposed the insertion of the words “or exercise,” admitted that perhaps the word “exercise” was not the best that could be selected to give effect to the intention of the Senate. I submit that the alteration proposed by the House of Representatives makes the clause more comprehensive, and makes it abundantly clear that this high functionary of the Commonwealth is not to hold any office nr engage in any business of any kind whatever either within or without the Commonwealth. I move -
That the Senate does not insist upon its amendment, and agrees to the amendment made by the House of Representatives.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.53]. - I should like to point out to the Committee that the amendment made by the House of Representatives does not improve the clause as it left the Senate. It is true, as Senator Millen has said, that I did not . think the words we used were perhaps the most suitable, but it would have been better if in another place an attempt had been made to discover the most suitable words to take the place of the words “ hold or exercise,” instead of inserting words which, as honorable senators will see, might enormously restrict us in the choice of a High Commissioner. The House of Representatives1 amendment would disqualify tor this position any one who might be engaged in any business. The very best man who could be selected for the- position might be one who was engaged in the industrial, pastoral, or mercantile pursuits in this country, but the amendment would absolutely veto the choice of such a man. As amended by the House of Representatives, the latter portion of the clause would read - or hold any other office or employment or engage in any business whether within or without the Commonwealth.
That would debar the selection of any person engaged in any business.
– Would it mean that he could not continue in the profession ot business in which he was engaged while in Australia ?
– Yes, it is clearly a disqualification upon the tenure of the office. It is proposed that the High Commissioner shall not, during his tenure of office, hold any other office or employment, or engage in any business, whether within or without the Commonwealth.
– Would a sleeping partner be considered to be engaged in . the business ?
– Certainly, if he shares in the profits of the business. The amendment would limit our choice, and I think it is extremely undesirable. Before asking the Committee to agree to it, it would be well for the VicePresident of the Executive Council to submit the matter to the Attorney-General, with a view to the selection of words which would shut out all possibility of the High Commissioner being engaged in such employment as would be detrimental or prejudicial to his office. As I have said, the House of Representatives’ amendment would be an absolute bar to the selection of a man engaged in any business whatever. Such a man would have to give up his business to secure the appointment.
– I dissent from that.
– The honorable senator must see that no one could hold the office of High Commissioner who was engaged in a business of any description.
– Could he not be a shareholder in a public company?
– That would not be engaging in a business. The prejudicial consequences in connexion with a public company are met by the earlier portion of the clause, which precludes the High Commissioner from acting as a director or agent, or from holding any office in a public company. But under the clause as amended by the House of Representatives, ‘the High Commissioner would have to be entirely detached from any business whatever. If that is the intention, it ought to be carried out ; but I do not think it is the intention of the Parliament, and ithe House of Representatives’ amendment would greatly restrict our choice. If a man is engaged in a business in an ordinary -way, which he is able to leave, or might give up to his partners, that should not be a disqualification for appointment to the office of High Commissioner.
– As there might be some dispute as to the effect of the words “or engage in any business,” I agree with Senator Symon that it might be as well to defer the matter for further consideration. It is possible that the House of Representatives’ amendment would prevent a business man from being appointed to the office of High Commissioner. The point is well worth the attention of the Government. My own personal view is that there is a strong difference between a person continuing in employment and engaging in employment. If there be anything to be gained by adjourning the consideration of this matter for a brief period to enable the Crown Law officers to consult the Attorney-General in respect to it, I think that that course ought to be adopted. I hope that time will be given for a little further consideration.
.- In reference to the remarks of Senator St. Ledger. I merely wish to say that to “engage “ in any business means absolutely to be engaged in that business. The use of the word “engage” does not imply entrance into a new business. It relates to “the position of a man who at any time during the tenure of his office is engaged “in any business.
– If he is engaged in -any business, he will be disqualified?
– Exactly. The words of the amendment are “ or engage in any business.” . I agree with Senator Symon that the words “ exercise any other office or employment ‘ ‘ are not -what we would choose if we had more time for consideration. But between the words “ hold or exercise any other office or em- ployment,” and “ engage in . any busi ness “ there is a wide and. material difference. The amendment which has been made by another place is not merely an attempt to cure imperfect phraseology, but a deliberate endeavour to alter the meaning of the clause by altering both the qualifications of the High Commissioner, and the limitation which the provision imposes. I am not quite sure that it is desirable to place in the Bill a limitation which declares that the High Commissioner shall not engage in any. other business whatever. Between being” engaged in any other business “ and “ holding some other employment “ there is surely a material difference ! Does the Vice-President of the Executive Council approve of the amendment which has been made?
– In view of the alteration which was previously affected in this Chamber, yes.
– Does the VicePresident of the Executive Council desire that the High Commissioner shall not be permitted to engage in any other business?
– In view of the action of the Senate in taking awav all the elasticity which was given to the Executive, yes.
– Then his attitude is one of retaliation.
– No. I am in favout of doing the best thing possible in the circumstances.
– I think that the Vice-President of the Executive Council is expressing -approval of a limitation of this stringent character because the Ministry have been robbed of their control.
– No; but because the alternative presented to us is still more serious.
– I merely wish to do what is most desirable. But when I recognise that if we agree to the amendment we shall impose a serious limitation on the High Commissioner, I begin to doubt whetherI ought to vote for it.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [4.6]. - I cannot support the amendment which has been made in another place. There is too great a tendency on the part of persons there to refuse to accede to decisions which have been arrived at here, and to palter with phraseology, apparently with the object of denying this Senate its proper place as a co-ordinate branch of the Legislature. There is too great a tendency- exhibited by another place to swap- phrases, and to insist upon having its own phraseology at the expense of that of the Senate. In my view, this tendency evidences a subtle attempt to belittle this Chamber as a co-ordinate branch of the Legislature. Upon that groundI object to it. I am entirely in accord with the views which have been expressed by Senators Symon and Clemons. There is an enormous difference between the use of the word “ employed “ and the use of the word “concerned.” To be employed implies an active condition, whereas to be ‘ concerned ‘ ‘ may mean merely a sleeping partnership. To be engaged in a business a man would have to be an active member of the firm conducting the business. But to be concerned in a business he need be merely the holder of so much capital in it. In order to make my meaning perfectly clear, let me refer to Sir Malcolm McEacharn, whose appointment to the office of High ‘Commissioner has often been advocated. He is apparently a sleeping partner in” a great shipping concern. He is not engaged in the business of that firm, but he is concerned in it.
– He is a director of it.
– He is upon the other side of the world, where the firm has no traffic. If he were a director he would be “engaged” in the business. But if he were merely the holder of a certain interest in that business, this amendment, if adopted, would act as a bar to his appointment. I use this illustration merely for the purpose of making the position perfectly clear. I have shown that the term “ engaged “ implies an active participation in business, whereas “ concerned “ may imply nothing more serious than a sleeping partnership. The words which we are asked to adopt are really too stringent. In my view they represent a needless interference with the decision of this Chamber. Surely the Senate is as competent to determine what it means as another branch of the Legislature is to go one better? It will be remembered that the other Chamber arrived at a certain decision with which we were not satisfied. Accordingly, we went one better. Now the other House wishes to go a great deal further than we have gone. Why? It seems to me that this is- a petty, paltry, and insignificant way of attempting to belittle the Senate as a coordinate branch of the Legislature.
– This is a difficult question, in view of the fact that it is one about which lawyers, who ought to understand the significance of words, differ. So far, the discussion has led me to conclude that the clause as amended by another place would probably give effect to our wishes. What we desire is that the officer who holds the responsible position of High Commissioner shall not engage in or occupy himself with any other business. Now the question arises. “ Does the word ‘ engage ‘” properly bear the construction which has been placed upon it by Senator Symon?” I confess that, as laymen, we must approach this question with a good deal of hesitancy. But I was very much struck with the presentation of the caseby Senator Neild. I think that there is a very wide difference between being engaged in a business and being concerned in it. Whilst Senator Symon was speaking, I asked him whether the possession of a sleeping partnership would disqualify a candidate for the office of High Commisiqner.
– By that the honorable senator means a person who participates in the -profits of a business, but does not engage in it ?
– The amendment would act as a bar to his appointment.
– In the face of such an emphatic declaration by Senator Symon, I feel in a very great difficulty.
– Perhaps the honorable senator will allow me to make a suggestion.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [4.14]. - I know that the VicePresident of the Executive Council will accept my assurance that I merely desire to make this clause effective in every possible way. I wish to prevent the possibility of any person occupying the office of High Commissioner who might, so to speak, be placed in an equivocal position, and act under circumstances which might lead to his absolute impartiality in transacting the business of the Commonwealth being questioned. My object is to give effect to the general desire, without introducing too stringent restrictions in respect of those persons who may be eligible for the office - business men of business, capacity, and not merely politicians. Such’ persons may be interested or concerned in a hundred-and-one pursuits.
When the Bill was under consideration before, Senator Millen was good enough to encourage my assistance in seeking to make this clause effective in every way, and we did, I think, make some improvements. For instance, we eliminated the provision which said, in effect, that no person appointed to the office should, during his term of office, except as prescribed, or allowed by the Minister, hold any office in any company or syndicate, whether corporated or incorporated. We eliminated the words enabling the Minister to give permission to a High Commissioner to occupy what would be a very equivocal position. I think that any man will admit that the greatest vice in connexion with the tenure of an office of this description would be that its occupant should be a director or allowed to become a director of limited companies, whether mining or other. Then came the subsequent words as to the holding of these employments. I ventured to point out that they might prevent a trustee from being eligible for an appointment and the word “office” was inserted, I think. Then in regard to general employment - we put in the word “or exercise” after the word “ hold.” At the time I suggested that the amendment should be put in tentatively with a view to the Attorney-General considering whether a more appropriate expression could not be found to give effect to the desire of Parliament. But instead of that course being adopted, .this additional amendment was made which is open to the criticism to which I venture to subject it. Senator Millen said, when Senator Clemons was speaking, that he thought it was a suitable amendment, because of the elimination, of the words giving permission to the Executive to allow the High Commissioner to hold other offices. I ventured to interject that I thought that the words “ except as prescribed or allowed by the Minister “ only applied to the occupant acting as a director or agent of or holding any office in any company or syndicate, whether incorporated or unincorporated. My honorable friend thinks that the qualification extended to the whole of the clause, and he may be right. What I am going to suggest to him is a compromise which I think will meet his view and dispense with the use of words which might be ambiguous and lead to confusion, even if they were not aas restrictive as I think they are. I suggest that we should restore the words “ except as prescribed or allowed by the Minister “ with regard to the generality of the words “hold or exercise.” So that it would be in the power of the Executive to say whether the engaging in business - a sleeping partnership, it might be - was likely to be detrimental to the tenure of the office. I do not think it was intended that the Executive authority should apply to the holding or exercising of any other employment. But I am quite willing to assist my honorable friend to reinsert those words, leaving it to the Executive to form its own opinion on the subject. That follows what he suggested, and T think it would be a complete solution of the difficulty. It would enable the Executive to ascertain whether the participation in a particular business would be of such a character as to affect the usefulness or the impartiality or the dignity of the holder of the office. I do not think that any Government ought to have the right to permit the High Commissioner to become a director of a company.
– I think that it would be wiser to agree to the amendment of the other House. When the clause was under consideration before it seemed to be the general opinion of the Senate that no power should be left to the Minister to allow the High Commissioner to engage in any employment or business, and it was with that object in view that the discretionary power was struck out, and Senator Symon ‘s amendment inserted. It was admitted at the time by almost every honorable senator that the amendment was scarcely strong enough, but it was transmitted to the other House with the feeling that if it could be made stronger it would be all the better. No doubt some members of that House had considered what had been said here on the subject, and it was no reflection upon us when it embodied our view in stronger terms. It is plain that under the amendment before the Committee, if adopted, the High Commissioner could not engage, or be concerned, in any business. Are there no men in Australia or England not engaged or concerned in business who are capable of representing the Commonwealth as its High Commissioner? I am sure that no one will deny that there are such men in both countries, and it would be an easy matter for any one of them to resign from that business for the period of his occupancy of the office. On the expiry of the first High Commissioner’s term, Parliament would have, ample experience to guide its hands as regards future holders of the office. If any difficulty had arisen, or was likely to arise, out of the terms of the Act, it could be amended if it was then felt that a man who was occupied in business could more suitably represent the Commonwealth. At this very late stage of the session it would be far better, I think, to accept the amendment than to have the Bill going backward and forwards for two or three days, when we are all anxious to conclude the business and return to our homes.
