4th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I take this opportunity of asking the Vice-President of the Executive Council, if it will be possible for him, on the motion for adjournment this afternoon, to inform the Senate whether it is intended to close the session at the end of next week or not?
– In the meantime I shall make such inquiries as will enable me to make a statement.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Defence Acts 1903-1904 -
Regulations (Provisional) for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth.
Lands Acquisition Act1906. - Guyra, New South Wales, and Warburton, Victoria : Postal Purposes. - Notification of the Acquisition of Land.
– Has the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council been called to the following statement in to-day’s Age: -
Considering the large attendances at Flemington on each of the four days of the Spring meeting, the number of offences was unusually small. Three men on Derby day were arrested for uttering counterfeit sovereigns, and a barman was also arrested for larceny. Melbourne Cup day was a blank, no arrest being made.
I understand that something like 120,000 persons attended the Melbourne Cup meeting, and that no arrests were made. Will the Minister have inquiries made as to whether that record has ever been surpassed by any country in the world, as a counterblast to reflections which certain persons are continually casting on the people of this State?
– Order !
– As Senator Findley, the Honorary Minister, is a Victorian, this question ought to be addressed to him. He will be able to get the information more readily than I could.
Motion (by Senator Henderson) agreed to-
That the report from the Printing Committee, presented to the Senate on the 10th November, 1910, be adopted.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
As Yass-Canberra has been definitely chosen as the site for the Federal Capital, one can reasonably hope that this Bill, which is essentially a machinery measure, will pass through its various stages without unnecessary delay. When the question of the Capital site was last under consideration here, I think it was generally agreed that when the vote was taken, finality would be arrived at so far as the opinions of different senators were concerned.
– It was a very narrow majority.
– It was a majority sufficient to insure the passage of theBill.
– It was a still narrower minority.
– We had a moral victory.
– Had those who put up a very vigorous and stubborn fight in order to defeat the item in the Supply Bill secured an additional vote they would have been victorious, and I feel sure that they would have considered that they had achieved a’ great triumph.
– And the honorable senator would have been the proudest man of the lot, although he supported the Bill.
– This Bill contains eleven clauses, which I think are devoid of really debatable matter, but I shall explain the necessity for the different provisions. The object of clause 3 is to prevent certain Acts of the State of New South Wales from applying to the Federal Territory after it has been handed over to the Commonwealth. There are certain State Acts which the Government consider ought not to be applied in the Federal Territory, and therefore they desire that they shall not be continued in force after the issue of the proclamation. These are the Conciliation and Arbitration Act of 1899, the
Industrial Disputes Act of 1908; the Industrial Disputes Amendment Act of 1908, and the Industrial Disputes Amendment Act of 1909. Were these Acts to remain operative in the Federal Territory they would have to be administered by State officials, or new Commonwealth administrative machinery would have to be provided at an expense which would be out of proportion to the circumstances of the Territory. For that and other reasons the Government desire the rejection of the Acts I have mentioned, and that the Commonwealth law shall be made applicable without creating new machinery or incurring additional expense. We also consider that there is no necessity for the retention of the Local Government Act of 1906, the Local Government (Loans) Act of 1907, and the Local Government (Amending) Act of 1908. If those Acts were operative within the Federal Territory they would give rise to differences and complications. The area comprised within the Territory forms part of several shires, and under these Acts the shire councils would, of course, have authority partly in Commonwealth territory and partly in State territory. It is provided the Governor-General shall have power to make Ordinances, so that any necessary provision can be made in that way. We also desire to reject all State Acts imposing rates, taxes, or duties, except so far as they impose duties on the estates of deceased persons.
– Will that exception apply to the estates of residents in the Territory who may die after the passing of this measure ?
– I shall make inquiry in regard to that.
– The Commonwealth has no death duties.
– Why should New South Wales be able to exact death duties from persons who are outside its territory ?
– I believe I am right in saying that, after the transfer of the Territory, these probate duties will belong to the Commonwealth, because the persons concerned will be Commonwealth citizens.
– I have no objection in regard to the estates of persons who may die before the Territory is taken over, but if any residents of the Territory die afterwards New South Wales will have no claim on their estates.
– They will be Commonwealth citizens, and the probate duties will belong to the Commonwealth.
– The Minister thinks that as the Commonwealth would be responsible for their death it ought to take the probate duties?
– I hope that my honorable friend will not repeat that statement, because it will be a strong argument in favour’ of those who say that YassCanberra is not a fit place for one to exist in.
– I hope that the honorable senator will be able to give us some definite information on that subject in Committee.
– The honorable senator is referring to the probate duties? All Acts of New South Wales imposing rates, taxes, or duties, “ except so far as they impose duties on intestate estates of deceased persons,” are not to continue in force in the Territory. The reason for that is that if Stamp Acts were continued in’ force the Commonwealth would have to provide the necessary machinery for their administration, and that machinery might cost much more than the revenue from this source would yield.’ Clause 4 enables any State Acts which are continued in force to be modified by Ordinance from time to time, and also allows State Acts to be continued in operation from time to time. Clause 5 pretty well explains itself. The object of it is to make provision for the application of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-10 to the Territory. Clauses 6 and 7 are for the purpose of applying the Australian Industries Preservation Act and the Secret Commissions Act 1905. Clause 8 is considered necessary to prevent the transfer of the Territory having an adverse effect upon postal and telegraph rates. Clause 9 refers to the disposal of Crown lands. Clause 10 deals with the jurisdiction of inferior Courts. It may not be convenient at first for the Commonwealth to establish a complete judicial system of its own within the Territory. This clause gives the necessary jurisdiction to inferior Courts, such as County Courts, and Courts of Petty Sessions, in cases arising within the Territory. Clause 11 empowers the Governor-General to make Ordinances having the effect of law in the Territory. I hope it will be understood that the power thus taken is one which will safeguard the interests of the Commonwealth. No danger need be apprehended, because Parliament will have supreme power, and will be able to disallow any Ordinance which may be disapproved. I do not think that further explanations are required. If they are, I shall be happy to give any other information connected with the measure when we get into the Committee.
– As one of those who put up a pretty strenuous fight against the adoption of Yass- Canberra as the site for the Federal Capital, I recognise - that site having been selected, much against my will, and in spite of my strenuous opposition - that it -was necessary for the Government to bring in a Bill of this kind. I do not propose to cavil at the measure in any way, nor do I complain because the Government have introduced it. It was essential that they should do so before the Territory was finally taken over.
– Should there not be another fight on this occasion ?
– We put up a pretty stiff fight before, but we were defeated, and I, for one, accept that defeat. I did my very best to prevent the selection of Canberra, which I considered to be an unsuitable site. But Parliament having thought differently, I, in common with other citizens of Australia, whose views were rejected, am now compelled to bow to the decision. There is, however, just one point that I want to bring under the notice of the Minister. When we had before us another Bill dealing with another Territory a few days ago, we were told that because it was a Territory it dropped automatically under the control of the Department of External Affairs - that, so to speak, it could not help itself. Here is another Bill of exactly the same kind with regard to a Territory. Yet we find that it is under the control of the Minister of Home’ Affairs, whose representative in the Senate has introduced it. This is the first time that I ever knew that a matter could drop automatically into the control of one Department, and that a Minister representing another Department could take control of it. The form of this Bill proves my contention with regard to the Northern Territory to have been correct. Of course, I quite recognise that the Minister of Home Affairs is the proper Minister to take charge of the Federal Territory.
– The difference between the two classes of Territory was explained on that occasion.
– The difference was not possible of explanation, though the honorable senator attempted to cloud the issue by a lot of specious sophistries.
– The one is bad territory, and the other is not.
– That explanation may do as well as another, but neither explanation will hold water; and I regret to say that there is very little water to hold at Yass-Canberra ! This being merely a tentative measure, I do not think that there is any need to subject its clauses to a close scrutiny, or to cavil very much at them. I believe that the Government are adopting such Acts of New South Wales as are necessary to give them authority to administer the Territory in a proper manner. There is only one other point to which I wish to draw attention. It is provided in the schedule that certain Acts of New South Wales shall not apply to the Territory. Of course, none of the New South Wales Acts will apply to the Territory after we have provided our own laws in every respect, but in the meantime the New South Wales Acts are to have a general application, with the exception of those specified. Amongst the Acts which are not to apply are all Acts imposing rates, taxes, or duties, “ except so far as they impose duties on the estates of deceased persons.” I fail to understand the reason for that exception. I recognise that if any person died within the Territory, while it remained a portion of New South Wales, and while the person was a citizen of New South Wales, he would, in all fairness, be subject to the same probate and death duties as any other citizen of the State, and that New South Wales would have the right to collect and receive those duties. If they were not duly paid, the Commonwealth should, of course, give the Government of the State facilities for collecting them. But in the case of a person dying within the Territory after it is taken over by the Commonwealth, I say that New South Wales has no right to collect death or probate duties any more than it has the right to collect duties on the estate of a person resident in Timbuctoo. Therefore, I fail to see the reason for this exception. Probably, there is a good explanation, and I hope that the Minister will be able to give us one in Committee. If has been said, I believe, that the State of New South Wales should collect the duties within the Territory, and hand them over to the Commonwealth, less the cost of collection. But I say that we should not permit anything of the sort. We should not accept a law of New South Wales imposing duties on any citizen within the Territory without full consideration by this Parliament. If this Parliament, in its wisdom, chooses to impose duties on Commonwealth citizens in Commonwealth territory, it can do so. But until this Parliament has decided that such a mode of taxation shall be adopted we should not impose the duties by a measure of this sort. Therefore, I hope the Minister will be able to furnish us with information that will satisfy the Senate. That is all that I have to say on the Bill at this stage. I offer no opposition to it. As I have said, we put up a good fight against the selection of Yass-Canberra. We were defeated, much to my regret, and also, I may add, in my belief, much to the regret of the Honorary Minister, even though he voted for the selection, and to the regret of many other honorable senators. But, having been defeated, we have to bow to the decision of the majority, and make the best of a very bad bargain.
.- I recognise with the last speaker that we ought not to raise unnecessary opposition to this Bill. I feel just as strongly as I did on a previous occasion that this new Parliament, in which there is such a large accession of new representatives of the people should have had a voice in the selection of the Federal Capital. I also think that we should not rush into expenditure for which there is no need, and that the question of the Federal Capital might have been held over for a considerable time to come. I do not think that it is creditable to Parliament as a whole, that such an important matter should have been settled on a tie vote. It would have been much more satisfactory if further time had been given, and further consideration devoted to the question.
– It was the honorable senator’s vote that determined the selection of Yass-Canberra.
– I know, but I was “ jammed up “ between two sides then. The site that honorable senators opposite were all wanting was the one for which none of them voted. That was about the most glaring piece of political hypocrisy I have ever had experience of.
