4th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have to lay upon the table the report of the President to the Standing Orders Committee, formulating and tabulating the decisions arrived at during the session of 1910.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 1st November, vide page 2068) :
Clause 3 -
Section 3 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting therefrom the words “ Part X.- Voting by Post.”
Upon which Senator Walker had moved -
That the words “ amended by omitting therefrom the words” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ altered so that.”
Amendment negatived. .
– I am sorry that the Minister did not give a straight-out reply yesterday to the question of Senator Cameron, as to whether the Bill would deprive certain persons of a vote. He replied that the persons were given many facilities, and indicated what they were. I was touching on the question of depriving respectable mothers of their votes yesterday when an unfortunate disruption took place. 1 had shown that, according to the figures quoted by Senator Findley, even after he had watered them down as much as possible, there were still some thousands to be considered.
– That is hardly fair on your part. I did not water anything down. They were official figures, and I used them as such.
– The honorable senator took what it would be, reckoning four weeks, and what it would be, reckoning two weeks. He took the lowest figures.
– I took both.
– Yes, and we were given what was believed to be the actual minimum, and even at that it was shown that there were several thousand women, at any rate, who would be deprived of an opportunity of voting. I want it to be known that the Ministry and the Labour party deliberately intend to take away from these people, as well as from those who are old, infirm, and unable to get to the polling booth, the opportunity of voting. Senator Long made an extraordinary statement with regard to an abuse of the postal voting system which he alleged occurred in Tasmania. He said that in one constituency 300 postal ballotpapers - practically one-half the number of postal ballot-papers issued - had been sent to one address, where they were evidently manipulated, because they were signed and sent in without the persons who had applied for them receiving them. lj for one, cannot understand how that could be possible. Under the Act it was the duty of the Returning Officer to take the postal ballot-papers and to compare the signatures on the certificates with the signatures on the application. If he did not make that comparison to satisfy himself as to the validity of the postal votes, he altogether neglected his duty. If the Heturning Officer did make a comparison such a fraud as is alleged would have been detected, because no man could copy the signatures of 300 persons with such accuracy that the imitations would pass when compared with the genuine signatures. Such a thing would be utterly impossible. It is laid down in section 119 of the Act that the Returning Officer - -shall compare the signature of the elector on each postal vote certificate with the signature qf Uie same elector on the application for the certificate, and shall allow the scrutineers to inspect both signatures.
The Returning Officer has not only to compare the signatures himself, but he has to hand them over to the scrutineers so that they may inspect them. If 300 postal ballot-papers were manipulated in the way alleged by Senator Long, I fail to see how it was that the Returning Officer, if he did his duty, did not detect the fraud. It is also provided that the Returning Officer - if he is not satisfied that the signature on the certificate is that of the elector who signed the application for the certificate, and that the signature purports to be witnessed by an authorized witness shall disallow the ballot-paper without opening it or separating it from the certificate; but if he is so satisfied he shall accept the ballot-paper for further scrutiny.
If the Returning Officer and the scrutineers at one polling place passed 300 postal bal. lot-papers on which the signatures were forged they were not doing their duty, and they ought to have been punished in the way the Act provides. It is put forward as a reason for abolishing voting by post that there have been some abuses. No matter what system is adopted, it will be abused by some people, and to abolish the facilities for people to vote by post because of a supposed fraud is doing an injustice to the people who wish to vote by post. I have shown that if the provisions of the Act were properly carried out fraud would be reduced to a minimum. We are now asked to cast the whole voting by post system on one side. It is said that there is to be constituted a more comprehensive system of absent voting. Under the system of absent voting proposed there are not the same safeguards as are provided in the Act with regard to postal voting. The Government say they are going to. provide these safeguards by regulation. The safeguards in connexion with absent. voting should be provided in the Bill as are the safeguards in connexion with postal voting in the Act. Matters of such importance should not be left to regulation. All the provisions against fraud should be set out in the measure itself, and the regulations should simply deal with details. People who are unable to attend any polling booth are to be deprived of the opportunity of voting, and the Ministry are going to allow people who are away from the division in which they reside to vote at any polling place in the Commonwealth. Safeguards should be provided in the Bill in connexion with absent voting similar to those which are provided at present with regard to voting by post, so that the opportunities of fraud may be reduced to a minimum.
. - After the division that was taken on the amendment proposed on the motion for the second reading of the Bill, it seems to be hopeless to expect the Government to reconsider the step which they are inviting Parliament to take, of abolishing voting by post. At the same time, I do not think we ought to allow that step to be taken without registering a protest. In addressing myself to the amendment proposed on the motion for the second reading - an amendment designed to emphasize the fact that what we should seek in an amendment of the electoral law is to extend, rather than to curtail, facilities for voting - I referred to the fact that there were 29,000 odd votes cast by post at the last general election, and in making reference to that number, I said that they represent, in strength, practically a constituency .
– The extraordinary thing is that half those postal votes were recorded in a small State - that of Victoria.
– My honorable friend may rest assured that I shall not fail to deal with that aspect of the matter before I finish. In looking through the figures in connexion with the last general election, I find that in New South Wales the largest number of votes was recorded in Dalley, where 26,143 votes were cast, and that the smallest vote was in Cowper, where 13,109 votes were cast. In Victoria, the largest vote polled was in the electorate of Bourke, where 30,959 votes were recorded, and the smallest poll was in Wimmera, where 17,774 votes were re corded. In Queensland, the largest vote was in Herbert, where 23,184 votes were recorded, and the smallest in Kennedy, where 14,076 votes were cast. In South Australia, the largest and the smallest votes respectively were Wakefield, 18,342 ; and Adelaide, 15,363. In Western Australia, Swan topped the list with 25,302 votes, while Coolgardie is at the bottom with 13,834 votes. In Tasmania, in the Denison electorate, 12,701 votes were recorded, and in, Wilmot 9,966 votes were recorded. Taking the constituencies polling the greatest number of votes in each of the six States, we find that Bourke, where 30,959 votes were cast, was the only electorate in the Commonwealth which polled as many votes as were recorded by post. We find that the constituency recording the greatest number of votes in Tasmania - Denison, with 12,701 votes - did not poll 50 per cent, of the votes recorded by post. The Honorary Minister has just reminded me, although I did not need reminding of it, that not all of the 29,000 odd postal voters were persons who necessarily depended upon postal voting to register their votes ; that they were not all persons who might not have voted otherwise, and that, therefore, they were not all persons who would be disfranchised by the abolition of postal voting. I have not forgotten that. But let my honorable friend not forget that those 29,000 odd electors did not represent the whole of the people who might have voted, and voted only by utilizing the postal voting system. They did not represent the large number of people for whom the then existing facilities were not sufficient. There were many others who were unable to register their votes, and many who would have been unable to do so no matter how easy the conditions or how great the facilities.
– The honorable senator had a chance to extend the facilities when he was a Minister.
– My honorable friend’s recollection must be very meagre. When I was a Minister I did introduce a measure which extended the facilities and multiplied the opportunities for postal voting, at the same time surrounding those opportunities with safeguards. We were then taking a step in the right direction - a step forward. Now we are asked to take a step backward - to get out of line with ourselves, out of line with our States, out of line with every institution of a representative character in the Commonwealth. Here
I may give an illustration. I said last evening, when Senator Lynch was speaking, that, notwithstanding the fact that he asserted that this system of postal yoting was the creation of the Labour party, it had actually been in existence in Tasmania before the Commonwealth came into being. We used the system of postal voting in connexion with the referenda on the Federal Constitution in 1899 and 1900. The system was applicable to the first Tasmanian Federal elections. In connexion with the Tasmanian University, the system of postal voting is used in regard to the election of members of the Council by members of the Senate. I, as a member of the Senate of the University, receive a postal ballotpaper in connexion with each such election. That is an example apart altogether from political elections. So successful has the system been in Tasmania, that it has been extended to institutions removed from ordinary politics. In making reference to the figures relating to electorates, I have pointed out that the largest votes at the last election ranged from 30,959 in Bourke, Victoria, down to 12,701 in Denison, Tasmania. The smallest polls ranged from j 7,774 in Wimmera, Victoria, to 9,966 in Wilmot, Tasmania. Those figures, of course, do not represent the voting strength of the constituencies. The enormous vote given in Bourke represents only 75.40 per cent, of the total number of electors on the Bourke roll. In Wimmera the vote represents 57.31 of the voting strength of the constituency. In all those instances the number of votes represents only a percentage of the full strength of the roll. I have a right to assume, therefore, that the 59,000 odd votes recorded under the postal system represented only a proportion of the persons who were eligible to vote under that system. So that when I stated that we were practically disfranchising one whole constituency, I erred well within the mark. 1 should have been more correct had 1 said that we were in effect disfranchising the strength of two constituencies.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that the whole of those 29,000 persons cast their votes by post legitimately In accordance wilh the spirit of the Aci ?
– I shall not neglect to deal with that point. Of the 29,000 odd voters, it may rightly be said that a certain proportion would have been able to vote at the ballot-box if they had «ot been permitted to vote by post. What that proportion is I am not prepared to say. I doubt whether the Minister in charge of the Bill, or any other honorable senator, would hazard a conjecture. But, putting aside altogether the proportion who would have been able to vote otherwise had the postal voting system, not been in existence,. I venture to say that the remainder of the 29,000 represents only a proportion of the persons who would have been disfranchised if there had been no postal voting system in existence. I instanced Herbert as the constituency which recorded the largest number of votes in Queensland, and Kennedy as the lowest. Herbert’s record was 23,184 votes, and Kennedy’s 14,076. By a singular coincidence, in each of those cases, the total vote polled represented 61.53 of the voting strength of the constituency. It will therefore be seen that 14,076 represents 61 per cent, of the total voting strength of the Kennedy constituency. Consequently the total voting strength of Kennedy does not equal the total vote recorded under the postal voting system. . In Wakefield, the top constituency, in South Aus tralia, and in Adelaide, the lowest in the State, the percentages were respectively 58.91 and 53.17. In Western Australia, Swan polled 64.26, and Coolgardie 55.74. In Tasmania, Denison polled 64.57 per cent.., and Wilmot 55.92. We have to reckon in those percentages the number of postal votes cast. We also have to remember that a large proportion of those votes were brought to the poll by excitement and by all the influences that operate in connexion with elections. Is it not reasonable to assume therefore that the 20,000 votes by post represented a like proportion of- the eligible persons who might have voted under the postal voting system? Therefore I say again that I am well within the mark when I assert that this proposal of the Government will disfranchise the equivalent of one constituency in the Commonwealth. Indeed, I make bold to say that I should be nearer the mark if I were to assert that the abolition of the postal voting system will disfranchise the equivalent of two constituencies. Now I will come to the point which Senator Lynch has . suggested. He asks me whether it is not my view that a proportion of the 29,000 persons who voted by post cast their votes illegitimately. 1 am not in a position to answer the question. Statements have been made hereduring the course pf the debate which makeme inclined to say that nobody should.; liereckless enough to assert that th.e whole of. the votes were cast legitimately.
– Would the honorable senator be prepared to say that the whole of the votes at the ballot-box were cast legitimately?
– I should not. What I think we are entitled to know is this : What proportion of those 29,000 votes were cast illegally, illicitly, and wrongly ? Has that proportion been ascerfained by a calculation, or have the officials any ground for making an assumption ? We have no information whatever on the point. We simply have generalizations. Before we take the step of disfranchising thousands of electors it is essential that we should know that the evil is so great that by no less drastic means can it possibly be prevented. These are the most drastic means that could be taken to remove the alleged evil whose existence we have evidence of only in vague generalizations, and the extent of which no one has even attempted to estimate. In connexion with the amendment to which I referred just now in response to Senator Needham, I would point out that in 1906 an election was held under the Electoral Act of 1902, as amended by the Act of 1905. As I have said already, the Act of 1905 not merely recognised the postal voting system, established under the Act of 1902 and once previously used in 1903, but it extended the facilities for the use of that system by adding to the list of persons eligible to witness applications for postal voting papers. In every way the members of the Senate and of another place not only recognised but extended the operation of the principle. In 1906 a general election was held. After that election a number of prosecutions took place under the authority of the Minister for various alleged electoral offences, and not only offences charged in connexion with voting by post. I have some idea, but I should like to know certainly, what was the number of the alleged offences in connexion with which it was thought desirable that prosecutions should be instituted at that time. I have very vivid personal recollections of the time. A number of complaints of alleged offences against the Electoral Act in various particulars were submitted to the Department from the several States. I can say unhesitatingly that in every instance the data supplied was submitted to the Crown Law authorities of the Commonwealth, and in no circumstances, no matter who the person was, or to what party he or she belonged, was any quarter given. Whenever there was the slightest chance of successfully maintaining a prosecution, a prosecution was ordered. I have in mind one particular instance… The case was submitted to the Department, and brought under my notice as Minister of Home Affairs charged with the administration of the Electoral . Act. I asked that further inquiries should be made, and’ further information was forwarded. At this stage representations were made that it would be a harsh thing to prosecute, and that no Bench could possibly find the prospective defendant guilty. The papers were sent on to the Crown Law Department for advice. While advising that a technical prosecution lay, the Crown Law Department expressed some doubt as to theultimate success of a prosecution if it were instituted. The papers came back to me, and believing that if there was any doubt at all I should regard the public interest as of more importance than, in that particular instance, a private and temporary misfortune, arising from a prosecution, I ordered the prosecution. Here again I was confronted with difficulty. When the papers went on to the Crown Law Department so that the necessary steps might be taken to prosecute for the alleged offence, it was found that in the centre of population where the prosecution was to lie there was not a single member of the legal profession who would consent to represent the Commonwealth in the matter. The person against whom the offence was alleged was very popular and highly respected. Her case seemed at the first blush to be one of extreme hardship. The offence charged against her was that she had loitered in a polling booth after having been requested by a police officer, acting under instructionsfrom some one in authority, to remove from it. She refrained from moving out of the polling booth as she was bound to do under the law. It was pointed out, and subsequently abundantly proved, that she was very deaf. But these were matters, not for the Minister, but for a Court to settle. When we got to the stage of prosecution every legal gentleman in the centre of population declined the brief. I instructed the Crown Law authorities to retain counsel in Melbourne to go forward to the centre of population in question and prosecute. The prosecution took place, and it was successful. Whatever may have been the merits or demerits of the case the lady in question, prominent and popular though she was, and afflicted, as 1 have said, was found guilty and penalized to the extent ofa£5fine,and about the same amount in costs. If there were these flagrant violations of the law in regard to postal voting in connexion with the 1909 elections and the referenda in 1910, where are the prosecutions? Senator Long last night made reference to what might be called a wholesale list of breaches of the provision of the Act at the Denison election. That was in 1906. I had charge of the Department just after that election, and was associated with the large number of prosecutions. I had no recollection, while Senator Long was speaking, of ever having heard of the cases to which he referred.
– The honorable senator can rest perfectly satisfied that he never got one of those votes either.
– That may be, but the point is that the case never came under the notice of the Electoral Branch of the Home Affairs Department. I have since made inquiries, and so far as I can ascertain there is no record of any complaint in respect of those alleged offences.
– What were the Returning Officer and the scrutineers doing?
– I was going to say that the Divisional Returning Officer for Denison is a very able man, and a man who, I believe, justly enjoys the confidence of the community. I believe that if the circumstances to which Senator Long referred came under his notice, and were recognised by him as breaches of the electoral law, the Home Affairs Department would have been very speedily and fully informed of them.
– If there had been any hope of invalidating the election action would have been taken, but there was no inducement to take action against individuals.
– I had been saying, in the absence of Senator Long, that numbers of alleged breaches of the Act in various particulars were reported, and in every instance in which there was the slightest ground for believing that a prosecution would be successful it was ordered. I fail to see that there can have been much real cause for complaint in respect of the alleged breaches of the Act of which we have heard in vague generalizations in the course of this debate, unless some evidence of them can be supplied in the shape of action taken by the Department. The Electoral Act is to-day as it was in 1906, and if the offences of which we have heard so much took place in connexion with the last referenda or the last general election, Ministers must have been singularly remiss in their duty in not instituting some prosecution. Senator Long has stated that he intended at some time to ask for all the papers received by the Department in connexion with alleged violations of the Electoral Act. I hope he will do so. I should be glad if honorable senators had fuller information as to alleged breaches of the Act in the past, and the action that has been taken on them. But I certainly think that this is a tardy recognition of the right way to proceed with the amendment of the law. The information should have been placed before the Senate before we were asked to deal with the measure. If it had been supplied before its introduction here, or soon afterwards, honorable senators would have had an opportunity of considering whether or not there had been such flagrant breaches of the Act as to justify the drastic course which we are asked to follow. It has been asked more than once during this debate, why the innocent among those who have availed themselves of this system should be punished as well as the guilty ; but so far I have not heard the slightest attempt from the other side to justify that course. It is suggested - not in so many words but in effect - that it is a. question of choosing the lesser of two evils, but instead of choosing the lesser evil the Government have chosen the evil which they think will pay them best. There is no means of balancing one evil against the other. We know what the evil of this disfranchisement will be. We recognise that a large proportion of the 29,000 - which, as I say, does not represent the full voting strength of those who were entitled to vote - will be unable to vote by any other system than the one now in force. We recognise that the abolition of postal voting will disfranchise them. We canweigh the extent of that evil, but we cannot weigh the alleged evil which it is intended to obviate by abolishing postal voting.
– Oh ! Intimidation do you mean?
– Nobody on the other side has chosen to give us even the wildest guess at the extent to which intimidation has been carried on in regard to postal votes. And, if he did, one would have to consider to what extent similar practices have been adopted in connexion with votes which are not postal votes, and then one would have to conclude how far such practices were associated with any system of voting, postal or otherwise. But we are simply asked, on the ipse dixit of the Minister, that certain intimidation and wrongful practices have existed, to sweep away postal voting - a system’ which, Senator Lynch told us last night, he and his friends anxiously looked forward to the establishment of some years ago. Having tried the system in 1903, and extended it in 1905, we tried it in its extended form in 1906, and when it is decided to abolish it, surely we should have some substantial grounds shown for taking that step. Have any substantial grounds been advanced? None beyond vague generalizations, to which I referred. Their accuracy can be gauged by the fact that if the evils exist, so far as prosecutions were concerned the Minister stood idly by and took no action.
– The honorable senator must know that the evils exist ; that corrupt use has been made of postal voting.
– I know that corrupt use has been made of every kind of voting, and that wherever corruption has reared its head it has been shot at by those who felt the responsibilities of administration. If corruption reared its head so frequently in connexion with the last referendum, or the election of 1909, we would have naturally looked for a whole list of prosecutions, but we have not anything of the kind. What is the use, then, of indulging in vague generalizations, and saying, “ We know that this evil exists. We have instances of it existing, but we have not sufficient evidence to go forward with a prosecution.”
