4th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– On Friday, 1 asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council a question with reference to what took place on the floor of the Senate last Thursday, to which he gave no reply. I now ask you, sir, if it is your intention to take any action in reference to the matter, or not?
– It will be recognised that there was no opportunity to do anything at the time. There was an uproar, and I do not think that the honorable senators who were interested were in the Chamber for some time afterwards. What the President could have done was to ask the honorable senator who was responsible for the occurrence to withdraw the remark and apologize to the Senate. That was the only action which I could have taken. I may, perhaps, have been remiss in overlooking the matter at the time, but I have no doubt that Senator Givens will withdraw the remark and apologize to the Senate for what took place on that occasion.
– For the information of the Senate, sir, I may say that, before this question was asked, you took an opportunity to-day to speak tome on the matter, and suggested to me that I should take a certain course. You told me then - what I must recognise myself as being right - that the action I took and the expression I used were entirely out of order. It is quite true that they were entirely out of order. The action was taken, and the words were used by me, under what was, to me, exceedingly great provocation.
– Nothing of the kind.
– Recognising that I was entirely out of order, sir,I have pleasure in falling in with your suggestion. I exceedingly regret the incident, withdraw the remark, and apologize to you and the Senate for having taken that action and used the expression. Senator Shannon said just now that only one man was responsible for the incident, whereas, as a matter of fact, I was not the original offender. The provocation to me wasexceedingly great.
I desire to refer no further to the matter now, nor will I refer to it on any future occasion. So far as I am concerned, sir, the incident is closed, unless anybody else desires to re-open it, when, of course, I can have no objection. I apologize to the Senate for having been betrayed, in the heat of the moment, under great provocation, into using language which was entirely unparliamentary, and having taken certain action which was entirely contrary to the usage of Parliament.
– I desire to make a personal explanation arising out of the proceedings of the Senate on Friday last. I was engaged in discussing the Post and Telegraph Bill. ‘ While I was opposing the contention which was put forward, that the Postmaster-General should not have the power either to authorize or to use recording machines in the service of the Department, I used the following words -
I say that the man who stands up in this Chamber and saysthat private enterprise should have the field is not a friend of the Commonmon wealth. Such men are merely here as touts of the investors and those engaged in pushing forward industries.
Those are the words I used, according to the official report, but a newspaper called the Argus - I believe that it is printed in Melbourne, and has a circulation in this part of Australia- reports me as using the following words, which are totally different -
The Opposition sat there as touts for the investors in the interests of capital, and nothing else. (Great disorder.)
I did not use the words which are attributed to me by the journal, and it was not my intention to do so. But if the members of the Opposition rush over each other to fit the cap on their heads-
– On a point of order, sir, I want to know whether, in the case of a personal explanation, it is competent for an honorable senator to make the remark which you have just heard from Senator Lynch.
-I think that the honorable senator must know that a personal explanation should relate only to something for which he himself was responsible in connexion with the debate. He is reflecting now upon members of the Senate.
– The explanation, I think, explains itself. I have quoted the words I used as officially recorded, and also the words which were attributed to me erroneously by the Argus, so that those who may be reporting in this chamber may have an equal opportunity of knowing what I said on that occasion, as well as taking a note of my objection on the present occasion.
– I wish to remind the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs of an assurance which he gave the Senate some time since, that he would represent to his colleague the desirability of having an inquiry made into the state of the electoral rolls. Will he ascertain from his colleague, with a view to making a statement to the Senate, what is being done, seeing that certain statements are appearing in the press as to an inquiry being in progress ?
– I shall again bring the remarks of the honorable senator under the notice of my colleague. So far, no further information has been furnished to me.
– Apparently, some inquiry is proceeding, and I ask the Minister to inform the Senate of the result.
– I shall make the necessary inquiry, and let the Senate know the result.
Bill returned from the House of Repre sentatives with an amendment.
Senator PEARCE laid upon the table the following papers : -
Electoral Act 1902-1911. - Redistribution Scheme, New South Wales -
Further Maps (2) in connexion with Report of Commonwealth Electoral Boundaries Commission laid on the table of the Senate on 24th October, 1912.
Corrections in Report of Commonwealth Electoral Boundaries Commission, which was laid on the table of the Senate on 24th October, 1912.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906 -
Land acquired -
At Turramurra, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
At Sydney, New South Wales - For Commonwealth Bank purposes.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Senator MILLEN (for Senator St.
Ledger) asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
What is (a) the total expenditure to date in connexion with the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank ; (b) the probable actual cost of sites and buildings with which to commence the work of the Bank?
What is (a) the total expenditure to date in connexion with the establishment of the Commonwealth Savings Bank; (b) the probable or actual cost of sites and buildings for the same?
