4th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.3c* p.m., and read prayers.
Report (No. 1) presented by Senator Henderson, and read by the Clerk.
Senator FINDLEY laid on the table the following paper : -
Public Service Act 1902-9 - Documents in connexion with the promotion of Mr. John Laurence Cantwell to theposition of Accountant, ist Class, Accounts Branch, Postmaster-General’s Department, Sydney.
– In asking the Minister representing the Treasurer the following questions, upon notice -
Federal land tax?
How many corporations or companies havepaid the tax, distinguishing the number who havepaid -
In the aggregate, what amount has been paid respectively -
by absentee taxpayers?
I may say that it has been suggested to me that perhaps the answers had better take the form of a return. I have no objection to that.
– The answers to the questions are as follow : - 1 to 5. The Treasury desires that these questions be asked on Wednesday next.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answer to each question is, Yes, and it is hoped to have the papers made available to-morrow.
Motion (by Senator Story) agreed to -
That two months’ leave of absence be granted to Senator Guthrie on account of ill-health.
Motion (by Senator Walker) proposed -
That a message be sent to the House of Representatives requesting the House of Representatives to resume the consideration of a Bill intituled “ A Bill for an Act authorizing any Joint Stock Banking Company formed or incorporated in any State to form Reserve Funds for the express purpose of providing or accumulating Funds to protect the Shareholders in such Banking Companies against their liability in respect of the uncalled capital or reserve liabilities on their shares, and to provide for the creation of Corporate Bodies in which such Reserve Funds may be vested,” which was transmitted to the House of Representatives for its concurrence during last session of the Parliament, the proceedings on such Bill having been interrupted by the prorogation of the Parliament.
– The honorable senator has read his motion in submitting it to the Senate and before putting the question, I wish to inform honorable senators that it is not necessary, and is not in accordance with our practice, for honorable senators, in submitting motions they have on the business-paper, to read them.
– They are read from the Chair.
– That is so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Chataway) agreed to-
That a return be tabled showing the number and occupations of contract labourers, the importation of whom was approved between 1st January and 31st August, 1911.
– With the permission of the Senate, and before the Orders of the Day are called on, I should like to say, in reply to a request made some time ago by Senator Chataway, that a certain picture published for advertising Australia should be exhibited within the precincts of this building, that the picture has been put together, and, with the consent of the President, has been placed in the Queen’s Hall, where it may be inspected by honorable senators.
Debate resumed from 13th September, (vide page 378), on motion by Senator W. Russell -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s opening Speech be agreed to : -
To His Excellency the Governor-General : May it Please Your Excellency :
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– I was speaking to this motion when the Senate adjourned last night’, and I wish to add a few words on one or two matters referred to in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. Before doing so, I desire to add to the quotations I made from the Age another showing the attitude which that powerful journal took up with regard to the referenda proposals at the time they were under discussion in this Parliament during last session. On the 27th October, 1910, the Age published the following -
What are the objections? They are fanciful and trifling. They are based on the assumption that nothing may be done to take away any power from the States. This is at the root a mere Conservative fad. It assumes truly enough that in the States, buttressed against all Liberal reforms by their unrepresentative Legislative Councils, lies the security of the non-progressive party. Conservatism in its hide-bound cover is safer in the States than it is in the Commonwealth. It assumes, as Mr. Irvine says, that the Federal Government is dangerous. From this it follows that it should have no expansion of its powers. Industry may be crippled, corporations and combines may grow and threaten the public welfare, coal vends may organize in restraint of trade, but nothing may be done to take away any power from those grand bulwarks of the people - the Legislative Council. “ This is an attempt to destroy the States.” shouts Mr. Cook, and, of course, Conservatism shouts in chorus with him. It is, doubtless, quite correct for it to do so. It is in keeping with all traditions to abuse the broader national power and subserve the narrower one. But the people at large are looking on and noting the trend of events. There is no strength in the objection of the Opposition.
I need not weary honorable senators with further quotations of this kind. One might continue for hours quoting statements from the Age in favour of the proposals, root and branch, as put before the country at the referendum, while they were being considered by Parliament, and exactly opposite sentiments and comments published in the few brief days or weeks after the prorogation of Parliament. That alone goes to show the utter unreliability of the daily press as a guide to public opinion. Of course, I know that in some respects that newspaper is still a power in Australia, and a great many members of Parliament are frightened by any warnings or curses that may be uttered by it. That brings me to a brief consideration of the much-debated Papuan trip. It is strange that at first, approximately, fifty members of this Parliament signified their intention of taking part in that trip. Some dropped out for purely domestic and unavoidable reasons, some because, they wished to visit the Old Country, one or two because they - were ill, >and possibly others1 fbr equally valid reasons. It is a strange coincidence that, early in the month of April, the Age contained, not for the first time, an adverse article upon the proposed trip. I quote these words from an article which appeared in the issue of 3rd April. It: is in the same strain throughout, and this small paragraph is in no way wrenched from the context. The article almost winds up by saying -
But to charter during that long holiday on full pay a steamer to carry these free holidaymakers to Papua at the public charge is nothing short of a great scandal. It is ». fraud and acorruption.
And so on. It is rather strange that on the 5 th of April there appeared a list of those who purposed taking the trip. On the 6th, I think it was, the Leader of the Opposition in another place withdrew. On the 3rd May, or thereabouts, another member of the same party in the House of Representatives withdrew. A day or two later several other members of the party withdrew, and finally, on the 19th May, the last remaining member of the Opposition who had expressed an intention to make the trip also withdrew. This left the trip entirely to members of this party, with the exception of Mr. Wise and Mr. Austin Chapman, who, on medical advice, decided not to go.
– Can the honorable senator give the names of those who promised to go?
– I cannot say to what extent promises were made, but the list of those who indicated their willingness to go, which I take from the Age, and the absolute correctness of which I cannot, of course, guarantee, includes for Victoria, Mr. Deakin, Mr. Palmer, Mr. Wise, Mr. Mathews, Dr. Carty Salmon, Mr. . Ozanne, Mr. Sampson, Mr. Parker Moloney, and Mr. Hans Irvine ; Senator Barker, Senator Blakey, and Senator E. J. Russell. The members of Parliament for other States who intimated their intention of going were Mr. Mahon, Mr. Finlayson, Mr. McDonald, Mr. Laird Smith, Mr. Chanter, Mr. W. Elliot Johnson, Mr. Roberts, Mr. West, Mr. Watkins, Mr. Jensen, Mr. Foster, Mr. Greene, Senator Ready, Mr. Austin Chapman, Senator de Largie, Senator 0’ Keefe, Senator Chataway, Senator Buzacott, Senator Stewart, and Senator Keating. Out of that number, only fifteen, I think, finally went on the expedition. With the exception of Mr. Wise, the member for Gippsland, all were members of the Labour party. As far as I am concerned - and I am sure that my colleagues who accompanied me are of the same opinion - I am perfectly indifferent to newspaper criticism, because we realize that the first-hand knowledge that we gained by the visit to Papua could not have been obtained by any other means. It was in no sense a holiday jaunt or a picnic, because while we endeavoured? to make ourselves as happy and cheerful as possible, as men should do under all circumstances, and whilst we were treated with hospitality by the people of Papua, official and otherwise, yet all of us undertook a considerable amount of labour, and some of us were involved in a certain amount of loss by going right away from our private affairs, which necessarily are of importance to us. While one cannot pretend to obtain anything like full knowledge from a casual visit to a country, yet, by merely visiting Papua, touching at various points, and meeting all classes of people there, from natives to the highest officials, we did obtain, as I said before, first-hand knowledge of the many problems which await solution, in regard to the settlement and development of the country. We could not have obtained that knowledge by oceans of reading matter. I, for one, do not feel that I have in any way done an injury to the Commonwealth, or to my honour and honesty as a member of this Parliament, by taking part in the trip. Tt is a very curious fact that, though there may be good reasons for it, immediately after the appearance of this scathing article in the Age, nearly all the gentlemen on the other side who had engaged to go to Papua dropped out one by one, leaving it entirely to members of the Labour party.
– We could trust them as far as Papua !
– I am satisfied that many of those who withdrew wanted to go to Papua badly; but they were desperately afraid of the whipping the Age would give them.
– The Sydney Daily Telegraph whipped them for not going.
– Quite so; these highly Conservative journals have not sense enough to hold a Caucus to agree about the attitude they shall take up. I am inclined to think that the idea which many of the Opposition had in withdrawing from the trip was that they might cast odium upon the Government and the party behind it. They thought that by dropping out they could make us bear the odium which would attach to this terrible transgression.
– That is what they call fair fighting.
– Just so. As a matter of fact, we know that many of them were desperately sorry that they could not go; but, being frightened, of course they had to suffer for their fears.
– Is not that like putting up skittles in order to knock them down?
– That is a pastime in which the honorable senator frequently in dulges, and he is naturally inclined to attribute the same to others. It seems to me, on the face of things, that there was some concerted plan for putting the Government in a hole. It was known that a steamer had been chartered to convey forty or fifty members of Parliament to Papua. When a large proportion of them dropped out it was believed that the cost of chartering the vessel to convey the remainder would be so enormous that the Government would suffer in consequence. But, of course, the Government were alive to the situation, and, having taken economical precautions, they had merely secured the option of chartering the steamer, and promptly cancelled the order when they found that most of the Opposition had “ turned dog “ on the proposal. Leaving that subject, I wish to say that the proposal of our party to establish a Commonwealth bank is one which I believe wil(, meet with the warmest approval, not merely of our supporters outside Parliament, but: of the great bulk of the people of the Commonwealth who are not pecuniarily interested in the existing financial institutions. I hope, and believe, that that bank, when established, will be under nonpolitical management, and whether it is intended or not to put the note issue upon the same footing I really believe that that would be an advisable course to follow in the near future. The seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, Senator Buzacott, expressed the opinion that, notwithstanding the present large revenues of the Commonwealth, there were so many outlets for expenditure that it would be absolutely desirable - in fact absolutely necessary - to borrow money in the future in order to carry out Commonwealth developmental works. By interjection I expressed dissent from that view. I wish to give my reasons for doing so. I have been, for a large number of years, a strenuous opponent of public borrowing. I am frequently met with the statement that if a man who can get a good investment for his money, can borrow at 5 or 6 or 7 per cent., and make 9 or 10 per cer*-, it is good business for him to borrow. That, indeed,, is the only possible way in which a man-, can hope to rake in anything substantial.. But when such statements are made a parallel is drawn between a private individual and a Government. It is said that if a private individual may advantageously borrow a Government may do the same. But there is a very wide distinction between the case of a private individual and that of a
Government. If a person wishes to embark in any enterprise, or to extend any business in which he is engaged, there is no other honest way of obtaining the necessary capital than either to float a jointstock company, or’to borrow. But in the case of a nation there is this broad distinction. A nation or State has power to raise additional revenue by means of taxation in order to meet any additional expenditure required, up to a given point. I admit that there is a limit to the taxable capacity of any community. But in Australia we have in no wise reached that limit. With something like ^13,000,000 per annum raised through the Customs, and with the bitterly fought land tax imposed last year, bringing in not much more than £r, 500,000, I think that there is a very wide margin left to operate upon if we require more revenue.
– Should we not leave that margin to the States?
– I am not prepared to leave anything to the States which I think the Federation can do better. Senator St. Ledger. - I thought so ; unification.
– I am not going to be silenced by a mere word, whether it be unification or Mesopotamia. If I could have been silenced by words the honorable senator would have silenced me long ago. I contend that there are great stores of national wealth in Australia from which we might fairly draw in order to carry on public works. Take, for instance, the fact that we are. at the present time - taking the six States - considerably over £250,000,000 in debt, and that that debt is increasing by pretty rapid strides in all the States.
– .£200,000,000 of that is an asset.
– Of course, the honorable senator indulges in fine round figures.
– What I have s:.id is exactly the case.
– I will deal with that statement briefly before I conclude. But before doing so let me point out that in New South Wales we pay something like £3> 500,000 per annum in interest on our share of that gigantic debt. When we speak about the assets to be set against that indebtedness, we ought to recollect what Australian economists and public men seem to forget, namely, that we have dissipated a very large proportion of the assets which we originally possessed. They have disappeared, never to return. Some three or four years ago I learned, by reference to the Commonwealth YearBook, that the total value of minerals, including coal, exported from Australia, amounted to about ,£700,000,000. No honorable senator will contend for a moment that mineral wealth does anything in the way of reproducing itself . The largest and richest mine in the world has a limited life. Its value is diminished by every ounce of metal that is taken out of it. Our mineral wealth occupies an. entirely different position from that occupied by our agricultural resources. I venture to say that, up to date, the total value of the mineral wealth exported from Australia, including coal, approximates £1,000,000,000, and that sum must be set against the creation of other assets of a less durable character. With the majority of the people of this country, borrowing is a superstition. They believe that it is only by a system of borrowing that we can carry out national undertakings. But I would remind honorable senators that all the time we have been borrowing very little money has come into Australia. What has happened is that; our credit has been established to the extent that we have borrowed. As a matter of fact, side by side with the influx of loan money we have been exporting gold by the ton each year.
– Did not we get back something in return ?
– Yes; we obtained the credit which enabled the labour of Australia and the raw material to come together to construct our harbors and public works. This system of borrowing is merely a method of enabling the labour which is available in the Commonwealth to be applied to our raw material for the creation of wealth. The first loan floated by New South Wales was in 1842, when a sum of, approximately, £500,000 was raised for the purpose of carrying out certain public works. If those works had been constructed out of revenue, the country would not have been materially affected, because at the time, it was raking in enormous sums from the sale of Crown lands. Had that course been followed, and had the profit which accrued upon those works been applied to a works fund, New South Wales, without borrowing, would have had just as many miles of railway as she possesses to-day. In addition, the fares and freights levied would have been 50 per cent), less than they are. Settlement would thus have been materially encouraged. A referendum which was taken some time ago authorized the Commonwealth - as honorable senators are aware - to take over the State debts. But it has been found impossible to make such terms with the States as will prevent them from competing with each other .in the money market, and consequently we are now asked to make the Commonwealth a seventh borrower. Under existing conditions, it is impossible to propound a scheme for taking over the State debts, because the moment that we shoulder that burden the States will be at liberty to build up a fresh obligation without check. No doubt. Senator Buzacott will be inclined to inquire, “ Are we then to hang up public works indefinitely?” I say, “Decidedly not.” Take the case of the Commonwealth note issue. As the result of that issue, we have loaned considerable sums of money to the various States, and some ^4,000,000 or ^5,000,000 have been taken from the gold reserves for this purpose. If it be right to lend that money to the States, it is equally right that the Commonwealth should use any more funds of that character which it may possess for the construction of public works.
– That would be borrowing from the note issue account.
– To whom does the interest which accrues upon that loan money belong ?
– The interest belongs to the Trust.
– What is the Trust to do with it? Is it to go on accumulating for ever? I contend that it would be perfectly sound policy to pay that interest into the Consolidated Revenue.