– I quite agree with Senator McGregor that the intention of the Senate was that the High Commissioner should be ii: no sense of the word a business monger, nor allow his own business to be mongered or interfered with in the discharge of his duties to Australia, and at the instance of Senator Symon the word ‘ 1 exercise 1 ‘ was inserted in the clause. I think that by its amendment the other House has strongly accentuated the principle which, I believe, Senator Symon intended to indorse to a certain extent, and certainly it was the feeling of a majority of honorable senators, that no appointee should mingle his business, or should be allowed the opportunity of taking his business into the” arena of the High Commissionership. Any “appointee who has private interests can drop them, under our law, in such a way that he will not be interfered with, and under this amendment, if adopted, we shall have a guarantee that he will be the untrammelled and unprejudiced servant of the Commonwealth. I ‘think that the more the amendment is considered from every point of view the more it will commend itself to the members of both Houses. I hope that it will be agreed to.
– I do not like the proposal of the other House, because I feel that it would operate in the direction of imposing an undue limitation. Senator McGregor was quite right in saying that there is a large number of men not engaged in business who would be willing to fill this office. If, however, there were one man who was supremely suitable for the position, but who was interested in a business which supplied the Post Office, it would be a pity that the Commonwealth should not be able to utilize his services. Because I feel that the amendment of the House of Representatives would limit the choice of the Commonwealth, I shall do my best to have it disagreed with.
– I think that the amendment proposed by the House of Representatives is too farreaching. It would prevent the High Commissioner from engaging in any business in any way. I do not agree with Senator St. Ledger in his interpretation. All that was aimed at by the Senate was to secure that the High Commissioner should not put himself into a position in relation to a private business which might cause conflict between his private interests and his public duty. It was never intended that the Commonwealth should monopolize the whole of the High Commissioner’s time and attention, but that his primary responsibilities were to be towards the Commonwealth. Outside of that, he might indulge in any enterprise which would not bring him into conflict with his public duty. If it were otherwise, a man might accept the position of High Commissioner for five years, and find himself, at the end of that period, out of touch with everything with which he had been previously concerned, and by virtue of which he had attained the position which caused him to be selected as representative of the Commonwealth.
– Everything hinges on the meaning of the word “ engage.”
– In interpreting the provisions of Statutes which prevent a person from holding office by reason of being concerned’ in businesses, the Courts interpret the word “ concerned “ most strictly. I may mention a case that occurred not long ago in England, and the decision in which has not been reversed. Where a provision in a Statute provided in effect that no officer of a local governing body should be in any way concerned in any contract with that body, and that if he were he should forfeit his office, it has been held that the clerk or registrar of a corporation was disqualified from holding office, and subject to penalties by reason of the fact that he was merely a shareholder in a gas company which was supplying the, local governing body in question with light once or twice a week. That is an illustration of the strict interpretation which the Courts will give to the word “ concerned “ in a provision disqualifying a person from holding office.
– Suppose we were accepting tenders for supplies, and the High Commissioner were our representative, would it not properly be a bar that he was a shareholder, however small, in the company which was supplying us?
– Undoubtedly ; but this provision goes even further than the word “ concerned “ would do. It uses the phrase “engage” in any business. The Committee would do well to accept the suggestion of Senator Symon. Even if we do not adopt the phraseology he suggests, we should adopt the principle underlying it. This is not a trifling matter. In endeavouring to surround the High Commissioner with disabilities as to engaging in private enterprise, we should not restrict him in the exercise of the ordinary liberty enjoyed by an individual, but we do desire adequately to preserve this Commonwealth from any possibility of there being a conflict’ between the private advantage and the public responsibilities of the High Commissioner.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [4.37]. - I must take exception to a phrase reiterated by Senator St. Ledger. He persisted in using the term “ business mongering.” There is the greatest difference in the world between ownership of and interest in a business concern, and “ business mongering,” which, if I understand the meaning of the phrase, indicates trafficking in business matters. There is no senator who is opposed more strenuously than I am to the idea that the High Commissioner should be a director, actual or ornamental, on any Board. We know that in London persons are selected to occupy positions as directors merely on account of the influence which their names and status will bring.
– Guinea pigs.
– Guinea pigs are very small things in comparison with what I mean. Five thousand-pound pigs would be much nearer the mark. Very large sums .are paid in the financial world for the assistance of important names. I am strongly opposed to the idea of the High Commissoner being concerned in such matters. But there is strong reason to suppose, as has been suggested by Senator Keating, if I apprehend him rightly, that the phrase used in the amendment of the House of Representatives would extend to the holding of a sleeping interest in a business concern.
– I do not think it -would-
– There is no such thing as a sleeping interest.
– I do not like the idea enunciated by Senator St. Ledger that this proposal would not apply to existing engagements or occupations, but only to future ones. While we are making this legislation exceedingly restrictive, we are not doing what is frequently done in Acts of Parliament in regard to supplying an interpretation clause for abstruse terms. Who is to be the judge of what the clause means ? It must be interpreted by the Ministry of the day. If it is alleged that the High Commissioner is engaging in some business, the Minister responsible for his office will have to tackle the question. There is no process of law by which the alleged offender can be brought before the High Court. ‘ The administrative authority of the Commonwealth must deal with him.
– The Senate objected to that, and asked the other House to agree to an amendment, and it has done so.
– Two sillinesses do not constitute one piece of wisdom, and it appears to me that we are running dangerously near to two sillinesses now. I am prepared to vote against the amendment and to maintain the position arrived at by the Senate as more appropriate to the case than the amendment which has come to us from elsewhere.
– I shall support the amendment of the House of Representatives. It is extremely desirable that whoever is appointed High Commissioner shall have no interest in or connexion with any business apart from his office.
– How is he to live until we pick him up?
– That is a matter entirely for him.
– We could only get a vagrant on those terms - a man with no visible means of support.
– I would sooner pick up a vagrant from the street, and appoint him to this office, than I would appoint either one of those whose names have been suggested, so far as concerns their knowledge of business. We have to appoint an agent in London who will be the Whole-souled representative of the Commonwealth, and who will have no interest whatever which can be brought into conflict with Commonwealth interests. Suppose that the High Commissioner is a large shareholder in a Smithfield meat firm. We know that the Smithfield butchers “ bear “ Australian meat continually. They put every possible obstruction in the way of its finding a free market. When they have reduced its price, and made it pretty well unsaleable, they buy it up and sell it as English beef. The same thing is done to
– Would the honorable, senator compel an appointee to sell’ out immediately any stock he might hold, even at a loss?
– I would. A man cannot serve two masters.
– Suppose he held shares in an Australian company, would the honorable senator compel him to get rid of them before he was appointed?
– I would compel him to get rid of every share he possessed. I will not go so far as to say that he could not otherwise do justice to the Commonwealth ; but there would be a suspicion that he. might not.
– The amendment does not touch the case of a shareholder..
– I understood Senator Symon to tell Senator Trenwith that it did, and I think that the House of Representatives’ amendment would debar the holder of shares in a company. Commonwealth exports have hitherto been the sport and plaything of rings in London. We want our High Commissioner to do all in his power to fight and beat those rings. If he is interested in them, directly or indirectly, would- not his connexion with them be likely to affect his duty to the Commonwealth ? He might say that he would have only five years’ tenure of the office of High Commissioner, whilst he expected his connexion with the company to last during his life-time. Could any one doubt how the balance would go in the circumstances? One of our chief disabilities arising from the fact that we have not hitherto been represented in London has been’ that our meat, butter, fruit, and other exports have been unable to find the free market which their qualities deserved. If we permit our High Commissioner to engage’ in any business, the possibility is that we shall find that our interests are not “being . looked after as they ought to be.
– A shareholder is not necessarily engaged in business.
– He is interested in the business in which he is a shareholder.
– There is a wide difference between being interested in, and being engaged in, a business.
– If the High Commissioner were a large shareholder in a meat company that was making huge profits out of Australian meat, by methods with which we are all more or less famliar, and the Commonwealth desired him to attempt the circumvention of the meat company, honorable senators will see that he would be placed in a most invidious position. The company in which he was interested would be making substantial profits out of the Australian meat trade, whilst the Commonwealth would represent the meat exporters of Australia, and would be fighting the meat company.
– How long would a High Commissioner be allowed to remain in office in those circumstances?
– Who would remove him? No one might know anything about it.
– Giving full scope to the honorable senator’s argument, a. High Commissioner should not hold shares in a bank.
– I would even include banking.
– Why assume difficulties. A thousand to one such a case as the honorable senator suggests would never occur.
– The case might occur. We know that the meat, butter, and wheat rings of London have done everything in their power to place Australian exporters in difficulties, in order that they might be able to buy our products at a cheap rate, and we want a man in London who will fight those rings.
– The honorable senator desires that we shall have a man there who will be “ like Caesar’s wife, above suspicion.”
– Exactly. I have said that a man cannot serve two masters. If his interests in a business comes into conflict with his interests in the Commonwealth the former may be pressed to the wall if he is a patriot of very exalted character. But we meet with very few of those patriots. My experience is that if a man’s personal interests come into conflict with the interests of the community, the community goes down every time.
– What sort of company has the honorable senator been keeping? e
– I have been keeping very good company. But for a long time I have been looking across the way at the company which Senator St. Ledger has been keeping, and I have learned by experience. My wish is that the High Commissioner shall be a man who, as the honorable senator suggests, will be “ like Cæsar’s wife, above suspicion.” I think that both Houses of this Parliament have been groping towards the right solution of this question. We did our best when the Bill was before us on a previous occasion. The House of Representatives has since gone a step further to carry out the idea which, I have no doubt, was in the minds of honorable senators when they amended the clause in the first instance. The wisest and most profitable thing we can do in the interest of the Commonwealth is to agree to the amendment of the House of Representatives.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [4.55]. - I think with Senator Stewart that we ought to agree to the House of Representatives’ amendment; but we should also insert two or three words in order that there shall be some one to decide whether or not the High Commissioner is engaged in any business or holding or exercising any employment inconsistent with the position. I think that the body who should decide that is the Executive. That is the tribunal to be appointed under the original form of the clause to decide with respect to a High Commissioner acting as director or agent of a company, and we might leave it to the same tribunal to determine whether he is engaged in any business. I move -
That after the word “ or,” in the clause as amended by the House of Representatives, the words “ except as prescribed or allowed by the Minister “ be inserted.
Senator MILLEN (New South WalesVicePresident of the Executive Council) £4.56]. - I can hardly see my way to accept the amendment proposed by Senator Symon. First of all, it would practically be putting the clause back into the form in which it reached the Senate in the first instance. We were asked in the first instance to leave these matters to the dis cretion of the Minister, but we struck those words out, and. the House of Representatives have agreed to their deletion. Now Senator Symon proposes to put them back, again.
– But the House of Representatives have made an amendment, and we put the words back again because of that amendment.
– Senator Symon will admit that if we insert the words which he suggests and the matter is left to Ministerial discretion, it will be quite immaterial whether we agree to the amendment of the House of Representatives or not. I can hardly join with those who would ask honorable members in another place to undo what they have done at our request. I have very grave doubts, also, as to whether . it is competent for us now to send such an amendment to the House of Representatives, seeing that they have already agreed at our request to delete the words which the honorable senator wishes to have inserted. For the reasons I have given I am unable to accept the amendment.
– I will first put the question that the Senate’s amendment “ proposing the insertion of the words “ or exercise ‘ ‘ be not insisted upon.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will accept Senator Symon’ s amendment.
– We struck out the words before.
– We must send a man to represent Us as High Commissioner in London whom we can trust. We should not try to bind him down in the way proposed in the House of Representatives’ amendment. That amendment would very possibly exclude the most, suitable man we could get for the position, by reason of the fact that at the time of his appointment he might not be able, without incurring very great loss, to dispose of any particular stock in which he might be interested. Whilst it is most desirable that the representative of the Commonwealth in London should be above suspicion, surely we cannot limit his particular investments. I am rather surprised at the action of the Government in accepting the amendment.
– They are accepting the amendment which the Senate transmitted to another place.
– They are accepting an amendment which will restrict the freedom of action of our representative at Home. Of course, I quite recognise that it is most desirable that every man should separate, as far as possible, his private interests from his public duty. But I am sorry that the Government intend to accept that amendment, which appears to be founded upon the assumption that we cannot find a man in Australia who can be trusted to look after the interests of the Commonwealth in preference to his own interests.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Senator Sir
Josiah Symon’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I should like to know the meaning of the House of Representatives amendment. Does it mean that we are to send to London a representative in whom we have implicit trust, to whom we shall pay£3,000 a year, and that” we are to require him to put that , £3,000 in a jam tin and bury it ? Ought he not to be able, if he so desires, to invest that money in any public company ? When a person invests his money in a public company he generally takes an active part in directing the affairs of that company. Usually, the policy of a public company is shaped to a great extent at its annual meeting of shareholders. If the High Commissioner chooses to invest his money in such a company, why should he be penalized for exercising the privi leges which are enjoyed by every citizen of the Commonwealth ? I do not wishto deny him the right to become a shareholder in any public company. The position would’ be quite different if he became a shareholder in a companywhich was treating with the Commonwealth. In that case his conduct could be brought under review. But to prevent him from investing his money in any other way that he might choose would be an unwarrantable interference with his liberty.
