4th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at z.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence whether he has noted in to-day’s newspaper the following telegram from Shepparton : -
Statements were made at the meeting of the Shepparton State School Committee, on Tuesday evening, that a number of parents were complaining of their sons being subjected to loo much military drill, which should at least be modified on sultry days. Several of the boys had fainted, and some had become ill through it.
In view of the statement which the Minister made some time since, that instructions had been given to moderate the drill in distressful weather conditions, I desire to know whether the instructions have reached the local authorities, and, if so, whether steps have been taken to as far as possible anticipate and prevent occurrences of this kind?
– I have read the paragraph. If the honorable senator will read it again - and he only quoted a part of it - he will see that the drill was not given by the Defence Department, but by the Education Department, for which I am not responsible.
– Is not this drill part of the compulsory training ?
– I do not think it is. I shall have inquiries made, but, according to my reading of the paragraph, it refers to drill given by the school teachers, and not to drill given by the area officers. Moreover, the paragraph cannot be correct in its reference to military drill. Our drill is given by the area officers or sergeantmajor instructors, who do no drill at school or during school hours. Further, the training given to junior cadets is not drill, except of a very elementary character, which is given by school teachers, and, so far as I am aware,it has not yet been begun.
– Do I understand the Minister to say that military drill is given outside the drill to which cadets are subjected ?
-This paragraph does not refer to cadets, but to children attending school.
– Am I to understand’ that military drill is being imparted to Iad» other than that which ‘ they will receiveunder the compulsory defence scheme?
– -Not military drill.
– This paragraph speaksof military drill.
– -But physical drill, such as marching, is given at the schools,, in addition to the military drill.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are - 1 and2. No information is to hand with, reference to the prosecution of Cadet Clark at Albury, but inquiries have been made. No instructions have been issued from the Department to proceed otherwise than under ‘ the Defence Act.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
Yes. 2. (a) The following instructions were issued on the 18th July, 1911, to Military Commandants of all States : - “ So that the universal training clauses of the Defence Act may not unnecessarily interfere with the education of those students in attendance at evening continuation schools and technical colleges, on application being made by such students to their area officers, arrangements are to be made whereby they may be attached to a company which holds its parades at times other than those on which they are required to attend their college.”
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Has any decision yet been arrived at regarding the requests made to him to withhold or modify the bonus now being paid upon iron produced at Lithgow?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is - No.
– Can the Minister say when we may anticipate an answer?
– I should like the honorable senator to repeat the question.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers tothe honorable senator’s questions are -
Senator PEARCE laid upon the table the following paper : -
Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway : Copy of Correspondence between the Commonwealth and State Governments re gauge.
Ordered to be printed.
Motion (by Senator Henderson) agreed to-
That the report from the Printing Committee presented to the Senate on the 18th October, 191 1, be adopted.
Motion (by Senator McColl) agreed to-
That a return be laid before this House showing -
The number of receiving Post ‘Offices in each State.
The regulations under which these offices are carried on.
The postal work expected to be done by the persons in charge of these offices.
The scale of remuneration paid to the persons in charge of these offices.
Debate resumed from 6th October(vide page 1 183), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– When Senator Pearce moved the second reading of this Bill, he made a statement which I believe I repeat with sufficient accuracy, when I say that it was to the effect that the object in view in framing this Bill was to give electors, as far as possible, every facility for recording their votes in such a way as would be fair to all political parties. Accepting that statement at its face value, as I do, I venture to say that the Government are. entitled to the heartiest possible congratulations for the success with which they have disguised that effort. If ever there was a Bill in connexion with which we might defy any one to discover any intention to enlarge the facilities of electors, it is this Bill! If it is possible to shape a Bill which more effectually than this would confer distinct advantages on one political party, I should like to see the measure. As party men, honorable senators no doubt take strong views, but I do not think any one will, venture to challenge the statement that in our work as legislators in the shaping of a Bill designed to give electors every reasonable and fair opportunity of getting their voices heard, and their views given expression to here, there ought to be no room for party action. Whilst these may be considered somewhat strong words, I shall endeavour to prove that I have not made any statement which the clauses of this Bill do not amply justify. Before dealing with these larger issues, it would, perhaps, be convenient if I were to refer to one or two minor defects of the Bill, to get them out of the way. The first tiling that attracts my attention is the drafting of this measure. For some reason or another, there has been a departure from the form for which we are indebted to the late Right Honorable C. C. Kingston. To that gentleman, above all others, we owe a debt of gratitude, inasmuch as he introduced a system of simplicity in the drafting, of our legislative enactments. To a great extent the model he established has been followed, but in this measure we have an extraordinary departure from that simplicity, and indeed from the usual method of drafting Bills. For instance, I find in clause 8, and the proposed new section 6ic, this statement -
II shall be the duty of every person who is -entitled to be enrolled as an elector - and so on. We are not setting out here any moral lectures. We ought to provide a simple, direction to the electors as to what they are to do. If we turn to other portions of the Bill, we shall find that an officer is told to do so and so, and the measure tells him that he shall do it. That is the language hitherto invariably employed in bur Acts of Parliament. It is easy to see where this phrase, “ It shall be the duty of every person” comes from. It is taken almost wholly from the memorandum prepared by the Department for the guid- ance of the Minister. Whilst such a phrase may be appropriate in a departmental memorandum, it is altogether out of place in an Act of Parliament, and the proposed new sub-section to which I have referred should read, “ Every person who is entitled to be enrolled as an elector,” and so on. To use the phrase used in this Bill is to depart from that commendable simplicity in drafting for which we are indebted to the late Mr. Kingston.
I now direct attention to sub-clause 3 of the proposed new section 61c, which is so cumbersome in construction that it is necessary for me to read the whole ..of it -
The regulations may prescribe all matters, not inconsistent with this Act, necessary or convenient, to be prescribed for carrying a system of the compulsory enrolment of electors and the compulsory transfer or change of electors from one roll to another roll into effect, and may prescribe penalties not exceeding Two pounds for any contravention of any regulation made in pursuance of this power.
If honorable senators will look into that sub-clause they will notice how cumbersome and unnecessarily involved it is. It will be seen that the words “ into effect “ should have followed the word “ carrying.” That would have made the paragraph simple, but as it stands I am entitled to refer to it as a very clumsy and schoolboy effort at draftsmanship.
Turning to matters of serious importance, the first thing to which I direct attention is the power sought to be conferred by this Bill on the Chief Electoral Officer to become a party in a case of a disputed election. I invite attention to the rather serious prospect held out here. At present, in the case of a disputed election, the matter goes before the Court, and the parties immediately concerned are left to fight it out without, at any rate, the open aid of the Government on behalf of either. What is now proposed is that the Chief Electoral Officer, which means the Government - there need be no mistake about that, because the Chief Electoral Officer will not himself interpose, with the possibility of having to foot his own bill of costs - shall become a party in the matter. Certainly the. Chief Electoral Officer will have, the sanction of the Government, and will, I should say, be moved by them. Therefore, the Government of the day, who, as the Government, should stand entirely clear of these matters of disputed returns, will, under this Bill, take action in connexion with them.
Parliament itself has recognised the desirability of keeping Parliament, an institution composed of men holding strong party views, from dealing in any way with these matters. We have, deliberately put from ourselves the right to interfere in disputed elections, knowing that, being human, our political sympathies are liable to sway us to some extent. But here is an attempt made to have the Government of the day brought in as a party to a disputed election. Although honorable senators opposite may for a few months console themselves with the idea that it is their Government that will he concerned, I may remind them that all things are fleeting, even Labour Governments. I ask honorable senators’ to consider whether it is desirable to authorize the Administration to become an active party to a dispute of this character. I might anticipate an argument which will probably be used in favour of the proposal. It may be said that not infrequently the administration of the Electoral Department itself may be involved in a case before the Court of Disputed Returns. It “ is possible that in a case of that kind it might be desirable to allow the Department to be represented.
– But in such a case the Department could easily, ask leave to intervene.
– Senator St. Ledger anticipates me. I was about to say that, unless the Government desire by this to achieve a purely party object, I would urge them - for I am sure that honorable senators generally have no sympathy with such a desire - to keep the approaches to the Court, as far as possible, free from the active participation of any Administration. I should be quite willing to agree to the insertion of a provision giving a right to the Electoral Officer to ask the Court for leave to appear. That leave would be asked for only when the administration of the Department was to some extent challenged. But then, and then only, should the Administration have a right to be represented. So far as the case under consideration was merely one between two candidates for election, I say that the Government and the Department ought to stand quite out of the way, and leave the two interested parties to fight out their issue before the Court. There is another aspect of this clause which must be borne in mind. The Bill before us proposes to remove the ^100 limit in respect of costs. Under the existing Act, no costs can be given against the defeated party to a case before the Court of Disputed Returns in excess of £100. That limit, as I say, is struck out. Why, I do not know. So that, if any one brings a case before the Court of Disputed Returns, and the decision goes against him, he may not only have to pay his own bill of costs, and the costs of the other side, but may also be faced with a demand for the payment of the costs of the Department. Under this Bill, if it is passed into law in its present shape, with the £100 limit struck out, the unsuccessful candidate may possibly be overwhelmed wilh the amount of costs that he will have to pay. This is a complete reversal of all that we have hitherto provided for in our electoral law. We have sought to insure that the mere possession or absence of wealth should not, in itself, be a barrier to anybody in respect of electoral matters. But if this Bill passes into law, it means that the only man who will be able to launch an appeal before the Court of Disputed Returns will be he who is in a position to pay, not only his own costs, but possibly the costs both of his successful opponent and of the Department.
One other little matter in the Bill to which I would call attention must, 1 think, be a misprint. It is stated in clause 41 -
Section 206 of the Principal Act is repealed.
I cannot think that that is intended. It must, I think, mean that section 206D of the principal Act is repealed.
– The letter d is to be inserted.
– I thought it must be so. Otherwise there would be serious ground for discussion. In view of the Minister’s statement, I pass from that point.
– The Bill says “ 206D “ in my copy.
– Possibly in consequence of the friendly relations between Senator Walker and the Government, he has received a revised copy.
– An amendment has been circulated.
– Apparently an error has been made in some copies. Nothing more need be said upon the point. Another provision to which I call attention is that which lays it down that offences against the Act or regulations can be kept alive for three years. That is to say, at any time within three years after an election, any one who feels disposed can launch proceedings against a successful candidate. J ask honorable senators to bear in mind what these electoral offences are, concerning which proceedings may be taken. I am not speaking of bribery, corruption, or other indictable offences. It is reasonable that there should be no time limit with regard to proceedings of that kind. But when we are dealing with electoral offences, I do say that it is going too far to enable any man to hold over for three years the right to commence proceedings against a political competitor. To do that would be monstrously unfair. It would be possible for some one to hold over a charge until the eve of the next election.
– During the whole life of a Parliament.
– Yes ; and when the next election was about due, it would be possible for the person to commence proceedings, with a view of damaging his political opponent.
– And shutting his mouth.
– And shutting his mouth, because the case would then be before the Court. Further than that, if honorable senators look through the list of offences - most of which are very minor - it is obvious that in three years’ time the possibility of obtaining evidence to rebut a charge would be considerably weakened. I am at a loss to know why the Government have been careful so to shape the clause as to enable any one, three years after an alleged offence has been committed, to institute proceedings. I repeat that I am not now dealing with indictable offences, but merely with offences known technically in this legislation as offences against the Act or regulations. I think it will take very strong arguments indeed to show the wisdom of the provision to which I am calling attention.
– The usual term is six months ; after that, no prosecution.
– Six months would appear to me to be a very reasonable period. I put it to honorable senators in this way : Half of the members of this Senate were returned at an election which, took place eighteen months ago. Suppose any person came along and made a charge against any member of the Senate of having been guilty, of certain irregularities committed prior to the 13th April of last year. Is it not obvious that the man against whom the charge was made would be very seriously handicapped indeed owing to the lapse of time between the alleged offence and the making of the charge? Would it not be difficult for him to obtain evidence to rebut the allegations? How much greater, then, will the difficulty be if we allow a person to hold over a charge for three years. T trust that in this matter honorable senators will take a common-sense view and insist on providing that the term shall be very much shorter.
I now come to a matter of considerably greater magnitude. Whether this be intended or not, I do not know ; but the Bill as it stands practically abolishes the right of a candidate to ask for a recount. That is not specifically provided in the Bill, but what I have described arises from the method that is being adopted, with a view, I think, of enlarging the right and simplifying it. The effect, however, is practically to abolish it. That comes about in this way : If honorable senators look at the Act itself, they will find that section i6ia provides as follows -
At any time before the declaration of the poll-
I draw breath to emphasize the fact that we are dealing with the period before the declaration of the poll. It will frequently happen that it is not until after the declaration of the poll that a candidate will know whether he wishes to apply for a recount or not. Before the declaration of the poll, he can only have figures which are not official. He may not, until the poll is declared, have an opportunity of gathering up the information necessary to enable him to determine, in his own mind, whether he will be justified in asking for a recount. Before the declaration of the poll, then - the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State may, if he thinks fit, on the request of any candidates or on. his own motion, direct a recount of the ballot-papers from any division or portion of a division, or of the ballot-papers contained in any parcel.
That gives power to the Electoral Officer of the State, either of his own volition or at the instance of a candidate, to recount the papers. The Bill, however, in addition to that, gives the candidate the right to appeal from the Electoral Officer of the State to the Chief Electoral Officer for Australia. To that extent, the Bill appears to enlarge the opportunities for securing a recount.
Clause 25 provides for the addition to section 1 61 a of the following new subclause -
If it merely stopped at that, I should say that the Bill was to be commended in allowing a candidate in the State to appeal from the local officer to the Chief Electoral Officer for the Commonwealth. But the Bill does not stop there. It makes provision, in clause 26, for the insertion of a new section 16 ib, sub-clause 3 of which I shall read, in order that there may be no misunderstanding - “ (3.) In the event of the validity of the election being disputed the Court of Disputed Returns may consider any ballot-papers which were reserved for the decision of the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State, but shall not order any further recount of the whole or any part of the ballot-papers in connexion with the election unless it is satisfied that some mistake or error in connexion with the counting has been made which renders a recount necessary.”
How can a Court possibly be certain that a mistake has been made, unless it has a recount to ascertain the fact? If I bring a parcel of ballot-papers, and lay them on Une table of the Senate, how can any honorable senator determine, before he recounts them, that a mistake has been made? Yet it is provided, in clause 26, that the Court shall not order a recount unless it is satisfied beforehand that some mistake or error in connexion with the counting has been made which renders a recount necessary. I defy any honorable senator to show that the Court can, in any way, have the evidence that a mistake has been made except by the recount which it has not the right to order unless it has evidence beforehand. Having read the provision, let me direct attention to what might happen. A candidate, dissatisfied with the count, or regarding the figures as sufficiently close between himself and his opponent, appeals to the State officer for a recount. The State officer, probably satisfied with the accuracy of his staff and his own count, refuses the application. The candidate then appeals to the Chief Electoral Officer, who, if he likes, can also refuse a recount. If the application is refused in that way, it is proposed to prevent the Court from ordering a recount at all. I hold that any candidate is entitled to a recount if he feels justified in incurring the risk of an appeal to the Court. He ought, at least, to have one recount. If it is contended that all that is desired here is to prevent a double recount, I see much to commend the provision. But as it stands, it leaves the candidate in this position : If the Chief Electoral Officer declines a recount, there is no possibility of getting it before the Court. I hope that, in Committee, the Govern: ment will recognise the unreasonableness of a provision of that kind, and will at least assist in securing an amendment to the effect that the Court shall only turn down an application for a recount where that has previously been carried through by either the Chief Electoral Officer or the officer for the State. As the Bill stands, the only time that a candidate can apply for a recount is before the declaration of the poll. Take the case of a Senate election. Can any honorable senator say before the declaration of the poll whether he will be entitled to ask for a recount or not? I ask honorable senators to recall their experience of disputed elections. I cannot recall a single case, in which a recount has been authorized, where there was not a disturb;ance of the totals of the respective candidates. That has generally happened in regard to elections for the House of Representatives, where only a small parcel of votes had to be dealt with, and where, generally speaking, there were only two candidates. How much greater is the liability to error when you are dealing with an election for the Senate, which involves thousands of votes for the tens and units which are involved in the case of an election for the other House? How much greater, too, is the liability to error when you are dealing with a much larger field of candidates?
– At the first Senate election in New South Wales we had fifty candidates.
– Oh !
– The Minister may attempt to push that statement on one side ; but it is a fact. Even he cannot brush facts aside.
– There might have been fifty candidates for an election for the House of Representatives.
– In the case of one Senate election in New South Wales we had fifty candidates.
– And a tremendous number of informal votes owing to that:
– Exactly. On that occasion the lead between the two parties was so substantial that the matter dropped at that. But let us assume that the voting had been fairly even. Does any honorable senator say that a candidate should not have the right to apply for a recount ?
– There is no danger of such a crop of candidates occurring again.
– At the last Senate election in New South Wales, we had ten candidates for three seats. The votes polled were 450,000, spread over ten candidates. Let us apply to these figures the experience where a recount has been ordered in a disputed election. In the case of the Riverina election, which went before the Court, an application for a recount was made to the Electoral Officer, and it was refused. It was stated by the Court that, had a recount been granted, it would have saved the whole cost of that disputed election. There was a case where they were dealing with only two candidates, and quite a small parcel of votes. Do honorable senators regard one or two per cent. as a big error in the counting of a large parcel of votes? I think that they will agree with me that one per cent. would not be a big error. Applying that rule to the Senate election in New South Wales, you will have between 4,000 and 5,000 votes to represent one per cent. I can quite conceive that an officer would say to a candidate, who was from 4,000 to 10,000 votes behind, “ I shall not order a recount, because, in my opinion, the margin is sufficiently big. It is not possible for my officers to make such a mistake as you suggest. I refuse to believe that the Department over which I have control could make such a great error.” But the error is not big, when it is spread over a large parcel of the votes involved.
– And with the mistakes all on one side?
-I do not know that they were, nor is it relevant to the point I am arguing, namely, that a candidate ought to have a recount if he so desires. There was another election which will perhaps come more prominently before the minds of honorable senators, and that is a Senate election in which Senator Vardon was involved. Need I remind the Senate of the grotesque discoveries which were made?
– I was in it, too.
– I thought so, because there was some very curious work involved in the election. I am much obliged to my honorable friend for the reminder.
– I got out of it at once. The Judge said I had no right to be in it.
– The honorable senator can bear out the statement I am about to make. There was a case where a recount showed how liable to error are even the best officials; we all are. When you are dealing with big parcels of votes, there is nothing more natural than an assumption that somewhere or other a mistake will occur. In other Electoral Bills we provided that a recount should be allowed to an applicant if he desired it, and was prepared to take the necessary steps to make an application for an appeal.
– In one of the subdivisions in South Australia the Deputy Returning Officer said that he had burned the ballot-papers, but they were discovered afterwards.
– Exactly. That is a very interesting fact, but it does not bear on the point. Ought a candidate to have a right to a recount irrespective of what an Electoral Officer thinks ? As the Bill stands, if the Electoral Officer of the State and, on appeal, the Chief Electoral Officer say that there can be no recount, it cannot be obtained from the Court, because the Court will haveno option in the matter. In an election for the House of Representatives, an Electoral Officer can, of his own volition, order a recount, but he cannot do so in the case of a Senate election.I should like to know, why not? It seems to me that if there is an occasion in connexion with which the officers should have every opportunity of exercising the greatest care and vigilance it is in connexion with the elections for the Senate. Because of the factors I have mentioned, the liability to error must be greater than in the case of elections for the other House. Yet, whilst nn Electoral Officer can, of his own volition, if he think fit, order a recount in the case of the other House, he cannot do so in the case of an election for the Senate. That is so curious that I am rather inclined to think that it is due to an oversight. I hope that the Government will admit that in this matter the Bill provides more than thev desired, and that the clause placing a disability on the Court has been drafted on the assumption that a recount has previously been held. In my reference to the
Riverina election, I overlooked the fact that I had in my hand an extract from the report of the case -
In the Riverina, election it was proved that mistakes occurred in the count of the votes by an Assistant Returning Officer. One of the candidates requested a recount by the Divisional Returning Officer before the declaration of the poll. Acting on the advice of the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State of New South Wales it was refused.