– The Act will not permit of that being done.
– But the Act can be altered. If the interest earned is to continue to accumulate, it will, in time, amount to -.111 enormous sum. My own view is that that interest rightly belongs to the people of the Commonwealth; and, that being so, it may be very properly applied to the construction of public works.
– ls the honorable senator referring to the gold ?
– Yes. I presume that it is gold which has been loaned to the States. As the interest earned belongs to the people, we are entitled to pay it into the Consolidated Revenue, to be used for whatever purpose Parliament may ordain. If it belongs to us, clearly it is only a matter of bookkeeping for the Commonwealth to pay interest on any balance which may still be available, seeing that that interest will come back to us in another form. In regard to the Commonwealth bank, even if that institution be placed under Commissioners who are free from political control, I say that one of its objects should be to manage the finances of the Commonwealth ; and, in that connexion, we might very fairly use all the gold that is honestly available for the purpose.
– What would happen if the notes came back to the Treasury too rapidly, and the gold reserve had been depleted by loans?
– I consider that this Parliament committed a mistake when it passed the Australian Notes Bill. It contained a clause which, in the fo.m in which it was presented, was, I think, objectionable. But if a mistake was made then we made a very much bigger mistake in dropping the whole clause instead of amending it. It provided that the banks should be compelled to keep at their branches a number of notes of certain denominations on call, and would have been unduly harassing in that form. I think it would have been fair and just to compel the banks to hold a certain number of notes on call. I believe that we shall find it necessary to make such a provision in the future, if it is not contemplated immediately. I further contend, with Mr. J. C. Watson, an ex-Prime Minister, that it would be perfectly sound to adopt the Canadian principle of compelling the banks to invest a certain amount of their reserves in Government securities, and by that means secure what would be practically a. perpetual loan free of interest. These are perfectly practical means by which the people could have the use of their own money to produce more wealth by applying it to the construction of public works.
– Would the honorable senator build these railways with Commonwealth paper money?
– If I built the railways with paper money, it would be based on the gold reserve, which I contend we justly hold as security for the notes. No honorable senator has said whom the interest belongs to. If it is not our interest, whose is it? If it is fair to lend that money to the States at interest, it is equally fair to take any other surplus available and use it for Commonwealth purposes practically free of interest. As I have occupied a fair amount of time, I do not intend to pursue the subject further. I believe that if we are not going in for something more decisive, something very much larger than the members of the Opposition are prepared to accept, the distinguishing line between our Conservative friends and ourselves will be obliterated in the future. I am spoken of as an extremist, but that is simply because I have the courage to carry my political convictions to their logical conclusion. The reason of our existence as a party is because the old parties have juggled with the national wealth in the interests of the few, and we want to use it in the interests of the many, by whom it was created. Other persons may concern themselves with squabbles about Free Trade and Protection, which, from my earliest political youth, I have considered were not so much principles as mere temporary expedients. One may be good at one time, and the other at some other time.
– You live up to that creed.
– I do. If I thought it would do any good to the bulk of the people to vote for 1,000 per cent, duties or absolute prohibition, I would not hesitate for a moment to do so. On the other hand, if I thought it would benefit them to allow any article to come in free, I would vote accordingly.
– Did Free Trade establish factories in New South Wales?
– When my honorable friend, with that Protectionist maggot which seems to bite everybody in Victoria, comes at me in that way, I must pause. I am not saying that it did. I have no reverence for Free Trade, and never had. I certainly have no faith in Protection as a fetish, which, as held by many persons, is .going to build up a country and make it great and prosperous. It may do its share in that direction to some extent, but we know by the demands we have been making for some years for new Protection that the old brand has been a dismal failure. Whatever it has done to build up manufactures it has done more to build up monopolies, and very little to build up a condition of prosperity among the workers. Therefore, I frankly say that I have no faith in Protection, and never have had. But I have this faith in the new Protection, that, while it may not be able to benefit the whole people directly, it will do something substantial to insure that, while building up industries on the one hand, the few who get legislative concessions shall not pocket the full profit. I am surprised at Senator Givens advocating the old protectionist argument that we should first build up our industries, and then impose whatever conditions we please as to remuneration, hours of labour, and so on.
– The best conditions of labour and the best scale of wages we can possibly imagine would be useless if we had not employment for men to go to.
– Exactly so; but, all the same, I think that my honorable friend is putting the cart before the horse in using that argument. We have very powerful vested interests against our proposals for an extension of the Constitution, besides a good deal of ignorance. These powerful interests are very largely bound up with those of the manufacturers; they want to use the old Protection, but they have no love for the new Protection. If we first pass a scientific Tariff, giving them the fullest possible measure of Protection, we shall have every one of them ranged in opposition to us at our next referendum. Whereas, if we say that they shall get nothing from us until we have obtained the legislative assurance that the conditions we believe in shall accompany the Protection, even if they did not actually range themselves on our side, they would not dare to openly oppose our proposals at the referendum.
– It is a matter of electioneering tactics, then ?
– Call it what you like, I am out to win. I believe that, with such a set of principles as those which animate the ranks of the Labour party, we are entitled to win. and, if we cannot win in one way, we should try to win in another way.
– “ Win, tie, or wrangle.”
– There is no wrangling about me. If we do not win once, we shall come along and fight until we do win.
– Are you assuming that the importers will help you to win ?
– They have never helped os anyhow, and never will. I do not look to them for help, but I do not want to increase the number of my enemies. Senator Millen has referred to electioneering tactics and winning. Last night, by interjection, he accused me of favouring strikes, and wanting a kind of arbitration under which, if an award did not suit us, we could strike.
– 1 do not think that an accusation was made ; you made a confession.
– That makes the matter easy to deal with. Last night a newspaper published in this city pointed out the result of the great industrial upheaval in Great Britain. Writing on the nth August, its London correspondent said -
The position to-day is that seamen and firemen have secured recognition of the union, increased rates of pay and an additional membership for their union of 30,000 men.
Dockers have also secured recognition, have gained an increased wage of about 16 per cent, on the average, with improved conditions. They are remaining out until the demands of the other men affiliated to the National Transport Workers’ Union have been conceded.
Stewards and ships’ cooks have also gained substantial increases in their wages ; but, like the dockers, are still out.
Coal porters have secured better rates of pay and overtime, immunity from “ trimming “ work, and have forced their employers to pay “ actual “ railway fares whenever they are called upon to go to ships outside a four-miles radius, besides other concessions.
Carmen, who demanded a sixty-hours week and increased pay, ranging from 30s. weekly for the driver of a single horse to 40s. for the driver of four horses, have succeeded in getting a week of 72 hours, with a minimum of 27s. a week, and 38s. a week for drivers of four horses.
Lightermen, crane-drivers, and some others still fight the battle for better conditions, and with them fight not only the fifty-thousand men -whose claims have been settled, but minor workers such as the vanboys, who have succeeded in getting increased pay, and the fish porters at Billingsgate, who have fared singularly well, inasmuch as they have got their rate of pay per hour exactly doubled.
The article mentioned quite a number of other cases. My object in making the quotation is to show that, until we get an absolutely effective system of arbitration - one under which we shall not suffer from the law’s delays, and take months and months, very often, to get a partial or ineffective verdict - until we secure a very radical reform in the sweated conditions of the workers, even in sunny Australia men will resort, whether I approve of it or not, to strikes as a reserve power. I hold that, whether it is in big political issues or in industrial issues, force still holds sway, and that striking produces better results than any other method yet found out.
– Do you think that workmen will ever give up the right to strike ?
– I hope not ; that is, until they get a much more perfect form of arbitration.
– It is not the question of giving up the right to strike which you were discussing last night, but the right to break a law which did not suit you.
– I think that the class whom my honorable friends opposite represent are the foremost law-breakers when the law does not suit them. It is simply a question of whether it will pay them to break every law under the sun.
– For example.
– Take the Customs law. Rabid Free Traders in practice, even the most rigorous Protectionists, have committed wholesale frauds in Customs House matters. That is not a thing which is confined to a firm here or there.
– They have not got any one to get up and defend them.
– I dare say that the honorable senator would defend them.
– Take some of the Pure Food Acts.
– All those, who are found out are punished and condemned, but you are defending every law-breaker.
– I wish to observe, without any unfriendliness, that I am not prepared to take lectures on ethics from the honorable senator, however much I would like to sit at his feet in political matters. Nearly every great reform has been withheld from the people until they have been prepared to strike or commit acts of violence in order to attain their end. Let me go as far back as my father’s youth. Was the Reform Bill of 1832 carried by the House of Lords until it saw that the people were practically in a state of incipient rebellion, until riots and acts of violence took place? Again, was Home Rule for Ireland ever advanced to a practical stage until the Irish members in the House of Commons practically held up legislation, and the landlords began to fall like rabbits behind the hedges?
– It is merely a breach of the law.
– That is all, and in certain circumstances amply justified. If I. had been an Irish tenant farmer, and had been evicted, and my wife and children were turned out to starve and die under a hedge in the frost, I should consider it a moral duty to shoot the landlord on the first opportunity. The only question which would concern me would be as “to how I might get cleat away after doing it. I say that there is nothing in the English voluntary conciliation boards, or any other system so far evolved, to secure prompt and adequate justice to the workers. It was the fear of revolution in England last month that caused greater concessions to be given to the workers on strike than had been given to them as the result of appeals to sentimentalism for a generation before.
– The honorable senator believes in picketing, and in calling the police “ hired assassins.”
– What a man chooses to call another is simply a matter of manners. 1 am not advocating everything done by unionists, or the language occasionally used by members of unions. I have at times used language myself which I would not defend at other times. We are frequently challenged on the subject of picketing, and the treatment pf nonunionists; and I can make my position very clear on these questions in a very few words. Picketing is absolutely necessary in order to educate the ignorant, and make them acquainted with the objects for which the union is on strike,’ that they may be induced to side with them.
– If it is accompanied by a little ducking in cold water, I suppose that is a mere circumstance?
– That may be Senator St. Ledger’s opinion ; I have not said so In regard to the position of non-unionists, let me say that I have been actively engaged with unions for twenty-five years. I have held every position in a union, from the rank and file to president ; and I have never on any occasion used insulting language or bad terms, or attempted any sort> of coercion of non-unionists. I have always endeavoured to reason with them, to induce them to see that their interests and moral responsibility should urge them to come on our side. I do not suppose that honorable senators opposite would raise any objection to that kind of thing, but when we are at war for our just rights there is no time to argue. When we are perhaps on the eve of a well-earned victory, after having suffered privations for weeks and months, and seen the wives and families of unionists almost starving in their loyal support of husbands and brothers engaged in the industrial battle, if a few persons hired by the criminal agency of the employers, and seduced from their allegiance to the class to which they belong, come to the assistance of the. employers for the paltry pay offered them, and turn traitors to their own class, and the interests of the whole community, inorder to defeat the strikers, then I say that, whatever means the unionists findnecessary in order to win, I am prepared to back them up in them. There is no time for argument then, no time for peaceful persuasion ; and if we are going to be defeated by our own class turning traitorsupon us, we have. I consider, just as much right to knock them out of the combat, and put them where they can exercise no active force against us, as we should have to hang a traitor who betrayed his country. If a friend of mine proposed to give help to the enemy in the event of an international complication, I should try to persuade him to recognise his moral responsibility, and not to commit such an irretrievable crime against his country. While it would be fair to adopt that course in times of peace, it would be an idiotic policy to pursue when active hostilities had commenced. In such a case, the only thing to do with a man who is going over to the enemy is to shoot him. So in the case of a big industrial struggle, I say that the responsibility for violence must rest upon the employing class, who use their money to seduce men from their allegiance, and take advantage of the dire necessity of unhappy creatures to force them to serve their sordid ends.
– The honorable senator does not appear to see that to permit thai? kind of liberty to every section of the community would mean revolution and anarchy.
– It would not; it would mean that the employing class, being in a minority, would hesitate about taking certain action if they knew that the workers were determined not to be beaten in the fight by traitors to their own class.
– I do not know that they could shoot) straighter than other persons, if it came to that.
– Of course, each man must use his own judgment as to the risk he will take, and I do not say that unions should go to such a length unless as the last resort; but I do say that if ameliorating legislation and absolutely necessary reforms to preset ve what is good in our civilisation are refused, it is upon those who are guilty of the refusal that the responsibility will rest for any evils that occur.
-3’l- - After such bloodthirsty sentiments as we have just heard from Senator Hae, it might be a>> well to get back to the matters dealt with in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. The honorable senator appears to have been worrying over the fact that a certain number of members who said they would go to Papua afterwards decided not to go.
– It did not worry me ; we were tetter without them.
– The honorable senator first complains that certain persons did not go, and then says that they were better without them. The Department of External Affairs supplied the honorable senator with a list of the names of those who said they were going to take part in the trip, and it is a rather remarkable fact that, according to the list, more Labour representatives dropped out of the trip 10 Papua than members representing the other side. The reason I dropped out at the very last moment was because I received an official letter from the Department of External Affairs notifying that the trip originally arranged to visit thirteen or fourteen stations in Papua had been abandoned, and making it appear that we were to go only to three or four trading stations that had been settled for a long time. In the circumstances, it seemed to me to be a waste of money to make the trip. I should like to add something to what Senator Rae has said in connexion with loans. The honorable senator mentioned the enormous amount of money that Australia owes, but he forgot to say that, of that amount, ;£i 47,000,000 is invested in railways, and that, for the last five years, they have paid over 4 per cent, on the money borrowed for their construction. In addition to that, it should be borne in mind that they have been the means of opening up and settling the country, and in this way the different State Governments have secured a substantial revenue from land settlement.
– I do not deny that.
– One thing is very clear, and it is this, that had we not borrowed in the past to build our railways, our Australia would still be practically unpopulated. 1 think that the GovernorGeneral’s Speech very properly puts Empire questions in the forefront. A good deal of interest has been excited by the report of an interview which the editor of the Review of Reviews is alleged to have had with the Prime Minister. I do not take any exception to the reports of that interview, except in so far as the earlier part of the Prime Minister’s statement is concerned, suggesting that there is no constitutional connexion between Australia and the Old Country. That appears to me to be incorrect. The other part of the interview does not indicate a desire on the part of the Prime Minister to haul down the Union Jack. I think that the honorable gentleman expressed himself, as Mr. Stead has said, in terms that were neither novel nor original. Sir Wilfrid Laurier nasi spoken in the same way. and Lord Derby said, many years ago, that the Colonies were like fruit on a tree, and would drop away from the parent tree as soon as the fruit was ripe. There are different conceptions as to the way in which the Empire will develop, and it is felt that a time will come when we shall not only be taking an interest in the Old Country, but become partners with the Old Country in foreign affairs affecting the integrity of the Empire. Why so many apologies should have been made for the very simple statements uttered by the Prime Minister, I cannot conceive. I notice that Senator Rae quoted very largely from newspapers, and I should like now to quote some remarks which were published in the Labour Call on the 22nd July, 191 1 -
The report of the interview with Andy Fisher just before leaving the Fog City, wherein he stated a few straightout facts re the Hempire, has staggered the spineless boodleistic press that is at present attempting by lies and corruption to run Australia. This is how Andy puts it : - “ We recognise that our territory is subject to attack by England’s enemy, and if we were threatened we should have to decide whether to defend ourselves, or, if wc thought that the war was unjust and England’s enemy in the right, we should haul down the Union Jack, hoist our own flag, and start on our own.” No doubt the Labour leader had the episode of the infamous Boer war in his mind’s eye. Why should Australia be dragged into any war without having a say in it as to its merits? Better go down fighting on its own than be butchered at an English syndicate’s behest - who may be after another land grab? or a war that is started by the capitalistic crowd to divert the workers’ attention from the betterment of the toilers’ lives.