– Does the honorable senator wish him to become a guinea-pig?
– I do not wish to deny him a right which ought to belong to every citizen. Because the High Commissioner may take shares in a company, are we going to say that he is engaging in business, and that his appointment shall therefore be liable to be cancelled? Of course, the position would be entirely different if he purchased shares in a company which was treating with the Commonwealth, or which was in any way concerned with the disposal of the products of the Commonwealth. But it is going too far, I think, to forbid the officer from taking shares in a company.
– We do not forbid him.
– I hope not. That is why I was seeking for information.
– I rise for the purpose of putting a question to the Minister. Suppose that a gentleman occupies the position of chairman of a company, will he be precluded by the terms of the Bill from taking the position of High Commissioner?
– Under the clause, the High Commissioner cannot be a director of a company.
– Then I shall vote ‘with Senator Lynch.
Question - That the Senate agrees to the House of Representatives’ amendment - resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 1. st December, vide page- 6629):
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 17A. Section one hundred . and twenty-four of the Principal Act is amended by inserting after sub-section (1) the following new subsection : - (1a) The regulations for the drill, training, inspection, discipline, and government of the Defence Forces shall be in accordance with the following principles : -
The Citizen Forces shall be instructed only in those duties that are required of them in war.
There shall be no military funerals in uniform except on active service, or in the case of those who have been on active service.
Military uniforms shall be of one character only as prescribed, and shall be worn only on parade or other military duty. ‘ Uniforms shall be supplied free of charge to all ranks, including officers.
The system of military salutes shall be reduced to the simplest form for military discipline.’ “
My desire in submitting this amendment is that the principles governing the conduct of our Defence Force in the future shall be two. One principle is that it shall mind its own business, concerning itself only with the subject of defence; or, in other words, that the cadets, the trainees, and the members of the Defence Force generally shall be instructed by the Department in the matters strictly connected with the performance of their duty, and shall not go outside that limitation for any purpose whatever. The second principle which I ask the Committee to adopt is that the Defence Force shall, as far as possible, be freed from all superfluous ceremonial, flummery, and frill of every kind.
-What does flummery mean ? I do not know.
– The honorable senator is fairly well acquainted with flummery, because he is largely influenced by it.
– I am only asking for information.
– Everyperson of a frivolous turn of mind is largely influenced by flummery, and the honorable senator is a worthy member of the class who come within that category.
– I am still ignorant. I do not know what the word means.
– Para graph a illustrates what I mean by saying that it shall be the business of the Defence Department to strictly mind its own business, and that is to instruct the cadets, the trainees, and all the’ men engaged in the Defence Force, in defence marters solely. It is unnecessary . for me to give an illustration of the evils which otherwise might occur ; because we have had a great deal of them in the past.
– We have had a greatdeal of conflict between the military and civil authorities; and I do not desire that anything of that kind shall occur in the future. It is the business of the Defence Department to train its officers and men in. those duties which are connected with defence, and it should not go outside that limit. With regard to paragraph b, military funerals ire time of peace, and in regard to volunteers or cadets, are so much flummery. An ordinary man of the rank and file’can be chucked into a. grave without any honour or respect being paid to him, but immediately an aristocratic member of a corps dies there is a proposal togive him a flash military funeral, to compel the cadets, in fact everybody connected’ with the Defence Forces, to come along and march, whether they like it or not. That is what I call flummery. There is no need for it, and it should not occur. Paragraph c is, I think, the most important part of the proposed new section. ‘ If it is not adopted the various ranks of the Defence Force will not be open to every citizen. We have it on the evidence of the InspectorGeneral that uniforms cost as much as from £40 to£50. How is it possible for a mechanic or a factory worker, who may be a military genius in his way, to spare , £40, or anything like that sum, from his meagre salary if it is necessary for an officer to> have a uniform of that description? The paragraph embodies, I submit, an ‘eminently just proposition. If the Government require a uniform to be worn they should supply it. Why should a young man in a poor position who is fit and qualified to occupy the position of an officer, but who is in poor circumstances, be called upon to spend £40 or £50 on a uniform? If he were caught on a wet day, all the frill and gold lace might be spoiled, and his money lost, and then if he wanted! to remain an officer he would haveto buy another uniform at a similar cost. I object to this flummery ; I believe that a full uniform, which would do justice to the figure, the manhood, and the position ofa man, could be obtained at a cost of under £10. But whether it costs £10 or £40, it should be supplied by the Government when its use is required by them. With regard to paragraph d, I- want the system of military salutes to be reduced to the simplest possible form. I do not want a volunteer, a cadet, or a trainee, whenever he goes down. the. street, to have to keep his eyes alert for the purpose of saluting an officer, perhaps on the other side, as I have seen them obliged to do, or, if he fails, to be charged with having been guilty of an offence. The whole thing is ridiculous.
– A man does not salute an officer unless he is in uniform.
– Within the last six months there has been a very severe controversy on this subject in the Parliament.
– I have never heard of a man having to salute an officer unless he is in uniform.
– Within the last six months in this Parliament we have had the strongest advocacy of men being compelled to salute their officers at any time, on pain of being held to be guilty of an offence. I think that my amendment ought to commend itself to every one who desires to have the Citizen Defence Force instructed in only those matters which are necessary. Instruction on any other subject can always be obtained by a man outside the Department in common with the rest of the public. I desire by my amendment to simplify our uniforms, . to reduce ceremonial, and lessen expense to those engaged in the Defence Force, and I tTust that it will be accepted.
– I shall point out as briefly as possible the reasons why I think the amendment should be rejected. I am not speaking in opposition to the motive underlying my honorable friend’s action, but am merely pointing out the difficulties that mav arise from putting into an Act of Parliament a specific statement of this character. Take the first provision - that the Citizen Forces shall be trained only in those duties which will be required of them in time of war. Frequently a fine point might arise in the mind of a man who was not inclined to obey orders, as to whether something he was told to do was exactly what he would do in time of war.
– It is not a matter of what a man might be inclined to do, but of instructions.
– It is impossible to say what instructions it will be necessary to give a man in -fitting him for the duties he would have to perform in time of war. It is better to leave such matters to responsible officers and to the Minister, knowing that Parliament will have full control.
– My amendment does not say what shall be done, but that the regulations as to drill shall be in accordance with certain principles.
– The amendment is intended to be operative or it is net. At the same time, it is within our own knowledge that everything that goes on in connexion with drill and training for the Citizen Forces can be brought under the notice of this and the other branch of the Legislature. Therefore it seems desirable to leave the matter to those responsible for the training of the troops, knowing that Parliament will have an opportunity of inquiring as to what is going on, and to give a direction if that be considered advisable.
– Why did not the honorable senator leave the-officers free to permit canteens or not, as they chose?
– That was a definite and specific point, on which . Parliament might express an opinion. But my honorable friend’s amendment does not attempt to say what the men shall be trained in. He uses general terms, which are open to different constructions. . It is because it is impossible to set down such matters definitely that I suggest that he should not attempt to do so. The next proposal submitted is that there shall not be any military funerals in uniform, except in the case of those who die on the field, or those who have been on active service. What advantage is there in prohibiting military funerals? Amongst friendly societies and other bodies which have regalia it is a customary mark of honour and of brotherhood to pay. to a deceased member to accompany him to his last resting-place wearing those badges which denote the association of the mourners with the deceased. The same thing applies with regard to the Army. There is a spirit of brotherhood and comradeship amongst soldiers, and it seems quite natural that those who accompany a dead comrade to the grave should desire there to appear in the uniform which he, in common with themselves, had formerly worn. Whatever may he the object of paragraph e of the amendment, it is open to all sorts of difficulty. My honorable friend seeks to provide that the uniforms shall be of one character only, as prescribed. Honorable senators will remember with what almost revolutionary violence a distinguished member of this Chamber a little time ago resented the suggestion that the Highlanders should have their kilts taken away from them.
– It was too bad !
– If there is to be one uniform only, are we going to put the kilts on Jack Tar, or Jack Tar’s uniform on the Scotchmen? There is no earthly reason why there should not be variety provided the uniforms are suitable for the work required. The only point in my honorable friend’s suggestion which appeals to me is that the Commonwealth should provide the uniform of the officers. But I would ask him not to proceed with that proposal, because in the first place it opens up a very big question, inasmuch as he proposes a departure from what has been done before in this country, and so far as I know from what prevails in the British Army ; and, secondly, because the matter is at present engaging the attention of the Minister. We shall certainly require a large number of officers’, and the Minister is inquiring- as to what is going to happen in regardto them. My honorable friend’s suggestion will be considered in regard to this subject. There is ample power in the Act without making an amendment in this Bill. The Minister is considering the whole question.
– Has not Parliament a right to consider it as well as the Minister ?
– It has; but another reason why I ask my honorable friend not to proceed with this proposal is that if he does he will force me to vote against it. I tell him candidly that I do not desire to do so. I should like to have an opportunity of looking into and around the matter. With regard to paragraph d, which seeks to provide that the system of military salutes shall be reduced to the simplest form for military discipline, I cordially approve of the sentiment expressed ; but I remind honorable senators that in organizing the training of our Defence Forces the idea is to work upon lines similar to those pursued in connexion with the British Army, so that if necessary a unit trained in Australia can take its place as a unit in Great Britain itself. It is also proposed to have transfers of officers trained in the same way. If we have one system of saluting and there is another system in England, all sorts of complications mayarise.
– Saluting has nothing to do with efficiency.
– But we are trying to place our troops upon the same footing, to train them on the same lines, to organize them in the same way, as those belonging to the British Army, to that they may be interchangeable if necessary, man for man and gun for gun, without any inconvenience or confusion.
– Saluting has nothing to do with the work.
– It has in this way - that if a transfer takes place, it ought to be possible to take a man out of the Australian Army and drop him into his place in the British Army so easily that he would be at once competent for his work there. But under Senator Givens’ proposal the man would not even know how to salute in England, whilst the Englishman who was brought out to serve with our forces would not know how to salute on our principles. I am afraid that my honorable friend is actuated by a little prejudice. I see no disadvantage in continuing the present system. I hope that the Committee will reject the whole amendment.
– May I ask you, Mr. Chairman, to put the paragraphs of my amendment, separately, so that honorable senators may express their opinions on each of them?
– I am authorized to separate a complicated question, and think I am justified in putting the paragraphs of this amendment separately.
Question - That the introductory words and paragraph a of the proposed new clause be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question - That paragraph c of the proposed new clause be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That paragraph d of the proposed new clause be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 1 7A. After section one hundred and twenty- three c the following section is inserted : - 123D. All married men in the Permanent
Forces who have served for three years shall be entitled to be placed on the married establishment.’ “
Honorable senators may not be aware that there is in our defence system what is called a married establishment. Some married men are on it and some have not that advantage. The advantage of being on it is that the married soldier living in the neighbourhood of the barracks can go home to sleep, which is one very great advantage, both to the soldier and to the community. Then a man on the married establishment is entitled to a shilling a day extra, which, I think, is not unreasonable in the case of married men. In addition, instead of having his rations provided, he is given an allowance for rations. It is important that, where practicable, all men in the same position shall enjoy the same advantages. It occurred to me, when I was asked to move the insertion of this new clause, that, possibly, it might weaken the efficiency of the service, which is the most important consideration in military matters. But I learn that the proportion of married men to single men of the Permanent Forces is 22 to 77 or 80. So that if all the married men slept out of barracks there would always be in the barracks a sufficient number to man the forts at night in case of emergency. ‘ I understand that what I propose would not involve any very- great additional expenditure. At present it would affect only fifteen men throughout the Commonwealth. Of course, as time goes on, a greater number would be affected. At present the additional expenditure involved would be in providing the additional allowance for fifteen men, and in permitting fifteen men who are now compelled to sleep in barracks to go to their homes to sleep. I should like to point out that married men on the establishment have to be on duty at exactly the same time in the morning as the men in barracks, and no possible injury would be done to the forces by the adoption of this clause. Of course, I know nothing of the facts myself, but have learned them by inquiry. I have communicated with the Minister of Defence, and I understand that the Government have no objection to this proposed clause.