There was a statement made by the Committee appointed to inquire into the matter, that had a recount been granted, as it clearly ought to have been, the error would atonce have been discovered, and a serious wrong prevented. When that is the position in regard to a simple matter of counting 2,000 or 3,000 votes for an election for the House of Representatives, how much greater, I repeat, is the necessity for some other provision than that in the Bill when you are dealing with an election for a whole State?
I come now to a matter equally serious, but of a different type. As I read the Bill, power is given to add names to the electoral roll right up to the close of the poll, or, in fact, at any time. Is that intended ? I should like to ask the Minister - although he is not in charge of the Bill, he is, I assume, watching its progress - whether the Government intend that it shall, be open to add names to the roll even while the poll is in progress?
– To which clause are you referring?
– I am not asking the Minister for an interpretation of clause 10. Surely he knows his own Bill? Surely he ought to know what the Government desire to do with the Bill ? And, if he does not, it is rather a lack of courtesy that the Minister in charge of the Bill is not here.
– The honorable senator will get all the information that he desires.
– It is not a matter of what I want; it is a lack of courtesy to the Senate when the Minister in charge of the Bill absents himself. We had a right to expect and receive the assistance of the one man who of all others should be familiar with what is in the Bill. That Senator Findley does not know its contents is, of course, only to be expected ; and, in making that remark, I make no reflection upon him, because it is a common-sense practice for one Minister to master a Bill which he introduces, and for his colleagues to attend to other matters in which the Ministry as a whole are interested.
– Senator Findley has charge of this Bill.
– How is it that Senator Pearce moved the second reading of the Bill?
– Because Senator Findley was laid up.
– If Senator Findley is in charge of the Bill, I withdraw the remark I made as to the absence of the Minister of Defence. If Senator Findley is immersed in the Bill, he can at once tell me whether the intention is to allow names to be, added to the roll even whilst the polling is in progress?
– I am unable to follow the honorable senator. I cannot read into the Bill any provision for a voter to enroll right up to the eve of an election.
– Then I take it that it is not the desire or intention that names shall be added to the roll while the poll is in progress?
– Certainly not.
– If that is so, I have to show that a serious error has been made in drafting the Bill, and to invite the co-operation of the Ministry in correcting the error. Clause 10 reads -
Section sixty-four of the Principal Act is amended by adding at the end of sub-section (1.) thereof the words “except under the provision of sub-section (2.) of section sixty-two.”
Let us go to the Act, and see what it provides at present, and what effect the insertion of that clause would have. Now let us see what the Act provides at present, that we may know what effect the addition of these words will have. I find that section 62 of the existing Act provides that -
In addition to other powers of alteration conferred by this Act, rolls may be altered by the Electoral Registrar as follows -
I direct attention to the fact that no limit as to the time when these alterations may be made is provided for -
The section then goes on to say - (2.) Rolls may be altered by the Divisional Returning Officer by adding the names of any persons who he is satisfied are entitled to be enrolled.
It will be seen that if that section stood alone, the Electoral Registrar could add to the rolls the names of any one he was satisfied was entitled to be enrolled, and at any time.
– I think it is a misprint. In the Bill I have, the reference in clause 10 is to sub-section 3 of section 62.
– I am very grateful for this effort to save me from a pitfall ; but if I do fall into one, I prefer to get out of it in my own way. I think I shall be able to show that there is no misprint. This Bill gives the Electoral Registrar power to add names to the electoral roll.
– The honorable senator says it does not, but what does section 62 of the existing Act mean if it does not mean that the Divisional Returning Officer may add names to the roll? I refer the Minister to that section again.
– Not up to the polling day.
– As I have said, if that section stood alone, the Electoral Registrar could add names up to the time of the close of the poll ; but section 64, which it is now proposed to alter, provides that no alteration shall be made after the issue of the writ until the close of the poll. Now it is proposed to nullify that provision hy adding, at the end of sub-section 1, the words - “ except under the provision of sub-section (2) of section sixty-two.”
– That should be subsection 3.
– There is no subsection 3 of section 62. If there is, all I can say is that it is extraordinary that I should have been furnished with an incorrect Bill. I am referring to the measure which was distributed to me by the officials of the House.
– Clause 9 of this Bill will add a sub-section 3 to section 62 of the existing Act.
– If the honorable senator will look at the Bill which has been circulated, containing the principal Act and the amendments proposed to be made by this Bill, he will better understand what he is talking about.
– When the Minister tells me that I will better understand what I am talking about, I should like to ask him whether, for the second time, on one page we have a misprint placed in our hands ?
– The honorable senator has the wrong Bill.
– I have the Bill which was introduced in the Senate and read a first time, and the clause to which I am referring reads -
Section sixty-four of the Principal Act is amended by adding at the end of sub-section 1 thereof the words “ except under the provisions of sub-section (2) of section sixty-two.”
– My Bill reads “ subsection (3) of section sixty-two.”
– The Bill to which the honorable senator refers me was not introduced in the Senate. If honorable senators choose to bring here a library of light literature it has nothing whatever to do with me. I am dealing with the Bill introduced by the. Minister, and if I am now to be told for the second time, and almost before the ink used in the printing of the Bill has become dry, that there is another misprint, and that after eighteen months of office the Government cannot introduce a Bill without mistakes of this kind, all I can say is that it is a very serious reflection upon the Ministry and the Departmental officials that they could not exercise greater care in the preparation of measures to be submitted to Parliament.
– There are ten other misprints yet.
– Then I should like to know what they are. How is it possible for any honorable senator to discuss a Bill distributed by the officials, when after reading it and coming to the only conclusion to which he could come from its contents, he is met with the statement, “ Oh, it is a misprint “ ? It is carelessness glorified when honorable senators attempt to defend that kind of thing. I do not know whether the same answer will not be given to other criticisms I have to offer on the measure.
– The honorable senator might in justice admit that” what he refers to are not printers’ errors, or due to the fault of the Government, but are proposed amendments of the existing Act.
– If the Government had justice done them, I am afraid there would be great mourning in the honorable senator’s family. I am told that this mistake has arisen from the fact that after this Bill was brought in it was proposed to make another addition to section 62 by a further amendment, which evidently was not thought of when the original Bill was drafted. There was no sub-section 3 of section 62 at that time, and there is not now.
– There will be.
– If honorable senators are satisfied to cover up a scandalous piece of carelessness by an interjection of that kind, I cannot help them. The attempt to escape from the dilemma in that way is not worthy of the Government, and it would have been far better if they had admitted that they had made a mistake.
– But, admitting that the mistake has been made, the honorable senator’s argument is destroyed.
– Exactly; but I am not satisfied on the point, and I cannot expect the Senate to wait until I have an opportunity to consider the effect of the proposals made in a document other than that which is officially before the Senate. These are no doubt useful forms for the assistance of honorable senators, but all I can be expected to deal with is the Bill which was read here a first time, and the only Bill of which you, sir, can have any knowledge.
I should like to say a word as to the proposal to have all the voting on Saturday. I have not yet made up my mind whether that is or is not desirable, but I think it is right at this stage to say that we should not make the innovation unless it is quite clear that it will be an advantage to the great body of electors.
– There is no doubt of that in South Australia.
– We should, before we make the proposed alteration, see whether it will advantage the ininterests of the whole of the community. I know that in certain States Saturday is the great half-holiday, but that in the country districts, in many places, Wednesday is the weekly halfholiday. I know, also, that members of the Hebrew faith do not approve of the proposed alteration. Senator Pearce, in referring to that point, said that the Hebrew Sunday closed at 6 o’clock p.m. ; but I have since ascertained that the statement was not accurate. The hour is a movable one, dependent upon the period of the year, sunset being the determining factor. In addition, there are other members of the community, who, because of religious scruples, will not vote on that day. Further, I point out that the great bulk of our military training under the Defence Act is going to be done on the Saturday afternoon. In view of all these factors, it is a matter of balancing the advantages which will be conferred by the alteration on one section of the community with the disad vantages which would be imposed upon another. I have said that I have not definitely made up my mind on the matter, and I shall be glad to listen to arguments which would go to show that the proposed change is desirable. People belonging to some of the smaller sects in the community will not vote on the Saturday, and the mere fact that they are small will not justify us in brushing their representations on one side. The conscience of a man who is a member of a small section should be just as tenderly regarded by us as that of a man who might belong to a dominant majority.
I now come to what I think will, in the judgment of every one, be admitted to be the two major points in this BillThe first is the proposal to curtail very seriously the voting facilities enjoyed by electors at present. I refer to the proposal for the abolition of postal voting.
– It is a good job ; we will wipe it out.
– It is not wiped out yet.
– It will be.
– I should like, when Senator Henderson becomes calm, to make an admission that, so far as the members of the Government party are concerned, they are entirely consistent in their opposition to postal voting. That will probably induce them to listen to the arguments I have to advance as to why I think that, in their regard for party interests, they are altogether overlooking the interests of the electors. Since I have been a member of the Senate, the Labour party have opposed postal voting. If we turn to the debates which, from time to time, have taken place on the subject, we shall find ample evidence, I think, to justify the statement that the system is being opposed by honorable senators opposite because they believe that the bulk of the postal votes are given against them.
– Because the system has been abused.
– With his long knowledge of parliamentary procedure, Senator Ready affirms that the system has been abused. It is somewhat curious that some time ago, I think after the first Federal election, a Parliamentary Committee was appointed to inquire into this very matter. Certain allegations of abuse were made, principally in my own State. Of course, the mere fact that the abuse was alleged to have occurred in that State should have at once answered the charge.
However, Parliament decided ‘to constitute a Committee to inquire .into the matter. Since the Committee were unanimous, we need not inquire in what proportion it embraced representatives of the different political parties. The Committee were unanimous in their, finding, and did not recommend the abolition of postal voting,, though they pointed out that safeguards, which have since been adopted, were necessary..’ -I repeatthat there– is enough in our past debates on the subject to show that honorable senators opposite are opposed to postal voting simply because they think it tells against their party.
– I do not think so from an experience of twenty-five years.
– I am now going to ask : Who are the electors whom my honorable friends opposite are in this instance seeking to disfranchise? I refer honorable senators to section 109 of the existing Act-
An elector who -
has reason to believe that he will not during the hours of polling on polling day be within five miles of any pollingplace for the Division for which he is enrolled.
– Is there not another provision made to allow him to vote?
– Where is there a provision in this Bill to enable a man who is not within 5 miles of a polling place on the polling day, to record his vote? Senators Story and. Henderson have emphatically asserted that there is such a provision. I challenge them to show me where it is. Senator Story is silent, and Senator Henderson is mute. Ample provision is made as to a man who may be leaving Australia for the last time, a man who is shaking the dust from his feet; but as to the man who is a permanent resident, a pioneer in the back-blocks of Australia, honorable senators opposite say, practically, “We will strike you off the roll.” That is the first class of electors who are to be disfranchised by this Bill.
– The back-blocks man never voted by post in his life. It is the city man who has used the postal vote.
– If the back-blocks’ man does not vote by post, there is no reason, so far as he is concerned, why we should abolish postal voting. But the fact is that the system was introduced especially to provide for those who, for some reason or another, might on polling day be 5 miles away from a polling-place. The next class of persons to be disfranchised is indicated by the next paragraph of the section from which I am quoting, and includes any elector who-
The Government propose to deprive such women of the right to exercise a vote. .
– They can vote under another provision. ,
– Which provision? Senators Story and Henderson are how quiet, and I put the- question to Senator O’Keefe. Under which provision of this Bill could a woman, suffering from illhealth, exercise her vote?
– She could vote beforehand.
– I ask Senator O’Keefe to name the clause.
– I may be wrong, but 1, am under that impression.
– If Senator O’Keefe finds that he is wrong will he vote with “me to prevent the abolition of postal voting?
– I shall have to be satisfied that the honorable senator is right.
– Senator O’Keefe tells me that a woman, under the circumstances referred to, can still vote, and I ask him to tell me how, and to show me .the clause in this Bill under which, she can vote. >
– I cannot do so. at the moment, but I am under that impression. “ :
– The honorable senator could for the moment deny ‘my statement, but for the moment he ‘cannot find any justification for his denial. I have dealt with two classes of electors whom this great Democratic party are seeking to disfranchise. There is still a third class, the electors who -
The Government are proposing to shut them out also. I want to know if honorable senators who are supporting this Bill, liecause of their party allegiance, realize what they are doing in this matter ? If they want safeguards in regard to postal voting’, we will give them all the safeguards they may desire. We will help them to get anything that is requisite. I, in no sense, advocate postal voting, or any other electoral facility with the view of enabling a corrupt verdict to be obtained a’t: the polls. But this Senate will be. taking a retrograde step, and doing something in direct opposition to all that we profess to desire, if it does anything to deprive any considerable number of the electors of the facilities which enable them to record their votes at the ballot-box. It cannot be repeated too often that this matter is not going to be settled by any predominant party in this Chamber. I venture to say that the electors themselves will strongly resent this effort to take away from those who are sick, those who are aged and infirm, those who are at inconvenient distances from polling booths, and from women who are ill, the right they have hitherto enjoyed of expressing their political convictions at the ballot-box, in common with the more fortunate members of the community. It cannot be said that there has been a public outcry against this provision for postal voting. And why ? The only outcry has been on the part of politicians in this Chamber, and elsewhere, against the postal voting system, and it will be found, on looking at the complaints made, that the whole charge has been that the bulk of the postal votes have been cast against the party opposite. That is why they are opposed to postal voting. I have no doubt that Senator Story, Senator Henderson, and probably even Senator O’Keefe, were misled when they interjected that the provisions made in this Bill, by which electors may vote at any polling place in Australia, are in substitution for the postal voting provisions. What satisfaction is it to a man who is five miles from a polling place to tell him that he can vote at another polling place in another part of Australia? If he cannot go five miles, what satisfaction is it to tell him that he can vote 50 01 a too miles away ? What satisfaction is it to an old and infirm elector to be told that, inasmuch as, because of his infirmity, he cannot go to one polling booth, which is comparatively near to him, the law will permit him to go to a polling booth 50 miles away ? What satisfaction is it to a woman - who is equally a citizen with ourselves, equally compelled to obey the law, and equally entitled to exercise a vote in regard to the making of the law - to be told that, because she is in ill-health, and is unable to go to the nearest polling booth, she can go to a polling booth more remote, and vote there? And that is what honorable senators opposite call a “substitute.” lt is an impudent pretence to call this a “substitute.” There is no substitute. All that the Government propose to do is to take away the only means of voting which a large number of people possess, and they give to them nothing in return. It is true that additional facilities are being given to another class of electors’, but that is no “substitute” to those from whom you are taking away a right which they have hitherto enjoyed. I say again, that if the party opposite adhere to that attitude, they must not for a moment regard the matter as having been finally disposed of by a vote in this Chamber. I venture to say that when the position is explained to the electors they will resent the effort to deprive them of the opportunities which they enjoy only once in three years of taking an active part in the political affairs of the Commonwealth.
– I have often travelled 50 miki! to vote.
– And because Senator W. Russell has travelled 50 miles to vote, is that a reason why a woman, who is unable, through ill-health, to go out of her home, should not be allowed to vote at all?
– People in the country have facilities for travelling which many people in towns have not.
– -I should like to know what facilities the honorable senator offers, or thinks can be enjoyed, by a nian who, for instance, is struggling with a drought.
– He generally has a horse.
– But any one who has ever lived in a part of the country afflicted will know - no one knows better than my friend - that when a man is compelled to buy feed for a horse at expensive prices, he does not want to drive that horse a mile more than is absolutely necessary. I have actually known men to walk for miles during a drought so as to save their horses. But what does the possession of even twenty horses do to help a woman who is in ill-health to vote on polling day? What would the possession of a hundred horses do to assist an infirm person who was unable to travel to the polling booth? If they had all the horses in Australia, it would not help them.
– Does not the Bill interfere with the “poor widow “ as well?
– I can quite understand that Senator Story- who interjected just now with no very great satisfaction to himself - should be anxious to draw attention away from the point at issue, which I am trying to hammer home.
– The provision the honorable senator is defending is doing harm.
– What answer will the honorable senator have to make to the electors when they learn that Senator Story, of South Australia, has deliberately voted to take from the sick, the aged, and the infirm, and those remote from polling places, the right which they have hitherto enjoyed of voting at Commonwealth elections? The only defence the honorable senator and his party can make for their attitude is, “ You who exercised the postal vote voted against me and my party, and this is our means of getting even with you.”
– We can also show that the postal vote was corruptly used.
– Then what have this Government been doing that they have not put into operation the provisions ot the law against corruption? Are we to suppose that we have in office a Government which, knowing that the law has been broken, and that corruption has been rampant, have still remained silent? Why did not Senator Story, knowing of this corruption - and we may be sure that he would never have made the charge unless he had ample means of proving it - go to the Government, furnish them with his proof, and induce them to put the law in motion?
– The honorable senator knows that postal voting has been corruptly used.
– I know nothing of the kind. If the honorable senator knows, why did he not put his proof in the hands of the Attorney-General’s Department and let a prosecution follow ? The fact is that these rumours of corruption spring, not from knowledge of actual facts, but from the recognition that the postal vote, as a rule, is adverse to the interests of the honorable senator’s party. Therefore, accepting these rumours greedily, as they do, they send them forth without making any effort to prove thern.
– The postal vote was corruptly used by the other party.
– I should like to show honorable senators to what extent the absent vote has been used. At the last election, in 1910, 1,400,000 votes were polled. I am disregarding the odd numbers. At that same election 29,000 postal votes were recorded. That represents 3 per cent. of the total number of votes polled - 1 in 31. That is to say, that there were 29,000 electors in the Commonwealth who were either more than five miles from a polling-booth, or who were old and infirm, or who being women, were too ill to record their votes personally.
– Or too lazy.
– I do not see anything in the Electoral Act to show that a lazy person would be entitled to a postal vote. If the honorable senator means that these 29,000 persons were lazy voters-
– I say that some were probably lazy.
– Now if is “ some of them.” Supposing there were some who were lazy. Is that a justification for depriving those who were not lazy of the opportunities for voting that they now enjoy?
– If it is the only way to prevent corruption, yes.
– This talk of corruption is nothing better than child’s play. It is used to cover up the real purpose for which this provision is introduced. I say again, that 29,000 electors, or 3 per cent, of those who voted, used this privilege. It is obvious, therefore, that it is one that ought not to be lightly taken away from them ; and whilst it may be - I have no knowledge of it myself - that things occurred which make it desirable to provide other safeguards, still no evidence has yet been brought forward . to justify this attempt to take the privilege away altogether - except, asI say, the belief firmly held by my honorable friends opposite that the bulk of these postal votes are cast against them and their party. But is that a reason? Is that a justification for taking from electors facilities for voting which they at present enjoy?
– We can quite understand the honorable senator’s vigour. He knows what postal voting means to his party.
– I have no knowledge as to how the postal votes are cast ; but it is a curious thing to me that honorable senators opposite appear to know.
– Do not the figures show how the votes go?
– I do not know how they can.
– Suppose that two candidates are equal on the votes cast at the ballot-box, and that postal votes come in and disturb the balance. That is how we know.
– That may be so. But if you take the figures as to the bulk of the postal votes cast in the Commonwealth, there is no indication as to the party which they incline to favour.
– The figures published at elections generally show how many postal votes are recorded.
– I am glad of these interjections, because they demonstrate the truth of what I am stating - that my honorable friends opposite recognise, or believe, that the bulk of the postal votes are cast against their party.
– We do not recognise anything of the kind. I was simply answering the honorable senator’s statement that we did not know how they go. Every one knows who takes an interest in the matter.
– Well, I take a great interest in the matter, and I have never seen figures showing in detail how the postal votes go. It is, however, evident that Senator de Largie has looked into the facts concerning these 29,000 electors whom my honorable friends opposite are proposing to disfranchise.
– Because of the corrupt way in which the honorable senator’s canvassers used the postal voting papers.
– Here is another statement about corruption.