If that represents the views of any considerable number of _ Laborites, I ask why the indignation with which Mr. Hughes and others denied that the Prime Minister uttered statements attributed to him, which, as I say, may not have been very wise, but certainly were perfectly correct, to Mr. Stead of the Review of Reviews) Another statement “appearing in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech which .gives a great deal of satisfaction is that the representatives of the outside Dominions of the Empire have been taken more fully than before, very fully indeed, into the confidence of the Imperial authorities. The Labour Call on that subject says -
The daily liars announced in solemn cold print that the “ dominions over . the sea “ had been taken into confidence of the Imperial authorities, and that the secrets of the Hempire had been divulged to them, and the old girl “ Argoose “ devoted a leader to the subject, saying what a great thing it was to be in the know - dontcherknow - as to what was going on in international affairs. She even went so far as to say that Andy Fisher was an honorable man, and for sure would not tell the Germans what the English were doing or about to do. A bolt from the blue took place a week or two afterwards in the shape of an announcement that a fresh treaty had been made with Japan, to last ten years after the expiration of the present one, which falls due about 1915. Evidently Prime Minister Fisher knew nothing about it, and Acting-Prime Minister Hughes swears it was all done in the dark. So much for the “ tommy rot “ about the oversea dominions being consulted re treaties with other nations. The Commonwealth would be thrown over like a rotten orange if the yellow man’s trade looked like better “biz” to the bulky boodlers of London ; or if it suited them the White Australia policy would be rendered as ineffective as the attempts to lift the “ submerged tenth” of London out of the rut of starvation.
Apparently, the writer in the Labour Call was not taken into the confidence of the Government, because, although we are not told that the Government approve of the renewal of the Japanese treaty, we are assured that it means something in the direction of securing the peace of the world. There is one matter upon which I think, differing possibly with some of my honorable friends on this side, the Government deserve some congratulation. I refer to the question of immigration. I might read a further quotation from the Labour Call on the subject of immigration, but, whatever may be said, there is,. I think, no doubt that the present Federal Government have done more to stimulate immigration than any previous Government. For instance, the Prime Minister, when interviewed in London, said some things on the subject which
I think were very satisfactory. Mr. Fisher was asked, in the course of the interview - “ What are the prospects of the average working man who is thinking of going out to Australia?”
He said - “ Excellent, without doubt. He need never be afraid of getting work to do, so long as he is willing and able to do it. Mind you, I do not say he will be able to pick and choose. Far from it. But I know in my own trade - mining - that there is a continual demand for good men from 10s. a day upwards. It is much the same in other branches of industry; a good tradesman need never be out of work.” “ What class of people would you advise to go to Australia then?” “ Every one who is dissatisfied with his present position in England. Of course, we mainly want people who are willing to settle on the land, and there is also a very good opening for manufacturers ; but in any case they will all get a welcome. Australia is big enough to take millions of the right sort of people, but at the same time I would strongly caution people not to come out without a little money.” “ How do wages in Australia compare with wages in England?” “ They are a good deal higher. In some trades they are fully twice as much as in England, but of course vary considerably all over Australia. Carpenters, bricklayers, miners, are a few which might be instanced as well-paid men.”
Mr. Fisher was asked whether the cost of living was dearer in Australia, and he said - “ Well, house rent may be a little higher, but food is very much cheaper. Look at it this way. We ship large quantities of meat, fruit, wheat, and butter to England every year. Surely they ought to be much cheaper in the country they are produced in !”
The report continues - “Are there many unemployed in Australia?” “ No, the percentage is the lowest in the . world. Every country, of course, has a certain number who won’t work. But in Australia a man can always get agricultural work at 20s. a week and his keep.”
– He made a mistake there.
– In any case, there is nothing to boast of in that.
– The interview goes on - “ Do you prefer living in Australia to Britain, Mr. Fisher?” “Yes, certainly I do. Australia has been very good to me, and I think it is an ideal working man’s country. You see, Australia is so sparsely settled that a man does not get the tierce competition existing in older countries.”
– All of us say the same.
– Just so. I read those passages to show that, as far as he could encourage immigration to Australia, Mr. Fisher did some excellent work. I should like to refer to a mistake that I think has been made in the expenditure of between ,£3,000 and £4,000 on a poster representing a girl standing amidst a quantity of wattle blossom. A copy of the poster is now, by the courtesy of the Government and the President of the Senate, on view in the Queen’s Hall. It is fairly large, and it ought to be large at the price. The lettering underneath the picture is, “ Australia : Home of the Golden Wattle offers the advantages of old lands with the opportunities of the new. For information about Australia apply to the High Commissioner,” &c. I do not think that a sum of upwards of £$,000 has been wisely expended on a picture of that kind. It creates the impression in the Old Country, that the women out here either have nothing to do, and loaf about among flowers, and so forth, or else that we have a very large number of women who want to get married, and are not fit for domestic duties. I have ascertained that the cost of putting up the poster on 750 stands, where it is to remain for six months, amounts to 13s. 6d. per stand. I have worked it out at something over £3,000. I went to a printer in Melbourne, and tried to ascertain the cost of producing 600 posters, the printing on which could be altered every week. I had not seen this particular poster at the time, but I ascertained that the cost would come to about 3.3d. per stand per copy instead of 13s. 6d. I think that in this instance money has been wasted. One other matter that the Government has done to encourage immigration is, on the whole, satisfactory. They have administered the law in respect to contract immigrants with a reasonable amount of liberality. Since the beginning of the present year something like 768 contract immigrants have been admitted into Australia, including, amongst others, 85 boiler-makers, 20 riveters, 24 shirtmakers, 30 furniture hands, 20 machinists for mantle-making, and a number of others who may be classed generally as ironworkers, blacksmiths, and so on, in addition to 400 men for the sugar industry. While on that point, I must say that I think that the Government ought to be more prompt in sending replies to people who apply for leave to introduce workmen under contract. I know of a case in which per mission was asked, through the Premier of Queensland, to introduce two men. Ultimately the Premier of the State had to wire to the Commonwealth Government, asking when he would get a reply to a letter which he had sent on the subject. I cooled my heels outside the doors of the External Affairs Department for over a week, but unless the reply has gone very recently to the Premier of Queensland, there has been no answer yet. In matters of that kind more prompt attention should be given to honorable senator?. There is another direction in which the Government might be a little more liberal. This also concerns the Immigration Restriction Act. I do not now refer to the case of Hop Gooey, which has attracted a good deal of public attention, but to another case arising in Queensland. Application was made by a woman who has lived in that State for many years, and who is a naturalized British subject, though she is a native of Constantinople. She owns a farm and a business-place in Queensland, and, being very old, she applied that her son and his wife and child, who are Europeans and living in Constantinople, might be allowed to come to Australia and take the business from her. If the Government set them an education test in the Turkish language there is not the slightest doubt that they would be able to pass. But the Minister will not give them permission to come. I think that this is carrying the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act too far. If these persons came to Australia without permission, it is well known that the Department could set them a test in Russian or some other language which it was known they would not be able to pass. The case is that of a woman named Mrs. Abood. Another point to which I should like to direct attention is that a large number of orders for goods is being sent to England because the things cannot be made here, owing to shortage of labour. I know of a case in which a firm had been paying £1,500 a year for tweeds imported from England. It is now paying £4,000. I have a list of the contracts entered into by other firms in relation to collarmaking, and so forth. In every instance the reason given is that orders cannot be executed here because there are not sufficient hands capable of doing that class of work. Turning to financial matters, I wish to point out that the Senate has practically left finance alone for a long time, and Parliament, as a whole, has dealt very meagrely with the subject. . We know that our expenditure is going up by leaps and bounds, and that our revenue is also increasing, but we also know perfectly well that the revenue cannot continue to go up in anything like the same proportion as the expenditure is increasing. The question of the transferred properties has yet to be settled. It is absolutely absurd that we should take it upon ourselves and the Commonwealth to use properties which belong to the States, and leave the States to pay interest upon them. Virtually we live in houses which have been built by the States, and pay no rent for them. The matter is really urgent. It is all very well to say that the money comes out of the same people’s pockets, but if that be so, why does not the Commonwealth pay the interest on the debts of the States? Why leave the States to pay the interest, whilst we occupy the property on which the borrowed money has been spent? The proposal is now made that we should pay the States 3 per cent, on account of the loans for which they are paying 3J per cent. We are to offer them per cent, as a sinking fund. That would produce £100 - that is the capital value - in sixty years, whilst the loans on which the States are paying interest will probably mature in the next fifteen or twenty years. Another matter of finance which should engage our attention illustrates the necessity of putting such matters as the lending of money in connexion with the note issue reserve fund in the hands of a commission of experts. The Commonwealth has offered to lend money to the States, but the rates fixed are such that it does not pay the States to borrow. Queensland recently floated a 31 per cent, loan in London, and realized £,94 19s. 6d. nett per cent. The Commonwealth offered a loan to Queensland at 3! per cent, at par, which would have produced ,£93 6s. Sd. per cent., so that we have the curious position that it was cheaper for Queensland to go to “ the Hebrews,” “ the boodliers,” or whatever else honorable senators opposite may call them, of London, than to borrow from the Commonwealth Government, for Queensland made a profit of £1 12s. 6d. per cent, by doing so. In connexion with the Defence Department, I wish to clear up what appears to be a misconception in the Governor-General’s Speech, where it is inferred that the present naval policy of the Commonwealth is the policy of this Government, and not of the preceding one. I need only refer to Hansard of the 1st December, 1909, where is reported the debate which took place in the House of Representatives just after Colonel Foxton’s return from Great Britain. On that occasion, Mr. Fisher, the present Prime Minister, said, as to the proposals of the then Government. “ I give them my support.” Mr. Fisher said, in another part of his speech -
I am therefore in entire agreement wilh the general line of policy which the Government have proposed, although I am entirely opposed to the position taken up by them in regard to the method of raising the money.
If the present Government say that the naval policy, for which they claim credit, is simply one of how the money is to be raised. I am quite willing that their claim should be allowed ; but it is clear that the idea that Australia should have a Naval Unit, with big sea-going vessels, forming a portion of the Imperial Navy, was never decided upon until the Conference for which Colonel Foxton went to England took place. The proposal of the previous Labour Government was that we should be provided with a mosquito fleet. Their policy was that we should defend Australia pure and simple, and not attempt to maintain a naval force which could strike a blow outside our own waters. To-day, they favour the formation of a fleet which will be fitted to take part in the battles of the Empire, if ever the necessity for it to do so should unfortunately arise. In connexion with the system of compulsory training, I note that some little difficulty has been experienced with members of the Cadet Force, and I would suggest that it would be better if, instead of prosecuting cadets for smoking cigarettes, or for being rude to their officers, the Government prosecuted those persons who have printed objectionable leaflets, and distributed them amongst the lads - leaflets preaching insurbordination and disloyalty. Quite recently a boy in Brisbane was fined £1 and costs for a trifling breach of discipline, and that money would probably have to be paid by his parents.
– How about Senator McColl, who preached the gospel of insurbordination last night?
– The Government cannot prosecute Senator McColl for what he may say in this Chamber.
– But it is a bad example for him to set.
– Just so. All I say is that the Government ought not to prosecute boys for insubordination until they have attempted to punish the adults who seek to stir up insurbordination amongst them. When the Prime Minister was asked whether he would cause a prosecution to be instituted against such persons in Sydney, he said that he hardly thought they were worth the shot. I do not agree with him. We have to recollect, too, that the fostering of insurbordination is absolutely forbidden by Statute. I come now to another matter. It is extremely to be regretted that the Minister of Trade and Customs has not been better advised as to the manner in which he should have dealt with the question of moisture in butter. First of all, he fixed the standard at 14 per cent, instead of 16 per cent., but eventually he compromised on 15 per cent. If the newspaper reports be correct, the reason why he has fixed 15 per cent, as the standard is because in England the standard of 16 per cent, is not compulsory. To my mind, the proper method of dealing with this matter is to adopt the system which is in vogue on the Continent. There, dairies are graded according to the quantity of moisture contained in the butter which’ they manufacture, and diplomas .are issued to them accordingly. For instance, in Sweden, there is one class of dairy which sends out butter the moisture in which does not exceed 15 per cent., another class sends out butter in which the moisture varies from 15 to 15.8 per cent., and still a third class produces butter which contains more than 15.8 per cent, of moisture. The butter mark is withheld from all consignments containing more than 16 per cent, of water. These steps have been taken in order to insure that Swedish butter for export shall comply with the requirements of the English law. No”w the alteration which has been brought about by the Minister of Trade and Customs is costing the butter producers of the Commonwealth £75,000 annually.
– When a similar proposal was made in regard to apples, a strong protest was entered against it by the apple growers.
– According to the latest figures available, there are only nine Swedish dairies possessing certificates in the first grade, there are twenty-eight in the second grade, and no less than 118 in the third grade.
– That shows that our standard is not a very rigid one.
– The maximum of moisture in butter allowed by the Minister is equal to the maximum fixed in connexion with the very best dairy in Sweden.
I wish now to congratulate the Government upon having at last decided to appoint a Commission to inquire into the conditions which obtain in the sugar industry. Had they appointed a Commission such as was originally proposed, probably the industrial disturbance which we have witnessed in Queensland recently would have been avoided. On the 1st June last, I wrote a letter to the Minister of Trade and Customs in which I pointed out to him that the power to regulate wages paid in the cane-fields rested with him, whilst the power to regulate the wages paid in the factories rested with the Wages Board, and that the Board at that time was actually sitting. I also dwelt upon the practical difficulties in the way of working three shifts a day immediately, and invited him to assist in preventing the trouble - which had only just commenced - from spreading. I informed him that I thought we could patch up an arrangement which would carry us on to the end of the year. I may tell honorable senators that the proposal which I had in my mind at the time was practically that which has now been adopted. I can only express my regret that the postal facilities were not sufficiently good to enable my communication to reach Mr. Tudor, because I have not had any acknowledgment of it. During the course of this debate something has been said to the effect that the men on strike were only asking for a miserable pittance of 30s. a week and their keep. In a quotation which I made from a speech delivered by Mr. Fisher in London, he refers to agricultural labourers, who are in receipt of 20s. per week and their keep.