– Senator Trenwith has stated quite correctly that he placed himself in communication with the Defence Department, and had an opportunity of discussing this matter with the Minister of Defence and mvself. Personally, I hope that the Committee will see their way to agree to the proposed new clause which, I believe, to be entirely in the right direction.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
After section one hundred and twenty-four of the Principal Act the following parts and sections are inserted : - “ Part XII. - Universal Obligation in respect of Naval or Military Training. 125. All male inhabitants of Australia (ex- cepting those who are exempted by this Act) who have resided therein for six months, and ire British subjects, shall be liable to be trained as prescribed, as follows -
From twelve years to fourteen years of age, > in the Junior Cadets ; and
From fourteen to eighteen years of age, in the Senior Cadets ; and
From eighteen to twenty years of age, in the Citizen Forces ; and
From twenty to twenty-six years of age, in the Citizen Forces :
.- I move -
That the word “ twelve “ in paragraph a be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ ten.”
At first glance this may be considered a somewhat startling amendment, but on reflection I think it would be found to improve the Bill. It may be contended that by starting the training of lads at ten, instead of at twelve, years of age, we should be inculcating the military or martial spirit at too early an age. My reply is that, as a supporter of the principle of the Bill, I. have no desire to encourage the spirit of militarism in any individual in the Commonwealth, youth or adult. Nor do I think that when the Citizen Defence Force is in operation we shall have contributed in any way to inculcate the spirit which my honorable friends opposite dread. At ten years of age it is not tod early to commence the physical training of a boy, and that is all that I seek to achieve. In Australia, as perhaps in other countries, physical defects are observable in some children at a much earlier age than ten years. In some countries, for instance in Sweden, thephysical training of children has been started at a much earlier age. Under my amendment, if adopted, boys of ten years of age will undergo physical training, and their development will proceed gradually. I fail to understand why my honorable friends should offer any objection to it.
– At present such training carried on in schools
– If the Bill is passed in its present shape, physical training in its entirety will not be carried on there. I hold that a boy of ten years of age ought to receive physical training. If a boy of that age is not fit to undergo the training then, as the result of medical inspection, he can be exempted. But if he has no defects in his system, a course of physical exercise will certainly help him. A medical inspection will enable us to ascertain as soon as is possible what material we have to work upon. My sole object in submitting the proposal is to endeavour to insure a vigorous body to every boy in the Commonwealth. It is well recognised that a person cannot have a vigorous mind without a vigorous body.
– There are plenty of delicate persons who have very vigorous minds.
– Those are the exceptions which prove the rule. The sooner we start the physical training of our future defenders, the better it will be for them and Australia.
– Then why should we not commence to train the boys at the age of eight years?
– I do not desire at any time to submit an unreasonable proposal. In my opinion it is reasonable’ to start the training of cadets at the age of ten years. It will inflict no hardship upon the lads, but it will be beneficial to them, and, as a result of their physical training, we shall be able to develop a better type of manhood both physically and mentally.
Question - That the word “ twelve “ proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
– -Senator Pearce gave notice of several amendments which he intended to move in this proposed new section, namely, to substitute “ twenty-six “ for “ twenty “ in paragraph c, and to delete paragraph d. When he spoke to the second reading of the Bill he gave his reasons for seeking those alterations. He wants, I understand, to provide that in their eighteenth year the youths shall be considered part and parcel of the Citizen Forces. As the Minister is anxious to expedite -the business, I do not intend to give him an opportunity to say that I caused any delay. Therefore I content myself with moving -
That after the word “ twenty “ in paragraph c the word “ six “ be inserted.
Amendment (by Senator de Largie) proposed -
That paragraph d be left out.
Senator MILLEN (New South WalesVicePresident of the Executive Council) (6.13]. - I would point out to Senator de Largie that this amendment is not in furtherance of the plan of Senator Pearce, who only proposed to strike out paragraph d if he succeeded in securing an amendment in paragraph c. An amendment not having been made in the latter paragraph, there is no reason why this amendment should be pressed.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Proposed new section 127 -
The prescribed training shall be, in each year ending the thirtieth day of June, of the following duration : - ” (a) In the Junior Cadets one hundred and twenty’ hours….. “
– -‘I move -
That paragraph a be amended by inserting after the word “ Cadets “ the words “ not exceeding.”
If this amendment is made and it is found by experience,, or after medical inspection, that 120 hours in each year is too long a period, it will then be competent for those who administer the law to prescribe a shorter period.
Amendment agreed to.
Proposed new section 128 (First year’s training in Citizen Forces).
– Senator Pearce has circulated an amendment in reference to this part of the clause, and in his absence I move -
That the proposed new section be left out.
Proposed new .section 134 -
No employer shall prevent or attempt to prevent any employe1 who is serving or liable to serve in the Cadets or Citizen Forces from rendering the personal service required of him, or in any way penalize, or attempt to penalize, any employe for rendering or being liable to render such personal service…..
– I wish to submit an amendment, the effect of which will be to extend to employes attending camps the same protection which the clause affords to those who are undergoing training in other than camps. I therefore move -
That after the word “ him,” line 4, the words “ or from attending any camp of instruction appointed to be held by the head-quarters of the Commonwealth, or any military district,” be inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
– In pursuance of the same object, and with a view to extending the widest possible protection to the men in our Citizen Forces, I move -
That after the word “ service,” line 7, the words “or for attending such camp” be inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
Proposed new section 138 (Exemptions from training in time of peace).
.;- I have circulated still another little amendment which was drafted as the result of a suggestion made by Senator Pearce. It provides that any cadet who is unfit to undergo physical training may be exempted from such training. I therefore move -
That the following new sub-section be added : - “ (2.) Persons liable to be trained in the Junior Cadets, who are certified by any prescribed medical authority to be unfit to undergo the whole or any part of the prescribed training may be exempted from that training by any prescribed authority.”
Amendment agreed to.
Proposed new section 142 -
All male inhabitants of Australia, who have resided therein for six months, shall register themselves, or ‘ be registered by a parent, guardian, or other person acting in loco parentis, in the manner prescribed -
during the month of January in the year in which they will reach the age of fourteen years (or, in the case of persons who in the year in which this Part commences will reach the age of fifteen, sixteen, or seventeen years, during the month of January in that year), or
– I wish to move an amendment, the object of which is to enable the Department to register youths up to the age of nineteen years, instead of stopping short at the age of seventeen years. But from the way in which other proposals for the improvement of the Bill have been received, I have not much hope of carrying my amendment. I had hoped that the proposals which I have made” for lengthening the period of service would have been eagerly accepted by the Committee. But as they have not been, it would be foolish for me to expect this amendment to be carried. Nevertheless, I intend to submit it.. I therefore move -
That the word “or,” line 11, be left out with a view to insert after the word “seventeen” the words “ eighteen or nineteen.”
Proposed new section 143 (Allotment to arms and corps).
– I move -
That the following new sub-clause be inserted : - “ 3. All persons liable to be trained under paragraphs (b), (f), and (2) of section one hundred and twenty-five of this Act who are forbidden by the doctrines of their religion to bear arms, shall, so far as possible, be allotted to non-combatant duties.”
The reason underlying the amendment will commend itself to the minds of most honorable senators.
– I do not see why we should look with favour upon this proposal. Whyshould certain persons be kept out of the firing line and allocated the easier portion of the burden of defending ‘this country, simply because their religion imposes upon them certain beliefs? If the amendment be carried it will be very easy for a man to say that he belongs to a religious organization which forbids him to engage in any form of warfare, and thus to keep out of the firing line. His interest in this country will be quite as great as that of any other man, and simply because he pro fesses a certain religious belief he ought not to be excused from taking his place in the front.
– What is the use of putting a man in the firing line if” his conscience will not permit him to shoot the enemy ?
– I believe that if the proposed new sub-clause be inserted it will open the door to all sorts of evasion. We have a country whichrequires to be defended. The hour must come when it will have to be defended. We cannot expect to be immune from attack for all time. Whenwe are called upon to repel an invader why should the man who professes a certain religious belief be sent to the rear or ordered to look after the Commissariat Department? The amendment if adopted will afford room for men to act the hypocrite. A man should be prepared to go wherever the military authorities consider that he can render the best service to this country. I entirely object to the amendment, which would throw an unnecessary shield over persons who, perhaps; for genuine reasons, perhaps for bogus reasons, may desire to escape from the firing line. The provision would not operate fairly to the poor unfortunates who would have to bear the brunt of the fighting.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
Senator WALKER (New South Wales> [7.45]. - Those of us who know much about the religious history of Great Britain are aware that if there is a body of Christians in that country of whom it can be said! that they have always shown moral courage it is the Quakers. There are three kinds of courage - physical courage, moral courage, and Dutch courage. Those who haveread the history of the time of Charles II., and especially that part of it which relatesto the doings of Judge Jeffries, will credit the Quakers with moral courage. I can well’ understand, however, that if this amendment be agreed to, some persons will endeavour to escape from military training on the grounds of conscience, although they are not really Quakers. The authorities will have to be satisfied that theirs are genuinecases. I can quite believe that it often requires more courage to be singular in a matter of this sort than to act as others do. As a man who admires moral courage, and; perhaps has not too much of it himself, I am strongly in favour of the amendment.
. -Ican confirm all that Senator Walker has said with regard to the Quakers being good citizens wherever they live. They are peaceful people, and yet they are aggressive in the interest of what they believe to be good.
– The honorable senator is no Quaker.
– I have never professed to be one. But I greatly admire those who act up to their principles. Many Quakers have become martyrs for their faith. I wish that I could honestly say that in my past career I had been as good a man as have been some Quakers whom I have known. They have proved by their sacrifice of worldly possessions how greatly they value their principles. Although the Quakers object to military service, I have not the slightest doubt that in time of need they would do their duty to their country. I, therefore, join heartily in supporting the amendment, and hope that it will be passed and administered with due respect to these noble men and women. It may be that the knowledge that Quakers are exempt from military service will tend to induce others to try and secure exemption on the same ground. Personally, I should say that any who object on religious grounds to undergo military training ‘should be exempt. I would take their word, because I am convinced that the exemptions would be comparatively few. To force into military service people who entertain religious objections against it, whether they be Quakers or members of other religious bodies, would be a mistake.
– The Government are to be commended for respecting the religious feelings of some members of the community ; and those persons who on religious grounds object to military service are equally to be commended for claiming to be exempt. The Government make one sensible limitation. The amendment provides that only “ as far as possible” shall the persons referred to be exempt. I quite agree with Senator Gray that in the matter of defensive warfare the Quakers of Australia would be found, as has been the case in America and elsewhere, valuable members of our forces. That fact is well illustrated by a well-known historical anecdote. An English ship was assailed bv a French privateer. A Quaker on board said he would not have anything to do with fighting as long as the privateer remained at the distance of a cannon shot. He was reviled by his comrades on the English ship for his inactivity while the guns were being served. But as soon as the French privateer came close and a boarding party prepared to attack, the Quaker seized an axe and chopped off the head of the first Frenchman who attempted to come aboard ; saying, “ Friend, I am sorry for thee, but thou hast no business here.”
– Is that what the honorable senator calls moral courage?
– It is both moral and physical courage.
– What is the moral of the illustration?
– The moral is that we can well afford to respect the convictions of the Quakers, who may be trusted to do their duty if this country is ever attacked. Physical courage without moral courage is not worth very much, but when you have an army actuated by moral as well as physical courage, you have a very fine body of troops indeed.
– The arguments on this question have been one-sided. I see very little in the contention that because we are legislating for a Christian people we should exempt the members of a certain body. This is supposed to be a Christian country, but if we were to follow out the tenets of Christianity strictly we should declare that we would not make war at all. Consequently, we should exempt every one in the community. But we profess nothing of the kind. We propose to make all men in this country who are within certain ages part of the Army for the’ defence of Australia. All this talk about exempting certain persons because of their consqience seems to me to be beside the question. We have had a peculiar exhibition of conscience in relation to Sunday labour in the telephone exchanges. When it was declared that the girls who had conscientious objections need not work on Sundays, it was suddenly discovered that a great majority of the girls had consciences. Only a small minority remained to do the work. Consequently the result of having a conscience was to thrust the unpleasant’ work upon others. The matter became so extremely troublesome that the Commissioner had to take action, and declined to recognise conscience any longer. I suppose it will be about the same in regard to military service. If every man in the community who goes to church declares that he is so strong a Christian that his conscience will not allow him to resort to so bloodthirsty a practice as shooting at some one else, we shall be reduced to an awkward predicament. As long as only a few in the community are troubled with this sort of conscience it will not matter. But let us suppose that a similar state of affairs to that which existed in the Telephone service arises in connexion with the Military Forces. Shall we exempt all the men who have consciences ? Certainly not. I am disposed to support the amendment because it does no more than minister to a passing whim; but I think I have shown that if the whim affects a considerable number of men in this country it will have to be disregarded.
– The amendment provides that it shall apply only as far as the exigencies of the service permit.
– I quite agree; and, therefore, all this “ falutin’ “ about people with consciences is beside the mark.
– Who has “ faluted “ about it?