– The honorable senator is the last man in this Parliament who should talk like that.
– This is a new Parliament, and should have had a voice in the matter. However, I recognise with Senator Givens that the question has been settled, and therefore I do not intend to oppose this Bill.
– 1 should not like the Bill to pass without making a few words df comment. My first word must be one of commendation to Senator Givens, who certainly put up a strenuous fight against locating the capital at Yass-Canberra. The acceptance of the position by the honorable senator in the terms that he has employed to-day is just as generous and as magnanimous as his opposition to the selection on a former occasion was determined.
– I cannot help myself.*
– Exactly so. I hope that the fine spirit which the honorable senator has displayed in approaching this administrative act will be displayed generally by the Senate, and that we shall all regard the matter as settled, leaving the Ministry to take such further steps as are necessary, with, of course, a due sense of their responsibility to the Commonwealth Parliament. I wish to add a word of comment suggested by my honorable friend and colleague, Senator McColl, who has referred incidentally to the prospective expenditure upon the Federal Territory. Opinions on the same lines have been expressed in both Houses of the Legislature, and for a long time past have been thundered out from the press, not only of Victoria, but by other important and influential journals throughout Australia. I think that too much has been said1 on that subject. I have visited’ the Territory, and I see no reason why, with wiseadministration, which we must assume will be the consequence of taking over the Territory, it should be absolutely unremunerative. On the contrary, I believe that, before long, it will pay for the cost of its establishment. By the introduction of population to the Territory., I have no doubt that all our initial expenditure will be more than recouped. I compliment the Government on the courage they have displayed in giving effect to the verdict of Parliament. In my opinion, it does not matter by what majorities the question has been advanced to its present stage. In the face of very strong opposition from some of their supporters in both Houses of this Parliament, the Government have exhibited consistency and courage. I almost despair of getting to the Capital site as speedily as I should like, but I shall now say something which I think is in the minds of many honorable senators, and that is that we shall transfer the Seat of Government from Melbourne with regret. The State of Victoria has treated the Commonwealth Parliament handsomely. I am afraid that the many attractions, especially from a social point of view, of this city may weigh with some, and lead to a desire to stay here longer, but we have a high duty to perform to the people of Australia, and in this matter, especially to the people of New South Wales, and at the earliest possible date we should establish this Parliament in a home of its own,’ in its own Territory. The atmosphere of a home of our own, in our own Territory, will give us a proper sense of our jurisdiction and duty to the Commonwealth as a whole which it would be impossible for us to acquire if the .Parliament continued to meet in any State Capital. I hope that the Ministry, if they continue in power, will take every step necessary for the speedy transfer of this Parliament to the Federal Capital. We may be called upon to suffer many inconveniences if it is transferred to the Federal Capital in the immediate future, but it is our duty to the Commonwealth to assist the Government in every step necessary to establish this Parliament in the Federal Capital within its own Territory.
Senator E. J. RUSSELL (Victoria) (11. 3]. - As an Australian, I have always believed that the Federal Parliament should meet in its own Territory. I have never been an advocate of delay in the settlement of the question of the Federal Capital site. I am glad that we have now a Government who are prepared to do things. I differ from them as to the site which they are agreed should be selected, but I have to admit that it has been selected. I should not be expressing my true sentiments if I did not say that I regret that the settlement of the question which is responsible for the introduction of this Bill has not been accomplished without the humiliation of the Commonwealth at the dictate of a particular State. I regret that the grand opportunity afforded for the establishment of the Federal Capital at a site on which we might have expected that it would grow to be a great city has been missed by the Commonwealth Parliament. I believe that there have been incidents connected with the settlement of the question which, perhaps, it would be better not to revive. I ‘ remind honorable senators that the people of Victoria voted for the Commonwealth Bill when it contained no provision respecting the Capital site. They manifested their desire for. Federation, and their willingness to make great sacrifices to obtain it. When, in a later Bill, it was distinctly stipulated that the Federal Capital should be established in territory in the State of New South Wales, what was the attitude of the Victorian people towards that Bill ? Even by a larger vote than they had recorded in favour of the previous measure, they declared again for Federation, and showed that their adherence to it was not affected by any question as to the location of the Federal Capital. I wish now to take exception to the advice tendered by Senator McColl that we should not expend money at present on the establishment of the Capital at Yass-Canberra. A decision having been arrived at, there is not, in my opinion, the slightest reason why there should be any unnecessary delay in giving effect to it. Those who talk about a “ bush Capital “ cannot have the slightest conception of what may be done in the Federal Territory by a large expenditure of Commonwealth money. Although I do not approve of the site selected, I honestly believe that it is not so bad as to be altogether hopeless. I do want to say that it comes very ill from the honorable senator whose vote was responsible in the first instance, for the substitution in the Senate of YassCanberra ‘ for Dalgety, to suggest now that we ought not to do what is necessary to carry out the contract to which we were pledged in accepting the Constitution. I have no desire to take up so parochial an attitude. Shortly after the last decision of this Parliament was arrived at, I announced that, although I had fought a strenuous fight against Yass-Canberra, and that, in my judgment, it was not the most suitable site to select, I was still sufficient of a Democrat to believe that we should accept the verdict of the majority. I do not propose to adopt the narrow attitude dictated by a few individuals, or by parochial councils in this State, who, in their endeavour to misrepresent the position would lead the people to believe that the establishment of the Federal Capital at Yass-Canberra will cost an enormous sum of money. On the contrary, I believe that it may be made the means of considerable profit to the people.
– In any case, the people, when they adopted the Constitution, knew of the existence of the provision for the establishment of the Capital, even if it were to cost money.
– That is so, but I do not believe that it need cost anything. If it does, it will be because of maladministration. To-day there is a clamour on the part of a large section of Victorians that the establishment of the Federal Capital should be delayed in every way possible. .1 have been in the forefront of the fight against Yass-Canberra, but I say that if those Victorians who voted for the Constitution, knowing of the existence of this provision, now desire to shirk their responsibility, it is most unfair to Victorian representatives in the Federal Parliament to ask them to do any such thing. I, as one who puts Australia first, refuse to be a party to anything of the sort. I do not believe that the mass of the people of Victoria will be influenced by this clamour, though they are under the impression that the best site in the interests of Australia has not been selected, and that the methods adopted for its selection were not too clean. I strongly object to the misrepresentation of the position, and I am determined that those who gave a vote to change the Capital site from Dalgety to Yass-Canberra at the beck of a Government, and for party purposes, shall not make this a party question to-day. I do not believe that the bulk of the citizens of Victoria are parochialists in any sense. They have, in this matter, put up a strenuous fight, in which I have joined them, in the interests not of this State, but of Australia. They have expressed an opinion on the matter on two occasions, and my regret is that the decision at first arrived at was altered, not merely by the action of politicians in another State, and I say this in justice to them, but by the treacherous action of some of the politicians of Victoria, who, now, for petty reasons, wish to further delay the settlement of this great National question. I give ray full support to this Bill, and from this time on it shall be my honest endeavour to see that the city erected on the site selected for the Federal Capital shall be made worthy of the Commonwealth, leaving the responsibility for the selection upon the shoulders of those who should bear it.
– Senator Givens asked for an assurance from me, as representing the Government in this matter, that there would be no ambiguity about the probate duties that would be collected in the Territory after the issue of the proclamation. Last night, in another place, the same question was raised, and the Acting Prime Minister gave an assurance that if it were found necessary the State Government of New South Wales would be directed to collect probate duties, the expense of collection would be deducted from the amount obtained, and the balance retained by the Commonwealth.
– The Commonwealth should not impose taxation in that way. If we believe in the imposition of probate duties we should impose them directly.
– The honorablesenator must recognise that until some form of government is established there, the Territory will be administered by the Commonwealth Government. But until local machinery is provided, it may be extremely advisable for many reasons to have certain work there performed by the Government of New South Wales. We took that question into account when we were considering the Seat of Government Acceptance Bill. Section 6 of that measure makes provision for the matter which has been mentioned by Senator Givens.
– Why was not a similar provision inserted in the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill ?
– When the Seat of Government Acceptance Bill was before this Chamber, the honorable senator had an opportunity to express his dissatisfaction with, and to vote against, any clause of it. But he assisted to secure its passage. Section 6 of the Seat of Government Acceptance Act provides -
General directs : Provided that the GovernorGeneral may direct that any such power or function may be exercised or performed on behalf of the Commonwealth by the authority of the State in which it was previously vested ; and while that direction remains in force the authority of the State shall, in regard to the exercise or performance of that power or function, be deemed to be an authority ofthe Commonwealth.
Consequently we have power to direct the Government of New South Wales to collect probate duties in the Federal Territory, to deduct the cost of their collection, and to hand over the balance to the Commonwealth. On the other hand, we may, if we choose, create an authority of our own to collect those duties. I am assured by the Attorney-General that there is no doubt whatever that after the proclamation has been issued, probate duties collected within the Federal Territory will be the property of the Commonwealth.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 to 9 agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted “ (9a). Section10 of the Seat of Government
Acceptance Act 1909 is amended by omitting the proviso thereto and inserting in its stead the following proviso : - Provided that in determining the compensation to which the owner is entitled under that Act, the value of the land shall be taken not to exceed the unimproved value of the land or the interest therein of the owner on the eighth day of October, 1908, together with the value of his interest in the improvements on the land at the date of the acquisition of the land.”
There is a big difference between this amendment and section 10 of the Seat of Government Acceptance Act, which provides that the value of any land resumed by the Government shall not exceed its value on the 8th day of October, 1908. The amendment affirms that when lands are resumed by the Commonwealth compensation shall be paid to the owners for all improvements which they have effected up to the date of such resumption. A similar provision has been inserted in the Northern Territory (Administration) Bill, and I feel sure that it will meet with the unanimous approval of honorable senators.
– I think that the amendment is a distinct improvement upon the clause which was open to the serious objection that whilst it would have permitted the Commonwealth to resume land at its value upon the passing of the Seat of Govern ment Acceptance Act, it would also have empowered it to take over improvements which might subsequently have been made at their value some years previously.
– That would have been a strained reading of it.
– I took a similar view in regard to the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill, and the fact that my view was correct was evidenced by the subsequent insertion in that measure of a similar clause to that which is now under consideration. It is to prevent the creation of a difficulty that the proposed new clause has been submitted. Obviously, if a difficulty existed in respect of the Northern Territory, it must equally exist in respect of the Federal Territory.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clause 10 agreed to.
Clause 11 verbally amended, and agreed to.
Schedule and title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments ; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from House of Represen tatives.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the passing of this Bill through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator McGregor) read a first time.
Debate resumed from 4th November(vide page 5679), on motion by Senator St. Ledger -
That the Senate disapproves of Census Regulations1910, No. 2, section 2, sub-sections i., ii., iii., iv., and v.