– The wages alter very much at harvest time.
– I am speaking of the minimum wage. I hold in my hand a list of the wages paid in the Marian Central Mill, a list taken from the mill paysheet. It sets out the wages paid to the various men in its employ, and is as follows : -
As a matter of fact, very few of these men were receiving less than the wage for which they asked.
– Does the honorable senator know any part of Australia in which carpenters and plumbers get such low wages ?
– The carpenters mentioned in the list which I have read are not tradesmen in the real sense of the word. On the 17 th June last the Wages Board in Queensland issued a list of the wages paid, which corresponds almost exactly with that which I have quoted. I am aware that an amended list was issued on the 19th August, under which the wages of the few individuals who were previously paid 25s. a week, with keep, were raised to 30s. a week, with keep. I know, too, that the system which is in vogue at Proserpine and other mills, where men work ten hours a day, but are paid so much per hour for eight hours, and time and a quarter for every additional hour, has been adopted at other mills.
– What about the wages paid to the general labourer in the mills ?
– The honorable senator must know that I have quoted the wages paid to the general labourer.
– I was through the very mill of which the honorable senator speaks, while on my way to Papua.
– The worst, paid men in the mills are those who feed the cane to the rollers. The next worst paid are the men who serve in the megass loft.
– How many men are getting £1 a week, with their keep?
– Every one of those employed in the mills.
– No; they told us that they were not.
– I cannot help what they said. There is the Wages Board decision, and it is idle for the honorable senator to contradict me in that very abrupt fashion. If I were to declare that a member of this Parliament was not receiving his parliamentary allowance, and Senator McDougall replied, “ There is the Statute, which says that he shall get it,” what would be the use of my retorting, “ Oh ! but he does not get it “ ? T hope that the Government will lose no time in getting the Sugar Commission to work. I trust, too, that it will consist of men who are independent of all political parties. To ascertain how the profits of the industry are divided between the mills, the refineries, and the workers, is largely a matter of accountancy, and can be settled only by good business men. I am perfectly willing that this’ question should be ventilated from top to bottom. Only a couple of years ago the Colonial Sugar Refining Company expressed its strong desire that an investigation should be made into its affairs, so that it can be seen that it comes with clean hands before the public. There has been so much stated in the Melbourne newspapers about this sugar business that one thing has been forgotten, and that is that Australia is not producing sufficient sugar at present, although I believe it will do so before very long, to supply the whole of its requirements. Consequently, a certain quantity of sugar has to be imported and to pay a duty of £6 per ton. It is utterly unreasonable to suppose that a company will import a quantity of sugar at that duty and then sell at £3 or £4 per ton less than the cost price. It may be worth while here for me to read a cablegram which appeared in the London Times of the nth August, from its Sydney correspondent -
There is grave danger, should a strike break out, that it will result in a general upheaval. Strong comments are made on the anomalous position of Mr. Hughes, who is Federal AttorneyGeneral and also honorary secretary to the Waterside Union, but Mr. Hughes is using all his influence to prevent the strike from spreading.
That was just about the time when the AttorneyGeneral proceeded to call out the Waterside Workers’ Union in connexion with certain matters, in order to try to force the position of the employers in the sugar industry. If the Government want to see that industry put on a sound and nonpolitical basis, they will appoint a nonpolitical Commission to go into the matter thoroughly. I venture to say that there is no organization - whether it be the Sugar Workers’ Union, which is a Labour union, or the Cane-growers Union of Bundaberg, or the Sugar Producers’ Association, or the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, or some of the manufacturers associations - which will throw the least obstacle in the way of the whole industry being inquired into from top to bottom ; and I think that the sooner it is done the better.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the Address be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General by the President and such senators as may desire to accompany him.
We are endeavouring to arrange, if possible, to present the Address at noon tomorrow, that is, subject to that hour being found convenient.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 13th October, r9io, vide page 4525) :
Clause 324 - (1.) Where the aggregate amount of salvage payable in any case has been finally determined under this Act, and does not exceed One thousand pounds, but a dispute arises as to the apportionment thereof among several claimants, the person liable to pay the amount may apply to the receiver for liberty to pay it to him. (3.) The receiver shall distribute any amount received by him under this section among the persons entitled to it on such evidence and in such proportions as he thinks fit, and may retain the share of any person who is absent.
Upon which Senator Guthrie had moved by way of amendment -
That sub-clause 3 be left out.
– When Senator Guthrie moved the amendment, he made certain representations which I, on behalf of the Government, promised to consider. I propose to submit an amendment which I think he, if here, would accept, as it is in the direction of what he was asking. When I was in London, I spoke to him about this measure; and I think, sir, I can fairly assume that I have his authority to ask for leave to withdraw the amendment, because our object is identical. I ask, sir, that you will be good enough to accept my statement.
– I think that the Minister’s proposed amendment would be accepted by Senator Guthrie if he were here. The difference between the two proposals is so very small that I think the Committee might agree to the withdrawal of the one under consideration. Whilst I should like to have all Senator Guthrie’s amendments carried as far as possible, I intend, during his absence, to take charge of those with which I am in accord, and move them. After hearing the Minister’s statement, I take the responsibility of agreeing, on his behalf, to the withdrawal of the amendment before the Committee.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) [4.24J. - I move -
That the words “ One thousand,” lines 3 and 4, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Two hundred.”
The clause deals with the distribution of the money received from a salved wreck amongst those having claims. Senator Guthrie’s point was that, in the case of small amounts, it would be a great hardship if the claimants had to go to the Court in order to obtain a distribution of the salvage payable. We have gone into his objection, and think that it is a fairly reasonable one ; therefore, we ask the Committee to substitute “ two hundred pounds” for “one thousand pounds.”
– What will happen in the case of a smaller amount?
– lt can be distributed by the receiver without the claimants having to appeal to the Court. This amendment, if made, will save the cost of a reference to the Court.
– Supposing that the salvage payable in a case should exceed £200, will there be any difficulty as to the apportionment ?
– No. An order of the Court can be obtained.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 325 consequentially amended and agreed to.
Clauses 326 to 328 agreed to.
Clause 329 verbally amended and agreed to.
Clauses 330 and 331 agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - 331A - (1.) All uncancelled and unexpired licences, issued under any State Act, authorizing any persons to conduct ships from one port to another port in Australia, shall continue as if issued under this Aci, but shall be valid only for Hie purposes for which, and lo the extent to which, they would have been valid in accordance with the provisions of the State Act under which they were issued ;. and for those purposes and to that extent the holder of any such licence shall be deemed to be a coastal pilot. (2.) Any such licence may be dealt with as if issued under this Act. (3.) The holder of any such licence may, subject to the regulations, surrender it for a corresponding licence under this Act.
This is intended to preserve the existing rights of pilots under State Acts. It will not confer upon them any rights or privileges which they do not enjoy under the State Acts.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clauses 332 to 340 agreed to.
Clause 341 -
The Minister may suspend for such time as lie sees lit, or may cancel, any pilotage, exemption certificate, if it appears 10 him that Hie holder thereof is incompetent to pilot his ship, er has been guilty of misconduct.
Senator WALKER (New South Wales) £4.31]. - I would ask the Minister whether he does not think tha’t these are rather drastic powers to place in the hands of the Minister without reference to some other authority, in view of the fact that he may have very little personal knowledge on the subject?
.- - The Minister will not exercise this power in an autocratic fashion. He will satisfy himself, before taking action, that a pilot is unfit to continue his certificate. The power must be reposed in some one to suspend a certificate, and we must remember that these pilots will have in their hands the lives of numbers of people. If for any reason they become unfit to hold a certificate, there should be a power reposed in some one to suspend it. The Minister would only act upon information supplied to him, and after due inquiry made.
– Why not insert the words “ after due inquiry “ ?
– That would be surplusage.
– Would the decision of the Minister in such a matter be final?
– I may say that an exactly similar provision, in effect, will be found in the Merchant Shipping Act.
– The Minister is, in this clause, asking only for the power of suspension of a certificate, and there will, of course, in each case be an inquiry We must trust some one, and I think the Minister should have this power of suspension.
– I point out that there is more than the suspension of a certificate involved in this clause. Power is given under it to the Minister to cancel a certificate of exemption. I believe that he should be given the power asked for ; but I should like to know whether he will be the final arbiter in deciding upon the cancellation of an exemption certificate.
– Undoubtedly the Minister will be the final arbiter; but each case will, no doubt, be submitted to a competent tribunal. If, for instance, the objection urged against a pilot is one of defective eyesight, there is no doubt that the Minister would see that he was examined by a medical board. If it was thought his certificate should be suspended or cancelled on any other ground of incompetency, the matter would, no doubt, be dealt with first by a competent authority ; but the power to suspend or withdraw the certificate must rest with the Minister, who has the power to issue it. Under the Merchant Shipping Act, the Board of Trade, or a pilotage authority, as the case may be, may withdraw any pilotage certificate granted by them if it appears that the holder thereof is guilty of misconduct, or has shown himself to be incompetent ; and a certificate so withdrawn ceases to be of effect.
– Would this matter not be covered by clause 329?
– It would, because these officers will be practically Commonwealth servants, with a right to ask for a board of inquiry ; but even where that is done the Minister is the final arbiter.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 342 and 343 agreed to.
Clause 344 -
No person shall display the prescribed signal except for the purpose of summoning a pilot. Penalty, ,£20.
– 1 suggest to the Minister that, after the words “ prescribed signal,” we should insert the words “ referred to in the previous section.” There will be several prescribed signals necessary under the regulations, and it seems to me that this clause should indicate which signal the wrongful use of would entail a penalty.
– I think the amendment suggested is necessary, because there are two sets of signals referred to, and it is necessary to identify them. I move -
That after the word “ signal “ the words “ referred to in the previous section “ be inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 345 (Master to take pilot).
– Sub-clause 3 of this clause provides that the penalty which may be incurred under it shall be “in addition to the amount due for pilotage.” TEat also is the principle of the English Act. Two penalties are prescribed. One is for an offence against clause 345, and the second is that the amount of the pilotage may also be recovered from a master who has not taken a pilot on board.” It seems a little severe.
– The penalty which may be incurred under this clause is for not taking a pilot on board. In such a case, obviously no pilotage would have been paid. The master could say that no service had been rendered. The intention of sub-clause 3 is to make it clear that, in addition to the penalty of £20 recoverable for a breach of the law for not taking the pilot on board, the amount of the pilotage due may also be recovered.
– Sub-clause 3 is not only desirable, but absolutely necessary. Indeed, the Minister has not put the case sufficiently strongly. Unless the two penalties were cumulative, a master might say, “ It is better for me to pay the penalty of £20 than to pay the pilotage.” I have heard of such persons as “ Scotch skippers.”
– I point out that the master is also liable under another portion of the Hill. It may be that sub-clause 3 doubles the security, but 1 do not think it is necessary. If, however, the Minister thinks that there is good reason for it, well and good.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 346 agreed to.
Clause 347 -
– Clauses 347 and 348, which must be read together, open up a very wide problem. Under clause 347, a pilot is exempt from any pecuniary damages for loss or damage occasioned by his neglect or want of skill, and, under clause 348, the owner or master is made similarly exempt. At present, a passenger seriously injured by the neglect of the master or owner would be able to recover damages. Seamen, also, are entitled to recover against the owner. Are these persons to be without redress when a pilot, who is a servant of the Commonwealth, has by his neglect or want of skill caused injury? It seems to me that from the time a pilot is placed in charge of a vessel the passengers, under this Bill, as well as the owners of cargo and the seamen, will bc without any redress, even for serious bodily injury.
– Beyond £100.
– I put that on one side, because the average pilot would be unable to meet heavy claims, and would seek refuge in the Bankruptcy Court.
– At the first glance there seems to be something in Senator Millen’s contention. But it must be remembered that the pilots will be Government servants. It may be argued that we are dealing with this particular class of public servants differently from any other class, inasmuch as we are making them liable to the extent of £100. The reason for rendering a pilot liable to this extent is that he is placed in a position of such responsibility that it is necessary to make him feel that he must exercise especial care. As Senator Millen has observed, however, even if the pilot were made liable for the whole of the damage that might be done, it is practically a certainty that no one would be able to recover against him, because he would not be a man of sufficient substance. Nor do I think it could be argued that the Commonwealth should be liable in such a case.
– The pilot would be a Commonwealth servant.
– The Commonwealth supplies the owner of the vessel with assistance to carry out his business. But the Commonwealth, in this respect, is not a common carrier, as the States are in connexion with their railways, and as the Commonwealth itself would be if it owned ships. Not only, however, is the pilot made liable up to £100, but there is a further deterrent in clause 350, under which, if any accident occurs by reason of the neglect or drunkenness or wilful breach of rules of the pilot, he becomes guilty of an indictable offence. Therefore, we place very serious obligations upon the pilot. What, however, is to be the position of those who wish to recover damages? I admit that the position is not a very hopeful one. But in this we are simply following the practice of other countries’. The marginal note to clause 348 refers to section 633 of the British Merchant Shipping Act of 1894, which reads as follows -
An owner or master of a ship shall not be liable to any person whatever for any loss or damage occasioned by the fault or incapacity of any qualified pilot acting in charge of that ship within any district where the employment of a qualified pilot is compulsory by law.
Quite a number of decisions have been given under that section in the English Courts. It has been held that where there is contributory negligence on the part of the master of a ship, he does not escape from the ordinary consequences if a claim for damages be made.
– If my memory serves me rightly, the general tenor of the decisions is to support my .argument - that there would be a. period when nobody would be liable.
– I think so. But if there were negligence on the part of the master or owner, he would still be liable, according to the cases quoted in the textbook on the British Merchant Shipping Act which I have before me. We took this clause from the Merchant Shipping Act, where, also, there is a similar section which exempts the pilot. It provides that -
A qualified pilot appointed by the Trinity House, who has executed a bond under this part of this Act, shall not be liable for neglect or want of skill beyond the penalty of the bond and the amount payable to him on account of pilotage in respect of the voyage.
We are, therefore, following established precedent. We have to decide whether we ought to make the Commonwealth liable for neglect or want of skill on the part of the pilot. I say that we ought not to do so, because the Commonwealth is not acting as a common carrier. Ought we to make the master of the vessel liable? Certainly not, because ‘the moment the pilot boards a ship the control of that vessel passes from the captain to him. Nor do I think we can make the pilot liable for any damage which may be occasioned by his neglect or lack of skill to a greater extent than £100, for the simple reason that he would probably not be a man of substance. I admit that this is not a very satisfactory solution of the problem with which we are faced, but I contend that no other solution would be more satisfactory.
