4th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence if the following report in the Sydney Daily Telegraph has been brought under his notice–
An emphatic denial was given by the Minister of Defence to-day to the statement telegraphed from Sydney, that since 1st July it had been impossible, with all the permanent artillerymen that could be mustered, to man the guns at the Heads. “ It is correct,” said Senator Pearce, “ that we have not yet a full complement of gunners, due to the sudden resignation of a number of the Australian Garrison Artillery, but the numbers are being brought up to the full establishment by the transfer of trainees.
If the report has been brought under the honorable senator’s notice, I should like to ask him whether the two statements, which are so much at variance, are correct, and, further, how long he thinks it will take to make a trainee an artilleryman?
– Both statements are correct, and are quite reconcilable. The time it will take to make a trainee into an artilleryman will depend first of all on the trainee’s capacity for acquiring training and the facilities given to enable him to acquire the necessary skill.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs if he is prepared with a deferred reply to questions which I asked recently in reference to the importation of American apples into Australia?
– On the11th of this month Senator Ready asked the following questions -
The following are the replies to the honorable senator’s questions -
– I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice: Is it intended to appoint another Judge to the High Court Bench? If not, is it possible to arrange that the work of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court shall be solely apportioned to one of the Justices of the High Court, so as to expedite the work before that tribunal?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is that the matter is under consideration.
– I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council if he can now make an announcement, or, if not, whether he will confer with the Prime Minister with a view to making an announcement, as to the date on which we may expect the proposed Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Bill to be introduced either in this or another branch of the Legislature?
– I understand that the Bill referred to will be introduced to-day. If it is not, perhaps the honorable senator will give notice of his question.
The MINISTERS laid on the table the following papers : -
Defence Act 1903-1911. - Regulations, amended, &c. (Provisional) -
Military Forces -
Statutory Rules 1912, Nos. 195, 196, 197.
Financial and Allowance Regulations - Statutory Rules 1912, Nos. 199, 201, 202, 204.
Defence Act - continued.
Universal Training -
Statutory Rules 1912, Nos. 200, 203, 205.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906. - Land acquired at Bondi Junction, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Northern Territory. - Ordinance No. 6 of 1912. - Thorngate Estate.
Post and Telegraph Act 1901-1910. - Regulations, amended, &c. -
Statutory Rules 1912, Nos. 168, 169, 173 (Provisional), 186 (Provisional), 187 (Provisional), 188 (Provisional), 189.
Public Service Act 1902-1911 - Appointments, Promotions, &c. -
Prime Minister’s Department - F. Strahan, to be Clerk, 4th Class, Clerical Division.
Department of Home Affairs - J. Orwin, to be Works Inspector, Public Works Branch, New South Wales.
The Acting Assistant Clerk laid on the table the following paper : -
Return to Order of the Senate of 2nd October,1912 -
Lands Purchased or Resumed in Financial Years1910-11 and 1911-12.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
Taking the higher paid officers to include officers of the Administrative Division, Class E and higher Classes of the Professional Division, and the Fourth Class and higher classes of the Clerical Division, the division and class of those recommended for increases are as follow’ : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Is the Government in possession of any reliable information whether or not the present existing unemployment of several hundred employes in the match-making industry in Victoria is due solely to the existing Tariff on “ Matches and Vestas”?
– The Minister does not consider that this is due solely to the existing Tariff.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
The only officer at present serving in the Commonwealth Military Forces (General Bridges) who attended the same course as Colonel Wallace was awarded an “ Honours” Certificate.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
What is the intention of the Government in the matter of introducing a Bill providing for the payment of a bonus for the discovery and working of phosphatic deposits in the Commonwealth?
– The following is the answer to the honorable senator’s question -
When bringing forward the proposed Bounties Bill, the Government intends to provide for the payment of a bonus for the discovery and working of phosphatic deposits in the Commonwealth.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
– Arising out of the answers to Senator Rae’s questions, I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council if it is intended by the Government, through Parliament, to make effective provision to enable persons resident in the Federal Capital area, and in other similar areas of the Commonwealth, to record their votes in connexion with any referendum as to a proposed amendment of the Constitution?
– The reply to the honorable senator’s question is contained in the reply that I have already given to Senator Rae’s question. The matter is under consideration.
– Before the Senate passes from the consideration of questions on notice, and in continuance of the question I put to the Vice-President of the Executive Council upon his reply to questions asked by Senator Rae, I should like to ask the honorable senator, if I may do so-
– The honorable senator will not be in order in going back upon the question. He had an opportunity to ask a question arising out of an answer given by the Vice-President of the Executive Council to a question asked upon notice. I understand that he now wishes to debate some matter.
– No, sir, I wish to ask a further question arising out of the reply given by the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– The honorable senator cannot now ask a further question arising out of the answer given to a question asked upon notice.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
In the event of telegraphic communication with Perth being interrupted, arrangements have been made for the interchange of weather reports between Coast Stations in the North-west; and should indications of the approach of a willy-willy be noted, information will be sent from town to town. Proposals are being considered for the linking up by telegraph of some of the more important vantage points at present without ready means of communication, such as Cape Levique, Cape Bossut, and La Grange Bay, and the State Government are being consulted as to whether they will share the cost in view of the benefit to settlement. Arrangements are also being made for the explosion of bomb signals at various points on the Northwest coast to advise pearlers and others of the approach of a willy-willy.
– Arising out of the reply given to my question, I wish to ask whether the Federal Government propose to wait to see what the State Government of Western Australia will do towards giving financial assistance in the work of connecting the ports referred to, and whether any action on their part will depend upon what the State Government may decide to do in the matter ?
– The answer given to the honorable senator’s question states clearly that the State Government of Western Australia are being consulted as to whether they will share in the cost of the work in view of the benefit to settlers. If they decline to do so, it will be for the Commonwealth Government to decide whether they will do the work themselves. We do not propose to consider that proposition until we are up against it.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice-
In view of the decision of the High Court regarding the signing of newspaper articles, reports, &c, dealing with politics between the issue and the return of electoral writs -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
Debate resumed from nth October (vide page 4155), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the Senate approves of the fresh distribution of the State of Queensland into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs. W. J. Gall, A. A. Spowers, and W. H. Graham, the Commissioners for the purpose of distributing the said State into divisions, in their report, dated the 22nd day of August, 1912, and laid before the Senate on 25th September, 1912; and that the names of the divisions indicated on the map referred to in the report be adopted with the exception that the name “ Landsborough “ be altered to read “ Lilley.”
– I have no comments to make concerning this redistribution scheme, but I want to take advantage of this opportunity to direct attention to a practice which seems to be growing up on the part of those who are charged with this work, of systematically giving to country electors a larger measure of representation than is afforded to their brother and sister electors in the metropolitan areas. I am not going this afternoon to raise the question of whether we should steer by the ideal of one vote one value, or whether we ought to give, as many persons believe, a larger representation to country electors than to town electors. If it is thought desirable that we should give a larger measure of political representation to country electors than to metropolitan electors, it ought to be done by. Act of Parliament. It ought not to be left to officials to give effect to the theory. From the stand-point of equal representation, the Queensland scheme is one of the most ideal schemes which have yet been submitted. For the two metropolitan districts the average number of votes is 32,801, the quota for the State being 31,388. These two metropolitan electorates are only 1,400 in excess of the quota. For the eight country electorates the average number of votes is 31,034; that is 354 below the quota. I admit at once that it is impossible to get electorates arithmetically equal. I think that in this case those who are responsible for the redistribution have gone as near the line of perfection as is possible, and I should not have referred to the matter on this motion except that I want to direct attention to what is taking place in regard to other schemes. I think I can show that a practice is springing up of invariably giving to country electors a larger representation than to electors in metropolitan areas.
– They ought to have it, too.
– Then Parliament is the body which ought to lay down the practice, but it has laid down in the Electoral Act the ideal of an equal value to each vote.
– That is what I am after.
– Then how can the honorable senator contend that there should be greater representation given to country electors than to town electors ?
– I shall tell you that in a few minutes.
– The honorable senator has told us some extraordinary things in his time, and I shall listen with a great deal of pleasure when he defends that principle. It seems to me that from the stand-point of numbers, the gentlemen who are responsible for the Queensland scheme have made a very successful distribution.
– And that is the only good thing you can say about it.
– I do not know enough of the local circumstances to refer to the scheme apart from the matter of numbers. Whilst a fairly successful redistribution has been arrived at, still, even here, there is an excess of electors in the metropolitan electorates, and a deficiency in the country electorates. I admit that the excess and the deficiency are both small, but still they exist. If they had stood alone, I should not have drawn attention to the fact, but I shall be able to show later that the same practice prevails everywhere, and that at least in one State - New South Wales - the discrepancy is so serious as to justify attention being directed to it. To justify that statement may I incidentally give the figures for the other States. In Western Australia the quota is 30,391. Here there is a departure from what I affirm is the general rule, because the metropolitan electorates are under the quota and the country electorates are in excess of it - a position which is explained by a statement in the report, which sets out that that has been deliberately done in view of the fact that the metropolitan electorates are growing in numbers, while comparatively the country electorates are losing in numbers.
– Do you admit the right of the Commissioners to alter the electorates in anticipation?
– I do not. If that is to be done it ought to be done by Parliament. I am inclined to press the view that Parliament has affirmed in the Electoral Act the desire to attach to each vote an equal value, and there ought to be no departure from that, unless with its sanction. In Victoria, the quota is 34,648. In the metropolitan electorates the number allowed is in excess of the quota - not a very great excess, but still an excess - while in the country electorates there is a deficiency, the same as in Queensland. When I turn to the figures for New South Wales I find that the same principle has been followed out of giving to country electors a larger representation than they are arithmetically entitled to. New South Wales furnishes the most curious case of the lot. The redistribution scheme discloses that there are eleven metropolitan and submetropolitan electorates, and that the average number of electors is 37,500. The quota for the State is 34,657, so that, for the metropolitan and sub-metropolitan electorates, the quota is exceeded by about 3,000. The average number for the sixteen country electorates is 32,691. The average difference between the town and the country electorates is nearly 5,000, while in the sixteen electorates there is a difference of 53,000 electors, being a quota and a half. The country electors are receiving a member and a half more than they are entitled to receive according to their numbers. If we are going to adopt the policy that the value of a vote shall be determined by the locality in which the voter resides, it ought to be decided here, and set out in the Electoral Act ; but in the whole of these schemes, with one exception - and I cannot regard it as an accident, seeing that it takes place in every State - there has been followed out this principle of giving to country electors smaller electorates from the stand-point of numbers than are given to metropolitan electors. The margin was put in the Electoral Act, not as a direction to the Commissioners to utilize it when they could avoid it, but because it was recognised that we could not have entirely equal electorates. Surely it was never intended that the Commissioners should use it, within the margin which the Act necessarily afforded, for the purpose of founding an entirely new system. That is what they are certainly doing. One hesitates to bring officials into the matter, but I do know that some officials hold the opinion that there ought to be an inequality in the representation of the country as against the town.
– So there ought to be.
– If so, it is Parliament which, should affirm that, and not the officials. Parliament has given a clear direction in the Act that, as far as possible, the electorates ought to be equal in numbers. In order that I may dispose of the objection which may be raised that the Act allows a variation from the quota to the extent of 20 per cent, one way or the other, I may say that I should not take any exception if it had been utilized in the case of the town electorates as well as the country electorates. But when I find that all the variations below the quota are in the case of country electorates, and all the variations above the quota are in the case of town electorates, I venture to say that it is not due to accident, or to the pressure of numbers, but is the result of some set purpose and design. It is not possible for me to take any exception, apart from this matter, to the other scheme, which will come under review to-day, but I would point out to honorable senators that if this practice is continued, Parliament may be called upon to make an amendment’ in the Electoral Act which will lessen the quota, or give a more emphatic direction to warn the Commissioners against the pernicious doctrine on which they have been acting.
.. -I notice that Senator Millen had but one commendation for the proposed redistribution scheme for Queensland, and he explained that his reason for that was that he was not intimately acquainted with the local circumstances. He approved of the proposed scheme because it is as nearly as possible an equal division according to the number of electors ; but I think that there is a far greater requirement which a redistribution scheme should satisfy before it can be dubbed either good or bad by the Senate or any other body, and that is that it should carry out as far as possible the intention of Parliament which framed the Act under which it was made. In this case we have a curious fact staring us in the face, and that is that the Commissioners appointed at first made and issued a scheme which, though not perhaps an ideal one, was an eminently fair and honest attempt to. do the right thing. Strange to say, after issuing that redistribution scheme, these gentlemen; withdrew it, so that it has never been presented to this Parliament. The question arises : “ Why did they withdraw it?” I repeat that, after having issued a scheme which, though it was not an ideal one, nevertheless represented an honest attempt to do the square thing, the Commissioners withdrew it. Why ? Simply because they allowed themselves to be got at by interested persons outside. The people who are interested in the sugar industry objected to it on the ground that all the sugar interests in the various portions of Queensland should, as far as possible, be grouped together. Anybody who chooses to look at the map showing the redistribution which is now proposed must come to the conclusion - even if he has no knowledge of the Electoral Act and of the regulations framed under it - that it represents a disgraceful piece of gerrymandering. What are the facts? The Herbert electorate has been practically cut into two parts. Between Cairns and Port Douglas the Kennedy division actually approaches at one point within 4 miles of the Pacific Ocean. Here is another curious circumstance. The Cairns railway runs from Cairns to Herberton,, and on to the Evelyn Valley, and yet we find that both Mareeba and Herberton are included in the Kennedy division, while the intermediate station of Atherton is included in the Herbert electorate. The original reason why the Herbert division contained a long strip of country bordering the coast was that it was specially carved out with a view to securing the return of a kanaka representative. That is the sole purpose which is at the back of the redistribution scheme which is now under consideration. The Commissioners wish to make it impossible for a man to represent that electorate unless he is a sympathizer with the employment of coloured labour.
– Is Atherton on the Cairns- Herberton line?
– Yes, it is 22 miles from Mareeba, and 12 miles from Herberton.
– Does the line from Cairns run through Atherton?
– Yes. The railway starts at Cairns, and runs to Mareeba, Atherton, Herberton, and then on to Evelyn Valley.
– Are there any natural features which suggest how the electorate should be divided?
– Everything in the way of a natural feature has been absolutely ignored, unless it included an agricultural or sugar-growing district. The Government railway, I may add, is joined at Mareeba By a private railway, which runs to Chillagoe. A glance”” at the map will show that under this scheme the Kennedy division will actually approach within 4 miles of the ocean. The greatest community of interest which can exist between ihe coast and the interior is to be found in a line of railway running through a country. All the interior draws its supplies from its natural port. Yet in the proposed redistribution that connexion has been absolutely ignored. The Commissioners have also ignored community of interest even from the stand-point of the industries which are pursued in various parts of the country. In Kennedy, for example, the two great industries are the pastoral and the mining industry.” We have the great pastoral industry of western Queensland, and the mining industry at Cloncurry, Charters Towers, and elsewhere. There is no community of interest between all that portion of the proposed Herbert electorate, north of Port Douglas, and the remainder of that electorate.
– That is not the only matter which should be taken into consideration.