– The answers to the questions are - 1. (a) The total expenditure to 30th September in connexion with the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank, including the Savings Bank Department, was£6,582 os.9d. (b) The Governor of the Bank states that no information is at present available, except that a site has been purchased in Brisbane at a cost of£30,000.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Findley) pro posed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
– I suppose that the Government are satisfied that no fraud can be committed under the administration of this measure. I have, however, been informed that it will be the easiest thing in the world to cheat the revenue if the machines provided for in the Bill are brought into use. I am not prepared now to go into details, but I was shown an article 011 Saturday last by means of which an imitation of a Government stamp might be impressed upon letters, documents, newspapers, and other postal matter. I was informed that this contrivance could be, and is being, manufactured for 2s. 6d., and also that it is being used in New Zealand. I wish to know whether the attention of the Government has been directed to the facility with which the marks made by these recording machines can be imitated, and whether they are satisfied in the circumstances that no fraud upon the postal revenue is likely to be committed? I have not sufficient information on the subject to be more definite, but the person who showed me the article to which I have referred told me that it would be the simplest matter in the world to perpetrate a fraud upon the revenue under this Bill.
– In view of the statement that frauds have actually taken place in New Zealand in connexion with the use of these stamping machines, I say that even at the eleventh hour the Government would do well to consider the arguments against their use advanced by honorable senators on this side. It would appear that, although the use of these machines has continued for some time in New Zealand, the authorities have recently become aware that it has led to the perpetration of fraud. It has been discovered that the die and mark impressed by these machines can be closely imitated, and there are grave reasons for believing that many frauds are being perpetrated in New Zealand in this way which have not yet been brought home to the offenders.
– Where did the honorable senator get this information?
– I have received the information from a very reliable source. An honorable senator on this side can substantiate what I say, and is in a position to give more definite information on the subject. In all the circumstances, I feel that it is the duty of honorable senators to direct the attention of the Government to the dangers involved in the” adoption of these recording machines, even at this the eleventh hour, in the passage of the measure.
Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) [3.20). - In speaking on the second reading of the Bill, I said that I was not enamoured of the measure because of the opportunities for the perpetration of fraud which I believed it would afford, not necessarily to those who hire the recording machines referred to in the measure, but to persons who might take advantage of their use to commit a fraud by the imitation of the marks which they are intended to make upon postal matter. Since then I have had occasion to consult authorities as to the possibility of the perpetration of such frauds. I find that in New Zealand, while it has not been positively admitted by the Postal Department of the Dominion, there is sufficient evidence to show that the authorities are not quite satisfied with the operations of the recording machines at present in use there.
– Has the honorable senator any information as to the nature of the evidence -referred to?
– I have-not, except that statements have been made, whether inspired by the New Zealand Postal De partment or not I am unable to say, to the effect that the Department is losing revenue by reason of the employment of these machines. When speaking on the second reading of the Bill, I had in mind a report which I read some time ago in the press concerning frauds perpetrated upon the Postal Department through the use of these machines. Since then I have had a conversation with a person who has placed in my possession one of the stamps impressed by a machine at present in use in New Zealand. I have also here a copy of that stamp which is almost a facsimile, and which certainly is as close a reproduction of it as one could wish to see. I produce the stamp for which the New Zealand Government received one penny, and the imitation of it. This imitation can be made by a machine or contrivance which can be purchased for the small price of a few shillings. I produce the contrivance also for the inspection of honorable senators, and they will see that it is not an elaborate one. It is part of an ordinary reel upon which cotton was wound, with a metal stamp attached. By its use a stamp almost identical with that impressed by the authorized machine can be produced.
– The fraud is not in the use of the authorized machine ; the honorable senator’s contention is that there is no security against the use of a spurious machine which may be made to produce a similar stamp.-
– That is so. Fraud may be perpetrated by the use of spurious machines, which will make a stamp to all intents and purposes identical with that made by one of the authorized machine’s. That is the whole of the information I have to place before the Senate. A simple instrument such as that which I produce, and purchasable for half-a-crown, may be used to impress the same mark upon postal matter as an authorized machine would do.
– Of course, the penalty provided for would be relied upon to prevent that.
– Whether the penalty provided for will be sufficient to deter persons from resorting to the use of unauthorized machines when they may be so easily procured is another matter. The consequence of their use may be very important, in view of the fact that the bulk of the revenue derived last year by the Post and Telegraph Department was from the sale of stamps. It amounted to no less than , £2,600,000, andthis means that about 1,000,000 packets are passed through the post-offices of the. Commonwealth every -day. The adoption of these recording machines may without full consideration be considered a step in advance, but there is every reason why we should be very, wary about sanctioning their use. I have satisfied myself that it is so easy to imitate the marks to be impressed upon postal matter by these machines that I do not feel inclined to support the third reading of the Bill. I believe it would be a mistake to pass it. In my opinion it is necessary in the interests of the public and of the Post and Telegraph Department to exercise the greatest caution, and that before the Bill is brought into operation the Postal Department of NewZealand should be communicated with to find out exactly how they regard the use of these machines in the Dominion. I submit the contrivance to which I have referred for the inspection of honorable senators who may themselves reproduce the imitation of the mark impressed by the authorized machine, and having done so vote accordingly.