– In that year we had a weak, vacillating Government.
– Oh ! It was the Government he supports.
– I think that my honorable friend sitting at the Ministerial table must be saying to himself, “ Save me from my friends.”
– The country saved us.
– We are now asked by the Government to which my honorable friend has just referred to abolish the system of postal voting-
– Oh, not the same Government.
– Weak, vacillating, inept, or remiss in duty they certainly were.
– It was the jellyfish Deakin Government.
– We find that, if these abuses were so rife, the Government absolutely stood motionless in regard to them, and that it was left for my honorable friend, who is supporting that Government, and this proposal, to dub them in the words, which he has just employed-
– But we turned you out.
– I do not thinkthat any one will deny, after listening to the figures given yesterday by Senator Findley, that one of the most seriouseffects in the way of disfranchisement will be the disfranchisement of the prospective mothers of this country. It is not necessary to labour this point.
– It has been laboured, though.
– t do not think so, except by the Minister. It has not been singled out.
– It has received a very good threshing.
– After listening to the figures quoted by the Minister, the great surprise to me was that he did not realize the gravity of the step which we are asked to take. He seemed to think that it was unimportant; that the proportion of persons who would be so situated was, comparatively speaking, so small that we could afford to neglect consideration of it altogether.
– I dealt with the whole of these people who had voted by post at the previous election, and I mentioned that incidentally because it had been, mentioned by members of the Opposition.
– I know that ; but the honorable senator seemed to imagine that the proportion of these persons to the total number of 29,000 odd was so inconsiderable as to merit nothing more os less than neglect, as far as the right to vote was concerned. I take it the other way. What is the use of our going into heroics about extending the franchise, about adult suffrage, about conferring: upon our womenkind the inestimable boon and privilege of selecting their representatives to make the laws of the country iwhat is the use of all the rhodomontade, because that is all it would be, when we hold out this absolute bar and disqualification to the exercise of the privilege? We are asked to say that the exercise by woman of her highest natural function, the discharge of. her most important civic and patriotic duty, shall, and must, be an absolute bar to the exercise of this right which we boast we are conferring upon the other sex. If it is an advantage to give to the girl who has just attained her majority the right to vote, is it not equally important and advantageous, is it not equally our duty, to see that the same right is preserved for the mothers of the nation? With one hand we are asked to give the franchise to the women, and with the other to take it away at the most critical and most important occasions in a woman’s life. No justification has been put forward for this proposal, and the disfranchisement of any section of the community, large or small, must be justified on the most solid grounds. No solid grounds have been advanced for that disfranchisement, nor for the other disfranchisement which will necessarily follow the abolition of postal voting. 1 think that Ministers will have cause before long to regret this backward step which they are taking. No Government, least of all the Government which is in office to-day, should have committed itself to such a course. There can be no justification for the disfranchisement of a constituency, however small, perpetually; and I think that the Government realizes that there can be no justification. It has offered none, apparently it will offer none; and I think it will realize, before long, that this is a step which it will have very great cause to regret.
Question - That clause 3 stand as printed - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 4 and 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 (Amendment of section 22).
– In connexion with the dividing up of electorates, this clause provides that in the case of the arrangement made being disapproved of, and a subsequent arrangement being made, the new map need not be circulated in the same way as the original one was circulated. In the event of there being a disagreement in connexion with the dividing up of electorates, and the Commissioner being charged with the duty of laying down other boundaries, I do not see why the procedure should not be the same as in the first case. The matter affects the same people, and they should have the opportunity of expressing their opinions. Previously they have had two chances to have their opinions on the proposed new arrangement expressed, but under this clause they will have only one. No reason has yet been given why, in the second case, the map is not to be exhibited. What reason is there for making this material departure ?
– I think the clause explains itself. It has been found by experience that the exhibition of a map a second time makes it very difficult indeed to prepare the rolls in connexion with an impending election. The clause can do no harm to any elector or any candidate, and it will have the effect of facilitating the work of the Department.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 -
After section thirty-two of the Principal Act the following section is inserted : - “ 32a. - (1.) The Governor-General may, by any proclamation directing the preparation of new rolls, declare that the new rolls shall be prepared under a system of compulsory enrolment, and may direct that every person entitled to enrolment on any new roll shall sign and sendto the proper officer in accordance with the regulations a form of claim for enrolment and otherwise comply with the regulations relating to compulsory enrolment. “ Provided that where an elector has been enrolled in pursuance of any claim signed by him as directed by a proclamation and is correctly enrolled, he shall not be required to sign and send in any further claim for enrolment in connexion with the preparation of a new roll under any subsequent proclamation, unless he has changed bis place of living so as to render a change in his enrolment necessary. “ (2.) The regulations shall prescribe anything necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying . 1 system of compulsory enrolment into effect and may prescribe penalties not exceeding Two pounds for any contravention of any regulation made in pursuance of this power.”
– I move -
That the word “may,” line 3, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ shall.”
Very often doubt has arisen in connexion with Acts of Parliament as to whether the word “ may “ is to be interpreted as an imperative direction or not. We do not want any ambiguity in this clause.
– I desire to ask the Minister whether, if compulsory enrolment becomes law, the enrolment will be attended to by Government officials, or whether each elector will have to see to his enrolment?
– As I stated on the second reading of the Bill, in a measure compulsory enrolment has been initiated already. At the present time, policemen armed with the existing rolls go round to the various houses and leave cards to be filled in by the occupants of the houses, and those cards have to be sent to the Electoral Office. The policemen not only leave the cards, but they do something in connexion with the matter of compulsory enrolment which is not done in any other matter in which compulsion is exercised. There is compulsion in regard to vaccination, military training, and the furnishing of income tax and land tax returns. In connexion with those matters, and others where compulsion is enforced, the only intimation which the persons affected receive regarding the penalties which will be imposed on them if they do not comply with the law is usually a paragraph in the press, which is sometimes placed in an obscure position. They learn in that way that such and such a thing must be done by a certain date. In connexion with compulsory enrolment, every policeman who goes round with rolls and cards - I may say that cards will be available at almost every place which the public frequent - leaves at every house a copy of the statutory rules. The men and women who get the cards are told by the policemen what is to be done with the cards, and they also get a copy of the statutory rules. One of these statutory rules is as follows : -
Duty of Householders to Answer Questions.
A copy of the following statutory rule is also left -
Duty of Persons to Send in Claims for Enrolment.
Where any Proclamation directing the preparation of new Rolls for any State has been issued, every person living in the State (whether enrolled on any Roll or not) who is entitled to be enrolled as an elector shall, if a form of claim for enrolment has been left for him at his habitation, or delivered to him, or sent to him by post -
fill in the form and sign it in accordance with the Act and the Regulations, forthwith after the form has been received by him, and
forthwith deliver the form so filled up to a Collector engaged in the canvass made for the purposes of the new Rolls or forthwith send it by post to the Registrar for the Subdivision for which he claims to be enrolled.
Any person who commits any contravention of this Regulation shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a penalty not exceeding Twopounds.
I hope that every man and woman over 21 years of age has been made aware of the fact that the lolls in future are to be made up from cards, which it will be compulsory for those with whom they are left to fill in.
– Is the regulation you have read a regulation that has been framed in anticipation of this Bill passing?
– Are we to understand that cards willbe left at every householder’s place, and that the enrolment of those living in his house will be insisted on?
– No. I said that, at the present time, cards are being left by the policemen going round with the rolls.
– That is being done, but there are many places where the cards have not been left. I understood that, under the clause, people would be compelled to look after the enrolment of their names themselves and would not have intimations sent to them in future. If it is understood that cards are to be left at people’s houses for the purposes of enrolment, and cards are not left, the people cannot be held culpable if they are not enrolled. “ Some confusion exists. People will be following this debate, and it ought to be made perfectly clear what the duty of every person is in connexion with enrolment.
.- The Government and the Department are extremely anxious to give every possible opportunity to electors throughout the Commonwealth to understand what compulsory enrolment really means, and what their obligations are. With a view of assisting them, cards are being left at their houses - I hope in every case - but when the present rolls are compiled if will be the duty of every person over the age of 21 who is entitled to be enrolled to look after his enrolment himself. Every such person will be held responsible if he is not enrolled after the compilation of the present roll.
– The Minister seems hardly to have appreciated the seriousness of the point raised by Senator McColl. We propose to introduce a system of compulsory enrolment. A system of compulsion means that the compulsion is upon the individual. In this instance, it means that the Government is going to compel the individual to enrol. But while in one breath the Minister says he proposes to send round the policemen to enrol electors, with the next breath he tells us that electors will have to look after their own enrolment.
– The policemen are compiling the present roll.
– Surely we- are going to start the new roll under the compulsory system? What is going to happen? The Government inform the electors that they are going to send round cards. In time, it will be found that some electors have not responded by filling up the cards. The Government will then, I presume, take action against them. The elector who is charged before a magistrate will give evidence, and declare he never received a card. Thereupon the Bench will naturally say that the fault lay with the Department. It seems to me that there is only one of two courses to follow. Either the officials should take the responsibility of enrolling electors, or they should get out of the road, and let the responsibility of enrolment rest upon the elector.
– The officials will get out of the road after the present roll has been compiled.
– What does the Minister mean by the present roll?
– The roll being prepared under the existing law. Afterwards, rolls will be compiled under the compulsory system.
– Then there will be no policemen to help to compile the subsequent rolls?
– The Minister then need not have introduced the policeman at all into this discussion.
– The policeman is assisting the electors in regard to the present roll.
– The Government are not assisting a large body of electors by leading them to believe that the officials are taking the responsibility off their shoulders. If we are to have compulsory enrolment, each individual elector must be made’ to understand that he alone is responsible for his enrolment, and that he must not rely upon the officials, except so far as he may expect to get from them such assistance as will enable the compulsory enrolment system to be made comparatively easy in its working.
– I wish to know why cards are being sent round at present. I understood from the memorandum of the Chief Electoral Officer that the idea of enforcing enrolment by means of the card system was to simplify procedure. But what is the good of sending round the cards at present unless care is taken that they are sent to every elector, and that they are filled up? Two cards were left at my residence some time ago, with an intimation that they were to be called for afterwards; but I feel certain that cards have not been left with every elector.’ Either the officials of the Department are going to take it upon themselves to secure a perfect roll, or they are going to throw the responsibility on the elector of enrolling himself, imposing penalties upon him if he does not. The Government appear to be mixing up the two things.
– Is there any particular object in the amendment before the Chair? The professed object is to insure a system of compulsory enrolment. But I fear that if we insert’ the word “shall” instead of “may,” the amendment will give rise to more confusion than it removes. It may remove difficulties in one direction, but only to give place to others. Moreover, it will conflict with other provisions in the Bill, and in the principal Act. Section 13of tba. Act provides that “The GovernorGeneral . ‘ may ‘ divide any division into each State to be Commissioners for the subdivision of electorates. Section 22 provides that if Parliament does not approve of a proposed distribution “ the Minister may “ direct the Commissioners to propose a fresh distribution. In section 23 subsection 2, which provides for the issue of a proclamation, the language used is “ such proclamation may be made.” In section 24 it is provided that “The GovernorGeneral ‘ may 1 divide any division into subdivisions by proclamation.” In many other parts of the principal Act, also, the word “ may “ is used. Here it is proposed to use the word “shall” to express the meaning which elsewhere is expressed by the word “ may.” As a rule, in drafting Acts of Parliament the word “ may “ is used in connexion with the Crown, where “ shall “ is used in connexion with a private individual. Legislation is not so drawn to oblige the Crown, or to oblige Parliament, but it is so drawn to oblige an individual. The word “ may,” when used in connexion with the Crown or with Parliament, carries the same significance :is “shall.”
– I appreciate Senator Keating’s remark as to what may be implied if we substitute “ may “ for “ shall “ in this provision. But the matter has been taken into consideration by the Government, and I know what their intentions are. Therefore, I desire to adhere to the amendment.
– - I do not propose to reiterate what Senator Keating has said, because I suppose that more discussion has taken place in the Senate over the use of “ may “ and “shall “ than over any other words used in Acts of Parliament. Senator Keating has, however, submitted an unanswerable argument by pointing out that throughout the principal Act “ may “ is used wherever the Crown or Parliament is referred to. It is a well understood rule of interpretation in the Law Courts - and it is one which appeals to the common sense of a layman - that where certain words are used throughout an Act of Parliament the same thing is intended to be conveyed by the Legislature. But when the Legislature uses two words it is assumed that different meanings are attached to them. In this case, if two words are to be used, it will be assumed that Parliament meant different meanings to be conveyed. The Minister tells us that he knows what his colleague’sintentions are. But it seems undesirable to create ambiguity. I also direct attention to another cause of confusion. Cardsare at present being distributed to electors for the purpose of enrolling them upon the roll, which is being compiled under the existing Act. After this Bill passes it isintended that the elector shall make a further application for enrolment upon another card. That will be the first compulsory enrolment. But the clause goes on to provide that once an elector has made hisapplication, and been enrolled, he need not bother any further, no matter how many subsequent proclamations are issued - unless, of course, he removes his place of residence. An elector has to make one claim for enrolment, and one only. But, in thisinstance, electors, having filled up the cards that are at present being distributed, will be required, by Act of Parliament, to fill up other cards six months later, ir» pursuance of a proclamation. I am certain that a great deal of confusion will arise from electors believing that the cardswhich are being filled up at present are the cards which’ they are required to fill up in accordance with the compulsory enrolment provisions. The trouble has arisen through the Electoral Branch, of the Home Affairs Department having initiated the card system without having legislative authority for it. This trouble is going to grow. Therewill be thousands of electors who, having made the one application on the card system; will consider that that is sufficient.
– That is the very impression I had with regard to my card.
– It is a most natural impression for an elector to have. He is told that he has to make an application for enrolment on a card supplied for the purpose. Thousands of electors will believe that the cards they have recently filled up are those which have to be filled’ up under the compulsory enrolment system. I am certain that there will be a great deal of .confusion, and much undeserved discredit will be thrown upon the system. The trouble has arisen, as I have said, because the Department has pushed1 the card system into use ahead of legislation.. The result will be that electors who have filled in cards - for which, according to my reading of the Bill, there has been no legal warrant - will believe that that is sufficient, and will not fill in cards issued as the result of a proclamation under this, clause.
– How can they be required to fill in cards later on, if they have already filled in cards, and their names are on the roll?
– Because, in filling in the cards which they have already dealt with, they have not been complying with an obligation under the proclamation to be issued under this clause. Let the Minister read the Bill. If it does not mean what it plainly says, my argument cannot be sustained; but if it does, the position will be as I have described it. The proclamation provided for in the clause must be made after, and not before, the passing of this Bill. We cannot pass this Bill into law to-morrow, and rely for the establishment of the compulsory system of enrolment upon a proclamation made six months ago.
– It can be stated in the proclamation that those who have already sent in cards for enrolment will be all right.
– That is to say, that, although the Bill lays down specifically what is to be done, the Government intend to do what they please.
– The honorable senator would not have people doing work that is quite unnecessary?
– Then why legislate to say that quite unnecessary work shall be done? As soon as the Bill is passed, and the Act brought into force, the Department must carry out the provisions of the proposed new section32a, and no enrolment prior to the passing of this measure will meet the demand of that section. When we provide that an elector who has once enrolled his name need not make application for enrolment again, he may be pardoned if he confuses the card which the Government are asking him to sign to-day with the card which he will be asked to sign later on under this Bill.
– He will not make another application, because his name will be already on the roll.
– The Minister does not understand my point.
– I do understand it.
– Then the honorable senator will only be creating trouble if he dismisses my objection in that way. I can quite understand that Ministers may say that, as they are in control of the Departments, they will act as they please.
– I do not mean that.
– Then the obligation will be upon them to see that the provisions of the Act are carried out. Under this proposed new section, an obligation will be laid upon electors to do something after a proclamation issues, and that must refer to the proclamation which it will be necessary to issue after the passing of this measure to bring this provision of the law into effect. We must issue a new proclamation, or these compulsory provisions will not become operative. We have no power to compel any person to become enrolleduntil that proclamation has been issued. Having, by the issue of the proclamation, assumed the power to compel people to enroll, they must do so; and, no matter how many applications for enrolment may have been sent in by electors before the issue of a proclamation under this proposed new section, the obligation to apply to be enrolled will still be upon them under the provision now under review.
– - I fully appreciate the point raised by Senator Millen; but I assume that the proclamation will provide that those already enrolled, and who have not since changed their residence, will be considered as enrolled under the new system.
– That would be against the provisions of the proposed new section.
– I consider that, if any person is on the roll now, the proclamation need not necessarily require that person to put in an application for enrolment. He will have already done so, and his application will have been accepted; and 1 take it that the compulsion will apply only to those who are not enrolled after the issue of the proclamation, or who, having been enrolled, have in the interim changed their residence. On the other point raised by Senator Keating, I should like, with all deference to the honorable senator’s legal knowledge, to submit that it is about time we said what we meant in an Act of Parliament. In ordinary daily conversation the words *’ may “ and “ shall “ mean something very different. In this case, we are not proposing to leave anything to the option of the Governor- General, and it is right that we should use the word “ shall.” If the word “may” were used, the inference might be that he could do what is proposed now or in ten or twenty years’ time.
– Then we should alter the wording of other clauses. The words should not be used promiscuously.
– I shall come to that later. If in this case we use the word shall,” that word will operate in the elector’s mind, and he will understand that the provision involves compulsion throughout. If the use of the word “ shall “ in this case is found to be inconsistent with the wording of subsequent clauses, the inconsistency can be referred to as they come up for consideration. Senator Keating has referred to cases in which it is provided that the Minister “may” do this orthat. But we know that, in the ordinary performance of his duty, the Minister will do what is provided for, and it is unnecessary to bring compulsion to bear upon him to secure the performance of what he will regard as his departmental work. If we are to have compulsion - and I am rather sorry to see it adopted myself, because I do not like compulsion in anything - we should let that be understood from the first by the use of the word “ shall,” and so leave no doubt about the matter in the minds of the electors.
– The Minister was somewhat mysterious when explaining why the word “shall” was substituted for the word “ may “ in this case. He said that the alteration was the subject of a consultation between himself and the Crown Law Office. But he gave no reason why the consultation was held or the decision arrived at. Since the consultation was upon the change of “ may “ into “ shall “ as affecting the issue of a proclamation by the Governor-General, it must have been considered very im-. portant, and the reasons for the alteration ought to be given to the Committee.
– Does not “ the GovernorGeneral “ mean the Cabinet?