– I know that. I say that the Commissioners should not have indulged in such a disgraceful piece of gerrymandering as is disclosed by the map. The Herbert electorate is 1,000 miles long, and has been absolutely cut in two at one point in order to give effect to the desire of the Commissioners. Yet there is no community of interest between the northern and the southern half of it. The northern half, including Yorke’s Peninsula, embraces the pastoral and mining industries, which are the same industries as predominate in the Kennedy electorate. The community of interest which exists between Cairns and the interior has been absolutely ignored. The country all along the line from Cairns to Herberton, and on to the Evelyn Valley, and that along the railway to Chillagoe and on to the Etheridge Gold-fields, has been included in a division with which it has no connexion whatever. As a matter of fact, to get from one part of the proposed electorate to another part, it would be necessary to make a long sea voyage. The only reason which I can assign for the proposed redistribution is a desire to make it impossible for anybody to represent that electorate except a person who is in sympathy with coloured labour.
– Absurd !
– In support of my contention I can produce evidence from hundreds of newspapers and reports from local authorities who were worked in that fashion.
– That is a distinct reflection upon those who are responsible for the proposed redistribution.
– I do not care whether it is a reflection upon them or not. It is the truth. Am I to be called to order because, in the discharge of my public duty, I point to facts?
– The honorable senator has not been called to order. But he has made a reflection on men who are not here to defend themselves.
– I cannot help that. We have laid down the law defining the manner in which electoral distributions shall be made, and certain men have been appointed to carry that law into effect. In this instance they have absolutely failed to do so.
– The honorable senator went further than that. He said that they had deliberately designed this division to enable the partisans of a particular political view to be represented.
– I say so still. Why did the Commissioners withdraw their original redistribution, and never allow it to be presented to Parliament? Although nob an ideal distribution, that scheme represented an honest attempt to do the square thing. Why was the scheme withdrawn?;
Because the Commissioners allowed themselves to be got at. All sorts of representations were made to them; resolutions were passed by partisan boards and associations, and the result is that we have presented to us the redistribution which is now under consideration.
– Representations for which the Act provides.
– Why were the Commissioners so ready to accept these irresponsible representations, and to ignore the representations which were made by this Parliament? The reasons why their second redistribution scheme was not acceptable there were plainly stated in another place. Yet, in the divisions which are now before us, the Commissioners have absolutely ignored those reasons. I defy anybody to point out that any of my contentions are wrong, or that they cannot be borne out by facts. I defy anybody to explain why Atherton, on the Cairns-Herberton railway, should be included in the Herbert electorate, and why Mareeba and Herberton should be included in the Kennedy electorate.
– Every redistribution scheme has apparent anomalies of that kind.
– In making this redistribution, the Commissioners have not even followed the boundaries of the State electorates. They have ignored everything, in order to indulge in this piece of gerrymandering.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Why was not the first redistribution accepted ?
– It never came before Parliament, because the Commissioners withdrew it.
– Is this their third redistribution, then?
– Yes. They withdrew their original scheme, and it was not until they allowed themselves to be “ got at,” that we had this disgraceful piece of gerrymandering thrust upon us. The unfortunate feature of the whole business is that it is now too late for us to remedy the trouble. If we refer this scheme back to the Commissioners it is possible that a fresh redistribution cannot be made in time to enable it to be presented to Parliament before its prorogation. Consequently, this Parliament finds itself in an absolutely helpless position. It is unable to do anything.
– Did the Commissioners present their ‘first report to the Minister?
– In accordance with the requirements of the Act, their first redistribution was issued, published, and exhibited. I suppose that it reached the hands of Ministers. If the Commissioners are right in their contention that it is community of interest which should be taken into consideration, they should have cut out of the Herbert electorate the whole of the Cape Yorke Peninsula, and have included it with the other pastoral and mining interests in the Kennedy electorate, and they should have embraced” in the Herbert electorate the whole of the country around Bundaberg, as well as a little piece behind the Logan River and down near Brisbane. They could not have done much worse than they have done in cutting an electorate in two, in order to accomplish this piece of gerrymandering. Those of us who represent Queensland know that the proposed distribution is not a fair and honest one. Yet we find ourselves with our hands tied, so that we have to accept it willy-nilly. I hope that in future we shall have another redistribution of electorates in Queensland which will represent a. fairer and more honest attempt to give effect to our electoral law, and which will seek to do the square thing, irrespective of party interests. I have been twitted by Senator Keating with reflecting on gentlemen who are not here to reply. I think that Senator Keating will acquit me of any desire to take advantage of my position to say anything about them here which I am not prepared to say elsewhere.
– The honorable senator’s statement was a reflection on their integrity.
– I say that unless something is done which will compel those men to whom is intrusted the duty of redistributing the electorates in various States to recognise their responsibility either to Parliament or to some other authority for carrying out the work properly, we shall never get a just distribution.
– That is the reason why provision is made that this Parliament shall be the final judge of a distribution.
-But we find ourselves in the position ‘that, although we are the final judge, we are helpless to pass judgment. The circumstances are such that we cannot exercise our judgment. It is too late. This business has been hung up by the votes of honorable senators who have agreed to adjournment after adjournment. The settlement of it has been so long delayed that we can do nothing. It would now be impossible to get another distribution made in time for Parliament to do anything with it.
– Without any reflection upon the Government in power, I may say that this motion might have been submitted to Parliament in the earlier part of the session, and we could then have dealt with it satisfactorily.
– That is my contention now. I say also that something should be done to make these men responsible to Parliament for a proper distribution. The idea has been to place them in a position something like that of a judge, so that they will be able to do anything they please. It is thereby hoped that they will do the right thing. But in enacting such a law Parliament was acting on a counsel of ‘ perfection. No doubt it would have been excellent if we could have obtained the services of absolutely perfect men. But we have not the perfect men, and we have not the perfect distribution which we ought to have. I would ask Senator Keating why I should not be free to express my unbiased opinion upon the act of the Commissioners or of any other persons who may be appointed to do any work for the Commonwealth? If members of Parliament are supposed to have their tongues tied, and are to be compelled to refrain from expressing their opinions, Parliament is not free, it is not independent, it cannot exercise that judgment which it ought to be in a position to display. I hope that, although we are compelled to accept this redistribution now, the result will be as disappointing to the men responsible for it as was the first distribution to the men who caused that to be made. When they cut out the Herbert electorate, they intended that it should be wholly and solely a black labour constituency, and be represented by nobody but a representative of black labour industry. But they were absolutely disappointed. I trust that the result will be the same on this occasion. I am reluctantly compelled to accept the redistribution, although I consider that in the case of the Herbert and Kennedy constituencies it is a bad one.
– The honorable senator should not accept it after what he has said.
– I cannot help doing so.
– - I have no intention of entering into the general question of the redistribution of Queensland. I do not suppose that it is ideal. Personally I do not believe in this community of interest business. The only, interest in which I believe is that of common citizenship of the Commonwealth. It does not matter whether I am a miner, or a pastoralist, or a shearer, or a farmer, or a city workman, or a storekeeper, or a professional man, or an agent j whatever I may be, my interest in the Commonwealth is, or should -be, that of the common good of all. If we have antagonistic interests cropping up here and there, and bringing their influence to bear upon Parliament, it will be mischievous ; and we assist antagonistic interests by encouraging them to form little knots. With regard to Senator Millen’s complaint that country electorates were not up to the quota, and that city electorates were above it, I interjected that, in my opinion, that was only fair and reasonable. I intend to show why I think that the quota should be smaller in country districts than in towns. The ideal we have all set before us is that of one vote one value. But before that principle can be realized to the fullest extent we must have equal populations in equal areas. In the towns, a vote is much more valuable than in the country. In a town a voter has a much greater chance of being able to record his vote than a country elector has.
– That is, since the honorable senator’s party abolished the postal vote.
– If I were asked to mention, in a spotting phrase, the odds in favour of a town elector being able to record his vote, as compared with a country elector who lives, say, from 20 to 50 miles from a polling booth, I should say at once that the townsman’s chances were very much greater than the countryman’s. The countryman is severely handicapped. He may be living many miles from a polling booth. Will any one tell me that a man so situated has an equal chance of recording a vote with a man who lives only a mile - perhaps only 100 yards - away from a polling booth? In the first place, the weather may be wet. There may be blinding rain. The countryman will not go through that to the poll. But it does not matter to the townsman what the weather is like. He can go to the poll if he wishes. Again, a man may have a headache on polling day, or he may be otherwise indisposed. That would not keep him away from the poll if he lived in a town, but the probability is that it would if he lived in the country. The further he happened to be away from a polling booth the greater would his difficulty be.
– It might be harvest time.
– Any one of a hundred things might prevent a countryman from going to the poll. For that reason, I say that the quota for country electorates should be smaller than for city constituencies. Another reason is that people living in large centres have greater opportunities of bringing their political power to bear upon the Government than have people living in the outlying portions of the Commonwealth. They can organize more rapidly and more effectively. In fact, they are placed in a much superior position as compared with electors living in the outside portions of a State. An interjection has been made about the postal vote. I am very sorry that the postal vote had to be abolished. I believe in it. I think it is absolutely necessary to give every citizen of the Commonwealth an opportunity to record his or her vote. To carry out that idea in full a system of postal voting is only fair and reasonable. But it has been found that the postal vote, like a great many other things, has been abused.
– We should not punish the innocent for the sins of the guilty.
– That is a most excellent principle, and if the honorable senator would bring his influence to bear upon the people of his own party, who, I believe, are more responsible than any others for the abolition of the postal vote, he might do great good.
– The abuse of the postal vote has been alleged, but has never been proved.
– I am not going to enter into that.
– Why does not the AttorneyGeneral set the law in motion?
– I am not responsible for the Attorney-General.
– Order! I trust that the honorable senator will not discuss that matter.
– I have nothing more to say on the subject.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That the Senate approves of the fresh distribution of the State of Western Australia into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs. A. Green, H. F. Johnston, and A. W. Piesse, the Commissioners for the purpose of distributing the said State into divisions, in their report, dated! the 28th day of August, 1912, and laid before the Senate on 25th September, 1912 ; and that the divisions referred to in the report and indicated on the map as A, B, C, D, and E be named as follows : - Division A, Perth ; Division B, Fremantle; Division C, Swan; Division D, Kalgoorlie ; Division E, Dampier.
Debate resumed from nth October (vide page 4184), on motion by Senator Findley -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– I have been somewhat puzzled about this Bill. It has had a very leisurely progress through the Senate so far, although in another place it was rushed through in a few hours, as if it were of the utmost importance that it should be at once passed into law. I hate circumlocution. I prefer to come direct to a point. This Bill seems-‘ to me to go a very long way round to secure very simple results.
– That is owing to our roundabout Constitution.
– The Constitution, is direct enough for me in most respects. I am not making any complaint with regard to the wages prescribed by the Minister of Trade and Customs. So far as I can see, they are reasonable enough. If the Ministed has erred at all, it has been perhaps through fixing the wages under rather than over the mark. But I do not exactly see why it should have been necessary for him to prescribe wages for this industry. I want to know why we should not put the sugar industry on exactly the same footing as any other protected industry. Why should we not do away immediately with both bounty and Excise?
– The same state of things prevails with regard to wine, spirits, and tobacco. There is in the case of each a Customs and an Excise duty.
– But there is no bounty.
– That is just the mischief here; but the honorable senator says,that we should do away with both Excise and bounty;
– I think it is better that we should do away with both. In the case of industries generally, which have been given the advantage of a Protective duty whether they pay Excise or not, the wages in them are regulated by a State industrial authority, or some other body created for the purpose.
– The only reason why it is necessary to retain Excise and bounty in connexion with the sugar industry is in order to differentiate between sugar grown by white and sugar grown by coloured labour.
– I do not see why it is necessary to retain Excise and bounty for that purpose.
– If we wish to keep the industry a white industry it is very necessary.
– I am told that there is only about 4 per cent, of coloured labour employed in connexion with the production of sugar.
– Abolish both Excise and bounty, and it will be 40 per cent, next year.
– It seems to me that that does not necessarily follow at all. Suppose the same rate of wages was fixed for a black man as for a white man, how long would the black man continue in the industry ?
– Not long.
– By that means the white man would drive the coloured man out of the industry. Why should not wages in the industry be fixed in that way ? I do not like this Bill, because, as I have said, it goes such a long way round to secure the very simple result of giving fair wages to those employed in the sugar industry. According to this measure, the Minister of Trade and Customs has first to make an appeal to an Arbitration Court. I believe that the whole thing has been a ghastly failure from beginning to end.
– What has been a failure ?
– The Arbitration Court.
– Does the honorable senator say that, when there are 100,000 persons working under awards and agreements made in the Arbitration Court?
– How much has it cost to secure those awards? How long has the Tramways case been going on, and how long will it continue? What will it cost to secure an award in that case ? Will there be peace when the award is given?
– There has never been a breach of any award of the Arbitration Court.
– A great deal of discontent has been caused by the awards of the Court. I do not look upon the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, or any Court of that kind for the fixing of wages, as in any way a success. I believe that the Wages Board system is very much better.
– The Arbitration Court has been very successful.
– The Wages Board system has done more to raise wages and improve conditions than any other tribunal or Board established in the Commonwealth. I say that fearlessly.
– It is an assertion which the honorable senator cannot prove.
– The honorable senator can get the particulars to prove it, especially in regard to the State of Victoria, where, I understand, the system was first established, from reports of the work done by Wages Boards.
– It applies to only a few industries.
– The Arbitration Court applies to only a few industries also. I see no reason why the Wages Board system should not apply to all industries.
– How could a Wages Board deal with an Inter-State industry?
– We have a Court to settle Inter-State matters, and if it confined itself solely to them, it would be better. I believe that we could find a better system for the settlement of Inter- State disputes than is provided by. the Arbitration Court. Under this Bill the Minister is called upon to go to a Judge of an Arbitration Court, a Judge of the Federal or State Court, or a State industrial authority for an award as to wages. Why should we not confine the matter straight away to a State industrial authority, and let such, an authority fix the wages of the industry, irrespective of colour? I believe that if that course were followed, it would settle the question almost immediately. We might, as an alternative, provide for a conference between growers and employes in the industry, and give the force of law to a mutually satisfactory arrangement come to by them. It would be better to deal with this matter in that way than to continue the system of bounty and Excise, simply in order to prevent the employment of black labour.
– The Government do not wish to settle the question. The Bill shows that clearly.
– I know that negotiations were begun and suggestions made fully two years ago, with the object of bringing about a satisfactory state of things in the industry. It was suggested by those interested that coloured labour should be done away with altogether. I have here some correspondence which took place on the subject in July, 1910. There is a letter written by Mr. G. H. Pritchard, secretary to the Australian Sugar Producers Association Limited, and addressed to the Prime Minister, in which he says -
I have the honour, by direction, to convey to you the following resolution which was unanimously adopted by the Australian Sugar Producers Association at the half-yearly meeting of their Council held in Cairns on the 21st and 22nd ultimo : - “ That steps be taken by the Australian Sugar Producers Association to have the necessary legislation passed forthwith by the Federal and State Parliaments to absolutely prohibit the production of sugar by coloured men either as growers themselves or by the employment of coloured labour in any shape or form in the sugar industry, and that a copy of Mr. Duffy’s opinion, and of this resolution, be forwarded to the Federal Prime Minister, and the Premier of this State, asking that such direct legislation be passed forthwith, as will give effect to the wishes of this Association.
Twenty-two delegates attended this meeting, representing growers and manufacturers from various sugar districts of the State extending from Nambour in the south, to Mossman - the sugar outpost - in the north, so that you will see that the gathering was thoroughly representative in character.
I have now to formally invite you to consider the advisableness of giving effect to our wishes, as embodied in the resolution, by passing the necessary legislation through Parliament.