– Since Friday last it has been made manifest to honorable senators, at any rate it has been brought home to myself, that the standing order under which we proceed to discuss statutory regulations is so faulty that it might as well be out of the code. The Standing Orders leave a motion of this description to the mere chance as to whether or not the Government is prepared to afford an opportunity for its consideration. We can discuss this matter quite free from any party feeling, or even personal feeling, because in this case the Minister has done the right thing and agreed to furnish us with an opportunity to express our views. But I submit that there can be no sense or force in a provision that the regulations made under a law shall have force and effect, provided that either House of the Parliament does not dissent therefrom within a certain period, unless our inherent right is respected. Pressure of circumstances may crowd out the opportunity which it is clearly intended by law that we should enjoy. I think that the Standing Orders Committee should be asked to revise the standing order, so as to insure that a motion of this kind shall by right become the business of the Senate, and that an opportunity for discussing it shall be provided by the forms of the Senate.
– It should be made Government business.
– No Government would give notice of a motion to dissent from its own regulations.
– Once a motion of dissent is moved by a private senator, it should become Government business.
– It ought to be the business of the Senate, and not the business of the Government. It is quite evident that the Minister agrees generally with what I am saying, that an opportunity should be created, quite apart from Ministerial action, for the discussion of such a motion. Turning to the census questions, I hope that the Minister will recognise that there is an objection to some of them, or, if not, an objection to the questions themselves, an objection to making them obligatory. I do not regard most of them as objectionable so much as useless. It is highly improbable, I think, that the first three questions will elicit any information from householders and citizens generally which will have the slightest claim to be regarded as reliable. Take, for instance, the first question -
The amount of salary or wages being earned per day, or per week, or per month, at the time of the census.
A very large percentage of our citizens do not earn regular wages. They may earn a certain amount one day, and a different amount the next day. If we look to the census paper to elicit information which is reliable, it is clearly useless to get unreliable information, which can only have the effect of loading up the census return and subsequent statistics. The next question reads -
The total amount so earned during the year ending the 31st day of December preceding thecensus.
Any one who is acquainted with industrial life knows that a very large number of our working men are employed intermittently. It was said here the other day, by Senator Pearce, I think, that in the trade of which he has the most intimate knowledge, a man, on an average, worked nine or ten months in the year. I venture to say that an ordinary man in the trade does not keep a diary showing how many days- he has worked and in what months of the year. His answer to this question will be the result of a rough-and-ready guess, which is as likely to be wrong as right. We have always to draw a wide distinction between questions submitted in the censuspaper which are based on some public need for the information, and questions which may rest merely on an idle curiosity, or a little fad on the part of some person who wants to know something about the business of other persons. I certainly think that the last question in the census-paper can be so described, and that is -
Whether the person is a total abstainer from alcoholic beverages.
The answers to that question will not, I venture to say, throw any light on the drinking habits of the people, nor will the information in the slightest degree help forward the great temperance reform movement. In the first place it is very doubtful what is a “ total abstainer.” If the term is interpreted in a strict sense I venture to say that there are remarkably few persons, even amongst the Good Templars themselves, who can be called total abstainers.
– How could I answer the question? In one year I am a teetotaller, and in the next year anyhow you like.
– How long, too, has the total abstinence to exist before one answers the census question? Suppose that a persons fills in the return between drinks. He is entitled to say, then, “I am a total abstainer at the present moment.” It reminds me of an inquest in which a lady was asked to give her knowledge of the deceased. Asked by the coroner as to whether the deceased was a drunkard, the lady replied, “ Certainly not. He only took a drink now and again.” “ What do you mean?” inquired the coroner, and the lady answered “ When he could get it.” In the census-paper, there is no period fixed for which a person must have abstained from intoxicating drinks before he can say that he is a total abstainer. There is no question submitted in the census return which, in my opinion, will be played with more than will that question. Apart from that, I resent any one asking me what I eat or drink. They might as well ask whether I eat certain articles which a large number of persons deem injurious. Some persons have a strong belief that certain kinds of meat are highly injurious to human beings. Are we, for that reason, to be asked whether we eat those meats or not ? Why should not our habits as to narcotics also be inquired into? It seems to me that the Minister has yielded to a very zealous, very praiseworthy, but, sometimes rather fussy section of the community. I cannot believe that these questions can in any way help forward any movement for the public good. On the other hand, they do suggest something in the nature of a personal impertinence. Take, for instance, the fourth question, as to the amount of money held in the house in gold, notes, silver, and copper. I venture to say that the question invites fraud on the part of those who will have to fill in a return. A very large number of persons living in small houses will naturally hesitate to give publicity to the fact that they have a little money in their possession. They will naturally feel, even householders in large establishments, that the information, if supplied and revealed, might bring very undesirable visitors to their homes. A large number of persons who occupy the poorer homes in this country have a great deal of reluctance to tell any one, even on an official paper, what little wealth they have in their possession. I know many persons who occupy little homes. I have frequently argued with such persons on this subject, and suggested that their money should be placed in the Post Office Savings Bank; but, for some reason or other, they prefer to keep a little stock in the house. They all know that there is no protection in the house against a visitation of the kind I have suggested. They are not likely to set out in the census return that they have any money in the house ; or if they do answer the question at all, they will give information which is misleading. Now, the fate of the Ministry is not involved in the fate of this motion. The census-paper is not a plank of the Labour party. It has not been approved at any Labour conference ; and, therefore, it can be fairly argued on its merits. I venture to say that there is not a single question in this regulation which would have commended itself to Senator Findley if he had been asked to look at the questions impartially, and apart from his Ministerial position. I feel certain that they were not suggested by the officers of the Department; and a proof of that is to be found in the report of the last Inter- State Conference, at which the statisticians metand conferred over the form of the censuspapers. To that Conference, any number of suggestions were made by various members; but the statisticians brushed them on one side for what I regard as an excellent reason, and that is, that they did not think it advisable to go outside the questions which have been approved after long experience by the civilized countries of the world.
– And the difficulty of getting persons to give information.
– That may be taken as implied. Older countries have shaped the census questions as the result of experience. They have evidently found that there is a point beyond which inquiries cannot be pushed. It is a curious thing that nearly all the nations which take a census have practically fallen back on the questions which we had on our original paper. The statisticians saw the wisdom of following the lines which have been marked out by the experience of older countries. Now we have submitted to us a series of questions which have never been advocated by responsible persons, except in a jocular spirit. These questions have been put into the paper, not because of any merit in themselves, but as a concession to those who have asked for them. Ministers will get into a very bad way indeed if, because they are asked to do a thing, they at once show compliance. It is so easy to get out of a difficulty in that way ! .Even if the Government do not desire to abandon these questions, they should at least make them optional. If people like to answer them, let them do so ; but they should be free to decline. I venture to say that the answers furnished by volunteers might be taken to be reasonably accurate, and certainly they would furnish enough information to enable the statistician to judge as to the facts applicable to the whole community. If, for instance, you obtain information as to the coin in possession of 50 per cent, of the population, you have sufficient data to enable you to judge of the coin in possession of the whole number of people. And so with regard to the other questions. If, however, you compel reluctant people to give answers, they will undoubtedly furnish information which, to say the least of it, will not be correct. I suggest to the Government that they might consider the desirability of making these questions optional. There may be a number of people who wish to answer them. Give them the opportunity of doing so, but do not enforce the questions. There is a large section who dislike them, and who ought not to be compelled to furnish answers.
– I agree entirely with Senator Millen in regard to this subject, except that I consider that if the questions were made optional, the answers would be absolutely useless. The result would be that people would pay no attention to them, and the figures obtained would be entirely useless. The Government do not seem to have calculated the difficulty which some people would experience in giving answers to these questions. Take that as to the amount of salary or wages earned per day or per week at the time of the census. There are workmen, whose employment is intermittent. Wharf labourers, for instance, sometimes work two days in one. While they are employed they work frequently sixteen hours at a time, and they are paid extra rates for their overtime. If a wharf labourer happened to have a good run of employment shortly before he came to fill up his census-paper, the result might appear that he was earning ,£300 Or ^400 a year. But that information would be entirely misleading, because his earnings would probably average not more than £2 a week. Furthermore, it is not usual for labourers to keep accounts as to their earnings. Perhaps they earn £1 one week and £2 the next. They simply spend the money as they get it, and at the end of the year have no record as to what they have earned. If they are compelled to answer these questions they will have very great difficulty, and will probably run’ about asking their parliamentary representatives what they are to do. Then take the question as to the number of hours worked. How is it possible to expect an ordinary labouring man or even an artisan to answer them ? Very “few of them keep a diary in which they record the time they work. Sometimes they are out of work for a week or two, and at other times they work hard for a long period. It is absolutely impossible for them to tell the numbers of hours they have worked during a year. I do not see what object the Minister can have in putting on the paper the question relating to the amount of money held in gold, in notes, in silver, and in copper. The information might be furnished by the most unintelligent member of the community, but what on earth would be the use of it when obtained ? The further question as to whether persons are total abstainers or not is absurd. The Leader of the Senate has himself given an illustration of its absurdity. He said just now - and I have frequently heard him say - that every alternate year he is a teetotaller, whilst in the other years it is a case of “ anyhow von like “ with him. It is quite probable that there are thousands of people in Australiawho are teetotallers for a year, or for a month, or for three months at a time. If they happen, to be in one of their teetotal periods when the census paper has to be filled up, the information they give will be utterly unreliable. These questions appear to me to be absolutely useless and unnecessary. Moreover, they would prove to be very difficult and irksome for the mass of the people to answer. Therefore, I propose to support the motion.
Senator O’KEEFE (Tasmania) [ii.j-‘J: - I intend to move an amendment on Senator St. Ledger’s motion to leave out the figures i., ii., and iii. The effect of that would be to enable the first three questions to stand as they are in the census paper, and to strike out the remainder. I cannot agree with Senator Story that it would be useless to obtain particulars as to the amount of salary or wages earned, or that it would be impossible to get a fair average reply to that question. Nor do I think that it would be difficult to obtain particulars as to the number of hoursworked. As one who has worked at various occupations during a number of years, I cannot, for the life of me, see that it would be very difficult for any ordinary working man to state the number of hours, worked during the year preceding the taking of the census. Any ordinary working man. in my opinion, would be able to give particulars under that heading. Possibly the information obtained might be of great use for statistical purposes, and particularly to those who are concerned with the solution of social problems such as exercise the mind of the thinking public to a great extent nowadays. If such information would enable some problems to be worked out T think we might take advantage of the opportunity afforded by the census to obtain it.
– How would the honorable senator arrange about obtaining particulars as to the hours worked by domestic servants?