. -I agree with Senator Lynch in saying that if there may be danger of fraud in the use of these stamping machines the Postal Department will be justified in taking every precaution to prevent the use of unauthorized machines. But I cannot reconcile the position which the honorable senator has taken up to-day with his attitude when the third clause of the Bill . wasbeing discussed in Committee. I believe ‘that any person charged with an offence should be given a fair chance to prove his innocence, and I agree that in this respect clause3, proposed new section 102a, of the Bill is not entirely satisfactory. Still, it provides some safeguard against the use of unauthorized machines. It reads -
Any person who without lawful authority or excuse (the burden of proof whereof shall be on the person charged) -
makes or causes or procures to be made ; or
aids or assists in making; or
uses, or knowingly has in his custody or possession, any instrument capable of making an impression stamp or mark resembling (or apparently intended to resemble or pass for) the impression stamp or mark made by any post-office date stamp shall be liable to a penalty of not exceeding Fifty pounds.
Senator Lynch, when this clause was under consideration in Committee, moved the omission of the words within parentheses, “ the burden of proof whereof shall be on the person charged.” The debate which followed ranged round the question whether any person should be convicted until he Had been absolutely proved to be guilty. I am not going to say that ‘a penalty of£50 would be sufficient to deter certain people from attempting to defraud the revenue by the use of date stamps without the authority of the Crown. But I do say that the reasons which Senator Lynch has given for voting against the third reading of the Bill are such as should induce honorable senators to pass the measure, and so maintain clause 3 as it stands.
– I join with other honorable senators in saying that the Government should be extremely cautious in asking the Senate to pass this Bill, or in bringing it into operation if it should be passed. The whole object of the introduction of the measure is to convenience large business firmswho desire to be in a position to use machines of this kind for the convenience of their postal work, and in order that they may be protected against petty swindling by junior clerks and office boys. But if the big merchants, who have large dealings with the Post Office, are to be protected from the little pettifogging swindling which they allege goes’ on in their offices, and which amounts at the very most to a few pounds per annum, how much more necessary is it to proceed cautiously in order to prevent the Commonwealth being swindled, not out of a few pounds, but out of hundreds of thousands, or perhaps even a million pounds before we shall be able to detect the swindle. Senator Lynch, to whom we ought to be very much obliged, has furnished us with incontrovertible proof that a stamp can be made very cheaply to counterfeit the stamp used in the authorized stamping machines. With such a simple little instrument as be has produced, which can be fitted on tothe head of an old cotton spool, and can be manufactured very cheaply, and purchased for half-a-crown, it is evident that the opportunities for fraud are very great. It seems to me that we shall by this means place in the hands of unscrupulous people a new method of trying to defraud the Commonwealth.
– It seems that that has already been done. The stamp produced by .Senator Lynch is -a fac simile of the New Zealand stamp.
– -We-have it in” evidence that in New Zealand some serious frauds have been discovered. Why put temptation in the way of people to swindle the Commonwealth? Unfortunately, some people are not so strictly moral in their ideas relating to the revenue of the country as they are in their ideas concerning their relations with’ private individuals. Many people look upon it as not being immoral to try and swindle the Government. That is the reason why smuggling is regarded with such a lenient eye by so many.
– That has relation only to the Customs.
– I daresay that our Free Trade friends would consider it highly honorable to defraud the Customs.
– It -is a moral instinct on the part of the community to rebel against Protection.