– I can prove what I say.
– Why, then, did not the honorable senator bring his evidence before the Law Courts?
– Because it was not worth while, as the corruption did not win the seat in which I was interested.
– These statements as to corruption are made with regard to everything that does not suit the political fortunes of my honorable friends opposite. They are very effective statements to make from hotel verandahs and political platforms, but they do not carry much weight elsewhere. They certainly do not carry much weight with people who do not want to make up their minds unless they have definite evidence before them.
– Was it not corruption when a hospital patient asked to have a postal voting paper supplied to him, and when he wanted to vote Labour, it was taken away? Would the honorable senator call that corruption ?
– Of course I should.
– Well, that occurred.
– There is a provision of the Electoral Act that would cover such a case. I could remind my honorable friends opposite of a case which came before the Law Courts in New South Wales where members of their party tampered with the electoral machinery and were fined for doing it.
– To what case is the honorable senator referring?
– I am referring to facts that are well within the knowledge of the honorable senator.
– The honorable senator should state them. I do not know.
– My honorable friend knows all about them.
– I know that the honorable senator is misrepresenting the position.
– The honorable senator recollects a case in which charges were made against members of Labour Leagues of tampering with the electoral machinery, though the fines, of course, were remitted by the Government.
– Does the honorable senator know-
– I must ask honorable senators to refrain from interjecting.
– My honorable friends have my full sympathy under the circumstances. But the mere possibility of isolated cases such as that mentioned by Senator Gardiner occurring surely in no sense affords a justification for destroying facilities which are exercised by electors in numerous instances, especially when the desire to destroy those facilities is manifested by political opponents. We all know that other offences are committed against the Electoral Act, but because of that I am not prepared to lay violent hands upon the Act itself. Whoever thought of abolishing a law because the law was broken in one or two instances? It is a strange thing to say that, because there are a few evil-doers, we are to penalize the whole body of our citizens.
– We are going to substitute a better method.
– Where is it? There is no provision for a better method in this Bill.
– The absent voters’ provision.
– There is no provision for absent voters at all. A man who, because of age and infirmity, cannot go to a polling booth to vote, a woman who is unable to do so because of ill-health, and a person who resides too far from a polling booth to vote, is not assisted by any provision in this Bill. I have already invited Senator O’Keefe to show me the provisions which will enable those three classes to vote.
– There are very tew women who really need to vote by post.
– The only thing that can be called a “substitute” in this Bill is that enabling an elector to vote at any polling booth he likes. But how can a man who cannot vote at the polling booth which is near to him go and vote at a polling booth at the other end of Australia? If he cannot go next door, how can he go roo miles? What satisfaction is it to him to’ be told, if he cannot vote in’ Victoria, that he may go to Queensland or to Western Australia? There is no “substitute” at all. Honorable senators opposite, it is true, are multiplying facilities for one section - the nomadic section - the shearers, the bushworkers, and others whose occupation compels them to travel. They are to have additional facilities for voting provided for them, but those facilities are to be denied to the three classes that I have previously enumerated. It is surely st strange form of “substitution” which gives more to one particular class, and takes away from others. Yet that is what this Bill does. T want to say a word about the provision concerning the right to vote anywhere in Australia. Here I should like to direct the attention of honorable senators to. the consideration that, if corruption is really wanted, they are leaving the door open for it here. If a provision of this kind is to be passed into law we might just as well tear up the electoral rolls altogether. It is here provided that any person over twenty-one years of age, male or female, shall be able to, vote anywhere. There is no safeguard. Under the postal voting provisions there are safeguards.
– Safeguards which are largely evaded.
– So that the honorable senator thinks that, if certain safeguards in a law are evaded, the proper tiling is to tear up all safeguards and allow every one to do as he pleases - which, no doubt, would be very much to the satisfaction of the honorable senator’s party. There is no provision in this Bill safeguarding the absent voting provisions except such as the Government like to provide by regulation. When we were dealing with the postal voting we did not leave such matters to regulation. We put the safeguards in the Bill. If it was necessary, in connexion with postal voting to insert in our legislation the actual provisions under which that form of voting should be carried out, it is equally important that we should put in the safeguards when it is proposed to allow voting from one end of Australia to the other to take place without regard to particular polling booths. Under the law as it stands, when an elector wishes to vote at other than the polling place within his own electoral division, he has to sign a form known as Form Q, making the declaration. That is done in every case where a man might prefer to vote at one place rather than another. But under this Bill there is absolutely no safeguard at all. It is all to be left to regulation. I have no doubt that honorable senators opposite feel that that is an excellent provision under existing circumstances. But I remind them again that Governments, like individuals, are mortal. I should like to know whether they are now committing their party definitely to the principle that a party in power has the right to bend and twist the electoral law as it sees fit to suit its own party interests.
– That is what has been done in the past.
– It is what is apparently being unblushingly done in this attempt to twist the electoral machinery for the advantage of one particular political party.
– You are very innocent.
– I am not saying that each political party did not use the law as it stood as far as it could to its own advantage.
– And altered the law.
– There never has been a case in which a deliberate- attempt has been made to shape the electoral law merely to suit the purpose of the party in power. If the party opposite is definitely committed to this principle, it is inevitable that, when they pass away, they will have, introduced a system which their successors will follow in some way or other.
– They ought to.
– Is it sought to introduce what we understand as American politics in all their nakedness?
– To abolish it.
– The method of abolishing it, as illustrated by the Government in this measure, is to enable a man to vote anywhere in Australia without providing any safeguard, and to merely leave the matter to be dealt with by regulations shaped by the Government of the day. If this proposal had been brought forward by the previous Government,I can well imagine the howls of indignation which would have gone up from the ranks of the Labour party, that a Government would seek to retain in its hands the right to say how, when, and where the electors should vote throughout Australia. That is asking for a power which has never before been asked for or granted. If, in dealing with an elector voting in his own narrow division, it was thought advisable to provide that he should make a declaration before doing so - although he intended to vote only halfamile away from his proper polling place - surely it is more necessary to put in a safeguard when you are allowing an elector to vote wherever he likes, for instance, a Sydney elector voting at Cooktown.
– If he votes only once, what is the trouble?
– Does the honorable senator mean to suggest that any person shall vote whether he is on the electoral toll or not, and for any electorate he likes?
– I have held that idea for years. It is not a new thing. What does it matter where a man votes since his vote has only one value?
– I am glad to have the interjection, because it shows what my honorable friends are aiming at. They are aiming at the abolition of the electoral roll, and want to allow any person to vote, not only where he likes, but for any electorate he likes. The gentleman whose name has come down to us in connexion with the term “ gerrymandering “ is a babe compared with my honorable friends opposite. Let us see where this principle, if adopted, will lead us. Take the Newcastle electorate, where there is a preponderance of voters of one way of thinking. Under the marvellous system advocated by Senator Barker, all that will be necessary will be for 3,000 or 4,000 of these persons, who ought to vote for Newcastle, to say “ We prefer to vote for North Sydney.” That is going to be the effect of the Bill.
– It is. And I believe that is the reason why this provision is submitted. If that is not the intention, let the Government show their bona fides by putting the safeguards in the Bill, as was done in connexion with postal voting, and the “ Q.” form. And then, before an election approaches, we shall know whether the Government are honest in seeking to give a fair opportunity to the electors, or desire to obtain a dishonest vote for their party.
– If the. provisions are bad, it does not necesarily follow that they will help our party.
-I do not think that the Labour Government will pass any regulations to help any other party. If it is not intended that they shall be framed in the interests of one party, is there any reason why they should not be set out in the Bill? In the case of postal voting, and also of absent voting, the matter was not left to be settled by regulation. We did not leave a temptation open to a hardly pressed Government to manipulate the law.
Turning now to compulsory voting, Senator Pearce, in introducing the Bill, gave us a very eloquent discourse on the always interesting question as to whether voting was a duty or a privilege. What had that to do with the issue? The honorable senator argued that it was a duty. But this Bill does not provide for a man doing his duty. Had it provided tor compulsory voting, then the Minister’s lecture might have been of some use. What is the use of talking about voting being a duty, when all that the Bill does is to provide for compulsory enrolment? The honorable senator went on to draw some comfort from the fact that we have compulsion in regard to education and defence. Let us continue the parallel. What will be the position if we merely provide for compulsory enrolment for the Defence Force, and leave it optional whether a man who was compulsorily enrolled did his duty or not?
– It would save a lot of expense.
– That is not the point. The Minister of Defence said that we adopted the compulsory principle in regard to education and defence. To make this Bill parallel to that would be to suppose a system under which scholars were compulsorily enrolled, and told that they need not attend school, and the same thing in regard to cadets. The Bill makes a great virtue of compulsory enrolment, but leaves the elector free to do what he likes afterwards. But even the enrolment is left entirely optional with the Government. Apparently they are afraid to launch a provision for compulsory voting. Why this timidity if there is any good in compulsory enrolment? Let the Ministry say at once if they intend to have compulsory enrolment or not. It certainly should not be left to one Government to order compulsory enrolment and for another Government to order the opposite. The proposal arises from a misconception as to the cause of the weakness in our electoral system. It is assumed that a very small percentage of the electors vote. Figures are given to show that only 62 or 63 per cent, of those on the rolls vote. But I unhesitatingly assert that the rolls are largely inflated. If you remove the names which ought not to be on the rolls, you will find that a very much larger percentage vote than appears from the figures which are usually quoted. The memorandum, which was laid upon the table by the Minister of Defence as coming from the Chief Electoral Officer, makes an admission, certainly not intentionally so, that the present rolls are inflated. It contains this paragraph -
A scheme of compulsory enrolment associated with a card index system for the prevention of duplication of enrolment and fraud would not only be of enormous advantage from an electoral point of view.
One of the arguments used in advocacy of the new system is that it will prevent duplication. Surely that is an admission that it exists to-day. We have to remember that a large number of the electors, although their names are on the. roll, are prevented by distance from attending the poll, and that a large number may even be prevented from obtaining postal votes for the same reason. These must aggregate a considerable number, and they clearly ought to be allowed for. Then we have those who are prevented by illness suddenly coming upon them to obtain postal votes, and of course they are prevented from going to the poll. We have also to bear in mind the deaths which occur after the last clearance of the rolls. Under the Jaw the Registrar-General of each State is required to furnish the Electoral Officer with a quarterly return of the registered deaths ; but it cannot be given effect to immediately. We are losing by death in New South Wales about 1,000 voters every month. At the end of each month the names of a large number of deceased persons remain on the roll, although it is known officially that they are dead. In the case of the last election, it is safe to assume that the names of those who had died during the previous six months were still on the rolls. Again, it is a common practice for persons, who move from one electorate to another, not to get a transfer, but to wait for the policeman to come round and take their names.
When all these things are allowed for, it seems to me that there is no ground for the gibe, to which utterance is being constantly given, that there is a large amount of apathy among the electors. I believe that a bigger percentage of the electors vote than we have a conception of. Compulsory enrolment will in no sense increase the percentage of voters on the roll who will vote. Persons can get on the roll, but the provision will not make an additional man go to the poll. The Bill is silent on that point. Hitherto, out of 100 electors on the roll, only 62 have voted. Let us see what is the real weakness of our system. I venture to say that it arises, not from the fact that it is a voluntary system, but from the fact that the State practically undertakes to enrol men and women, and does not do so. At present nobody troubles to get enrolled. They say that there is no need, as a State official will come round and take their names. If he does so, it is all right, but if, as frequently happens, he does not, it is all wrong. If honorable senators look into the matter, they will see that the real evil is not that the system is voluntary, but the fact that the elector has been practically told not to bother about getting, enrolled, as that will be done for him.
– That was due to his apathy.
– It was due to a desire to help the elector ; and, as he is quite prepared to be helped all he knows, my honorable friends may rest assured, that the more they ‘help him the less he will do for himself.
– Is that the reason why the honorable senator is arguing against men being compelled to enrol ?
– So far, I have not said a word for or against it. All that I- have done has been to show the illogical nature of the arguments of Senator Pearce when he spoke of the duty of voting, and limited the Bill to compulsory enrolment.
– The honorable senator would support the Bill if it provided for compulsory voting?
– I should not; nor am I attaching any importance to compulsory enrolment. I consider it merely a chip in porridge. If we desire a healthy roll, it is far better that we should say to electors, “ The obligation is yours to become enrolled. We shall not bother about it at all.” I venture to say that if we took that course the elector, by himself or by his organization, would see that he was enrolled.
– That would not be a sound argument
– I use it because I think it is a sound argument. I say that there are hundreds of men whose names are left off the roll because they believe that the police have taken their names. If we said that, in future, the police should not collect names of electors, and that each elector must himself see that he is enrolled, he would do so. They do not bother now because they have been led to believe that the State is bothering for them. It would not be throwing any heavy responsibility upon electors to leave it to themselves to see that they are enrolled. I would make it so easy and simple that any elector would have only himself to blame if he was not enrolled.
– Electors have to make a declaration before a justice of the peace.
– I am speaking of a system which I should be prepared to propose. It is possible to devise a law which would be simplicity itself. I should simply say to electors, “ There is your duty ; you will yourselves have to look after your enrolment. To enable you to do so, there will be available in every public office, Police Court, police station, post-office, and registrar’s office, cards for which you can apply.” I should arrange that such cards would be carried free through the post, as land and income tax returns are now carried. I should have at the bottom of the card a perforated piece which would be sent back by the Electoral Officer as an intimation to the applicant for enrolment that his application had been received. There is no person in the community who is not every few months in touch with some public office.
– There would have to be a justice of the peace there.
– A justice of the peace would not be required under the system I am suggesting. Why does the honorable senator desire to hamper our people by making provision for witnessing by justices of the peace?
– I do not.
– Then why talk about it? A man who desires to have his name on a Commonwealth roll is not required to go before a justice of the peace.
– I was referring to South Australia.
– But it is not necessary in South Australia.
– For the Legislative Council, it is.
– The honorable senator is speaking of a State law, and we are legislating here, though Senator W. Russell may not be aware of the fact, for the Commonwealth. There is, under the Federal law, no necessity for any witness to an application for enrolment. The chief difference between what I suggest and the present system would be the intimation to the elector that if he wishes to gethis name on a roll, he must take the necessary steps himself. We have demoralized our electors by leading them to believe that they need not do anything, since the Government will do everything for them.
– How is it that the Government to which the honorable senator belonged did not do all this when they were in power?
– How long did my honorable friends leave us in power to do it? I venture to say that, during the time the Government of which I was a member was in power, a greater number of useful measures were passed than during any similar period in the history of the Federal Parliament; whilst I do not think it can be said of any Government, except the Labour Government, that, after being in office for eighteen months, and having had a long holiday, they were, at the opening of a session, without any business to present to the Senate. I should like to say, with regard to compulsory enrolment, that I have very little faith in it. By itself, it does not seem to me that it will add any value to our electoral machinery. I venture to say that the proposal was drafted, not with any idea that there was any virtue in it, but in order to enable a card system to be introduced. The card system may be an excellent system, but excellent systems may be run mad. It would be folly on our part, merely because of the adoption of a card system, to alter the whole basis of our electoral law.
– It cannot be “ run mad “ until it is given a trial.
– But is the Government going to try everything merely because it is new?
– No ; but if it is good, yes.
– If it is good, it cannot be mad. In this case, I do not believe we should ever have heard a word from the Minister of any virtue in compulsory enrolment, as the memorandum shows, if it had not been for the adoption of the card system. It is not compulsory enrolment, but the card system, that is desired. I regard compulsory enrolment as absolutely useless if the electors, when enrolled, will not vote. If they will vote only under compulsion, they will not add much to the collective wisdom by which the community is governed. To compel men to do something they do not want to do may swell the numbers on our rolls, but will not add one bit to the wisdom on which we rely to solve our national problems. Again, does any one believe that these provisions are going to be enforced? Are we to have an army of electoral policemen running about the country and arresting, with or without a warrant, every man or woman who has failed to become enrolled ? Are they to follow the hundreds of people who are continually travelling from one electorate to another to see whether or not they have infringed any of the provisions of this great card system ? Do honorable senators opposite expect this measure to be enforced? Not one of them can say how it will be possible to follow up the hundreds of thousands of electors in Australia who, in following their daily occupations, will be removing from one electorate to another, or from one place to another. If we are to have an army of policemen tracking each elector as he leaves his .house, to see where he goes, and how long he stops there, in order to say whether it is necessary that he should be transferred from one roll to another, or from one cardbox to another, it would be very much easier for the Commonwealth to undertake the whole work of enrolment and have done with it. Then there is to be a penalty imposed on the man or woman who fails to be enrolled, and a similar penalty upon those who move from one electorate to another and fail to have their names transferred. Let me point out here that the transfer in the latter case must be pretty rapid, or the system will not work. A person removing from one electorate to another must immediately make his application to be transferred from one roll to another, or he will be violating the provisions of the law, and the fundamental principle of this great card system; and it will be the duty of the policeman to go after him and see that te is fined £2. I do not believe for a moment that the penal provisions of this Bill will be enforced. It would be impossible to enforce them. We should have one half of the electors running after the other half to levy fines upon them, and thewhole thing would break down amidst public ridicule. Assuming that the framers of the Bill attach some importance to the principle of compulsory enrolment, it is fair that we should ask under what system they will proceed. The Bill tells us nothing about it, and the Minister said nothing on the subject. One would think that when it is proposed to introduce such a radical’ alteration in our system of enrolment, the Minister would have given at least a skeleton view of the new system as he proposed to work it. There is a new system proposed ; honorable senators on the other side are warmly supporting it; and not one of them knows what it is going to be. Could there be a greater testimony of the unthinking loyalty of the party opposite?
– The honorable senator is not a prophet.
– Then I have tomake a more serious allegation. If I am to assume that honorable senators opposite do know what the new system is to be, I must ask whether it is to be understood that the Minister introducing a Bill, having privately informed his supporters of what is proposed, is under no obligation to tell Parliament, as a whole.
– We are blessed with common sense.
– No; or my honorable friend would not interject so frequently. We have not yet been informed as to what the new system is to be. Is thi* because honorable senators opposite are conscious of the fact that all these matters are now approved of before they reach Parliament, and that they may, therefore, ignore the obligation which rests upon a Minister introducing a Bill to explain its provisions ? All that we are told in this Bill is that the Government, at their option, may introduce a system of compulsory enrolment. It is optional with the Government to say what that system shall be. That is a very slipshod way of legislating. Ministers should certainly tell us what system they intend to propose. There are dozens of ways in which to establish a system of enrolment, and we should know which way the Government intend to select. Before we are asked to assent to a main principle, we should know something of the machinery by which that principle is to be established.
– There is something about the averment of the officer being sufficient.
– I shall come to that directly. The only provision on the subject of enrolment in the Bill is this -
It shall be the duty of every person who is entitled to be enrolled as an elector, and who is not so enrolled, to fill in and sign, in accordance with the Act and regulations, a form of claim for enrolment as an elector, and to forthwith send or deliver it to the proper officer.
There is a further provision with respect to transfers, and on default in either case the elector may be fined. But by what measures do the Government propose to carry out this system, if it is finally decided to adopt it? Whilst the Government may be satisfied that they have explained the matter elsewhere, and have received approval for what they propose, even an Opposition in Parliament are entitled to ask what is intended under the Bill. Further than that, the country has a right to know what is intended; though, apparently, the present Government are forming the habit of ignoring the great body of electors outside. As showing how necessary it is that we should have some information on this point, let me direct attention to the extremely arbitrary powers sought under another provision of this Bill in reference to this very matter. In the proposed new section 6ie, it is provided that -
In any prosecution in any Court of summary jurisdiction in respect of any contravention of any of the regulations relating to compulsory enrolment, instituted by any officer or by any person acting under the direction of an officer, the averments of the prosecutor contained in the information or complaint shall be deemed to be proved in the absence of evidence to the contrary.
That is an absolute reversal of all we have held to be the basis of British justice from time immemorial.
– It is about time we had some Australian justice.