- Senator St. Ledger got up to point a moral, and concluded by adorning a tale, about a peaceful Quaker who chopped off the head of a Frenchman with an axe.
– It is an apocryphal story.
– I have heard it in many forms, but it has never conveyed to my mind the idea which Senator St. Ledger desired to convey in repeating it. If the sailor referred to was really aQuaker, he would not have used the axe, even on a Frenchman. He would have turned the other cheek.’ That is the teaching, not only of Quakers, but of all who profess Christianity.
– I am very glad that the Government have submitted this amendment. On the second reading of the Bill, I said that I hoped something would be done in this direction. I shall support the amendment, and, as I have no wish to merely waste time, 1 shall resume my seat.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [8.2]. - There is more need for the services of non-combatants in connexion with warlike operations than is perhaps generally supposed, and the annals of our native country contain records of heroism on the part of non-combatants by no means inferior to the finest deeds of any man who ever drew sword or shouldered musket. What is nobler in the records of England’s warlike affairs than the splendid self-sacrifice and beneficent service of Florence Nightingale in the hospitals of Scutari? There are abundant opportunities for the employment of non-combatants in connexion with military operations, and the Minister in submitting this amendment has provided a most satisfactory means of removing what was a difficulty with very many people, here and outside. The duties of noncombatants, of those set apart to save life rather than to take it, are numerous enough to afford employment to every person who conscientiously objects to the taking of life. I do not hold such views, but within reason I respect them, and if to those who do hold such views can be allotted the duties of non-combatants, we “shall be acting as a civilized community in permitting them to discharge those duties. Noncombatants’ duties are not without risk. They are not always discharged out of the reach of danger. They frequently take those who are seeking to save life into the very firing line, to remove the wounded. Stretcher-bearers, medical men, and nurses in order to carry out their non-combatant duties must often enter the zone of fire. I. ask honorable senators to consider for a moment the work of a man whose case I have brought before different Ministers of Defence over and over again with a view to having justice done him in a certain particular. As a military doctor he was left in charge, of hundreds of British wounded and hundreds of British dead whilst the actual combatant troops were retreating. This man, who with his own hands tended the wounded and buried the dead, was by a drunken Boer commander twice put up to be shot as a spy for the discharge of these duties of humanity and Christianity. He was a non-combatant. If we desire to throw a little merriment into the matter, let me say it would be quite competent for one cf these good non-combatant folks to play, the trombone, or to beat the big drum.
– Or to play the bag pipes.
– I am not sure that the playing of the bagpipes could be regarded as a non-combatant’s job. I am disposed rather to think that it might be regarded as an incitement to instant and variegated bloodshed. Bandsmen are noncombatants, and the only warlike thing they are expected to do is to assist in removing the wounded, and sometimes to discharge the functions of ammunition mules, in carrying; extra cartridges. To be serious, however. the man who has a conscientious objection to the taking of life can serve his country and assist in its defence as honorably and as usefully in a non-combatant position as can any one occupying a position requiring him to take the lives of his fellow men. I am very glad indeed that the Minister has introduced a provision which seems to meet the exigencies of the case admirably, and to enable those who have conscientious objections to engaging in war, not to escape the duty they owe to the land in which they live; but to do good and faithful service to their country without doing violence to principles which they hold to be of consequence.
– By the gracious permission of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who attempted a little while ago to silence me, I shall say a word or two on the amendment he has moved. It is possible that some people might take advantage of this provision in seeking an excuse to refuse to do their duty. We are told that those who, on account of their religious scruples, may be exempt from bearing arms, will be classed as non-combatants ; but if they have religious -scruples against the taking of life they ought not to be in the field at all. I have every respect for the great woman to whom Senator Neild has referred. I think we all revere her memory, knowing the good work she performed. But people have conscientious objections to bearing arms because they do not desire to shed blood. If they assist the medical corps and do ambulance work, by their presence in the field they aid and abet something which the doctrines of their religion dictate they should not countenance in any way. I believe that Australia has rightly committed itself to a policy of citizen defence. We are not taking up an offensive attitude. The policy of Australia is defence, and not defiance, and with all respect for the religious beliefs of all citizens, I hold that it is their sacred duty to be prepared in time of need to defend their hearths and homes. If there are in Australia people who, because of their religious scruples, will not consent to beat arms, we ought not to ask them to become non-combatants on the field of battle. We should relieve them altogether from any association with war. I am afraid that the amendment may assist in the manufacture of cowards. I know a gentleman in Australia who at one time volunteered for active service in the Boer war. He is not [,000 miles from Melbourne to-night. But so soon as some one told him that if he went to South Africa and engaged in active service against the Boers, he would be missed in Australia, that Australia might be invaded in his absence, and we could not do without a man of his calibre and standing in the military service here, he accepted that as an excuse to do what he felt he ought not to do, and remained in Australia.
– He was a “ rotter.”
– He was a “ rotter.”
– Who was he?
– I am not called upon to mention his name. 1 do not think it is necessary to do so. This amendment will give some people an excuse for refusing to do their duty in the defence of the country. Every citizen ought to feel proud that if at any time Australia is in danger he is prepared to defend her. If the amendment, is to be effective, then do not allow these persons to be on the field of action, assisting the ambulance or employed in other work, because by their presence they would be aiding and abetting something which on religious grounds they did not believe in. I hope that the amendment will be rejected.
. . - I think that the arguments urged by Senator Needham are intensely fallacious. He says that in his opinion, if a man has a conscientious objection to shedding blood, it is an outrage upon his conscience that he should be on a field of battle. I think it is quite possible, and indeed a perfectly logical and consistent position to feel, that war ought not to be undertaken for any purpose, and at the same time to feel that when it has been undertaken and is creating thousands of victims, every welldisposed person should try to relieve them. That is a perfectly defensible position. Whilst I think that we ought to insist upon military service, I feel that no person ought to be permitted to insist upon the exercise of a conscience which .resists that decree. If it is possible for persons to give all the help which is required without outraging their consciences, we ought to endeavour to obtain their services in that way. As I understand the amendment, it does not relieve the Quakers or any other body from military service. It simply declares that where possible their conscientious objections to blood-shedding shall be regarded, and that their services shall be availed of in some non-combatant branch. They are not to be allowed to be exempt, and as Senator Neild has pointed out, they may possibly, as non-combatants, not be cowards. They may, perhaps, have to, and readily, display a bravery more complete, more self-sacrificing, than that of the man with the gun in his hand, because there, is, at any rate, to the latter that sort of pleasure which comes from hitting back, that stern joy which warriors feel in meeting foemen worthy of their steel. A non-combatant who is facing death possibly as frequently as the others, facing it, so to speak, helplessly, without the power to hit back, and yet calmly and bravely meeting it at every stage, and all the time endeavouring to alleviate the conditions of the victims, is not a coward. That is the very highest kind of bravery, and wherever we can I think it is desirable to meet the conscientious objections of such persons. The courage which members of this particular religious body daily display in occupying a singular position which often leaves them open to gibes, is a very fine kind of courage, the exercise of which on the battle field would do an immense amount of good if we should ever be involved in war. * I heartily indorse the amendment, as it provides, not that these persons shall be exempt, not that any man may plead conscience as a ground for exemption, but that where possible his conscientious objections shall not be outraged if his services can be equally effectively used.
– I entirely agree with the principle of the amendment. I think it is our bounden duty to recognise honest scruples and conscientious objections. If any citizen feels that his conscientious convictions and scruples would be aggrieved by his being forced into a position in the interest and duty of his country, we should as .far as wc. possibly can meet him. I desire to draw the attention of the Government to the possibility of this provision being abused.
-Colonel Cameron. - Then knock it out.
– No j . I do not think that because a provision is good and there is a possibility of it being abused, therefore it. should be rejected. We should respect as far as we possibly can, I repeat!, the religious convictions and conscientious scruples of any individuals in the community. The amendment does hot sar that such persons shall be exempted entirely, but it provides that their services may beutilized in a direction which will net outrage their scruples. If, on the other hand, the amendment were of a much more wideleaching character than it is, I would opposeit, because I think that it would be illogical, for persons to take up the position that they should not be compelled to take any servicein the defence of the country, unless they also demanded that they should not be expected to contribute a penny towards the revenue, which is to be appropriated for defence. But the amendment does not: bring us into conflict with such a position. I think it is an excellent via media, and”, one which we can adopt quite consistently with our principle ‘of compulsory service,, and also with a principle which is equally, high and honorable, namely, that of recognising the conscientious religious convictions of every member of the community.
-Colonel. CAMERON (Tasmania) [8.23]. - I hope that the amendment will not be passed. No one will accuse me, I think, of* want of consideration for every conscientious or otherscruple. But we are now dealing with a measure of supreme national importance,, which for the first time contains the principle of compulsory service. To provide a-, back door through which all the timid persons in the community could pass, and tooffer a premium for increasing the Quakerism of the country, is contrary to the piinciple which I have advocated cn the hustings, and which I have been commended by , Quakers for supporting. I should be glad” to see the Bill withdrawn, so that after the general election we could, instead of having these nonsensical proposals, obtain a workable Defence Bill which would give us some sense of security.
– Without compulsion.
– And’ with compulsion, too.
– I was rather surprised at the toneof some of the speeches which have been addressed to the amendment. One would think that this was an attempt to introduce into our law a new principle. It is alreadyembodied in our law, and so far as I know no great catastrophe has overtaken Australia. The Defence Act contains a provision almost similar to the amendment. Section 61 provides for the exemption of” certain persons in time of war. What is now proposed is to allow a similar exemption during the period of training - that is, in time of peace. That fact seems to have been overlooked. It was rather a surprise to me to hear some honorable senators speak as if there were going to be a wholesale attempt on the part of a large number of persons to escape active service.
– That can be easily provided against.
– The amendment does provide against it. All that it says is that, subject to the exigencies of the service, as far as possible the religious doctrines of this class shall, be respected. Other things being equal, is there any one who will say that either the service will suffer, or that the country will be injured, by paying due respect to the religious principles of any citizen?
– Do the words “exigencies of the service” mean anything?
– Yes. What they mean’ is that if we want 200 persons for non-combatant branches, and there are 200 persons who for religious reasons object to taking an active part in military affairs, we can give them an opportunity of falling into those branches. If, however, there are no vacancies, we can say to them,
We are very sorry for you, but the requirements of the country compel us to call upon you to perform active service.” I feel perfectly certain that the difficulty will be to get young fellows to take up the less attractive branches of the service. Any honorable senator who has a knowledge of boys knows what the response would be if two or three lads were asked whether they wished to don a uniform and take a -rifle, or to go down to the ordnance room ; and clean harness.
– During the American Revolution hundreds, if not thousands, of persons would not go to the front.
– A parallel can only be instituted between things which are similar. I am quite confident, I repeat, that the difficulty will be, if there is a difficulty at all, in getting men or lads for the non-combatant branches. That being so, under the amendment it will be possible for the Department to meet the objections of those who have conscientious scruples, and at the same time it will know that there will be available a number of persons to fill those less attractive but still difficult positions. Ample provision has been made to safeguard the service against any unfair use of the exemptions.
– How can the Department determine whether or not a man has conscientious scruples?
– By the necessities of the service. In spite of this provision, the absolute autocratic power will rest with those who are called upon to administer the Act. At the same time, the amendment will afford an opportunity of considering as far as possible the conscientious objections of those whose cases it is designed to meet.
Question - That the proposed new sub section be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Proposed new section 148 -
No officer shall be appointed to, or receive promotion in, the Administrative and Instructional Staff until he has passed, as prescribed, a course at the Military College.
– On behalf of Senator Pearce, I move -
That after the word “No” the words “applicant or “ be inserted.
– To my mind, this proposal is a very necessary one. It provides that every person entering the service shall conform to the same conditions as apply to those who are already within it. I believe in insisting upon the maintenance of a certain standard of efficiency. If persons were admitted to the service in the absence of any such standard, it would be possible for all sorts of abuses in the shape of favoritism to spring into existence.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [8.39]. - This proposal will apply only to members of the Administrative and Instructional Staff.
– Or to any new applicants.
– It will apply only to professional officers - the administrative and instructional officers. I am quite in favour of it.
Amendment agreed to.
Proposed new section 150 (Promotion to rank above Major).
– I move -
That the following proviso be inserted : - “ Provided that sections 149 and T50 shall not apply to officers of the Medical, Veterinary, Ordnance, and other Departmental Services.”
It will be seen that the provisions in question impose certain restrictions upon the promotion of officers until they have qualified themselves in the practice of their own arm of the service. It is. obvious that these restrictions are not necessary in the case of officers of the medical, veterinary, and ordnance department.
Amendment agreed to.