– Will not the same moral instinct prompt some people to try to defraud the Post Office; although, certainly, the Commonwealth does not make a- profit out of the Post Office, but works the business at a loss? It is essential that the revenue of this great business should be protected, as far as possible, against being defrauded by people who would have no great objection to “ getting at “ the Commonwealth for a few pounds at a time, amounting perhaps to a considerable sum per annum. But, apart altogether from the ease with which the stamp itself can be counterfeited, as we have been shown by Senator Lynch, it must be remembered that, no matter how ingenious may be the machine which is adopted, the inventive genius which could make -it would also be capable of making another to defraud the revenue.- The Department might adopt a machine which it would puzzle 99 per cent, of the people to “fake,” but another ingenious person might be capable of inventing one with which he would be able to “fake” the departmental stamp. If we have these machines scattered about broadcast, although the proprietors of the estabments in which they were used might be honest, and might not desire improper things to be done, nevertheless some ingenious person might tamper with the machine in order to see how he could “ fake “ it; and the Commonwealth might in consequence be involved in loss to a very serious amount. AS these machines are to be introduced only for the convenience of a small section of the community, and to prevent the littlepettifogging swindling which may occur in large business establishments, we should’ hesitate before laying ourselves open to the possibility of being defrauded bypeople who, perhaps; would not be tooscrupulous in this matter. There are 4,500,000 people in this country. Why should those 4,500,000 be rendered’ liable to be swindled to prevent the little swindling that may be suffered by a- few? Why should we do this to protect those who’ have very good means and methods of protecting themselves, and wellorganized staffs. at their disposal? Seeing that this machine is asked’ for by a limited” section, and will be useful only to them, I am afraid that I shall be. compelled to vote against the third reading of the Bill, unless we have a more satisfactory assurance that the interests of the Commonwealth will not be sacrificed.
– - The statements made here this afternoon are sufficiently serious to causethose who supported this Bill last week to re-adjust their position somewhat. I supported the Bill, having satisfied myself, in the absence of such information as has now been disclosed, that it was reasonably safe. I understood from the Minister that recent reports had been obtained from the New Zealand postal authorities as to the practical working of the machine, and I relied to a considerable extent upon them.
– I said that the latest report I had was dated 1910.
– If that be so, I must have misunderstood. the Minister. He certainly read one or two reports that were up to date from business people, and I was also under the impression that he stated that up-to-date reports had been obtained from the authorities iri New Zealand. If that is not so, I venture to suggest to the Minister, particularly in view of the statements made to-day, that the correct course for him to follow is to adjourn the debate, and not to proceed’ further with the Bill until he obtains information. from New ZealandHe ought not to force men like myself, who believe in the principle of the- measure, to vote against it. It is impossible to turn, a deaf ear to the very definite statements made by Senator Ready.
– And to the dea- nite evidence produced by Senator Lynch.
– I do not attach so much importance to that little evidence of somebody’s ingenuity in engraving, because anyone who knows anything of engraving will be aware that it is possibleto have upon a die a private mark not visible to a. casual examination and not easily detected under the microscope.
– Does the honorable senator suppose that it would be the common practice to put each letter stamped by the machine under the microscope?
– No; and nobody suggested that ; but if fraud were suspected it would be a serious reflection upon the business capacity of those who control the Post and Telegraph Department if they did not resort to a systematic and continuous examination of the stamps used. That is one check. Another would be, not an examination of every letter, but an examination of a certain percentage, to see whether fraud was perpetrated ; just as an ordinary man of business, who is in the habit of receiving goods, examines them from time to time. We are asked now to -sanction a Bill which is to authorize the introduction of these stamping machines, and, at the last moment, things are disclosed which should cause us to desire to obtain the very latest reports obtainable from the New Zealand Government.
– The disclosure we have is that the Government have had no report from New Zealand since 1910.
SenatorMILLEN. - Before we proceed further, a cablegram-should be sent to the New Zealand authorities to ask them what has been their experience up to date, and whether they still indorse the recommendation of this stamping machine as supplied to us two and a half years ago. Surely it is not asking too much to request that the Government should stay their hand in relation to this Bill until a communication can be received from New Zealand. The Minister must see that good reason for delay is disclosed by the evidence produced this afternoon. I may make another suggestion. The Minister informed the Senate on Friday that it was the intention of the Government to appoint aCommittee to inquire into the rival claims ofdifferent stamping machines. I am not so much concerned with that, but I do think that that Committee might be set to work before Parliament is asked to pass this Bill. The Committee should press its inquiries to a conclusion with regard to the New Zealand experience before the Senate is asked to go any further in the matter. I suggest, therefore, the advisableness of postponing this Bill until the Minister is in a position to give us up-to-date information from New. Zealand as to what has been the experience there.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.40].- I was not present on Friday when the Becond reading of this Bill was debated. My objection to it is so very radical that I should like to go a step further than Senator Millen has done, and appeal to the Minister to withdraw it altogether. I doubt whether he would be able to’ obtain a report which would be sufficiently satisfactory to justify the Senate in passing a Billof this description. The only object of a change in relation to the stamping of postal matter is to substitute an impressed stamp for an adhesive stamp. The intention really is to bring in a sort of fad, or fanciful method of dealing with what we are accustomed to deal with in a very ordinary and satisfactory way; in a way, moreover, which prevents any possibility of defrauding the revenue of the Post and Telegraph Department. We are all aware that the objection to adhesive stamps is to the licking process, of which so much fun has recently been made in England . in connexion with Mr. LloydGeorge’s insurance scheme. . The objection that most people have to adhesive stamps is that they have to be wetted.