– There may be a little difficulty in that case, though it is not insuperable. At any rate there is a tendency nowadays to shorten the hours and lighten the labours of domestic servants. Indeed, we know there is a necessity for doing so, as is shown by the very great difficulty of getting a sufficient number of domestic servants under present conditions.
– How would the honorable senator state the number of hours worked by members of Parliament?
– There are very few members of Parliament in Australia, and the public know quite enough about their work. Senator Story, as a contractor of experience, should know that there will not be much difficulty in getting information as to the number of hours worked by the average workman, or as to the wages earned. The figures obtained may not be of great use generally, but still they may be of some value to those who are concerned with the study of social problems. But I do not think that Ministers themselves can seriously believe that questions iv. and v. ought to be allowed to remain on the census paper. I look upon question iv. as affecting a matter that is purely one of private concern. I believe that a large’ number of people would object to putting down in writing what money they have in the bank, or in the house, on census day. Of course, the Savings Bank statistics are easily obtained, but the question bears an aspect of prying into the private affairs of persons, and, as such, may be resented. If the information obtained were likely to be of great value one might be disposed to overlook the inquisitorial character of the question; but under present circumstances I am satisfied that it ought not to remain on the paper. Personally, I should absolutely refuse to set down what amount cf money I had in the house, because I should think that that was a matter that concerned me alone. Question v. is even more ridiculous. I cannot understand how a responsible Minister should have al lowed a question of that sort to go upon the census paper. In my opinion, the question is an impertinence. Furthermore, what is meant by asking a person whether, he is a total abstainer from alcoholic beverages? Does the Minister mean by “ alcoholic beverages “ such liquids as are sold as patent medicines, and have been shown on analysis to contain various proportions of alcohol? Are they alcoholic beverages? A temperance lecturer might frequently take some of these quack medicines, believing they possessed valuable medicinal properties. What about the unfortunate mother who has to give her child a spoonful of gin because it has the colic ? Is that child lc- be put down as a total abstainer or as one that consumes alcoholic beverages? The question is absurd. If the object is to discover what beverages are injurious to health the question does not go far enough, and we should ask the householder whether he is accustomed to drink tea or coffee. I was under the doctor a few months ago, and he told me that I was slowly poisoning myself, because I was in the habit of drinking four or five cups of tea in the twenty-four hours. The question is impertinent as well as absurd, and has no doubt been included to please the total abstinence section of the community, who are engaged in what they no doubt believe to be a good work. If they want this information they ought to get it in another way. A person who is in the habit of taking a glass or two of an alcoholic beverage in a week or in a month will probably say that he is an abstainer. The answers given to this question will not be reliable, and it must fail in it’s object. I move, as an amendment -
That the figures i., ii., and iia. be left out.
– I suggest that we might take the questions seriatim.
– That cannot be done now, because a motion has been moved to strike out all the sub-sections.
– Could I not move a further amendment?
– I shall be prepared to temporarily withdraw my amendment to enable the honorable senator to do so.
– A motion has been moved that certain questions be disapproved of. If a vote is taken on that motion, the whole thing will be disposed of.
– My amendment would be put first.
– The honorable senator cannot move it again, if he withdraws it, because he will have exhausted his right to speak.
– Then, in that case, I cannot withdraw my amendment.
– I cannot understand much of the opposition to these questions. Some honorable senators have said that such questions have never been asked in any part of the world in connexion with census returns. Is there any reason why we should slavishly follow the practice of other countries?
– No; but the onus is thrown upon the Government to justify these questions.
– I think there is ample justification for them. The necessity exists for obtaining the information, which, we hope, will be made available when these questions are answered. Time after time statements are made that in Australia the industrial classes work shorter hours, and receive higher remuneration, than the working classes in any other country. The Savings Banks returns are often quoted as. a further evidence of the prosperity enjoyed by the working classes in this country. We have no reliable information as to the accuracy of these statements. Is it not of importance to every one, whether he approves or disapproves of the Labour party, to know what the real conditions of the working classes are? Will any working man, or woman, have any great difficulty in replying, for instance, to the first question as to the amount of salary or wages earned per day, per week, or per month, at the time of the taking of the census; or the second question, as to the average number of hours worked during the year preceding the taking of the census? Senator Story mentioned the case of wharf labourers, and explained that they worked very long hours at certain periods, and that, after working a certain number of hours under the rules of their organization, they are paid overtime. But there should not be any very great difficulty in arriving at the amount of money which a wharf labourer would earn during the eight hours recognised by the Union. A man might work sixteen hours in one week and twenty-six hours in the next. . But he should have no difficult)’ in estimating approximately the number of hours he has worked during a year, or in estimating in the same way his average earnings. We should, in this way, obtain some reliable information as to the conditions of this class of workmen.
– They will get tangled up.
– Working men are not so stupid as some people believe.
– Honorable senators must admit that no working man will have any great difficulty in estimating approximately the number of hours he has worked in a given year. It is as simple as falling off a log.
– Can the honorable senator say how many hours he worked during last year?
– I am talking of men engaged in other than parliamentary work. The number of members of Parliament in the community is very few.
– Could the honorable senator say how many hours he worked last year? I know I could not.
– I do not think a member of the Senate should have any great difficulty in stating approximately the number of hours he has worked during the year. Working men and women in Australia will, I think, be able to state approximately the number of hours they have worked during the year, and their average earnings. In most occupations men ‘have permanency of employment, and in connexion with all skilled trades organizations have fixed the rates of pay. The information which might be obtained in the* way proposed would be very useful, especially for statistical purposes. I do not think Senator Millen was serious in suggesting that the question with respect to the amount of money held in gold, notes, silver, and copper at midnight before the census day should be made optional.
– I offered it as a way out of the difficulty, which, I am sure, the Government would be glad to get rid of.
– We want these questions submitted and answered.
– Why not ask usurers what rate of interest they are getting?
– Exception is being taken to the number of questions already proposed. But if the honorable senator thinks that there should be a few additional questions submitted, I do not know that there would be any great objection on the part of the Government.
– Judging by the way the Government have fallen in over these questions, I have no doubt they would be willing to ado’“*- any other silly questions.
– I do not think the Government have fallen in. In my opinion, this is a move in the right direction. The returns may not at first be as satisfactory as those responsible for proposing these questions would desire, but we must make a commencement, and the people will soon see that they have nothing to be afraid of, or to be ashamed of, in answering these questions, and that they are asked in their own interests as well as in the interests of the country.
– It is merely a little idle curiosity.
– Not at all. In every country efforts are being made to ascertain the amount of money in circulation at certain periods of the year.
– Does the honorable senator think that a person who hoards money will say how much he has hidden away ?
– What has he to fear?
– Why do people keep secret hoards ?
– There are very few who have secret hoards, and I am disposed to think that they are not mentally “ all there.”
– As a rule the people to whom I refer keep a larger amount of money in the house than do those of the more opulent classes.
– My own opinion is that they do not keep very much money in their homes, because if they did so, it would be earning nothing, whereas if it were deposited in a financial institution it would be earning interest.
– The honorable senator has a lot to learn about the habits of the people.
– What have I to learn? We ocasionally read in the newspapers that after the decease of certain persons, amounts of£2,000 or , £3,000 have been found buried in the houses which they had occupied, or in some place adjacent thereto.
– Those are not the instances of which I speak. I refer to householders who keep small amounts of from £5 to£10 in their homes. They will not proclaim that that money is there. I would not do so myself.
– Surely no honorable senator will believe for a moment that in the replies which have been given to questions in previous years absolute correctness has been attained. With all due deference to those who hold a contrary opinion, I say that there is nothing absurd in the questions which it is proposed to ask. I believe that our citizens will answer those questions to the best of their ability.
– And they will tell the Government whether a new-born infant is a total abstainer or not.
– Every member of the Government accepts responsibility for these questions. We believe that they are necessary, and that the replies to them will prove useful. Although there may be a certain amount of diffidence on the part of some citizens to answer them, that diffidence will soon disappear.
– Some of them are mere impertinences.
– The Government accept full responsibility for these questions. As to whether or not a person is. a total abstainer from alcoholic beverages
– For how long must be be an abstainer?
– That line of reasoning might be applied to almost every subject under the sun. For instance, a man might be single to-day and married to-morrow.
– But how long must a man be a total abstainer before he can reply “ Yes “ to that question?
– He must be a total abstainer between drinks.
– If a man is a total abstainer he will record the fact upon the census-paper. Is there anything personal about that question?
– I do not think so. I hold no brief for temperance associations
– But the answer to the question is, “ What has it to do with the Government ? ‘ ‘
– Whether the people are temperate or intemperate has a good deal to do with a country.
– Why not ask householders whether they are temperate or intemperate in eating? There is just as much intemperance in eating as there is in drinking.
– There is a growing movement in this country which declares that intemperance is harmful to a nation. Its organizations number so many hundreds of thousands-
– That has nothing whatever to do with the question of temperance or intemperance.
– If that be so, and if the answers given to the question will serve no useful purpose, why all this heat?
– Because the question is a useless one.
– It will serve a useful purpose.
– What useful purpose ?
– It will enable us to ascertain the number of total abstainers that there are in Australia.
– What then?
– It will show us the strength of those engaged in this forward movement.
– Is that why the question is to be put?
– Not altogether.
– I will not answer it, and the Minister can put the law in motion against me.
– The Government have approved of these questions, and they confidently ask honorable senators to reject the motion submitted by Senator St. Ledger.
– I have listened to the eloquent tirade from the Honorary Minister who made a laboured apology for the impertinences which are disguised in these questions. What have personal matters to do with the taking of a census ? Would itnot be an impertinence if Senator Findley, as a young man and a bachelor, were asked how many times a week he kissed his sweetheart? Information to be of any value must be reliable. If it is not reliable it is worse than useless, because it will only lead us to form wrong conclusions. The object of taking a census is to obtain reliable information from which fair conclusions may be drawn on matters of public interest. Hitherto in the taking of a census it has been the practice to put certain questions to householders, and as a result we have obtained valuable statistics in regard to the number, the prosperity, and the progress of the people. If we could obtain any extended knowledge upon these points by putting more questions to our citizens, this Parliament would heartily approve of those questions. But looking at the additional questions which it is proposed to put to them, I fail to see that we shall attain any such object. Indeed, I cannot understand what public interest attaches to some of these questions. Take, for instance, the question of whether or not a man is an abstainer from alcoholic beverages. The individual who has not taken a drink for an hour previous to filling in the census-paper can conscientiously say that he is a total abstainer.
– Then must he never have tasted alcoholic liquors ?