I am aware that the opinion is held that the coloured races cannot, constitutionally, be excluded from the industry, but have pleasure in handing you herewith a printed copy of the opinion of Mr. Frank Gavan Duffy, K.C., together with a copy of the case submitted for his opinion, by which you will see that he states, unreservedly, that the Federal Parliament is clothed with full authority to pass the legislation which we desire. As Mr. Duffy is a gentleman who is regarded as being in the front rank of his profession, as a constitutional lawyer, and, moreover, has been selected by the Federal Government to advise and act for them where constitutional questions are involved, we specially chose him to give the opinion in this case. His opinion therefore should be entitled to particular respect.
Further, the language of the section of the Commonwealth Constitution Act upon which he relies is so clear that it does not admit of any ambiguity of construction. I quote the text of it for your guidance and information -
Section 51. The Parliament shall subject to’ this Constitution have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to -
The people of any race, other than the aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws.
I am directed to remind you that the members of our Association heartily subscribe to and cordially support, the policy of a white Australia as applied to the sugar industry, and embrace every opportunity which presents itself of letting this be understood. We, however, are emphatically of the opinion that the policy should be carried to its logical conclusion by absolutely excluding the coloured races from participating, in any shape or form, in the production of sugar, and as there is no legal ban to this being done, we trust that we may rely upon you to take the matter in hand with the object of giving effect to our wishes.
Further, I desire to point out particularly, that the absolute exclusion of coloured races from the industry would be the best possible means by which we could most directly, and effectively, deal ‘with the excise and bounty legislation which expires on the 1st January 1913. Your own public announcements, from time to time, have made it quite clear that your chief, if not indeed your only, reason for advocating a continuance of the existing legislation is that if the legislation were allowed to run out, as Parliament has designed that it shall do, the coloured races would be placed upon the same footing as the white races. Permit me, therefore, to strenuously urge upon you the adoption, of the course which our Association have pro.posed and ardently wish for, and so settle this much vexed question in a conclusive and effective manner once and for all.
Commending our proposal to your earnest and best attention,
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
H. Pritchard, Secretary.
On the 12th July, Mr. Shepherd, the Secretary to the Prime Minister, replied to Mr. Pritchard in a letter in which he said -
I have the honour, by direction, to inform you, that the representations of your association will receive consideration.
Then, on the 12th August of the same year - 1910 - Mr. Pritchard again addressed the Prime Minister in the following terms : -
Permit me to invite attention to my letter to you of the 5th ultimo, and to your reply thereto saying that the subject-matter thereof would have consideration. I shall be pleased to know whether we may rely upon you to give effect to our desire to exclude coloured persons from engaging in any shape or form in the sugar industry ? I venture to think that my letter above quoted made a full and complete presentment of the matter to yon, and as you are now dealing with the legislation affecting the industry, it would be the most appropriate time to deal with the whole subject comprehensively and conclusively on the lines indicated in my letter.
In explaining the intentions of your Government you are reported by the press to have said, amongst other things, that “ the arrangements for the payment of bounty and the collection of excise will remain undisturbed on the basis which it occupies this year, lt mill be preserved until a better means of accomplishing our aims has been discovered.” The words which I have underlined made it abundantly manifest that the two amending Bills now before Parliament do not comprise the whole of your Government’s policy in connexion with the sugar industry, and as you have time and again made it plain that your aim is to make the industry a wholly “white” one, it does not seem to me possible to conceive any more direct, effectual, and conclusive manner of accomplishing the end you have in view than that set out in my letter of the 5th ultimo. May I therefore again commend its contents to your earliest and best attention.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
H. Pritchard, Secretary.
On the 1 8th August, the Secretary to the Prime Minister replied -
Your representations on the question of the exclusion of coloured persons from engaging in this industry have been brought under the notice of the Department of Trade and Customs, and will receive full consideration.
I have here the case on which the Australian Sugar Producers Association asked Mr. F. G. Duffy to give an opinion, but I do not intend to read it all. The first question on which he was asked to advise was -
Can a law be enacted to entirely prohibit the employment of coloured labour in the sugar industry, and to prohibit the growth of sugarcane and manufacture of sugar by coloured labour ?
To that query Mr. Duffy replied, “Yes.” The second question on which he was asked to offer an opinion was -
Can there be levied on sugar-cane a duty of Excise so high as to make it financially impossible for sugar to be produced by coloured labour ?
To that question Mr. Duffy answered “ No.” He said-
In view of my opinion expressed above, it becomes unnecessary to answer these questions, but I think the answer to question No. 2 should be “ No,” because, for the reasons relied on by the majority of the Court in the King v. Barger, 6 C.L.R., 41, a duty of Excise, such as that suggested, would be regarded as an incursion into the domain exclusively reserved for State legislation.
At any rate, two years ago it was the desire of these sugar-growers to overcome the difficulty of black labour in this way, and, ap parently, it received some sympathy from the Prime Minister, because I find, from a paper tabled in the other House on 10th October, Mr. Denham, Premier of Queensland, wrote the following letter to him on 5th September of this year -
I have the honour to inform you that my colleague the Treasurer, on his return to Brisbane, communicated to me your expressed opinion that it would make for the welfare of the sugar industry if both excise and bounty were abolished, that you would do your best to influence your colleagues to take the sameview, and, if successful, would next session introduce Bills for the repeal of so much of the excise and bounty sections as applied to the sugar industry. While thanking you for this attitude on the question, I must say I was not unprepared for the information, as I was aware you had on’ former occasions expressed yourself similarly thereon. Whatever co-operation I can ive you in the matter will be cheerfully rendered, for I am fully satisfied that along such lines as you suggest lies the only solution of the difficulties which have to be met. I hope therefore you will be able to prevail on your colleagues to take action in the direction mentioned, and to take it during the current session of Parliament, for delaying it until next year would entail very serious consequences on the industry, and, among other evils, the intensifying of the present feeling of uncertainty and unrest in those connected with it.
If you can give me your assurance on this point, I shall undertake to introduce legislation prohibiting Asiatic aliens from engaging or working in the industry, and compensating such aliens as may be bond fide owners or leaseholders of land now under sugar cane. The people of Australia desire the sugar industry to be a white-labour one, and I gladly give my support to any arrangement which will ensure the realization of that desire. It is also their wish that this industry should pay the white labourer the highest wage consistent with its prosperity, and the better to achieve that end I shall so enlarge the Industrial Peace Bill as to bring sugar workers (both field and mill hands) under Industrial Boards. I think that will be the most effective means of protecting their interests.
I am informed that you have expressed some doubt as to whether the cane-grower would reap any benefit under the altered conditions. On this point Mr. White, M.L.A., assures me he raised the matter at a meeting of the Sugar Manufacturers’ Association held in Bundaberg on the 2nd September, when it was resolved that in the event of the excise and bounty being abolished the millers will pay the ‘growers of cane 8s. 8d. per ton in place of the 6s. 6d. now paid by the Customs. The Treasurer will also give the growers the full benefit of the difference between excise and bounty.
You are aware of the intention of the Government to erect mills under the Sugar Works Act 191 1, three of which have been approved and »ill involve a total expenditure of ,£350,000. Other mills are likely to be pressed upon our attention, but I fear that, in the present unsettled state of the sugar industry, the House will not vote the necessary funds.
I have been favoured by an authority, whose opinion may be implicitly relied on, with the following reasons for the abolition of the sugar excise and bounty : -
That no other primary industry pays excise.
That the abolition of the excise and bounty will place the sugar industry on the same footing as other protected industries in the Commonwealth.
That the reason for the excise on sugar does not now exist, as only about 4 per cent, of last year’s crops was grown by coloured labour.
That the abolition of the excise and bounty will not increase the price of sugar to the consumer.
That the abolition of excise and bounty will create a feeling of security in the sugar industry which does not exist at the present time, and will ensure it vigorous development, whereas the prevalent uncertainty is causing farmers rather to restrict than extend their operations.
That, as regards other Australian industries, our foreign rivals are manufacturers of goods produced by white labour, but the sugar industry has to compete with the sugar grown and manufactured by cheap coloured labour in other parts of the world.
That nearly all the growers throughout the State have dismissed their employees other than those engaged in harvesting the present crop, and as the time for spring planting is at hand, immediate action must be taken if the industry is to be saved from extinction.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your most obedient servant,
That is the case which was put, and it seems to me that it took exactly the right ground. If you do away with the bounty and the Excise, and provide for the maintenance of fair conditions and the payment of fair wages, the sugar industry will be put on a better footing than it is at present, simply because of the existence of the bounty and the Excise. I know that the growers themselves feel that the Excise works against them altogether. It means that they are paying £1 of it. If the suggestion I have made is adopted, and the primary production of sugar in this way is placed on,exactly the same footing as any other protected industry, I think it will be a good deal more satisfactory than will be this Bill, which calls upon the Minister to interfere and prescribe rates of wages, and so on, when it might easily be done under the State industrial authority, and to the satisfaction of all parties concerned.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [4.23]. - Like my honorable friend, Senator Vardon, I have been a good deal concerned about this Bill, which is a comparatively small one, both in typographical extent and, I think, in other respects. But my concern has rather been to find out why the Bill should be opposed. I have most attentively read all that has been said, and I have listened - it could not have been better put - to the view suggested by Senator Vardon, but I confess that I am entirely unable to understand why the Bill should not be accepted at the present moment.
– Are you speaking from the stand-point of emergency, or from the stand-point of policy?
– I am speaking from the point of view of policy.
– And of emergency?
– And everything else that my honorable friend likes concerning the industry. Some of us have been here throughout the legislative proceedings in connexion with this industry, and when I hear it said, as stated in the letter which has just been read, that if the Bill is passed the industry will be threatened with extinction-
– Who said that about the Bill?
– I am delighted to hear that that view is not put forward, because, if there is one industry in this country which, instead of being, as Senator St. Ledger said the other day, tormented, has been coddled, it is the sugar industry of Queensland. Whether the enormous profits which have been derived from the sugar industry have been fairly and justly distributed, whether they have gone into the right pockets, is another question, and a very important one, too, which has to be dealt with, because, as we all know, there are three sets of people who are concerned in the industry.
– I shall add the other if my honorable friend will let me mention the three. First, there are the workers; second, the growers, that is the owners of the plantations; and, third, the refiners represented by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company principally.
– Excuse me, you omitted to mention the mill-owners, between the growers and the refiners.
– I am much obliged to my honorable friend. I omitted the mill-owners for this reason that sometimes the growers and the mill owners - at any rate in co-operative mills - are identical, and on the other hand equally so, I suppose, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company are interested both as growers and as refiners. These four classes have to be justly dealt with, and if there is consideration shown by this Parliament out of the pockets of the taxpayers towards the industry as a whole, we cannot, in considering the position of, for instance, the growers, eliminate the enormous profits which are made by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. When I recall the efforts which have been made by the Parliament to assist this industry as a whole, and when it is pointed out to me that one of these four different classes engaged in the industry is suffering to some extent, or is not quite so prosperous as is another section, I ask myself whether it would not be better to arrive at some means of diminishing the enormous profits of one section, and allowing a portion of them to percolate down to others who are not so prosperous. We must take the industry as a whole. Until this afternoon, when Senator Vardon rose, this debate was practically a duel between two sets of representatives from Queensland - between Senators Stewart and Givens on the one hand, and Senators Chataway, St. Ledger, and Sayers on the other hand. I congratulate Senators Stewart and Givens - there were various points of vehemence in the speech of the latter - upon what I thought were the very fair, large, and sensible views, having regard to the history of this legislation, which they took of the whole position. In the first session of this Parliament - in 1901 - the Liberal party, led by Sir Edmund Barton and Mr. Deakin, instituted a policy for the repatriation of the kanakas. I opposed that step, because I thought that an immediate repatriation of these Pacific Islanders might inflict hardship and cruelty upon them. But another aspect of the matter was presented by my honorable friends, namely, that if we repatriated these people, and insisted upon effect being given to a White Australia policy in Queensland, white men would be obliged to do work for which they were not fitted, and, consequently, they ought to be paid a very much higher rate of wages. The outcome of that discussion was that, when the Excise Tariff Bill was under consideration in 1902, a provision was inserted for the payment of a rebate in the Excise - which was then 3s. per cwt. - upon all sugar grown by white labour. The object was to assist the growers, who, it was anticipated, would be obliged to pay very much higher wages, in order to give effect to the White Australia policy. But no provision was made to insure that those higher wages should be paid. Their payment was left to whatever machinery was then available. Later on it was found that that rebate would have had to come out of the pockets of the Queensland growers - a position which it was said would have been unjust. Parliament felt that a national policy should be paid for by the genera] community, and, therefore, in 1903, the law was altered by substituting a bounty for a rebate. That bounty was intended to achieve the same object. In the Act of 1903, however, no proper provision was made for the exercise by this Parliament of some control, in order to insure that the White Australia policy should be faithfully given effect to, and that the white men engaged in the sugar industry should be paid a wage commensurate with the additional drain which was being placed upon their vital power and energy. That was the true principle underlying the whole thing. In 1905, when the Deakin Government were in office, a Bill was introduced which contained a provision similar, to a great extent, to that which is now proposed, by which the Minister was enabled to withhold the bounty in any case in which he found that the rate of wages paid by the grower was below the standard rate paid in the district in which the sugar was grown, to similar white labour employed in the industry. At that time I feared that the employment of the term “ standard “ in connexion with the rate of wages paid would prevent us from effectually achieving the object which we had in view. It was too vague. That was found to be the case; and in 1910 we passed a Bill which attempted to remedy that defect, but which did not do so effectively. It provided -
If the Minister finds that the rates of wages and conditions of employment, or any of them -
That is the present state of the law. The provision contained in this Bill is substantially the same, although it appears in a different, and, in my view, a better, form. If this were a court of arbitration whose function it was to determine the rate of wages which should be paid in the industry, a great deal of what has been said would be most important. But it is not. As to the payment of 8s. per day, I think it is a paltry wage, in comparison with the work which has to be done and the conditions under which it has to be done, especially when we recollect what was urged as a reason for the payment of this bounty some eight or nine years ago.
– Does the honorable senator know that quite recently the men had to go on strike for 7s. a day?
– I do not wish to enter into a discussion on that matter. I think that the balance of the argument is in favour of what has been urged by Senator Stewart and Senator Givens. But that is not the question with which we are now dealing. We are dealing with a. machinery Bill, which represents another attempt to carry out the declared policy of this Parliament.
– The question- is not as to the object which we have in view, but as to the means which should be adopted to attain it.
– I may tell my honorable friend that, in my humble judgment, this is a very much better measure than is the Act of 1910.
– In my judgment, it is very much worse.
– That merely shows how bad is the honorable senator’s judgment. The Minister declares that a condition of uncertainty prevails in the industry. Why? Because the growers cannot tell, until after their cane has been handed over to the sugar mills, whether they will obtain the bounty or not. The Minister affirms that the unfortunate grower has to go through all the operations connected with cultivation, and to cart his crop to the mill, where it is crushed, and its sugar contents ascertained, before the Minister can step in and say, “ You cannot obtain the bounty.” If that be so, it is a most unjust position for the grower to occupy.