– Why, then, use envelopes ?
– That in itself would be no reason for introducing a machine which, whatever may be said about it, can be counterfeited or imitated by some other machine. We must all admit that that is so, quite apart from the evidence brought before us to-day.
– Is it not quite possible to counterfeit an adhesive stamp?
– It is much less likely that an adhesive stamp would be imitated than a stamp of this kind.
– It would be much more profitable to counterfeit an adhesive stamp. What profit would there be in imitating a stamp like this, when the person who copied it could not stamp other people’s letters?
– Why not?
– Because there would have to be two in the fraud for that to be done.
– You could not have a conspiracy without at least two.
– The worst that could be said about the machine is that it would be likely to create more clients for the lawyers.
– That is so.
– The Commonwealth Government lost £60,000 of Customs revenue through the use of a fraudulent stamp.
– Quite so. Senator Givens took a very wide range in his remarks. I have no objection to facilitate - as he seemed to have - the operations of trade.
– I do not take any objection on that ground. I said that it would only convenience a few big firms.
– So far as it would be a convenience, it would be a very good thing, but I see no need for it. What possible need is there for a stamping machine of this kind? We have got on very well for a long time with the ordinary methods of stamping.
– You would not say that that was a sound argument.
– Yes. It was said on the other side that in introducing facilities for putting stamps on you were also introducing possible facilities for fraud.
– An impressed stamp is used in the Post Office now
– That is a very different thing from this. This machine is like a rubber stamp which is handed about, and any person requiring it is enabled to put the stamp on the face of a postal article. The impressed stamp Senator Barker was talking about is a different thing altogether. It is like an ordinary stamp, although it may be part of the envelope. This machine is simply something in the nature of a rubber stamp, a more finished article, and more scientifically got up and made, and having, as Senator Millen has said, a private mark uponit. But as Senator Rae has put it very sensibly, it might be impossible to check fraud even by a microscopical examination of each impression, and if you did detect it, what is the penalty? Clause 3, proposed new section 102a, provides - (1.) Any person who, without lawful authority or excuse (the burden of proof whereof shall be on the person charged) -
– Increase the penalty.
– What is the need of the machine at all ?
– It would be a very great convenience at the public counters at the telegraph offices.
– But this Bill has been introduced with a view to bringing these machines into general use. I think what Senator Millen has said is quite true, that at the telegraph offices it would be an advantage to have some machine by which stamps could be impressed at the moment, but it would be a machine held in the custody of the Department, and the stamps would be ofa particular design. What I would suggest to my honorable friends is - to go a little further than Senator Millen’s suggestion - that as we are getting on towards the end of the session, and if we received a report from New Zealand it would have to be further investigated, and, further, as there is no crying need or immediate necessity for the machine at present, the third reading of the Bill should not be pressed. If the Bill were removed from the paper, and the Government made this a matter of further investigation, they might render a valuable service to the country.
– I am going to support the third reading of the Bill, and for this reason : I believe that a stamping machine will be of considerable value to alarge number of people. We had the assurance of the Minister, in . introducing the Bill, that before any machine was adopted by the Department the whole matter would be referred to a committee of experts for investigation. The committee would examine each machine, and find out if it was possible for fraud to be committed. It will be absolutely necessary for the committee to obtain proof that the machine could not easily be tampered with.
– Or imitated.
– If the machine was enclosed so that none could reach it for the purpose of altering, it, that would make it perfectly safe.
– Does the honorable senator ‘want to .have lt herme- tically sealed.
– I do. The honorable senator knows that; - some few. years Ago, there was a stamping machine used at the Customs House at Port Adelaide.’ A certain gentleman came over from Mel- ‘ bourne and got a copy of it, and by having that stamp in his possession he was able to defraud the Government of £60,000 The position I took up last week was that if there was a suitable machine on the market - and I believe there is - the people using it should go to the Post Office, buy their. stamps, put them in the machine, and pay for them. There would then be no chance whatever of fraud.
– That is a different machine altogether.
– In the Bill no particular machine is specified.
– The machine you want is one that will lick the stamps.
– Not only that, but one to prevent the pilfering of stamps by men who post large numbers of letters. That is exactly the machine provided for here.
– There is also a proposal for a machine such as is used in New. Zealand ; but .that machine does offer possibilities for fraud, and, further, the Post Office has to give it credit.
– If the honorable senator looks at proposed new section 6sa he will see that it is a machine for making impressions.
– The Bill covers any machine that the Department might have to recommend. The committee of experts is to be appointed for the .purpose of recommending to the Department a machine that will prevent fraud and safeguard the Department in every ‘ particular.