– Exactly ; that is in accordance with the constitutional maxim that every schoolboy ought to know. I like to address the term “ schoolboy “ sometimes to honorable senators. The Governor-General must act on the advice of his Ministers. The word “ shall “ is rather an ugly word to apply to the King or representative of the King, and the difficulty is overcome in the use of the word “ may “ by the fact that if the Governor- General were unwilling to carry out the advice of his Ministers they would at once hand in their resignations to him. In this measure, the words “shall” and “may” are used in different clauses, and the GovernorGeneral might contend that one section is permissive and. another mandatory, and might claim to exercise his discretion in connexion with permissive provisions. Such a thing is not likely to happen, I admit.
– Then why talk about it?
– Why substitute the word “shall “ for the word “ may “ ? Why not follow the usual verbiage of Acts of Parliament? This provision makes the Governor-General quite ridiculous. We give a discretion to the Minister time after time by the use of the word” may,” but it is proposed to use the word “shall” in the references to the Governor-General. In the circumstances, I think we are justified in asking the Minister to tell the Committee some of the reasons which induced the Crown Law authorities to advise the use of the word “ shall “ instead of the word “ may “ in this instance.
– I cannot understand why there should be such strong expressions of opinion on the substitution of the word “shall” for the word “may “in this proposed new section. This is a provision for compulsory enrolment, and it does not deal with the matter of discretion. The whole compulsory principle might be defeated if the Governor-General is given discretion in the issue of the required proclamation.
– The honorable senator must not confuse compulsion upon the elector with compulsion upon the Governor-. General.
– But if the GovernorGeneral may or may not issue the proclamation, and, in the exercise of the discretion, does not issue it, the compulsory enrolment desired will not be given effect to.
– The honorable senator means to say that if the word “may” were used, it would be optional for him.
– Then what about the other cases in which, the word “ may “ is used ?
– I hold that Senator Keating’s reasoning is not applicable to this provision. The honorable senator referred to the clause dealing with the redistribution of seats, but the redistribution of seats is not compulsory. The GovernorGeneral has the power to submit the matter to Commissioners, but when their report is received from the Commissioners, Parliament may or may not act upon it.
– Does the honorable senator contend that the word “ may “ is not used compulsorily in section 13 of the Act?
– I have not noticed all the instances quoted, but in the section providing for a redistribution of seats it is not compulsory.
– Not in connexion with redistribution.
– That is absolutely compulsory.
– In this Bill we insist upon compulsory enrolment. But compulsory redistribution is not provided for in the Act.
– It is the compulsory issue of a proclamation, not enrolment.
– If the GovernorGeneral may or may not issue or refrain from issuing a proclamation, the whole principle of compulsory enrolment may be defeated. Therefore it is necessary to use the word “ shall.”
– Senator de Largie has said that, in using illustrations of the word “ may “ in other parts of the Act, I drew upon parts where it is not used in the compulsory sense. Let me take the first illustration to which I drew attention. Section 13 of the Act reads -
The Governor-General may appoint three persons in each Slate to be Commissioners, one of whom, if his services are obtainable, shall be the Surveyor-General. . . .
That is for the purpose of dividing the State. The previous section says -
Each State shall be distributed into Electoral Divisions, equal in number to the number of members of the House of Representatives,to be chosen therein -
There is no doubt that the State has to be divided; that is compulsory. Then it is provided how the Governor-General may appoint three persons. I take it that “may” is not used there in an optional sense at all. What I am drawing attention to is that invariably, whether the word is used in an optional or obligatory sense in respect to the Governor-General, we have used the word “ may.” If we now adopt the word “ shall “ we may do a perfectly good thing, according to Senator Rae, in making- the meaning abundantly clear, but the advantage of it will be more than counterbalanced by the disadvantage of the confusion arising in the interpretation of the word “ may “ used elsewhere.
– Could we not make subsequent amendments to get over that difficulty ?
– That would involve the amendment of the whole Act, and several other Acts. If we were to put in the Bill a clause to the effect that wherever “ may “ is used in the Act, it is to be taken as “ shall,” we should then use “ shall “ in cases where “ may “ is used in an optional sense. By adopting “shall” in this clause, we will cast doubt on the use of “may “ where no doubt exists at present in respect of a number of other sections of the Act. How far-reaching the consequences may be it is hard for me or anybody else at this juncture to say ; but I think that the Minister will be well advised in adhering to the established practice in draftsmanship. He need not entertain any doubt as to what will be the consequences of the adoption of the word, but he must indulge in a good number of speculations as to what will be the consequences of using “ shall “ in this provision and “ may “ in several other provisions, in which a duty is assigned to the GovernorGeneral.
– I think that one would search an English Act in vain to find “ shall “ used in relation to the King. It should be remembered that the Governor-General is the representative of the King in the Commonwealth. Suppose that we say that the Governor-General shall by proclamation do a certain thing. He cannot move except on the advice of his Ministers. When the Ministers come to the Governor-Generaland say that they desire a proclamation to be issued, he may sign it. Wherever the Kingor his representative is referred to in an Act “ may “ is used, because the responsibility lies with his Ministers. It would” create confusion throughout the Electoral’ Act if in this case we altered “ may “ into”shall.” If we are to have compulsory enrolment, the Government will have to take steps to secure that enrolment, and one of those steps will be for them to go to the Governor-General and ask him to issue a proclamation. Surely honorable senators will not depart from an old-established custom, especially when they know that we cannot use an imperative term in regard to the King, and, therefore, not in regard to his representative.
– Senator de Largie has urged that, inasmuch as we are going to institute compulsory enrolment, therefore the proclamation which is to give effect to the principle is to go in a compulsory form to the Governor-General . The Defence Actis based on the principle of compulsion. Compulsory service is created in the Act. But what do we find in section 140? It says that the Governor-General may by proclamation exempt from training certain persons.
– That is an exemption from compulsion.
– The basis of the Defence Act is compulsion ; and in order to give effect to the Act certain proclamations have to be made, and certain things have to be done through the GovernorGeneral. But in every section “ may “ is used in regard to the GovernorGeneral. It occurs twice on the page I have before me. Again, in the Naval Defence Act, I find four sections dealing with proclamations by the GovernorGeneral. Sub-section 1 of section 7 reads -
The Governor-General may appoint a Board of Administrators for the Naval Forces to be called the Naval Board.
Section 16 of the Act says that -
The Governor-General may appoint any person to be an officer, or promote any officer -
In any provision relating to an act to be done by the Governor-General “ may “ is used. Take section 22 -
The Governor-General may raise, maintain, and organize such Permanent and Citizen Naval Forces as he deems necessary for the defence and protection of the Commonwealth and of the several States.
The present Government are entirely responsible for the wording of the Naval Defence Act.
– Do you think that if we put in “ shall “ it will invalidate this measure ?
– No one is talking about that. This is a matter which, unfortunately or fortunately, the Minister himself has raised. Hitherto we have used “may “ in our Acts in relation to the GovernorGeneral, even in Acts containing the principle of compulsion.
– If “may” means “shall,” what is the objection to putting in “ shall “?
– Because it would make the Bill look utterly stupid. Any person reading the Bill as a document, and seeing “ may “ used in some parts, and “shall” used in other parts, would be liable to form a misconception as to what was meant. He might say, “ This section is permissive,” and “ That section is mandatory.”
– But we have not a multitude of Governors-General.
– We all know that. But, notwithstanding all that knowledge, it has been the invariable practice of Parliament, for excellent reasons, not to make any distinction as to the acts of the Governor-General, and to always use the word “ may.” Because, as a matter of constitutional practice, “ may “ means “ shall “ with a certain alternative only attached to it, that is, where he will not take the advice of his Ministers in matters arising under an Act in which “may” is used. Ministers have a power over the Governor-General all the time, because if their advice is not taken they can at once tender their resignations. Once or twice it has happened. Fortunately it does not often occur.
– Except as regards the question of taste or politeness of language, I see nothing at all in the point raised.
– Why is “may” right when it is used throughout the Defence Act, which is based on compulsion? What mysterious thing has happened in the consultation between the Minister in charge of the Bill and the AttorneyGeneral ? If the object of this alteration is only to give effect to compulsion, the whole Defence Act is gone. Do honorable senators want compulsory enrolment to be more fast and more binding on the GovernorGeneral by employing the word “shall than they want the Defence Act to be binding on him so far as administra-. tion and authority are concerned? Is he to say, “ 1 am more distinctly bound down by Parliament in the compulsory enrolment provisions of the Electoral Act than in the Defence Act”? Unless there is some new legal light thrown on the matter by reason of the consultation with the Attorney-General, the more his proposal is explained and analyzed, the more indefensible it becomes, and the assumptions given by the Government supporters only help to make the thing more ridiculous.
– I again ask the Minister to consider the point I raised as to the possible confusion in the minds of the electors, who are to-day filling in a card and making a claim, as to the obligation which is sought to be thrown upon them by this clause. It seems to me that the difficulty ‘is bound to arise. I ask the Minister to seriously consider whether it is worth while to launch this Bill with the almost certainty of confusion arising in the minds of the electors? The Minister will see what I mean if he reads the clause with the words “ as directed by a proclamation “ omitted. The clause now states -
Provided that where tin elector has been enrolled in pursuance of any claim signed by him as directed by :i proclamation and is correctly enrolled he shall not be required to sign and send in any further claim -
I say that the proclamation mentioned must mean a proclamation after the passing of this measure, but the Minister, in his statement just now, showed that he intends it to apply to claims filled in before the passing of this measure. Under the clause it is mandatory on an elector to make his claim after the proclamation is issued, but the electors are filling in their claims to-day. I say that they will have to fill in other claims. The Minister says he does not desire that, but I say that, if we pass the clause as it stands, the electors will have to fill in other claims. If the Minister agrees to the omission of the words “ as directed bv a proclamation,” the necessity of electors having to make two applications will be obviated. If those words were left out, the enrolment which is taking place to-day would be made good. It is obvious that, under the clause, electors will be put to a lot of unnecessary trouble. The omission of the words “ as directed by a proclamation “ would validate the enrolment which is now taking place.
Senator FINDLEY (Victoria- Honorary Minister) [4.27I - I am inclined to think that Senator Millen does not grasp the effect of the provision in the Act. In my second-reading speech I said we had power under the principal Act to compel people to enroll. He did not doubt that for a moment.
– I denied that there is power.
– The honorable senator said that if there had been a provision in the Act on which such a construction could be placed, it would not have been passed by Parliament, but the principal Act does give power to the Government to compel people to enroll.
– Where do you find that?
– Section 32 of the principal Act provides -
New rolls for any polling places subdivisions divisions or States shall be prepared whenever directed by proclamation and in the manner specified m the proclamation or prescribed by the regulations.
In compliance with that provision, a proclamation has been issued.
– If it is tested, it will go to pieces.
– The proclamation is clear, and can be easily understood by every man and woman who receives a copy, of it. Paragraph 3 of the proclamation provides that it shall be the duty of each person in a State who is entitled to enrolment as an elector to fill in and sign a form of claim for enrolment in accordance with the directions contained in the form. The proclamation goes on to provide that the elector shall hand the form so filled in and signed, or cause it to be handed, to a collector, or forward it to the Electoral Registrar for the subdivision in which he claims to be enrolled.
– Then section 32a is unnecessary.
– We have power to compel the people to enroll, and we have issued ‘ a proclamation telling the people that they must enroll. They have been supplied with cards, and when they have filled in those cards and forwarded them to the Electoral Office no policeman or Department will chase them with an intimation that further cards must be sent in. At some time it may be necessary to issue a proclamation saying to the people throughout the Commonwealth that on a certain day, or at certain periods, cards must be filled in, but those who have been supplied with cards, and who have returned them, will not be required to fill in new cards. I believe I am correct in saying that almost every person entitled to vote has been supplied with a card, in this State, at any rate. If people who are entitled to vote in the other States have not been supplied with cards, they will be supplied with them, because it is the desire of the Government that everybody shall have the fullest and freest opportunity to enroll. When the people get the cards and send them in, there will be no obligation on them to send in other cards unless they move from one district to another.
– Will the Government prosecute people who have been supplied with cards and have not sent them in?
– The Government will do what is necessary to enforce the law.
– I never dreamt for one moment when I spoke on the clause that the Minister was going to rely on a proclamation previously issued, under which an attempt is being made to bluff the electors into the belief that, there is power to compel them to enroll.
– There is no bluff about it. It is in the Act.
– There is no power in the Act to compel people to enroll. I. repeat that the introduction of the card system was a sheer piece of bluff to make the electors believe that there is already power to compel them, to enroll. If there is that power this clause is not wanted.
– We do not want any possible shadow of doubt to exist.
– Then there is a shadow of doubt?
– I would like your ruling, Mr. Chairman, as to whether the clause is under discussion, or an amendment.
– There is an amendment on clause 7 before the Chair.
– I would like to ask you, sir, whether Senator Millen is discussing the amendment or the clause?
– I am discussing the amendment.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Senator Millen has been quite in order up to the present.
– It is clear, from the fact that the Ministry have brought in proposed new section 32, which sets out specifically that there is power to compel electors to enroll, that they have the gravest doubt as to whether section 32 in the Act gives them the power they claim. I have no hesitation in saying that it is necessary to pass proposed new section 32 if it is desired to compel electors to enroll. The power to compel electors to enroll is not contained in the Act. It follows that the proclamation that has been issued will be ineffective for the purposes of this measure. Only a proclamation issued after the passing of the Bill can be effective. If the Minister likes to take up an obstinate attitude, and to jeopardize the successful launching of this proposition, I cannot help it.
Amendment agreed to.
Consequential amendment agreed to.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales> [4.34]. - I would like to ask the Minister, in connexion with this clause, which is, of course, the operative clause dealing with, the preparation of our rolls, whether any arrangement was arrived at by which joint rolls were collected for the States and the Commonwealth? If that has been done,, how far is this new system going to upset any joint arrangement that has been operating?
– I believe that there is a joint arrangement between the State of Tasmania and the Commonwealth for the preparation of rolls. -
– This new system will’ destroy that arrangement.
– I do not know that it will.
– The Minister states that there is one State which has come to an arrangement with the Commonwealth for a joint roll.
– Our roll will be compiled in our own way.
– Of course it will be compiled in our own way. I have not the slightest doubt the Minister intends that. I wish to point out that in previous Bills we strained a great many clauses for the express purpose of enabling us to meet the States, in order that a joint roll might be used for State and Commonwealth purposes. It is quite obvious that the introduction of this new element will not only destroy the arrangement made with Tasmania, but will render still more difficult the fulfilment of that hope which has been held out to us of at some time having a joint roll for the States and the Commonwealth.
.- It is provided in sub-section 2 of proposed new section 32A that the regulations “ may prescribe penalties not exceeding £2 for any contravention of any regulation.” Why should not the word “ may “ be changed to the word “ shall “ in that case as well as in the two instances in which that has already been done? If enrolment is to be compulsory, there must be penalties provided for people who do not enroll. The Minister has amended the clause to provide that the Governor-General in Council shall do certain things, and I think that if we are to pass the clause we should provide that there must be penalties inflicted if the regulations are broken. We must not leave it optional for penalties to be prescribed, or the clause will have no effect. Unless the amendment I suggest is made, any person reading the section will say, “ The first part of the section is compulsory, but the second part is not compulsory.”
– The honorable senator is very rough on his colleagues, who have been arguing the other way.
– I heard- the arguments used. I heard Senator St. Ledger speak about the word “ shall,” and refer to the Naval and Defence Acts. I want to know why the word “ may “ should be left in in this case, whereas in previous portions of the clause we have changed “ may” to “ shall.”
– What the honorable senator says is that, although “ shall “ may be wrong, it ought to be put in here as we have it elsewhere.
– Yes. I did not see the reason for changing the word “ may “ to “ shall”; but, as it has been done, it should be done in this case.
– Two wrongs do not make a fight.
– Does the honorable senator admit that the Honorary Minister has committed two wrongs?
– I do not want to say anything about whether it is right or wrong. I simply call attention to the fact that the Minister insisted on the word “ shall “ :going in elsewhere. Why, therefore, should the word “ may “ lie left in this place?
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) [4.41I. - Does not the Minister intend to alter the word “ may “ as here used to make the Bill uniform?
– The honorable senator is surely not serious. He said that the word “shall “ was wrong previously. Now he wants it to be inserted.
– As the Minister said that “ shall “ was the proper term to use, he should, to be consistent, insert it here, because this is where the element of compulsion comes in. This is the really operative part of the Bill. If there is any virtue in the use of the word “ shall “ - which I have not been able to detect - it ought to be manifested here.
Senator SAYERS (Queensland) [4.43! -Will the Minister say “ Yes “ or “ No”” to the question that has been put to him ?
– Stand and deliver !
– I have a right to ask a question, and do not intend to be bluffed by such a new chum as the honor able senator. When a question is put courteously, the Minister ought to answer it.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) [4.441. - Is not the Minister prepared to listen to the argument on this subject? At all events, he should take advice about it. We do not want to pass legislation in such a way that it will be a cause of confusion afterwards. This is not the first time that Bills have been so ill -considered that the High Court has had practically to sweep them off the statute-book. We have defended the use of the word “ may “ as used elsewhere, because, when used in regard to the Crown, it signified action. But here the word is not sufficient. It is not intended to give an option to the individual elector. The object of the Bill is to compel him to enroll. If it is to be left optional with him, the system of compulsion breaks down.
– - I wish to ask the Minister whether there will be power by regulation to exempt from compulsory enrolment sections of the community who have conscientious objections to participating in elections in any way? I think there is a section who decline to take any part in electoral affairs. Do the Government reserve to themselves the right to allow such persons to excuse themselves from enrolment ? Their objections are worth considering ; and this is the time for considering them. I make the suggestion in a friendly way, feeling sure that it is not desired to harass unduly any section of the community.
– Of course, there is in this community a section that objects to any form of compulsion. Some strongly object to parliamentary institutions of any kind. There is, for instance, the Anarchistic section, who believe, with Emerson, that “ the best government is the worst government.” Some believe that no good will come to this earth, or to these sunny lands of Australia, until people refrain from exercising the vote on election day. There is another section, strongly Socialistic - I do not know whether they are as strong in other States as they are in Victoria - who very vigorously advocate their objection to the Liberal party, the Labour party, and to all parliamentary action. I must admit that I have a great admiration for some of them, because of their sincere and consistent advocacy of their principles. Such people, if they do not object to enrolment, would certainly object to the exercise of their votes. I do not know, however, of any religious sect that objects to enrolment.
– I know of one religious body that objects to voting.
– Senator Gardiner voiced the position of those who object on conscientious grounds.
– The inference from the honorable senator’s remark is that the Socialists and Anarchists are not actuated by conscientious motives.
– There may be objections quite apart from what we ordinarily mean by conscientious objections.
– There is a sect known as the Plymouth Brethren, of whom I know a few - I have a great regard for them - who, I believe, have a strong objection to compulsory voting. But I do not think that it will be well for us to take these objections into consideration now, because if we open the door to those who have conscientious objections, we shall not be able to close it against others who fail to enroll. I cannot hold out any hope to Senator Gardiner that those of whom he spoke can be provided for under this Bill.