– I hope that no one will so libel Australia as to suggest that it is a type of Australian justice to take the averments of an officer as proving what he avers until the contrary is proved byevidence. I know that it may be said that similar provisions may be found in our Customs Act and Commerce Act. On this point I should like to give honorable senators a quotation bearing upon the reasons which almost compel the adoption of that principle in those Acts. The quotation is from the Law Reports, volume XVII, page 104 -
In all Customs Acts such provisions, apparently subversive of the first principles of justice, are to be found, for experience has shown them to be necessary in consequence of the peculiar difficulty of proving offences against the Customs.
Mr. Justice Higgins, in the judgment from which this quotation is made, lays down two things. The first is, that this or similar proposals are subversive of the first principles of justice, and the next is that the reason why they are necessary in Customs Acts is the peculiar difficulty of proving offences against the Customs. It cannot be contended that experience has shown that provisions subversive of the first principles of justice are necessary in connexion with Electoral Acts. It has not been shown that we have any right to destroy the first principle of justice because of the introduction of a regulation which has not yet been framed. One can only assume that this arrogant attempt to take an arbitrary power has been suggested by a Department, which may or may not be conscious of its own integrity, but which considers that it is only fair and right that it should have in its hands all the power which an unthinking Parliament may be induced to grant it. A Bill is proposed to enable the Government to establish compulsory enrolment, and it is further proposed that, when an averment is made’ that an elector has infringed any of the’ regulations made under the measure, it is to be considered as proved, and the obligation is cast upon the elector of disproving it.
– It is Treating the electors like smugglers.
– With this difference, that the smuggler has sometimes a; chance of making a profit out of his transactions, whilst the elector is to be given no’ chance at all under this Bill. It may be said that we must assume that these provisions will be administered with common sense, but that is a phrase frequently used, to mean quite different things. As showing the danger of placing in the hands of a’ Department powers such as are here askedfor, let me direct attention to a sentence in the departmental memorandum which the Minister read, and I venture to say that it. will rather astonish honorable senators to’ discover the extent to which the officials of a Department will twist an Act of Parliament when it suits their purpose. If I’. asked honorable senators whether our electoral system to-day provides for compulsory enrolment, they would say, “ Certainly not.” Yet the Department, twisting the existing Act, declares that we have the right to enforce a system of compulsory enrolment under that Act. The reference is to section 32, and the paragraph in the memorandum is as follows -
The Act at present admits of a proclamation being issued (section 32) requiring the preparation of a roll under a system of compulsory enrolment.
Let us see what section 32 says. It will illustrate the extent to which a Department will strain any law, human or divine, to suit its own ends. Here is the section which we are told authorizes compulsory enrolment -
New rolls for any polling-places, subdivisions, divisions, or States, snail be prepared whenever directed by proclamation, and in the manner specified in the proclamation or prescribed by the regulations.
I ask : Was it supposed when that section was passed, that any one would ever dream of interpreting it as authorizing compulsory enrolment? The question was never raised when the section was before us; and had it been raised, such a proposition would have been turned down at once. Whatever decision we might have arrived at concerning it, however, such a thing as compulsory enrolment was never thought of at the time. Moreover, if, as contended, the Department already has power with respect to compulsory enrolment, why this amending Bill ?
– The honorable senator will be told later on.
– Well, I do not wish to be personally offensive; but I think that Senator Findley is absolutely insulting this Senate when he tells us that we shall later on have information which ought to have been given to us when the Bill was introduced.
– Does the honorable senator expect me to reply to every interjection ?
– I do not; but this information ought to have been given to us when the second reading of the Bill was moved. The Minister did not tell us anything about this point.
– The honorable senator raises points, and they will be replied to..
– What is a secondreading speech for, if the Minister does not explain the purpose and intent of the Bill ?
– The honorable senator himself has the explanation
– Where is it?
– The explanation that the principal Act confers that power.
– Is that an explanation of what the Government propose in anamending Bill ? The Minister has me beyond my depth. To say that a departmental memorandum on an existing law istantamount to a Ministerial explanation of a proposed new law, is something too ab-‘ surd, even for serious consideration.
– It is something more than a departmental explanation or memorandum.
– Will the Minister show me where I can find any provision in the existing law which would permit of the compulsory enrolment of electors?’. There is not a word on the subject. When: the Department deliberately set itself to affirm that, under the present Act, it could, compel electors to enrol, it was violently stretching the meaning of the law, illustrating its desire to gather to itself as much, arbitrary power as it could, and to use it, not in furtherance of the principle of the. law, or of the public convenience, but - as is the case more frequently than not - in. furtherance of some departmental fad or theory which, apparently, obsesses those who for the time being are responsible for the administration. What is more, if, under the existing law, as stated by the memorandum, the Department could put compulsory enrolment into force, there is no’ need for these new specific provisions. The mere fact that they have been introduced shows that the law as it stands to-day is - as we thought, and, indeed, know it to be - insufficient for that purpose.
Now, I come to another matter, and it is an interesting one. I allude to a novel provision of this Bill, shaped, unquestionably, in the belief that, in some way or other, the party in power are going to harass1 their political opponents. I refer to the provisions, humorous in themselves, requiring a return of expenses by political associations, and a return of receipts for political advertisements and similar matter published by the press. If there were some limit as to the amounts to be received or paid for this purpose, we could understand a return being asked for. But there is no, limit as to the amount that may be paid to a newspaper, no limit as to the amount any newspaper may receive, and no limit as to the time which these returns are to cover. Presumably the return is to cover the three years of tine life of a Parliament ; it is to be an interminable return. No period is set during which a newspaper is to keep the accounts of what it receives for these purposes. Is it to be for six months, or for the whole period between elections, or are newspapers to be called upon to make returns as to the amounts they receive from the publication of political matter at all times? Moreover, are the public going to be advantaged by this provision? It seems to me to be a matter of idle curiosity ; and if my honorable friends opposite think that, by these provisions, they are doing -something which is going to be in the nature of a bomb thrown into the ranks of their opponents, all I can say is that they are more likely to occasion smiles instead. Speaking for the metropolitan newspapers of Australia - and there are some of them for which I have no reason to entertain kindly feelings - I venture to say that an ^election costs them more than they get out of it. In my own State - and I speak more particularly from the knowledge I have of the metropolitan journals of New South Wales, though I believe that the same considerations hold good in regard to other States - I feel satisfied that, so far from the big dailies profiting, as they are supposed to do, a general election is distinctly a cause of loss to them.
– Nonsense !
– Let Senator Findley - who thinks he has disposed of my argument by using the word “ nonsense,” a subject upon which he ought to be a good judge - turn up the files of the metropolitan newspapers in this regard, i venture to say that if he consults the columns of the metropolitan journals of Victoria, he will find that almost the only profit which they derive from an election consists of advertisements of political meetings. No one, nowadays, publishes in the metropolitan newspapers an address to the electors in the old-fashioned style. All that you find are a few announcements of meetings, stating that Mr. So-and-so will address the electors at such-and-such a place, and that Mr. Somebody-else will be in the chair. These advertisements are practically the only political announcements - apart from official notifications - from which the newspapers derive any revenue. I do not suppose that the amount paid for each of them exceeds 5s. or 6s.
– Is that the only source of revenue the honorable senator knows of?
– The amount received from this source must be insignificant. Not even the most extreme and bigoted Labour party man will go to the length of saying, I believe, that the amount received from these advertisements is such as to influence the course of conduct of our big daily journals. It is, however, assumed - as we may infer from Senator Rae’s interjection, and from the remarks of others who support this proposal - that there is other political matter published in the metropolitan newspapers, not in the advertisement columns, which is paid for. That seems to be the charge underlying the innuendo. Now, I venture to say, without knowing anything of the internal management of the principal newspapers of this country, that if you were to offer them any sum for the advocacy of a particular line of policy, you would be unsuccessful. I shall., however, show, before I sit down, how the Labour journals compare with the metropolitan newspapers in this respect. Certainly I can say that, within my experience, I have never known either of the big newspapers of Sydney - and I believe that the same applies to the journals published in the other capital cities of Australia - to publish anything for money which otherwise they would not have been inclined to publish.
– That is the wrong way to go about it.
– Perhaps Senator Findley has a better knowledge of underground methods than I have.
– I have in regard to this matter.
– The conduct of our big metropolitan journals in this respect, however, offers a sharp contrast to what we know to obtain in regard to the principal Labour papers. If the term “ hireling press “ can be applied to any journals in Australia, it can be applied truthfully to the Labour papers.
– Which one?
– To the Workereither the northern or the southern issue. Here let me point out the manner in which this Bill has been designed to penalize journals which are not friendly to the party opposite, whilst leaving their own journals outside the scope of the measure. It is provided that newspapers which receive specific payment, for specific articles or matter on political subjects shall publish returns of «the payment received. That, of course, would cover non-Labour journals, which carry on business as newspapers ordinarily do. But yhat about the Labour newspapers? They may not receive payment for specific articles, but from their commencement to the present time they have not published a line on a political subject which in reality was not paid for. Every leading article in the Worker is a subsidized article. Yet the Worker would not come under the penalties of this Bill.
– Because the advantage given by way of subsidy would not come within the scope of the Bill. So that, while the Worker, in the return which it furnished, might not appear to have received £io, The Sydney Morning Herald might appear to have received ^200, and then my honorable friends would be able to go round saying, “ See what money can do ! “ Yet, while the Argus or the Age had received sums small in amount, the Worker would have received thousands.
– Absolute nonsense 1
– One only needs to turn to the official records of the Australian Workers Union for justification of every statement that I am making. The Worker is subsidized at the rate of 5s. per head by every member of the Australian Workers Union. How many members are there in that organization?
– I shall reply to the honorable senator when I get an opportunity, but I am not going to feed him.
– The honorable senator need not do so, because I happen to have the information. I turn to one of the last records of the Conference - in which my honorable friend, Senator Rae, took a prominent part. I must express my regret, as one who likes interesting reading, that I have so long overlooked copies of this document when they have been issued. I find that there are 47,073 members of the union, though there were some returns still to come in when this document was issued. We may say, therefore, that the membership is in the neighbourhood of 48,000.
– Say 50,000, in round figures.
– No, I prefer to be on the safe side, and will state the number at 48,000. Every one of these members is compelled to contribute towards one or other of the official organs of the union. I find that, under rule n, shearers, cooks, and machine experts are required to contribute 15s. annually, and all other classes of labour, including pressers and station hands, 10s. annually, to the funds of the union. I may as well read the whole of this rule.
– It is a very cheap union.
– It may be cheap to those who belong to it, but I think it i& certainly a very profitable union to some other people. The rule, after stipulating the amount of the contributions which I have mentioned, goes on -
In case of pressers or station hands, their respective occupations shall be written across the butts and tickets issued. Provided that the members shall further be subject to such levies as may from time to time be determined upon by the Annual Conference or the Executive Council. The rate of contribution for honorary members shall be 10s. per annum.
Here is the point to which I direct special attention -
Five shillings from each contribution received by the Southern branches shall be set apart exclusively for the Southern Worker newspaper; and such sum from each contribution received by the Northern branches as they shall agree upon shall be set apart exclusively for the Northern Worker newspaper. Members of the West Australian branch shall be entitled to obtain either the West Australian, Southern, or Northern Worker upon forwarding their Warier slip to the manager of whichever paper they prefer, and’ the West Australian branch shall pay the manager of such paper the sum of 5s. for each Worker slip so received.
I do not know what sum the Northern branches decided to contribute to their paid press. But let us assume - because the exact amount will not materially disturb my argument - that they have not been lessgenerous in the support of their press thai* the members of the Southern branches.
– They contribute less.
– I do not know how much less, but at any rate we will say that 5s. per head is taken from the annual contribution of these members. We may, therefore, calculate that £1 2,000 a 3’ear isbeing paid to purchase, to subsidize, tobribe, or to hire, a press - whatever term honorable senators opposite like to choose.
– What is the use of talking in that way?
– Because it is the only way of talking that my honorable friend would be able to understand.
– The members get value for’ value. ‘
– I do not dispute that for a moment. But what would be said if it were discovered that any political organization, other than the Labour party, subsidized a newspaper - say, the Melbourne Age - to the extent of£12,000 a year? What would be said if a proposal were made to raise from a party a compulsory levy of£1 2,000 per annum to subsidize any journal, or number of journals, which would not dare to publish a single line of criticism of the policy favoured by their pay-masters ?
– I wish Senator Frazer were here to tell us what he knows about the influence hrought to bear on the Age and the Argus.
-I am not stating What any one imagines. I am stating facts.
– The honorable senator has a delicious mouthful, and he is chewing it well.
– It may be delicious, but the point to be understood by the people of this country is that the Worker - the
Northern or the Southern issue - the organ of the Labour party in Australia, is the only party journal in this country, using the term as it is understood in other parts of the world. I mean that it is the only party journal so absolutely given over to the service of a party that under no circumstances will it venture to criticise that party, and under no circumstances will it ever say a word thatis fair towards its party’s political opponents. The reason is obvious. The Worker could not last a single day if it ventured to criticise anything that the Labour party did, because it is absolutely dependent upon the good will and the funds of that party.
– Has the Worker never criticised the Labour party? Has it never condemned the party? The honorable senator does not read the Worker regularly.
– I read it as often as it comes out. After my work here during the week I feel that I am entitled to a little recreation, and I do not know any means of getting so much recreation for twopence as from the Worker. The only occasion when that journal has ever condemned any section of the Labour partv was at the time when Mr. McOnwen and Mr. Holman were showing an independent attitude. Then, of course, there were two Labour parties in the field, and the Worker stuck to that section of the party which had the biggest control over the purse strings - namely, the portion of the party controlled by the Australian Workers Union. This great, independent, Democratic press was cute enough to see, on that occasion, that it was necessary to support the section of the party which provided the funds. Therefore, it said - “ Our duty is to follow the Australian Workers Union.”
– It is the only newspaper that is not controlled by pink pills or bile beans.
– It is the only newspaper in Australia that is absolutely bought and sold before it is issued. There is not a line published in it which cannot be said to have been paid for. Now what does this Bill propose to do? It proposes that if any journal receives payment for a political article, it shall make a return of the amount received. Is there ever a leading article published in the Worker that is not paid for? Each issue is subsidized.
– The honorable senator does not expect the Worker to be run by an honorary editor, does he?
– I am not now speaking of payments made to the staff for the work which they do, but I say that the whole character of every article published is determined before the paper is issued. The same cannot be said with regard to any other journal of importance published in this” country.
– What influenced the Age when it turned round before the last election?
– Before that change the Age had made the greatest mistake in its life - a mistake which I sincerely trust that it has by this time regretted. When it lent some measure of support to my honorable friends opposite, am I to assume that they bought the Age? If so, why do they not bring the fact forward in justification of what they are doing in this measure? Let them tell me what amount I shall have to raise when I want to buy the Age. Senator Findley knows that to talk of the Age having been purchased is to talk bunkum. And when he said that newspapers were purchased by political organizations, he stated that which he knows is not true.
-I did not make that statement. Senator Fraser made it.
– It was made by Senator Fraser in Tasmania.
– Whether Senator Fraser made the statement or not I do not know ; but it is novel to hear Senator
Findley and Senator Long base their hope of political salvation on a statement made by him. In Australia there is no instance of a newspaper being dependent upon a political organization for its very existence, except a Labour newspaper. I asked the name of any other newspaper which is dependent upon a political organization, and also the name of the organization.
– They are dependent upon sordid considerations.
– When the honorable senator talks of sordid considerations, let us see the position of my honorable friends opposite, as set out in rule 87, in this interesting book -
All members’ tickets, receipt-books, official reports, and rules shall be printed at offices owned and controlled, or partly owned and controlled, by the Union.
What about sorbid considerations now ?
– That is a cooperative concern.
– In these rules we have evidence of the fact that the only newspapers in Australia which can be said to be controlled by the finances of a political organization are Labour journals. If the latter were not absolutely dependent on enforced levies for their maintenance, they could not exist for twenty-four hours.
– Not at all. There are thousands of persons outside trade unions who are contributors and subscribers to the Worker.
– There is a little consolation in this Bill for the outside subscribers. I was dealing with compulsory contributions under the rules. I have nothing to do with what a man gives voluntarily.
– They can live without it all right.
– If they can live without the support of a political organization, it is strange that recently they had to pass a resolution threatening legal proceedings against those who would not pay up - proceedings which would open the possibility of men going to gaol without a trial by a jury.
– You are dealing with a thing which you do not understand.
– I hope that we never shall understand this system of running a hireling press.
– It is not a hired press.
– My honorable friend is quite right. It is absolutely bought.
– It is our own property.
– When the Worker publishes a leading article in favour of the Labour party, and the article has not been paid for specifically, it is rank hypocrisy to say that the newspaper ought not to make a return under this measure, because it did not receive a specific payment for that article, whilst at the same time other journals are called upon to make such returns. The Bill does not require the Worker, I repeat, to show that it is paid for what it. publishes.
– It is not - only in that form.
– I leave it to honorable senators to decide. I have no objection to my honorable friends having a party newspaper. My one regret is that the party I belong to is not sufficiently strong to have a newspaper. Honorable senators opposite may laugh. There may be journals which are supporting our party for business or other reasons. But on the Liberal side to-day we have no party journal in the sense in which the Worker answers to that description. The only journals in Australia which are party journals in the sense of being supported by party funds, and which dare not, even if they would, do anything to ruffle the feelings of those who provide the funds, are Labour newspapers. Under this measure, although they receive ^10,000 or £12,000 a year, to enable them to keep going - as a subsidy, that is, a payment for what they do - they will make no return. But other journals receiving ^5 or j£io at election time will have to do so. The wholething becomes an absurdity, and none the less so because it is largely hypocrisy. The only newspapers which dare not show an independent political feeling are the Labour journals. Some years ago I was running” a newspaper in Bourke. Of course, when an election came round, and I was a candidate, the newspaper had no difficulty inadvising the electors which way they ought: to vote. My newspaper did not receive a penny during the election for anything I published in it, while my contemporary got possibly a few pounds from my opponent.. What is to be thought of the newspaper I was running? In all seriousness could itbe regarded as a free ‘and independent journal ? Would the fact that not a penny’ was paid to it for what was published entitle it to be exempt from the impertinent curiosity of this provision ? That is exactly the position of the Worker to-day. It is owned, not by an individual, but by a political party; and of course it is supported by that party. The only difference is that while my newspaper supported me in a sort of way my honorable friends have to support the Worker, not because it is their newspaper, but because they have secured the greatest of all guarantees, that it will not say anything adverse to them. It will not venture to laugh at their views and criticise them. To that extent, that newspaper should, in all fairness and common sense, be much more called upon to disclose the fact that its articles are paid for; that money controls and drives the pens of its writers.
– Is it not disclosed in every issue of the Worker that it is the official organ of the Labour movement?
– My honorable friend admits that the Worker is an absolutely party newspaper, and is supported by the enforced levies on members of the unions.
– Then what is the meaning of the circular sent out lately by Messrs. Spence and MacDonell and threatening proceedings against those who would not pay their levies ?
– I have not seen the circular referred to. Probably it is a forgery.
– Undoubtedly the question was discussed as to what steps should be taken, and authority was given by resolution to the executive officers to determine, after legal advice, what action should be taken to enforce the levies. As a result of that, a circular was signed and issued by Messrs. Spence and MacDonell, threatening with the penalties of the law those who refused to pay.
– That has nothing whatever to do with the maintenance of the Worker.
– I was referring to levies made for starting a daily newspaper. The point is that there is a determination on the part of a political organization to have its own journals controlled by its own money.
– Cannot any organization in the Commonwealth have the same right?
– Here is where the hypocrisy would come in : When the election return was presented and published, it would appear as if the Worker was the only journal which did not receive any payment in connexion with the elections. The proposal is absurd, seeing that every issue of that newspaper is brought out with funds contributed for political purposes. Quite in keeping with the provision for this return is the provision with regard to canvassers. In this Bill canvassing is sought to be made illegal only when it is paid for. That opens up a very interesting prospect. An organizer for a trade union would not be worth his salt to the union unless he was also a canvasser for the political side of his party.
– Some of our best canvassers know nothing of politics.