– And for the workman.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.Exactly; because the workman cannot say to the grower, “ You are getting the benefit of the bounty, and, therefore, ought to increase my wages, in view of the arduous tropical work which I have to perform.” But I would point out that the grower himself may lose the bounty after he has been to the trouble of cultivating his land, and after he has paid his workmen an adequate wage. The Bill proposes to make a slight alteration in the law which was enacted in 1910, to enable the Minister, before any cultivation has been undertaken by the grower, to apply to the same tribunals which are specified in the law in question for a declaration as to what wages and conditions of employment are fair and reasonable. He may do that before the season begins. Consequently, before the grower puts a plough into the ground, and before the worker engages with him for the season, each will know how he will be affected by the bounty if the grower complies with the conditions which have been laid down. Thus the measure will do away with all the uncertainty which now exists. That is my view of the object of this Bill, and, such being its principle, I do not see how any one can fail to give it assent. Looking at it not as a new provision, but as designed on the lines of the old policy of paying a bounty to those engaged in the industry, and, taking an Excise from them, it appears to me that there is only one of the sub-clauses which can possibly be open to the slightest objection. The Minister is to have nothing to do with determining wages where a rate has been agreed upon or fixed by some per.perly constituted tribunal. If he finds a rate prescribed by a Commonwealth or State industrial authority, he cannot touch it. He has to pay the bounty. So also if an agreement has been made between the workmen and the planters, the Minister cannot touch it. He is powerless, and has no right to interfere. If standard rates applicable to a particular locality have been agreed _upon by employers and employed, the Minister cannot interfere. The rates have to be recognised. Then comes a provision that if the Minister finds that the rates paid and the conditions observed are below the rates and conditions declared to be fair and reasonable, he can interfere. I cannot conceive of anything more reasonable and more just in order to settle this very troublesome question. It is applied without that Executive interference which is so justly reprobated. I find that in August of this year the Minister issued a regulation providing that certain rates of wages were to be considered ordinary rates. That was an interference by the Minister. This Bill, as I understand it, is to have the effect of checking such interference. Of course, very often when we try to read a Bill in the simplest fashion, there is no difficulty about understanding its meaning. It is only when we resort to roundabout tortuous courses, and try to find some sinister purpose in a measure that we get into trouble, and imagine all sorts of evils that are likely to happen. That is one of the reasons why I think we should all support this Bill. It is an effort to get rid of Ministerial interference with the wages question. It puts the matter into the hands of tribunals, which are amply well constituted. There is one other word which I should like to say. It has been suggested that we should abolish the Excise and the bounty at one and the same time. I am not in favour of that policy. If such a proposal is made, I shall give it my most strenuous resistance. I am opposed to the abolition of the Excise, and although I was originally opposed to the bounty because I do not like bounties of any sort - and, further than that, I did not like the way the coloured people were treated - still I think that this method is the best to follow. But if we are going to get rid of the bounty, and the sugar people are in favour of its relinquishment, still, that is no reason why we should relinquish the Excise. In any case, as pointed out by Senator Givens and Senator Stewart, the bounty gives a leverage over the conditions in which the workers are placed, and should not be released without proper guarantees.
– Is not that what the Premier of Queensland has promised to do?
– Let him do it. That will be one step. I have heard read the letter of the Queensland Premier. It is an excellent letter. It is full of the most excellent promises.
One part of it, we are told, has been performed. But the other, and the important part, has not yet been performed. I do not wish to express any positive opinion about the matter until it comes before us ; it will be time to consider that aspect when a Bill is passed in Queensland prohibiting the employment of coloured labour in the industry. Senator St. Ledger, as a lawyer, will see that that is only a reasonable thing. The first step should be taken by the State authorities. Then they should come to us, and say, “We have done this thing; here is our charter of freedom in connexion with the sugar industry in Queensland. Now, do your part.” I do not agree with the captivating contention that we should place the sugar industry on the same footing as any other protected industry. There are other protected industries which quite justly have Excise duties imposed upon ‘them. It is a perfectly legitimate thing from the point of view of revenue to impose an Excise upon such a thing as sugar.
– Upon a necessary of life?
– There is an enormous Customs duty of £6 a ton on sugar, which it has been said in some of the speeches made, and as I believe, is paid by the consumer of the article. We know that sugar is dearer in Australia than in New Zealand by about £6 a ton. I am not going into the question of whether the advantage goes into the coffers of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, or not. The company is certainly in the happy position, as one of the four elements in the sugar industry, of disclosing a profit at the end of each year or £350,000 or ,£360,000. If we add the amounts put away in various reserves, and so forth, I think it will be found that the annual profit amounts to £500,060. It does not appear, therefore, that the industry is one which requires a heavy duty like j£6 a ton.
– Mr. Knox says that he likes Free Trade in sugar.
– I admire him for that, although I do not think he pledged his company.
– Mr. Knox said that he was. a Free Trader, but that his company had no political opinions.
– I think it would be found if the matter came up in this Parliament, that representations would be made on behalf of the Colonial
Sugar Refining Company to preserve the duty, or, at any rate, a considerable part of it.. We find that there is at, present an Excise of £4 a. ton, which, if retained, would still leave a protection of £2 a ton. But. the bounty associated with the Excise is in quite a different position. I should like to see the bounty abolished. I am led to believe that the exclusion of coloured labour has been a great success in Queensland, and that if a measure’ were introduced in the Queensland Parliament to prohibit the employment of coloured labour, we should then reach a happy Elysium. I should not then seek to interfere with the £6, and the sugar industry would have the difference between the £4 per ton Excise and the £fi per ton Customs duty as a nice little nest-egg.
– Would the honorable senator charge an Excise on salt or olive oil?
– There is an Excise on spirits distilled in the country.
– Spirits are not necessaries of life.
– Well, a little spirits, as St. Paul said about wine, are good for “the stomach’s sake.” We are growing a large quantity of tobacco, and shall grow move in time. There is no reason why there should not be an Excise on tobacco.
– Surely the honorable senator would not put tobacco on the same footing as sugar?
– When my honorable friend says that he would not impose an Excise on necessaries of life, he forgets that we already impose a duty of £6 a ton on the very commodity which, he truly says, is a necessary of life. I do not want to go into that, however, nor into the Tariff at all. Other points have been raised as to the disputes between the growers and the workers. I do think that this Bill is justified, on the ground put by the Minister, as an improvement upon the measure of 1910, which was intended to follow the lines of the policy adopted by this Parliament.
– The debate on this Bill has been of a general character. We have heard much to the effect that the sugar industry is an important One, and is of special concern to Queensland. The industry, in all its phases, has been discussed. The majority of honorable senators who have spoken support the measure. Those who have opposed it are the three Queensland senators who sit in Opposition to the Government. Their reasons for so doing, are more than paradoxical. I was pleased1 with the remark of Senator Symon when he said that it was proper that this Bill should receive unanimous support from the Senate. Senator Sayers objected to it, because he asked, “ What right has the Minister to fix any scale of wages for the sugar industry > What does he know about it?”
– Well, what does he know ?
– It is not necessary for a man to live all the days of his life amongst the cane-fields in order to familarise himself with the conditions of this industry. ‘There was a time - and that not so far back - when those who professed to know most about the sugar industry were found to know least concerning it. A few years ago - my memory is quite clear on thepoint - men who had lived for a number of years in tropical Queensland were convinced that the industry could only be conducted by the employment of coloured labour. They contended that white men could not engage in sugar production, and that the climate of the sugar districts was too enervating for them.
– Quite a number of people held that doctrine, but I never did.
– It was said that the industry could not be conducted unlesscoloured and cheap labour were employed. Such labour has been abolished. Only white men are, for the most part, employed! in the industry to-day. But, unfortunately, for quite a long period of time when the coloured people were deported, and white men employed, the latter were employed at black men’s wages - 22s. 6d. per week and found.
– How many people inVictoria are getting no more than that today ?
– Did the honorable senator at any time during the period he has been a member of the Senate make thesame inquiry in regard to the schedule fixing the rate of wages at 22s. 6d. per week and found, issued by Mr. Austin Chapman when Minister of Trade and Customs, as he now makes in respect of the scheduleissued by the present Minister of Trade and Customs? Did he say “ What right has the Minister to fix the schedule of wages? What does Mr. Austin Chapmanunderstand about the sugar industry?” No,. the pages of Hansard are destitute of any record of remarks of the kind by the honorable senator in respect to the schedule drawn up by Mr. Austin Chapman fixing the wages at 22s. 6d. per week and found.
– Mr. Austin Chapman was asked to have an inquiry into the matter.
– I venture to assert that the schedule drawn up by Mr. Austin Chapman fixed a sweating rate of the very worst kind - 22s. 6d. per week and found - for an occupation in which it was said by many persons a few years ago white men could not engage;
– The honorable senator did not say how many hours were to be worked.
– I was going to mention that. They work ten hours a day in tropical Queensland. Not a, word of protest was uttered against that schedule by the honorable senator who objects to this Bill and the schedule of wages fixed by the present Minister of Trade and Customs. Senator Sayers. - I beg the honorable senator’s pardon ; he is making a statement which is not correct.
– The other day when I said in introducing this Bill that I had been informed that the schedule drawn up by Mr. Austin Chapman was not rigidly adhered to, and that some growers read into it that men might be paid by the hour, and paid them accordingly, Senator Sayers asked me for proof of my statement.
– That is ridiculous nonsense.
– I have here a number of dockets of men who worked by the hour on different plantations in Queensland.
– Let the honorable senator name them.
– They include Gibson and Howe’s, of Bingera ; Young, of Fairymead; Henry Paris, whose plantation is near Bundaberg ; Nott, of Windermere; Smith, of Pialba; and Clarke, of Kolan River. It should be remembered that these are big growers of sugar cane in Queensland. They did what I said in introducing the Bill. They read into the schedule that it meant so much an hour, and they paid 41/2d. an hour to able-bodied men for work in tropical Queensland.
– Do two or three swallows make a summer?
– I ask that the Minister should be allowed to speak without interruption.
– The Minister is speaking at me, and mentioned my name. I am going to interject when he does so.
– The Minister mentioned the name of the honorable senator only when he said that he was addressing his remarks to Senator Sayers because that honorable senator had asked him for the information he was giving.
– The reason I mentioned the name of Senator Sayers is that the honorable senator questioned my authority when I made a certain statement in introducing the Bill.
– I still question it.
– I have given the names of a number of sugar-growers in Queensland, and I have in my possession dockets of men employed on their plantations. If Senator Sayers requires further proof, he must indeed be a very hard man to convince. The honorable senator objects to the Bill because the Minister of Trade and Customs has drawn up a schedule of wages. The Bill has nothing whatever to do with that. The Minister already possesses that power, and has exercised it. He exercised it, as Senator Symon has said, in August last, long anterior to the introduction of this Bill. If Senators Sayers and Chataway had taken the trouble to read the Bill, and, having read it, to understand it, they would find that their very objections to the Bill are reasons why they should vote for it.
– The Minister is not doing me justice. I did not say anything like that.
- Senator Chataway says that he does not object to a fair wage being paid to those employed in the sugar industry, but to the method adopted by the Minister for securing that. If the honorable senator objects to the action of the Minister of Trade and Customs in prescribing a schedule of wages, he should vote for this Bill, because it is intended to take that power out of the hands of the Minister and vest it in a properly constituted tribunal. If this industry, as Senator Sayers has said, cannot afford to pay what I consider a living wage it is not worthy of serious consideration at the hands of the Senate. But I should be very sorry to repeat such a statement on any platform in Australia. I should be sorry to hear any member of the Senate say that an industry which has enriched thousands of men in
– And broken thousands also.
– An industry which has enabled one of the biggest’ monopolies in Australia to be built up cannot afford, to pay a living wage to the men who do the hardest work in connexion with it. Senator Sayers has admitted that the industry is a particularly profitable one, and yet he would have us believe that it cannot afford to pay 8s. a day, or is. an hour, to working men engaged in it.
– What is the beet industry doing in Victoria? Does the honorable senator read the newspapers?
– Those engaged in the beet sugar industry are placed in exactly the same position as are the sugar planters of Queensland. The same rates of wages are applicable to the industry throughout the Commonwealth.
– Did the honorable senator hear that 95 per cent, of those employed in the beet sugar industry have been put down as slow or infirm workers?
– I saw a statement published in the press to the effect that a number of men engaged at Maffra were not getting the wages prescribed by the Minister of Trade and Customs. It was stated that some had been forced to sign an agreement accepting a lower wage than that prescribed, but it was further stated that, when the attention of the Minister of Trade and Customs was drawn to the matter, he said that if such was the case the bounty payable upon sugar manufactured from beet would be imperilled. I can give the Senate the assurance that, whether it be in Victoria, New South Wales, or Queensland, if the conditions prescribed by the Minister of Trade and Customs are not adhered to, the bounty will certainly be imperilled. I wish to ask honorable senators who are objecting to this Bill to remove .any prejudice from their minds for the time being. I feel sure that this is a measure which will be beneficial to the industry, not only in Queensland, but in New South Wales and Victoria as well.
– What did Senator Pearce say? He said, “ If you do not like it, you can go to the Arbitration Court.”
– I am not responsible for what Senator Pearce may have said in answer to an interjection by the honorable senator. I say that the Minister of Trade and Customs has fixed the rates of wages in order that the growers may know in ample time the conditions they will have to observe to secure the bounty when their work is completed. The Minister of Trade and Customs has assured me that immediately this Bill becomes law he will make application to a properly constituted Court in order to have the industrial conditions fixed for all time, so that growers and workers will be able definitely to understand their position.
– The Bill does not say so.
– The present posi- tion is that the Minister of Trade and Custors can, as he has done, fix the rates of wages and hours.
– The Minister has said in another place that he has not that power.
– The honorable senator knows that he exercised that power on the 13th August last.
– He did so pending an appeal to the Arbitration Court.
– What is the difference between this Bill and the power which the Minister has under the existing law?
– Under the existing law, after the cane has been brought to the mill, manufactured, and refined, and the work, so far as the grower is concerned, is completed, he makes application for the bounty payable under the law, and the Minister may, after all the work has been done, withhold the bounty if he is satisfied that proper industrial conditions have not been complied with. We wish to let the grower know before his work commences what conditions he will have to observe, and it is with that object that this Bill has been introduced. It is in order that the Minister may obtain from a properly constituted Court a declaration as to what, in the opinion of the Court, are fair and reasonable wages and conditions. Having thatdeclaration before them, the growers will know what they will have to observe, the workmen will know what they will receive, and the bounty will be paid without demur, to those entitled to it.
– I am glad to have brought the Minister back to the Bill.
– So much has beensaid apart from the Bill that I was led to discuss one or two other matters. I have explained the object of the Bill, and, with Senator Symon, I say that, instead of beingopposed by honorable senators, it shouldreceive their unanimous support, because it is far better that the power which the Minister holds to-day, and has exercised, according to some honorable senators, in a manner not beneficial to the industry, should be taken out of his hands and vested in a properly constituted Court. I trust that the measure will be carried without further opposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment ; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 26th July (vide page 1339),on motion by Senator McGregor -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– I think that the Government are to be commended for bringing in this Bill, because its enactment will be a distinct gain to the Commonwealth. In the British Copyright Act it is recognised that that Act in its entirety may not be applicable to local conditions in the self-governing Dominions, and therefore section 25 provides for alterations being made in case of the Act being adopted by any of those Dominions. It reads as follows : - (1.) This Act, except such of the provisions thereof as are expressly restricted to the United Kingdom, shall extend throughout His Majesty’s dominions : Provided that it shall not extend to a self-governing dominion, unless declared by the Legislature of that dominion to be in force therein either without any modifications or additions, or with such modifications and additions relating exclusively to procedure and remedies, or necessary to adapt this Act to the circumstances of the dominion, as may be enacted by such Legislature.