– Why, in Scotland, as soon as a baby is born, it is the practice to give it a little drop of mountain dew. It is impossible to get reliable information upon a question of this sort. The Honorary Minister has said that underlying it is a desire to ascertain the social condition of the people and the progress of the forward movement - in other words, to determine whether our citizens are temperate or intemperate. What has this question to do with temperance or intemperance? As a matter of fact, the word “temperance” implies a moderate use of anything, not total abstinence from it. Is a man, merely because he swallows a glass of good Australian wine with his Sunday dinner, to be classed as intemperate?
– No, but he cannot be classed as a total abstainer.
– Yet the Honorary Minister stated that the object of asking this question is to ascertain whether people are temperate or intemperate.
– I admit that I used those terms, but I ask the honorable senator not to pursue that line of reasoning. He must credit me with knowing the difference between temperance and total abstinence.
– Is an infant to be regarded as a total abstainer?
– If we start with an infant, at what age shall we draw the line ?
– There are many points connected with this matter which require consideration. If we are to ask persons what they drink, why should we refrain from asking what they eat? A great many persons, indeed some of the highest scientific authorities in the world, hold that there are more evils from overeating than from over-drinking. If it is reasonable to start a crusade against drinking at all, because certain evils accrue from drinking to excess, would it not be just as reasonable to start a crusade against eating, because certain evils accrue from eating to excess ?
– Is there not a difference between asking a man to come and have a drink and asking him to come and have a sausage?
– There is a marked difference, especially in the tone of voice in which the question is asked. There are certain very good persons in the world who claim that it is a piece of cannibalism, and that it is positively injurious, to eat animal food of any kind. They argue that in order to do so life has to be sacrificed, and that all life should be held sacred. Why not ask persons whether they are vegetarian, carnivorous, or omnivorous ? The only reason why we have not a question regarding vegetarianism is simply because the vegetarians so far have not been so clamorous as have the total abstainers. I have no objection to persons advocating any of these things to the fullest extent of their power. I have no objection to them trying to do their level best to induce moderation or total abstinence. They are probably doing what they think is right, but why in the name of goodness should we take up their cause, and invade the private life of every individual in Australia in order to placate their clamour? Is there any reason for it? If reliable statistics are required, we have undoubtedly a better means of obtaining reliable information through the general conduct of the Government Departments than we have by asking questions of this sort. We know how much alcoholic liquor is introduced into Australia every year, how much is made here, and how much is exported. We have every available figure for finding out the consumption of alcoholic liquor per head of the population without putting this question at all. If we have that information in regard to the population in general, why should you pry into the private habits of persons?
– We know the wealth of Australia, but we do not know the wealth of each individual therein.
– Before you can say whether a man is a good or bad citizen must you -ask the impertinent question as to whether he has ever tasted a drop of alcoholic liquor in his life?
– Total abstainers are included in the aggregate.
– Of course they are. We know whether Australians drink to excess or not. As a matter of fact, every one knows from our statistics that Australians are a comparatively sober people, and that, instead of increasing, the consumption of alcoholic liquor is tending to decrease year by year. Nobody will answer this question in a reliable way.
– Surely they will.
– No. I announce my intention to refuse to answer the question as being a mere impertinence.
– The law of the country will compel the honorable senator to give an answer.
– It will not compel me to do anything of the sort.
– Wait and see.
– If it did compel every person to answer there would be an uprising against the law very soon.
– It is no business of the community as to whether Senator Long, Senator Henderson, Senator Givens, Senator St. Ledger, or anybody else, drank one, two, or three glasses of whisky during the last year, or whether they occasionally had a baby bottle of Australian wine at lunch.
– In the census-paper there is no desire to elicit whether Senator Henderson or Senator McColl takes a glass of wine, or not.
– The question will be put directly to each of us. They can ask me the question as long as they please, but they will receive no answer, because the inquiry is a mere impertinence. It has been included in the census-paper in response to a lot of busybodies who are not content with ordering their own lives, but are trying to order the lives of everybody else in the community in accordance with their own pattern.
– No. The object of this question is to find out the wowsers, and make them sensible men.
– I thank my honorable friend for the hint. I had forgotten for the moment that very expressive word.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - If the honorable senator declines to answer the question, he will be regarded as not being a wowser.
– If a man is not drinking at the time when he has to fill in the census-paper, he can conscientiously put himself down as a total abstainer. What is the good of including a question of that sort?
– What are alcoholic beverages anyhow? Do they include all our great medicines?
– Senator St. Ledger will remember the case of the wheat tonic, which had an immense vogue in Queensland. Every wowser, every Christian temperance person in the community, I think - and there were many of them there - was making a rush at this splendid tonic. It had a terrible vogue, but when it was analyzed, it was found to contain almost as much alcohol as does colonial beer.
– Was there not a great run on Peruna some time ago for the same reason?
– Everybody knows that 75 per cent, of the patent medicines are alcoholic, because alcohol is the only thing which will preserve medicine for all time. That is why patent medicines are so popular. Even the “ wowsers “ are very partial to them occasionally. Of course, I do not insinuate that it is because patent medicine is largely composed of alcohol. Possibly, they think that it is like that blessed word Mesopotamia, it brings comfort to their souls.
– Why are they so partial to trifle at a banquet ?
– And to plum pudding, with brandy sauce?
– When I was a boy, I knew a clergyman of the Church of England - the Reverend Mr. Gaunson - who was a most excellent man in every way, but a real crank on the question of total abstinence. He would preach it by the mile on every possible occasion. But at a banquet where there was a plum pudding he would want a soup plate to put his portion in, and he would cover it with brandy. That is not an overdrawn picture in any way. It is a case within my own experience. In Australia, that gentleman would be put down in the census returns as a total abstainer, while a man who occasionally had a modest drop of Australian light wine, in which there is very little alcohol, would have to be classed as a nonabstainer, and therefore intemperate. The whole thing is ridiculous, and I am’ astonished at the Government yielding to the clamour of a noisy section of busybodies who, no doubt, mean very well, but who are continually interfering with the private affairs of other persons, which should be no concern of theirs, and no concern of the Government either. I do not intend to say any more regarding that particular question, because I think that the absurdity of it is patent to every honorable senator, and,. I believe, will be patent to every person in the community, with the exception of those well-meaning people who think that they have a right to order the personal affairs of their fellow-citizens. The other questions in the census-paper savour largely of mere impertinence. I want to know why one particular class has been singled out.
– What class are you speaking of?
– - I am speaking of the great mass of the people - the workers.
– In what way have they been singled out?
– They have been singled out to answer personal questions, while other persons in the community are allowed to go scot-free.
– What others?
– I shall name some of them directly. We have means of getting reliable information from the workers to a very large extent, owing to the operation of Arbitration Courts, Wages Boards, and other things of that kind. The information which these questions are likely to elicit from the workers will not be nearly so reliable as the general information which could be got from the sources I have mentioned. Let me remind the Minister of a case in point, and which must be within his own knowledge. The workers will not always, of their own free will, disclose the conditions under which they are working, because they are afraid to do so. It must be within the Minister’s knowledge that when it was proposed to put the employes in a certain industry in Victoria under a Wages Board, or to bring them under the Commonwealth Arbitration Act, they gathered together, and signed a petition saying that they were perfectly satisfied with their position, and did not want any alteration or change. I need not name the instance, but I can do so if the Minister so desires.
– I know it, but what bearing has it on this question?
– It shows that you cannot always rely upon the informationwhich is got from the workers. Every one knows that the employes in the industry referred to were sweated, and that their conditions were not good, and yet these poor unfortunate people, rather than be thrown out on the world without remunerative employment, went and signed that which was a lie on the face of it.
– Where is the analogy between signing that petition, and replying to this question?
– I quoted that instance to show that you cannot always rely on the information which is got over the signature of a worker, because very often he is in a cleft stick. I ask the honorable senator if it is not a fact that information regarding the rates of interest on the capital employed in industries, and the profits which accrue to the retailer and the wholesaler, is not as important to the people of this community, as what a worker earns is ? Why is not the usurer asked the rate of interest which he charges? Why is not the wholesaler asked the rate of profit which he expects to get on goods passing through his hands? Why is not the retailer asked a similar question? It is well known that for one article which is made both here and in Sydney the manufacturer gets about 4s. 6d., the wholesaler 6s. 6d., and the retailer 10s. 6d. That shows the way in which consumers are fleeced generally. Yet in the census-paper not a single question is proposed to be asked of these persons. But the workers - a class, who, as a rule, cannot help themselves very much -are singled out to be asked various questions of that kind. Workers generally do not keep a diary or an account. If at the end of a year, you were to ask a workman how many days he had lost, or how much he was out through loss of time during the year, the probability is . that he would be able only to give you a mere guess estimate. Under question ii., persons are asked to give an accurate account of matters which it must be evident that not five per cent. of the workers will be able to give. What is the use of information if it is not reliable? A man in regular and steady employment might be able to answer questioniii., as to the number of hours worked per week or per day, but there are hundreds of other instances in which men would not be able to give the information. Take the case of a member of Parliament. How could he state how many hours a day he worked? Many a member of Parliament, when walking about, and supposed to be taking recreation, is really cudgelling his brains to the fullest extent with regard to public problems. Work of that kind is as wearying as any other work. It is also impossible to give accurate information in answer to question iv. , which requires an account to be given of the amount of money in coin or notes in the possession of every person recorded at the census. Take the case of the Grand Hotel, in which there may be 200 guests on census night. The manager is supposed to give, not only details regarding the coin and notes in his own possession, but also similar data regarding every person in his hotel on that particular night. Suppose I was staying there, and the manager came to me, and asked how much money I had in my pockets. I should regard the question as an impertinence, and should be very likely to give a rather uncivil answer. But if this question were insisted upon the manager of the hotel would be compelled to be guilty of that impertinence. Then, take the case of an individual who has three or four women working for him, and residing in his house. There are thousands of such cases all over Australia. Is the head of the household to go to a girl or to a gardener, and say, “ How much money have you in your possession tonight?” Such a question could only be regarded as impertinent, and I do not think that it would lead to the obtaining of any reliable information. It is also well known that in some parts of the world there are many people who have a passion for hoarding. The habit is particularly prevalent in India, where the people seem to have little use for banks, and are fond of hoarding coin and precious stones in order that they may be in possession of wealth in its most compact and portable shape. That habit exists also in a more limited degree in every part of the world. A case occurred recently in Melbourne, where a poor woman who was supposed to be an object of pity on account of her poverty died, and was found to be in possession of a very large sum. Within my own experience I have known of a case in which an old man lived alone, in absolute want and misery, and continually on the verge of starvation. He lived in a frightful state of filth, simply because he would not allow any one to come near him. But when he died it was found that he had . £1,170 in cash in his possession. There are scores of other cases of the kind. If a man or a woman will endure hardships, and live in a condition of actual starvation and misery while being possessed of large sums of money, it is quite evident that such persons will not give accurate information to the Government. In addition to the questions being objectionable, on their own account, they will fail to elicit information of a reliable character, and I would emphasize the fact that absolute ignorance is less liable to lead one astray than unreliable information. For these reasons, I trust that the motion will be carried.