– I offer no opinion as to conscientious reasons that might.be advanced by various sects concerning this Bill. Senator Gardiner has opened up a very big question ; but to provide for such persons would require a whole clause, which would have to be very carefully drafted. I have risen to offer an opinion on the question of the use of the words “ may “ and “ shall.” Whilst I am in accord with the principle of compulsory enrolment, I should certainly oppose the insertion of the word “ shall “ in this sub-clause, because the effect of it would be that the provision as to the infliction of a fine would be made quite rigid. It would have to be imposed even when there had been no attempt to avoid enrolment.
– The insertion of the word “ shall “ would not enforce the fine. That would rest with the magistrate.
– There may be instances where enrolment will be very difficult. In other cases, good cause may be shown why a person has failed to enrol. In such instances to say that a fine “shall “ be inflicted would be unnecessarily harsh.
. - We have not yat had an answer from the Minister to the objection which has been raised. I think that Senator de Largie was wrong in his contention. It will be left to the magistrate hearing a case to say whether a fine shall be imposed or not. All that we can do is to prescribe that persons failing to comply with the Act shall be liable to a fine. We cannot enforce the payment of a particular fine in every instance. We can provide that the penalty shall be’ ^2, but the magistrate hearing a case will have the power to say that the penalty in that case should beonly a shilling, or it might be the costs of the prosecution. No one contends that the. Minister should have the power to impose all fines. The Government propose that the Governor-General in Council “ may “ prescribe a penalty or not; but in dealing with the issue of a proclamation they use the word “ shall.” The Committee is entitled to some consideration, and the Minister cannot expect to force the Bill through by refusing to answer reasonable questionsI ask him now to say why the word “ may” is used in some of the clauses and the word “ shall “ in others ?
– I think that honorable senators opposite are “ barking up the wrong tree.” I remind them that the proposed new section does not specifically refer to the refusal of any person to be enrolled, which was the point to which they have directed all their attention. It provides that the regulations - may prescribe penalties not exceeding Two pounds for any contravention of any regulation! made in pursuance of this power.
That does not necessarily imply that the Government will shrink from imposing a penalty upon any person for refusing to be enrolled. The first part of subsection 2 of the proposed new section amply provides that it shall be the duty of the Government to make regulations, and do everything necessary or convenient, for carrying a system of compulsory enrolment into effect.
– But suppose the elector does not do it?
– There is an obligation cast upon the Government to do all that may be necessary to see that it is done. There is a power then to impose necessarypenalties, but that may have reference to any form of offence under the Bill, and not merely to a refusal to become enrolled. It may refer, for instance, to a person giving a wrong name, or to a refusal to have his name changed from one roll to another within the proper time.
– It is limited entirely to compulsory enrolment. The general power to make regulations is dealt with in the last section of the existing Act.
– Does not the honorable senator see that the first portion of sub-section 2 of the proposed new section imposes upon the Government the obligation of providing regulations to prescribe all that may be necessary to carry the system of compulsory enrolment into effect.
– There is no element of compulsion until we say to electors that, if they do not enroll, they will be punished.
– I have already said that the penalties referred to might apply to various offences against the Act, and not necessarily to a refusal to be enrolled.
– I wish to submit an amendment. I move -
That the following words be added to the proposed new section, “ Provided that the regulations may exempt from enrolment any person who conscientiously objects to participate in elections.”
I do not wish to deal with persons who merely say that they object to vote at an election, but I think the regulation should be so framed as to exempt from enrolment persons who send in applications for exemption on the ground of conscientious objections. If there are conscientious objectors - I do not care whether they are many or few - and they desire to escape the troubles which all who are compelled to enroll will have to go through, it is, I think, only fair to give t:hem the alternative, if they conscientiously object to fill in cards of application for enrolment, of filling in cards of objection to enrolment. That should be considered sufficient to exempt them from being compelled to have their names placed on a roll for elections in which they have no desire to participate in any way whatever.
– I have very great pleasure in supporting the amendment. It has been represented to me that there are a number of persons who object to vote at elections. They belong to a certain religious sect. I do not know their numbers or whether they are represented in every State in the Commonwealth, but they hold that they ought not to take any part in either municipal or parliamentary elections.
– Does their objection extend to enrolment?
– Yes; they will never enroll their names on a parliamentary or a burgess roll. City valuators generally put their names on burgess rolls because they are ratepayers, but they never exercise a vote and never go near a poll. I in tended to move a similar amendment by proposing the insertion, after the word “shall,” of the words “unless he or she has conscientious objections to so doing. >r But the amendment submitted by Senator Gardiner covers the ground quite as well. I think that the conscientious objections of any person should be respected. We have recognised this in the Defence Act, and have provided that those who object to fighting need not go into the firing line.
– That is quite different.
– Admitting that, 1 say that the principle of consideration for conscientious objectors is recognised ir» the Defence Act, and no harm will be done if the same principle is recognised here. The number of persons who conscientiously object to record a vote may represent but a very small percentage of our people ; but that is no reason why we should not give them an opportunity to make a declaration that they have conscientious objections to vote. I support, with all my heart, the proviso submitted by Senator Gardiner. We shall do no injustice to any one by adopting it.
– - I hope the Minister will not accept the amendment. Senator Vardon has said that a similar provision is to be found inthe Defence Act. But there is hardly any parallel between the two. Persons who have conscientious ‘objections to military enrolment or discipline are not, under the Defence Act, completely- exempted from the obligations cast upon every person to defend the country.
– But the principle is recognised, and that is all 1 said.
– They are obliged still to take a very important share in the defence of the country. I think Senator Gardiner must recognise that it is quite possible that some people will suddenly awaken to the fact that they have a political conscience, and, having an aversion to being compulsorily enrolled, may conveniently fall back upon his amendment, if it be agreed to, to escape the obligation which this measure would otherwise cast upon them. I think that the place of those who have no desire to take part in elections should be down near the South Pole, far removed from human society. But while the honorable senator might desire to* meet the wishes of a very insignificant number of such persons, he must see that his proposal would open a door by which the provisions for compulsory enrolment would be defeated. A man might say, “ My conscience leads me to believe that it is not right that I should be called upon to be enrolled against my will. I shall, therefore, on the ground of conscientious objection, refuse to be enrolled.” If that course were followed to any extent, this measure would become an absolute nullity. I am sure that honorable senators do not desire that. While we might like to take into consideration the feelings of the people to whom Senator Vardon has referred, the amendment might be taken advantage of to escape enrolment for entirely different reasons. I think it would be very unwise to agree to the- amendment.’
– I sincerely hope that Senator Gardiner will not get anything like a following for his amendment, because we might as well abolish compulsory enrolment if we once allowed those who state that they have a conscientious objection to enrolment to stand in a different position from those who are prepared to take an active and intelligent interest in the government of the country. There are some persons in the community who have a conscientious objection to compulsory education, but no person nowadays will say that a provision should be inserted in the Education Act that those who do object should have an opportunity of keeping their children away from educational institutions, and that the children should be left to grow up in the way which their parents ‘thought fit. There are persons who have a conscientious objection to any kind of work being performed on a Sunday. We had an instance of that kind of objection in Victoria a short while ago, when a Premier, not long deceased, was waited upon by members of a religious organization - I think it was the Lord’s Day Observance Society - who had a conscientious objection to the running of trains on Sunday afternoon. He, after listening to the arguments advanced, said that he had been impressed by what they had stated, and that he would consider, and, I think, consult the Cabinet, as to the advisability of giving effect to their conscientious objection to the running of trains, not merely on Sunday afternoon, but during any part of that day. When it was proposed to stop the running of the afternoon trains it was all right, but when it was proposed to stop the running of all Sunday trains it was a different thing. I have not heard any more of these persons since that time. The stopping of the church trains would, of course, have made a considerable difference to some members of the deputation. In the community, too, we have a very large -number of persons who have a conscientious objection to war. Quakers do not believe in war, or in militarism in any shape or form.
– And they are good people, too.
– Yes; those I have known have been exemplary citizens. During the progress of the war between Great Britain and South Africa, some of these persons were called by all sorts of offensive names. Epithets were hurled at them by so-called Christian people, who ought to have been ashamed of themselves for indulging in such language and conduct. But, after the war was concluded, it was found by a number of thinking persons that the Quakers had taken up the right attitude. The Quakers in Australia petitioned Parliament, and circularized every one of its members, in regard to compulsory military service, because of their conscientious objection to militarism or war in any shape or form, but we did not exempt them in the Defence Act. If war did break out, they would have to perform work which would be perhaps less pleasant to them than the work which otherwise they would be called upon to perform.
– Much safer, too.
– What solid reason can. this religious sect have to allowing their names, occupations, and addresses to appear on a printed document?
– Suppose they put it the other way about, and asked you, “ In the name of common sense, why do you want that?”
– Whilst we have parliamentary institutions and governments as we understand them to-day, we want people to take an interest in their country, and to exercise their votes in the way that is necessary to insure proper representative government.
– These people will not vote, and you do not propose to make them vote. Then what is the sense of compelling them to enroll?
– Why should we legislate for a section of the community, who, it is alleged, will not exercise the franchise if their names are on a roll ? We are not legislating at the present time for compulsory voting, but for compulsory enrolment, and we want every adult citizen to be on a roll. I cannot understand why. any objection to enrolment is raised. It may be that these people have a conscientious objection to enter the arena of politics. That is another matter, and they are not alone in that regard. I could name at least half-a-dozen organizations - fairly strong numerically, and pretty strong mentally - which object to compulsory enrolment, to compulsory voting, and to parliamentary institutions, but we are not going to legislate for such persons yet. I hope that the Committee will not seriously entertain the amendment of Senator Gardiner, because, if to-day we were to permit one small section to be free from the obligation of compulsory enrolment, to-morrow, or the day after, somebody else would be moving for some other organization or sect to be freed from that obligation. Once we opened the door, we would create a danger in regard to a system which we want to be given a fair and legitimate trial, and for that purpose it is, in the opinion of the Government, imperative that all adult citizens should be compulsorily enrolled.
– I intend to support the amendment. I do not think the Minister’s arguments are sufficiently sound to furnish anything like a valid objection to it. His arguments, if they are sound, mean that parliamentary institutions are only maintained by compulsion, that they are in such general discredit with the people that if we once allowed what he termed the open door in regard to these matters the number of persons who object would increase and increase so much that eventually there would be no one left to elect any of us. I consider that, if parliamentary institutions are falling into such discredit with a majority of the people, if we once allow the liberty permitted by the amendment by-any-by there will be no one left to elect members of Parliament, and, I suppose, no one left to be elected. . If there is anything approaching to such a position it is clear that parliamentary institutions have outlived their usefulness, and society will be prepared to manage things differently. I feel quite certain that the Minister does not believe that the amendment, if carried, will do more than perhaps give the Department a little trouble in seeing that it is not abused. To imagine, as he does, that the opening pf this door will lead to fearful disasters is, I am sure, a mere rhetorical flourish. Let us examine for a moment the value of his comparisons. Why do we have compulsory military training? It is for the purpose of defending the Commonwealth against aggressionwhich we think could not be fairly accomplished, with the means at our disposal,, in any other way. But does any one argue for a moment that the abstention of a limited number of persons from enrolling for conscientious reasons would lead to a breakdown of our electoral system? Can any one imagine for a moment that a person who has no conscientious objection to enrolment will go to the trouble of filling up a form in order to escape enrolment, and thereby cause a breakdown of the electoral system ? If there is any argument in favour of compulsory enrolment at all, it is that a vast.majority of persons desire to vote, that as they can please themselves when they enroll the policy of drift which is common to nearly all of us will lead them to put off the day, and as the election, approaches they will. find that they have not the means of voting, however much they desire to vote. It will merely be a method of promoting and inducing persons to fulfil their duty, as it were, to save themselves, as we so often require to be saved. I take it that the Minister himself believes that the bulk of the people of the Commonwealth are behind him, or he would not propose compulsory enrolment. That being so, the bulk of the people would have enrolled if there had been no compulsion, and, therefore, will not refuse to enrol any the more now that there is compulsion.’ It has frequently been urged that a policeman has no terrors for a man who is not an evil-doer, either actually or in intent. If a policeman has no existence for a well-doer, in the same way this compulsory clause will not affect a man or a woman who has always enrolled, but it is supposed to affect a person who has a conscientious objection to vote. It seems to show the inconsistency of the whole business of compulsion when we compel persons who have conscientious objections to the whole of the electoral machinery, to enroll, and yet permit them to refuse to exercise the suffrage. Speaking broadly, those who do enroll, and who believe in parliamentary institutions, are the proper persons to run them, and those who have to be driven to vote at the point of the bayonet are not of much use to any party. I think that, in our laws, we should, as far as possible allow the utmost freedom to those who have conscientious objections. Certainly no one would go to the trouble involved in filling up the card or form which would secure him exemption unless he had a conscientious objection, because the trouble involved therein would be quite equal to the trouble involved in enrolling. I trust therefore, that the good sense of the Committee will be in favour of passing this amendment, notwithstanding the arguments of Senator Lynch and Senator Findley. I can see no danger whatever, if our parliamentary institutions are worth preserving, in allowing people who have conscientious objections the right, not only to voice their objections, but to give effect to them.
– One of the arguments put forward by Senator Findley, as an objection to the amendment, was that education is compulsory. He quite seriously said that there are people who have conscientious objections to educating their children. There is no analogy between that case and the case with which we are dealing. The non-education of children is an injury to the State.
– And to the children.
– It is an injury to the children in the first place, and to the State in the second place. No injury is done to the State by allowing aman’s name to remain off the roll. A child is unable to protect himself, so the Government steps in. It provides that he must be educated, and protects itself by having an educated people. In connexion with people who have conscientious objections to enrolment I would point out that we can make the means of getting exemption more difficult than the means of getting on the roll. We can so frame these provisions that those who have conscientious objections to being enrolled will not be saved any trouble. This is purely a matter of whether those who are strong are going in any way to consider the weak.
– You and Senator Rae are not weak, and you are for the conscientious objectors.
- Senator McGregor and Senator Findley may use a giant’s strength in a way they should not use it, but, in a few years’ time, there may be a Socialistic party on the benches they are occupying now.
– Is this not a Socialistic party?
– I do not want to quibble on that point. I will say a more Socialistic party. There may be a Government which will go a step further than the present Government, and say, “ We will compel all the people, whom you compelled to enroll, to vote.” What would happen then?
– I think it would be a good thing.
– There are members of certain religious sects who object to voting. They would be compelled to vote, or would be summoned before a magistrate, and fined.
– Did those people ever read the advice of Christ - “ Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s “ ?
– I have no doubt the people to whom I refer could even hold their own in biblical quotation with the honorable senator. I, in my humble way, am endeavouring to prevent Caesar taking more than his share, whether Caesar, is represented by this Government or some other Government. There is another section in the community who have conscientious objections to voting. I refer to the Anarchists, who have higher ideals than the Socialists. The Anarchists believe that the community should be a law unto itself. They believe that the people should be so pure that they would not injure any one, or do any wrong, and that, therefore, no laws should be required to regulate the community. The Anarchists believe that they, and other people, are so pure and good that Governments are out of place. They believe that our form of government is merely government of the weak by the strong, and that many powers a.re exercised in the name of government which should not be exercised at all. If there are people who conscientiously object to participating in the government of the country, why should we compel them to enroll ? Very few people will be affected by the amendment proposed, and if they are few in number, and are weak because of their lack of organization, the greater the reason why we should consider their objections. We will not only be doing no injury by allowing this exemption, but we will be showing even to those few people that this Senate and this Parliament are prepared to consider the claims of any section of the community. It is reasonable for any man to refuse to have his name enrolled, and we should respect his objection. This Parliament, in my opinion very wisely, gave the franchise to women. Quite a number of good women in this community refuse to exercise the franchise. Quite a number of them refuse to have their names placed on the roll. If they conscientiously object to having their names placed on the. roll, and refuse to be enrolled, I suppose they are to be hauled before the Court by the Federal Government, and fined. I did not put these aspects of the question in moving the amendment because I thought it spoke for itself. I thought that the Government would deal with this measure in the same way as nearly every other measure is dealt with, and that any reasonable proposition put forward would be accepted. In connexion with military training I recognise that the danger which menaces Australia compels us to prepare against an invasion, and, therefore, every able-bodied man should be trained to resist an invasion. It is necessary also that there should be compulsory education, but compulsory enrolment is not necessary. No injury can be inflicted on any one by people who have conscientious objections to enrolment being exempted. The State does not suffer in the slightest degree.
– Do you not think that some of those indifferent citizens who suffer from ennui should get a prod now and again?
– I would make it more difficult to get an exemption than to get on the roll. Some Legislatures have made vaccination compulsory. If I were living in a community where vaccination was compulsory, I would have to go to gaol on account of my objection to vaccination, on my own behalf and my children’s behalf. I am prepared to go to any extent in maintaining my objection; and I want to put before the Senate die interests of other people similarly situated in a matter which is not of so much importance to the community. If the Government refuse to accept the amendment, I hope the Senate will carry it. It is not proposed that those people who have conscientious objections to enrolment should be allowed to be exempt simply by remaining idle. The regulations for exemption can be made as drastic as possible; but those who do not wish to enroll should be allowed to say Whether or not their names shall go on the roll.
– Senator Gardiner has spoken twice now to his amendment, but he has not mentioned a single religious sect the members of which hold that putting one’s name on a parliamentary roll is a wrong thing to do.
– If there is no such sect, the amendment will be useless.
– That is so. The amendment is nonsense.
– I cannot speak for any other religious body, but time after time the Plymouth Brethren have told me they object to taking any active part in election matters.
– An election is one thing, and enrolment is another.
– Why should the Plymouth Brethren be the only sect mentioned if there are several others?
– Seeing that no one can have a conscientious objection to his name being placed on a parliamentary roll, there is no necessity for the amendment.
– It does not follow that your conscience is the same as other people’s.
– Let Senator Millen point out a religious sect that has an objection to enrolment.
– It might be an irreligious sect. It would -be entitled to the same consideration.
– Then let Senator Rae point out an irreligious sect which objects to enrolment. The mover of the amendment, and honorable senators who have supported it, have failed to show any necessity for it.
– No one so blind as those who will not see.
– In this case, there is nothing to see. We have not got the lively imagination of Senator Rae, and cannot see something that does not exist. I hope the Minister will not allow any nosenical amendments to go into the Bill.
– This is an amendment favoring the Anarchists.