– The only machine referred to is a recording machine for the purpose of impressing upon postal articles and telegrams the value of the duty to be paid on the article.
– There is absolutely no machine that I have seen that will do that, and I have seen a good many, that cannot be tampered with. The only possible machine, that will suit the people who are clamouring for this convenience to-day, is one that they can take to the Post Office, buy the stamps, and put them into the machine. Then the Department does not stand to lose anything, and whilst there, is a benefit to the users of the machine, there is an absolute safeguard against fraud >n every particular. So long as you have a machine that is open to the altering of the die or the stamp-
– That is this machine.
– A machine may be invented which will be secure from imitation either as to die or stamp. If the Committee of experts are satisfied that there could be no tampering with a machine, why should they not accept it? If_ it could be tampered with the whole thing would be dropped.
– How are we to trace an imitation?
– If a machine *as left open, so that any one could get at the die or the stamp, fraud might be perpetrated. Some years ago the Commissioner of Railways in New South Wales put in1 a system of a time-bell in the tramways. Some one who understood its mechanism made a big trade by supplying to conductors dummy-bells that rang, but did not record, with the result that the Railway Department in New South Wales suffered severely. What I am afraid of in regard to this machine is that there may be some one clever enough to get at the dies, and to make imitations of them The only safe thing is to have a machine ‘ such as I have described, when the users would have to go to the Post Office, and buy their stamps, or they could use special stamps.
– Not under the Bill.
– We are allowing that practice now. Any firm in Australia can perforate their stamps with the name of the firm. We do it in our Parliament in regard to our “on service” stamps. In Victoria, South Australia, and New South Wales stamps are similarly perforated. Any firm could do the same thing, and thus guard themselves against peculation. I think we should allow the third reading of the Bill to pass on the understanding that if an expend report is made to the Government, before the Government accept it, it will be laid before Parliament for consideration. If, then,’ it is found that the machine offers opportunities for fraud its uBe need not be sanctioned.
– The statement that almost any machine could be imitated reminded me of a remark I heard made that Krupps would undertake to manufacture to order a gun that would pierce any armour plate, and would as readily undertake to manufacture armour plate that no gun would pierce. No matter how perfect a machine was some ingeniousperson would be found who could imitate that. I object altogether to the argument which Senator Needham based on this fact, that we should not oppose this proposal. He argued that the facility with which machines could be made was a reason why the onus of proof of innocence should be cast on any accused person. There is a safe axiom that the efforts of a Government should be to make it easy to do right and difficult to do wrong. This seems to be a method of offering facilities to people to do wrong. We know on high authority that ‘ ‘ the sight of means to do ill deeds makes ill deeds done.” I think that this Bill bears an air of progressiveness about it in a superficial kind of way, and, as stated by other honorable senators, it does not appear that the dangers which surround it are counter-balanced by the advantages which it offers. I quite see that it would be an advantage to have a machine which could be operated by officials in the large telegraph offices where there is often a congestion of business, as delay and waste of time is caused by having to attach stamps to telegrams. But this is quite another . proposition. While I know that Ministers here can generally put up a pretty good case for any position they take up, yet I do not think thatthe skill of even Senator McGregor or Senator Findley can induce the members of the Senate to believe that it is possible to guard against all cases of fraud in the use of these machines. We have then to consider to what extent it would pay any one to indulge in fraudulent practices. Taking the risk as against the possible gain, I think it is not probable that any person engaged in a large business would find so much profit in a thing of this kind as to obtain a counterfeit machine.
– They probably would not do it.
– Just so.
– But it is the man who would make the machines and sell them who would do so.
– I do not think that there would be enough profit to induce a person in a large way of business to obtain a. machine, but I do think that it mightbe the means of enabling persons who are dishonest, and who now pilfer stamps from their employers, to make the Government a victim, in which case the employer would not be defrauded as he may now be. On the other hand, it would be a very difficult task to sheet home a case of this sort, and’ even if the Department did now and againfind some person clumsily operating a machine so as to be discovered, that would not prevent the same thing going on in a hundred different quarters. In this way a very big leakage might occur, and continue to occur. So fast as one case was sheeted home it might still be considered quite easy for other persons who fancied their ingenuity to be a little greater,to manage to do the same kind of thing. If there is such a thing as a perfect machine, and also a perfect check against fraud, that should be proved to us before we areasked to pass a measure of this kind, which, after all, in its larger aspects willonly benefit a few members of the commercial class, saving them a little troublein safeguarding their own interests. I think it is wasting our time, anyhow, to deal with what I must call pettyfogging legislation. I trust that we shall devote the rest of the session to measures of a great deal more practical value to the community’ than such a measure as this can be. Unless a very much stronger case can be made’ out than I believe is possible, I shall join with those who oppose the third reading: of the Bill.