– My honorable friend, notwithstanding a scarcely disguised smile, knows that 99 per cent. of the organizers of his union are all the while doing their duty to that union politically. In the rules there is a provision which enables the union to hypothecate a portion of its funds for political purposes. We know that the executive can appoint organizers for the union if it likes. It did so in connexion with the last election.
– I was one of them.
– The honorable senator was not the only person who was sent out as a political canvasser. I ask any one to imagine him keeping off politics for five minutes. You might as well condemn him to solitary confinement as ask him to leave politics alone for five seconds after he had found anybody to talk to. He could not do it. He knows perfectly well that he and others who were sent out by the Shearers Union in anticipation of the Federal election as organizers-
– Did such good work.
– They did such good work as political canvassers that they are in the Senate to-day. These organizers will go untouched by this Bill, because, while they are paid organizers, they are gratuitous canvassers. But when a political organization comes along and says, “ We have no industrial side; we can make no pretence at sending out organizers; we want to put on canvassers,” the position changes. The appointment of canvassers becomes illegal. That justifies my statement that the Bill is shaped to help a political party, and without any regard to what is fair and just to the great body of electors or their political opponents. The unions to-day, as will be frankly admitted by any onewho is candid, are largely political. It is recognised, both by those in their ranks and by those outside, that the line between mere industrialism and legislation is so thin that it is impossible to place it anywhere; that a union must be more or less political in its work.
– Under the law of the land.
– Even if there were no law, I recognise that the industrial unions have so largely served the purposes for which they were originally formedthat it is absolutely impossible for them . to consider any question affecting themselves without being immediately brought into touch with the legislative body. When a provision frees a paid organizer of a union, which is also a political body, from the penalties of the Act, and places a prohibition on a man called a canvasser for a party which has no industrial side, it becomes very patent thatthe Bill was designed to restrict those who have the audacity to differ from my honorable friends.
– Nonsense !
– Then why is canvassing right when it is carried on by a paid organizer for a trade union, and not right when it is carried on for a political party with no industrial side? Proposed new section 181c, which forms part of clause 35, reads - “(1.) A candidate, or a person acting on behalf of, or in the interests of, a candidate, shall not employ, for reward, any person as canvasser or committeeman or in any capacity in connexion with an election, unless the expense incurred could be lawfully incurred by the candidate under Part XIV. of this Act.
Penalty : One hundred pounds. “(2.) ‘Reward’ in this section includes any payment or promise of payment direct or indirect to the person employed or to the wife or husband or any relative of that person.”
That is what is proposed as regards canvassing. The concluding portion of the proposed new section does not, as has been assumed by some public utterances, deal with canvassers, but provides that the amount spent is not in excess of what is provided for in Part XIV. of the Act. The prohibition against paid canvassers is absolute. The rest of the proposed new section merely deals with the employment of people in any capacity in connexion with an election. It becomes a piece of absolute hypocrisy to pretend that, in the public interest, it is right to allow unions to employ their organizers for political canvassing, and at the same time to prevent political organizations having no industrial side from employing paid canvassers. If the Government desire to stop all canvassing, they should make it an offence for an organizer for a political union to engage in canvassing.
– What is to prevent the Employers Federation appointing canvassers ?
– Because canvassing is declared to be illegal.
– By the candidate.
– Or by any one acting on behalf of, or in the interests of, the candidate. If I were a candidate, any one who attempted to canvass for me would be acting illegally under this Bill. On the other hand, my honorable friends opposite can send out the organizers of their unions, and though they will be paid organizers, they will do their political canvassing gratuitously.
– Will an organization be a “ person” under the Bill?
– Then the organizations of honorable senators opposite will be “ persons “ in just the same way.
– There is no prohibition against the employment of an organizer for a union. There cannot be, nor ought there to be, such a prohibition.
– Why not form unions ?
– Honorable senators opposite have formed industrial unions ; but the party to which I belong cannot form such unions. No trade union would accept me as a member, because I have no trade, and the bulk of the rank and file of the party to which I belong, as well as a great many persons who support honorable senators opposite, cannot belong to any union. My honorable friends, by their idle interjections, only show the difficulty they have in finding a logical argument to meet my objections to this Bill.
– The party opposite should be able to pay the railway fares of their canvassers.
– The honorable senator’s interjection carries no conviction to my mind. It is an easy matter for big bodies of men, with the power to make enforced levies, to pay the expenses of their canvassers.
– My honorable friends opposite should not let a poor fellow find £2 to pay his own railway fare.
– This Bill says that we are not to be permitted to employ such a man.
– No ; Senator Millen says that.
– Does Senator Long mean to say that this Bill does permit of the employment of a paid canvasser?
– I do not wish to set my knowledge against that of the honorable senator, but I think he is wrong.
– If I am, the drafting of this Bill is such that a schoolboy would be flogged for being responsible for it. I refer honorable senators to the proposed new section 18 lc
– - The candidate must not do certain things.
– Or any person acting on behalf of, or in the interests of, the candidate. Does the honorable senator mean to say that the proposal is not to allow John Smith to act in this way on behalf of the candidate Jones, but that if William Brown and John Robinson join with him and they call themselves an association, they will be allowed to do so? Can an association do these things?
– Of course it can.
– Employ a canvasser ?
– Not in the interests of the candidate.
– But that is the whole thing. Senator Long took me to task ; now let him find fault with the Minister.
– I do not find fault with the Minister. It is quite clear that under this provision a party may employ paid canvassers for enunciating their policy without reference to a particular candidate.
– If that is what is meant, we shall be no further than when we started. Unions can send out as paid organizers men who will be at liberty to go on a platform and advocate the claims of individual candidates. They will be paid as organizers, but as canvassers they will be working gratuitously. Senator Rae has been candid enough to admit that he has been a paid organizer. Let me ask the honorable senator whether at any time when he was organizing and inducing men to join his union, he did not canvass for votes for the Labour party when an election was going on? I am sure that the honorable senator would do so, and so would any one else in . a similar position.
– What would be the use of canvassing members of the union? Would he not know that they were all right?
– I did not suggest that Senator Rae, as a paid organizer, would stop at canvassing members of a union. Senator McGregor’s interjection is simply buffoonery. Honorable senators opposite are seeking to place a disability upon their political opponents, whilst leaving themselves full freedom,’ because of the nature of the political bodies with which they work. They are unable to deny that statement, and hence the silly interjection of the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– I say there is an absolute answer to the statement.
– There may be, but it was not conveyed by Senator McGregor’s interjection. To-day, the great body of support which is responsible for the pre:sence on the Ministerial benches of my honorable friends opposite is the organized labour of Australia. That organized labour, acting co-operately through its unions, is admittedly a political force. It can employ and pay men to act as organizers for the respective unions, and these organizers are fo be free to canvass as much as they like. It needs no argument on my part to prove that. The organization Senator Rae goes .out for is the Shearers Union, and I invite any honorable senator, or Senator Rae himself, to say whether, when an election is on, he would stop merely at organizing for his union.
– Might I ask the honorable senator a question? The Employers Federation, or any similar body, sends out persons at the time of an election to ad vo* cate their claims, and will the honorable senator say that when they are asking a man to join their body they will not be likely to say, “ While you are about it; seeing that you believe in our principles, you know whom you ought to vote for “ ?,
– Senator Rae knows perfectly well that an association of thatkind does not cover the rank and file of the Liberal party.
– I said the Employers Federation, or any similar body.
– That is not an organization of which I am a member, and I do not know that I am- eligible for membership of it. I say that the rank and file of those opposed to the Liberal party cannot make -a pretence of using an organizer for a trade union as an excuse and cover for sending out a paid political canvasser. Senator Rae will not deny that an organizer for a union, when doing the work for which he is paid, would, if an election were on, canvass for a political candidate. He would be expected to do so, and he would not be worthy of his position as a paid organizer if he did not do so, seeing how closely industrial unionism and the political Labour party are associated.
– Liberal organizations have canvassers.
– But this Bill seeks to make their work illegal. If paid canvassers are to be permitted in the case of union organizers, why should we not be allowed to have our paid canvassers ?
– Have not the party opposite paid organizers?
– I am not speaking of paid organizers. The honorable senator would be the first to laugh if a political party, pure and simple, not a trade union, which is a combination of the industrial and political, sending out a man on the eve of an election, claimed that he was merely organizing. His business would clearly be to secure support for a political candidate.
– The party opposite have men and women canvassing for months before an election.
– Exactly; and my honorable friends opposite are trying to stop that by this Bill.
– It renders all serious debate in this Chamber unprofitable when honorable senators deny statements which are clearly set out in the Bill. This is the third or fourth time to-day that we have had these absolute denials, and when honorable senators have been pressed to point out the clause which would enable what they have said might be done to be done, they have been unable to find it. I refer Senator Needham again to the proposed new section 181c -
A candidate, or a person acting on behalf of, or in the interests of the candidate, shall not employ for reward any person as canvasser or committeeman.
The honorable senator shakes his head. It needs shaking, I think.
– Call him an organizer, and that would get over the difficulty.
– Would the honorable senator say that that was conforming with the law? He would call it a subterfuge, and any Bench would do the same. That would be absolutely trifling with the thing.
– The honorable senator is not worried over the clause, but he feels bound to make a little noise about it.
– I am worried about every attempt to twist our political machinery so as to make it aid one party and handicap another.
– It has always been used in that way.
– Is it because the honorable senator says that wrong has been done in the past, that now he is behind the Government he will use his power for the purpose of hampering his political opponents ?
– The honorable senator admits that there has been wrong.
– I did not admit anything of the kind.
– If the honorable senator does not admit it, he should not assume it.
– I was only taking Senator McDougall’s statement. He said that wrong has been done in the past, and apparently he assumes that that justifies honorable members opposite, now that they are in a majority, in handicapping their political opponents.
– He said nothing of the sort.
– Perhaps he did not ; I doubt if he could put it in that way. Still, that that is what the honorable senator meant is obvious. My honorable friends opposite mean to stop canvassing on behalf of their political opponents, or they do not? What is the use of the provision to which I have referred if it is not to stop canvassing? It says that canvassing is to be illegal, and that no person or association of persons is to be allowed to employ a paid canvasser.
– It affects both” sides.
– No; because my honorable friends opposite can employ canvassers under the guise of organizers for their unions.
– Cannot honorable members opposite do the same?
– We have no industrial unions which we can use as a cloak and a blind.
– There is the People’s party.
– I say that if the party on this side had to rely for its representation in politics merely upon men who are eligible to join an employers’ association under the definition of an Arbitration
Court’s award, we should never get a seat in Parliament. The number of persons competent to form themselves into an employers’ association would not be sufficient to secure a single seat in the whole of Australia. The fact is that the great bulk of those who do not support my honorable friends opposite, and a large number of those who do support them, could not assist one side or the other, so far as an organization is concerned.
– But they find the funds to fight the battles.
– That is only drawing another red herring across the trail. It is an attempt to appeal to some class prejudice. I am dealing with a proposal under which industrial unions will be allowed to employ paid convassers under the guise of organizers.
– They will not be allowed to employ them as political organizers.
– What nonsense ! We have had an actual instance furnished by the candid admission of Senator Rae that he went out as a paid organizer for the Shearers Union. The honorable senator will understand that I do not use the term offensively.
– I do not take it offensively. I think I was worth the money.
– I say merely that the honorable senator was a paid organizer, and, under this Bill, there is no prohibition against a paid organizer. If, as a paid organizer, he chooses to put in twentythree hours out of the twenty-four canvassing for a political candidate, he can escape all obligation under this Bill by saying that he put in the twenty-fourth hour as an organizer for his union.
– The Liberal League of Western Australia sent out a lady organizer, and paid her.
– But my honorable friends opposite wish to stop that by this Bill ; that is my point.
– The moment a candidate’s name is announced, it is the business of every canvasser or organizer to get votes for that candidate, “and the honorable member knows it.
– I do not.
– Then the honorable senator has a lot to learn. I say that, even before candidates’ names are announced, organizers and canvassers are at work on behalf of their parties. This Bill will enable the paid organizers of trade unions to canvass for political candidates as much as they like.
– How many are there? There are very few.
– The number is unlimited, so far as the powers conveyed by their rules are concerned. The executive council of the Shearers Union can appoint as many as they like. The honorable senator knows that every shed “ Rep.” can be used as a political organizer. They will all be paid as organizers, but will be available as political canvassers.
– We do not pay shed “ Reps.” a penny
– They get a commission on what they sell, and a better commission than is given in the commercial world for the sale of anything else.
– The employer can do precisely the same thing at election time.
– What about men who are not employers, and cannot form’ a union ?
– They can give their adherence to unions representing their political views.
– Men who cannot be represented in unions on the industrial side could not pretend to employ an organizer as trade union organizations may do.
– The Liberal League pay organizers all the year round.
– I repeat that my honorable friends opposite want to stop that under this Bill. I claim that we should have the right to do that, and I do not quarrel with my honorable friends opposite for doing it. My quarrel with them is that, while they permit the right of unions to call their canvassers organizers, and pay them as such, they want to withhold that right from their political opponents.
– It is a quibble.
– It is too silly to call it a quibble. Senator Needham’s overwhelming ability may enable him to read into the words of the clause to which I have referred more than I can read into them; but I say that they can have only one interpretation.
– The honorable senator has given his own interpretation.
– I have read the words of the Bill ; and I need not interpret them at all.
– They are all right.
– It is all right to permit the Labour party to have paid canvassers, but it is not right to permit the same privilege to their political opponents. It is a curious thing that this Bill, which comes to us after eighteen months of Labour administration, and which comes from a Department whose Ministerial head has not been out of the country, contains a proposal as to which the Minister who moved its second reading has intimated that an amendment will be moved to strike it out. I refer to the proposal with regard to the hiring of vehicles. Senator Pearce, in his introductory speech, said that it was proposed to drop that. Why? I am going to suggest a reason. The party opposite would like to adopt the clause to which I refer, but they find that it would affect too many of the votes of cabmen and others who derive a profit from the hiring of vehicles at election times.
-The insinuation is utterly unwarranted.
– When you see a Bill shaped with the deliberate purpose of hamstringing political opponents, one is justified in suspecting every provision contained in it.
– Senator Pearce said that the Opposition had been finding the motor cars, and we had been riding in them.
– Is that the reason why the provision to which I have alluded is to be struck out? I do say that it is a remarkable thing that, after all these months which the Government have had to mature this Bill, it should come before the Senate and be placed upon the table side by side with an amendment to strike out that remarkable proposal. If the Bill had been hastily prepared, this would have shown a great want of vigilance and care on the part of the Minister and the Department. But I say, again, that the Government are proposing to strike out this clause dealing with vehicles because they found that they were going to offend the very large vote of those interested in the provision of vehicles.
I should like, before sitting down, to ask the Minister whether it is intended in this Bill that the provisions with regard to the expenses of associations and the amounts received by newspapers shall apply with regard to referenda?
– Yes, they will apply to referenda.
– It is interesting to know that, because we shall have this position : If, in the course of a referendum campaign, any public association, in the exercise of its undoubted rights, takes a hand, as every body of electors is entitled to do, the Government will come along and want to know what that association has spent; whereas honorable senators opposite, by means of their organizations, can do the same thing, and will be under no such obligation, because the industrial side of their unions is not compelled to make any return at all.
– We are quite agreeable to make a return.
– Of course, they are agreeable. The answer will be, “ We have collected so many thousands of pounds, and have spent them through our unions.” We know, however, that the bulk of the money goes for political purposes.
– It does not.
– I have shown that one-third of the money paid by members of the Shearers Union goes towards the support of political newspapers. But that is not everything. Other portions of the funds also go for political purposes. The organizers of these unions are political organizers, pure and simple. I do not mind that. I have no objection.
– Then what is all the bother about?
– Because honorable senators opposite will not allow us to do what they are doing themselves.
– The Opposition party can do the same thing.
– The honorable senator should not forget that he has the Free Workers Union on his side.
– I have yet to learn that there is any union on my side; but honorable senators opposite have a hireling press supported by their unions.
– A hireling press?
– Yes, I repeat it. The only party papers, pure and simple, in this Commonwealth - the only papers which are bought and sold - are the Labour papers. We have no distinctively party papers in Australia apart from the Labour papers. There are party journals in America and in Europe; but I repeat there are none in Australia, except the Labour journals.
– The honorable senator is not serious, surely?
– I do not wish to speak offensively ; but if honorable senators know anything about party journals in other parts of the world, they will know what is meant by the term. There are not only party journals in America and in Europe, but there are even personal journals, which are conducted in the interest of particular individuals. We sometimes see references in the cables to the expressions of opinion made by the organ of so-and-so. In Australia, I say again, with the exception of the two Workers, we have no party journals. I am not cavilling at my honorable friends having those newspapers.
– What are the other newspapers, if they are not party journals ?
– They are not party journals in the sense in which that term is understood in Europe and America. When the Worker in Sydney publishes a single complimentary reference to a political opponent I shall be prepared to modify what I have said to-day; but I have seen no references to a political opponent in that newspaper, which would not be a disgrace to the lowest gutter journal published anywhere. We never see the other journals of Australia adopt the methods of criticism which are adopted by the Worker.
– Dothey not?
– No; my honorable friends opposite cannot find, in any of the leading journals of Australia, any such references to their opponents as can be found in any issue of the Worker.
– What about the Sydney Morning Herald’s reference to hanging Willis like a dog?
– That was an item of news, and not an expression of opinion by the newspaper. But when I find the Worker, as it did at the last referenda, saying, concerning an utterance delivered at the Sydney Town Hall, by the leader of this party, that his remarks were “ blithering,” I say that this is a fair illustration of what party journalism can come to in the hands of my honorable friends opposite. The other newspapers of Australia do, at least, deal with their political opponents in a fair and reasonable spirit. They may combat the views of my honorable friends opposite; they may denounce them, but, at any rate, they do so respectfully, and frequently give them credit where credit is not their due.
– Look at the way the Worker speaks of Mr. Willis.
– What has Mr. Willis to do with this matter? It must not be assumed that I am cavilling at the attitude of the Worker. I am not. All that I am doing is to show that it is the only party organ that I know of in existence in Australia, and at the same time, I am showing that, under no circumstances, will that organ do anything seriously to criticise its political friends ; nor will it, under any circumstances, see any virtue in its political opponents. That is party journalism as exemplified in the Worker.
– That is the position of the Adelaide Critic, the dirtiest rag we have in South Australia.
– I suppose it does not give Senator W. Russell all the notice that he thinks he is deserving of. I have been induced, by interjections, to continue longer than I had intended, and perhaps to digress in a way that was not altogether material for the purposes of my argument. My position is, however, that this Bill has been introduced for the purpose of reducing public facilities by taking away from a very large number of electors opportunities for voting which they enjoy at present. At the same time, the party opposite are seeking to handicap and hamstring their political opponents, not by appeals to the intelligence of the electors, but by using the power which, as a majority, they possess, to place legislative shackles upon those who are opposed to them. These disabilities, too, are being imposed under the pretence of merely perfecting the electoral machinery of the country. I mentioned, earlier in the debate, the term “ gerrymandering.” We all know the object and purpose which the ingenious individual, from whose name that term is derived, had in view. This Bill seeks to do the same thing in another way. In that instance, there was an attempt, by means of the manipulation of electoral boundaries, to secure unfair results for the benefit of a particular political party. The Government have brought in this Bill for the purpose of attaining the same object by different means. This Bill has not been brought in to remedy any public evil. It has been brought in simply because honorable senators opposite think that they can, by imposing disabilities upon certain voters, so handicap and hamstring their opponents as to make their own position more secure. We are, therefore, impelled to the conclusion - unless we must give up all hope of fair play being extended by the great body of the electors of this country - that, by legislation of this kind, the Government are simply erecting a gallows upon which they themselves will be hanged.
– I am somewhat astonished that, after the scathing criticism of this Bill by the Leader of the Opposition, to which the Senate has just listened, there was not a rush of honorable senators opposite to answer him.
– There was nothing in the attack.
– Nothing in it? I think that if honorable senators opposite have any honour left in their composition, they ought to be ashamed-
– Order !