– The only prominent Anarchist I know of in this neighbourhood is one whose name usually figures in the press when he has called for the. protection of the police. Evidently he wants some system of government more often than most people. The case of the Quakers has been referred to. The opinions of the Quakers are well known. The objection which they hold to political matters has nothing to do with enrolment. I am quite sure this Parliament, and every other Australian Parliament, has always respected the religious scruples of people when passing legislation ; but it has not been shown that there is any religious sectin Australia - and we have members of almost every religious sect in our midst - the members of which hold that it is a wrong thing to enroll their names on a parliamentary roll. There are reasons for enrolment other than the use of the roll merely for election purposes. It is the duty of the Commonwealth Government to provide certain statistics ; and how are you going to provide those statistics unless you have a roll of this kind?
– You will have a list of the objectors, and you can add them to those on the roll. If you have nothing more difficult to put than that, you should sit down.
– Than what?
– I must ask the honorable senator to address the Chair.
– This roll will be of assistance in connexion with Census returns, and for statistical purposes of a hundred and one kinds; and we should have it for that purpose, if for no other purpose. Some reference has been made to the exemptions under the Defence Act, but I do not know that “those who are exempt get any advantage. Because we find, reading the Act, that, whilst they may be exempted from taking part in the fighting, they arenot exempt from service. Those who refuse to serve in the ranks may be requisitioned for hospital service, and other duties. The persons exempt under the Defence Act are Judges of Federal and State Courts, ministers of religion, members of Parliament, persons employed in lighthouses, and persons who satisfy the prescribed authority that their conscientious beliefs do not allow them to bear arms. Senator Gardiner and those who are supporting the amendment have failed to point out a single religious sect which entertains religious beliefs in antagonism to compulsory enrolment.
– There is a great deal of reason in the arguments of Senator Gardiner for this amendment. The right to exercise an influence over the government and legislation of a free country by a person who has come to adult age and is of sound mind is, in my opinion, inherent. It is almost as much a right as is the right to live.
– The honorable senator’s new-born zeal for the Plymouth Brethren is remarkable.
– I am speaking in defence of the principle of liberty of conscience.
– Why should Senator Findley despise the Plymouth Brethren?
– I do nothing of the kind.
– I do not care whether a man is a Socialist, an Anarchist, or a member of the Plymouth. Brethren; from the point of view of determining this question. In a free country it is a man’s inherent right to vote as he likes. If that be admitted, does it not follow that he has an inherent right not to vote if he does not choose to do so? Who is injured by his refraining from voting? He does not injure the rest of the community. He may in: jure himself, but that is his affair. There may be a number of candidates standing for election from the whole of whom an elector entirely disagrees. The whole of their principles may be’ antipathetic to him. Why should he not have a right to say, “ I will not vote for any of these men’.”?
– What we really want is a negative vote, so that an electormay be able to vote against a candidate.
– If that were permitted, the negative vote cast against some candidates would be overwhelming. It is tyranny to force a man to exercise his voting power when he does not choose to do so. I am against compulsory enrolment altogether, and I do not believe that the provisions of this Bill in regard to it are worth the paper on which they are printed. It is argued that the Government of the country compels people to have their children educated, and also compels youths to participate in the defence of the country. But the reason why we insist on the education of people is because it is believed that an uneducated person is a menace to the community. Similarly, we insist on a certain amount of military service because we believe that that is essential to the safety of the community. But because we believe that the national welfare and the national safety require persons to do certain things, it does not logically follow that the national well-being requires every person to vote. I do not care how few may be the persons who have conscientious reasons for not voting - their motives ought to be respected. We are very careful under our Constitution to keep separate the State and the Church. We guarantee liberty of worship to every individual who comes under our jurisdiction. That, in itself, implies respect for the conscientious beliefs of the people. Why not respect their conscientious scruples in regard to enrolment and voting ?
– If a cannibalistic section sprang up in the country, would the honorable senator insist on being eaten because of their conscientious beliefs?
– The mind of the Vice-President of the Executive Council is too gigantic, and his thought soars too high, for me to follow him. It is absolutely unthinkable that a Minister should seek to draw an analogy between cannibals and persons enrolling themselves under our electoral system.
– Has not a cannibal a. conscience?
– What has that to’ do with the question? I doubt whether there is a deliberative assembly in the world in which a responsible Minister would make such a frivolous remark concerning a serious question. Of course, I regard this compulsoryvoting proposal as. more or less of a circus demonstration on the part of the Government, and probably the Vice-President of the Executive Council is doing his best, to bring the circus part of the business into’ prominence.
– The honorable senator should keep away from comparisons about circuses.
– Why ? Because, there are so many clowns sitting in front of me? This amendment ought to be entertained, because we know that there are many persons who object to exercise, not only the parliamentary, but the municipal franchise. What harm can it do to respect their feelings ? The Government of the country ought to be tender towards the conscientious susceptibilities of its people. In the name of liberty and conscience, we should respect them, even if there are only a dozen in the community.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be added- put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I should like the Minister to say whether he believes the proposed new section will be effective if the word “may,” in sub-section 2, is retained?
-I point out to the honorable senator that we have already dealt with an amendment at the end of the clause, and it will not becompetent for him to move an amendment in an earlier part of the clause.
– I do not propose to move an amendment : but I wish the Minister to be courteous enough to reply to my question. If he will tell the Committee that he is satisfied that the proposed new section will be all right, with the word “ may “ in the latter part of sub-section 2, and the word “ shall “ in earlier parts of the proposed new section, I shall be satisfied. Our numbers may be small, but we deserve courtesy from the Minister.
Senator -Findley. - This is the form usually followed in respect of the matters included in the provision about which the honorable senator is so much concerned. As he is so persistent in the matter, why did he not move an amendment.
– I asked the question long ago, and if the Minister had had the courtesy to say that he was satisfied that the proposed new section would be all right, I should have had to accept his statement. He explained why it was necessary to substitute.the word “ shall “ for the word “may” in two other parts of the proposed new section, and it was only natural that I should ask whether the word “may” should not be altered to “ shall “ in the latter part of sub-section 2. I should like the Minister to explain that he is satisfied that these penalties can be enforced without the substitution of the word “ shall “ for the word “ may.”
– Of course I am satisfied.
– - I should like to know how this proposed new section is going to be enforced. Sub-section 2 provides -
The regulations shall prescribe anything necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying a system of compulsory enrolment into effect and may prescribe penalities not exceeding Two pounds for any contravention of any regulation made in pursuance of this power.
A person entitled to enrolment might be liable to penalties for breaches of three or four of these regulations, and I wish to know if there is any simple and easy means of enforcing this proposed new section if we pass it. It is of no use to insert a clause in a Bill if it is going to be a dead letter, and I think that is what is likely to take place in this case. The Minister of Defence, in introducing the Bill, told us that about 20 per cent, of our population live a nomadic life, and are continually on the move from one district to another. It is going to be a big* contract to see that all those persons conform to every regulation which may be laid down in connexion with compulsory enrolment. Unless there _ is some way of easily and speedily detecting those who fail to comply with the regulation under this provision, it will not be worth the paper on which it is printed. The Government might have indicated what they intend to do by regulation to insure that this provision shall be a living force in the measure. So far as I can see at present, I do not think that the proposed new section will be of any use in the betterment of our electoral rolls.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) (6.7]. - I should like to direct the attention of the Minister to the case of residents of Australia who, I think, will be compelled under the proposed new section to be enrolled, but whom it would clearly be undesirable to enroll in any circumstances. 1 speak of people who merely visit Australia, such as wool-buyers, for instance, but who stay here long enough to qualify for enrolment, and would, therefore, under this orovision, be compelled to enroll. In no sense can they be regarded as citizens of Australia. When they became entitled to be enrolled, they might be on the eve of returning to the country from whence they came.
– Most of them would require to be naturalized.
– Does the- honorable senator mean to say that most of the people who visit Australia as members of theatrical companies, or as wool-buyers, would require to be naturalized. If so, he can know very little about the subject.
– I have met a number of foreign wool-buyers, but one would think, to hear the honorable senator, that there is an army of wool-buyers in Australia.
– The honorable senator’s interjection is disheartening to one who is trying at this stage to perfect the Bib. I have fought some of the provisions of the measure, and will fight others; but I am dealing now with a matter which should not be open fo a suspicion of party feeling. Numbers of persons visit Australia as members of theatrical companies, as tourists, wool-buyers, and men in various walks of commercial life. They may stay here in the one electoral district for six or seven months, and so become entitled to be enrolled. This Bill makes provision that if a person is entitled to be enrolled he shall be enrolled. I am suggesting, to the Minister merely that he should take some power by regulation to deal with such cases. It may be said that sojourn in Australia is not residence, but if the Minister will look at the Act he will find that the qualification is in respect of a person not under twentyone years of age, male or female, married or unmarried, who has lived in Australia for the prescribed period. There is no question of domicile, but merely of residence, in Australia for the prescribed period. If a person is entitled to vote the compulsory provisions of this Bill will apply to him. The Minister should take, for himself or the Department, the power by regulation to say that no one who is merely a visitor shall be compelled to enroll, since he would in no sense be a citizen of Australia. It is not desirable to load up our rolls with the names of visitors of that kind. I suggest that the Minister should take power to frame a regulation to meet cases of that kind.
– I wish the Leader of the Opposition to understand that there is no desire to unnecessarily load the electoral rolls of any State. From time to time, as he has stated, persons engaged in the musical, theatrical, and other professions, and wool-buyers come to Australia, but I do not know that it will be safe to say_ that because they may live here for only six or eight months they should be relieved altogether from responsibility in regard to compulsory enrolment. I do not expect that any one of them could give a guarantee as to how long he will be in Australia, unless, of course, he was under a specific engagement with musical or theatrical entrepreneurs. But to meet any case of seeming hardship or apparent injustice-
– I am prepared to rest my objection on this ground, that it is undesirable to put on the rolls persons who are not citizens of Australia.
– There is no desire on the part of the Government to do that.
– You cannot get away from that.
– The honorable senator suggested that in drafting the regulations something might be done in the direction he indicated.
– If you take power in the Bill to frame such regulations.
– If an imaginary injustice which may be done to some visitors to Australia can be remedied by regulation, the honorable senator can depend upon it that his suggestion will receive consideration.
– The Minister has quite overlooked the fact that it is of no use to talk of remedying anything by regulation unless the power to frame a regulation is taken in this measure. If, however, the clause is passed as it is, he will not be able to make a regulation to provide for these cases, because it is obligatory that everybody who has lived in Australia for a certain time, and in an electoral division for a certain period, has to enroll. I am not dealing with the provision from the stand-point of an injustice being done. 1 do not know that it would be a particular injustice to ask any one who had lived here for six months to enroll his name. The point I urge is that it is undesirable that we should have on our electoral rolls the names of persons who are not citizens. These rolls are supposed to represent the people in whose hands rest the political future of this country. To load them up, even with a sprinkling of visitors, seems to me to be entirely undesirable.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 8 -
After section sixty-one B of thePrincipal Act the following section is inserted : - “610- (1.) 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 the regulations, a form of claim for enrolment as “an elector and to forthwith send or deliver it to the proper officer.
– In order to correct a printer’s error, I move -
That the words “section is” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “sections are.”
Amendment agreed to.
– I want to move an amendment in siub-sections 1 and 2 of proposed section 61c. We ought not, I think, to enumerate an an Act the duty of a person. We have already passed a clause which will compel persons to enroll, and I suggest to the Minister that sub-section 1 of proposed section 61c should be so altered as to read -
Every person who is entitled to be enrolled as an elector and who is not so enrolled shall -
That alteration, if made, will improve the wording of the provision, and specify what has to be done by a person. We ought not to say that it is the duty of an elector to do this, that, or the other, but to say that he “ shall “ do a certain thing. The Minister might, I think, accept my suggestion to delete “ It shall be the duty of,” and to substitute “shall” for “to” before the word “ fill.”
– Senator Vardon has stated that if the amendment which he has suggested were adopted, it would delete superfluous words and simplify the provision. There may be something in the suggestion. At the same time, I am not prepared to adopt it, because we are desirous that the Committee shall pass the. Bill in the way in which it has been drafted.
– I only rise to express my disappointment at the evident determination of the Minister, no matter whether there is reason or no reason for it, to resist any suggestion for a change. Senator Vardon has referred to one of the matters to which I directed attention in my second-reading speech. The reason I urged why this provision was open to criticism was that it was quite novel to have what I termed a little moral lecture set out. Nowhere else in the Bill do we find it set down that this, that, or the other thing is the duty of a person. Even the clause, which states that the Registrar shall be the Electoral Registrar under section 61. does not set out that it shall be his duty to do so and so. It says that he shall do a certain thing. Similarly in this clause, with a desire to be simple and brief, we ought to say that the elector shall do that which a previous clause imposes upon him.
– Sometimes he wants to be reminded of his duty.
– If the purpose of the provision is to give the elector a moral lecture, well and good, but it is getting away from that simplicity of drafting which marked the Acts of this Parliament for many years. The late Mr. Kingston always tried to delete unnecessary verbiage, and he succeeded, very much to our advantage. but now we are asked to go back and adopt a phrase which, as far as any legal value is concerned, is utterly useless. Senator Findley need not fear that if the superfluous language were deleted it would in any way weaken or destroy the effect of the clause. If he is influenced by that fear, I shall be satisfied if he will say that, while not willing to adopt the suggestion now, he proposes to take further advice, and if he finds that the clause will not be weakened or destroyed by the suggested alteration it will be recommitted later for that purpose.
– In moving an amendment I have no desire to injure the Bill in any way. I move -
That the words “’ It shall be the fluty of,” line 3, be left out.
The late Mr. Kingston tried to make the provisions of a measure as plain, clear, and imperative as he possibly could. What is the use of inserting in the clause the words “ It shall be the duty of “ ? It has already been provided that every person shall enroll, whether he considers it his duty to enroll or not. Instead of loading up the clause with unnecessary verbiage, why not make it absolutely plain that every person who is expected to do a certain thing shall do it? Surely, if an amendment is to be rejected, no matter how good it may be, simply because it comes from this side, it is a poor compliment to pay to the Ministry or to the draftsman of the Bill. I submit the amendment, not in a spirit of hostility, but simply with a desire to improve the drafting of the clause, and to make its meaning absolutely clear. I am surprised that the Minister cannot see his way to accept it.
– Will the Minister state his objection to the omission of the words “ It shall be the duty of “ from sub-sections 1 and 2 of proposed section 61c? I cannot see what good their retention can do, and certainly their omission would make the provisions clearer and plainer. At present they tell persons what is their duty. I think that every man has an idea of what his duty as an elector is, and he does not care to have a lecture addressed to him in an Act of Parliament. The Minister will not accept an amendment from this side. He has simply stated that these words are in the provision, and must be carried. I ask him if he really thinks that there is any danger in omitting them? I am sure that no one on this side wishes to lead him into a trap. I do not wish to take any course which would weaken the Bill. In fact, I think that this clause would appear much stronger to an ordinary person if the suggested amendment were made. Surely the Government are not going to take up the stand that, no matter what amendments may be proposed, it shall not be made. The Minister recognises, I think, that the words objected to are not required.
– He admits that.
– I think the Minister sees that. There has been an error in draftsmanship, and it should be corrected. In the introductory words of the clause there was a verbal error, and the Minister called attention to it.
– I ask the Committee to allow progress to be reported. I will look into the point that has been raised. If it will not affect the Bill to make an amendment in the direction indicated, I shall be only too pleased to accept such an amendment.
Sitting suspended from 6.27 to 8 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Chataway) pro posed -
That a return be tabled showing the following : -
The total amount, yearly, of Excise received from sugar from the commencement of the Excise Act to date, showing also the different States which got credit for their three-fourths of it, and the respective sums so received, until the operation of the Braddon clause of the Constitution ceased. All columns to be totalled.
The tonnage of sugar produced in the several States of Australia, yearly, from 1st January, 1870, to 31st December, 1910.
The importations, and value thereof, in bond, of sugar, yearly, into Australia, showing also the country of origin, for the period 1890- 1900, both inclusive, and showing the class or classes of sugar, if possible.
The same information for the period 1900- 1910, both inclusive, and for the half-year ending 30th June, 191 1.
The various Customs duties imposed on sugar and also the Bounty, or other form of payment, if any, given on production, or export, in the following countries : -
Germany, France, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, the United States of America, Italy, Russia, Spain, Canada, Great Britain, and New Zealand.
The area under cane and the area harvested in Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, respectively, each year from 1st January, 1880, to 31st December, 1900.
The same information from the commencement of the Excise and Bounty legislation to 31st December, 1910, separating the areas comprised in the four “ Districts “ created by the Regulations under such legislation.
The quantity of sugar used each year, from 1st January, 1901, to 31st December, 1910, in the making or preserves, such as jams, sauces, pickles, and the like ; also, separately, the quantity used in brewing.
The quantity, and value thereof, of jam exported yearly from Australia from1st January, 1901, to 31st December, 1910, and the relative amounts of drawback allowed to the exporters.
The estimated consumption, in tons, yearly, of sugar in Australia from 1st January, 1901, to 31st December, 1910.
The quantity, and value thereof, yearly, of sugar imported into Australia from 1st January, 1901, to 31st December, 1910, and for the half-year ending 30th June, 1911 -
for the purpose of refining ;
for direct consumption.
The amount yearly received from sugar factories and refineries respectively by way of licence-fees.
– When this motion was called on this afternoon the Vice-President of the Executive Council said “Not formal,” and when he said that, of course he took into consideration the comprehensive nature of the return desired by Senator Chataway. Since that time we have had anopportunity of consulting with the Minister of Trade and Customs, and I desire to tell Senator Chataway and honorable senators that we have every desire to give all possible information of the kind asked for in the motion. Senator Chataway will realize that he is asking much.
– I appreciate the Government’s action in the matter.
– All that can be done will be done to get the information which the honorable senator desires. It will probably take some little time, but the Department will move the responsible officers in order to collect the information as speedily as possible.
– In view of the statement of the Minister, which I am sure the House will accept as an extremely satisfactory one, I have a suggestion to make. It is obvious that some time must elapse before the Department can furnish the Minister with the information asked for in some of the paragraphs of the motion, but the information asked for in a great number of other paragraphs would be available in a. comparatively short time.I would suggest that as soon as the Department is in a position to furnish the information asked for in a number of the paragraphs it should be presented. It is hardly desirable to hold that information over until the whole return is complete. When the Minister has ob tained it, he might present it to the Senate, and later on supplement it with the informationwhich it will take a longer time to compile.
– I give the Leader of the Opposition the assurance that I will bring his request under the immediate notice of the Minister of Trade and Customs.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move-
That, in the opinion of the Senate -
The Defence Act should be so amended as to clearly set forth that the object of creating a Citizen Defence Force based upon universal compulsory military training and service is for the purpose of defending the Commonwealth against possible foreign aggression, and, therefore, under no circumstances should any person so enrolled be compelled to bear arms against any fellow Australian citizen notwithstanding anything contained in the oath of allegiance or in any other conditions of compulsory service.
That the foregoing resolution be conveyed by message to the House of Representatives for its concurrence.