– I should like to hear from the Minister what is the object of selecting the salaried and wage-earning classes as those which should be required to furnish returns of salaries and wages? If we wish to ascertain the wealth of the people and its proportionate distribution, why should not all incomes be included? There are thousands of people in Australia who are in receipt of large incomes, but who do not earn wages or salaries.
– Do not the income tax returns give particulars as to the others ?
– The income tax returns are secret.
– Secret as to individuals, but not as to the total amount.
– The information that might be obtained under this heading would be very valuable, but it must be incomplete unless we have information regarding incomes as well as salaries and wages. I should like to see the first question amended in the direction I have indicated. What we want to get is reliable information. I entirely disagree with question iv., for the reasons which have been very well advanced by Senator Givens - that we are not likely to obtain reliable information under that heading. But with the concluding questions on the paper I am in entire agreement. It has been claimed that the temperance cause has progressed very rapidly in recent years.
– The honorable senator should not make the mistake of confusing total abstinence with temperance.
– I use the word temperance in the sense in which it was used by Senator Findley. We usually speak of a temperance man as one who abstains from the use of alcoholic liquors.
– I should resent that use of the word.
– The honorable senator would not say that a person who used a moderate quantity of alcoholic liquor was intemperate?
– Certainly not. If the honorable senator is so particular about the word, I will say that some people are keenly interestedin the progress of total abstinence in Australia. It has been claimed that total abstinence is largely on the increase, and that as a consequence the social life of the people has been materially improved.
SenatorSt. Ledger.- The drink bill is becoming higher; that is the trouble.
– That may be so. But we wish to obtain information on the subject so that we may be able to ascertain definitely what the consumption of intoxicating liquor amounts to.
– We know that.
– We know it only by dividing the total quantity of liquor consumed by the total number of the population, but that method of calculation does not give us accurate information as to the number of people who are total abstainers. It is for that reason that I think that a question on the subject is rightly included in the census-paper.
– Why not obtain similar information in regard to the use of tobacco?
– Surely information regarding the use of alcohol is far more important than information regarding smoking habits. I have nothing to add except that if the questions which I have mentioned are amended as I have suggested, I intend to support the Government.
– Some time ago there were circulated amongst honorable senators copies of the cards proposed to be issued to our householders, to be filled in on census night. One of the questions on the cards required persons to fill in particulars as to the amount of money on their persons at the time the census was taken. Now the question has been altered, and the individual is required to give particulars of the amount of money on his person at the moment of midnight. It appears to me that that question will only apply to night owls and politicians.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– It is proposed that a man shall be asked to say what amount of money he holds in notes, gold, silver, and copper at the moment of midnight preceding the census day. On the card which was circulated to honorable senators as a sample of the cards which would be distributed for the collection of the census return, there appears these words - “ Notes and coin in circulation - State here amount of money held by you, that is on your person, &c.” I direct attention to the absurdity of inviting people to say how much money they hold on their persons at the moment of midnight. A large number of people will have to sit up late that night in order to be able to answer this question, and be sure that they would not make a mistake about it. One might not object so much to these questions if it were not for the fact that a serious penalty will attach to those who neglect to answer them, or answer them incorrectly. In section 14 of the Census and Statistics Act of 1905 it is provided that-
Every person shall, to the best of his knowledge and belief, answer all questions asked him by a collector necessary to obtain any information required to be filled up and supplied in the Householder’s Schedule.
Penalty : Ten pounds.
That is a very serious penalty to impose upon people who fail to answer these inquisitorial questions, for which the Government have so far given no justification. A man is to be asked to state what salary or “ wages he is getting. I should like to know what position I shall be in in replying to this question. As a member of the Federal Parliament, I am in receipt of an allowance, which is neither a salary nor a wage, and I may derive a certain income from other sources.
– Is the honorable senator not bound to give the information for the purpose of income tax?
– I am; but that is the business of the State, and not of the Commonwealth, and the Federal Government cannot compel the State authorities to disclose the contents of my income-tax return. A man is to be asked to state what salary or wages he receives per day, per week, or per month, and the Minister of Defence, speaking on this motion, stated that what is desired is to learn, not what a man earns per day, per week, or per month, but what he earns within the whole year. It is expected that it will be shown that men who receive in wages 10s., 12s., or it may be 14s., a day are often very lucky if they secure nine or ten months’ work in a year. But that information cannot be obtained from the answer to this question. The Government will be unable to get the very information they are looking for if the question is to be submitted in this form. It will, of course, be possible for men engaged in certain trades to state the average number of hours they work per day, but I point out that that is regulated by’ Wages Boards, and we shall not gain anything by putting to the people ‘ a question the answer to which is already known. How will Ministers answer this question? Will they be able to put down how many hours per day they work? ‘ If they answered the question correctly, they would probably say that they are always working, except when they are asleep. I take my average working day to be represented by the difference between twentyfour hours and my average sleeping time at night. If the answers to these questions will not supply us with information that is worth having, it is not worth while including them in the census-papers, especially when the neglect to answer them may involve a person in a penalty of £10. We have no justification for these questions in any reports from Departments, or from any one consulted on the subject. I remind honorable senators that in 1900 there was a Conference of all the Statisticians of the States and of New Zealand in connexion with the census taken in 1901. The recommendations of that Conference may be found in Volume VI. of the Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales for 1900. The report of the Conference is signed by Mr. T. A.Coghlan, the present Agent-General of New South Wales, who was president of the Conference; James J. Fenton, J. Hughes, L. H. Sholl, Malcolm A. C. Fraser, R. M. Johnston, and E. J. Von Dadelszen. No honorable senator will question Mr. Coghlan as an authority- on statistical returns. All the members of the Conference were men experienced in such matters, and they drew up a schedule, which honorable senators can see for themselves, for the taking of the census in Australia and New Zealand. The Census and Statistics Act makes provision for a householder’s schedule, and the schedule drawn up by the Conference makes provision for obtaining all information asked for in these regulations, with the exception of the personal and absurd questions to which we object. Any one might fill up that’ schedule with comparative ease. The Government propose that personal cards shall be filled up by the householder, in addition to the householder’s schedule, and, instead of making it as easy as possible for people to give information necessary for statistical purposes, the scheme proposed will make it difficult and inconvenient. So far as I can see, an hotel proprietor may be called upon to fill up 200 or 300 of these bits of paper. If the Government could show that any one who knows anything about the subject has recommended this departure from the householder’s schedule recommended by the Conference of Statisticians, well and good ; but I venture to say that they cannot prove that any one with a knowledge of the subject has recommended this proposal. This thing is a fad of a man who, as we all know, is very prone to working off bad and indifferent jokes upon the public. This is an additional joke which he is trying to work off upon them. 1 hope that honorable senators will knock out the faddy part of the regulation if the Government do not see fit to withdraw it altogether, and fall back upon the householder’s schedule recommended in 1900 by the statisticians of Australia and New Zealand.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [2.43].- I understand that it is proposed that the answers to these questions as to the amount of salary or wages, hours worked, money held, and whether a person is a total abstainer or not, are to be included in the householder’s schedule. It has been suggested that these personal particulars will be given under seal ; but if they are to be included in the householder’s schedule, it means that he must make an inquiry of all persons on his premises on the night when the census is taken to secure the information, and they will be liable to a serious penalty if they do not give it. How can” there be any secrecy preserved in the circumstances? I assume, for the sake of argument, that there are a dozen people in my house on the night of the census, including the members of the family, persons employed, and, possibly, a visitor. These people will have to give me their answers to all of these questions, in order that I may fill up the householder’s schedule. They will have to tell me what salary or wages they are earning, the money they have in hand, and whether they are total abstainers or not. What secrecy will there be in that? I think it has been pointed out that the question which it is proposed to put to householders in reference to salary or wages will apply only to one section of the community. Let me take the case of a member of this Senate. The question at once arises, “ Does he receive a salary, or does he not?” Assuming that he does receive a salary of £600 a year, of what value is that information when it has been supplied? He may have money invested in shares, houses, and land, from which he may derive an income. Yet he will not be asked to give information in regard to these matters. But the wage-earner must supply full information, in the first instance to his employer, and afterwards to the Government.
– Where does the employer come in?
– If I am an employer, my employés have to supply me with this information. If I do not furnish it to the Government, I shall be liable to a penalty, just as they will be liable to a penalty if they do not supply it to me. But of what value will the information be when it has been supplied? It may be correct, or it may be otherwise. We know what is the current rate of wages in various trades. We know that one tradesman will receive 12s. per day, and so much per hour overtime, whilst another tradesman will receive 15s. per day. But of what use is it to ascertain that a carpenter is employed 100 days, or 200 days in the year? Of what value is it from a statistical stand-point?
– It will serve to show the conditions of employment.
– If I earn , £200 a year, and the honorable senator receives£100, of what value will that information be from a statistical point of view? Such particulars will merely enable the Government to strike an average, and to say that men earn so much a year. But are we going to publish to the world information that Australia is a place in which one can, or cannot, obtain good wages ? The real truth is that one man may be a waster, whilst another may be a grafter. To average their earnings in these circumstances will be to absolutely mislead people. Somebody has suggested that domestic servants work fifteen or eighteen hours per day. What is the real position? They have to work hard, probably, for a couple of hours in the morning, and for a similar period in the afternoon, and in the evening. But for the remainder of the time they practically do nothing, if we except an occasional call upon their services. The Honorary Minister has defended these questions merely because they have been framed under a regulation which has been issued by the Minis try. I come now to the question of whether or not a man is a total abstainer from alcoholic beverages. This Parliament is regarded as one of the most abstemious Legislatures in the world. A very small amount indeed is expended in our parliamentary refreshment-room on intoxicants. But, after all, how many honorable senators can say that they are total abstainers? Because they cannot say that, are we to brand them as a body of men who are addicted to drink?
– That is the trouble. Many persons will do that.