– The Government ought to be ashamed of submitting such legislation as this. If there is one species of legislation that ought to be sacrosanct from party feeling, and as to which the interests of the whole community ought to be the first consideration, it is legislation with regard to voting ; because the exercise of the choice of the electors is the foundation of all our legislation. It is the putting of little pieces of paper into the ballot-box that registers the views of the electors, and, in a country such as this, where universal suffrage prevails, every possible opportunity should be afforded to every man and woman to exercise the vote as freely as can be. One views the Bill before us with mixed feelings. One must have a certain amount of admiration for the audacity of the party which supports such a measure. But I am shocked at the injustice which the Bill seeks to perpetrate. I am sorry that Senator Pearce is not present, because it was he who moved the second reading. . In so doing he delivered a somewhat attenuated speech in support of the Bill. He passed over the major portion of it very loosely indeed, and characterized it as in the main a machinery measure. He admitted, however, that there were three main principles in it - one to abolish plural voting, one to substitute what he called a better and more comprehensive system of absent voting, and, thirdly, a provision to establish compulsory enrolment. The main feature of the Bill, however, is its absolute want of principle. It seems to me, reading it very carefully, to have been dictated by a policy of revenge. The whole measure is designed to support the party that is now in office. In my opinion the Bill cuts across all the rules of political honesty, and is, as Sena tor Millen aptly said, the worst specimen of legislative gerrymandering ever submitted to any Parliament in this country. It is a brazen attempt so to shape legislation affecting the electoral machinery as to keep in power the political party that is now enjoying office.
– I rise to order. Senator McColl has just said that this Bill is a brazen attempt to keep the present Government in power. I do not think that he ought to have used such language.
– What does it matter?
– It matters a great deal.
– The only word used by Senator McColl that might be out of order was the word “brazen.” Otherwise I do not think that there was anything in what the honorable senator said to take exception to.
– The proper title of this Bill - which is entirely misnamed - should be “ A Bill to secure Trade Union and Socialistic Domination in Australia.” That is the real purpose of the measure. The most important part of it, and that which most affects the community, is that it proposes to make, a clean sweep of the postal voting system.
– The last stronghold of the Opposition.
– This is only, however, one direction in which power is being used so to shape administration and legislation as to carry out the purposes of the party which I have just named. We have had introduced into this country preference to unionists, one of the most pernicious principles, and the most subversive of liberty - the strongest attack on individual ‘freedom ever made in Australia. The attempts made to bolster up the party in office constitute a political scandal. The party itself is entirely driven by political’ bosses. At a recent meeting of the Political Labour Council in Sydney, the chairman said - “ This is the Parliament of Australia.” He told the members of the Federal Parliament that they were simply sent here to carry out the commands of that body. And the party opposite are carrying out the will of their political bosses in the legislation they are introducing to-day. If the Bill is to be driven through the Senate, it will be driven through at the cost of the honour and self-respect of its supporters.
– Order ! The honorable senator is our of order in stating that if the Bill passes it will pass at the expense of the honour of those who support it. I ask lim t to withdraw the statement.
– In obedience to your request, sir, I withdraw the statement. In this measure the Government are taking away facilities for voting, and therefore it does not provide for compulsory voting. To me it is not so much an essential that we should have a full roll as that we should have a full poll. Men and women should have the chance to enrol, and those who do should have every possible opportunity to vote, so that we may have a large poll. But we know that the Labour party do not want a large poll. If it were possible to get a large poll, they would be swept out of existence.
– At the recent elections in Western Australia, there was the largest poll on record.
– One swallow does not make a summer. In Western Australia the electors were simply- renewing the votes which they gave at the referendum. But in the other States, on that occasion, the electors voted in a different fashion.
– The larger the poll the better for us.
– That is not the case. There is nothing in this Bill to enable the true will of the people to be ascertained ; to give the large number who do not attend the poll an opportunity to vote. At the last election a combination of circumstances put the Labour party in power. But since then they have received a very serious warning that they are not on solid ground. Finding that they are on thin ice, they realize that they must bolster up their position. Hence we have preference to unionists, and this measure introduced. Warned by the voting at the referendum, they set themselves to consider where lay the danger of the party being defeated at the next election. They attributed the danger to two causes, namely, the women’s vote and the influence of the press, and so they said, “We must take away the women’s vote; we must deprive that section of the community of the full opportunities which they now have to record their votes. And we must curb the press in order that there may not be such a full expression of opinion in regard to us as there has been in the past.”
– Can you substantiate the statement that Labour men attributed the defeat of the referendum to the women’s vote?
– The whole Labour party attributed their defeat to that cause; otherwise, why is this attempt made to abolish voting facilities? It was in South Australia that the Labour party first brought in the system of voting by post. In Victoria the Trades Hall party was not in favour of granting womanhood suffrage.
– That is not correct.
– It is absolutely correct. In this measure, the Labour party are attempting to abolish the female vote, which they think is not in their favour, and to curb the press, in order that we may not have a free expression of opinion. How has the postal vote operated? In 1903, when women first voted under Federal law, 527,997 males, or 53.09 of those on the roll, voted ; while 359>3J5 females, or 39.96 per cent., voted. At the election of 1906, 628,135 males, or 56.38 per rent., voted; while 431,033. females, or 43.30 per cent., voted. In 19 10, 802,030 males, or 67.58 per cent., voted; while 601,946 females, or 56.17 per cent., voted. From 1903 to 1910 the number of females who voted increased from 359,315 to 601,946, or nearly double ; while the percentage of voting increased from 39.96 to 56.17 Yet it is this great vote which the Government are attempting to trammel, and preventing from being exercised in the way in which it ought to be. The postal votes issued in 1910 were as follow : - Males, 12,690 ; females, 15,459 ; total,29,253 ; showing that a very much larger percentage of females than males voted. At the recent referendum, the voting was as follows: - Males, 10,540; females, 14,257 ; total, 24,797. One peculiarity is that nearly one-half of the votes polled in Australia under this postal system have been polled in Victoria. Out of. I5> 459 postal votes, 7,708 were polled in Victoria. At the referendum, out of 14, 257 postal votes issued, 7,748 were polled in Victoria. Because it does not see fit to become a Labour State, and return a majority of Labour members to Parliament, a distinct blow is aimed at Victoria in this measure. The proposal to introduce the postal vote was made here in 190a. At first, a radius of 10 miles was fixed upon, but that was altered by the Senate to 5 miles. Is it fair or humane to withdraw this voting facility from the weaker persons in the community - women who are unable to go to the poll, and those who are ill and infirm? That is what the Bill seeks to do. It is really an attack on the crippled, the helpless, and the infirm, and, of course, on the women of Australia. That is not playing the game fairly. There has been no public demand for the abolition of the postal vote. Its abolition has not been advocated in the press, or- by any party in Australia. This is purely a move in order to strengthen the Labour party. When the postal vote was first proposed here, the Senate was practically unanimous. Both Labour men, and other senators, voted in favour of its enactment. In the other House, although some objections were taken by Labour men, on the whole there was a fairly unanimous vote in favour of postal voting. But as time passed, the Labour party realized that it was the postal votes which turned elections. When the postal votes came in, after the first poll was declared, it was found that a majority of them were against the Labour party, and so it . was decided to try to abolish the system. In 1909, when the last revision of the Electoral Act took place, almost every Labour man in the Senate, with the exception of Senator E, J. Russell, voted against the retention of the postal voting system. The names of those who voted against its retention were Senators Croft, de Largie, Guthrie, Henderson, Lynch, Needham, Pearce. W. Russell, Story, Findley, Trenwith, Turley, Stewart, and McGregor. At that time, the Labour party had not the necessary number to abolish postal voting, but now that they have a majority, they bring in this measure. When the last amending Bill was sent down from the Senate to the House of Representatives, the same unanimity was shown there on the part of the Labour party to try to abolish postal voting. They gave practically a solid vote against the principle. But, at that time, they were not able to achieve their purpose, and now they have renewed the attempt. It involves not only a question of party feeling, but a question of humanity. We ought to–consider the feelings of those who are feeble and ill, and especially women, who are unable to go to the poll. Women are under natural disabilities ti** which men are not subject. They have on their shoulders the care of the household, and of children. If postal voting is abolished, it will deprive invalids of a right of citizenship. It will deprive thousands of voters in remote districts of the opportunity to record a vote. Of what use is it to compel a man or woman to travel 15 or 20 miles to be enrolled when you do not give them the privilege of voting unless they travel a like distance? The provision in this Bill for compulsory enrolment should be followed up with a provision for compulsory voting. I am not too fond of compulsion in any way. But there might be some merit in this proposal of the Government if it were followed up with a greater extension of voting opportunities. This is not a time to curb or cripple voting facilities. On the contrary, it is a time when they ought to be extended in every possible way. Under this measure compulsory enrolment is to be introduced by proclamation, so that the Government will have the right to act as they please. I take exception to the fact that the administration of nearly the whole of the measure is made subject to regulations, which, of course, may be framed in such a way that they can be used to the Labour party’s advantage. The Bill also pro’vides that the poll shall be taken on a Saturday. We ought to hesitate before we take that step. Saturday is very near Sunday, and we do not want to encourage Sunday labour. This provision cuts across the conscientious convictions of many members of the community. We have no right to interfere with the conscientious convictions of the Seventh Day Adventists and the Jews. We have no right to compel them either to vote on Saturday, and, perhaps, break a rule, or to be disfranchised. The provision ought, I think, to be reconsidered, with a view to appointing a suitable day for taking the poll. Under what the Minister called a comprehensive system of voting, a man or woman will have to attend personally on the Electoral Registrar. That may suit persons in the cities and towns, but it will impose a very great hardship on persons in the country. How can we scatter electoral registrars broadcast over Australia ? They must be established in centres of population. Under this measure, persons who live miles away will be compelled, under a penalty of *£2, to come in and register. That will inflict a great hardship upon them, as well as on feeble persons and women. There are many respects in which the Bill is defective. It does not contain details, but the application of the provisions is largely left to regulations. The provision which enables a man to vote all over Australia is a very dangerous one, because it will open the door to personation and double voting. How a check is to be kept has not been explained by the Minister, and certainly is not indicated in the measure. At present, a man has to obtain a postal certificate or a ” Q” form. In the latter case, the applicant must mention the division in which he lives, and his number on the roll, otherwise a form will not be supplied to him. That presupposes a knowledge by the applicant of his position with regard to enrolment. .But under this Bill a man can go to a polling place anywhere in Australia, make a declaration, and then record his vote. That will open the door to all sorts of corruption and personation. When introducing this legislation, the Government might have improved our voting facilities very much. The opportunity to do so seems to have been lost, and only one thing appears to be aimed at by this measure. The sending of a number of ballot-boxes to one place is wrong, in my opinion. Every ballot-box ought to be opened where the votes are polled. There would then be a means of checking the votes that we have not now. On the question of the returns of expenses, there is nothing said in the Bill as to how far these are to go back. It is not stated whether they are to cover the period between the issue of the writ and the polling, ot some period anterior to the. issue of the writ. The provision with regard to newspapers seems to me to be an attempt on the part of the Government to get. even with newspaper proprietors for their opposition on previous occasions. From the definition of electoral matter, it is very difficult to understand what will lae regarded as a breach of these provisions. It is the duty of the Opposition, having in view the enormous interests involved in this Bill, the interests of the freedom and liberty of women especially, who will be deprived of a great privilege given them under the existing Act, to fight this measure throughout on every line of every clause.
Debate (on motion by Senator Henderson) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.25 to 8 p.m.
– I move -
That, in the opinion of the Senate, all Government establishments for the manufacture or supply of goods for the Federal Public Service should (when practicable) be located in the Federal Capital Territory.
I do not intend to take up much of the time of the Senate in discussing .this motion. I have one or two reasons to put forward why the whole of the factories for the supply of goods for the Commonwealth should be established in Federal Territory. One reason is that we have spent, and are spending, an enormous sum of money in the rent and purchase of sites for factories, whilst we have land of our own in the Federal Territory on which they might be established. We have spent £139,100 in acquiring land for this purpose, and in renting warehouses to meet departmental requirements. No doubt it will be necessary to continue to have warehouses in all the capital cities of the Commonwealth. It must be obvious that factories for the manufacture of all the requirements for our military service should be established in Commonwealth Territory, whether in view of possible aggression from outside Australia, or of trouble which might arise within the Commonwealth. Such things have happened in other parts of the world, and they may happen in Australia. I do not say for a moment that they will, and I hope that they never twill happen; but he is a wise man who can foretell the future- Our factories for the supply of rifles, ammunition, and other requirements of our Defence Force could be easily cut off from the coal supplies which are necessary to keep them working. That will be admitted to be very undesirable. There are in the Federal Territory all the fuel and other requirements necessary to keep them going. Presuming the occurrence of trouble within the Commonwealth between States, or sections of States, the people in part of a State might be in- a position to control the whole of the Commonwealth by cutting off necessary military supplies, unless the factories are established in Commonwealth Territory, and can be guarded by the Commonwealth Forces. On the route of the proposed railway from the Federal Capital to Jervis Bay,” there are valuable seams of coal ; and in the Federal Territory there is almost everything that would be necessary to equip our factories. At present, we are depending for the supply of coal for our factories upon sources from which it has to be carried many miles, and that coal supply might easily be cut off. We have a small arms factory in a part of one State; a cordite factory, a harness factory and a clothing factory in another State. We shall require to establish factories for the manufacture of electrical appliances for the Post and Telegraph Department, and of field guns and waggons; and I am of opinion that all our factories to supply Commonwealth requirements should be located as closely as possible to each other, and within the Federal Territory, that they may be controlled by the Commonwealth authorities. Another matter which has to be considered is that it is almost impossible to keep a. set of men working in one factory all the year round. We may be able to keep experts going; but as soon as we get a reasonable supply of the articles required by the Commonwealth, we shall find it very difficult to keep the generalhands and assistants going in our factories. If all our factories were established close together in the Federal Territory, the labour might be made interchangeable. Men might be worked in one factory until its output had met requirements, and they could then work in another. It would not be necessary for them to go, as they may have to do now, from one State to another, looking for work. It is necessary that we should adopt some means of keeping our hands constantly employed, and my idea is that we should have our factories established close together within the Federal Territory.
– The honorable senator would change the bootmaker of to-day into the gunmaker of to-morrow.
– I am sorry that Senator St. Ledger does not understand the matter. I said that it would be necessary to keep the experts employed in these factories; but there will be many employed in them as assistants who will not be experts, and those are the people to whom I refer. It would not be necessary for them to be gunmakers to-day, bootmakers to-morrow, or lawyers the next” day. Another reason why our factories should be established together is that the cost of working may be reduced. We now have factories established in different parts of the Commonwealth at a working cost for each which would not be exceeded by the cost of working the whole of them together if they were established close to each other. An electric plant might be provided which would reduce the present working cost by two-thirds, and would result in the saving of many thousands of pounds to the Commonwealth every year. Now that we have lots of money, we need not think of the question of cost; but there may come a time in the history of the Commonwealth when we will be sorry that we did not look at the cost when our factories were being established. We might also, by the establishment of our factories close together in the Federal Territory, greatly reduce the cost of control. In all those now established, there are managers, bookkeepers, timekeepers, and paymasters. In each one of them a staff has to be employed. If these staffs were collected in the Federal Territory, the cost of control would be reduced by at least one-half. That is another consideration that should induce the Senate to vote for my motion. The cost of the maintenance of the small arms factory, the cordite factory, the harness factory, and the clothing factory, will be increased in the future.But that cost would be immensely reduced if the. work were concentrated in the Federal Territory. Another reason why I think these factories should be placed close together in the Federal Territory is that, in the near future, several thousands of men will have to be employed in the Federal Territory for the making of roads and bridges, and the erection of buildings. If we have 15,000 men at work there it is probable that there will be from 1,500 to 1,750 lads and girls, children of the workmen, requiring employment. If the heads of homes are located in the Federal Territory, employment will be required for their offspring. In cities like Melbourne and Sydney there are always plenty of avenues of employment for young people. But at present there are no avenues of employment for the sons and daughters of the workmen in the Federal Territory.I can see a grave danger in this. If we do not find employment for these people the lads and girls will have to be sent into the big cities to find work. That is most undesirable. It is true that we are suffering from a want of juvenile labour. Undoubtedly factories require juvenile labour to some extent. But, at the same time, there is a want of employment for parents. Parents have not sufficient work to do to keep them, and that is largely the reason why there are not enough of the offspring of the working classes to supply the wants of the factories. We should see to it that there is work for the young people to do at the Seat of Government. I say nothing now about the suitability of Yass-Canberra as a place to live in. Parliament, however, has determined upon the Capital site, and I am one of those who say that this Parliament should go into its home there as soon as possible. I believe, for my own part, that temporary accommodation could soon be provided to enable us to hold the sittings of Parliament there. It would be a good idea if, during the time when those buildings are being erected, Parliament could meet in the Northern Territory. It would be a good experience for all of us.
– I do not intend to say any more, believing that I shall have the support of the Senate for this motion. Honorable senators all desire to see the Capital established at YassCanberra without unnecessary delay.
.- I desire to second the motion, and to commend it as briefly as I can to the favour of the Senate. It appears to me that, either consciously or unconsciously, the present Government are doing all they can to further a process which, in my opinion, is likely to be disastrous to Australia, namely, the gathering together large numbers of the population in a few big centres. We have in Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide, large cities, the populations of which are out of proportion to the number of people dwelling in country districts. It appears to me that, instead of doing anything which would counteract that tendency, the Government are doing everything in their power to further it. A little while ago an article appeared in a very powerful journal, which claims to be national in its policy - the Age, published in this city. That journal argued that, as Sydney has had such and such a work established by the Government, it was now Melbourne’s turn to get something else. It appears to me that people who hold that view think that Melbourne and Sydney are all that count in this country. Even New South Wales and Victoria, outside the capital cities, do not appear to count. The Commonwealth does not count. Nothing counts but the big cities. I am altogether opposed to that policy. The first thing that should be considered by this or any other Ministry is the welfare of Australia, not the welfare of any particular city.
What is the position to-day in regard to the Capital site? So far from furthering the establishment in our own Territory of our own works, not a single thing has been done by this Ministry since the site was selected to establish anything in the nature of a Commonwealth work there. The Government have been put to great expense in purchasing or leasing offices and sites for the establishment of factories. Byandby, when we move into our own Territory, those factories will be scattered all over the face of the continent. They will require separate supervision and separate power to work them. We shall have nothing in our own Territory at all. I privately expressed my opinion to the Government at the time when the clothing factory was going to be established, that it ought to be placed in the Commonwealth Territory. The view put to me in answer to my argument was, that it would be impossible at present to get a sufficient number of employes to work the factory effectively in the Federal Territory. With all due respect and deference to those who hold that view, I submit that it is the purest bunkum. If profitable employment is to be found in a place there will always be employes willing to work there. How are we going to get population into the Federal Territory? How are we going to establish a decent city there, worthy of being the Capital of Australia, if we establish all our Federal industries in the metropolitan centres? We must find profitable employment for the people whom we expect to live there, and the sooner we make a beginning in that respect the better it will be. We have a small arms factory in a remote place called Lithgow. We have a cordite factory at Maribyrnong, a few miles from Melbourne, almost upon the sea shore, where it would be within easy reach of an enemy. We are going to have other factories established elsewhere. It appears that the only consideration actuating the minds of the Government is that, because there is a large population in a particular centre, factories ought to be established there.
– From what the honorable senator says, it would appear that every place in Australia will have a Federal factory, except the Federal Territory.