I am sorry that honorable senators on both sides of the House will not accord this motion the same genial treatment that was accorded to the motion which has just been dealt with. I feel convinced that no person with any real regard for democratic government can seriously oppose this motion. I think I might well ask our democratic Government to accept it, and to endeavour to embody the principle which it contains in the law. I have been met with oneor two objections, which I will deal with briefly. I have been told that the Constitution Act stands in the way of the Defence Act being framed in the manner which the motion affirms to be desirable. I have not studied the whole of the Constitution recently, but the only section I recollect bearing upon that question is section119, which provides that the Commonwealth must protect every State against invasion, and. at the request of any State, against domestic violence.
– Does not that section seem to the honorable senator to be contradictory of the motion?
– As far as I can see, that is the only section of the Constitution which bears upon the subject-matter of my motion. But I think that it is an entire misapprehension of the meaning and effect of the section to say that my proposal is a negation of it. For one thing, I do not ask that any part of the Commonwealth, or any State, should be exposed to domestic violence. I do not seek to bring about a state of things in which one State might take up arms against another, or in which a State might take up arms against the Commonwealth.
– There might be an insurrection against the Commonwealth in a State.
– In the event of that happening - What ?
– Suppose the Premier of a State did anything similar to what Joe Carruthers did in New South Wales, when he seized the wire-netting?
– I am not desirous that any such condition of things shall arise as that any part of the Commonwealth shall bc exposed to domestic violence or to aggression from any other part. Nor do I think that the terms of my motion, if translated into law, would have such an effect. I do not think that it would prevent the Commonwealth from doing what was necessary in the event of an insurrection, or an industrial upheaval, or such an event as occurred in connexion with the wire-netting seizure. I do not wish to shirk the consideration of such possibilities, but .1 do not think that my motion would have the effect of allowing domestic violence to proceed unchecked. J. will, however, pursue my own line of argument, and my critics can deal with the subject in. their own way afterwards.
– As far as I understand the honorable senator’s argument, his own motion does not square with it.
– I am going to endeavour to show, in my own way, that my motion is quite consistent with the views I have just expressed. In the first place, I wish to point out that no one can seriously contend that in any civilized country of the world - or, at any rate, in Australia - there would be any possibility of inducing the majority of the electors to consent to a system of compulsory military training and service were it not for the fear of outside aggression. The menace (of (attack from Germany, or from Japan, or from; any other Power which may hereafter loom up on the international horizon - the fear that’ some foreign Power may, at some time, cast covetous glances on Australia, and ultimately carry out its designs by invading this country - is really at the bottom of the whole- system of compulsory military training, and the justification for its institution. I venture to say that no one will seriously contend that there would have been any possible chance of securing universal military service with: in the Commonwealth were it not for that fear. It is only since that fear has loomed up largely, and in a tangible form, owing to the success of Japan in her war with Russia, that people have seriously considered the possibility of invasion, and sought to provide against it. Of course, for as many years back as I can recollect there were periodical Russian and other scares from time to time. But they were mere flashes in the pan, and never seriously aroused the whole people to. a realization of the possibility of danger from a welldefined quarter. That possibility has been the real cause for the agitation for compulsory military service becoming crystallized in the form of legislation. The same reason also has probably actuated other civilized countries which have adopted compulsory military service or conscription. If .it were possible to banish entirely from the minds of the community those fears, which, undoubtedly, do exist - that no matter how peaceful our intentions may be we may be menaced by an outside foe - it would be impossible for any Government or any Parliament to enforce any system of compulsory military service. I say, therefore, that a person who is compelled to enroll in order that he may do his share in defending his country in its hour of need is so enrolled for that purpose and that only ; and that were any other purpose, or any other object, set forth as the justification for universal military training, it would be the death knell of the system. That leads me also to state this point of. view. No person who voluntarily becomes a member of any permanent military force can be otherwise than aware of the fact that he must obey orders, go wherever he may be sent, and do whatever he may be told. He accepts service under those terms and conditions, and with the clear knowledge that the requirements that I have indicated’ may be expected from, him at any time. But the Government of the Commonwealth now gives no choice - and I say rightly so - to the young citizen, as to whether he shall serve or not. The law of this country says to him, “You must serve.” If he says he does not wish to do so, or if his parents say, “ Why should He ? “ the only answer is : “As every man enjoys the measure of civilization and liberty which our Constitution provides for us, it is his duty to do his share in defending those advantages, and in defending the great possession which he shares with the rest of his fellow-citizens in this continent.” The demand for service from our youths and men is based entirely on those grounds. My contention, therefore, is that as the young soldier is enrolled for one object, and as that object is the only justification for compelling him to serve, the defence of this country against aggression should be the only duty imposed upon him. If anything more is wanted from him in the nature of military service he may, if he pleases, volunteer; but he should not be compelled to serve otherwise. If there were no system of compulsory military service at all, there would be nothing to prevent a man from serving under whatever banner he chose or in whatever service he chose. Therefore, if my motion were carried, there would be nothing to prevent every one of our recruits who is now enrolled from volunteering for the suppression of domestic violence. But my object is to lay down the principle that not one of these compulsorily enrolled recruits shall be compelled to bear arms against his fellow Australian citizens if he does not’ desire to undertake that service.
– Then the honorable senator would have a kind of Pinkerton gang?
– Suppose one State revolted ?
– I take it that Senator Lynch’s allusion to the Pinkerton gang refers to the possibility of the raising of paid mercenary troops by some huge capitalistic concern such as Carnegie’s, in America, where capitalists, not being able to avail themselves of the services of the Federal troops, armed private detectives - a privatelyenrolled soldiery - to shoot down strikers. But that is absolutely the opposite to what would occur under my motion. The argument used by many persons in jus,tification of compulsory enrolment is that if there were any domestic violence, one side would be as well prepared as the other. I have heard numbers of workers and Labour supporters say that they only approved of compulsory military training, and only consented to it because, whichever side was on top for the time being, the other side would be well able to defend itself, possessing die training and the arms to enable it to do so ; so that, if there were any trouble of the kind, the two sides which took a hand in it would be almost on equal terms. But I point out that if there were an industrial upheaval, a strike of a serious nature, a revolt, or anything of the kind, the position would be this : that the persons employed by the Defence authorities would, in the pursuance of their duties and obligations, be able to shoot down any one who resisted them, whilst the persons who resisted, and who utilized the training and the arms they possessed to defend themselves, would, in the eyes of. the law, be traitors and rebels, and liable to be shot or punished in some other way. So that, whilst the two parties might contend on physically equal terms, there would be no real equality between them, because, while the one party would be doing its duty, the others would be traitors. Where equality comes in under such circumstances I. cannot see. I contend that, in the event of such an occurrence as Senator Millen referred to just now, the position would be this : First of all, you have a certain number of paid soldiers in the Commonwealth, and probably we shall always have some. There must be a staff of permanent artillery men and of officers and instructors. You would also have all those who might be willing to volunteer for service, no matter how enrolled. These would constitute a powerful force. But no one should be compelled to shoot down his fellow Australians, or run the risk of being ordered to do so, simply because he obeys the law with regard to compulsory military service.. He should be excused from that kind of service, and kept to that for which the system was created, namely, to defend the country from outside aggression. In re:ference to the wire-netting episode in New South Wales, which Senator Givens has mentioned, it has been said- and it was urged at the time of the occurrence by some individuals - that the Federal troops should have been called out to effect the arrest of those who acted under the orders of the State Premier at the time ; and that, by force, the wire-netting should have been restored to the place where it was landed. But could any one say, in view of the excitement that prevailed at that time, that the result of the forceful seizure of the netting would have been as satisfactory as what followed from the action which the Federal Government took? The Law Courts were resorted to in the ordinary way to determine whether the State Premier acted rightly or whether the Federal Government was in the right. Was anything lost to the “ peace, order, and good government “ of the Commonwealth because, instead of the hasty counsels that some urged being followed, the Government gave an opportunity for heated feelings to cool down, and appealed to the Law Courts in the ordinary manner ? Let. us see what would have happened if compulsory military training had been in force at the time, and the desire of those who wanted military action to be taken had been carried out. I am prepared to say - and I think that honorable senators from New South Wales will agree with me, both those who sit in Opposition and those who sit on my own side of the Senate-
– The honorable senator is not speaking for this side tonight.
– I was in New South Wales at the time of the dispute, and I say thatpublic feeling, wrongly, I believe, was on the side of Sir Joseph Carruthers. I honestly believe, and I think the other New South Wales representatives will agree with me, that the State Premier, by’ his dramatic and perhaps rather tactful move - from a political point of view; - fired the imagination of a very large proportion of the people of New South Wales, who were with him in the wire-netting raid.
– That is a very uncomplimentary thing to say about New South Wales.
– I am not here to bandy compliments, whether they affect my own State or any other. I am’ dealing with facts.
– As the honorable senator has referred to other New South Wales representatives, I may say that I do not share his opinion as to the view of the people of New South Wales with reference to that incident.
– Hear, hear !
– It is a matter of opinion. At any rate, Senator Millen cannot dispute this fact : that whether there was a majority for Sir Joseph Carruthers in New South. Wales or not, certainly a large number of persons openly expressed their admiration for and approval of the Premier’s action on that occasion.
– Anti- Federalists, no doubt.
– Not necessarily ; but we need not quibble about matters which we cannot prove. There was a large body of the people, and I believe a majority at the time, in favour of the action taken by. the
Premier of New South Wales. At any rate, the number of persons who approved his action was so great that, had it been resolved to resort to military force on that occasion - which I think would have been a fatal blunder - and had the compulsory military principle been in operation for a few years, what would have happened would have been that New South Wales citizens would have been called upon toconduct active military operations against a large body of personal relatives and fellow countrymen, who honestly believed that Sir Joseph Carruthers did the right thing. There might have been civil war within the State, and father, son, and brother might have been shooting each other down. It is rather far-fetched, I admit, to suppose that any sane Government would force things to that length when the matter might be settled in a Court of Law. But if the views of extremists had been carried into effect under our compulsory military service, that would have been the position in which citizens of New South Wales would have been placed.
– What would have been. the good of appealing to a Court if there had been no army to enforce its decisions?
– That is a very pertinent interjection, I admit, but I say that if what I propose in this motion were a part of the law-
– There would have to be an army to enforce that.
– I cannot reply to three or four interjections at a time. Supposing the principle affirmed by my motion had been a part of our Defence Act at the time, as well as the principle of compulsory military service, if it had been considered necessary to conduct military operations against New South Wales, probably a large majority of the citizens of the other States would have been found willing to suppress the revolt in New South Wales, and to shoot down its citizens. But in that case no citizen of New South Wales would have been called upon to imbrue his hands with’ his brother’s blood, or against his will to shoot down his father, at the word of command of any authority. Further, let me say that even those citizens of New South Wales who believed in suppressing the rebellious State would have been just as free to do so had my motion formed a part of the Defence Act as they would be under the Act as it stands. Again, the paid officers and men of the force in New South Wales would have been free to take part in suppressing that State.
SenatorMillen. - Then the honorable senatorhas no objection to officers shooting their fathers and brothers?
SenatorLynch. - Not so long as they are paid for it, apparently.
– I have no objection, so far as these men are concerned, because, if Senator Millen will do me the j ustice to try to understand my proposal, instead of raising quibbles against it, he will see that I consider that a man who enlists as a paid soldier knows that he may have to undertake these unpleasant duties at any time.
– But the bulk of our officers are not paid.
– Some would be paid, and what I say would apply only to them. When they take pay as soldiers, they accept the risk of having to fulfil these unpleasant and, perhaps, revolting tasks. But, under the Defence Act, we force every citizen, against his will in many cases, to become a soldier, to fulfil the patriotic duty of defending the country against an outside foe. But we may also, unless the Act is amended in the way I suggest, force him to shoot down father or brother should there be a disturbance in any part of the Commonwealth. That is an absolutely unfair, unjust, and undemocratic position to put any man in, and still more to put a boy in. For some years the defenders of the Commonwealth under our Act will be under the age of twenty-one years, and for all time there will be in succession a certain proportion of them under that age. It is entirely unreasonable, in my opinion, to provide that a mere boy may be compelled at any time to shoot down his fellow Australian citizens at theword of command of any Government. We may not always have a Government as democratic as that now in office, though we may have one more democratic. Still, we must bear in mind that, in times of crises, men possessing supreme temporal power are prepared to go to any length, and to strain any law. in order to put down by force what they believe to be inimical either to the welfare of the country or their own rule. I do not pretend to try to bring about the millennium, when all our swords will be converted into ploughshares, pruning hooks, or other crude agricultural implements, but I do say that those who take up arms very much against tfieir will, and who, in their hearts, are opposed to all forms of militarism, and consent to compulsory service only because of what they deem to be the absolute necessity of defending this country against foreign invasion, should not be swerved from the duty on which practically all people are agreed into the performance of quite another duty, in order, it maybe, to accomplish the designs of some ambitious authority over which they have little or no control. The adoption of my motion would never deprive Australia ofthe power to suppress any revolt or insurrection so long as the Constitution and laws of the country are worth preserving. When a country has sunk into such a condition of decadence that the people havelostall confidence in its forms of governmentand its rulers, when insurrections spring up at all manner of times and places, the probability is that it would be a good thing if the Governmentof such a country were wiped out of existence.
– That is done through the ballot-box.
– I am sure thatSenator W. Russell will not contend that I have been any more backward than himself in advocating reforms through the ballot-box. I say that it is only when a country has sunk tosuch a low condition that it is not possible by political means to secure industrial peace and contentment that the people will revolt against all governmental agencies. In such circumstances, we should find people fighting amongst themselves, no matter how beautiful the paper Constitution under which they lived. So long as we have a form of government in accordance with the will of the vast majority of the people, we need have no fear of any serious insurrection, or any resort to violent revolutionary methods such as those at present adopted in China. It is only when a democratic government absolutely fails, becomes a mere shadow, and ceases to be effective, that the people in any large numbers resort to violence and revolutionary methods.
– Did democratic government fail in the United States prior to the Civil War ?
– I say that it did absolutely. Senator Millen must know,as well as I do, that under a constitutional provision similar to ours, it was equal representation of the States, in one House of the Legislature, making it practically impossible for the democratic majority in the other House to legislate in accordance with the will of the people, that led to the trouble. That was the cause which ultimately produced results that brought about the Civil War.
– That was not the real cause of the war.
– There were many other factors, which assisted to bring it about.
– If the honorable senator had read the history of America he would know that slavery would have been abolished, perhaps by peaceful and gradual methods, many years before the Civil War took place, if the Senate, bolstered up by the State Rights theory, had not prevented that being done in accordance with the desire of the democratic majority in the House of Representatives. No paper Constitution can prevent a civil war when the people have lost faith in the forms of government of a country. In the case of minor revolts, or small insurrections, on the part of ill-advised sections of the community, 1 have no hesitation in saying we should be able to get volunteers to suppress them in any part of the Commonwealth if they believed those taking part in them to be in the wrong. What does the allusion to the United States prove? It proves that while a very large and important section of the people refused to obey the will of the majority, it did not require a compulsorily enrolled military defence force to quell the revolt. Great and serious as it was, the Civil War in America was conducted by voluntarily enrolled soldiers. So that the reference to that war tells in favour rather than against my proposal.
– Compulsory military service is part of the Labour platform.
– The honorable senator’s interjection has no bearing upon my remarks. I am a strong advocate of compulsory military service, and I very much regret that the place in which I live puts members of my family beyond the reach of training, because an inefficient and incomplete system does not permit the training of youths unless they are within a few miles of a railway. I am sorry, thatour system is not more complete and effective than it is. While I am a strong advocate of compulsory military service, I believe it cannot be justified for any other purpose than that of operations against outside aggression. I object that a force raised for one purpose should be compulsorily used for another. No member of the Senate, and no member of any Government in Australia, would ever dare to propose compulsory military service for any other purpose than the defence of the country against possible outside aggression. That being so, what right has any Government, more especially one which claims’ to be democratic, to use all its power and machinery to set up a citizen defence force, avowedly for one purpose, and then presume to use it for a purpose that is not only opposed to the spirit of the age, but opposed to the objects of the people of Australia when they consented to the compulsory military system? To repeat, to some extent, what I have said in regard to industrial upheavals, there will always be plenty of persons who are compulsorily enrolled willing to give their services whenever they may be required to suppress any rising or insurrection. All that my motion asks is that no man shall be compelled, by the terms of that service, to use his arms against a fellow-Australian. A man who cannot see the very wide difference between the service which should be exacted from a person who is compelled to enter the Military Forces whether he likes it or not, and the service which may fairly be asked of one who voluntarily becomes a paid soldier, probably does not wish to see it. In all seriousness, I urge the adoption of my proposal in the interests of the compulsory system. It will cut the ground from under the feet of those who base their objections to compulsory service on the argument that it is only building up a strong military force, which may ultimately result in the arms of that force being turned against the people who have created it and paid for it. If honorable senators wish to reconcile this system with the views and principles of the average Australian, they must first convince him that it is not raised for one purpose ostensibly to be used for another purpose actually, but that it is raised for one purpose and one purpose only, and that is the defence of Australia against outside aggression ; that if any means are required to protect any portion of Australia from domestic violence other measures will be brought into use to fulfil that end, and that no compulsorily-enrolled and compulsorilytrained citizen shall be compelled to bear arms against a fellow-Australian. If this motion is not carried now, I have no doubt that the publicity which will be given to the principles I have endeavoured, in my humble and feeble way, to give utterance to will be widely taken up and dealt with by abler men, and that I shall see the triumph of the proposal which I have the honour to submit.
– I think that Senator Rae had not spoken many words in support of his motion before he discovered in it a very weak point, which he skilfully evaded, and never returned to.
– I did not see a single weakness in it.
– Towards the close of his address, the honorable senator asked, “ Why should we compel a person to take up arms against a fellow- Australian against his will.” Let me ask the honorable senator the same question in a slightly different form. “ Why should we compel a person to take up arms against foreign aggression when he may be quite favourable to it ?” In our law we have the power to compel the son of a Frenchman - I take this illustration because I think that France is the nation least likely at present to attack us - to resist aggression from the country of his birth. He may desire to see the flag of his forefathers waving over Australia. And yet Senator Rae has no objection to such a person being compelled to take up arms to prevent France from effecting a landing here. The honorable senator also made a statement which shows the entire lack of necessity for any such alteration of the law as he suggests. He said, “So long as we have a Government which is representative of the people there is no fear of any domestic outbreak in Australia which will make it necessary to call out a military force.” Exactly so; and there you have the only thing which needs to be stated to show that no such alteration of the Federal law as is proposed is necessary.
– Oh, no; that does not prove it at all.
– Unless we agree to that, we must say that we are already convinced that democratic government is a failure; that government of the people by the people and for the people has been found wanting ; that the people cannot be trusted ; that there is a danger of the people using force against themselves.