– I think that we ought to be very careful before we assent to this clause. It is quite evident that under it neither the Commonwealth nor the pilot will be liable for any damage in excess of £100 which may be sustained by reason of the negligence or lacK of skill of the latter. For example, an accident may occur involving loss of life, in which case the amount of damages that could be awarded under the clause would be altogether insufficient. I submit that, in this instance, the Commonwealth is the employer, and that, as such, it should be responsible to a greater extent for the wilful neglect or incompetence of its servants. I am not prepared to accept the clause in its present form. In the event of a man losing his life, the payment of £100 would be poor satisfaction to his widow and children. The Commonwealth should be liable for a reasonable amount of compensation to those who may be rendered penniless as the result, perhaps, of the loss of the bread-winner.
– The Minister of Defence, I take it, practically admits that there is an interregnum during which nobody will be liable for damage done to a vessel, although persons may suffer serious loss during that period owing to lack of skill or negligence on the part of somebody. But this is the point which I wish to press on the attention of the Committee. The Minister has declared that it would not be right to make the Commonwealth liable. Why not? By whose authority does the pilot place his foot upon the deck of a vessel ? The pilot boards a ship by virtue of a certificate granted to him by the Commonwealth that he possesses the required skill. If the Commonwealth gives a certificate of skilfulness to an unskilful man, the Common- wealth should accept responsibility for its action. The pilot boards a vessel by virtue of the certificate which he carries. But the clause contemplates that there may be an occasion when he lacks skill.
– Ought the Commonwealth to be responsible for a mistake?
– If Senator Findley makes a mistake in his official capacity, the Commonwealth has to accept responsibility. I would suggest to the Minister of Defence what seems to me to be a reasonable way out of the difficulty. But before doing so, I must express surprise that any members of the Labour party should urge as a reason why we should follow a beaten track- that that track has been made by others. I cannot forget that I have heard . a great deal from the Labour party about making precedents of its own. But occasionally Ministers stress the fact that some other country has done a certain thing, and urge that as a reason why we should do it. What I wish to ask the Minister is : “ What becomes of the fees which are paid for pilotage?”
– They are paid into the general revenue.
– Then I would suggest that an amount should be added to those fees sufficient to create an insurance fund. That amount would not need to be a large one. Let us assume that a big ocean liner pays £200 or £300 in pilotage fees on each visit to Australia. If we add to that amount 2 or 3 per cent., it would, I think, be sufficient to establish a fund to liquidate any damages which may be sustained owing to the neglect of Commonwealth officers. Personally, I shall leave the matter to the Minister. I hope that he will look into the financial aspect of the case with a view to devising some means of overcoming the difficulty which we all recognise. I do not think that the clause^, in its present form, will commend itself to the Committee.
– The question which has been raised is, perhaps, one of the most difficult connected with this Bill. We all realize how difficult it is to apportion the degree of responsibility as between the captain of a vessel and its pilot. Indeed, that responsibility has never been fairly apportioned. Some persons contend that” the captain is responsible for any damage which may be done to his vessel, even though the pilot may be alongside of him at the time. Yet we all know that the moment the pilot goes on the bridge of a ship he is in command, and all his orders have to be obeyed.
– But the captain has a reserve power.
– And it is that very dual authority which prevents a satisfactory solution of this question. When the matter was under consideration in an earlier stage, even the ship-owners were not anxious to go so far as has been suggested by Senator Millen.
– The pilot is only in charge of any vessel for a few hours.
– But those few hours may be the most eventful of the voyage. In view of all the circumstances of the case, I think that the Government have accepted as much responsibility in connexion with this matter as they are warranted in assuming.
– They have not accepted any responsibility.
– They have placed upon our officers a liability to £100 damages, which means a great deal to them.
– What about the lives which may be lost?
– All the wealth of a millionaire ship-owner would not compensate for them. At the same time, a fine of £100 to the average pilot means a very great deal. He knows that if he committed a blunder a third of his income for the year would be gone at one fell swoop. Something has been said in reference to increasing pilotage dues in order to create an insurance fund to cover this responsibility. Such a step would at once raise a hornets’ nest about our ears. We should never hear the last of it.
– From whom?
– From the States.
– The Government did npt fear trouble as the result of increasing the telephone rates., and why should not they increase the pilotage fees when human life is at stake?
– I feel sure that it is impossible for us to do anything in the nature of establishing an insurance fund by increasing pilotage fees. The rates would be prohibitive.
– Out of the thousands of vessels which have been in charge of pilots in Australian waters, how many have gone down?
– We have had very expensive ships go down from time to time.
– As a rule, ships go down without any blame attaching to anybody.
– And we cannot prevent such accidents. I am strongly of opinion that, as the clause stands, the Commonwealth is assuming quite sufficient responsibility.
– By a strange coincidence, I have just learned that the Department of External Affairs has received word that Great Britain proposes to recast this provision in the Merchant Shipping Act, with a view to throwing the responsibility upon the owners. Therefore, I move -
That the clause be postponed.
– I am pleased to hear the statement of the Minister of Defence. May T say that Senator de Largie seemed to me to quite overlook the nature of the risk, which I think should be insured. It is not a question of insuring the ship, because she is insured before she goes to sea. The ordinary ship-owner has taken out his policy, and there is no additional charge required in respect of the property in the ship. We are now dealing with the safety of the lives of the crew and the passengers. Under the Seamen’s Compensation Act, a seaman would have a claim against the owners of the ship, but in this Bill it is provided that, from the time a pilot goes on board, that man shall have no cover. That is the feature which I wish to impress upon honorable senators. Again, passengers have their rights against the owners of a ship if injured by non-skilful navigation, but it is now proposed that that law shall be destroyed for the time being.
– You assume that the captain has shuffled out of all his responsibilities, but you know that that is not so.
– No. What I say is that if the honorable senator had his way he would pass clause 348, which would relieve the captain and the owner of the responsibility. I was extremely pleased to hear the Minister say that he thinks of looking into the matter, because I feel certain that there is no one here who will say that it is just, because a Commonwealth official is compulsorily placed on a ship, that a seaman should be deprived of the right to apply for compensation if injured, or his relatives of that right if he loses his life.
Motion agreed to; clause postponed.
Clause 348 postponed.
Clause 349 agreed to.
Clause 350 -
If a pilot, when in . charge of a ship, by wilful breach of duty or by neglect of duty, or by reason of drunkenness, either -
does any act tending to the immediate loss destruction or serious damage of the ship, or tending immediately to endanger the life or limb of any person on board the ship ; or
fails to do any act necessary and proper for preserving the ship from loss destruction or serious damage, or for preserving any person belonging to or on board the ship from danger to life or limb, he shall be guilty of an indictable offence.
– Irisetoaskthe Minister whether it is not necessary to make an addition to the clause. I wish to know whether it is not desirable to include an authority fora captain in such circumstances as are stated in paragraph a to reassume the control of his vessel. It may be held that that power, which a captain is ordinarily supposed to possess, is sufficient for the purpose. I cannot say whether that is so or not, but it does seem to me that, in the case of a pilot being on board in a state of drunkenness, the captain should be relieved of the responsibility thrown upon him under clause 345, where a master is bound to give up the command of a ship to a pilot who presents himself.
– That is only on the assumption that he is sober.
– It may be assumed that, under certain decisions given in the Law Courts, a captain has that power, and can intervene at any time. I do not say whether that is so or not, but I suggest that there should be a provision made in this measure, assuming that there is no provision made elsewhere.
– I desire to draw attention to the necessity of prescribing an age at which pilots shall be compulsorily retired. It is on record that a very valuable ship, bound to this port, was wrecked in sight of land, and all, it was said, on account of the officer in charge being allowed to remain on duty long pastthe day when he was in the pink of condition.
– To which ship does the honorable senator refer?
– I think it was a boat belonging to the Peninsular and Oriental Company. 1 believe that that notable incident led to an alteration of Victorian law, and that being the case, I think it would be wise to bring, this measure up to date in that regard by prescribing some age, say the sixtieth year, when a pilot should be compulsorily retired. A provision of that kind has been made in the case of the Military Forces, and it is equally necessary, I think, to apply the same principle in the case of our pilots. I suggest to the Minister the desirableness of prescribing, by regulation, an age limit up to which pilots can work.
– Senator Millen has raised a point as to the position of a captain with respect to the pilot if the latter should prove to be drunk. In the absence of a pilot, the captain is of course in charge of die ship. When a pilot comes on board, he undoubtedly has legal power to take charge of the vessel, and that principle must be maintained. We should not give the captain power to say to a pilot, “ In my opinion, you are not entirely sober. I am not going to allow you to take charge.” The captain is relieved of his responsibility by the pilot. There have been cases, I am informed, where a pilot, being under the influence of drink, was received, but not allowed to take charge. The captain brought the ship into harbor, and then stated his case, and on inquiry he was exonerated from the penalties of the law. That, undoubtedly, will be done under this measure.
– It is done with regard 1p the captain.
– The captain is in a different position in relation to the officers from what the pilot is in relation to the captain. It is not advisable that we should give to the captain a statutory right to be the judge as to whether a pilot is sober or drunk. If a captain deems that, in the interests of his owners, he should set aside the pilot, he must be prepared to take the responsibility of doing so; but in this provision we must not, I hold, make the captain the judge in this matter.
– You would sooner run the risk of the pilot wrecking the ship.
– No; the captain must take the responsibility of setting aside the pilot.
– Suppose that he does not, and that; the ship goes to the bottom ?
– Then the captain will have to answer to his owners for not taking the responsibility of setting aside the pilot, because of the penalties contained in the Navigation Act.
– And if the captain does take the responsibility, he will have to answer to you.
– In regard to Senator Lynch’s point, ,1 would remind him that, under clause 329, a charge can be made against a pilot for unfitness or incapacity, and the charge will be inquired into by a Board. It is provided in clause 331 that the regulations may make provision for - fixing the conditions under which licences to coastal pilots may be issued and held and the form thereof.
Under that provision, age can be made a condition, but that may not always be satisfactory. In addition a periodical sight test may be provided for. It will not be wise, I think, to embody in the Bill various conditions which it is proposed to lay down. It will be far better to leave’ that matter to be dealt with by regulation. Therefore, I do not think that any amendment of the clause is required.
– On the matter of risks all round, I do not think that a measure could be framed as between ship-owner, master and pilot, where there would not be some risk, both to passengers and to crews. All we can do is to try to adjust the apportionment of risks as fairly as possible. I think, if my recollection is correct, that the Bill empowers the Minister, from time to time, to test the pilots and other officers on the ship by certain examinations. With regard to depriving a man of the position of pilot] because he has reached a certain age, a provision of that kind would deprive the Commonwealth of the services of some of the ablest men, whose faculties, especially as to seeing at night), seem to increase with age. The most able and qualified pilot I know of on the most dangerous part of our coast, is one of the oldest pilots in the service of Queensland. His eyesight is so good that it is the envy of every pilot, and notwithstanding that he is very nearly seventy years of age, the owners, if they have a chance of giving
Clause, agreed to.
Clause 351 agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - 351A. - (1.) Upon the commencement of this
Act, all steam-ships, boats, buildings, plant, and property belonging to the licensed pilots for any port in Australia, and used by them exclusively in their business as pilots; shall become the property of the Commonwealth. (2.) The Commonwealth shall pay to the per sons, entitled thereto, as compensation for any property acquired under this section, the value thereof as. agreed upon between those persons, and the Minister, or, in default of agreement, as settled by arbitration. (3.) Any dispute or difference which may arise between the pilots and the Minister, as. to what property passes under this section, shall be settled by arbitration. (4.) Any arbitration under this section shall be according to the laws relating to arbitration in force in. the State in which, the property is situated. (5.) The. reasonable costs of any arbitration under this section shall be paid by the Commonwealth out of moneys to be provided by the Parliament.
The necessity for this clause is due to the fact that power is taken under the Bill, and if is proposed to exercise it, to take over the pilots as servants of the Commonwealth. It would obviously be a hardship and injustice if pilots were transferred to the Commonwealth service and the property and plant which they have been using in their business were left on their hands.
– Does none of this property belong to the States ?
– There is some belonging to the States. It depends on the system which has been in existence.
– Will this clause be sufficient to enable the Government to take over property belonging to the State Governments, and used in connexion with pilot services? It appears to me that it deals only with property belonging to licensed pilots.
– I admit that this clause does not expressly deal with property belonging to the State Governments. We are not dealing with transferred properties in the ordinary sense of the term.; and this kind of property belonging to the State Governments might be dealt with under this clause in the same way as the property of. a private individual. If a private individual, or a State Government, did not desire to hand over any of this property, we need not take it over.
– The Government are seeking authority to do a certain thing ; but they limit themselves, in the proposed new clause, to an authority to acquire property belonging to certain private individuals. It seems to me that they really desire to do more than that.
– I remind the honorable senator that the property of the State Governments can be taken over under the Constitution. But it was thought necessary and right to insert this clause to reassure licensed pilots carrying on a business of their own that they would not suffer by being taken over by the Commonwealth. We propose to make provision in the Act to acquire their property used for purposes of pilotage. There is, I understand, a Pilot Association carrying out the work of pilotage in Victoria, and the members have invested large sums of money in plant. It. is only fair that they should not be left in doubt as to what their position will be. under the Bill. When State services are taken over by the Commonwealth, buildings and plant connected therewith are necessarily taken over under the Constitution ; and it is, therefore, unnecessary in this clause to set out the conditions on which we shall deal with the States in acquiring property used for pilotage purposes.
– I am rather surprised that the. Minister should resist the suggestion I have thrown out. I have no doubt that the Commonwealth and State Governments could arrive at an amicable arrangement for the acquisition of these properties by the Commonwealth. But there is a much more serious matter involved, and that is whether it is desirable or not for this Parliament to sanction the acquisition by the Commonwealth of certain properties. I did not make the suggestion with a view to giving a guarantee to the State Governments that they would be fairly dealt with in this matter, but because I think Parliament should be the authority to sanction the acquisition of this property. The Minister, conscious of his own integrity and that of his colleagues, says, “ Leave it to us. We shall do all that is necessary and proper.” My answer to that is that I think this is a matter with which this Parliament should deal. The Government propose to make provision for the acquisition of property of this kind owned by pilot associations ; and I do not see why they should not make similar provision for property of this kind owned by the State Governments. If the Committee are not prepared to indorse my suggestion, I shall not propose a specific amendment.
– - J do not think that Senator Millen can have grasped the explanation made by the Minister of Defence. It is proposed in this clause to deal with pilots who are not State servants in the ordinary sense of the word. For instance, in Victoria the pilots are members of an association that is working under an agreement with the Marine Board.
– I spoke not of what the clause deals with, but of what it does not deal with.
– The Constitution provides for the acquisition of properties transferred from the States to the Commonwealth.
– Very unsatisfactorily, so far.
– Section 85 provides that -
When any Department of the Public Service of a State is transferred to the Commonwealth - (i) all property of the State at any time, used exclusively in connexion with the Department, shall become vested in the Commonwealth ; but, in the case of the Departments controlling Customs and Excise and bounty, for such lime only as the Governor-General in Council may declare to be necessary.