– We are tending in that direction. It is said that the buildings erected for the purposes of the clothing factory, and other factories, are merely temporary. Why go to the expense of erecting temporary buildings, and putting machinery in them, when further expense will have to be incurred hereafter to move them? I venture to say, however, that, when the time comes to shift these factories, Cain will be raised about our ears by indignant people, who will want the factories to be retained in other parts of Australia to increase the value of their own property and add to their own importance. Now the only consideration that counts with me is the interest of Australia. I am not asking for any Federal work to be established in Brisbane, or anywhere else in Queensland. I simply ask that the interests of Australia shall be looked after in this matter. A regular tug-of-war is going on as to where the Australian Naval Station shall be. A great deal is said about the claims of Sydney as the naval head-quarters of the Commonwealth. Melbourne indignantly puts forward a claim on behalf of Western Port as the finest site. We never hear a word about the claims of Jervis Bay nowadays. When the merits of the various Capital sites were under review, we were told that we had a splendid harbor at Jervis Bay. But now, it seems to have been swallowed up by the waters of the Pacific. I suppose that the very headlands have disappeared in the ocean. These things set one thinking. Why should two big cities like Sydney and Melbourne be able to exercise such an overweening influence upon the Commonwealth? There are one or two other reasons in favour of the motion which should be considered by the Senate. I am not so pessimistic as Senator McDougall is in believing that it does not matter what the Senate may do. I am perfectly certain that if the Senate puts its foot down firmly with regard to this matter, it can make the position of any Government that chooses to ignore its dictum very awkward indeed. Therefore, I do not agree with Senator McDougall in the view that it is useless for the Senate to express its opinion as it ought to do. Holding a strong opinion on the subject myself, I feel sure that, if that opinion is indorsed by the Senate, it will have a powerful influence upon the present or any other Government. I wish to emphasize one or two remarks made by Senator McDougall as to why the factories in question should be situated in the Federal Territory. Take, first, the matter of defence. We have a small arms factory and a cordite factory established about as far apart as we could possibly put them. But it is an undoubted fact, which, I think, will be vouched for by all competent military authorities, that it is highly desirable that those factories should be working side by side. At any rate, they should be as close together as possible. I believe it to be desirable that those factories, and all other military depôts, should be absolutely within the Federal Territory. It may be said that ari argument of that kind is rather far-fetched, because the factories at present are within the bounds of the Commonwealth. But they are not within bounds fully controlled by the Commonwealth Parliament, unless they are situated in Commonwealth Territory.
– That is to say, we do not exercise sovereign rights over them.
– Undoubtedly we do not; and that is the point that I wish to emphasize. We cannot exercise sovereign rights over those factories, unless they are within Federal Territory. When theUnited States first became a Federation, no. one dreamt that there would be internal trouble within half a century. But we all know that there occurred in that country a civil war which was one of the most disastrous and destructive that the world has ever seen. Any one who, at the time of the establishment of the United States, had predicted that such a war could occur, would have been laughed at as a pessimistic fool. Yet within about three-quarters of a century there was the most disastrous struggle in that country which the world has ever seen - a war which, I believe, entailed a greater human suffering, loss in human life, and material wealth than any other war which the world has ever seen. There is, I think, no one in Australia who does not hope that such a thing will never occur here. But everybody must recognise that while we have six States, each with occasional warringinterests, or what they consider as warring interests, and each suffering from what they may regard as a grievance, there, is always the possibility, even if there is not the probability, of internal trouble arising. In fact, it was only the other day that there was serious talk of a secession in Tasmania, with a population the size of that of an overgrown village. If internal, trouble should arise in Australia, in what sort of position would the Commonwealth be if it had not within its own boundary and control its arms factory, its cordite factory, and its ammunition factory? Suppose, for instance, that trouble arose between the Commonwealth and Victoria, and that Victoria was able at once to seize our cordite factory and shut off our supplies- of ammunition. That State would undoubtedly be able to dictate terms to the Commonwealth.
– No, because New South Wales could commandeer the arms.
– My honorable friend must recollect that probably the arms would have been distributed before; but suppose that he is correct, and that trouble arose between the Commonwealth and New South Wales, and that the latter seized our arms factory and left us armless and defenceless, in what sort of position would we be ? Probably the Government would try to rectify that evil by having an arsenal in another State. But suppose that that State took up a like position, kicked up a row with the Commonwealth, and seized our reserve supplies, we should be in a pretty queer kettle of fish. At any rate, while these things are not probable, there is always a possibility that something of the kind may occur. I submit in all seriousness that for the proper conduct and safeguarding of its Defence Forces, the Commonwealth should undoubtedly make sure that all these factories are located within territory over which it will have sovereign rights, and in which only its own authorities can interfere. I believe also that if we have a sincere desire to make a Capital worthy of the Commonwealth we should do everything in our power to immediately set about the business, and build up a large, populous, wealthy, and prosperous city at YassCanberra, which is practically a waste place at present. I believe that the electoral returns disclose that there are only 800 voters in the 900 odd square miles of territory under the control of the Commonwealth. If we convert that waste into a smiling and happy country with a population of 150,000 within the next ten or fifteen years, we shall have accomplished something good for Australia. But if we add to the population of Melbourne, or Sydney, or Adelaide, we shall be doing injury to Australia. I do not know how many men are employed in the various factories already set up by the Commonwealth. But I venture to say that if those factories and others which are projected are located in Commonwealth Territory, and also all the employés with the people dependent upon them, and the other hundred and one persons who will be called on to administer to their wants by setting up accommodation houses, building private factories, and running stores and shops, we shall very soon have a very considerable population there. In my opinion, that is the way to gradually set about the building up of a Federal Capital. At any rate, I am entirely opposed to the policy of further centralizing the population of Australia in a few large cities. I think that the Government will be well advised if they take into consideration at the earliest possible moment the desirableness, and indeed, the necessity of establishing Commonwealth works within territory over which we shall have sovereign rights and control.
– I am in hearty accord with the motion, and with the sentiments expressed by the mover and the seconder of it. At the same time, I have never believed in doing things by halves. If the Senate is going to carry the motion, the other branch of the Legislature should be asked to give its concurrence, and then there will be no doubt as to what the feeling of the Parliament is, and any Ministry worthy of the name will endeavour to give effect to that feeling.I move -
That the following words be added : - “ 2. That the foregoing resolution be conveyed by message to the House of Representatives for its concurrence.”
I do not wish to repeat the figures, or the facts, or the arguments which have been used in support of the motion. But I think that a word or two may with advantage be added to what has been said. I was one of those who opposed the selection of Yass-Canberra as a site for the Federal Capital. But I have always been a very strong advocate for the Capital being established, as the press facetiously terms it, “in the bush.” We know that within less than a century the State Capitals were situated within the bush, and that the presence and the needs of the population have created wealthy cities where once was bush. In like manner, the presence and the needs of the Commonwealth, peculiarly as a Commonwealth, are capable of raising up a very fine city on whatever site may be chosen. While I still regret that a better site was not chosen, yet the fact that finality has been reached in the only way known to parliamentary government - by the deliberate will of the majority - is a reason why that decision should be acted upon in the only practicable way. There are some who say that it would be of no use to shift the Parliament to the Federal Capital until we have there something like a substantial settlement; while others seem to think that it would not be wise to encourage settlement until Parliament goes there. One is waiting on the other, as it were. Of course, it may be argued that, as designs have not been obtained for laying out a city on those uptodate lines which we all desire to see adopted, that is a good reason for deferring the erection of buildings which may afterwards have to be altered or removed. But I do not think it is a good reason. I think that, before the ornamental part of the city is laid out, it is advisable to erect such buildings as may afterwards be suitable for other purposes, for instance, to accommodate any factories that may be necessary for the effective working of the Commonwealth. It appears to me that one special reason why no time should be lost in giving effect to this motion is not that adduced by its mover - that we shall be building up vested interests in other centres and incurring all the inconvenience and expense which arise from this scattered policy - but that we shall lose the value of land, much of which will have to be purchased. I have seen the official return of how much land will have to be resumed from private owners. The cost of that resumed land will be a perpetual charge on the Commonwealth. Therefore, in its own interest, the Commonwealth should utilize the land. I contend that - apart from the greater safety of an inland city from invasion - one of the main advantages of choosing a site away from an existing city or town for the purpose of a Federal Capital is that, by that means, instead of paying enormous prices for the sites necessary for Parliament House, public buildings, and other requirements, we shall have the ground at its natural or prairie value; and whatever value afterwards accrues will be the property of the nation. It will be infinitely cheaper to obtain the sites for factories and other works at next to nothing, than to buy sites near old-established settlements. At the same time, we shall be utilizing land which otherwise will lie idle, and for which the Commonwealth will pay in one shape or other. It appears to me that a very large proportion of the ,£139,000 already expended on the purchase of Federal sites, and the erection of buildings thereon, may be accounted for by the very high land values which attach to properties situated near large cities. There is absolutely no reason why, in a place so readily accessible as Yass-Canberra, we should not at once proceed to erect Federal factories, some of which have been established, and some of which are projected for the near future. The trend of modern parliamentary action is for the State to more and more undertake those duties, and the supply of those services which at one time were left entirely to private enterprise. As that tendency is likely to grow, even though our opponents should take our places, it will be necessary to have very large and extensive works in the Federal Territory. That is one good reason why we should have chosen a place where, by means of water power, we could have generated electrical energy. But, as that matter has been settled, it is obviously advisable that we should commence to build on the site which has been chosen. I do not imagine that the dangers so humorously foreshadowed by Senator Givens are likely to arise; but we must agree with him that they are remote possibilities.
– And we cannot shut our eyes to . the hatred of New South Wales.
– We cannot shut our eyes to the jealousy and distrust which exist between many of the States and the Commonwealth, or the absurd and parochial spirit in which many persons speak as though the Commonwealth were a foreign Power, to which the States were in some way asked to be tributary. But I do not think that any jealousy by the Mother State, as it likes to be termed, which is felt by the others, should blind its Government to the fact that, in more than one session of Parliament, they deliberately set about choosing a site which they knew must be situated within their territory, and that, therefore, no half-hearted effort should be made to prevent that decision from being realized. Surely no body, or Parliament, would be so deceitful as to take part in choosing a site, and express the hope that at no distant date they would be housed there, and then try to deliberately put every obstacle in the way of carrying out one of the main objects of establishing a Capital. I take it that the” main reason why a Federation requires a territory specially dedicated to itself, and placed under its own sovereignty, is not merely to avoid the jealousies of the States one with another, but to have a home of its own, and to there concentrate the National Departments. That the number of the services, and the importance of the various Departments under Federal control will grow year by year, is self evident. We are only now at the beginning of Federal control. We have only the nucleus of those Federal establishments which must necessarily grow and grow at a tremendous rate, both in number and importance. If that is so, surely it is only right and proper to begin to establish those necessary works and Departments where their ultimate location must be. The land, which will acquire value as the population increases, will, in time, return a revenue sufficient to defray the cost of the Capital. I believe that the Federal Capital will cost Australia nothing, and that, in die long run, all the millions we talk about spending upon it will be amply repaid. The only way in which we can attract population to the Federal city is, as Senator Givens has said, to find profitable employment for people there.
– And to have confidence in the place ourselves.
– I resent that interjection. I say that this Parliament has unmistakably decided on the site of the Federal Capital. I was opposed to that site, but Parliament having made the decision, no one should now question the advisability of concentrating the Federal Departments in the Federal Territory on the ground that some better site might have been chosen. If they do not believe that, it is open to honorable senators to try to bring about a reversal of the decision which has been arrived at.
– For the same reason, some who thought that a better Constitution might have been framed ought, I suppose, to go to work to tear up the one we have.
– That is a very farfetched and weak analogy. I should not be in order in making more than a passing reference to it. I may be allowed to say that if the troglodyte party which Senator Millen champions believes that the Constitution is, to use Senator McColl’s word, “ sacrosanct,” and should never be amended, they are hopelessly behind the age, and even more so than I believed. I say it is the obvious duty of the Government in carrying out the wishes of Parliament to utilize the site which has been chosen, or to take steps to reverse the decision of Parliament. Senator Barker has no right to attempt to defer the building of the Federal Capital on the ground that he does not approve of the site selected for it.
– I say that we shall show our confidence in the site by building there.
– It is our duty to build there, or take steps to have the decision of Parliament reversed. No middle course is honorably open to us. I do not .care for Micawber politicians, and no one has any right to defer action in this matter in the hope that something may turn up. I think that the motion must commend itself to the sense of honesty and fair play, even of those who, like myself, disapprove of the choice of the present site of the Federal Capital. It is good sense and sound business to at once proceed to build up the best capital city that can be built on the selected site. Thousands of people who are now living in the slums of Sydney and Melbourne would certainly be very much better off than they are at present if they were established in the healthier climate of the Federal Territory in well-managed and clean State factories.
– Ask those who have to work in our post-offices something about that.
– I am aware that, owing to the policy of the predecessors of the present Government, the Post and Telegraph Department was allowed to get into somewhat of a muddle; but it is our duty to pull it out of that muddle. That does not in any way detract from the absolute accuracy of my statement that State-run factories, in the matter of wages and general conditions of employes, are infinitely better than the average of those run by private enterprise.
– The complaint is now made that we are attracting all the best operatives from private enterprises to our factories.
– I believe that I saw it stated in the press that our factories were attracting the best workmen from private factories. I shall be told that this is because the State employe’s are getting better wages, but I venture to say that if honorable senators opposite get into power, they will not dare to reduce those wages, and there is not one of them who could prove, on any economic ground, that a single man or woman employed in the Commonwealth factories is getting a farthing more than his or her work deserves. Those persons who everlastingly, put themselves against any rise in wages, and try to make out that the State is coddling and pampering its employes at the expense of the general community, are the natural Conservative heirs of those who a few years ago, in England, opposed factory legislation. There are two sets of people m this Chamber.
– One has all the virtues, and the other all the vices.
– I deny that I have ever claimed for the party on this side a monopoly of all the virtues. What I say is that, while the individuals who compose the different parties in this House may not differ widely in regard to virtues or vices, we, as a party, are on right lines, and honorable senators opposite are on wrong lines.
– Order ! The honorable senator is getting away from the question.
– I was led away by the unseemly interjections of our opponents. I believe that the motion must commend itself to every fair-minded member of the Senate, that it will be carried here, and that it ought to be carried in both Houses of the Federal Parliament.
– The motion is one which the members of the Government will not oppose, because they have already endeavoured, wherever possible, to give effect to it. At the same time, it must be remembered that the proposition embodied in it cannot be put into practice so easily as Senator Rae seems to think. I venture to say that if any attempt were made to put it into practice in the rough and ready fashion that the honorable senator suggests, we should have a very great muddle to deal with in the Federal Capital when we came to build the CitY. Senator Rae and, I think, Senator Givens also have pointed out that we should endeavour to make the Federal Capital a model city, to avoid in it the mistakes of other cities, and in laying out the city and its surroundings to make it all that it should be. 1 ask honorable senators to consider the difficulty which that at once puts in the way of an immediate realization of this motion. So far, the Federal Capital has not been laid out. No plans of it have yet been adopted. The Government are taking- steps, in order that the city shall be all that several speakers have contended it ought to be, to invite world-wide competition in the designing of plans for the laying-out of the city.
– It was never contemplated that factories would be established inside the boundary of the city proper.
– The difficulty is that we do not know what is the boundary of the city proper. If we establish a factory there now, we might subsequently find that it would be within the city boundary, and possibly in one of the main streets. I could take Senator Givens to a street in one of the capital cities of Australia which is one of the finest streets in that city, with the exception of one part, in which there is a kink. That came about in this way : The surveyor sent out by the Imperial Government to survey the city, happened to plant his cottage there before he started his survey. When he completed his survey of the city, he found that his cottage was right in the middle of this street, and, instead of shifting his cottage, he shifted the street.
– He was a man of resource.
– No doubt he was. If we adopted Senator Givens’ suggestion, we might subsequently find that we had located our harness, or our clothing, factory in a main street of the Federal Capital.
– As a matter of fact, the boundaries of the city are mapped out now.
– That statement is quite incorrect. It is true that what it was proposed should be the boundaries of the Capital were mapped out ; but that work is by no means arbitrary. And when the city is laid out, it is possible that the boundaries so far fixed may be changed.
– The honorable senator was referring to the city of Perth in the illustration he gave.
– Yes ; to St. George’ s-terrace, in Perth. In pursuance of this policy, with which the Government have every sympathy, it was decided to locate the Military College at the Federal Capital, and the Defence Department at once received an intimation from the Home Affairs Department that they could not say where the college could be located, because it was not yet decided where the city was going to be. The very reason that the buildings of the present Military College are of a temporary character is that that question is not settled, and cannot be settled until the Capital is laid out. The Military College has been placed at a considerable distance from what it is thought will be the centre of the Capital, so that it may be on the environs of the city; and, but for that reason, it would have been placed much nearer to what is likely to be the site of the Capital. We have had to defer for the same reason the erection of some factories in the Federal Territory which I, personally, believe ought to be there, and would like to have seen established there. It is not right to say that the present Government are responsible for the sites chosen for the cordite and small arms factories. They were fixed by a previous Administration, possibly for the same reason as that which has actuated the present Government in the establishment of other factories. It should not be forgotten, also, that at the time the sites were chosen for the cordite and small arms factories, the site of the Federal Capital had not been decided upon.
– There was another factor - the supply of raw material - in the establishment of the factory at Lithgow.
– Yes; the local supply of steel, iron, and coal. We must either defer the establishment of factories, or establish them in temporary buildings, and face the expense of change and dislocation to which Senator Givens referred.
– Are the present factory buildings temporary buildings ?
– In some cases they are.I shall give instances presently. There is another difficulty to be considered, and that is the labour difficulty. I am sure that honorable senators on this side who believe in State enterprise wish to see it succeed. In order that it may succeed, we must have a full labour supply. In a clothing factory, for instance, the class of labour employed requires to be drawn from a big population. If we were to establish such a factory at a considerable distance from any large centre of population, we should have very great difficulty in securing the necessary labour to carry it on.
– What class of labour is the honorable senator referring to?
– I am referring to female labour. We have to remember that these State factories will come into direct competition with similar factories carried on by private persons in big centres of population.
– But not on even terms?
– Certainly, they will have to compete on even terms. We undertake in these factories to produce the articles required as economically as we could obtain them from contractors ; and, at the same time, to pay decent wages and provide good labour conditions. On present indications, we are doing that in the factories that have been established. If those who at present have the supplying of these articles, and who have recourse to an enormous labour market and the other facilities of a big centre of population, were competing with our factories, planted away in a place where there is no labour supply, we should be working at a very great disadvantage, and our opponents would immediately point to our operations as emphasizing the failure of State enterprise. It would be idle, then, to speak of the difficulty of obtaining labour, as that would not be regarded as a sufficient excuse. In pursuance of this policy, that our factories should be established in the Federal Capital, in the terms of this motion, “ when practicable,” we have, in the case ofthe clothing factory, erected such a building that, when we are in a position to move the factory to the Federal Capital, the building may be used as an ordnance store for military supplies for the State of Victoria ; while the machinery, being small, can be easily transported. In the case of the harness factory, we have purchased premises that have a market value, and which it will be possible to dispose of in the open market for as much, if not more, than we have given for them. The machinery of this factory is also small, and may be easily removed. As soon as the difficulties I have indicated in connexion with the Federal Capital are overcome, there is no reason why this motion should not be given effect to. I understand that it is the scheme of the Home Affairs Department to provide the power necessary to run these factories, and any other industrial works which may be started at the Federal Capital. Provision is to be made for an electric lighting and power-developing plant. This is not yet in existence, and if we established our factories in ithe Federal Territory to-day, we should have to work them with the most costly power - steam power.
– Where are we to get the water-power necessary?
– It is supposed that the Cotter River will provide water for the necessary power.
– I do not believe it ever will.
– That is such an old story that I suggest to Senator Vardon that he might refresh his memory on the subject by reading some of the old debates on the choice of a site for the Federal Capital.
– And especially the Minister’s own speech on the subject of the water-power of the Cotter.
– Yes; if the honorable senator will read my speech after we had been supplied with the latest reports as to the water supply available at the present site, he will see that I proved that there would be ample for domestic purposes, and for power also.
– The Minister of Defence then proved that Senator Pearce was wrong.