This Bill is intended, of course, to make such modifications as will make the British Act suitable to our own circumstances. It can be recognised at once from its framework that the British Act is not entirely applicable to the self-governing Dominions. I do not think that sufficient consideration has been given to the fact that large numbers of copyright works produced originally in Great Britain are circulated in selfgoverning Dominions such as Australia. The practice is for the buyers representing local houses to purchase works in London and ship them to Australia for sale. For instance, if the author of a work produced in Great Britain were given by the Act an indivisible copyright for the whole of the British Empire, Australian buyers would be at no disadvantage seeing that they would pay the royalty when they bought the work in London, and that such payment would frank the work over the whole of the Empire. We have to recognise that the copyright granted by the British Act is not indivisible, but may be the subject of partial assignment. For instance, the author of a popular song may assign the Australian copyright to A, the Canadian copyright to B, the New Zealand copyright to C, and so on, while retaining for himself the British copyright. The effect of this provision, if not modified, would be that if a local house ordered 1,000 copies of a song from the publisher in London, and paid the required royalty there, he might find, when the consignment arrived in Australia, that the author had made a partial assignment of the Australian copyright, and the owner of the local copyright might prevent the sale of the copies purchased in England, or , possibly, exact a large royalty. I think that this result has been unlocked for, but it would arise from the adoption of the British Act. That is emphasized, I think, by clause 10 of our Bill, because it provides - (1.) Copies made out of the Commonwealth of any work in which copyright subsists which if made in the Commonwealthwould infringe copyright, and as to which the owner of the copyright gives notice in writing by himself or his agent to the Comptroller-General of Customs, that he is desirous that such copies should not be imported into the Commonwealth, shall not be so imported and shall, subject to the provisions of this section, be deemed to be prohibited imports within the meaning of the Customs Act 1901-1910.
The result of that provision, it seems to me, is to practically give a monopoly to a man who chooses to buy the copyright of a song, so far as Australia is concerned. Take, for example, the importer of 1,000 copies of a popular song. When his consignment reaches Australia, he may find that he can not get delivery through the Customs, and the song will be destroyed as a prohibited import. I do not think it was intended by the amendment of the Copyright Act to create in any way a monopoly. It seems clear that it was intended to prevent pirated goods being introduced into the British Dominions ; for instance, to prevent well known songs, or records thereof, being produced or made in some country where no copyright law existed and brought into the British Dominions in derogation of the rights of the owner of the copyright, and the fact of a partial assignment in. the
Dominions themselves appears altogether to have been overlooked. If some modification is not made to adapt the British Act to the Commonwealth, an opportunity will be offered to persons in the music trade to practically corner the sale of popular music here. As soon as a musical piece has achieved a popular hit in London, a local firm will probably buy, for a small sum, the Australian copyright, and so prevent the sale of that piece in Australia except through that firm, which, of course, in some circumstances, can exact whatever terms it likes. I should like the Vice-President of the Executive Council to consider my suggestion, because it would be a very serious thing, especially with regard to records for gramaphones and instruments of that sort, not to make some modification of the provision in the British Act. I have circulated in print one or two amendments which, I think, may very well be inserted in this Bill. Sub-clause 6 of clause 10 reads -
This section shall have effect as the necessary modification of section 14 of the British Copyright Act.
To that provision I desire to add these words - but shall not apply to copies which have been purchased or made in some other part of His Majesty’s dominions to which this Act extends without infringement of the rights of the owner of the copyright there.
I think that if a royalty is paid by a man in London, he should not be called upon to pay a second royalty when the work comes here. On page 4 of the Bill some remedies are provided, but these are summary only. No such thing as a civil remedy is provided, and, therefore, I shall ask the Minister to agree to the addition of the following subclause to clause 14 - (4). In any civil proceedings for infringement of copyright or in any summary proceedings under this Act, or the British Copyright Act, in Australia in respect of the sale of any copies of any musical work or of any records perforated rolls or other contrivances by means of which sounds may be mechanically reproduced it shall be a complete defence if the defendant shall prove that the alleged infringing articles were purchased or made in some other part of His Majesty’s dominions to which this Act extends without infringement of the rights of the owner of the copyright there.
That provision, I think, will protect all parties. Taken on the whole, this is a very good Bill. It is quite right to bring our law into line with the British Act, and it will be an advantage to make the two amendments which I have circulated. That would prevent a person from creating a monopoly with regard to a work, and compelling people to pay a great deal more than they ought to be asked to pay. Without these alterations, a man might purchase the copy* right of a certain piece, with the express purpose of preventing it from being introduced here at all. If he did not want it to come into competition with something else, he could prevent the public from having the advantage of listening to a piece, however much they might desire to do so. For this reason, while I support the second reading of the Bill, I hope the Minister will see his way to accept the amendments I have circulated. I believe that if they are made they will certainly improve the measure.
– Not having had the opportunity of hearing the Vice-President of the Executive Council move the second reading of this Bill, I carefully read the official record of his speech, and I take this opportunity of congratulating him upon having taken a very comprehensive view of the whole subject of copyright, and of having endeavoured to express, and, to a large extent, successfully express, his sentiments with regard to the necessity for the Commonwealth bringing itself into line with other countries in this most important subject. We have to realize that copyright legislation affects, not merely publishers, printers, and authors, but readers. It may be assumed that in these days of universal education copyright legislation affects the whole community. As a matter of fact, this Bill is intended to harmonize our legislation with the Imperial legislation. I do not think that I am far wrong in saying that Imperial legislation on the subject of copyright, looked for and desired so far back as the seventies, never became, and was not likely to become a substantial fact until some portion of the British Empire had led the way. I think I am not far wrong in saying that in 1905 Australia led the way so far as legislation on the subject of copyright is concerned. Our Copyright Act of that year was utilized in Canada and in the United Kingdom when legislation was contemplated in relation to the matters which are therein dealt with. For the first time in English-speaking communities one Act recognised those rights which are ordinarily summed up in the term “ copyright.” We practically codified the law on that subject. We added to the existing, law certain provisions to meet, not the particular exigencies of t$ie time, but the peculiar circumstances that had arisen independently of, and apart from, any judicial decisions that had been given, and any legislation which had been enacted. In other words we brought our copyright legislation up-to-date. We attempted to realize the possibilities which might be offered to individuals to exploit: a certainfield to the detriment of one whose right in a particular production should be- protected. We made provision for what may be called personal injunctions.. Perhaps, the phrase is a new one, but I think the Copyright Act of 1905 introduced for the first time the new principle of what may.be called the “ personal injunction “ - that is to say, an injunction restraining an individual from producing a certain work if some other person considered that his interests would thereby be affected. Every honorable senator knows what an injunction is. It is an order issued by one of the highest Courts in the land to restrain an individual, or a company, or a certain definite entity from following a particular course of action. In our Copyright Act we went beyond that. We realized that a particular individual might be hampered considerably in his application to our Courts of justice for the purpose of preventing others from infringing the right which he was entitled to enjoy. We were making precedents for the world, and for the first time we established by legislation the right of an individual who believed ‘that he was likely to be prejudicially affected in a monetary sense, to come forward and “ injunct “ - if I may alter the phrase - any other person from utilizing the result of his brains to his detriment and disadvantage. Since 1905 the attention of the Imperial authorities has been directed to the necessity which exists for enacting something like systematic legislation on the subject of copyright. The Vice-President of the Executive Council in addressing honorable senators upon this subject referred to the number of legislative enactments which cover the matters dealt with by copyright in the United Kingdom. The number is alarming even to any lawyer. It is a very difficult matter, indeed, for anybody, under the most favorable circumstances, to ascertain how an individual stands in regard to his rights in any matter relating to copyright. Tn 1905 we attempted practically to codify the law in relation to copyright. Our attempts, however successful they may have been - and I believe that they have been very success ful in Australia - have induced the Imperial authorities to recognise that so far as they are concerned it is necessary that the copyright law should be made more clear, more intelligible, and more uniformthroughout the whole English-speaking world. The British Act contains provision for its adoption by any of the British Dominions or Dependencies. It provides for a modification of any of its provisions, or for an addition to them, to enable the local authorities to better administer their law of copyright, but only in relation toremedies and to certain matters of procedure for the punishment of offences. The general principles of copyright laware laid down in that Act, and it is competent for any British Dominion either to accept the Act, or to ignore it, or te* accept it with such modifications as, in the opinion of its representative body, or of its: Legislature in the case of a Dependency, are necessary to enable it to administer the law in regard to penalties and procedure. I indorse the action of the Government ir* adopting the British Act. We must recognise that when that Act was passed by the Imperial Parliament it was not to become law until a certain date. In other words, it was to come into operation on a day tobe proclaimed, namely, the 1st July last. It will scarcely be realized that any person in Australia who, since the 1st July- last, has produced a. book has had no copyright of it outside the copyright which is-, given to him by our Copyright Act of 1905. Previous to that date the Imperial Act extended to the author or publisher of any work in any of His Majesty’s Dominions a copyright throughout those Dominions. I repeat that any work which hasbeen published in Australia since 1st July last has enjoyed no copyright, except that’ which is given to it under our own Copyright Act.
– Then the sooner we pass this Bill, the better.
– Yes. We should adopt it as early as possible.
– We are in a worse position than we were previously.
– Unless Australianwriters have been very lax, I do not think that there is very much to complain about.. But the sooner we pass certain simple provisions taken from the British Act, the better it will be for the protection of our ownwriters. Having said that, I think no” person can accuse me of taking up a hostileattitude towards the British measure. But T rather regret that we have to adopt this Bill for one reason - because of the form of its draftsmanship. We all know that it is customary to attribute to a young country a little bit of unnecessary pride in its own performances ; but, allowing for that, I say without hesitation that if we had had to draft a similar measure in Australia we would have done it very much better. Our Act, I venture to say, is, to those interested in its operation, at least intelligible. On the other hand, to those who are interested in its operation, and to those who may be called upon to interpret it, the English Act that we are about to adopt is not always intelligible. I have experienced the greatest difficulty in interpreting some of its provisions, and possibly some of my learned friends on this side of the chamber have encountered the same trouble. The terms of the English Act, which we are bound to adopt, are totally different from the terms which we are accustomed to employ in Australia. In other words, th’at Act is what we would call out of date. Practically it is unintelligible to the ordinary person. It is drafted in such a way that it is impossible for a layman to follow it. As an illustration, let me read subclause 2 of clause 13 -
Where a person has before the commencement of this Act taken any action whereby he has incurred any expenditure or liability in connexion with the reproduction of any musical, dramatic, or artistic (work in a manner which at the time was lawful, or for the purpose of or with a view to the reproduction of any such work at a time when such reproduction would, but for this Act, have been lawful, nothing in this section shall diminish or prejudice any rights or interest arising from or in connexion with such action which are subsisting and valuable at the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and twelve., unless the person who, by virtue of this section, becomes entitled to restrain such reproduction, agrees to pay such compensation as, failing agreement, may be determined by arbitration.
I venture to say that some of our latest admitted barristers and solicitors would have been capable of drafting that clause in a much more lucid way. This is the only regret which I have to express in connexion with the adoption of the English measure. I could quote other clauses which are far worse in respect to draftsmanship. The Government are not in the least degree blamable, because the Imperial authorities have simply laid down this law, and it is at the option of the Dependencies to adopt it or do otherwise. The Commonwealth Government have determined to adopt it, and we must take it with its faults of draftsmanship upon it. But I can honestly assure honorable senators that when the measure becomes law the legal profession are likely to be benefited to a far greater extent than was the case under the Act which we ourselves adopted. If one takes the trouble to look through the digest of the Commonwealth Law Reports in connexion with the copyright law of Australia, it will be found that very few cases have arisen under it. The language of the law is perfectly clear. It is lucid. It has been accepted. It has been acted upon. There has been no difficulty. But with all the complications that we are now introducing, I am a little afraid that the Commonwealth copyright law will not be so comprehensible to the ordinary citizen or to the individuals concerned in the matter as it has hitherto been. We shall, of course, have the advantage of the decisions given under a corresponding Act in England. That is a very real advantage. We do not have it in connexion with our own legislation. We have to wait for decisions of our own Courts, and there may be very few cases, comparatively speaking, in the Commonwealth. We shall also have the advantage of the business experience of people at Home who have been working under the English Act. Certainly those are advantages which must be properly estimated. The only disadvantages that I can see are that people will find in the future that the copyright law under which they have to work is a little less intelligible than hitherto. It may be said, “All the better for the lawyers.” Well, I do not know. The position will be that the individuals interested will not be able to understand the law as easily as they can understand it at present. At the same time, we must recognise that there is no alternative. We have either to adopt this Imperial enactment, bringing ourselves into line with all other countries that are in the International Copyright Union, or else we must work copyright under our own legislation. It is of no use attempting to say that we can do so. If we are going to impose conditions with respect to copyright which are not recognised by the International Copyright Union, we shall be setting ourselves up as different from nearly every other civilized nation in the world. It should be our desire to come into line with them.
– Does the honorable senator contend that all countries except Australia have identical copyright laws?
– This is the first attempt to approximate to a uniform copyright law.
– Is it the honorable senator’s contention that the copyright laws of all nations are pretty well identical ?
– That is the case with practically all European countries, but it is not the case with the United States and Canada, which have remained out of the International Copyright Union.
– Suppose it were found necessary to amend this measure afterwards, would the proposed amendment have to be submitted to the Union first?
– Only upon questions of international recognition. The main object is to prevent piracy between one country and another. The main basis of the existence of the International Copyright Union is to prevent piracy. At the present time Canada and the United States, which stand out of the Union, have been fields for wonderful activity on the part of pirates. Copyright involves the right not merely of reprinting original works, but of translating them under certain conditions ; and European authors find that their works are reprinted and translated in the United States and Canada without their permission. Amongst the provisions of this Bill is one giving the Minister power to authorize the translation of a work from any particular language. At present Continental writers, men of standing, talent, and experience, find that their works are sometimes translated in America, and then turned back into their own markets after recrossing the Atlantic. This practice operates to their detriment.
– Pirated works can be sent from the United States to Australia now.
– There is a provision in this Bill to prevent the importation of pirated works. I think that if the Minister of Trade and Customs administers his Department carefully he will prevent the importation of pirated works.
– He will treat them as prohibited imports.
– I noted quite recently with surprise, according to a statement in Tasmanian newspapers, that the Minister of Trade and Customs decided that the writings of Guy de Maupassant should not be allowed to be imported into Australia. Afterwards, I understand, he allowed them to come in as long as they were imported for the use of students.
– As long as we have a Review of Reviews published in Australia and another magazine of the same kind published in England, I do not see how we can take exception to other countries doing likewise; because that magazine is a piece of glaring piracy from cover to cover.
– Having read a considerable number of the short stories of Guy de Maupassant, both in” the original and in English, I was surprised to learn that the Minister of Trade and Customs had determined to act as a censor in regard to them whilst he did not repress the works of an English writer like Eleanor Glynn and others of that kind.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Can the honorable senator tell us the names of their books?
– I am referring to Three Weeks, Five Days, and books like that.
– Does the honorable senator recommend those books?