The Constitution, therefore, already provides for what Senator Millen says we should do. The new clause proposed by the Minister of Defence makes practically the same provision for the acquisition of the property of pilots who are not State servants. It is a very wise amendment.
Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland)
C5-35]- - Honorable senators opposite have not quite understood the objection urged by Senator Millen. The clause is proposed to make it clear in the Bill that licensed pilots shall be given compensation for all property and plant belonging to them at the present time, and used in their business as pilots, and if the parties cannot agree tl)-* 2 . . as to the amount of compensation, the matter is to be settled by arbitration. It is not proposed in the clause to make similar provision in respect of property of this kind taken over from the State Governments.
– The Constitution already provides for that.
– Yes ; but, as I have already interjected, the section has not, so far, been interpreted very satisfactorily, from the point of view of the State Governments, in the case, for instance, of properties transferred on the taking over of the Customs and Post and Telegraph Departments. The Government are willing, in this clause, to make it clear that compensation will be given for property taken over from a pilot association ; and why not, in the same clause, define the rights of the State Governments to compensation for similar property taken over from them ?
– Cannot a State Government battle for their rights better than an individual ?
– What is the use of disguising the position? The State Governments have already issued writs, or are threatening to do so, on the ground that the Commonwealth Government have not properly interpreted section 85 of the Constitution. We are told that section 85 covers the property belonging to the State Governments used in connexion with pilot services, and the State Governments can take their remedy. I might just as wellcontend that if we take over property of this kind belonging to a pilot association,, the pilots have their remedy under the common law. The Minister might carefully, consider whether property of this kind be’ longing to the State Governments should.’ not be treated in the same way as he proposes to treat the property of private individuals.
– Senator St. Ledger has, apparently, forgotten the fact that the States occupy an entirely different position from a private person in this regard. The owners of the pilot vessels of New South Wales, or Queensland, or Western Australia, are the people. The transference of those vessels from the State Governments to the Commonwealth Government, does not really affect the ownership. The people will still continue to own them. But the pilots of Port Phillip are a cooperative company, who have their own vessels. We cannot deal with the property of private persons as we can with public property. The only point] that can be raised in regard to the transference of the pilot vessels of the States to the Commonwealth is that the Commonwealth should assume responsibility for the money borrowed for the building of the ships. But it is evident that the Port Phillip pilot vessels are on an entirely different footing. If this provision had not been in the Bill, and Senator St. Ledger had discovered the omission, he would have made the welkin ring about it). Nothing more, however, is required. The States are provided for under the Constitution, and we need not trouble about them.
– We had an exactly similar experience in connexion with the Quarantine Act. The Commonwealth took over quarantine from the States, but no provision was made in the Act to enable us to take over State quarantine property. Nevertheless, we took it over, under section 85 of the Constitution. We shall deal with pilot vessels in exactly the same way.
– As a matter of fact, the Port Phillip Pilot Association could enforce its claims against the Commonwealth Government if the Government took the pilot vessels. My point is that the Bill should make it clear that the Commonwealth is not going to deal with the States in a more disadvantageous manner than it will deal with private individuals.
– As a matter of fact, a Bill will be brought before Parliament this session in reference to the States and transferred properties.
– Then we may take the assurance of the Minister that), as far as the pilot service is concerned, the same procedure will be followed as was the case in reference to the quarantine service.
– That is some satisfaction, at any rate.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clauses 352 to 384 agreed to.
Clause 385 -
Penalty : Twenty-five pounds.
– - This clause, I think, seeks to vest the master of a ship with extraordinary powers over any person who may attempt to go on board, or who may happen to approach near to such vessel. I do not see any reason why persons should be warned from approaching a vessel in1 the night time. But under this provision an officious policeman may be able to punish any individual who approaches close to a ship. I do not see why a vessel should be entitled to a greater measure of protection than is accorded to our banks or our homes. I think that the clause might be amended by making it provide only for the prevention of any person boarding a vessel without lawful excuse. In its present form it almost prohibits a man from pulling a small boat alongside or from walking along a public highway close to a ship. I recognise that it is necessary to keep strict watch over vessels at night, because they have so much machinery on board which might easily be tampered with by evil-minded persons. I would suggest the deletion of that portion of the clause which relates to persons who happen to be in the vicinity of ships at night.
– Senator Lynch’s suggestion that we do not apply a similar law to persons who walk our streets is scarcely correct. I would remind him that a man may be brought up on a charge of loitering. “We have also to recollect that a large amount of petty smuggling goes on from ships, and that vessels do ‘ not usually lie alongside our public thoroughfares. If the master of a vessel sees a person hovering about a ship at night this clause will empower him to call upon the police to arrest the suspect. But even then the policeman may exercise a discretion in the matter. I would put it to Senator Lynch that, after all, we are asking for a very ordinary power as there is the qualification “ without reasonable excuse.” The same power is contained in various State Acts, and has never been found to operate harshly.
– I do not wish to offer factious opposition to the clause, but it seems to me that it may be used for bad as well as for good purposes. I think it would be better if we provided that any suspected person may be removed from a vessel at the instance of a police officer. I recollect that Mr. Sam Smith, in connexion with his work as a delegate of the Seamen’s Union, has frequently to board ships for the purpose of collecting members’ dues. It is readily conceivable that the master of a ship might be antagonistic to such a man-
– He would be , protected by the words “ reasonable excuse,” which appear in the clause.
– But who is to determine what is a “reasonable excuse”?
.- I cannot see any objection to the clause in its present form. It only empowers the master of a vessel to remove persons who may be regarded as objectionable characters. We all know that at every port the gangways from ships rest upon the wharfs, and those wharfs are often frequented by disreputable persons, any one of ‘whom; might render himself objectionable by going on board a ship .or by getting a small boat and remaining near to it. As the Minister has very properly reminded us, a great deal of petty smuggling goes on from ships. How is it possible to prevent that in the absence of such a provision as the one under consideration? A similar law obtains in the various States, and it has not been found to inflict any injustice. If a person can offer any reasonable excuse for his presence on board a vessel, it will be accepted.
– But, according to this clause, he cannot go near a vessel without rendering himself liable.
– Yes, he can. The master of a ship will not use his fog-horn to notify a man that he is approaching too closely. We cannot trespass upon another man’s property ; if we do, we must pay the penalty. The same principle should operate here.
– The remarks of Senator Barker have convinced me that the position which I have taken up is the right one. He sought to justify an attempt to create new crimes. Under the existing law, if a man be found anywhere for an illegal purpose, he may be arrested. But here we seek to create artificial crimes. I protest against the clause, and I move -
That after the word “ board,” Vine 4, the words “or remain alongside or hover near” be left out.
To suggest that no man who does not wear a tall hat and broadcloth should be permitted to go near a vessel is ridiculous.
– I do not think that the top hat is a distinguishing feature.
– In this clause we go to great lengths, and yet we are not definite. What is the meaning of the words “ hover near “ ? They almost imply that a man was a bird of ill omen.
– I hope that he Committee will not agree to the amendment. We all recognise the difficulties which exist in preventing illegal practices such as smuggling.
– The common law will prevent that.
– The honorable senator might as well argue that the common law provides for what is contained in this Bill. We must give the water police certain powers, otherwise how are we to prevent the smuggling of articles such as opium ? I think that the provision is absolutely necessary, and hope that not one word of it will be altered.
– Had this provision been proposed by any other Government, I should have concluded that they had one object in view, and that was to provide against the time of strikes. I see no reason why a man should not be at liberty to hover near a ship in a port during the night. I think that with the amendment of Senator Rae the clause will cover all that was intended to be accomplished. If a provision of this kind is contained in the Navigation Act of New South Wales, it certainly has not been put into effect. A few weeks ago certain persons would have been only too delighted to see the provision applied. If an undesirable character remains alongside a vessel, surely under the ordinary law the captain can shift him. I hold that a man ought to be able to remain alongside or hover near a ship without being considered guilty of criminal intent. I support the amendment.
– It does seem to me that some honorable senators are taking an extraordinary view of a simple proposition. Let us apply the principle to the case of property on land. Supposing that my honorable friends saw some person, after dark, remaining outside their back premises for two or three hours, what would they do?
– Can we do anything to such a person?
– We can call the attention of the police to him, and watch him.
– Exactly; and that is all that the master of a vessel could do under this clause, and the police would be responsible for any action which they took What is good enough for Senator Rae for the protection of his property on shore cannot be a bad precaution to protect property afloat. All that this clause does is to give to ships exactly the same protection as is afforded to property on shore.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 386 to 391 agreed to.
Clause 392 verbally amended and agreed to.
Clause 393 agreed to. Clause 394 -
In cases where a forfeiture of wages is directed by any Court, the Court may direct that the whole or a portion of the forfeiture shall be paid to the master or owner of the ship as a recoup for loss occasioned by the misconduct of the offender.
– I should like to know, from the Minister, whether the Bill sets forth the cases in which the forfeiture of a man’s wages may be directed. I think that in our Police Courts, from year to year, very gross abuses take place in this regard. There may be cases, of course, where that is the best way in which to punish men for the offences of -which they have been found guilty. But I have read of a number of cases where it seems to me the grossest injustice has been practised by the captain or other officer of a ship, who practically goaded men into doing something which was not strictly within the law, and. then got even with them by Obtaining an order for the forfeiture of their wages because of the commission of an offence. In some cases, men have been punished because they refused to go to sea in ships which were rotten. It was only by a resort to some corrupt means that the ships were able to leave port. But it was shown afterwards by wreckage, and in other ways, that the men who had been punished on shore were morally in the right when they refused to go on board. Yet, in these cases, the Court expressed the opinion that it had no option but to fine men when justice was clearly- on their side, according to’ the weight of evidence brought forward. I want to know whether the Bill covers such cases, so that we may be madecognisant of the offences which involve a forfeiture of wages when proven to the satisfaction of a Court. It is not the captain and the mates of a vessel who have to forfeit their wages, but the menwho refuse to put up with a tyrannical skipper, or with execrable food.
– Under this Bill, there should be no reason for complaint as tothe food supplied to the seamen.
– I am pleased to hear that the seamen are to be assured a supply of good food. Can the Minister give some information as to the circumstances in which a Court can direct a forfeiture of the wages of a seaman?
– In clause 1.00, Senator Rae will find a list of the offences against discipline, together with the punishments attached thereto. The clause was well debated here last year, and the main attack on it was that it was too tender. The concluding paragraph of the clause reads -
Any forfeiture und,ir this section (except whereexpressed to be of accrued wages) shall be out of such wages as have accrued or may accrue to the person committing the offence; and wagesshall not be deemed to include salvage.
If the honorable senator will look through clause 100, he will see that it covers cases where loss may be caused to the owner or the master, such as wilfully damaging the ship and wilfully damaging cargo, stores, or equipment. As regards the other statements made by Senator Rae, I should need to make a second-reading speech to answer them; but that I shall not attempt to do. I can assure him that the position of the seaman, as regards his food, was fully explained when the Bill wasintroduced, and it was also debated on the clauses relating thereto. I think that every one was satisfied at that time that we had exceeded any legislation in the world in our effort to secure the supply of proper food. It is provided that ships shall carry certificated cooks, and that complaints may be made from time to time, and entered in the official log, and the captain is made liable to a very severe penalty if he fails to enter certain complaints. It is also provided that, on the arrival of a ship in port, the complaintsshall be investigated by the superintendent.. If Senator Rae will look through the debates of last session, or glance through the Bill itself, he will find that, as regards all the cases he quoted, we have made, provisions which are not’ to be found in any other measure of this kind. He can safely take my assurance that this clause will not inflict any harm upon any one.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 395 to 407 agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 6.28 to 8 p.m.
– I move -
That, in the opinion of the Senate, it is desirable to amend the Service and Execution of Process Act 1901, to make its provisions apply to the desertion of women and children.
This appears to be a comparatively simple matter, and it is one which has certainly no party significance whatever. A few days ago I asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council -
Does the Government propose to introduce an amendment of the Service and Execution of Process Act of 1901 to make its provisions apply to the desertion of women and children. The honorable senator replied -
The Act does apply to legal process in relation to deserted wives and children. Amendments to the Act to extend its usefulness are under consideration.
I ventured at the time, by interjection, to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether he was aware of certain decisions, which seemed to contradict what he was saying, and he informed me that he had given the opinion of the Crown Law officers. It is with a view of ventilating the matter that I direct the attention of the Senate to the only case of the kind which appears to have come before the Court. That was the case Ex parte Charles Hore, which occurred in 1903, and came before the Full Court of New South Wales. It was then decided by the Court that -
Leaving a wife without means of support is not an offence punishable upon summary conviction within the meaning of section 15 of the Commonwealth Service and Execution of Process Act 1901.
In giving judgment, Acting Chief Justice Stephen said -
The only question, which we need decide here is whether leaving a wife without means of support, within the meaning of the Deserted Wives and Children Act, is an offence punishable upon -summary conviction. The words of that Act certainly do not at first sight convey that impression. To constitute an offence the act charged must be punishable immediately in a manner analogous to what takes place upon an indictment. Under the Deserted Wives and Children Act, a husband who has left his wife without means of support can be ordered by the Magistrate to contribute to her support. If he does not comply with that order, the Magistrate can send him to gaol till the debt is paid ; but as he can free himself by paying the debt, this cannot be considered a punishment. There is only an order for payment, not a conviction for an act of desertion. Mr. Shand has, in reference to the cases under the Judicature Act, drawn a proper distinction between the proceedings to enforce an order and the obligation on which it is founded. Here the obligation is merely a civil one.
I have information from Queensland which seems to indicate that legal efforts are now being made to pursue a man who has deserted his wife and children. It seems that the lawyers cannot get on with the matter. They say that the Service and Execution of Process Act of 1901 does not contain any provision which will meet such a case. It will simplify the matter for honorable senators if I briefly quote a summary of the points in connexion with the case which” have been put. before me. This has been prepared by a firm of lawyers. I hold no brief for them, and my desire is merely to direct attention to what I consider an important matter.
In the Commonwealth Law Review of 1903, page 90, a case is quoted - the case to which I have just referred - in which it was decided that the Service and Execution of. Process Act does not apply to the Deserted Wives and Children Act. Section 15 was held not to apply as leaving a wife without means of support,, was not. considered an offence punishable upon summary conviction, but was merely a civil obligation enforceable by proceedings under the Deserted Wives and Children Act. The same would, of course, apply to the desertion of children. It appears to me that if section 15 does not apply, then section 4. (read with the definition of “suit” and “writ of summons”) should cover the matter. However, the Full Court of New South Wales thought otherwise, and the Queensland Crown Law officers think the same. It could , never have been intended by the Legislature that a man who deserts his wife or children in one State, and goes to another State, should be allowed to escape service of a summons in that State when the Acts would permit the service of a summons from one State to another in a small debts case which would involve, well,, to go to extremes, is., and, on the other hand, it would also allow the service of proceedings for stealing. Why not for a desertion of a wife or child? A case has just cropped up with me in which a man< has deserted his wife and children. He has. not even written to them, and we cannot get at him, except in a roundabout way, under theQueensland Criminal Code.’ By section 364 of the Criminal Code it is provided that “ Any person who, being the parent of a child under the age of fourteen years, and being able to maintain such child, wilfully and without lawful or reasonable cause deserts the child and leaves ‘ it without means of support, is guilty of a misdemeanour, and is liable to imprisonment for one year.”