– Let me assume that a man takes a glass of wine, perhaps, once a month. Can he call himself a total abstainer? Certainly not. I have always understood that a temperance reformer is a man who wishes to make people sober, but who does not really object to persons taking drink in moderation. The evil of which he complains is drinking to excess. Consequently, he says to this individual or that, “ Possibly drink does not injuriously affect you, but, for the sake of example to others, you should become a total abstainer.” That may be a very good principle to lay down, but it does not appeal to everybody. The replies which will be given to this question will be absolutely valueless, and the information thus obtained is not information which is required under any other Census Act in the world. Our Census and Statistics Act provides -
The particulars to be specified in the householder’s schedule shall include the particulars following : -
The name, sex, age, condition as to, and duration of, marriage, relation to head of the household, profession or occupation, sickness or infirmity, religion, education, and birth-place, and (where the person was born abroad) length of residence in Australia, and nationality of every person abiding in the dwelling during the night of the census day ;
The material of the dwelling and the number of rooms contained therein;
These are the particulars which the Act requires to be supplied, and, no doubt, they are all capable of being defended. In regard to the question of a person’s religion, it is optional whether he furnishes the desired information. Under the section which I have just quoted, the words, “ any other prescribed matters “ are held to open the door to the supply of the widest information. But my opinion is that they relate to prescribed matters of a like character. There is a maxim of law known as ejusdem generis which applies in matters of this kind. Many persons object even to the provisions of our Census and Statistics Act, on the ground that they are unnecessarily inquisitorial. I hold that to ask a man whether or not he is a total abstainer is an impertinence. Further, any such information is not worth the snap of one’s fingers from a statistical point of view. There are many persons who have just as great a detestation of tobacco and narcotics as they have of drink. Drinking and smoking are both habits which grow upon one gradually. Neither tobacco nor drink are necessaries, unless a man has become so habituated to their use that he would experience a period of depression if he attempted to forego them. My idea is that in seeking statistical information we should carefully abstain from inquiring into a man’s private avocation and methods of living. Many of the test men in the world would resent such inquiries, although they could answer them with the clearest conscience. We judge of a man’s character from our knowledge of him. But we do not blazon it forth to the world that he is a secret drinker, or is addicted to some other secret vice. It is true that we may have an idea that he has such vices, and that that suspicion may influence our treatment of him. But we should never ask questions of a man which cannot be justified from a public stand- point. Under what authority do the Government intend to ask a householder to fill up two schedules? It is true that the Department may put any question to an individual.
– But will he answer it?
.- Exactly. He may say, “It is like your impertinence,” in which case the question will arise as to how the Government can enforce an answer. I should like to know under what authority the Government propose to put a personal schedule before the citizens of the Commonwealth. Our Census and Statistics Act provides -
Unquestionably there is the authority for the Government to ask for the information required in the householder’s schedule. Then sectionii provides -
Every occupier of a dwelling, with or for whom a householder’s schedule has been left, shall, to the best of his knowledge and belief, fill up and supply therein, in accordance with the instructions contained in or accompanying the schedule, all the particulars specified therein, and shall sign his name thereto, and shall deliver the schedule so filled up and signed to the collector authorized to receive it.
Penalty : Ten pounds.
Then section 15 provides -
The information has to be given. If a person is in a railway train, I presume that the conductor or guard would have to obtain the information necessary; but if that is not his duty, the traveller would have to give it. I fail to see where the Government are authorized to ask for other information. It may be that I have overlooked some provision, and I shall be very pleased if the Minister will explain how they are justified in asking for double information - from the householder and also from the individual. I do not know that a precedent for it can be found anywhere. I certainly cannot find a justification for it in the Census and Statistics Act. If it can be shown that it is justifiable, I shall be glad to have the authority pointed out to me, but if it is not legal, it will be a serious mistake, I think, for the Government to ask persons for information which they are not bound to give. I hope that the Minister will take the whole of these matters into his consideration. I trust that if he cannot give the Senate an explanation to-day, he will ask the Attorney-General by what authority questions of this sort can be put. I know that very often in a Department there is an idea that certain information can be obtained. While I have due regard for the ability of the officers therein, still I do not look upon them as infallible guides as to what the law is, even with regard to many matters with* which they have to deal.
– Anyhow, we do not employ them to lay down a policy for us.
– No; but once the Government have accepted a recommendation from an officer, and placed it before the Senate, it is their policy, and not an individual’s. I do not believe in a Minister saying at any time, “ This recommendation is made to us by our officer, and, therefore, we place it before the Senate. The only justification is that it is recommended by an officer. We consider that it is a wise one, and, therefore, we accept the whole responsibility for it.” In this case, however, zeal has been allowed to outrun the discretion of the Department for the purpose of giving information to some persons who are very earnest in certain matters which they have taken in hand. No one can do other than recognise the energy and the conscientiousness with which our temperance friends advocate what they believe to be best in the interests of the community at large. But that does not justify the inclusion in the census-paper of a question as to whether a man is a total . abstainer from alcoholic beverages. Again, it may be that, from a particular stand-point, one wants to show to the world how much or how little wages are earned in Australia, or how many or how few hours are worked. But what is the value of the information? We have laws providing that men shall only work for a certain number of hours, and shall receive certain wages. Some persons say that there is too much employment, and others that there is not enough. I believe that many honorable senators on the other side say that in several trades in the cities today there are more men than there are billets offering. On the other hand, I hold that in the great cities, particularly in the building trades, there is employment available for four times as many men as are engaged on the works which are in hand.
– If that is the case, is there not a necessity for getting authentic information on the point?
– Authentic information can be supplied by builders in the large cities, who are seeking for men in order to fulfil on their contracts. I can instance works in Sydney which are being carried out at half the rate of speed which would be possible in reasonable circumstances, simply owing to the lack of men.
– That has only very recently been the case.
– That is only because a Labour Government has come into power.
– All the works I referred to were started long before the Labour Government took office, and I think that, instead of the contracts in hand having increased in number since that event, the building trades have received a check.
– They know that there is going to be a prosperous time under our legislation.
– I hope that it may be so, and I shall congratulate the honorable senator when I see evidence of the prosperity. If there has been a check put to private enterprise of late, it has been because of changes which have taken place during the last few months. I hope that this motion will commend itself to honorable senators, and that it will be recognised by the Government that it is undesirable to make the inquiries to which I have drawn their attention. After all, we have to bear in mind that the motion deals with the subjectmatter of regulations, on which every honorable senator can afford to have his own opinion, whether he be a supporter or an opponent of the Administration under whose authority the regulations were made.
– I take a certain amount of interest in the census-paper, not only from the point of view of a senator, but because I did a little work in connexion with the taking of the last census in Victoria. I quite agree with the idea which apparently is in the mind of the Minister of Home Affairs when he seeks to obtain the most complete, concise, and accurate information on certain points for the compilation of statistics and the use of taxpayers. But there is such a thing as carrying an idea to an absurdity. In my view, one or two of the census questions are absurd in the extreme, and should not be asked by any responsible Government. I consider that questions iv. and v., for instance^ - especially the latter - only play into the hands of a small but noisy section. To carry these inquiries to their logical conclusion, I do not see why these questions should not be addressed to the taxpayers-‘ ‘ Do you indulge in gambling?” “ Do you smoke tobacco ?” “Do you send for tickets’ in Tattersalls ?” “Do you play two-up?” They might be asked whether they do a dozenandone other things to which the “wowsers” say people are addicted? I hope that the questions will be dealt with seriatim, because there are one or two which I think will elicit information useful to members of Parliament and the taxpayers generally. It was very difficult for the ordinary man in the street to answer the questions which were put at the last census. One enumerator in Victoria assured me that he had to fill in the religion of between 100 and 200 or 300 persons, who had not supplied the desired information. He explained the method by which he arrived at a man’s religion. If a person had signed his name as Michael Rafferty, he did no’t put him down as a
Wesleyan. Even though we may try to get as accurate information as possible, if we overload the census-paper we shall obtain a number of hypocritical answers, and, in many cases, answers which will be inaccurate. I cannot understand why the Minister did not go even further, and include the question - “ Which one of the Ten Commandments have you broken?” or “ Have you carried out all the Commandments ?” I object to questions iv. and v. being included in the census-paper, especially in view of the fact that it is provided, in section 26 of the Census and Statistics Act, that the replies to all questions must be exact - and the word “ exact “ is underlined on the envelope which is given with the householder’s censusform 6 - and the penalty for giving an inaccurate reply is £50. I should be very sorry indeed to see Senator Givens mulcted in that sum for refusing to give an accurate answer to question v. He has informed the Senate that he will not answer it, and, therefore, I presume that he will become liable to the penalty. I think that the’ questions included in this regulation savour very much of absurdity. Indeed, they are almost as absurd as a question which a deputation of which I was a member asked the Minister to include, and that was the size of an individual’s backyard.
– There are good reasons for asking that question.
– I quite agree that, for hygienic and sanitary reasons, it would be well for the members of this Parliamentto know the conditions of the toilers in the slums of the great cities; but I say, without fear of contradiction, that in many cases it is impossible for a person to ascertain the superficial area of his backyard. A man would need to be a qualified surveyor to give the information. To ask a question which it is impossible for a person to answer with any degree of accuracy is only to load up the census-paper and to elicit answers which will be totally inaccurate. I hope that the Government will listen to reason, and see the wisdom of eliminating some of the silly questions from the census-paper.
. -I have listened to a great many arguments for and against, but principally against, the questions in this regulation.
– Did you hear any arguments for them?
– From the Minister, I did.
– Do you call them arguments ?
– I always treat the Minister in charge of the business before the Senate with a certain amount of deference, because I know that very often he has to bring down a measure in which, perhaps, he does not believe. The Cabinet may have decided on the terms of this regulation. Possibly Senator Findley may disagree with the questions, but, as a member of the Cabinet, he has to come here and put the best face on them he can. I think that the questions are unnecessary. The first question is, I think, inquisitive, because it applies to only a certain class, and that is persons who have to earn their living. If I had had to draft the question, it would have applied to all persons, and it would have taken this form, “ The amount of income, salary, or wages per day, or per week, or per month, at the time of the Census.” That would have elicited the amount of income of a number of persons who do not do any work. But, “by their question, the Government only seek to ascertain the amount of salary or wages which is earned. I think it would be better to get the amount of income of persons who do not do any work. On that ground, I oppose the question included in the regulation.
– We want to get at what the working classes earn.
– The second question ought, I think, to have taken this form, “ The total amount during the year ending 31st December preceding the Census.” So that if a man had received so much as salary or wages, and so much as income, we should elicit exactly the amount of his earnings and his income respectively, as is done under the Income Tax Act. That would have been a far better form in which to make the inquiry, but I do not think that it is necessary at all. As to question iv., do the Government really think that they are likely to obtain accurate replies ? Hundreds of people in this country will simply say, “ This question is impertinent.” They will simply empty their pockets, and say, “ Nothing in them.” The Government may depend upon it that if people take exception to a question they will always find a way of avoiding an answer to it. I really cannot understand why such inquisitive questions should be included in the paper. What has it to do with the Government of the Commonwealth whether I have in my pocket id. or £1 ?
– We want to ascertain the amount of money in circulation.