– I should not mind recommending them for repression. I was asked how we can prevent the importation of pirated works published in the United States. There are provisions in this Bill enabling the Minister to prevent their importation. I entirely indorse the provision that the term of copyright should be for the period of the life of the author and fifty years afterwards. The period in the present Copyright Act is too short. Honorable senators will remember that when we were passing that measure in 1905 the Government of the day wished to give a longer term of copyright to authors. Another provision to which attention may be called is one giving statutory effect to the principle that copyright in unpublished manuscripts rests in the writer. It may be remembered that at that time we had a very long argument on clause 5 of the Bill, when Senator Symon rather ridiculed the idea that there should be introduced into it a statement of the common law of England as applicable to manuscripts. Under the English Act now in force, that common law right is recognised. It is made a statutory right that the common law of England should apply. I remember that a very heated debate took place here one evening in connexion with this matter, and it was only terminated by the tact of the Chairman of Committees. On that occasion the argument was as to whether it was necessary to set out in legislative form that the common law of England with regard to certain subjects should be applicable throughout the Commonwealth. I had the opportunity at that time of giving to the Senate the benefit of the views of Mr. Justice Clarke. He pointed out that the common law did not necessarily apply throughout the Commonwealth, although it might apply throughout the States, and the necessity for a particular legislative enactment of the common law was open to question. However, it is to be distinctly defined that the rights of an individual writer in his manuscript are to be conserved to him. That is to be made absolutely plain, definite, and binding. That has been one of the difficulties in connexion with copyright legislation for a number of years, because of the fact that copyright law, as a rule, does not operate until a writer begins to multiply or produce copies of his work. So far as rights in the original manuscript were concerned, copyright law did not touch them. That was the reason why we had, in the original Act of 1905, a provision that the common law of England with regard to unpublished manuscripts should be applicable throughout the Commonweal tn. The common law of England had only been decided in certain cases. It was that unpublished manuscripts should belong to the writers, or to their relatives if they were deceased, and that they were personal property of such a character as to be free from any obligations to which personal property of other kinds is subject in case of the death of the owner. This Bill, I am happy to say, lays down, as a matter of positive legislative enactment, that provision and principle with regard to unpublished literary manuscripts.
– Suppose a man writes a play and submits it to a theatrical manager, is there anything to prevent the manager practically taking possession of it, as I understand is often done today ?
– That is not a matter of copyright at all; it is a matter of the contractual relations between the writer and the manager.
– Writers of plays have submitted their manuscripts to managers, who have appropriated them without payment.
– If the writer of a play were fo forward his script to a manager, and the manager were to turn out a play without reference to the writer, and it could be proved to the satisfaction of a Court that it was substantially identical with the manuscript furnished to him, the Court would at once recognise that the writer of the play furnished the manager with the material, and would establish his right to such profits and interests as he might be entitled to. A manager could not pirate a play-writer’s manuscript so long as it could be proved that the play produced was substantially identical with the manuscript.
– Then there is no need of copyright if damages can be recovered without it.
– That would be only under the Statute, and there is need for copyright. I mentioned just now the common law of England with regard to literary manuscripts. The distinction between copyright and proprietorship arises when one begins to publish. A writer may hold a number of writings of his own. They are his own property, but if he chooses to publish them, at that moment they become the subject of copyright law. If he does not publish them, and subsequently leaves the country or dies, his right in his unpublished literary manuscripts does not come within the domain of copyright law ordinarily. But this Bill makes provision to cover that case, and that is why I congratulate the Government upon its introduction. It provides for the protection of those interested in or responsible for writings, and the Government have very wisely, in my opinion, introduced these provisions. Another matter has reference to the development which has taken place since we passed the Copyright Act of 1905 in connexion with mechanical reproduction, in the case of views by the cinematograph, and in the case of musical productions by the gramaphone. The person who produces anything in the nature of music or a song looks naturally for protection from the country in which he resides. As a matter of fact, he gets it, so far as the publication of the score is concerned. No one can republish the score. Any honorable senator walking down the street will see music exhibited in windows inscribed “Copyright.” “Song by so-and-so.”
– Copyright is granted in many cases for mere imitation.
– That may be.
– Is it not possible to so amend this Bill as to prevent the copyright of mere imitations, or to prevent; a writer using a title which he has no right to use?
– There is a copyright in book and title.
– Suppose Senator St. Ledger publishes a book entitled “ Australian Socialism,” and that the book is about anti-Socialism, how is it possible to guard against a misnomer of that description?
– The honorable senator might perhaps leave it to Senator St. Ledger to enforce his copyright.
– The matter is important. People reading the title of the book may be led to believe that it deals with Australian Socialism-, when it is a book on anti-Socialism.
– After these very interesting observations I expect to see some amendments proposed to the Bill by Senator de Largie. When they are put into print I am sure that honorable senators on both sides will give them consideration. I am glad that the Government have been good enough to retain in this Bill, allied with the measure they have introduced, the provisions I referred to in the nature of personal injunctions. I refer particularly to clauses 15, 16, and 17 of the Bill, under which the owner of a theatre is liable to be injuncted, if I may use the term, from allowing his theatre to be used for the production of anything in the nature of a piracy of a particular work. Honorable senators will see that the marginal note to clause 15 reads, “ Penalty for permitting unauthorized performances in theatres.” I am glad to see that, notwithstanding the fact that the Government have adopted the English Act almost in its entirety, they still adhere to these particular provisions which, as I said in the earlier part of my remarks, are peculiarly Australian. They have been admired and recognised throughout the whole world as affording individuals an opportunity to secure redress instantly which they would not be able or entitled to get from any other part of the world. When in other places recourse has been had to the Courts in such cases they are found powerless to give redress, because the offenders have left the jurisdiction of the Court. ‘ Attention might be drawn to the importation of copies of works. Senator Vardon has already referred to the matter at some length, and it is not necessary that I should elaborate it. I hope that the VicePresident of the Executive Council realizes the difficulties presented in connexion with the matter. I feel sure that there is no intention on the part of any honorable senator who wishes to secure an amendment of the Bill to in any way interfere with its efficiency. The only object will be to strengthen it, and make it more purposeful in the interests of the ideal and policy of the Government and people of Australia. I earnestly hope that consideration will be given to the particular amendment to be proposed by Senator Vardon in connexion with the matter to which I have referred. Another matter that calls for attention is the question of reciprocity with other countries. I have already said that without the intervention of Great Britain it would be impossible for us to secure reciprocal relations with other countries, the necessity for which is growing every day. We are faced with two alternatives. Are we to adopt this measure or not? If we do not adopt it we shall be in the peculiar position of having a very clear, intelligible, up-to-date, and logical copyright code, but applicable only to Australia itself. If we adopt this measure, with the provisions the Government have added to it, we shall have a Bill which will give us at leastrecognition practically in every civilized country in the world, with ‘the exception of the United States of America, where they have chosen for reasons of their own to follow their own path ; we shall adopt a principle which will enable our writers and our people to avail themselves of every advantage in literature, not only within our own country, but also in those countries which have this reciprocal arrangement with us, and, at the same time, we shall be able to take advantage of every arrangement which Great Britain may make with any other Power that is not at present a party to the International Copyright Convention. We shall lose nothing, so far as our writers are concerned. If we hold aloof, the Australian writer will remain in. the peculiar position in which he stands at present. If he has written anything since 1st July, when the British Act came into operation, his copyright exists only throughout the Commonwealth. Anybody can pirate it in New Zealand, England, and any of the countries that are parties to the International Copyright Convention. If we adopt the measure, with these precautions, then, I think, with one or two necessary amendments, we shall stand in exactly the same position as Great Britain. We shall have every advantage that it enjoys. We shall lose nothing, and we shall have the opportunity of extending our reciprocity, should the opportunity be afforded to Great Britain, with our brothers in Canada and the people of the United States. Everybody who has followed this subject knows that, with Canada, it has not been a matter of domestic policy at all. It has been absolutely a matter of immediate contiguousness to the United States. Because the latter country has refused to come into the International Copyright Union, and because of the capacity it has for flooding Canada with publications and re-publications of copyright works, Canada has found that it would be impossible to stand up to an Imperial Copyright Act without keeping upon its borders practically a line of men to observe the introduction of books. As a matter of practical experience, Canada has found herself in the peculiar position that, though it would like very much to be in the International Copyright Union,’ its geographical situation has prevented it from doing so.
– What about the position of the United States?
– -I have just stated that that country has deliberately stood out of the International Copyright Union.
– And it seems to nourish by standing out.
– Many of the publishers do give something to the copyright holders.
– Perhaps the greatest country to-day for publications is the United States.
– That may be ; but if the honorable senator agrees with the policy of the United States in this matter, I may tell him that the highest and the best authorities on copyright in that country Copinger and other American authorities - absolutely discountenance that position. If my honorable friend thinks that it is the best position, he is perfectly free to vote against this Bill, and to take up the opposite view. I regret very much that we are not able to make certain provisions which I should like to see. I certainly think that, in the present conditions, the Government are doing very well in making the provisions they have made for adopting the Imperial Act, and getting for Australia the benefit of the International Copyright Convention, and our own special provisions in clauses 15, 16, and 17. I believe that if we adopt the Imperial Act, with the additions and the modifications contained in this measure, subject to one or two amendments of a minor character, Australia will stand out conspicuous to the world as the foremost nation in the domain of copyright legislation.
– I have very much pleasure in indorsing many of the remarks made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council in introducing this measure, and subsequent criticisms on it. There is no doubt that the Bill is going to achieve, at any rate, the main objects which are highly desirable; one is the uniformity of copyright with the Imperial Act, and the other is the reciprocity of rights between all those countries which are parties to the Berlin Convention. Another thing which is equally important is that authors are at last coming into their rights. There is no doubt that, in the past, publishers as a rule have had - there are honorable exceptions, of course - much the better of copyright legislation. Authors have materially suffered in the past, and are now being properly and materially protected by this legislation. So far as this scandal with regard to authors had gone, in the United Kingdom, a celebrated author, I think it was Johnson, parodied a line of Scripture with this very apt remark, “ Now there was a publisher, and his name was Barabbas.” That feeling has disappeared, and I congratulate the Government for assisting in both these directions. It is most extraordinary that it should ever have been considered that while the rights in real and personal property should subsist practically for all time, there was a doubt about giving to authors, so far as their works were concerned, anything like a right in property at all. Sergeant Talfourd began the battle in the House of Commons seventy odd years ago when he proposed, at last, to give to authors the right of copyright for sixty years. Unfortunately, Macaulay stood up in that House and for some reason or other which neither Macaulay nor anybody else was able to explain, he put in the period of forty years. That is the origin of the forty years’ right for an author after his death. I make this interpolation to show how this legislation is thrown back upon itself. In this Bill we have come back, as regards the term of the right of copyright, to Sergeant Talfourd of seventy odd years ago. The measure which we are asked to adopt was carefully considered in the House of Commons after conferences at Berne and Berlin. It was introduced early last year by the President of the Board of Trade, Mr. Sydney Buxton, who made one or two remarks which I think may be useful in Committee in case of any fears about the general effect of the Bill. First, Mr. Buxton pointed out that the countries subject to this legislation were Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland, and so on. He mentioned that our representatives at the Conference of 1910 had stated their views, and that those views had been considered very carefully. In moving the second reading of the Bill he used these words -
The House will recognise that as far as the Dominions are concerned we have taken them into our confidence, and they have arrived at a more or less unanimous arrangement. Our first desire was unanimous that the Berlin Convention should be ratified with as few modifications as possible, thus combining national with Imperial uniformity, that there should be as much uniformity of copyright law throughout the Empire as possible…… Any self-governing
Dominions who desired could either adopt the Act in its entirety or adopt it in substantially identical terms subject to modifications and additions relating principally to procedure and remedies or necessary to adopt the Act to the particular circumstances of the Dominion, and such a Dominion would then come under the general operations of the Act.” …” The basis of the Imperial Conference and a Bill founded on its deliberations is that while we leave to the self-governing Dominions liberty to legislate for themselves, we offer to them the greatest possible inducements to accept the Imperial Act as a model, and to differ from it as little as possible by offering reciprocal advantages.”
Further on he said -
The House will see that the Berlin Convention, by proposing uniformity of treatment in regard to this question of copyright, necessarily involves alteration in the laws of respective countries. Every other union country has already before the Berlin Convention and certainly since brought its laws into harmony on most points with the Berlin suggestions, but we ourselves have not done so.
That was the reason why the Imperial Parliament passed the measure which we are now asked to adopt, with certain modifications. I notice that in section 3 the Imperial Act attempts to give, and 1 think it will succeed in giving, to authors a valuable right. It provides that if, after a certain number of years, their works are being published, they may make an arrangement with the publishers to get the royalties which are accruing. That is an excellent provision. If we had had such a law in existence long ago the greatest and most famous of all our authors, Marcus Clarke, and his relatives, would have derived a handsome income. It has been from the want of such a provision that our authors, especially Marcus Clarke, have been robbed, in some respects, of their property. On the whole, I heartily agree with the Bill. Some amendments may be found necessary when we get into Committee.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 -
In the application of the British Copyright Act to the Commonwealth -
the reference in section four to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council shall be read as a reference to the High Court or a Justice thereof ;
– I move -
That paragraph (i) be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following new paragraph . -
the reference in sub-section (4) of section nineteen to arbitration shall be read as a reference to arbitration under the law of the State or territory in which the dispute occurs, and the reference in sub-section (6) of that section to the Board of Trade shall be read as a reference to the Governor-General;”
The Department considers that the amendment will have the effect of bringing the Bill more into conformity with the British Act.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause also verbally and consequentially amended and agreed to.
Clause 10 - (i.) Copies made out of the Commonwealth of any work in which copyright subsists which if made in the Commonwealth would infringe copyright, and as to which the owner of the copyright gives notice in writing by himself or his agent to the Comptroller-General of Customs that he is desirous that such copies should not be imported into the Commonwealth, shall not be so imported and shall, subject to the provisions of this section, be deemed to be prohibited imports within the meaning of the Customs Act 1901-1910. (6.) This section shall have effect as the necessary modification of section fourteen of the British Copyright Act.
.- On behalf of Senator Vardon, I move -
That at the end of sub-clause (6) the following words be added : - “ but shall not apply to copies which have been purchased or made in some other part of
His Majesty’s dominions to -which this Act extends without infringement of the rights of the owner of, the copyright there.”
– The honorable senator wishes to admit such copies to the Commonwealth ?
– Where there has been no infringement.
– And thus defeat the object of the Bill.
– In what respect?
– A man might go to another country, purchase a copy there, and bring it into the Commonwealth. It should be kept out, I say.
– I really begin to totter in my belief that the Vice-President of the Executive Council understands the Bill with which he is dealing. As a matter of fact copyright in these things rests entirely on their copyright outside of Australia. Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council deny that? Copyright in Australia depends upon . copyright derived abroad. Here we are adopting an Imperial Act which may be applied throughout the whole of the British Dominions, and we are solemnly told by the Vice-President of the Executive Council that we will defeat its object because these copies will not conform to the requirements of copyright in Australia. What are the peculiar provisions in this Bill that will be defeated ? Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council answer that question ? I have no objection to the honorable senator consulting the officers behind him.
– The honorable senator himself was guilty of consulting persons behind him when he occupied a seat on the Ministerial benches.
– If the honorable senator thinks it is guilt, I have no objection to the Vice-President doing the same. What are the peculiar conditions in Australia that would be defeated by the insertion of this amendment?
– I have answered that question already. The honorable senator is supporting an amendment that provides that if a work is purchased in some country where copyright is not infringed, it can be brought into the Commonwealth by any individual, and our law of copyright shall not apply to it.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council cannot have read the amendment, or he has not understood it.. It simply provides that this clause shall not apply to copies made or purchased in some other part of His Majesty’s Dominions to which this measure extends.
– In Canada, for instance.
– No, because this measure does not extend to Canada. Does the Vice-President of the Executive Council mean to say that there is some part of His Majesty’s Dominions to which this measure extends in which persons might infringe the rights of the owner of a copyright?
– It may be that the copyright law in some parts of the British Dominions will not be as stringent as our own law.
– Can the VicePresident of the Executive Council show me how in any portion of His Majesty’s Dominions wherein this measure is applicable, it would be competent for anybody to provide copies of the character to which he has just referred ? Australia is a growing country, and one which to a large extent must for some years necessarily depend for the supply of many things that are copyrighted on other countries.
– Is it not possible that a work might be granted copyright in another British Possession, though it would infringe our own copyright law?