Proposed new section 151 -
Sections one hundred and forty-eight, one hundred and forty-nine, and one hundred and fifty shall not disqualify any existing officer of the Commonwealth Military Forces for the rank he holds on the date on which the Act comes into operation.
– I ask the Committee to agree to the excision of this proposed new section, which was originally inserted with a definite purpose in view, but which has been rendered entirely unnecessary by subsequent alterations made elsewhere. Tt rs obvious that the provision cannot disqualify any existing officer for the rank which he now holds, and therefore it is unnecessary. I move -
That the proposed new section be left out.
Amendment agreed to.
– I desire to submit an amendment of which notice has been given by Senator Pearce. I move -
That after proposed new section 150 the following proposed new section be inserted : - “ 151. Unless within two years from the time of the establishment of the Military College such existing officers obtain as prescribed a certificate of fitness for the said rank from the Director of the Military College, officers holding the rank of captain or higher rank shall not be allowed to continue in command of forces but shall be placed in the reserve of officers.”
I think that is a very reasonable precaution to adopt.
– The honorable senator wishes to make our officers fit themselves to hold their present offices.
– If we do not adopt some means of ascertaining whether a man is fit to occupy his office, we mayhave a lot of dead-heads and incompetents, filling high positions in our Defence.-. Forces.
– The honorable senator’s proposal, if adopted, would amount te retrospective legislation.
– I do not think so. Under it officers would be allowed two years within which to fit themselves for their present positions. If an incompetent be filling a high position in outDefence Forces, he must necessarily block the promotion of younger, abler, and ambitious men. The fact that there are men in high positions prevents others from rising. We cannot all be colonels and majors. But we must insist upon efficiency ; and it is only by having examinations from time to time that we can maintain that desirable condition. If within a certain time an officer is not able to pass the necessary examination, it is quite proper to say that he should go into the Reserve. That is the fitting place for him. The time has then come when some abler and’ younger man should step into his position.
– I should like the Committee tounderstand what is proposed. I feel confident that when the amendment is understood it will not be accepted. It is proposed to place every officer in the military service, no matter what his record may be, under a challenge, and to call upon himto justify his right to maintain his position.
– Not every officer;, but all those above the rank of captain.
– Take the case of officers who have shown their competency for command by service on the field. Arethey to be put under challenge bv this proposed new section, and compelled topass an examination, when they have shown their fitness under the severest ordeal to which any military man can be put?’ That is introducing a principle which we have never adopted, either in the military or civil service. There is a good old proverb which says, “ Do not throw away dirty water until you have clean to take its place.” One of the chief criticisms directed against this Bill was that we should have a difficulty in getting sufficient officers. Yet by this amendment Senator de Largie would insist upon the retirement of a considerable number of officers, many of whom would never submit themselves to such an examination as is contemplated ; and he would do that before waiting to see from what source we are to obtain competent officers to take their places. Whilst every one desires to see a high standard of efficiency maintained, and our officers put through a college training, still it is not desirable to introduce that system abruptly in regard to the existing staff. We should rather introduce it as regards the new officers who are to be brought into being.
– An argument which should commend itself to Senator de Largie is that this legislation is, in this respect, on all-fours with legislation which has been passed in recent years. In the case of enginedrivers our State Parliament recognised a danger which might accrue to human life from men who were not qualified being permitted to drive engines. We therefore passed laws demanding certificates of efficiency. But, at the same time, it had to be recognised that there were driving engines large numbers of -men who could not, on account of age, qualify themselves to pass examinations, although by practice they had qualified themselves to drive engines. In such cases provision was made for the issue of service certificates - not the certificates which were issued to new aspirants for the right to drive engines, but certificates showing that the men in question had served for a certain time, and might, therefore, be assumed to be qualified, though not possessing the exact form of technical knowledge demanded in the future. The same argument applies to military officers. We can easily assume that those who have been many years in the service have acquired knowledge from practical experience, although the, m i eh t not be able to undertake the mental effort of- studying to pass a technical examination for which a younger man might reasonably be asked to offer himself. At fort v or fifty years of age the brain is hardened by age, and it is difficult then for a man to acquire knowledge which is comparatively simple to a young man. But when we remember that these officers have obtained their promotion by long service, we can rest assured that whilst there may, perhaps, be isolated instances of men who are not so well qualified as we should like, still the standard reached, as a rule, is a high one, and no serious danger will happen to us from allowing them to continue to hold their present positions.
– - I quite agree with the VicePresident of the Executive Council, and entirelydissent from the criticism of Senator de Largie. I shall quote some valuable remarks bearing on this subject made by the late Colonel Henderson in his Science oj War, page 241. He- said, dealing with some of the eminent officers who took part in the American Civil War -
We should scarcely expect to find that some three years’ service in the rank of corporal in an English regiment fitted a man to command a division in the field. Some of the volunteer officers, moreover, who joined without any previous military knowledge whatever, made dasing and skilful leaders, notably General Terry on the Northern side, and Forrest on the Southern. The latter, who proved himself a most able tactician, would most certainly have failed in any written examination for promotion. He could read or write only with the greatest difficulty. Again, several of the most famous generals had, for a long time before the war, severed themselves from all connexion with command and with the service.
Colonel Henderson goes on to say -
Longstreet, one of the ablest officers in the South, came from the pay department. Grant had been regimental quartermaster, had left the army, and been employed as a clerk in a tannery. . . . Another Confederate general was at the same time a bishop; and he was not the only ecclesiastic who, having left the army for the church, resumed his former trade when the war broke out. Lee’s chief of artillery, General Pendleton, was an Episcopal clergyman, who, it is said, condoned his relapse by always prefacing the command to fire with the words “ The Lord have mercy on their sou’s !” None of these officers appear to have found the want of the practice and training which are given by immediate contact with the troops. Grant and Sherman both tell us in their memoirs that when they first took command they were ignorant of the drill then in use.
We should preserve the status quo in regard to the officers in our Defence Forces. It is quite right to call upon them to pass examinations when they apply for higher commands. But if war broke out, it is ‘finite likely that we should find some very valuable officers in the service who have had no special training whatever, and no experience of active service. These men might distinguish themselves just as did Longstreet, Forrest, and others in the great Civil War. Absolute justice should be done to the officers who have secured commands in our forces. They are entitled to this consideration at our hands. On the other hand, we should certainly insist upon examinations for officers seeking to hold responsible commands.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [8.56]. - Senator de Largie’s speech would almost create the idea that he thought there were officers in the Defence Forces who had achieved their positions by some occult process rather than by the very process which he advocates, training and examinations. The regulations of all the States prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth were practically alike. Officers were, not appointed until they had shown their capacity by passing the tests that were provided for them by the chief officers of the permanent staffs. Therefore they qualified as far as it was possible for them to do so. Some had a chance of active service in the field, and no doubt were all the better for it. Some had not the same good fortune. But that, after all, is the fortune of war ; for there have been thousands of gallant officers and men in the British Army who have never heard a rifle fired in anger. We have had generals occupying important commands in Australia who have never seen active service in their lives.
– And admirals who have never been to sea ?
– No doubt there have been honorary admirals, but not officers of the Navy who have never been to sea.
– We have colonels who have never been to war.
– There are numbers of generals in the British Army who have never been to war. There have even been field marshals who have never been to war. They never had the luck. Any man who thinks himself a soldier is not worth a dump if he does not embrace every opportunity of active service that offers itself.
– Some did not go to war when they were asked to go.
– -The honorable sen” tor who makes such a statement should either give names or will be justly described by a word spelt with four letters.
The officers now in the service have undergone all the tests that were asked of them. lt is well enough known, however, that men of great experience in all the learned professions could not pass the examinations which candidates for entry to those professions have to pass. How many of the medical men whose brass plates adorn the buildings in Collins-street, could if now called upon, again pass the examinations which they had to pass in order to reach their present positions? There are learned lawyers in Australia who, if required to pass examinations as a condition of being allowed to continue in the practice of their profession, would be unable to do so. Would any one call upon our ecclesiastics - whether cardinals, archbishops, bishops, or other church dignitaries - to undergo examinations before being allowed to continue to preach the Gospel? The idea is absolutely idiotic. I believe that none of the captains who are in charge of the great liners trading to Australia to-day could now pass the examinations which they had to pass to achieve their present position. The higher a man climbs-
-Colonel Cameron. - The more he has to forget of examinations.
– Exactly. He has to forget minutiae. He has to deal with larger questions. It is the junior officers who are charged with detailed drill. Generals do not give orders in drill ; they issue general instructions. Under the amendment the Minister of Defence would have to call upon Major-General Hoad to undergo an examination within two years or be sacked. Senator Lieut. -Colonel Cameron would be in the same position. All the leading military authorities on our active list would be practically certain to leave the service if this proposed new section were adopted. In the first place a great number of them would decline to be made the sport of such folly as is proposed, and I do not hesitate to say that many would fail to pass examinations in matters of detail which lie so far behind them in their professional careers that it would be absurd to expect them now to be conversant with them. I think I have said all that it is necessary to say on the subject, except that I intend to vote against an amendment which could only be to the detriment of our forces. We are at present short by 25 per cent, of the officers we require, and we should be deplorably short of officers in the future if this amendment were carried.
Senator GRAY (New South Wales) [9.3’j. - I heartily support the Government proposal to establish naval and military colleges in which to train young men to become sailors and soldiers, and I hope that the amendment now before the Committee will be withdrawn. At a time when we have 30 per cent, less than the number of officers we require for our existing forces it is proposed to deliberately insult many who have served with credit under existing cond tions for years. Many of our officers are over fifty years of age, and it would be unfair to ask them to undergo . examination which might fairly be asked of -young men entering the service. I take it that the majority of them would absolutely decline to undergo examination. In the circumstances, I again express the hope that the amendment will be withdrawn.
– Those who have spoken in opposition to the amendment have not considered the fact that it provides for a prescribed standard. No one would think in arranging these examinations of prescribing a standard of efficiency that would be quite beyond men of the standing of Senator Lieut. -Colonel Cameron, or other officers who have seen active service, and who may have forgotten much of the scholastic information which they acquired as younger men. No doubt an examination would be set to meet such cases.
– -Then it would become a farce.
– Not at all. Military training is not purely scholastic. As Senator Trenwith pointed out, if a man is seeking a certificate as an engine-driver he is not asked to make difficult mathematical calculations with respect to the power of steam, if he can show that he understands and can drive an engine. I think that we should have some guarantee that officers in high positions in the Defence Force are competent to perform the duties of those positions. If there are incompetent officers occupying high positions and blocking the way to the promotion of younger and abler men, this amendment, if agreed to, would assist in removing a difficulty.
Clause 18, as amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Debate resumed from 1st December (vide page 6609), on motion by Senator Sir Robert Best.
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– The provisions of this Bill are based upon an agreement made by the present Prime Minister when he was leading a former Government. I was not in any way a party to any agreement he made then, and I do not feel bound to support an agreement in which I do not believe. When I find that the acceptance of a certain agreement is referred to on the first page of this Bill, and that in clause 5 it is proposed that that agreement shall be ratified, I am unable to give my support to the Bill at all. I believe .that we must have an effective occupation of the Northern Territory. Without that it must continue to remain a danger spot in the Commonwealth. It is generally admitted now that if a country is not effectively occupied it is open to any power to acquire it. The Northern Territory is not effectively occupied, and something must be done sooner or later to alter that state of things. If South Australia cannot do what is necessary, and apparently it is admitted that she cannot, the Commonwealth must take the matter in hand. But that is no reason why we should take over a railway constructed in South Australia which goes in the wrong direction. The railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, instead of going towards the centres of population in the richer States, goes into what is described as a desert, or very poor country.
– Does the honorable senator wish to develop the country?
– We should develop our good lands first. I think it would be better to throw the Bill out on the second reading. In view of the fact that the South Australian Government have said that the agreement must be accepted as it stands, or no.t at all, we shall be only wasting time in debating the Bill at length, since it proposes the acceptance of an agreement which, in my opinionought not to be accepted. I shall vote against the second reading of the Bill.
– I do not think that any one has a greater admiration for the enterprise of the South Australian Government and people than I have. Many years ago they took upon themselves, at the request, I believe, of the Home authorities, the huge task of controlling arid managing the Northern Territory. They constructed a telegraph line across the Territory, connecting the north with the south, and that line has been of immense advantage to the whole of the people of Australia. So that in any remarks which I may make regarding the agreement I shall not be actuated by any motive other than that of considering the financial position of the Commonwealth as a whole. I propose to give a short resume of the cost of accepting the agreement, and then to suggest what it seems to me would be a fair thing for the Commonwealth to do. I agree with Senator Macfarlane that this is not a party matter.
– Are not the Government supporting the Bill ?