– No; but there is a danger of a man in temporary authority doing it.
– The honorable senator must remember - and I think that in discussing the question we should remember - that we are dealing with a law passed by a Parliament which is responsible to, and representative of, the people of Australia, which is absolutely the product of majority rule, and that whenever a Government in the Federal arena disregards the view of the majority, it will pay the penalty, especially if it disregards their view in such a sense asto use military force to do what they think should not be done.
– Would the ejection of a Government be a recompense for a killed man ?
– The honorable senator also made a statement which had not much to do with the question, but which I am going to contradict, because it has been made so often. He incidentally remarked that the majority of our defenders are under the age of twenty-one years, and that we. have no right to force them to take up arms against their fellows. The Defence Act does not lay the obligation of active service on persons under the age of eighteen years. The reason why I take this opportunity to make this contradiction is because a wellknown journal has repeated the statement almost weekly, the Sydney Bulletin, although it ought to know, because it has been a strong advocate of compulsory military training, that persons under the age of eighteen years are under no liability to bear arms in active service, and that the number of the adult forces outnumbers very considerably those who are over the age of eighteen and under the age of twenty-one years. I take this opportunity to point out first that the statement is not correct, and secondly that those who are over the age of eighteen years and under twenty-one years, and who cannot be called children by any means in Australia, are outnumbered by the adult forces. While in the latter part of his address the honorable senator said that it was absolutely impossible to believe it; in other parts he seemed to contemplate a time when some great question is going to be settled by an appeal to arms, and he desires that the people shall then be free to take whichever side they like without being branded as traitors.
– With no one even to keep the ring for them.
– I did not say anything of the kind, and the Minister has no right to misrepresent me.
– That is exactly what the honorable senator contemplated if any meaning can be given to his words.
– My words did not remotely bear any such construction.
– I would not have chosen the occurrence to which the honorable senator referred, but as he did so, I want to show him that he could not have quoted , a more unfortunate occurrence, and that is the now almost forgotten wirenetting episode.
– It was brought up to me. I did not use it.
– What was the position there ? The Federal attitude was that of an appeal to law and not an appeal to force ; . but the State attitude was an appeal to force, and that is what the honorable senator forgot. The State seized the wire netting by force, and kept possession of it by force, and it never appealed to law. The honorable senator ought to have followed up the case.
– The Federal authorities beat the State with law.
– Yes, the Federal authorities said, “We will not fight; we will not call out the military, but will appeal to law.” Suppose, however, that the State authorities had been foolish enough to refuse to accept the judgment of our Court. What would the honorable senator have done? Would he have said, “ Very well, we will publish in the Gazette an appeal for volunteers to enforce the law?” According to his statement that is what he would have said.
– You would not have had to publish much in the Gazette. They would have rushed it.
– That is exactly what the honorable senator has told us he would do. He said, “ You have no right to call out men and send them to suppress domestic violence when they are in favour of it.” That is, I am glad to believe, an impossible contingency in Australia, at any rate at present. It is a contingency which ought not to be contemplated, because it is impossible, and I am only contemplating it because Senator Rae, in dealing with the question, did not see how it cuts away the whole ground of his argument.
– I was only replying to an interjection. I did not choose it.
– I know that the honorable senator only brought in the statement in response to an interjection, but I want him to follow it out to its logical conclusion, and then he will see that it cuts away the groundwork of what he has been saying. I would also point out that no persons would be foolish enough to take up arms to-day in a modern State unless they first of : all had some sortof military organization, possibly a secret one.. The State has an organization ready to hand in its police force, and in the case I mentioned the State would have had an organized police force bound and sworn to obey its orders. Senator Rae would put the Federal authorities in the position of having on the spur of the moment, and after the revolt had occurred, to organize a police or military force to enforce the judgment of its Court. He apparently had no objection to the State having an organized force to enforce its law, but he objected to the Federal authorities having art organized force.
– That is poor reasoning.
– The honorable senator said that universal military servicewas not brought about for the purpose of suppressing domestic violence. I heartily agree with that, in fact we all do. I am glad to believe that nobody in Australia is so pessimistic as to think that we cannot settle our differences, whether they are between State and State, or between Stateand Commonwealth, without an appealto arms. I, at any rate, am optimistic enough to believe that we can. I supposethat if, after the close of the War of Independence, the people of the United States had been told by any person that within a certain time their sons would betaking up arms one against the other, that the people of the Northern Stateswould be seen in armed camps prepared to fight against the people of the Southern States, they would have branded him as a fool, and laughed at the idea. Yet that came to pass. One of the bloodiest wars in history was fought in that country between people with like ideals, of almost a common stock, with a common religion, and in a republic with the freest and most representative form of government on earth at that time.
SenatorRae. - And settled without compulsory service.
– With a clear recollection of that war, can we shut our eyesas to what is possible in human affairs? I would draw the attention of honorable senators to the fact that a nation exists by law. Law is the only element so far discovered by which communities can be kept together in units as nations. We have in order to maintain ourselves as a nation to uphold the laws of our nation, not only against foreign aggression, but also against internal aggression. The whole duty of government is summed up in that. It is to uphold and enforce the law. The people of Australia have declared that they will have a military system for the defence of Australia as a nation, and I say that that does not merely mean that we will defend Australia from foreign aggression, but that we will defend the laws of Australia, no matter from where the attack may come, if that attack takes the form of force. There is a legitimate way in which our laws can be altered, and the people of Australia have declared emphatically that if those laws are to be altered, they are to be altered through the ballot-box. I say that if any person takes up arms in Australia to alter the law by force, the community is justified in meeting force with force, and preventing him doing what he desires to do. Therefore, I say that our Defence Force is raised and maintained not merely for the purpose of defending the country against foreign aggression, but Also to defend the laws which have been framed, through Parliament, by the majority of the people of this country. Senator Rae says he does not object to the section in the Constitution which has reference to the protection of a State against domestic violence. He said he is not desirous of any portion of a State being exposed to domestic violence. That is a very pious wish. We are all anxious and hopeful that no portion of a State may be exposed to domestic violence, but if there is a revolt by a State against the other States, or by a portion of a State against the other portions of the Commonwealth, that pious hope will not carry us very far unless we are prepared to say that if that State, or part of a State, takes up arms against the community’s wish, as expressed in the laws of the Commonwealth, then the rest of the Commonwealth will take up arms to defend the laws which the majority of the people have made through Parliament. Senator Rae says that if his motion is given effect to, it will not interfere with that protection from domestic violence, but that it will prevent any member of the Defence Force being used to suppress domestic violence. At present, as far as I know, the only way by which the Commonwealth Parliament is able to protect itself, or a State, from domestic violence, is by its Defence Force. We have not the control of the police forces of the States, except so far as, under our Federal Constitution, the Courts and the police of the States are called upon to enforce the laws of the Commonwealth. But the police are maintained and disciplined by the States, and not by the Commonwealth. The peculiar portion of Senator Rae’s address to me was that he is quite prepared to maintain a permanent force, and allow it to be used to suppress domestic violence.
– If the honorable senator says, “ You should only use a volunteer force,” he is forcing us into this position. Either we must organize a volunteer force in a time when there is no domestic violence for the express purpose of suppressing domestic violence, should it occur, or wait until that disturbance occurs, and then appeal for volunteers to suppress it. I wish to point out that Senator Rae apparently overlooked the fact that under our Defence Act the volunteer system will in a year or two be swept away. We will have no volunteers, as such. We will have only a citizen Army, maintained on the: basis of compulsory training and. enlistment. No domestic violence- can occur that cannot be easily suppressed by the police, unless it is organized violence. To’ say that the Commonwealth, which has to defend the law, is to be’ placed in the position, of having to wait until violence is organized, and has expressed itself by acts of violence before it proceeds to organize a volunteer force to suppress that violence, is ridiculous. I want to put the position in this way. In my opinion, the Commonwealth has the purest form of Democracy that any country has yet reached. The will of the people finds expression upon its statute-book by’ the votes of the majority of the people. There are no class or property distinctions in the franchise of the Commonwealth Par:liament. There is, therefore, no class law, and no class rule. The Defence Force is raised for the express purpose of protecting the Commonwealth, and enforcing the laws which have received the approval of the majority of the people, who expressed their views through the ballot-box. This Government, or any Government, if there is to be government, has the obligation of defending the laws which are upon the statute-books, of the Commonwealth, whether the attack on the law comes from without or from within, and I say that anything short of that is anarchy, and not government at all ; anything short of that is licence, and not law. No Government can be true to its trust unless it is prepared to take up that position. Civil war in Australia, as I have already said, is inconceivable. The policy, not only of the present Government, but of the party it represents. is to have a citizen defence force as opposed to a standing army. Our policy is directly opposed to the idea of keeping a standing army for the suppression of domestic violence, or for protection from foreign aggression. If the laws of our country are opposed by force, are we to allow the’ lawless minority to tyrannize over the peaceful majority? We say that the people have expressed their will. If they do not approve of the laws, they can alter them. We say that the Defence Force of the Commonwealth has been raised for the express purpose of defending those laws, and it is a legitimate thing to use the Defence Force for that purpose. My earnest request to Senator Rae is to withdraw the motion. I think it is absolutely unnecessary. I think many of Senator Rae’s own statements prove it to be unnecessary. It contemplates one of two things - either that you shall raise a standing army if there is any danger of domestic violence -and if there is no danger the motion is unnecessary - for the purpose of suppressing domestic violence, or that you shall give to any minority in the Commonwealth the right to defy, by armed force, the laws made by the majority, and, until they do that, you shall take no action, but, when they do it, you shall appeal for volunteers to defeat them. No such proposition would receive the support of any deliberative assembly, and I am satisfied that if Senator Rae is so ill-advised as to take the motion to a vote, he will be in a hopeless minority. The motion is unnecessary, uncalled for, and unwise.
– If any proof of the necessity of this debate were needed, and if any further confirmation of the strength of the position put before the Senate by Senator Rae were needed, we have it in the exaggerated arguments and statements of the Minister of Defence.He commenced by saying, in effect, “ Why should we compel a person to take up arms against a foreign foe?” and he immediately pointed out that we would compel some Frenchmen to take up arms against their country should this land be invaded by France. I say that the Commonwealth has no power to do such a thing. The son of a Frenchman within our walls can claim the protection of his nation, and he need not become naturalized.
– I can show where a Frenchman born in Australia has been compelled to undergo military training. That is the Crown Solicitor’s opinion.
– The fact that the honorable gentleman has to quote such extreme cases shows how much at sea he isupon this matter. What is the intention of the motion? It simply says that those whom we compel to undergo military train-; ing in order that we may be prepared to repel an invasion shall not be used for the purposes of participating in a domestic brawl. Now) if the whole of the government of this Commonwealth were under the charge of the Commonwealth Parliament, and if it rested with this Parliament to say whether the troops should be sent out or not, there might be something in the contention put forward by. Senator Pearce; but he must know that if a request for military assistance to put down domestic violence were made by the Premier of any State, although that violence might’ have been brought about by the action of the Government of that State, the forces of the Common wealth would have to be . used for its suppression.
– Not without the consent of the Commonwealth.
– I am not going to look forward to any such impossible thing as civil war. No one would be fool enough to take up arms without secret organization. We are free from the possibility of anything of that kind, but we are not free from the possibility of a State Government trying to precipitate a riot with a view to strengthening its position. I have seen that occur at Broken Hill, and so has the Minister of Defence. I have seen the police force of New South Wales try to create a riot in the interests of the party controlling New South Wales at that time. Just imagine the contingency that might arise if the Wade Government were returned to power in New South Wales. I hope to God that will never occur. There might be a dispute at Broken Hill over 3 matter in which the miners were absolutely in the right, and that Government, exercising the tyranny which it exercised in the past, might endeavour to disperse a public meeting by means of the armed police force of the State. The people, heated and excited, and objecting to the encroachment on their liberties, might resist. At the request of the Premier of New South Wales, the Minister of Defence would have to call upon the Defence Force to suppress the disturbance. Who would be the first members of the Defence Force who would have to be called out? They would be the sons of the miners whose liberties were being ridden over roughshod.
– The Minister of Defence is not compelled to do it.
– The Minister may say that he is not compelled to do it, but section 119 of the Constitution Act provides -
The Commonwealth shallprotect every State against invasion, and on the application of the Executive Government of the State against domestic violence.
If theExecutive of New South Wales made application to the Federal Government - say to the present Government - for an armed force to suppress what they considered to be domestic violence, I say that the Federal Government could not refuse, without a breach of the Constitution, to send that force to restore order and uphold the law, as the persons governing the State for the time being would probably demand that they should do it. Let us imagine a case occurring in Coolgardie or Kalgoorlie. We will say that, instead of having, as is the case at present - a Labour Government, in Western Australia, the opponents of Labour were in power, and that ‘some great industrial trouble arose there. Suppose that such trouble occurred as has happened in other parts of the world, when the down-trodden toilers have revolted. I was in Great Britain when the railway strike occurred there. If there was one thing more than another that made me feel warm, it was to see the signal-boxes and the railway stations occu- pied by armed soldiery with fixed bayonets, ready - for what?
– Senator Rae does not object to that?
– But I do object to it.
– There were soldiers well supplied with ammunition, and with fixed bayonets, ready to use them against men who were simply seeking for a little increase of wages. They were doing no more than strike for a living wage.
– They were using force against their fellow men.
– I know that, whenever a strike occurs, violence is liable to creep in. But it is never until the men are driven, either by force of circumstances, or by ill-treatment, to resort to violence, that that occurs.
– Or by agitators.
– The man who believes that agitators can induce thousands and thousands of men to come out shows that he does not understand what he is talking about.
– I was in Trafalgarsquare, and saw what occurred.
– The honorable senator knows that what I say is true. There is no objection to the Government maintaining and preserving order. The objection is that, under the pretence of training young men for one purpose, the Government could use them for quite another. The objection is that whilst the laws of this country impose upon the young men the obligation of drilling, they may at present be called out and utilized for quite another purpose than that for which they are being trained. Suppose there were trouble at Broken Hill, and the Wade Government was in power. The riots that occurred at Broken Hill during the last strike were due solely to the bad management of the police force, in my opinion. Suppose that matters had gone a little further. Suppose that similar trouble occurred tomorrow, and that an application was made to the Federal Government to call out the Defence Forces. In that event, the sons of miners on strike would be called out to fight against their own fathers. We can not escape from that position.
– Within a few years the miners themselves will be members of the Citizen . Forces. Does the honorable senator think that they will shoot down themselves?
– I am not trying to exaggerate the position. I am trying to put reasonable probabilities before the Senate. The Military Forces in any one State may be called upon to put down by armed force men who are asserting the rightful claims of organized unionism, or endeavouring to obtain a better wage. It might be said that, in the course of their efforts, they had created a state of domestic violence that entitled the State Government concerned to claim assistance from the Commonwealth. But I say that it is a most unreasonable thing, a most unfair, and unjust thing, to say that our young men should be compelled to join the Military Forces and be trained to defend the country against invasion, whilst at the same time the laws of the country give power toorder them to be called out by the Commonwealth to shoot down their fathers and their brothers. The people of Australia are the most democratic people in the world, and I maintain that this law can be altered. I venture to say that the Act of Parliament which enables such a condition , of things to be brought about would never have been passed had it been realized that it contained such a provision. There are very many who would never have voted for it had they understood what it involved. As far as Senator Rae’ s proposal is concerned, it simply asks the Senate to consider the undesirableness of mixing up the training of our young men to defend the country against invasion with the utilization of armed force in any other way whatever. The resolution declares that these young men ought not to be used as a police force, or in any other manner, to suppress disorder, simply because a State Premier - possibly anxious, above all things, to create disorder - may declare that he needs Commonwealth assistance.
– Perhaps the Commonwealth Government in power might be only too ready to back up a State Premier under such circumstances.
– The situation would be still more unfortunate if there were a Commonwealth Government in power which refused to carry out the constitutional obligation. I would rather see the Commonwealth Government carry out the terms of the Constitution, irrespective of the consequences, than see them false to the position which they occupy by declining to do the clear duty that lay before them. It is because I ‘want to clear the way of difficulties such as may occur in the future that I feel so strongly on this question. There has recently been a strike at Mount Lyell. Fortunately, there has been no breach of the peace there. With the present Tasmanian Government in office, had there been a breach of the peace, what would have occurred? The men are out on strike for a good cause. If ever a strike could be justified anywhere, this strike was. Conditions of tyrrany have prevailed at Mount Lyell, perhaps, unequalled in any other country. Time after time men have been discharged, simply because they dared to act in certain capacities for their union. That sort of thing has been going on for years. Those who do not know that it has been going on have been simply sitting inside, and not making themselves acquainted with what has been occurring. The grievance that led up to the strike has been the fact that man after man, who has become a leader of his union, has had to forfeit his position as a workman there.
– That has been going on for years.
– I am glad that Senator Ready confirms my statement. Yet, if domestic violence occurred there, what would be the position of the most demo-: cratic Government supported by the most democratic party in the world- the Labour party?
– Here is a living example of the sort of thingthat has occurred at MountLyell.
- Senator Long himself has suffered from the treatment, to which I refer. What would have been the position if domestic violence had occurred at Mount Lyell ? Suppose that the Tasmanian Government declared that a state of domestic violence had occurred, and that they required the assistance of Federal troops? The most convenient Federal troops would probably have’ been the compulsorily-trained troops of the State. Consequently this most democraticGovernment, and its most democratic party, would have made themselves the laughingstock of the democratic world. The Government would have to carry out the obligations of the Constitution, which it is their duty to obey. They would have had’ to send troops to shoot down men who had been fighting the battles of Labour for years.
– Does not the honorablesenator think that industrial laws, based on equity and justice, will soon make strikesimpossible?
– There is noman who looks forward more hopefully thanI do to the accomplishment of legislation ‘ based on equity and justice.
– Will the honorable senator explain how the carrying of Sena-‘ tor Rae’s motion would relieve any FederalGovernment from its constitutional obligation ?
– The motion is not intended to relieve them of their constitutional obligations. I do not wish to relieve them. But I do say that the young men, whom the law of the Commonwealth compels to become trained troops, ought not to be called out under any circumstances to fight against their fellowAustralians, who, in many instances will be fighting their own battles. It is not a question of the Federal Government shirking responsibility. I said before, and I say again, that I would not support a Government for five minutes if I thought that it would shirk its responsibilities for one moment. If the Constitution needs to be altered, alter it. If our Defence Act is wrong, let us, in times of peace and quiet, when there is no panic ; and no violence, alter it, and bring it down to the grounds of reason and common sense. But we have a Government in office which, with its supporters, represents, I venture to say, the most democratic party that exists in any country in the world, and yet we have listened to a Minister giving utterance to the most Tory sentiments ever expressed in a democratic assembly. The Minister’s speech made it appear that he put constituted authority before every other consideration.