– That cannot be the case in a part of the British Dominions “ to which this Act extends.” The main provision of this measure is that it is a British enactment in the first instance. Any Dominion can adopt it, with certain modifications as to practice and procedure. The measure is not applicable in Canada unless Canada chooses to adopt it. If Canada did not adopt it, this amendment would not be applicable. But if Canada did adopt it, works copyright in Canada would be governed by this clause.
– The Act might be adopted in Canada by Order in Council.
– In certain circumstances; but surely the honorable senator does not think that the adoption of the British Copyright Act by Order in Council in Canada would make it less operative than if it were passed by the Dominion Legislature.
– Does the honorable senator hold that it is impossible to register a copyright work in any British Dominion that would infringe copyright registered in Australia? He will need to sustain that proposition in order to maintain the case for his amendment.
– I am not here to give legal advice.
– The honorable senator is here as a senator.
– Yes, and I say that, as far as this amendment is concerned, it would merely make our position in Australia such that the prohibition of importation of copies would not apply to those purchased or made in any portion of His Majesty’s Dominions to which this measure is applicable.
– Does that make it applicable to Canada?
– No, it does not. The position asked for in the amendment is that the particular provision with regard to the importation of copies shall not be applicable to copies that come from any part of His Majesty’s Dominions to which this measure applies ; and if honorable senators will carefully read through the clause they will find that, unless the amendment be adopted, we may be shutting out importations from Great Britain itself. If the Government like to do that, the responsibility is theirs.
– A phase of the question that does not appear to have struck Senator Keating is this : A copyright Bill is a technical business from beginning to end, and looselydrafted amendments are likely to cause a great deal of trouble in the future to those who have to do with copyright. Suppose this amendment were carried, and the owner of a copyright in Canada assigned it to a person in New Zealand. Suppose that the work - it might be a book - was no infringement of the copyright law of New Zealand, and only circulated in that country under an assignment by the original owner. If this amendment were carried, the person in New Zealand could send copies into Australia, where he should have no right to send them.We do not want any business of that description to eventuate in the Commonwealth. I may also point out that, under the British Copyright Act, with respect to works published in countries outside the Copyright Union, the very same words exist as are adopted in this clause. I hope that honorable senators will not accept the amendment.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I do not propose to move any amendment upon the clause, but I should like to have a little information from the Minister in charge of the Bill. The clause sets out that a work that is copyrighted in another Dominion, and which is an infringement of a work copyrighted here, may not be imported if the owner of the copyright here goes to the Comptroller of Customs and says that he desires that the infringement of his copyright should be kept out of the Commonwealth.
– In other words, as it stands, this is a big blackmailing clause.
– It appears to me that the owner of a work copyrighted here is to be the sole judge of whether a work which it is sought to import is an infringement of his copyright. If he desires that the work, which he says is an infringement, should be kept out, it is kept out, and there is no more about it. I wish to be sure that under this Bill a person introducing copies of a work copyrighted in another Dominion will be given a fair opportunity if he is challenged to show that it is not an infringement of a work copyrighted in Australia.
– If the honorable senator will read sub-clause 2 of the clause he will find that everything he desires is provided for.
– The sub-clause to which 1 am referred reads -
Before detaining any such copy or taking any further proceedings with a view to the forfeiture thereof, the Comptroller-General of Customs or the Collector of Customs for the State may require the regulations under this section, whether as to information, conditions, or other matters, to be complied with, and may satisfy himself in accordance with those regulations that the copies are such as are prohibited by this section to be imported.
– So that the owner of a copyrighted work here is not to be the sole judge of whether an imported work is an infringement of his copyright.
– I see that the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs is given authority to make inquiries which he may or may not avail himself of. I considered that the clause might enable an unscrupulous person to prevent the introduction of copies of a work which did not infringe his copyright by merely asserting that it did infringe it. I wished only to be sure that the clause provided a safeguard against such a thing, and the information supplied appears to me to be satisfactory.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses n to 21 agreed to.
Clause 22 -
There shall be for the purposes of this Act an office called the Copyright Office.
– The Government are piling up new offices and Departments from time to time, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council might on this clause give the Committee some information as to what it is believed the Copyright Office which is to be established will cost, and what staff will be required in connexion with it.
– I could not, without notice, answer a question of that kind. I do not know what the office will cost. But I may inform the honorable senator that there is in existence at the present time an office for registering copyrights.
– What does that office cost?
– I could not tell the honorable senator. If he asks the question to-morrow I shall give him the information.
– Before the Bill is reported ?
– Before it is finally dealt with. I do not anticipate that the establishment of this Copyright Office will involve much additional expenditure unless there should be a very great increase of copyright business. I think we may assume that in reference to copyright progress in Australia will be slow, as it has been in other countries. I do not think it- will be possible for honorable senators opposite to quote the establishment of a Copyright Office as an instance of Federal Labour extravagance.
– Might I, in the absence of an explanation by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, inform Senator Chataway in reply to his inquiry, that clause 22 of this Bill is simply a proposal to re-enact section 25 of our Copyright Act of 1905. On reading the Bill one would be led to believe that it is not so. A reference to the marginal note to the clause would lead to the belief that it is taken from section 10 of 1 and 2 Geo. V.
– So was the other.
– Will the honorable senator say that the marginal note to this clause is correct? If he will say that he will say anything.
– Does the honorable senator say that the Act of Geo. V. does not provide for a Copyright Office?
– I will say that this clause was not taken from that Act. It is a distinct adoption of section 25 of our Copyright Act of 1905. Honorable senators will find that the marginal references to clauses 23, 24, and 25 are also inaccurate. Instead of referring to the English enactment they should refer to the Australian enactment of 1905.
– Are they not in the English enactment?
– No. The honorable senator has only to turn to the schedule of this Bill, which contains the English enactment, to verify my statement. If he will look at section 10 of the English Act, which is attached as a schedule to this Bill, he will find that it reads -
An action in respect of infringement of copyright shall not be commenced after the expiration of three years next after the infringement.
It has no relation to the establishment of a Copyright Office at all. This is the kind of information that is dished out to the Senate. Senator Chataway has asked about the establishment of a Copyright Office, and I agree with the Vice-President of the Executive Council that there is no reason to anticipate increased expenditure in connexion with it. I wish to draw the attention of the Minister to the fact that on page 2 of the Bill we have the beginning of the marginal references, “ 1 and 2 Geo. 5,” chapter 46. That is the English enactment, which we ,are practically adopting bodily in this Bill. The only modifications that we make are with regard to procedure and remedies. Nobody takes any exception to clause 22 of the Bill. Senator Chataway merely inquired as to the establishment of a Copyright Office, and its probable cost, and the Minister gave what might be termed an evasive answer. He, with his colleagues, has been responsible for the circulation of this Bill Among members of both Houses, with a clause containing this marginal note, “ Copyright office, lb., s. 10.” One looks to the preceding clause, and finds this marginal note, “Cf. 1 and 2. Geo. 5, s. 9 (2).” To get the corresponding provision to clause 21 of the Bill, we turn to section 10 of the scheduled Act which we are adopting. What an idle performance ! What a want of knowledge ! Senator McGregor laughs. Am I to take his laugh as indicating the empty mind on the subject?
– You can take it as anything.
– On turning to the schedule, we find that section 10 of the British Act has no reference whatever to the subject-matter of clause 22 of this Bill. I venture to say that if the Minister chooses to look through the marginal references in the Bill, he will find that some of his officers, have been responsible for the circulation of the greatest amount of misinformation I have ever seen circulated with regard to any Bill submitted to either House of this Parliament.
– Of course, we must all bow to the superior knowledge of Senator Keating on a question of this description, and we are all very much obliged to him for discovering a slight mistake, not in the drafting of the Bill itself, but in connexion with the marginal notes. Every honorable senator knows that there is no necessity to amend marginal notes, because the Chairman of Committees, when his attention is called to a slight error of this description, is only too pleased to make the necessary correction. It appears that it will be necessary to omit “ section 10 “ from the marginal note to clause 22. The reference is to section 10 of our own Act of 1905. When that correc- tion is made in the marginal note, I do not think that any one will experience very great difficulty in understanding the provision. In fact, if it had passed as it is, the correction would have been made without much trouble.
– I do not see that the marginal note to this clause misleads the Committee in any serious way, because, when all is said and done, a marginal note does not explain any principle, but is merely a guide as to the origin of the clause to which it is attached. 0We must have an officer to administer new legislation, and this clause simply provides that there shall be a Copyright Office. Senator Keating has discovered a very small mistake, which can easily be remedied.
– I only quoted it as an instance of the casualness with which the whole measure has been handled.
– The error is so trifling that I do not think it was worth while to draw attention to it.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [8.51],- Senator de Largie may try to minimize the objection raised by Senator Keating-
– We are all very much obliged to him.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - I am glad to know that. I want honorable senators to realize that the value of a marginal note is in indicating that the provision to which it is attached has already been passed by the Imperial Parliament, or this Parliament, at an earlier date. But apparently some of the marginal notes in this Bill are worthless, because they are misleading.
– Clause 22 of this Bill is not related to section 10 of any Act, but to section 25 of our Act of 1905.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - That accentuates the way in which honorable senators are being misled by these marginal notes.
– Senator Keating has been misleading the honorable senator, because the clause relates to section 10 of our Act of 1905.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - That may be so. If marginal notes are correct, they are of very great assistance; but if they are incorrect, they are misleading to honorable senators who have not the time to look up the various Acts referred to, to prove their falsity and incorrectness. I think that the principal object of Senator Keating was to point out how necessary it is that an indication of this character should be reliable and not deceptive. _
– It is only an indication that honorable senators should be alert.
– As the marginal note is not part of the Bill it has not been the practice for the Committee to amend it, but any mistake may be corrected by the Chairman. Attention haying been called to the error in this marginal note, the error will be corrected.,
Clause agreed to.
Clause 23 (Registrar of Copyrights).
– May I draw the attention of the Chair to the fact that clauses 23, 24, and 25 are also margined erroneously, and that, instead of referring to provisions in ‘the English Act, they adopt provisions in our own Act of 1905?
– - I am informed that if the alterations already indicated have been made, these references will be quite correct.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 24 -
The Registrar of Copyrights shall have such powers and functions as are conferred upon him by this Act and the regulations.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [8.56].- On turning to clause 41, I find that -
The Governor-General may make regulations, not inconsistent with this Act, prescribing all matters which by this Act are required or permitted to be prescribed or which are necessary or convenient to be prescribed for giving effect to this Act or for the conduct of any business relating to the copyright office.
We are getting into a very careless system with regard to regulations. Very frequently regulations are laid before Parliament which really go far beyond the purposes of the Act under which they are made. I recognise that very often regulations are necessary for dealing with matters of detail, but I hope that the Minister will recognise that regulations should not be permitted - although they would be ultra vires if tested - to contain any matter which does not come fairly within the provisions of the Act. We are adopting, subject to certain modifications, the Copyright Act of Great Britain in its entirety, but no provision is made in that Act to enable regulations to be made concerning various matters. We, however, find it necessary to take power to deal with matters of detail by regulation. It is possible that not only the present Government, but preceding Governments, have been guilty of attempting to do much by means of regulations which ought to be done by Act of Parliament. This is really a matter which ought to be considered seriously.
– Do you contend that the British Act does not provide for the making of regulations?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD.- The British Act which is scheduled to this Bill contains no such provision. If it did, I would ask the Minister how far the regulations made under that Act would be binding upon us. Although the regulations made under an Act are laid before both Houses of Parliament, and it is open to any member of Parliament to object to a regulation, we nevertheless sometimes get saddled with provisions which really are not strictly in accord with the law under which they are made, but are acted upon until a decision of the Court is obtained. I hope that the Government will really take my remarks to heart, and see, not only in this case, but in every other case, that no attempt is made by regulations to introduce principles which differ from or override any of the principles which Parliament has enacted.
– I appreciate the anxiety of Senator Gould to see that everything is done rightly, and I hope that in the future just as much caution will be observed in the framing of regulations as has been observed in the past.
– I hope that more caution will be observed.
– Seeing that only three regulations have been upset in the history of this Parliament, I think that a very considerable amount of care has been exercised hitherto. This Bill will be administered in the Attorney-General’s Department, and his officers will have the drafting of the regulations.
– They are fallible.
– Yes, as everybody is. Does anybody imagine that we are all to go through this world without making a mistake? If officers have to make regulations, it is only natural that, sometimes, they may make a mistake. We do not pretend to be infallible. But I can assure Senator Gould that every care will be taken. I would point out to him that when the officers of the Attorney-General realize that any regulations which exceed the powers conferred by this Bill will be ultra vires, they will be all the more careful in drafting them. But even if regulations which were ultra vires passed both Houses of Parliament unchallenged, I can assure the honorable senator that the fact would soon be discovered, and they would be returned to the Department in order that it might frame new regulations which would be in complete harmony with the Act. I know that Senator Gould admits that for the detailed working of any office, such as a Copyright Office, regulations must be framed, and I can assure him that in drafting them every care will be taken.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 25 agreed to.
Clause 26 - * ‘
Registration of copyright shall be optional, but the special remedies provided for by sections fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen of this Act can only be taken advantage of by registered owners.
– From the marginal note it appears that this clause owes its origin to the extra wisdom of the Attorney-General’s Department. Why it has been inserted, it is absolutely impossible to say. It affirms that the registration of copyright shall be optional. But there is no law which compels a person to copyright anything, and consequently, there is no reason for the appearance of the clause in the Bill. Then we get the marvellous information that the special remedies provided for by clauses 15, 16, and 17 can only be taken advantage of by registered owners. If we turn to section 15 we find that it sets out what a person may not do without the consent of the registered owner. Clause 16 declares what a justice of the peace may do on ‘ the application of the registered owner, and clause 17 relates to the power of the owner of a performing right to forbid a performance in infringement of his right. These clauses, it will be observed, specially mention the registered owner as the person who has particular rights in these matters. Why then should we insert a clause setting out that nobody is compelled to copyright a thing? Why a boy in the second class of a tenth-rate school knows that nobody but the registered owner can deal with these matters. According to the marginal note this clause is not taken from any Act in particular. Registration is purely optional.
Even Senator McGregor cannot be compelled to copyright his own speeches. I would suggest to the Vice-President of the Executive Council that he should consult his officers with a view to ascertaining whether there is any valid reason for retaining the clause.
– I think that Senator Chataway’s mind must be a little confused.
– He is strong on marginal notes.
– Marginal notes have evidently taken his attention entirely away from the subject-matter of the Bill. He was very earnest in saying that nobody can compel me to copyright my speeches. Nobody can compel anybody to copyright any work. The clause does not deal with copyright at all, but with registration, and there is a very great difference between the two things. Under the Imperial Act, which we are adopting, all the works of an individual are copyrighted without registration. In other words, they are his property without registration. That is where the Bill differs slightly from the Imperial Act. It provides that persons may register their copyrights if they choose to do so. That is the optional part of the Bill. If they are satisfied with the protection which is afforded them under the Imperial Act they will not register. But if they wish to obtain the benefits which will be conferred by clauses 15, 16. and 17, they will register their copyrights. I do not think it would be wise in the interests of many classes of authors in Australia to delete the clause.