.-I shall certainly support the third reading of the Bill. We have heard very much about conveniencing the public. The Post Officeexists to convenience the public. We have heard a great deal about the methods which it pursues. Why should not the Department takeevery possible means to convenience the public, whether the convenience will be enjoyed by a few persons or not? If large commercial firms can be convenienced by any method, contrivance, or machine, why should they not have the advantage of that convenience?
– If it can be done safely, yes.
– There is no machine made, I think, which some persons cannot imitate or counterfeit. If the line of argument which has been used were followed to its logical conclusion, there would be an end to the invention of all machines.
– We should not provide facilities for fraud by Act of Parliament.
– Every facility which is offered to the general public as a convenience can in some way be counterfeited. When it was proposed to introduce bank notes, the whole cry was that the notes would be counterfeited, and lead to the commission of crime. No contrivance of this kind has been introduced, I think, but some one has raised the objection that it would be counterfeited or imitated, and that fraud would result. Why, the present adhesive stamp can be manufactured, sold, and used.
– Do you know of any instance where it has been done?
– The little contrivance on the table looks very simple, and is introduced as a strong argument why the Government should not undertake to give facilities in the shape of recording machines. The Government have not yet accepted any recording machine. They propose to appoint some experts to report upon the various machines, and to adopt one ofthem hereafter.
– Let us catch our hare before we cook it. Let us have the machine.
– The honorable senator is against the Bill altogether.
– What is the use of passing the Bill if we have not the machine ?
– The honorable senator wants the Bill to be withdrawn. There are large firms in the Commonwealth which have an enormous amount of correspondence, and their convenience should be considered. If means can be devised for providing facilities to the general public or ilarge firms, the Department has a right to provide those facilities, and, therefore, I intend to support the third reading of the Bill.
– Much of the opposition that has been shown towards the third reading of the Bill has come to me somewhat as a surprise. I can understand the attitude of Senator Symon, who does not want anything contained in the Bill in any circumstances. He believes in the old method. He cannot bring himself to believe that it would be an advantage, not merely to the commercial community, but to the various
Departments of the Commonwealth, to introduce any kind of machine for making stamp impressions, and, therefore, he desires the Bill to be withdrawn, and the old method of using adhesive stamps to be continued. I can understand that line of opposition; but I cannot understand the opposition of those who say that, because there is the possibility of fraud being committed through the use of these machines by private firms, therefore the Bill should not be passed. I want honorable senators to remember what the Bill contains. This discussion has been solely upon a machine which has been in use in New Zealand for some years, but it does not necessarily follow that that will be the machine approved of by the Postmaster-General. When this Bill becomes law, it is his intention to appoint a committee of experts to closely examine the different machines which are on the market to-day, for the convenience of the commercial community and Government Departments in the way of stamping’ letters.
– There is nothing in the Bill to that effect.
– When the PostmasterGeneral receives the Committee’s report, and is satisfied that the machine recommended will safeguard the interests of the Postal Department and be a convenience to the commercial community and the public Departments, he will not issue a permit for the use of the machines unless under certain circumstances, which are set out in proposed new section 65c - (3.) Before a permit is granted the applicant must give security by bond to the satisfaction of the Postmaster-General -
The Postmaster-General will not issue a permit to any firm unless he is satisfied in regard to their reputation, and unless, too, the firm put up a guarantee.
– But that is no safeguard against a person to whom a permit is not issued.
– No; and I shall deal with that point in a moment. Every honorable senator must be aware that, in every big business concern, the stamping of letters is done by a junior. I have a fair knowledge of business, and I do not know the head of a big firm who wastes his time in stamping letters. What advantage, therefore, would a junior have in using such an instrument as Senator Lynch has brought into the Chamber to-day ? The junior would get no monetary benefit, and the firm, indirectly, would not get any benefit. Apart from the firm, what advantage would anybody in the community get ?
– The firm would get the benefit of having their letters carried for nothing.
– One would have to presuppose collusion between the head of a big business firm and the junior who would be trusted with making stamp impressions before there would be any possibility of fraud.
SenatorReady. - He might not intrust it to the junior. He might do it himself.
– I cannot bring myself to believe that the head of any reputable firm in the Commonwealth would lend himself to having a counterfeit of a recording machine made for the purpose of taking advantage of the PostmasterGeneral.
– It would not be a reputable, but a dishonest firm.
– How does the Minister account for all the Customs frauds, if these high, reputable people never do anything wrong?
– Why put business firms above other people?