– In this matter the Government are above party. They are endeavouring to represent the Commonwealth as a whole, and it would be very wrong indeed to suppose that they ‘ are actuated by party motives. If they believe, that it ill be for the advantage of Australia to acquire the Northern Territory, they are perfectly right in submitting this measure. If it were introduced merely to gain a party advantage they would be acting meanly. It is a matter which is altogether above party, and although no one has a higher regard for the Government than I have, yet I think it is my duty to exercise an independent judgment. I regret that my remarks may be unacceptable to honorable senators for whom I have a great regard. On looking into the figures I find that the debt on the Northern Territory of South Australia; including, I take it, the interest thereon, is £3,327,983, and the cost of the Port Augusta-Oodnadatta railway £2,242,342, making a total of .£5,570.325. Threefifths of the cost of the telegraph line - £603.000 in round numbers - amounts to £362,000.
– That does not enter into the calculation at all.
– I am going to show what the Commonwealth will have to pay for the line.
– No; that is transferred property.
– Well, leaving out that item, the estimated cost of the overland railway from Pine Creek to Oodnadatta is £4,500,000. If we substract £362,000 on account of the telegraph line, though 1 think we shall be expected to pay that afterwards, we still have a total of £10,070,325 to pay if we take over the Northern Territory and the railways. .1 think it is only fair, however, that we should pay for the telegraph line.
– We took that over under the Constitution as a transferred property.
– The interest on £10,500,000 at 3J per cent, is £367.5°° a year, and the annual loss on the railways and the government of the Territory I estimate at £232,500, making an annual charge of £600,000.
– That is very much in excess of the figures1 which I gave.
– The figures showthat the loss on the line between Port Darwin and Pine Creek, and on the government of the Territory last year, was £175,000. In addition to that there is a loss on the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta. Considering the heavy extra obligations upon The Commonwealth for defence, oldage pensions, and the definite annual return of 25s. per capita to the States, it is evident that we must go slowly if we wish to keep our finances in a sound position. We must not forget the probable cost of the transcontinental railway to Western Australia.
– Its construction has not vet been decided upon.
– No. In this matter I ‘ find myself, to my surprise, on the same platform as Senator Givens. My alternative suggestion is that the Commonwealth should take over the Northern Territory on some such terms as the following: - That we pay the accumulated indebtedness of £3,327,983, and allow £362,000 for the purchase of the telegraph line - which I am told I ought nit to allude to - making a total of £3,689,983. Further, that South Australia should give the Commonwealth all the country north of Oodnadatta, otherwise it will have to make a railway to the southern boundary of the Territory.
– No; we will have to do that.
– I am suggesting an alternative. I would allow a margin of £3Io:or7 for the additional area of land extending south to the latitude of Oodnadatta, for a concession to run passenger and goods trains from Oodnadatta to Port Augusta and Adelaide, and for anything at present unforeseen. I think that £4,000.000 is as much as we could be expected to give for the Northern Territory as it stands. The annual interest on that sum at per cent, would come to £140,000. The annua! loss on the railway from Port Darwin to Pine Creek, and on the government of the Territory, I put down at £160,000, though, according to information which Senator Pulsford received today it is really £175,000. Of course, the annual charge of £300,000 would be in addition to a sinking fund. That seems to me to be a reasonable agreement for the Commonwealth to come to with South Australia. Then we should have absolute control of the Northern Territory as regards railways, public works, and land laws. With ‘regard to railways, I cannot forget that Canada and the United, States furnish a lesson of the great advantage of land grant railways, and 1 trust that in time the railways I have just referred to will be constructed on that principle, besides being subsidized to some extent by debentures. Of course, the Government should take the right to resume the railways on certain terms when the proper time arrives. If South Australia will not grant the country between Oodnadatta and the southern part of the Northern Territory, it will have to continue the railway from Oodnadatta at its own cost, because it is highly improbable that the Commonwealth would construct the line considering the unfortunate financial loss which would ensue.
– There will be no loss if it is extended to the MacDonnell Ranges.
– I am a great believer in the future of the Northern Territory. I enjoyed looking through The Australian Tropics, by Alfred Searcy. We may believe in many things, but we cannot afford to have them. Failing a mutually satisfactory agreement - and to my mind this is not a mutually satisfactory agreement - I would leave things in statu quo, and wish our friends in South’ Australia all good luck for their enterprise. It is scarcely reasonable to expect the Commonwealth to pay so much for what, unfortunately for the State, is very much like a white elephant, and will, I believe, continue to be so for years. I have always thought it most desirable that the Commonwealth should have the Northern Territory and railway communication from north to south and east to west of Australia. But at present, unfortunately, we are not in a position to stand the cost. It is not to be understood, therefore, that I am at all inimical to the idea of taking over the Northern Territory. I am very sympathetic with the people of South Australia as regards the losses which they have had to sustain through their public spiritedness. I have also a particularly kindly feeling towards their representatives in the Senate. Four of them come from north of the Tweed, and, generally, Scotchmen have a kindly feeling for one another.
– A little practical sympathy would be better.
– In time, if the Northern Territory becomes Commonwealth property, as I trust it will, the increase in population will be such that ultimately it may be formed into two or three States, for it is undesirable that there should be only six States in this large country. 1 regret that I feel it my duty to vote against the second reading of the Bill, and as our friends in South Australia have said they will not alter a jot or tittle of the agreement, I think it is more straightforward to tell them right off what I think about it.
– - 1 regret that I have to oppose this measure at every stage.
– I thought that the honorable senator was a Government supporter ?
– I think that, although I am a Government supporter, I am taking the course which is most effective for the support of economical government in the Commonwealth. In my opinion, I am, perhaps, the most useful and effective kind of supporter the Government have on this occasion. I do not desire to deprive any honorable senator of the opportunity of expressing his views, either briefly or otherwise, on this important proposal, but T intend to occupy some time at this stage in dealing with some broad principles which I wish the representatives of the Government to understand will be debated and analyzed in Committee.
– The honorable senator had better give utterance to them now, because the Bill will never get into Committee.’
– I do intend to take advantage of this opportunity to debate the principles, and I recognise that other honorable senators are equally entitled to state the reasons for their votes. I intend to draw the attention of the Senate at some length to what I think are somewhat dangerous, and, from one point of view, I might say, improper, principles which we are asked by the Government to indorse. Ever since 1901 or 1902 this proposal, in some form or other, has occupied the attention of the South Australian Government, or the Commonwealth Government, or both Governments. Honorable senators will have in their possession more or less voluminous correspondence setting out in detail the offers which were made to the Commonwealth Government from time to time by the State Government. This includes the official correspondence between the two Governments. In 1902 the State Government offered this Territory to the Commonwealth, almost ad misericordiam, on our own terms. As the Commonwealth delayed taking action the State Government again and again made offers to the various Ministries. It is remarkable that now for the first time the Prime Minister entertains the idea, I will not say on economic .grounds, but on broad national grounds ; and I would point out that at every step of the consideration which he gave to the matter, from the time when the correspondence was initiated up to the present, South Australia has asked higher and higher terms.
– To the best of my recollection, there were no offers made between 1902 and 1906.
– If I am wrong on that point, I shall refer again to the papers.
– I speak subject to correction.
-I looked through the papers to-day, and in order that the Minister may refresh his memory and correct me if I am wrong, I refer him to two papers which were printed to the order of another place, one on 31st August,
– That is just what I say.
– And in December of the same year there was further correspondence on the matter. From a perusal of that correspondence, the Minister of Trade and Customs will gather that offers of a more or less informal character were made beginning as far back as 1902. B-it when we look into those offers we find that on every occasion upon which the
South Australian Government have approached the Commonwealth in regard to the transfer of the Northern Territory, they have done so in. a huckstering spirit.
– What I said was that, to the best of my recollection, no offers were made between 1902 and 1906.
– May I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether the terms of the agreement which is before us to-day are identical with those contained in the offer of 1906 ?
– Is not the honorable senator in favour of the Commonwealth taking over the Northern Territory ?
– No. I do not think that the offer of that Territory on the terms of the tentative agreement which has been entered into with South Australia, is a fair and proper one.
– I thought that this was not a party question?
– I do not care whether it is q.r not. As I credit the honorable senator with the intention of voting according to his convictions, he should at least credit me with being imbued with similar motives.
– The honorable senator is taking a parochial view of a. national question.
– There is another aspect of the matter which requires special consideration. I need scarcely saythat Queensland, in common with the eastern States, has a very vital interest ire the building of the proposed railway from Pine Creek to Port Augusta. The development of the Northern Territory is as vital to Queensland as it is to the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator ought to quote Queensland, seeing what the Commonwealth has done for that State.
– If South Australia’s representatives will persist in indulging in, remarks of that kind, simply because the ‘Commonwealth has had to pav something for its White Australia policy, I shall meet them upon that ground.
– What has South Australia done for a White Australia policy, and what has she got for it?
– Queensland, in common with the eastern States, has a supreme interest in the Northern Territory. If that Territory be transferred to the Commonwealth, the railway from Pine Creek ought to traverse the route which is most likely to insure a substantial return for the money expended upon it. The history of the Northern Territory and of the State of Queensland is remarkably interesting. I suppose that Senator Vardon will take some notice of the criticism to which this Bill is being subjected, and will endeavour to show, from his point of view, the progress of the development of that Territory. Indeed, I shall expect the representatives of South Australia to point out what that State has done in an attempt to benefit, not only the Northern Territory, but the whole of Australia.
– She has made it possible for the Territory to remain a white man’s land for all time.
– I intend to address some of my arguments to that very point. When the Northern Territory was founded, between i860 and 1863, there was a good deal of rivalry between Queensland, New South Wales, and South Australia in reference to it. Frequent despatches were forwarded to the Imperial Government suggesting the adoption of certain boundaries in respect of it, and dealing with the jurisdiction which should be granted over it. The Duke of Newcastle, who was Secretary of State for the Colonies at the’ time, was strongly in favour of annexing the whole province now known as the Northern Territory to the State of Queensland1. But the South Australian Government pressed its view very strongly upon the Home Government, that the whole of that Territory should be left to its jurisdiction.
– The honorable senator is wrong there, because the Northern Territory was part of New South Wales, and when that State unloaded her burden, South Australia took it up.
– The honorable senator is far too clever. What I Said was that the South Australian Government pressed its claim upon the Imperial Government to have the Territory which is now known as the Northern Territory annexed to its jurisdiction. What Senator Findley has stated in respect of New South Wales is perfectly correct. The correspondence was .referred back to the New “South Wales Government because the Territory was technically under its jurisdiction. But that State had no desire to retain it, so that its alternative possessors were Queensland and South Australia. A conflict took place between those two States. The Duke of Newcastle, who for a time was in a position to recommend to the Imperial Government what should be done in respect of it, repeatedly urged in his despatches to the South Australian and New South Wales Governments that the Territory should be administered largely from Queensland. As the result of this dispute, the eastern boundary of Queensland, which was then the 141st meridian, was changed to the 138th meridian, in order that that portion of the Gulf of Carpentaria which is drained by the Albert River might come under the jurisdiction of Queensland. But, as South Australia had repeatedly pressed its claims to the Northern Territory, it was arranged to give Queensland the extension of territory which I have indicated, and to allocate to South Australia, country which would embrace the Victoria River. The reason why the Duke of Newcastle1 - and if there be any doubt entertained as to the nature of his despatches I shall lay them upon the table - persistently urged that Queensland should have a large portion of the Northern Territory, was that; since 1859, when that State had been constituted a self-governing Colony, it had progressed so rapidly as to deeply impress him with the idea that any further extension towards the Gulf should be made through the Northern Territory. The settlement of Queensland then extended to the Fitzroy and Burdekin Rivers, and even at that early stage, squatters and land companies had established settlements on the Gulf of Carpentaria. But when the question was raised, the Queensland authorities pointed out that the immense size of that Colony made them cautious about taking over more territory. Consequently, they declined the extra work of developing the Northern Territory;. But they expressed themselves confident of being able to discharge the task of settling their own great State. To-day, everything points to the fact that the development of the Northern Territory must come - as the Duke of Newcastle frankly recognised - through Queensland.
– Does Queensland want the Territory ?
– I do not know that she does. But if that Territory must be taken over by an authority which will make it a live Territory, I do not think there is a State of the Commonwealth which would say that Queensland could not safely be intrusted with it.
– Queensland has a lot of territory of her own to develop.
– South Australia has had fifty years in which to develop the Northern Territory. Queensland has had the same period in which to develop her territory. She took over the territory round the Gulf of Carpentaria, and declared her intention of developing it. To-day she has fulfilled to the letter every bit of her obligation to her own citizens for the development of her State, and has proved herself equal to the task imposed upon her by the Imperial Government. But the history of the relationship of South Australia to the Northern Territory has been one. long repetition of gigantic .blunders. I do not say that the South Australian Government are responsible for that. Nevertheless it is a fact that there have been fifty years of blundering in the efforts of that State to develop the Territory along the lines upon1 which she desires us to continue to develop it now.. If the Territory is to be taken over, the Commonwealth should undoubtedly have a free hand to develop it in its own way, and to devise its own railway policy. Even the South Australian senators must admit that the interest of the Commonwealth as a whole must be considered.