– I think the speech was a splendid one.
– Here is an otherwise fair-minded and democratic man who thinks that the Minister’s speech was a splendid one. When he reads it two or three years hence he wilt, perhaps, realize that the Minister has been so much influenced by the development of his defence sympathies that he has lost some of his Labour sympathies.
– Does the honorable senator say that I have lost my Labour sympathies?
– I do not say that the Minister has done so yet, but I do say that a few years hence the speech of to-night will be pointed to as one which marks the point where the Minister got on to the wrong path - where he lost the track. When we hear a representative of the greatest Democracy in the world speak as the Minister of Defence spoke to-night ; when we hear him quibbling and twisting the arguments of his supporters, I do not know to what extent I am entitled to go in my references to him.
– He smashed up the arguments of the supporters of this motion.
– He never met them in a fair, manly and straightforward spirit. He did not answer Senator Rae’s arguments, and he failed to meet the point that, under the pretence of training young men for the defence of this country, they are being drilled so that they may be used for a different purpose altogether, without being told that they may be required for such purpose. The Minister of Defence, and those who support him, cannot deny for a moment that the people who are entitled to say what is domestic violence within their State, according to the reading of the Constitution, are the Executive Government of that State. There is no getting away from that position. The decision is not left to this Parliament, but to the ExecutiveGovernment of the State which claims that there is domestic violence within its territory. Take the present elections in this peace-loving Victoria. I venture to say that if the party who are hanging on to office thought that they could create a condition in which they could lead the public for the time to believe that domestic violence was occurring, they would gladly do so - just as a drowning man is supposed to grasp at a straw - in order that they might remain in power a little longer. I dare say that the crowd, who would be excited if they were being unjustly dealt with, and would not submit to their tyranny, would be the lawbreakers. Under our democratic Constitution, a Federal Government is in the unfortunate position that, if a State Government says that domestic violence is occurring within its territory, it is compelled to send a Federal force to quell the violence.
– You are absolutely incorrect now.
– Who is to compel them ? Will a State policeman come along to compel them?
– If there is one thing more than another which will compel any man holding a responsible position to do a thing, it is the fact that his duty lies clear and plain. And if a greater compelling force than that is necessary, I hope that we shall never have a Government which requires it. Section 119 of the Constitution reads -
The Commonwealth shall protect every State against invasion and, on the application of the Executive Government of a State, against domestic violence.
It is here laid down that the Commonwealth Government shall not extend this protection because in their judgment there is domestic violence, but shall do so on the application of the Executive Government of a State.
– Who is to decide what is. domestic violence?
– According to this section, the decision rests with the Executive Government of the State concerned.
– Certainly not. The Executive Government of the State may apply to the Commonwealth Government for protection, but the latter is not bound to comply with the application.
– The application of the Executive Government of a State is the only evidence required by the section that domestic violence is occurring in the State.
– Of course, it makes the lawyers laugh, but the facts remain the same.
– I believe that this is the very interpretation which, under other conditions, our honorable friends opposite would put on the section. I believe that it is not capable of any other interpretation, except, of course, a strained one.
– If you say that, you put the Commonwealth Military Forces practically at the caprice of a State Government. You can imagine a State Government saying, “ This is domestic violence,” when it may be nothing of the sort. Is the Commonwealth going to listen to that?
– I believe that the Commonwealth Forces are really the reserve forces of the States for preserving order if the States so require their services.
– If a couple of tipsy men made a riot in George-street, Sydney, and the State Government made an application, do you think that the Federal Government would send troops over to Sydney to quell it?
– It does not follow because Senator Millen quotes an absurdity that, if there was a colorable case, they might not do so.
– Let us take even- the absurd proposition of Senator Millen. If the riot assumed such a magnitude that the Government of New South Wales thought it necessary to have the assistance of the Defence Forces, I venture to say that the Commonwealth Government would not be worth their salt if they did not give an order for the Defence Forces in Sydney to be called out immediately -for that purpose. We are right up against that proposition. We have instituted a system pf compulsory training, under which we compel every youth and young man to be drilled ; and I quite agree with that policy. But, side by side with the requirement for a young man to fit himself as an efficient defender of Australia, we have no right to say to him that he shall be put, if need be, in the position of shooting down his fellow-man for fighting for something which he considers just. I remember that, when the unfortunate strike was proceeding in Eng’ land a few months ago, the officer in charge of a detachment ordered a soldier to fire at a man who was climbing over a fence. The soldier refused to obey the order, was brought before a Police Court; and punished. He was asked to do an outrageous thing. He was under military law, and I suppose he should have done the thing; but he did not, and he had to pay the penalty. A distinction must be made between a man who volunteers for paid service and a man who in his full manhood accepts a duty which may put him in an unenviable position. When the for-; mer is taking the oath of allegiance he knows that, the moment he becomes a member of the Defence Forces, certain possibilities may happen. He joins the service knowing full well what his responsibilities are. But that is altogether different from the position of the compulsorily-trained men. Some of them may enter upon their training reluctantly. They may regard it even as an infringement of their liberty, as it compels them to give up their Saturday afternoons - to give up the leisure - which, perhaps* they were putting to better use. While we compel men, against their will, to undergo this drilling we go a step further, and do a grave injustice to them by saying, “ Not only shall we compel you to do this, but in a case of domestic violence occurring within a State we shall compel you to be at the bidding of a State Government, which may use your services to suit its own ends.” I do hope that honorable senators will try to view this matter in the light of the experiment which we are trying. Take the section of the community which I represent here - the unionists. How often have we, as unionists, found ourselves up against the injustices of State Governments ? When we had everything to recommend our claim - when it was being fought out by lawabiding citizens, as peaceably and as reasonably as could be expected, how often has the stupidity of the governing forces put many of these law-loving and law-abiding citizens in a false position? As recently as at Broken Hill, in the shearers’ strike, and in, the strike of 1890-
– Do not leave out the Lithgow strike. .
– I was away from Australia at the time, and so am not well acquainted with that business. My honorable friend should not smile, because the
Commission which has been holding an inquiry quite justifies the strikers. I know the result of the inquiry.
– The inquiry was as to the quality of the steel, and not about the strike.
– And the quality of the employer, too.
– Take the Labour movement in New South Wales. I venture to say that the Labour party in the State Parliament of 1891 was almost the direct result - the logical sequence - of the blundering action of the Government in sending a force to Newcastle, having gatling guns, to be trained, if need be, to shoot down working men who were only asking for better wages and better living conditions. I know that that was the case, and I have no doubt that Senator Millen and Senator Walker do, too.
– Mr. Bruce Smith has distinctly stated that he never said that.
– We are not talking about what Mr. Bruce Smith said, but about what was done.
– I do not intend to make any accusation against the Honorable Bruce Smith, but to say that but for the fact that Sir Henry Parkes was Premier and Colonial Secretary during the strike of 1890 the marines would have been landed in Sydney. Sir Henry Parkes told Mr. Bruce Smith and Mr. McMillan, at a Cabinet meeting held at his bedside, that he was in charge of the police force, and that the marines should not be landed from the war-ships without his order. As regards what Mr. Bruce Smith was reported to have said at the time, I have never uttered a charge against that gentleman on a platform, and never will do so. I have only repeated what I heard directly from a principal who was engaged in the business.
– Sir Henry Parkes said at the time that he was the Premier.
– Sir Henry Parkes was Premier, and was confined to his bed with a broken leg. The desire of his colleagues was to use force to put down the strike, but, with his greater foresight, he saw that the trouble would expend itself if dealt with in a statesman-like way, and so Sydney was saved from bloodshed on that occasion. Do honorable senators think that we are past all these troubles? Do they think that we are any nearer to the millennium when there will be only good government and good laws ? I recognise that we are only at the beginning of our troubles, and because we are at that point, I desire to have the law of this country altered so that whenthe people who have to struggle the hardest for the little they get are engaged in an industrial struggle, a Government which is not sympathetic shall not be able to turn the arms of their children against them in their, fight for better conditions. That is the posi-tion now. The honorable senator who is at the head of the Defence Force can make the most of his Tory attitude in placing before the Senate the absurd inferences which he drew, but which he had no right’ to draw, from the remarks of Senator Rae. He tried to twist them, and put the honorable senator and his supporters in the posi-. tion of persons who are trying to carry some wild or absurd proposal. We are trying to make more acceptable to the people, who disagree with it the system of compulsory training. Smoothly as the system has been working, let there be in one part of the’ Commonwealth a great strike which stirs the hearts of the workers ; let there be one section of organized labour fighting for better, conditions, and one bullet fired by compulsorilytrained soldiers, and your compulsorytraining system will crumble to pieces like dust.
– Hear, hear ; I hope that it vill_ whenever that happens.
– What hope will there be for a system which is now in its infancy being nursed and brought to” maturity if honorable senators turn the sympathies of the workers against it? I venture to say that even the speech of the Minister of Defence to-night is calculated to do that: It was a speech of the kind which we would expect to hear if an honorable senator on the other side were occupying his position. It contained not one sentiment of sympathy, not even a recognition of the fact that he is prepared to use the force he levies for one purpose for another purpose.
– That is not fair.
– If, in my excited state, I have overstated the case, I apologize to the Minister, because I am always sorry for doing that. I know that occasionally I overstate a case, but always without intent. I was glad to hear the honorable senator make that interjection. I arn pleased to know that there is a glimmer of the old Democracy left in him.
– That is a bit unfair.
– Is even that unfair?
– You have heard of the Pharisee, have you not?
– I think that I am looking at two.
– Read the story again. Evidently,, there is one righteous man in the Senate.
– I dare say that there are thirty-six very righteous men here - if we take them at their own estimation.
– That is an important qualification.
– You have your doubts about the other thirty-five, I think.
– I am not even going to claim that that is an. unfair interjection.
– Because the man who* could peer into my mind, and say what I believe, and what I doubt, could only be a man with great, intellect like the honorable senator. It is only a man with a great mind who can say what another man is thinking about. I have spoken strongly upon this question, because I feel strongly upon it. I have no doubt that the Minister in his exalted position feels that he has a right to say what he likes in any manner he likes, and that after he has spoken no man shall open his mouth. I can even sympathize with a Minister who takes up that attitude^ If I am making a mistake as to my estimate of the Minister, I know that he is strong enough to live the estimate I have made of him down. Anything I have said about him on this occasion has been provoked by the effect his speech had on me. I heard it with, shame and regret. I have heard speeches of a similar kind from the other side of the chamber on similar occasions, and I can assure honorable senators that I could de.tect very little difference between the. Minister’s speech and. the speeches which I have heard from the other side. There was the same false sentiment running through the whole of it - the sentiment that constituted authority should take precedence over human rights. I do not agree with, that, and I will not agree, with, it even when a Minister belonging to my own party- puts it before the Senate. I think that-human rights and human justice come first.. The Minister boasted about constituted, authority, and what it. is going to do-,, and that is the whole difference between us. He twisted the meaning of the resolution. It was he who tried to put impossible positions, and to twist the statements of Senator Rae into impossible meanings-. I did not try to do so. I am trying to follow the Minister in his twistings and turnings. The question is simple and plain*. Australia, through its Parliament, has- decided to compel the youth and young men. of this country to be trained for military service, in order to repel any foreign invasion, and we simply say now that while we do compel them to be trained to resist a foreign invasion, we are not going to compel them to do anything more than that. The object of training the youth of this country is to defend Australia from invasion, and if we want to train them for any other purpose, let us say so in an open manner.. I hope the motton will be carried, and that the Senate will carry it altogether free from the misrepresentations which have been made, as to its purpose. The object of the motion is to make it clear that the youths, and young men called upon to undergo military training for the purpose of repelling any foreign invasion, shall not he used for the purpose of participating in domestic violence within the States.
– - I regret that any heat has been imported into the consideration of this matter, but I say deliberately that Senator Pearce, whether intentionally or not, has certainly in the heat of his opposition to my proposal flagrantly misrepresented many of the arguments I used. For one thing, he said I was in favour of a paid standing army to suppress domestic violence, but that I objected to the compulsorily trained soldiers doing so. I said, and I think I said it clearly, that I was not attempting to bring about the whole millenium at once, and. that my object was merely to provide that those who are enrolled ostensibly for one purpose shall not be used for any other purpose, I pointed out, incidentally, that there were paid men in our Forces, and I said that they would still be available if required to lead any force that was. necessary to suppress domestic violence. I pointed out that in addition any of the compulsorily trained recruits who chose voluntarily to remain in the service, and to do what was asked of them, would still be at liberty to do so.. I said that if they voluntarily chose to undertake such work they would still be under the control of their officers, and of the authorities generally. I merely wished to protect those who had been avowedly trained for one purpose from being used for another purpose. I venture to say that the Minister of Defence and certain honorable senators, who may be prepared to vote at his bidding, misunderstand the effect of my motion.
– I do not misunderstand it.
– I. am sure the honorable senator does.
– I do not understand you -as a Labour man.
– I do not understand the honorable senator as a Labour man. Any one who says that I am in* favour of a standing army is making one misrepresentation. Any one who says that I am opposed to the compulsory training system being effective is making another misrepresentation. My words cannot fairly bear such an interpretation. I have all along believed in the possibility of this country being invaded by an outside force, and for that reason I am not only anxious, but willing that my sons shall be trained to do their part in .defending the country to which they belong, and to which they owe their existence. I go further than that. I was absolutely opposed to the provision in the Act which exempts members of Parliament from service. Whether old or young, whether twenty-one or fifty, if we are able to eat and walk about we are able to put up a fight.
– Would you exempt senators over seventy ?
– I would not care whether they were 170. I think it is a very mean thing to ask others to do what we, as members of Parliament, deliberately exempted ourselves from doing. The argument that Parliament will be necessary to manage affairs in the event of a war is answered by the fact that there would be plenty of people willing to take our places if we were shot down. In my opinion, a man who will not vote for this motion does not understand Democracy, and I believe that the Democrats of this country will not very long tolerate as its representatives those who deliberately vote against it.
– You are preaching minority rule.
– I do not expect the honorable senator to understand anything unless it is a matter which is in the interests of the .South Australian “ cockies.”
– You are a dangerous man.
– I should be dangerous to the honorable senator if I were in his electorate. He certainly has not a glimmer of an idea what the motion means, or he would not make such senseless interjections. The motion is one which will ap peal to the Democracy of this country, which, like the Democracy of other countries,’ is sometimes a good deal ahead of its “ wishy-washy “ representatives in Parliament. While I have the utmost respect for the Minister of Defence and the utmost confidence in his integrity, I believe^ as Senator Gardiner indicated, that his mixing up with the military’ people has already., to some extent, impaired his outlook. The more he mixes up with them, the more weak he will get in his advocacy of those democratic principles which distinguished him as a member of the rank and file of the workers. That may be an argument as to why there should be pretty rapid changes of Ministers, if not of Ministries. The Minister spoke about the Civil War in America. It is strange that he should have reiterated arguments that I had replied to in advance. He cited the case of the American Civil War to show that, remote as any possibility may seem, it is beyond the power of man to say what may happen. That is true enough, but he went further, and said that we should be prepared to meet remote possibilities. In another place he said that anything in the nature of armed violence hi the Commonwealth was inconceivable, and then he conceived it. Let me ask. what bearing the American Civil War has on the question, of compulsory “military service? Was there compulsory military service in that country during the war, before the war, or after the war.
– There was, in the South,’ during the war.
– The honorable senator says that there was compulsory military ser- vice in the unsuccessful portion of the country, and that tells against his argument. The United States had no com,:pulsory training of the youth of their country in times of peace in the way we are attempting it.
– Perhaps there would not have been such a. bloody war if there had been.
– The suppression of die rebellious States, which, according to Senator Pearce, had compulsory service, was effected by voluntarily enrolled soldiers, who rallied to the defence of the Federal Union to suppress the rebellion.
– If the Union Government had had in existence a compulsorily enrolled force, do you say they would not have been entitled to use it to maintain the Union ?
– My argument is that, whether the violence were on a very big scale or a medium one.
– Domestic, violence and open rebellion are quite different things.
– The term “domestic violence is very wide.
– In your motion, the words under any circumstances “ are used.
– I use those words because it is impossible to define and limit circumstances. Senator Millen used the extreme illustration of a couple of drunken men rioting in a street in Sydney. Even that would be domestic violence, but I never did anticipate that any State Government in its wildest moments would ask for assistance under such conditions as those. I say that in the event of a State rebelling against the Commonwealth, without compelling the trained recruits in that State to take up arms against their fellow citizens, in all probability there would be an overwhelming rush to the assistance of the Federal Union as against the revolting Stale of recruits perfectly willing to continue their service. The Civil War in America shows that even were an exemption allowed to persons who did not wish to take up arms against their fellow citizens, there would be sufficient soldiers who would Volunteer to stamp out any rebellion. The fact that no Government with anything like a decent case would be at a loss for volunteers is a reasonable ground for requesting that no man should be compelled to take up arms in such a case if he has conscientious reasons for objecting to do so. Again, the Minister of Defence misrepresented my remarks. He said that either you must, in time of peace, constitute another force to suppress possible internal troubles, apart altogether from the force to repel invasions, or you must wait until a crisis occurs, and then hastily call for volunteers. He knows that is not the position at all . If it was desired to suppress any violence, all that would be necessary would be to get those men who were trained - and they all will be trained in a few years - to remain in the service. Those who volunteered to do so would still be at the service of the Government. What I say is that those who do not like to do so, should not be compelled to serve. When the people generally understand the object of this motion, I feel confident that what it embodies will be made the law of theland, and that in the near future.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Under cover of the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, I desire to make a personal explanation in order that I may remove an impression which, I understand, was made upon the minds of some honorable senators last night when I was criticising the section of the Electoral Act under which postal voting occurs. I made a statement with regard to the wholesale abuse of the postal voting system in Hobart during the elections of 1906. It appears that some honorable senators were under the impression that I reflected upon the administration of the Minister at the head of the Department, and of the electoral officials in the Denison electorate, whose duty it was to administer the electoral law. I am sorry that any honorable senator should have derived that impression, because nothing was further from my mind than to suggest that either the Minister, or any of the officials, was other than absolutely impartial. What I wished to point out was that abuses crept in because, under the law, it was impossible -for the electoral officers in Denison to detect them. Those who laid themselves out to profit by the abuses were, of course, sufficiently clever to carry on their practices without being detected. I make this explanation in order that honorable senators may clearly understand that my statement applied only to the individuals who were in the pay of one of the candidates, and by no stretch of imagination should they have been regarded as applying to the officials charged with the’ administration of the law. I should not have felt called upon to make this explanation, except for the remark made by Senator Vardon this afternoon, from which I gathered that he had inferred that I had reflected seriously upon the Minister, and the officials. I say, again, that I had no such intention.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.6 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 November 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1911/19111102_senate_4_61/>.