In this case it means that I have to take proceedings under the Criminal Code, bring the man here from Sydney under arrest, and then when he gets here serve him with a summons under the Deserted Wives and Children Act, and drop the other case. If a child is over fourteen years of age there is absolutely no redress, as the code only refers to children under the age of fourteen years.
I think you would be doing a service to wives and children, and whose husband or father left for another State, if you could get a short Act put through to remedy the defect created by the decision of the Full Court of New South Wales.
The above provision in our Criminal Code may not exist in other States, and even if itdoes the police may not exert themselves to execute warrants in cases where they see that they are only being used to bring a man from one State to another without prosecuting him when so brought.
The issue is perfectly simple. If the decision of the Full Court of New South Wales is wrong, the Government would be doing a fair thing if they took the very earliest opportunity to have a similar case submitted to the High Court in order to secure a proper interpretation of the Act. If, on the other hand, the Service and Execution of Process Act of 190 1 does not apply in such a case as I have referred to, I feel sure that every member of the ‘Senate will be only too glad to assist in carrying such a small amendment of the measure as will make it apply.
– I do not think there is an honorable senator present who has not the greatest sympathy with Senator Chataway in his endeavour to so improve the laws of the Commonwealth, and, for that matter, the laws of the States, so as to protect the helpless women and children from desertion such as he has described. A day or two ago the honorable senator asked a question in connexion with this matter, and he was informed that the Service and Execution of Process Act does apply to deserted women and children, and that is really the fact. But there have been discovered since the passing of the law certain defects in it which ought to be remedied. Honorable senators must recollect that this legislation was passed with a very good object in the early days of the Commonwealth Parliament. It was passed for the purpose of preventing those who were guilty of breaches of the law in any one State going to any other State, and so escaping their just obligations. As has already been stated, that measure applied to deserted women and children, just as it did to others. As time went on, a case arose in Victoria, in which the maintenance of an illegitimate child was at stake, and an attempt was made to put the Commonwealth law into force. According to the Act passed by this Parliament, the summons had to be issued by a Court. In this particular case the summons had been issued by a magistrate. Consequently, it was found that the summons issued was not in accordance with the Commonwealth Act, and nothing could be done. Steps are being taken at present so to amend our legislation that it will cover cases of that description. Again, in New South Wales there was the case of the man Hore, who deserted his wife and children. Action was taken under the New South Wales law, but certain formalities had to be gone through which were outside the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Act. That case also has directed the attention of the Commonwealth Law Department to a defect in our law. An attempt will be made to prevent anything of that kind occurring in future. If Senator Chataway, or any other honorable senator, can point out instances, when the amending Bill is before the Senate, such as will make the Commonwealth legislation more perfect by making it impossible for defaulters, and especially for wife and child deserters, to escape, the Government and the people of this country will be grateful for the assistance so rendered. Senator Chataway is entitled to the best thanks of the Senate, and of those who have suffered through defects in our legislation, for having brought this matter forward.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That, in the opinion of this House, the sale of intoxicating liquors should be discontinued within the precincts of the Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament.
Since I gave notice of this motion I have been subjected to some amount of goodnatured “chaff,” and several more serious objections have been made to my action. I may even say that one or two mild threats have been uttered. One was to the effect that an amendment would be moved for the abolition of the refreshment-rooms altogether. No one can accuse me of popularity hunting in submitting this proposal, because all those members of Parliament who have spoken to me on the subject have candidly informed me that they intend to vote against the motion. I have no ulterior ends to serve, nor do I intend to express any extreme temperance sentiments, such as have already earned me the name of “ wowser “ from some of my Socialist friends. 1 may say, with all due respect to my fellow-members, that, having been a member of the Parliament of New South Wales, and having visited other Parliament Houses in the Commonwealth, no one could but wish to be associated with a body of men who are generally so sober and abstemious in their habits as are the members of the Commonwealth Parliament. Therefore, my motion is not intended in any way as a reflection upon them. Nor is it submitted in any spirit of self-righteousness. Three motives have induced me to bring forward the subject. Having been a working man all my life, and having had some experience of the conditions under which men have to work, I am aware that it is a very general practice, where written agreements are in force between employers and workmen, to have a clause forbidding the introduction of intoxicating liquors to workrooms and factories. Speaking of the occupation that I followed at one time - shearing - 1 can say that during the last quarter of a century, since the Australian Workers’ Union has been in existence, all agreements, whether drawn up by the union or by employers, or jointly, or under an award of the Court, have contained a clause to the effect that no intoxicating liquor shall be brought on to a station by any of the employes of the pastoralists. I consider that we are here in our work-shop, the work-shop of the nation, where we turn out legislation.
– There is no drink but water here.
– There is no drink but water within the Senate chamber, but to make the analogy complete, it should be understood that it is not enough to say that “ grog “ shall not 06 taken into the shearingshed ; it must not be taken on to a station at all. Similarly, I believe that similar provisions exist in regard to most factories, though I have no personal knowledge of work in city establishments. I contend, therefore, that it would be a very commendable act on our part if we also pro nounced our ability to proceed with our labours - which, after all, are not so onerous as those pursued by people in some other walks of life - without intoxicating liquors being ready to hand. A second consideration which weighs with me is this : There are many licensed houses adjacent to Parliament House. They may easily be visited, and are sufficient to satisfy the requirements of any ordinary individual.
– Is the honorable senator in league with them?-
– I am not; but I do not see that we ought to enter into competition with the keepers of those houses in the unnecessary provision of intoxicating liquors at the place where we do our work. An honorable member of another place moved a similar motion last year, but I do not think that the debate reached a conclusion ; the question was shelved in some way. Speaking quite sincerely and honestly, I say that, while this may be as sober a Parliament as exists on earth, there is no guarantee that all future Parliaments will be the same. I am not prepared to say whether past Parliaments have been the same.
– If future Parliaments are not so abstemious, they will reinstate the bar, even if the honorable senator succeeds in closing it.
– That may be so, but I think it would be difficult to reopen the bar if it were once closed. We are all more or less conservative, and most men are inclined to leave things as they are unless evils can be shown to exist. I was a member of the New South Wales Parliament for about twenty years, and know that there were quite a number of men - of course, I shall not attempt to introduce names into the discussion - who were led, by their good-nature and their social disposition, through the very existence of the refreshment-room there, to acquire fixed habits of drinking to such an extent, in some instances, as ultimately led to their downfall. I know, also, that such has been the case in other Parliaments than that of the mother State. It would be hard to say that in nearly every Parliament where facilities for obtaining intoxicating liquors exist they have not occasionally led to men acquiring the drinking habit, which has fixed itself sp firmly upon them that it has afterwards caused their degradation and undoing. That being so, it seems to me that we should be setting an especially good example, as the National Parliament of the
Commonwealth, if we assumed a perfectly impartial attitude in this matter, not by pledging ourselves collectively or individaally to temperance principles, but by forbidding the sale of intoxicants in our own midst. Whilst a great deal of cheap talk may be indulged in to the effect that great injury may be done to the human . frame by over-eating, and that gluttony is more disgusting . in its nature than drinking habits are, nevertheless, arguments of that kind are beside the question, because, however detrimental and offensive gluttonous habits may be, they do not affect the com:munity sp greatly as. dp drinking habits. They ;are in their results’ more restricted to . the .individual’s own health and condition. Therefore they are on an entirely . different plane. . I have been told, with similar logic, that just as a man mav drink immoderately, so he may eat immoderately, and that it would be as reasonable to ask a person to stop eating because some ovet eat, as to ask others to stop drinking because some abuse drink. But whatever may be the value of such arguments,, they do not touch my motion. It is not a question of whether men should drink or not. I am not attempting to dictate to anybody as to whether he should be a teetotaller. I am simply expressing the opinion that we, at any rate, as the Parliament of Australia, should not be mixed up with the sale of liquor, or countenance its sale in our midst. Any honorable senator who might desire to obtain alcoholic refreshments would still be able to get them with the utmost facility. Certainly he would be subjected to no inconvenience if the practice of selling them within the precincts of Parliament were discontinued. The abolition of our refreshment bar would free us from reproach, and, consequently, would be a most commendable step for us to take. At the same time, our action would not commit us to any particular set of views in regard to the question of temperance generally. It would simply be an intimation to the public that we wish to occupy an impartial position in regard to the liquor traffic. Without further elaboration of the subject, I have pleasure in submitting -the motion.
– I do not wish to pose as an advocate of the liquor traffic; but, at the same time, I do not care to allow this motion to be brought forward without expressing my disapproval of it. Whilst crediting Senator Rae with absolute sincerity in this matter, I ‘think that such a motion, emanating, as it does, from a member of our own party., casts somewhat of a stigma upon the sobriety of the Senate.
– Not at all.
– If it does .not, why has the honorable senator found it necessary to submit it ? I have taken the trouble to look up some statistics bearing on the question, and I find from Hansard of 2nd August, 1904, that, from a return submitted to Parliament, the average expenditure per member per month upon spirits of all descriptions was only is. 5d., or about 4d. per week.
– It is probably lessnow.
– It is probably less now, because when the honorable member for Brisbane submitted a similar motion in the other Chamber last year he pointed out that the Parliaments of Australia were becoming more -sober every .day.
– Then the Parliamentary Refreshment Bar is not worth keeping open.
– Why should we abolish something which is not an evil, and which, under certain circumstances, may be a necessity? Personally, I should like to see prohibition obtain throughout Australia > and if Senator Rae wishes to be consistent, he ought to go a step further, and move to prohibit both the importation and the manufacture of liquor in the Commonwealth. Those who talk so much about intoxicants are themselves the most intoxicated in their hysterical use of language. Of course, I am not alluding to Senator Rae, but to certain individuals who, in the hope of vote-catching, play to the gallery upon this subject. I do not think that Senator Rae can show that the Parliamentary Refreshment Bar has been abused on any occasion. When Mr. Finlayson submitted his motion in another place, he pointed to a framed photographic group of the members of the first Commonwealth Parliament, and exclaimed, “ He has gone. Same old tale. Drink did it!” I do not like such imputations to be cast upon the personnel of either branch of the Commonwealth Legislature. I hope that we shall reject any fanatical motion of this character. I credit Senator Rae with the utmost sincerity of purpose, but feel sure that if we adopted his motion the last stage of this matter would be worse than the first. Whilst we have a refreshment bar within the precincts of the Parliament, honorable senators are safeguarded, to a certain extent, inasmuch as whenever we are visited by our constituents we are privileged to ask them to partake of refreshments - irrespective of whether those refreshments are of an intoxicating or temperance character - and they have not the right,, to use a colloquialism, to ask the waiter to “fill them up again,.” which might occur in outside licensed premises. During his remarks, Senator Rae pointed out that if any honorable senator wishesto obtain alcoholic refreshment, there are licensed premises within the vicinity of the Parliament. That is one of the reasons why we should vote against the motion. We can easily conceive that if our refreshment bar were abolished there might be occasions upon which honorable senators might be persuaded to leave the parliamentary (buildings to discuss matters with their condiments just at a time when their presence was demanded by a critical division. I think that the alleged remedy which: is proposed by Senator Rae is no remedy at all. I know that the people of Victoria are becoming more temperate daily. From the YearBook I learn that, whereas in this State there were 73.9 per to, 000 convictions for drunkenness in 1907, there were only 54.7 per cent, in 1909.
– How many public houses have been closed in the meantime?
– A great many. But the fact that hotels have- been closed does not lessen drunkenness, nor will the abolition of the Parliamentary Refreshment Bar make the members of this Parliament more temperate than they are. I defy any individual to point to a body of in men who are more temperate than are the members of the Commonwealth Legislature. I offer these remarks because, if the motion were allowed to go to a division without protest, it would give hysterical teetotallers an opportunity to say that there must be some symptoms of drunkenness in this Parliament, otherwise an honorable senator would scarcely rise in his place, and demand the abolition of the refreshment bar. I shall -oppose the motion, and I am sure that the Senate will reject it.
. - Like Senator Blakey, T have no desire to give a silent vote on this question, because I take it that Senator Rae is going to press his motion to a division. In submitting this proposal its mover stated that if it were carried, we’ should1 free ourselves from any reproach- which, might otherwise attach to us for countenancing the sale of intoxicants. Personally, I think it would be a greater reproach to us if we allowed it to go forth to the world that the Commonwealth Parliament had found it necessary to abolish its refreshment bar. Surely there can be no stigma attaching to this Parliament in the light of the figures which were quoted by Senator Blakey. Moreover, it has been repeatedly affirmed in the press that no Parliament in the British Empire can point to a lesser expenditure per head upon intoxicants than can this Parliament. Surely that ought to be an excellent advertisement of our sobriety^ The figures quoted by Senator Blakey ‘ related to the year 1904. I think it would be found that an even smaller expenditure per head” is at present incurred, upon in toxicants because this Parliament now. contains a larger proportion of total abstainers..
– We are getting too good altogether. That fourpence:per head includes tobacco and cigars.
– I scarcely think that statement is correct. If it is, I must make up for four or five of my colleagues,’ because I purchase about is. 6d. worth of tobacco in the Parliamentary Refreshmentroom each week. I do not apologize for- that, nor do’ I apologize for spending sixpence occasionally upon any kind of liquor that I may wish to take. In spite of the moderate terms in which Senator Rae- has couched his motion, and the apologetic tone of his speech, it does seem to me that, we shall cast a reproach upon this Parliament if we abolish our refreshment bar. It must be borne in mind that the average expenditure of 4d. per head per week at the refreshment bar includes such drinks as Senator Rae may take sometimes,, if he is a teetotaller, such as soda water, O.T., or that very refreshing and invigorating beverage called sparkling Tasmanian cider, which I. tried to induce him to sample tanight. Speaking seriously, die bare fact remains that there is no necessity,, from the temperance point of view, to abolish the refreshment bar. If the honorable senator brings forward a motion that it is desirable to abolish the refreshment-rooms - that is, that neither meals nor drinks of any kind shall be provided for the use of the members of this Parliament - and submits it on the ground that money is being lost by maintaining the refreshment-rooms, then it seems to me that it will present itself in stronger terms than will, I feel sure, the motion which he has moved to-night, because it is well known that there is an annual loss on the up-keep, not of the refreshment bar alone, but of the rooms of which it ‘is a part.
– I am told that the loss would be a great deal if it were not for the refreshment bar.
– The annual loss could not be a great deal more if it were not for the refreshment bar, because, as the figures quoted show, there is practically no expenditure there.