.- Generally speaking, in the countries which have anything in the nature of copyright law, registration is not essential to title in copyright. Publication and publication alone is the ground upon which the right of the individual author to prevent the unauthorized reproduction of his own works, rests. We follow that principle. The provisions to which reference is made in this clause are something in the nature of an innovation in the matter of protecting the rights of - authors and owners. Their effect is to enable an individual, without recourse to any judicial tribunal, to personally injunct others from infringing his rights. In. the clause now under consideration we provide that before he takes these extreme steps - before he avails himself of opportunities such as are extended to him in no other country in the world - he must be the registered owner of the copyright or the accredited representative of the registered owner. I think it is desirable that we should make some special provision for registration in certain cases, and that we should allow that registration to be optional. Take, for example, the production of a play, which may be staged in Melbourne- or Sydney, and which may be attracting large houses. It is conceivable that that play might be taken into the back portions of New South Wales, Queensland, or Tasmania, with the object of staging it under a different title, and a company might be prepared to perform it. Under clause 16 an opportunity would be afforded the owner of the copyright in that play to injunct every individual who was likely to take part in the performance, and to restrain the owner of the theatre in which the performance was to take place from allowing his theatre to be used for that purpose. These are extraordinary remedies which we afford to the owners of copyright, and in no other country in the world are they granted such a power of summary redress. If the owner of a copyright wishes to enjoy that right throughout the Commonwealth, the least he can do is to register himself as the owner of it. The same remark is applicable to copyright in books. Having * given the owners of copyright these rights, we may fairly ask them to register themselves so that they shall, at least, be identifiable. In asking that, we are not asking too much.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 27 to 39 agreed to.
Clause 40 - (1.) The publisher of every book which is first published in the Commonwealth after the commencement of this section, and in which copyright subsists under this Act, shall within one month after the publication deliver, at his own expense, a copy of the book to the Librarian of the Parliament, who shall give a written receipt for it.
Senior KEATING (Tasmania) [9.14].- I should like to ask the Minister whether he has considered the advisableness of calling upon the publisher of every book published in Australia to deliver an extra copy to the Parliamentary Library ?
– In many instances one copy is sometimes too many. I do not know where we shall find room for all the publications we receive.
– At the present time two copies are delivered. One is kept as a record, and the other copy, if it is of any use at all, is placed on the shelves of what may be called our National Library. The Parliamentary Library, under the policy pursued by members of the Library Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives, is being organized, with the ultimate object of being a Library, not merely for the Parliament, but for the nation. It is highly desirable that one copy of every book published in Australia should be preserved in the Library. The VicePresident of the Executive Council, in his second-reading speech, alluded to the fact that, in order to obtain copyright in Great Britain, six or seven copies of a book’ have to be supplied to different institutions. Some time ago a circular was issued, and came into the hands of most honorable senators, urging that each State Library should get a copy of every book published in the State. We might just as. well ask for two copies for Library purposes as for one. One copy should belong to the nation that gives the protection of its laws to an author. Another copy might be supplied to the Library of the State in which the work is published. I do not propose to move an amendment, but mention the idea for the consideration of the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– Every author of a book published in Australia must send a copy of it to the Librarian of Parliament, and if he registers his work he has to send a copy to the Registrar when applying for registration. I have circulated an amendment, numbered 40A, designed to meet the desire expressed by Senator Keating, that where, in the past, under State Copyright Acts, copies of books published in a State have had to be supplied to the State Library, the same practice shall be continued under this measure. If any Public Library, or if the Parliamentary Library, wants more copies, they ought to be paid for, and the author ought not to be expected to supply them.
– I do not think the Vice-President of the Executive Council has quite seized the point raised by Senator Keating. This clause provides that a copy of every book published in the Commonwealth shall be supplied to the Librarian of Parliament. We are not to suppose that there is only one important library in Australia. The marginal note to the clause refers us to the English Act, 1 and 11 George 5, c. 46, s. 15. That section, which is incorporated in the schedule to the Bill, requires that the publisher of every book published in the United Kingdom shall deliver a copy of it to the Trustees of the British Museum; he shall also deliver, if a written demand is made within twelve months, copies to the Bodleian Library, Oxford ; the University Library, Cambridge ; the Library of the Faculty of Advocates, Edinburgh ; the Library of Trinity College, Dublin ; and the National Library of Wales.
– Perhaps we are not so hard up as they are.
– If my honorable friend owned the Bodleian Library he would be a multi-millionaire. I suppose the Minister of Defence, who is laughing, is frightened that some of his patent regulations with regard to cadets may come into the possession of some libraries. He does not want that, I am sure. We are told that an amendment is to be moved to provide that a copy of a book published in a State shall be supplied to the Public Library of that State. How the State Governments will enforce the law I do not know.
– We will help them.
– The Minister appears to be taking us into his confidence fully, but he tells us nothing. He informs us that we are adopting the Imperial law, but he has made no provision for it to be applied in the same way as the Imperial law is applied in England. We have many public libraries in Australia. There are also important university libraries. Why should we not compel publishers to send copies of books to them?
– We would rather give them money to buy the books”.
– If the honorable senator likes to play the part of the giddy ox he can. Apparently his narrow, puny soul does not enable him to realize that by-and-by we shall have very important libraries in Australia, in addition to our Commonwealth Library. Why should not ^copies of books be sent to these institutions ?
– Not by the poor Starving author.
- Senator de Largie made an interjection to the effect that much of the matter sent to the Parliamentary Library is rubbish. That is absolutely true. We have sometimes to destroy hundred- weights, if not tons, of rubbish. If a man issues an advertisement in the form of a pamphlet or leaflet - it may be an advertisement for corsets issued by one of Senator Findley’s friends - a copy has to be sent to this Library. We do not bind such things. After a certain length of time the Chairman of the Library Committee, having inspected the pamphlets and leaflets, authorizes the Librarian to destroy such as it is not desired to keep. But the main point is that we have a right to insist that we shall receive a copy of every pamphlet or book published. Under this clause, while we profess to be copying the Imperial Act, we are not doing what the Imperial Act provides. These great Libraries in Great Britain pay enormous prices for manuscripts and documents, and have been built up as the result of the labour of years. The least we can do in Australia is to follow the example that has been pursued in the Old Country, and recognise that such important public institutions should receive copies of books published within the Commonwealth.
Clause agreed to.
Amendment- (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 40A. Nothing in this Act shall be deemed to affect the existing provisions of any Act of the Parliament of a State which require or relate to the delivery to any specified Public or other Library of the State of copies of books published in the State.”
Clause 41 agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the Bill be reported with amendments.
– I recognise that in addressing myself to this motion I am taking a somewhat unusual course, but I do so advisedly, and I shall not detain the Committee at any great length. I wish to express my’ sincere regret that the Bill is being returned from this Committee to the Senate in the form in which it now appears.
– Is that a reflection upon the Committee?
– If the honorable senator chooses to take it as a reflection it is open to him to do so. We are presumed to have been considering this measure in Committee. Prior to the passing of this Bill we have had in the Commonwealth the most up-to-date copyright legislation, I shall not say in any Englishspeaking country, but in any part of the civilized world. We had two courses open to us, and we have decided to adopt the British Act, with such modifications as we think necessary. We have maintained in -the Bill now before us certain peculiar features characteristic of our own legislation on this subject. I do sincerely regret, however, that the Vice-President of the Executive Council and his colleagues have not seen fit to accept something in the nature of the amendment which, on behalf cf Senator Vardon, I had the honour to submit to the Committee. I point out to the Vice-President of the Executive Council, in all friendliness, the dangers that will beset the people of Australia if the Bill goes through in the form in which the Committee is about to report it to the Senate. I do not wish to re-open the discussion upon clause 10, or to take the unusual course of asking that the Bill should be recommitted for its further consideration, because I feel that the Vice-President of the Executive Council and his colleagues will realize their responsibility. In adopting this legislation we are adopting the British legislation, and honorable senators must recognise that Great Britain is a totally different country from Australia. In adopting clause 10 from “ i and 2 Geo. 5, c. 46, s. 14,” we are adopting a provision made in the United Kingdom to meet conditions with respect to importations of pirated copies, which are totally dissimilar from those which apply in Australia. Briefly, the provision to which we have agreed is that -
Copies made out of the Commonwealth of any work in which copyright subsists which, if made in the Commonwealth would infringe copyright, and as to which the owner of the copyright gives notice in writing by himself or his agent to the Comptroller- General of Customs that he is desirous that such copies should not be imported into the Commonwealth, shall not be so imported and shall, subject to the provisions of this section, be deemed to be prohibited imports within the meaning of the Customs Act 1901-1910.
We follow that with a certain number of paragraphs of consequential legislation. Let me point out that in Great Britain they have not to apprehend for a moment an incursion of the piracies that we have in Australia. If honorable members will read the schedule to this Bill, the English Act which we have .bodily adopted, they will find that copyright in the United Kingdom is divisible. That is to say, that an Englishman who has a copyright or performing right in a particular subject may assign the Canadian right to John Jones, the Australian right to William Smith, the New Zealand right to Thomas Brown, and so on. Having done so, it is quite competent for certain persons here, legitimately and in a bond fide way of business, to ask their agents at Home to buy in England, it may be, films for reproduction, mechanical means for the production of songs or music, moving picture photographs, or anything of that character. Having done so through’ their regular trading agents in London, they may find that some individual in Australia claims to have purchased the Australian rights in those things, and may hold them up at the Customs House. The provision will absolutely prevent such persons as those to whom I- have referred carrying on their ordinary business. I do not ask that the Vice-President of the Executive Council should reply to what I am saying now, but that he should take it into consideration. I have indicated the position in which people in Australia may, and I venture to say will, be placed if clause 10 is allowed to pass as it stands. I hope that before the Senate or another place have finally passed the Bill the possibilities under it of people preventing others from carrying on their legitimate business will be fully realized. The amendment which I submitted on behalf of Senator Vardon provided that, so long as these reproductions were turned out in any part of the British Empire to which this particular measure applies, the provisions of clause 10 should) not be applicable to them. We provide now by the Bill, as it stands, that anybody who claims to have a right to a copyrighted subject in Australia may go to the Comptroller-General of Customs, and ask him to prohibit the importation of certain things. The Comptroller-General is to satisfy himself that the application for the prohibition is bond fide. If, for instance, a certain piece of music becomes a “ craze “ in London, what is to prevent an individual in Australia exploiting it by purchasing the rights for Australia from the owner of the copyright in England? He will buy only the Australian rights. Then a firm carrying on legitimate business in Australia may cable an order to their London agents for 1,500 copies of the piece of music in question, and before they arrive a man walks into the Customs House, and says, “ You cannot land these, because I have the Australian rights.” That is the state of affairs which Senator Vardon sought to prevent by the amendment which I moved on his behalf. I hope that, even if the Bill leaves the Senate in its present form, the Government will realize the seriousness of the situation and the opportunities which clause. io, as it stands, affords- for blackmail. I used that word by inter jecfcion when the matter was being discussed, and I did so advisedly. The’ clause opens the door to blackmail, unless we insert a provision of the nature to which I have referred. I hope that the Government will see their way to do something, either in the Senate or in another place, to secure the insertion of a provision which will obviate the dangers by which I say clause 10, as it stands, is surrounded. I am sure that honorable senators who have been here for -some time take a peculiar pride in our own legislation. I agree that we should make it as watertight as possible, but, while doing so, we should make it as liberal and as just as possible, and we should make the penalties of any infringement of its principle as difficult as possible to avoid.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reported with amendments.
– - Before moving that the adoption of the report be an Order of the Day for to-morrow, I wish to make a statement in reply to a question asked with respect to the cost of the Copyright Office.
– Is it the pleasure of the Senate that the Vice-President of - the Executive Council have leave to make a statement?
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear !
– I have ascertained that the total cost of the administration of patents, trade marks, designs, and copyrights amounts to£24,000 a year, and of that amount the administration of copyright is responsible for about ^1,000. I move -
That the adoption of the report be an Order of the Day for to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with an amendment.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That the Senate, at. its rising, adjourn until 3 p.m. to-morrow.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the- Senate do now adjourn.
– I desire to acquaint Ministers with the gist of a matter concerning which I have given notice of a question. I want them to be fully seized of the facts before answering . the question, in order to avoid the possibility of a controversy. It relates to Mr. E. A. Harden, who has been in the employment of the Post and Telegraph Department for a period of from twenty to thirty years. I believe that he has been an excellent officer, and, so far as I know, there is no black mark against him. A few months ago he applied for the usual six months’ leave of absence on full pay, to which he is entitled according to a regulation. My question, I may mention, is simply as to whether the regulation has been repealed. He was informed by Mr. H. B. Templeton that his application was made under a misapprehension. On the 23rd July he wrote to the Deputy PostmasterGeneral at Brisbane the following letter:-
I beg to respectfully inform you that my. request of the 12th inst. for payment equal to six months’ salary was not submitted under any misapprehension of the meaning of regulation 89 of Provisional Regulations under the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1902-11, as is understood by every friend without exception to whom I have shown it and myself. My faithful services have continued over twenty and extend to thirty years. I have never had the leave of absence referred to in the regulations above-mentioned, and in retiring from the Commonwealth Public Service I made what I venture to believe is the correct application for the equivalent to tbe leave of absence or furlough alluded to. My retirement has been permitted, and I respectfully think that I am entitled to the grant named in the said regulation. If the reading that I and many persona both in and outside the Commonwealth Service have placed on the said regulation is wrong, let me ask you to kindly advise me in your opinion what should be the correct reading, and I shall esteem it a favour.
On the 2nd August Mr. Harden received the following reply: -
In reply to your communication of tbe 23rd ultimo, I have to inform you that the regulation referred to, which is made under the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1911, does not apply in the case of an officer who voluntarily retires before he reaches the statutory age. It only operates in such a case when the officer is retired by the GovernorGeneral through permanent incapacity or for departmental reasons.
I want to draw particular attention to that reply. It states practically that, unless an officer who has served for twenty years or more is retired owing to incapacity, or has reached the statutory age, which, I believe, is sixty-five years of age, he cannot get the leave of absence which is laid down in the regulation. Now, what is the regulation? Unless it has been altered, it is as follows: - 89. (1) When an officer has continued in the Public Service at least twenty years, the GovernorGeneral may grant to him, on the recommendation of the Commissioner, leave of absence for a period not exceeding twelve months on half-pay, or six months on full pay. Where an officer not having been granted such leave of absence retires from the Public Service after at least twenty years’ service, the GovernorGeneral, on the recommendation of the Commissioner, may grant such officer six months’ pay upon retirement -
I do not wish to embarrass the Government in any way. Here appears to be a perfectly clear case, where a man, without a black mark against his name, has retired from the Public Service, and, although he has done all that is necessary, either ‘the Commissioner or the Department has refused him what it is absolutely laid down in the regulation shall be granted. There is only one other explanation that I can give for this refusal, and that is that this gentleman, belongs to the Post and Telegraph Department. He was largely engaged in the Savings Bank branch - certainly . a State section at that time. He thought fit to retire from the Commonwealth Post and Telegraph Department and take an important position in the Savings Bank business under the State. I throw all my cards upon the table, and ask the proper Minister to ascertain for me whether it is not a fact that Mr. Harden is deprived of his legitimate rights under the Public Service Act because he has thought fit to leave the Commonwealth Public Service and go back into the State Public Service, if you like to call it going back. Apparently he is being victimized to the extent of half-a-year’s salary. My papers are available to the Minister if he wishes to see them, and when he answers my question to-morrow, as I hope he will, I trust that he will bear in mind that I have fully posted him as to the reason why I have made the inquiry. Ishould like the Vice-President of the
Executive Council to tell us what will be the order of business for to-morrow.
– The order of business for tomorrow will be the adoption of the report of. the Committee on the Copyright Bill, the third reading of the Sugar Bounty Bill,, and the consideration of the amendment made by the other House in the Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Bill. There will also be the consideration of private business, and the resumption of the debate on the Budget-papers.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.53 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 October 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1912/19121023_senate_4_67/>.