– No; the Minister of Defence then proved that Senator Pearce had acted on insufficient information, in the first place. I have shown that the policy of the Government is to give effect to this motion as far as practicable, and as soon as practicable. There are, however, and always will be, in a huge continent like Australia, difficulties in concentrating Government establishments in any one portion of it. To think of doing so is ridiculous. There must necessarily be industrial and other establishments scattered all over the country. The question, therefore, ought to be this - that so far as we can economically put those factories and public services in the Federal Territory, it shall be done. That is the policy which we propose to carry out. I do not know that I need add anything more. We are dealing largely with a question of the future. We have to remember that while the resources of the Federal Territory are undoubtedly great, and while coal is to be found in the vicinity, nevertheless, those resources are not yet developed. The coal seams are not being worked. Even if they were, there is at present no railway to bring the coal to the Capital. Therefore a large amount of preliminary expenditure will have to be incurred before the rosy picture painted by Senator McDougall can be realized. As one who wishes to see the Capital, not only a. political, but an industrial centre, I am anxious to do all that is possible to develop its resources. That has been the policy of this Government. We believe that we are taking action in that direction in an orderly fashion; first of all by mapping out our plans, and then, when those plans .are properly prepared, by developing our resources, opening up communications, and establishing industries, lt must be remembered also that the very fact that we do develop the resources and open up communications will in itself bring a large population to the Territory, thereby giving us the labour for the industrial concerns which we are anxious to promote. For these reasons, I have to say, on behalf of the Government, that we have no objection to the motion.
– If I spoke at some length on a previous motion, T propose to address myself to the Senate on the question now under consideration with penitential brevity. I wish, however, to say a word or two on a motion which is apparently assured of being passed by the Senate. We have had - as was to be expected - an assurance that the Government will carry out the resolution in the spirit in which it has been proposed. The phrase which affords a key to the motion, and expresses the real purport of it, is “ when practicable.” Il is in that spirit that I intend to deal with it. I have risen, therefore, first of all, to point to a matter which is closely associated with that which has now been brought under review. It is this : Before the undertakings to which reference has been made can be carried out, the Government of the Commonwealth, in my judgment, ought to be possessed of the freehold of the land upon which it is proposed to establish both the Federal City and the industrial works referred to. We have to remember that, whatever resumptions may have taken place in one or two areas, so far the great question of land resumption has not been seriously approached. I hope that it is not intended to go on developing the Territory on land owned by private individuals. If that be not the intention, is it not a matter, not merely of common sense, but of justice to the individuals concerned, that that resumption should be effected at once? We have to remember that there is a law upon the statute-book which provides that the Commonwealth shall resume at the value which prevailed two or three years ago.
– In 1908.
– That is three years ago. But no steps to resume have been taken so far. Are we going to wait ten or twenty years before we resume the land, leaving those who hold it at present in the peculiar position that, while they themselves are unable to do anything to develop it - they cannot even sell, because no one will buy while this sword is hanging oyer the properties - the Government, which must ultimately become the purchaser, remains passive, content that, no matter what happens, it can at any time claim that land at the value which obtained in 1908? I do think that that is repugnant to our sense of justice. We have, sooner or later, if the sentiment which prevails in this chamber, and which, I believe, prevails throughout theCommonwealth, is to be maintained - namely, that the Commonwealth shall be the landlord of the Federal Territory; I do not mean merely the sovereign power, but landlord in the sense of being the owner of the fee-simple - to face the question of entering upon a wholesale resumption scheme. If we are not going to do that, I say at once that we ought to repeal the section of the Act to which I have referred. Otherwise we do a gross injustice to the limited number of individuals who happen to have holdings in the Territory. Closely associated with this consideration is the main reason why I think the motion is entitled to support. Every one who has even the slightest knowledge of the A, B, C of land economics, knows exactly how land values are created. As population multiplies and concentrates, and as time brings added numbers to a particular locality, land values go up. Other f actors may temporarily obscure or disturb that process, but it is inevitable that the multiplication of population should cause land values to rise. In this Federal Territory we have to face considerable expenditure. Here is a road opened by which we can make that great undertaking largely sustain its own cost. I venture to say thatmany a syndicate would be quite willing to take this job off the hands of the Federal Government, and say, “ We will provide you with all the public buildings you require, if you will allow us to use the opportunities which are open to you in connexion with the appropriation of land values in the Federal Territory.” For that reason, I want to see the Commonwealth acquire the land which we are going to develop. That having been done, I wish to see the Commonwealth massing its various enterprises upon the Territory, with a view of securing that added increment - that unearned increment, if honorable senators opposite prefer the term - which will come the moment development commences. There is no quicker way to develop that Territory, when it is entirely ours, than, by commencing those big undertakings which will immediately be followed by large numbers of private individuals, either themselves seeking employment in the undertakings, or, what is much more likely, seeking to act as manufacturers and suppliers to those who will be so employed. It is idle to speculate on what the Commonwealth can hope to gain from the unearned increment which will accrue there. But we know that the area which the Commonwealth will have under its control will be a very considerable one. We know that, year by year, values will rise from a low pastoral value to quite a moderate agricultural one ; and the moment we proceed with the construction of the city, they will rise fromthatstage to city values when land will be sold at per foot. There is a fund upon which the Government can feedby concentrating in the Territory, as faras possible,all the undertakings to which reference has been made.
– The honorable senator is becoming wildly Socialistic all at once.
– I am not wildly anything, except when my honorable friend interjects, and thenI become wildly indignant. Except for that,I think Senator Findley is with me when I say that there is the strongest of business reasons for supporting this motion. But, before we can attempt, or ought to attempt, to develop this Territory, or toestablish industries there, we ought to take steps to resume the land that is not at present ours,so that the Commonwealth shall be both landlord and governing authority.
– As a colleague of Senator McDougall, I desire to congratulate him on having at length discovered that the Senate is of some use after all. For many years I have had to bear a certain amount of obloquy in New South Wales, and elsewhere, because I have always been in favour of the establishment of what has been called the Bush Capital. I was in favour of it because I considered that its establishment would do something to distribute the population of this country. At present, the capital cities of Australia, as regards population, are altogether too closely concentrated. I think thatmuch more happiness is to be found in cities of moderate size than in very large ones, where slums are apt to be created. I hope to see the Capital become both a political and an industrial city. One great advantage from the location of the Seat of Government there, will also be that we shall not be under the domination of any one newspaper in any large city. I hope to see a newspaper established that will be quite above State jealousy.
– We may have a Stateowned newspaper.
– We may. Idesire to make a slight correction with regard to a remark made earlier in the debate, with regard to the date of the Civil War in the United States of America. As a matter of fact, the war broke out eightyfour years after the establishment of the Federal Government. I am one of those who believe that in Australia we may confidently look forward to the time when there will be the most kindly feeling between the States and the Federal power. Therefore, I am convinced that the idea that such a civil war will ever break out in Australia is completely outside the realm even of imagination. I have no belief that we, as Australians, are going to be unbrotherly towards one mother. That is the reason why, for twenty years at least, I have been a strong supporter of Federation. We have no right to judge of what Federation is from its beginnings. We all remember the unfortunate jealousies that have prevailed in the past between Sydney and Melbourne. They have been greatly lessened within the last few years. T. am bound to say, in justice to Victoria, that I think the old New South Wales people were largely to blame for that jealous feeling.
– lt is, unfortunately, a fact. I remember a very worthy man in New South Wales chiding me for supporting Federation. He said, “ Had it not been for the separation of Victoria from New South Wales, we should have had Ballarat, .Bendigo, and the other big cities of Victoria under our control.” T replied, “ What did you do with the territory when. you had it under your control ?” I am particularly pleased that Senator Rae has moved the addition to the motion which is going to be accepted. If the two Houses of the Legislature pass a resolution of this kind, 1 am convinced that we shall soon see the Federal Capital in a fair way of being what it ought to be.
– I wish to say a few words on this motion. I indorse a great deal of what Senator Givens, Senator Rae. and Senator McDougall have said. 1 particularly wish to congratulate my colleague Senator McDougall on having brought the question forward. Most people who are reasonably minded will agree that the sooner we enter into possession of the Federal Territory the better. T quite agree with the Leader of the Opposition as to the desirableness of the Commonwealth becoming possessed of the whole of the land within the Territory. .1 also think with him that a magnificent future for the Territory is beginning to dawn upon the minds of the members of this Parliament and the people of the country. The Government should secure, if there is any chance of doing so, sufficient additional territory for the proper development of Federal needs. I should like to see a line drawn through Jervis Bay, and another line taking off the whole of the south-east corner of New South Wales and a piece of Victoria. I see some honorable senators smiling at that suggestion, but I am looking forward to the time when Australia will be a great nation,, and when there will be an end to that antipathy towards the Commonwealth which was shown no later than at the last referendum.
– I copyrighted that idea long ago.
– It seems to me that I am constantly trespassing against this Government. Perhaps that is the reason why they have introduced a new Copyright Bill. I particularly direct attention to certain remarks made by the Minister of Defence. He seems to think that the desire of Senator Rae, that we should at once commence Federal works within the Territory, was too advanced. Hut if the works are good, and it is desirable that they should be carried on within the Territory, the sooner they are commenced there the better. There may be difficulties in the way of giving effect to the motion immediately. But I must confess that I rubbed my eyes, and thought I was dreaming, when I heard a member of a Labour Ministry talking in the old-fashioned Tory way that Ministers have been accustomed to talk in Australia - as Senator Pearce did this evening. That has always been the way Conservatives have talked. But we want to do things now. It is desirable that, as early as possible, the manufacturing industries conducted by the Commonwealth should be transferred to the Federal Territory.
– The honorable senator wants to put the’ roof on before we build the house.
– What will it matter if these factories are established in the centre of the proposed Federal city before the Commonwealth Parliament takes up its abode there? By the time the city is completely built, the factories will probably be dilapidated, and we can renew them in a more convenient situation. 1 take it that the object of establishing these factories is that they will give us such a service of material for war purposes as will supply our troops with all they require. In order that they may be conducted, we shall want water power to develop electricity. If that power be provided for purposes of the factories, it can be utilized in connexion with building. I quite recognise that Ministers have their hands full of work. I know that they have been harassed ar.d overworked. But, at the same time, that does not relieve them of their duties. They will not make their work easier by putting it off until tomorrow. The best way of overcoming difficulties is to tackle them. Ministers have done a great deal in the matter of defence, land taxation, a new note issue, and so forth. While I recognise the good work they have done, however, I cannot shut my eyes to the responsibilities that still rest upon them, and one of the first duties is that we should rapidly and effectively develop the Federal Territory. I recognise the gain that will accrue from the increased value given to the land by the increase of population and the development of industries. I also gladly recognise the possibility of the cessation of disputes between States and Commonwealth. But, at the same time, we must remember that it was only owing to the forbearance of the Commonwealth that serious trouble did not arise some years ago in consequence of the seizure of steel rails and wire-netting by the Carruthers Government in New South Wales. We are not sure that similar disputes may not arise again. Since I have been in Melbourne, it has been forced upon me that the fact of being a New South Welshman leaves one open to being mistrusted and distrusted, and certainly does not recommend any one for employment in this State, even by the Federal Government. The qualifications of a person from New South Wales are still very closely investigated. I am convinced from what I have seen that a person who comes from Sydney is still treated with suspicion over here. So far from New South Wales being responsible for that jealous feeling, as Senator Walker says, 1 think that the reverse is the case. Whereever I go, I find a feeling of jealousy prevailing. I quite understand it. The wealth of that State, and the progress she is making, are sufficient to cause jealousy to arise, although New South Wales has made greater sacrifices for Federation, and got less out of it, than any other State. But I disapprove altogether of making it appear that this jealous feeling is all on one side. I came here, as, perhaps, one of the strongest opponents in New South Walesin my humble way - of the spirit of hostility to the other States. But, since I have been in the Commonwealth Parliament, 1 have met with nothing but jealousy, envy, and misunderstanding from the other States.
– I have met with the reverse. At the place at which I stay when in Melbourne I have never heard an uncomplimentary remark made about New South Wales.’
– I am very pleased to hear that in the circles in which the honorable senator moves State jealousy is dying away. I am heartily in accord with the mover of the motion. If he has done no other good, he has shown the true Federal spirit which some honorable senators have cultivated. I venture to say that a Federal city, surrounded with tall chimneys, belching forth smoke, as in Sheffield and other manufacturing towns in England, would not be a beautiful place. I would, therefore, impress upon the Government the necessity of trying to secure sufficient territory for the development of the future needs of Australia, if it is intended to establish these factories within Federal territory. Take the establishment of docks at Jervis Bay, which, with the growth of the Australian fleet, will be absolutely necessary, I understand that under the agreement the Commonwealth has only the land to high-water mark at Jervis Bay.
– It has more than that.
– We will get more than that.
– That assurance was given to the Senate when it passed the original Bill in the session before last.
– I feel quite sure that Senator Millen is correct. But I do’ net think that I am incorrect in stating that there has been no alteration of the provision that the Commonwealth is only to take over the land in Jervis Bay to high-water mark. What will happen? There is a number of natural inlets between the proposed Federal wharf and the defence works, which would form admirable places for the establishment of docks. But if we are to have the land only to high-water mark. New South Wales will, I take it,retain the right to the waters I refer to. I has’e reasonable ground for believing that the agreement has not been changed in this respect.
– New South Wales has expressed its willingness to give double the area which has been given if wanted.
– I should like to see a line drawn through the centre of Jervis Bay, New South Wales taking the northern portion, and the Commonwealth the southern portion. If we are only to have the land down to high- water mark, and it is intended to establish industries for ship-building or docking purposes, it will be very dangerous indeed to continue the development of the Federal Territory under such an agreement. If we have not already settled the question of going below high-water mark, the sooner it is settled the tetter. I believe that a broadminded settlement would be to draw a line through the centre of Jervis Bay to a point 150 miles inland, and thence to the ocean, taking off the south-east corner of New South Wales and a piece of Victoria. I. am looking a century or two ahead. If we are to continue as a Federation I think it is well to legislate not for a community of a few millions, but for a community which will comprise hundreds of millions.
Amendment agreed to.
– I am very pleased indeed with the manner in which my motion has been received. The reason which the Minister has given for not establishing factories in the Federal Territory at present is the very reason I gave why they should be established there when practicable. The Minister has told us that to-day we cannot get suitable labour.I admit that. But I would point out that when there are 20,000 men working in the Federal Territory we shall have nothing for young labour to do unless we have these factories established there. When the question of selecting a Capital site was discussed by a previous Government the conditions of labour should have been thought of. I am not alone in holding this view. I hold in my hand a report from a high official in. the military service, who placed these facts before the Minister of the day. I had no knowledge of the existence of this document when I gave notice of the motion, but it coincides with my view. The Minister has stated that there is no fear of internal strife arising in Australia. But that is no reason why the Commonwealth Government should not be prepared for internal strife. One of the best ways in which to prepare is to centralize the manufacture of war material, and the place for that concentration is naturally the Federal Territory. The report I refer to reads as follows -
When the site for the Lithgow factory had been selected, I reported to the Minister that the branch had not been consulted, and that, although I had not been asked to advise, I had, whenever the opportunity presented, advocated Federal Territory for two general reasons, viz. : -
The reasons are -
Defence. There are always possibilities of internal stress in a young nation, and therefore the factories for defence equipment should not be located where they could be dominated by any particular State ; that so long as they were in a town in a State, that State would dominate both coal supplies and distribution by rail (without necessarily taking control of the factory). If the factory had been on Federal Territory (Dalgety was then the selected site) it would have been independent of coal, and there would have been a Commonwealth port and railway thereto. The argument still holds good at Yass-Canberra, because there are coal measures on the route of the railway to Jervis Day, and Jervis Bay will be a port for distribution. Provided that the factory is situated within Federal Territory, it would entail aggressive action by a State to take control of the factory, which is a very different matterto an aggressive action on the part of the Commonwealth to maintain its control over the factory if located in a State town.
– What is the use of reading a. document to us if we do not know the name of the author?
– The concluding paragraph reads -
Last, but not least, the general question of factories’ control, both in its economical and industrial aspects, could best be effected by having the factories in one vicinity, and essentially within the Federal Territory,’ to attain one general system of administration, control regulation of output with resultant economies in management, handling for distribution, storage, and so forth. There is still a further possibility, and that is that with the large industrial population which there will be at the Federal Territory within three years of undertaking the construction, some of the factories would form an avenue of employment for the grown-up children.
– Whose report is it?
-The report was made by a high official in the military service, and presented’ to a previous Government. It proves that before I had any idea of being transferred from the very useful sphere of life I occupied before I was sent here, other persons thought as I did. A very high official in the service of the Commonwealth contended that preparation should be made for cases of internal or external aggression by placing in the Federal Territory the factories for the manufacture of defence equipment. The report discloses that somebody besides myself had the foresight to realize that when the Commonwealth places 20,000 men at work in the Federal Territory it has a right to see that their- offspring shall have a chance to get work in the factories there established. If, however, our factories are located in large cities, as they are to-day, and in which they will remain if something is not done to have them shifted, there will be no avenue of employment for grown-up children at YassCanberra. I hope that the motion, as amended, will be carried.
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Ministerial Statement : Electoral Bill - Old-age Pensions.
That the Senate do now adjourn.
When I stated yesterday that the Minister of Defence will represent in the Senate the Minister of Home Affairs, and that the Honorary Minister will represent the Minister of Trade and Customs instead of the Minister of Home Affairs along with the Postmaster-General, I omitted to mention that Senator Findley had been gathering information with respect to the Electoral Bill before that arrangement was made, and consequently he will continue the conduct of that measure through the Senate.
– I wish to ask the Minister in charge of the Treasury to send an officer from the Old-age Pensions Department to Sydney to go through the homes and institutions in which are housed quite a number ofold men who are entitled to old-age pensions, but who were refused them for various reasons by the State. A considerable time - years in some cases - has elapsed since the refusal was made. It is desirable that qualified men should be given an opportunity to get oldage pensions. Therefore I ask the Treasury to send to Sydney an officer to help old persons to get out of the State institutions, and to put them in the way of getting the provision which Parliament has made for their old age.
.- In New South Wales there is quite a number of old men whose cases I have been inquiring into, and who have been prevented from getting old-age pensions since the Commonwealth took over the administration of the Department, because the reports which State officials made years ago were adverse to their claims, perhaps in regard to behaviour. Although years have elapsed, these officers rake up the Police Court decisions against the applicants as a reason for continuing to refuse them old-age pensions. Every obstacle seems to be put in the way of men proving their ages. The very fact that a system of old-age pensions was undreamed of when they were born, and even when they arrived at early manhood, prevented themfrom taking particular care or interest in the dates when they were born, or the records which may have existed. In many cases, the record of birth or baptism has disappeared. Some of these men are not in a position to find outeven the exact spot where they were bom. I know of a case where a man could not find out the name of the parish in which he was born, because his parents died in his infancy, and he was removed by a relative to a distant part of the country. Whatever facilities are nominally granted for overcoming these difficulties, in many cases the officials put such obstacles in the way that applicants find it impossible to qualify. In the meantime, they are suffering deprivation; in fact, some applicants have died before justice could be done to them. I ask the Minister whether he cannot accept a certificate from a medical man that an applicant is obviously in excess of the qualifying age. It is preposterous to continue to demand accurate documentary evidence of age when it does not exist.
.- A case came under my notice not very long ago of a very old man who was kept out of his pension on somewhat similar grounds. I feel, therefore, the force of what Senator Rae has said. Where there is difficulty in procuring the evidence required, the matter might be referred to a medical man; and action taken on his certificate.
.-With respect to the statements made bySenators Gardiner and Rae, and the instance referred to by Senator McColl, I may say that the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act provides that, if the examining magistrate is satisfiedthat the applicant for a pension is, in the case of a woman, sixty years of age, and in the case of a man, sixty-five years of age, he may grant it. There is no difficulty in the way, so far as the provisions of the Act are concerned. I admit that cases have occurred, and some have been brought under my own notice, in which no very great alacrity was displayed by examining magistrates to satisfy themselves in the way provided for. I will have the representations of Senator Gardiner placed before the Treasurer, and I am sure that he will see that the old-age pensions authorities take some steps to obviate the difficulties which have been mentioned in the Senate this evening. I should like, also, to say that where difficulties occur in connexion with the granting of old-age pensions in individual cases, it would be well if the honorable senator or honorable member of another place, who is made aware of the fact, would bring the case under the notice of the Old-age Pensions Department. I believe that if that were done a remedy would be found to meet each case. I have had a number of cases submitted to me, and when I have brought them before the proper authorities, they have been duly attended to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 October 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1911/19111019_senate_4_61/>.