– I have seen a few censuses taken, and hope to see a few more ; and I am convinced that the simpler the questions are, and the closer they adhere to usual lines, the more reliable the information obtained is. If a number of useless questions are included, people treat them with utter contempt, and either refuse to answer or give misleading answers. As to question v., I have not the slightest doubt that the persons who induced the Minister of Home Affairs to include it in the paper did so with the best intentions. But, nevertheless, I am convinced that they will not obtain reliable information in answer to it. I do not blame them, but I am sure they have been misled. Suppose a man has in his house a groom, or a gardener, and three or four female servants. He will have to ask each of them for information to enable him to fill up the census-paper.
– I am not going to ask these questions of anybody in my house.
– The householder will provide the persons in his. house with cards, which they will fill up for themselves.
– I take it that the householder will be responsible.
– The Government have no legal authority to question anybody else.
– Suppose the householder calls in his gardener and says, “ I have to fill in this census-form, and want to know whether you are a total abstainer?”
– He will supply a card to the gardener, who will fill in the information himself.
– Where do the Government derive their authority to do that?
– From the Census Act.
– That is a very cumbersome method, and I do not think it will work. The householder is the only person who can be held responsible, unless the Government send round a whole army of people to obtain answers. The householder, therefore, will call in John, the gardener, and ask him whether he is a total abstainer. If the master of the house is inclined that way; John will, perhaps, say “ Yes.” All the maids in the house will do the same. But in reality they may not be total abstainers. What will be the use of information of that kind? I wish it to be understood that I do not object to such information being obtained if it is reliable. The questions are somewhat inquisitorial, but my chief objection is not on that ground. I am perfectly satisfied that the information obtained will be totally unreliable. So many thousands of people declare that they are total abstainers, but they may be nothing of the kind.
– The honorable senator agrees with David, when he said, “ All men are liars.”
– Excepting the honorable senator, I believe David. The Vice-President of the Executive Council never told a lie in his life - and God forgive me for saying so ! I do not believe that the Government want to obtain inaccurate information. They want to get facts which can be depended upon. A man may have been a total abstainer twelve months ago, and may be so again next year, but he may be indulging in a little alcohol at the time the census is taken. There must be tens of thousands of instances of that kind, all of which will go to render the information obtained fallacious.
– What then is the good of asking a man whether he is married or single? He may be single to-day, and, married next week.
– We want to know the total number of married people in the Commonwealth on census-day.
– In the same way we want to know the number of total abstainers on census-day.
– But my point is that we shall not be able to depend upon the information obtained. A man who had no liquor on census-day might truthfully state that he had been an abstainer on that day, but, at the same time, he might be found drunk in the gutter next week. Do the Government really think that they are going to get these questions answered in the way we want them answered ?
– We believe we can.
– Then my honorable friend is a little more simple than I took him to be. I do not believe that, in his heart, he believes that the Government will be able to get true replies. Whether they think so or not, I assure them that they will not do so. I have heard this matter discussed by scores of people, all of whom have said, “ What has it to do with the Government whether we are total abstainers or not?” Suppose a man said that he was a total abstainer, and was found drunk the day after the Census was taken. What could the Government do to him?
– There is no punishment for giving an untrue answer to a question of this kind.
– What would a man have to gain by telling a deliberate untruth ?
– Human nature is so constituted that people do not like their private affairs to be inquired into by a Government. Already there is an outcry against these questions. Hundreds of people say that they are ridiculous. When public opinion is against a project of this kind, people will find some way of evading the questions. I have known people who objected to stating on the census-paper whether they were members of the Church of England, Roman Catholics, Wesleyans, or members of any other religion. I have known people to give the answer, “ No religion,” simply as a matter of bravado. They cannot be punished for doing so.
– Does the honorable senator think that there are many people who will deny their religion?
– People object to answering these questions, because they think they are inquisitorial.
– It is not the business of the State to inquire what anybody’s religion is.
– These questions almost invite untrue answers. I am satisfied that thousands of wrong replies will be given. No doubt the people who influenced the Minister of Home Affairs to place on the census-paper the question regarding total abstinence are serious and honest, but I beg leave to tell them that the information which they will obtain willbe totally worthless. I hope, even at this stage, that the Government will see their way to leave these extra questions off the paper.
– I feel inclined to support the Government in respect to the questions they have placed upon the census-paper, because I believe it is essential in the interests, not only of the Legislature, but of the public generally, that we should obtain authentic information on such subjects. How can we obtain the information unless we put questions to the people in a straightforward fashion? In our public discussions in the past we have had to rely too much on vague generalities. We want to know accurately how particular sections of our people live and work. What reasonable objection can there be to that? No one ought to have the slightest hesitation about answering the questions. I cannot see why a man should object to stating whether he is a total abstainer or not. He ought to know that it is in the public interest that we should ascertain how many total abstainers there are in the country, and people should be inclined to suppress their inclinations somewhat for the purpose of obtaining information which will be for the public good. In this case the public good is represented by the desirableness of gaining as much reliable information as we possibly can about the habits of the people. We have been told that a man may be a total abstainer one day and a hard drinker the next. But the censuspapers will, at all events, enable us to ascertain what proportion of total abstainers and drinkers there may be in any particular grade in the community. We shall be able to say that the drinking element is proportionately large or small in any particular social grade. If we obtain that authentic information it will be a powerful argument in the hands of those who represent any special interest in this Parliament, which they can use at any future period when an attempt is made to represent - as is often done - that certain elements in the community are constantly in dependent circumstances because of their drinking habits. It is very necessary to remove the stigma so often attached to the wage-earning com- ‘munity ‘ when it is alleged that their ragged and wretched condition is due to their over-indulgence in strong drink. If we can secure information as to the quan.tity of strong drink consumed in the different grades of society, a big step forward will be made. We might, from the answers to this question, be able to remove a stigma attaching to the reputation of Australia from certain particulars which I ,’ find noted iri Mulhall’s Dictionary of Statistics. This is a well-known and celebrated publication ; and at page 58 of the edition I have here, I find that Australia is shown to be a very hard-drinking country. It is, in this respect, placed alongside the United States, and far ahead of Canada. Yet, I find, from an article published in Lone Hand, that Australia is not only not a hard-drinking country, but is one of the soberest countries in the world. In this article, the statement is . made that the consumption of spirits per head of population in Australia is only three-quarters of a gallon. In the United States, it is 1 gallon ; in Germany, 1 *</inline> gallons ; Austria-Hungary, 2, gallons ; and Denmark,
– - -Mulhall is out of date.
– That does not depreciate the value of this work.
– What is the date of the edition from which the honorable senator has quoted - 1900 ?
– No; 1898. Does Senator St. Ledger propose to question the accuracy of the figures given by Mulhall?
– No; they may have been quite correct at that date, i
– I make these references to show how necessary it is that we should have reliable information as to- the true position of Australia in the matter of the consumption of strong drink. ‘
– But the honorable senator is comparing Mulhall with Lone Hand, and statistics for periods widely apart. .
– The periods ‘‘are twelve years apart. The questions as to the character of the buildings in which people are living, the spaces by which they are surrounded, and the other matters upon which information is to be sought, should supply particulars of great value to the students of sociology, the legislator, and all called upon to frame laws for the improvement of hygienic conditions.- I see no objection, either, .to asking a man what is his religion. If I have sufficient courage to profess a religion, I am prepared openly to avow it, and to tell any person, without hesitation, what religion I profess. It is the practice, in all civilized countries in the world, to ascertain the religions professed by their people; and we are in this matter following a well-beaten track. I am prepared to support the Government in asking this question, and particularly in asking the questions framed to enable us to ascertain, as nearly as possible, the social condition of the people.
– I do not wish to exercise the right of reply on my motion ; but I wish to make a suggestion for the convenience of honorable senators. I suggest that it would be an advantage if honorable senators were given an opportunity to vote on each of these questions. If that’ opportunity is afforded, I shall vote against each of them, but I think it would be well that honorable senators should be given an opportunity to exercise their discretion in the matter.
– I should like to know whether it will be in order to submit the questions separately, seeing that a motion has been moved to disapprove of the whole of them, and an amendment has been moved upon that motion to exclude a number of the questions from the motion.
– The position is that Senator O’Keefe has moved, as an amendment upon the motion, that the figures i., ii., and iii., be left out. I point out that if the amendment is put and negatived, the Senate will have affirmed that questions i., ii., and iii. should stand ; and the motion then cannot be separated to that extent. If, however, Senator O’Keefe desires to withdraw his amendment, and has the leave of the Senate to do so, I can treat the question as a complicated one, and put each sub-section separately.
– I ask leave to withdraw my amendment?
– Would it not be more expeditious to put the amendment of Senator O’Keefe, and then the other two proposals separately? There is a general consensus of opinion, I think, that the three sub-sections referred to in Senator O’Keefe’s amendment should stand ; though there may be doubts about the other two.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question - That the Senate disapproves of Census regulation No. 2, section 2, subsection i., viz., “ The amount of salary or wages being earned per day, or per week, or per month, at the time of the Census” - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 2
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the Senate disapproves of Census regulation No. 2, section 2, subsection ii., viz., “ The total amount so earned during the year ending the 31st day of December preceding the Census “ - put. the Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the Senate disapproves of Census regulation No. 2, section 2, subsection iii., viz., “ The average number of hours worked per week, or per day, during the year ending on 31st December preceding the Census “ - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the Senate disapproves of Census regulation No. 2, section 2, subsection iv., viz., “The amount of money held in gold, in notes, in silver, and in copper, at the moment of midnight preceding Census Day “ - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the Senate disapproves of Census regulation No. 2, section 2, subsection v., viz., “ Whether the person is a total abstainer from alcoholic beverages “ - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the Senate’s amendments in the Bill.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the Senate’s amendments in the Bill.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Findley) read a first time.
Callof the Senate - Closeof Session - Federal Territory.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- Will the Vice-President of the Executive Council state whether he has any objection, upon the call of the Senate of which notice has been given being taken on Tuesday, to adjourn the matter in connexion with which the call is made until the Wednesday following? Certain honorable senators will not be able to be present on Tuesday, and it is desirable that there should be a full response to the call.
– I am prepared to do whatever will suit the convenience of honorable senators next week. When the call is made, I propose, if the Senate is agreeable, to- postpone the call, so that it may apply to Wednesday, if that can be done, in order to give every honorable senator an opportunity of responding to the call, and also of voting on the third reading of the constitutional measures in question. The Leader of the Opposition also asked earlier in the day for an indication, of the probable date of the prorogation of Parliament. I had a consultation with the Acting Prime Minister, who said that, as far as he could see, the possibility was that we should be able to conclude the work of the session by this day fortnight. He added that there was a possibility of concluding the session earlier, but that that would depend entirely upon honorable members themselves. If we can finish before this day fortnight, the Government, will be very well satisfied.
– By leave, I wish to ask when the second proclamation with regard to the Federal Territory will be issued, now that the matter has been settled ?
– That question has ‘ to be considered.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.7 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 November 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1910/19101111_senate_4_59/>.