– You pay 6d. for a drink of lemonade, and there is a profit on that.
– There is a very big profit on it. I feel quite satisfied that the good sense of honorable senators, while giving Senator Rae credit for the utmost sincerity in submitting the motion, as we should do, will save the Senate from recording a vote which would announce to the world that we do not think that we can be trusted within sight or reach of intoxicating liquor. It seems to me that while we derive a very large proportion of the revenue necessary for governing this country from the imposition of Customs and Excise duties on intoxicating liquors, and are prepared to allow the public to drink these liquors, and to subject them to all the dangers of intemperance, we are not prepared to subject ourselves to the temptation which is put in our way when intoxicants are kept within a few steps of us, and are available if we care to use them.
– Do you argue that the imposition of the duties makes persons use intoxicating liquor?
– No. I only argue that there can be only one reason in the honorable senator’s mind, and that is that, generally speaking, the use of intoxicating liquors is injurious to the community. But this is not the time to discuss that question, which we know always has been, and probably will continue to be, much debated. The reason which impelled the honorable senator to submit the motion surely must be that, if carried, it will set a good example to the public to abstain from the use of intoxicating liquor. If that is so, it seems to me that the motion carries with it the inference that we are afraid to subject ourselves to the temptation of having intoxicants within the precincts of Parliament House. I do not believe that there would be one member of the Senate, and probably not more than one or two members of the other House, during the session who, if the refreshment bar were abolished, would leave the precincts of the Chamber for the purpose of getting a glass of intoxicating liquor, although they would onlyhave to go across the road. At the same time, I do not think that, for the sake of an odd member here and there, who may feel inclined to take a glass of intoxicating liquor, we should abolish the bar. Sometimes there may be an occasion on which it will do a member of Parliament good totake a stimulant. There may have been occasions on which it has done so. I do not know that any member of Parliament ever feels that he requires a stimulant to do him good ; but I have heard it said that sometimes intoxicating liquor is taken medicinally. If such occasions should arise, it may be a convenience to members of Parliament to have a refreshment bar. I do .not care a jot whether the motion is carried or not. If the bar is abolished, and I should require a drink, and think that a divisionis not likely to take place for some time, I should go and get one without bowing to the opinions of those who do not share my views on this question. I have no more to say, except to repeat that I do not believe that the good sense of the Senate will allow the motion to be carried.
– I am somewhat surprised at Senator Rae bringing forward such a motion. Disguise the motion as he likes - and he used phraseology in trying to disguise its purport - it certainly would be a reflection on the Australian Parliament if we agreed to abolish the refreshment bar. The question arises : Why should that bar be abolished? What has transpired in the history of this Parliament to necessitate the abolition of the bar ? The honorable senator failed entirely to put before the Senate one reason in favour of that course. He did say that, in his experience, the presence of a bar within the precincts of a Parliament House had led to the undoing of certain of its members.
– It ought to be made explicit whether he referred to this Parliament or not.
– I referred to the Parliament of New South Wales.
– The honorablesenator desires to imply that because a member of some Parliament in Australia was weak enough to allow himself to be undone by the use of intoxicating refreshments because they were within his reach, we also may be undone or may undo ourselves. He spoke as a member of the party to which I belong, and he mentioned that, in connexion with shearing and other agreements, there is a condition that no’ intoxicants shall be available. The very men who helped to return the honorable senator to the Senate put me here. They trusted us. Surely we can trust ourselves. Because we can go upstairs and have a drink of intoxicating liquor at any time we choose, is it to be inferred that we shall debase ourselves and betray the confidence which has been reposed in us? I should think not. The very submission of this motion is, I submit, a reflection on the sobriety of the in men who compose the National Parliament.
– It will be held to be such.
– Yes. Take the Mother of Parliaments. I do not mean the Parliament of New South Wales, but the House of Commons. There has been no attempt made in that House to abolish the refreshment bar. nor has it been found necessary to do so. The very submission of this motion to the Senate, and its resubmission to another place by-and-by, will simply advertise to the world that the members of this Parliament cannot trust themselves. If we cannot trust ourselves, how can we ask the people of Australia to trust us? I am not a teetotaller, and I do not object to any man being a teetotaller. But I do object to any one telling me that, if I have access to a certain place and go there, I shall demean and debase myself. Analyze the motion as you may, it will give a handle to those who are ever eager to calumniate, not only the members of the Labour party, but the members of this Parliament. I am somewhat surprised that Senator Rae should follow the very bad example set by a colleague in another place. If we look, at this matter from a commercial aspect, we find that the refreshment bar is a very losing proposition. If Senator Rae had introduced the question from that standpoint, I should certainly have supported him, but the inference to be drawn from his motion is that, because there is a place where the members of this Parliament, if they choose to pay for them, as they all do, can obtain intoxicating liquors, a member is going to debase his manhood and betray his trust. It is regrettable, I think, that any member of the Senate should have found it necessary to trot forward such aproposal. If a man wants to have a drink and a place where it can be procured is available, he will have it. But surely he is gifted with sufficient common sense to know what he is doing. If the use of intoxicating liquor leads to his undoing, that is his affair only. For these reasons, I suggest to my honorable colleague that it might be wise for him to ask leave to withdraw the motion, and not to press it to a division. I care not whether the refreshment bar is abolished or retained. What concerns me is the fact that because we have been called upon to discuss this question it is advertising to the world that we cannot be trusted.
– I am sorry that you feel so bad over it.
– I am not feeling bad over it, and I remind Senator Rae that he was permitted to speak without interruption. If we cannot trust ourselves., those who sent us here ought not to trust us. Whatever occupations we follow I hope we can rely upon our own manhood to restrain us, and, above all, the fact that a serious responsibility is cast upon us as representatives of the people in the people’s Parliament. I shall vote against the motion.
– I have listened with interest to the debate, and am glad that it has been shown that members of this Parliament do not exhibit any desire to kill themselves off by taking too much liquor. It seems to me that the important point to consider is whether we should propose to close the refreshment bar because a majority of the members of the Senate may think it desirable to do so. Honorable senators are no doubt aware that it could not be done without the consent of another place, where a similar motion would have to be carried. I wish to remind the Senate that there is in attendance in this building every day a great many people who are not members of the Federal Parliament. The refreshment bar is a convenience to many of them. Pressmen, officials, messengers, and other people have to attend here, and on a fairly busy day I have known as many as 300 sit down to a meal in the refreshment rooms, though there has been no special function on. It is probable that amongst so many there may be a few who would like a “ long sleever,” or something else that might come under the description of intoxicating liquor, to take with their meals. I think that we should be making a mistake in dealing with a matter which affects the convenience of so many people by taking it upon ourselves to decide whether the refreshment room shall continue- to remain open or not. We ought to consider not only our own convenience. I honestly admit that, so far as I am personally concerned, I should save money by not being called upon to “shout” for my constituents when they come down here and visit this building.
– Is the honorable senator forgetting the provisions of the Electoral Act?
– No, they would not apply, except within three months before an election, and I never “ shout “ for any one three months before an election. It might suit our convenience to shut up the refreshment bar, but there are people in attendance on Parliament who cannot leave the building as we can, and their convenience should be consulted. We have provided for local option in Papua, and, apart from formal resolutions of Parliament, I think it is pretty well decided that we shall provide for local option in the Federal Territory and in the Northern Territory. Why should we not apply the same rule here? If there is to be a vote -on the matter we ought to study the interests of officials, messengers, and other people connected with the Parliament who cannot leave the building, as well as our own. I am prepared to vote with Senator Rae if he will agree with me as to the manner in which the vote should be taken. I move -
That the following words be added to the motion - “ and with that object in view, and to affirm the principle of local option, a secret ballot, at which all members of the Commonwealth Parliament, and all adult employees, male and female, shall be entitled to vote, be taken under the joint supervision, of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.”
– I shall not support either motion or amendment.
– Surely the honorable senator will support the amendment.
– No; I regard the motion in its original form as so bad as to be. almost beyond the possibility of amendment. I am sorry that Senator Rae has thought it necessary to bring it forward. We all recognise that he is a man who does not believe in half measures. He does not believe in resting at any halfway house on the way to his goal. But in his present attempt to reduce the expenditure of members of this Parliament in connexion with the refreshment bar to even a lower amount than 4d. per head per week, the honorable senator is going further than even those who are aware of hia reputation were warranted in believing he would ,-go. One reason why I object to the motion is that it is not good Socialism. As a matter of fact, Senator Rae appears to me to be ranging himself alongside our honorable friends opposite. We have upstairs a Socialistic enterprise for the sale of liquors on the most approved lines, and it seems to me that Senator Rae’s motion, if carried, would have the effect of driving members of this Parliament, who may desire relaxation or relief from parliamentary eloquence, across the way into the arms of private enterprise. I am afraid that such a proposal, coming from an avowed Socialist, may set a very bad. example; Dealing with the matter on higher grounds, I appreciate the motives of Senator Rae, while I do not approve of his methods. We are all aware that the awful evils of the liquor traffic in the industrial sphere have made the lot of those who work for industrial and social reform very hard indeed. While that is so, we should remember that this young Commonwealth of ours is remarkably sober, considering, that a. vast expanse of it lies within tropical and semitropical regions,, and that the hardships attendant upon pioneering in new districts are very great. Our consumption per head of intoxicating liquors is; remarkably low when compared with the consumption, in Germany, the “United States, or Great Britain. In endeavouring to make us better than we are at the present, time, and that is better in this respect than the foremost nations of the world, Senator Rae is attempting too much. He should remember the philosophy of the statement of Edmund Burke, that “The wisest safeguard against injurious excess is a rational indulgence.” I venture to say that in this Parliament we set a very good example to those who may unfortunately be slaves to the drink evil. We- demonstrate that in the presence of temptations we are able to stand up against them. Any genuine reform, in the unfortunate slaves of drink must begin with the inward man. It is of no use to say that they can be Kept from drink by cast-iron regulations. They must be approached on ethical grounds, and taught to master themselves to such an extent that, by the exercise of their will power, they can refuse to indulge in drink. To close up the fountain upstairs may be to drive those who now spend only 4d. per head per week to some other place in the city, where they may .spend an unknown amount; and it may then lie in the mouths of some of our detractors - and, unfortunately, public men have detractors - to say that no one knows what the members of the Federal Parliament spend on liquor, since there is no refreshment bar in the building, and those who indulge in liquor go across the way, or to other places in the city where drink is sold. The figures given on tne subject are as reliable as any that could be secured, whilst the liquor sold on these premises is of the best quality, and sold at a fair price. The existence of the bar is a useful means of defending the character of members of this Parliament when it can be shown beyond a doubt that their expenditure in this direction amounts to the lavish sum of 4d. per head per week, including “ soft stuff,” and although no 3d. drinks are sold. 1 think Senator Hae must see that he has attempted something beyond his strength. He is trying to reform a body of men who do not need reform at all, and a false impression may be left in the minds of the public that the members of this Parliament need some moral fence to protect them from temptation. . The figures given show that the federal Parliament can set an example in this matter to other Parliaments. I hope the honorable senator will withdraw his motion, in view of the fact that .there is no .need for the reform of this Parliament in this matter.
The ‘PRESIDENT.- Am I to under- - stand that Senator Lynch seconds the amendment?
– No; I will have nothing at all to do with it.
– As the honorable senator rose immediately the amendment was submitted. I was under the impression that it was his intention to second it. Is the amendment seconded?
– I think that Senator Chataway left the chamber under the impression that his amendment was about to be seconded.
– I will second the amendment, fro forma”.
Question - That the words proposed to be added ‘be added- put. The Senate divided.
Amendment agreed to.
– Several honorable senators, after expressing their super-sensitive feelings, as though the submission of my motion - cast ‘some reproach upon .them, have seen; fit - to try to turn the proposal into ridicule:I certainly had no such object; in view as was indicated by Senator Needham, Senator O’Keefe, and Senator Lynch. I had no wish to cast any reflection upon members of the Senate, or this Parliament generally. Nor do I think that there was either logic or common sense in their arguments. Persons who- are so sensitive about a proposal of this kind rather suggest .that they feel themselves deserving of some kind of censure, or they would not be so ready to appropriate to themselves what was certainly not implied. Senator Blakey’s figures as to the intoxicating liquors consumed at the refreshment bar, rather go to show that the quantity is so small that there can . be little purpose in selling any. If .it be true, as Senator O’Keefe argued, that liquor is sometimes required for medicinal purposes, I reply that we might as well have a chemist’s shop established on the premises, so that if any member of Parliament wandering around the gardens should be bitten by a spider or a snake,, the necessary remedies may be close at: hand. Pursuing that argument, it mightbe contended that we should have a general emporium established here. I did not take up this subject on teetotal grounds. I am not a member of any temperance organization, nor am I catering for the votes of members pf such societies. Senator Lynch has argued that I am helping private en- terprise by endeavouring to “ sit upon “ a Socialistic experiment. But it would be a mighty poor kind of Socialism that wasestablished on the lines of the Parliamentary Refreshment-Room. It involves a dead loss, which means that the few are satisfying themselves at the expense of the many. If Senator Lynch calls that Socialism, I can only say that it is not my ideal.
– The loss is not occasioned by the bar.
– But it exists. I was met with the argument that if the sale of liquor were abolished altogether, the loss upon the refreshment-room would be increased. But if the consumption of liquor is so small as 4d. per head per week, that argument falls to the ground. So small a sum would not render any material assistance towards making the refreshment-room pay. Speaking for myself, I say that I should be prepared to pay a higher price for meals in order to make ends meet. If the refreshment-room does not pay, let us go over the road for our tucker as well as for our drinks. I do not see why the country should supply us with cheap meals.
– The meals are not cheap to us.
– That may be so. We know very well that a small turnover for a limited period of the year cannot result in a profit.
– The honorable senator’s remark would give rise to the impression that we are getting cheap meals.
– I have no desire to create that impression, though I fancy that we do get a better meal for our money here than we could do at some places in town.
– Some people think we get free meals.
– We are not responsible for the lively imaginations of our constituents. The argument that the closing of the refreshment bar might induce members of Parliament to take more liquor than they do now is fallacious and illogical, however we look at it. If, with such temptation close at hand, members of Parliament drink so little that the average returns are only 4d. per head per week, it is quite certain that, if that temptation were removed, they would drink less. However, as honorable senators have seen fit to carry an amendment in favour of a secret ballot, I content myself with commending their courage, and shall let the matter go at that.
Question - That the motion as amended be agreed to - put.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Address-in-Reply. Senator McGREGOR (South Australia - Vice-President of the Executive Council) [p. 30]. - In moving -
That the Senate do now adjourn,
I wish to announce that His Excellency the Governor-General will be pleased to receive the Address-in-Reply in the Parliamentary Library at 11.45 a.m. to-morrow. Question” resolved in the affirmative. Senate adjourned at 9.31 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 September 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1911/19110914_senate_4_60/>.