– That is what we ari doing.
– If the Commonwealth is to take over obligations to the amount of between £10,000,000 and £12,000,000, South Australia should not insist upon our building railways to suit her scheme.
– What is the value of the asset?
– It is not worth a dump. Let the South Australian senators show, if they can, what the asset is worth. It .cannot be denied that the railway line from Port Darwin to Pine Creek is worked at a loss, lt cannot be denied that the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta is worked at a loss. There is also a large accumulated deficit on account of the Territory, apart from the railways.
– The overland telegraph line was a source of loss at first. South Australia incurred that obligation. Queensland had the opportunity of doing the work, and did not.
– I am pleased with that interjection, and will answer it. Just as in i860 or 1861 South Australia showed a feverish haste to get the Northern Territory, and did what she could to secure it, almost forcing the hands of the Duke of Newcastle, so was it, I believe, in regard to the overland .telegraph line. The history of the matter, if I remember rightly, is this : It was known that South Australia, in her desire to acquire and develop the Northern Territory, wished to construct a telegraph line connecting up the cable service from Banjoewangie to Port Darwin. Queensland had already constructed a telegraph line from Brisbane to Rockingham Bay, and from Rockingham Bay to Normanton. It was known that the Queensland Government had applied to the eastern States for their co-operation in connecting Normanton with Port Darwin.
– South Australia did the work without any help from the eastern States.
- Colonel Onslow was the agent in this matter, and he cooperated with Superintendent Todd. He had two States with whom to negotiate - Queensland and South Australia. Queensland hesitated because, as I have explained, she had asked the assistance of the eastern States. Some delay resulted. The South Australian Parliament voted some hundreds of thousands of pounds to build the line straight away. But the estimate which the South Australian Government placed before its Parliament was not correct. The actual expen.se was from 75 to 100 per cent, more than the estimate. The comparative smallness of the estimate which the South Australian authorities placed before their Parliament induced Parliament to rush the matter through. Queensland and the eastern States would have carried a telegraph line from Normanton to Port Darwin had not the overland line been constructed by South Australia.
– But the overland line served the whole of Australia, and not the eastern States alone.
– The line from Normanton would have served the whole of Australia just as well.
– What is the use of exciting State jealousies?
– It is surely & matter of pounds, shillings, and pence. I am bound to put this aspect of the case when I am challenged. South Australiatoday, through the members of its Parliament, and through its representatives inthe Federal Parliament, is putting to us the argument, “ See what we have done for the Territory ! See what we have spent ! “ They come to us, in fact, with a sort of ad misericordiam aappeal.
– Not a bit of it. We simply ask for justice.
– But South Australia must blame herself for the blunder which she has made. There can be no doubt that a great mistake was made from the beginning in trying to develop the Territory rom ] Port Augusta. Will Senator Vardon dispute the statement that South Australia is even now trying to force the hands of the Commonwealth Parliament in the same direction ?
– Not a bit. But the honorable senator wants to drive everything to the eastern’ States. That is a most parochial view.
– I am not imputing motives to the South Australians.
– I think the honorable senator was doing so just now.
– I simply say that South Australia has pursued a wrong policy from the beginning, and is now trying to force the Commonwealth to continue that policy* Why has the Territory been such a howling failure? Surely that is a question which requires to be answered. The Queensland senators are more or less unanimous in regard to this proposal. Some feel less strongly about it than others, but I am determined to carry my opposition through to the bitter end.
– I am sorry for the honorable senator’s parochialism.
– I suppose it is a relief to the feelings of some people to accuse the representatives of other States of parochialism and provincialism. But surely the South Australian senators will admit that, as the other States will have to pay the piper, they have a right to say something about the tune. If South Australia had come to this Parliament and said, “ We offer you a free gift of this Territory j do your best with it,” our attitude would have been quite different. When we were dealing with another matter the leading representative of South Australia in the Senate impressed upon us strongly that we should “trust the Federal Parliament; leave the matter entirely to it.” He argued that the Federal Parliament might be trusted to do justice. How is it that South Australia does not come to us and say frankly with regard to the Territory - what is an absolute fact - “ We have failed to develop this country ; it has been a white elephant to us; we will leave it to your generosity and trust the Federal Parliament.”
– The honorable senator does not encourage us to trust anything to his generosity.
- Senator Vardon cannot charge me with inconsistency in this matter, because from the first I have expressed my intention to resist this Bill.
– The South Australians have helped Queensland to develop their State bv means of the sugar bounty.
– I hope that that matter will not be dragged in again. Will the honorable senator who throws bounties in my teeth - say that he is going to object to the bounty policy? He is silent.
– I repeat that the honorable senator forgets what the South Australians have done for Queensland.
– We are now practically told that if we persist in our opposition to this scheme, honorable senators will consider their position in regard to the bounty and to. white labour.
– It is strange to hear Senator St. Ledger talking about white labour when he came in here as the nominee of the black labour party.
– If the resistance which we are offering to this Bill is to be met by threats of this kind my retort is, “ Very well, then, you touch the sugar bounty !” I admit that I am somewhat to blame for replying to interjections, but they are important, because this is not the first time when an aspect of a question has been presented from a Queensland point of view that the same taunt has been thrown at us.
– Because the honorable senator chooses to forget all about the sugar bounty.
– I do not forget it, but if the honorable senator has any thing to complain of about the bounty system, let him bring it up at the right time. The representatives of every State in the Common wealth have a right’ to express their views upon this question from their own point of view. We have a right to treat it from the point of view of our States as well as in its relationship to the whole Commonwealth. I shall not further pursue that aspect of the subject, except to say that I hope the mistakes made in the past will not be repeated in the future. Senator Walker has pointed out, and his figures are supported by the speech made by the Minister of Trade and Customs, that under this agreement we shall be involved in a liability of from £10,000,000 to £12,000,000. But a further obligation will be imposed upon us as a consequence of the acceptance of this agreement. We shall be expected to undertake an expenditure of from £8,000,000 to £10,000,000 in the development of another State of Australia. I take the official figures in the case of the Northern Territory, and say that it will involve us in an obligation to the extent of £10,000,000; and I believe the official estimate of the cost of the proposed transcontinental railway to Western Australia is about £6,000,000.
– The Western Australian railway has nothing to do with the taking over of the Northern Territory.
– If we admit the South Australian claim that we should build the transcontinental line .to Port Darwin, and should take over from that State a financial obligation of £10,000,000, what is to prevent a similar claim being made on behalf of Western Australia?
– The Commonwealth will have to build the Western Australian railway whether we take over the Northern Territory or not.
– I am not so sure about that.
– I ask the honorable senator not to discuss that question.
– If we ratify this agreement, every other State in the Commonwealth will have an equally good claim to ask that the Commonwealth shall build a railway to develop” territory within it. Why cannot the people of South Australia do as the people of the other States have done - develop their territory with their own resources?
– They are doing so.
– Either South Australia has not had the capacity or the means to develop the Northern Territory, or the Territory itself is of such a useless and worthless character that it is impossible to develop it.
– We have not had a man of the honorable senator’s exceeding ability to assist us.
– It is of no use for my honorable friend to become personal. ‘ I am going to make my attack, and I hope I shall not lose my temper. If -we are to build this railway for South Australia, why .should we not build other railways for ‘the other States? Queensland “hai spent about £22,000,000, New South
Wales £45,000,000, and Victoria about £42,000,000, in railway construction. Will the_ South Australian senators tell us why the ‘South Australian people have been unable to develop the Northern Territory? I have taken the trouble to read the reports published concerning the Territory. If we are to believe some persons, it is a paradise of illimitable resources. We are invited to believe that if the people in the other States of Australia were to go there, they would find it to be a veritable Promised Land, in which they might acquire fabulous riches. Assuming that these reports are correct, how is it that the South Australian people have been unable to do anything with this fabulously rich country. The people of the other States have succeeded to a great extent in developing the resources of those States. The development of Queensland was not a small task for any people to undertake.
– If South. Australia had done what Queensland did, and introduced coloured people, -there would be 10,000 people in the Northern Territory now.
– I refuse to allow the coloured labour question to be brought into this matter.
– We managed to keep it white.
– South Australia employed Chinese in the construction of the railway.
– I am sorry that Senator Vardon should prove so restive as a witness. The honorable senator must address himself to these questions: If the Territory is as rich as it is said to be, why the failure to develop it? If, on the other hand, it is so bad that, after fifty years’ occupancy, the Chinese, who are said to be able to live on the smell of an oil rag, are leaving it, what is the Commonwealth to make of it? If the Territory is as good as South Australian senators would have us believe, why 3o they seek to dc an injustice to the people of South Australia by inducing the Commonwealth to take it from them? If we get into Committee upon this Bill, I shall show that no later than 1904 the Premier of the -State said in the South Australian Parliament that the Northern Territory was too good to be given up to the Commonwealth. At that time public opinion in the State was apparently so strongly alive to the possibilities of its development that it supported the Parliament in refusing to make an ad misericordiam appeal to the Commonwealth to take it over. If the Territory is as good as South Australian senators say it is, it will be wrong for us to take ic from the people or South Australia; and if it is so bad that the only result of fifty years’ occupation and administration of it is an indebtedness of £3,500,000, honorable senators from South Australia have no right to attempt to force it upon the Commonwealth.
– If it was a desert, does the honorable senator not think that our obligation to take it over would be even greater than it is at present?
– Certainly .not. The honorable senator should remember that the radical, mistake which. South Australia has made, and is now asking the Commonwealth Parliament to make, was in attempting to develop the Territory from Adelaide. That State makes it an absolute condition of the agreement under which the Commonwealth is to take over the Territory that the railway shall be taken in a direction which will make it impossible to develop the Territory.
– We cannot develop it by a railway in any other way.
– Fifty years’ experience is against any attempt to develop the Northern Territory by the railway proposed in the agreement included in this Bill. It has been frequently alleged that it is necessary that we should take over the Northern Territory and construct the railway in the way proposed in the interests of the defence of the Commonwealth. This is the only argument in support of the agreement which can for a moment be entertained. As a business or economic proposition the acquisition of the Territory by the Commonwealth and the construction of the railway as proposed is condemned by the- verdict of fifty years’ experience. It is said that a railway by the route proposed in this agreement is required for defence purposes. It has also been said that the proposed transcontinental railway to Western Australia is required for defence purposes. I disagree with that view. A hostile force could only raid Australia and land at Port Darwin and remain there for any length of time in the event of the supremacy of the Imperial Navy being successfully challenged. Assuming that the supremacy of the Imperial Navy were challenged for a time, I am disposed to believe that the best place on earth which our enemies could select in which to destroy themselves would be the .Northern Territory.
– That shows how much the honorable senator knows about it.
– I have beenthere, and I went 150 miles from the coast.
– The honorable senator did not die there.
– I did not ; but I can assure honorable senators that whilst, white people bom and bred in the Territory may continue to live there, I am able without any violation of truth or conscience to say that it is not a desirable place for white people to get into. I do not think that the Territory supports the small white population that is there now. If an enemy should land in the Northern Territory,, where would the defence of the Commonwealth come from ? Even if the proposed railway were constructed, I have no doubt that the means to defend the Commonwealth would be supplied by making use of the connecting lines which, no matter what this Parliament may do, will be extended westward from Queensland. We should have to defend the Northern Territory from Rockhampton or from Townsville, the nearest places from which we could send1 supplies. Whether this railway is built or not the defence of the Northern Territory will have to be conducted from the eastern sea-board, probably from Queensland, and certainly not from Adelaide. If we could not defend the country from a raiding army from Townsville or Rockhampton, we could not defend it from Adelaide. If the supremacy of the Imperial Navy were successfully challenged, it would be as impossible to send supplies from Adelaide as from Townsville or Rockhampton. We should have to conduct our defence from the nearest base, and that would be found in Queensland. I had a great deal more to say on the subject, but I shall not detain the Senate longer. South Australia is a suppliant for about £10,000,000.
– South Australia is not a suppliant. She is in this matter a party to an agreement which has been made.
– When South Australia, after fifty years of occupancy of the Northern Territory and a large expenditure, has nothing to show but failure, I’ ask what on earth can the Commonwealthexpect to get from the transfer of this Territory with a financial obligation of £10,000,000, or from the building of the transcontinental line by the route proposed ?
Debate (on motion by Senator Sayers> adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10. 16 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 December 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19091202_senate_3_54/>.