– The PostmasterGeneral has to be satified before he will give permission to any business firm to use these machines, and whether he be a Labour or an anti-Labour man, he will not permit their use by any firm unless he is satisfied as to their reputation, and that they may be intrusted to operate the machine honestly. Apart from the fact that there must be collusion between a junior and the head of ‘a firm before fraud can be perpetrated, it must be remembered that the dies have to be made under the supervision of the Government, and for all time they will be the property of the Government. When a firm is given permission to use one of these machines it will have a particular die, with a distinctive number on it. There will, in addition, be a secret mark known only to the Department, and it will be possible to discover that secret mark by the use of a microscope.
– What will be the use of that when it will be possible to imitate the secret mark?
SenatorFINDLEY.- Let me ask Senator Lynch what advantage it will be to any person to have in his possession a stampsimilar to the stamp which may be produced by one of these machines?
– It would certainly bean advantage to the employe in charge of the postal department of a business firm.
– Does the honorable senator ask me to believe that thehead of a business firm will have, in addition to one of these recording machines, an* instrument by which he may take advantage of the Postal Department? He could” only do so by collusion, as I have said, with a junior. Some honorable senators who have not read the Bill closely havecome to the conclusion that the penalty for a fraud of this kind is only a fineof£50. I ask them to look at the proposed new section 65G, which reads - (1.) Any person who -
That is the penalty; and if this Bill were law Senator Lynch would be liable to a penalty of two years’ imprisonment, with or without hard labour, for having in hispossession the instrument which he has produced here to-day ; and let it be remembered the onus of proving his innocence would be on the honorable senator under this Bill, and it would not be for the Department to prove his guilt. There isnothing in the imitation which the honorable senator has submitted to the Sennte. It is as easy as falling off a log to photograph almost anything. The probability is that a. photograph has been taken from an envelope of the stamp impression made by one of the machines in use in New Zealand by a rival inventor. I cannot imagine for a moment that Senator Lynch, out of the goodness of his heart, went to some photographer or die maker in this city, and, at his own expense, had made, the instrument which he exhibited in the Senate to-day for the purpose of proving that the administration of this measure was open to the perpetration of fraud. I see nothing in the imitation which he has produced. As I have said, a rival inventor has probably had a photograph taken of the stamp impression of one of these machines. Senator Vardon, as a printer, knows that it would then be quite a simple matter to have a die made which would produce a mark very similar to the mark originally produced by the recording machine. Honorable senators will have noticed in the stamp impression submitted for their inspection the number “ 7 “ ; and the name of the business firm using the No. 7 die would be known to the Postal Department.
– Is the machine worked by hand?
– We do not propose to legislate for a particular machine, but the discussion has taken place mainly upon a machine in use in New Zealand, which is, to a certain extent, automatic in its operation. A. telegram or envelope is placed opposite a certain denomination of stamp. Then the handle of the machine is turned, and the impression of that stamp is made on the telegram or envelope, and, at the same time, the machine automatically registers the amount by which the firm has become indebted to the Postal Department. Let me remind honorable senators that it is not a difficult matter to photograph a bank note, and afterwards to produce plates from which copies might be printed.
– It is not a difficult matter to forge stamps.
– It would be no more difficult to forge stamps than to perpetrate a fraud in connexion with one of these machines. As a matter of fact, it would be more difficult and dangerous to commit a fraud under this Bill than to forge a stamp or a bank note.
– Is this Bill similar to the New Zealand Act?
– It is modelled on somewhat similar lines.
– Have frauds been committed under the New Zealand Act?
– Senator Lynch says that they have. When introducing the Bill I mentioned that these machines had been in operation for a certain time in New Zealand, and that, so far as the postal authorities were aware, their use had given rise to no attempt at fraud. Further than that, the New Zealand postal authorities state that the machines work so smoothly that they have become part and parcel of the postal system of the Dominion.
– That statement was made in 1910.
– I admit that.
– I did not say that frauds had actually been committed in New Zealand, but that there are grounds for believing that the New Zealand Postal Department is not satisfied with the working of these machines.
– I ask whether that statement is based upon official information, or was made by some one who may be a rival of the inventor of the machine in use in New Zealand ? We all know the rivalry which exists between inventors, each trying to prove that his machine is better than any other, and in this case, in order to do so, it is possible that a rival inventor has had fac similes made of the dies used in the machines in operation in New Zealand.
– What is the particular necessity for the introduction of this new system ?
– I stated the reasons for the introduction of the Bill in moving the second reading. I said that a stamping machine had been in use in New Zealand six or eight years to my knowledge ; that a number of business firms there had purchased the machines and were operating them, and that some of the firms were so pleased with them that they said that if they cost four times as much as they had to pay for them they would not, if they could avoid it, go back to the old method of using adhesive stamps. I said also that different Government Departments in New Zealand have found the use of these machines of very great convenience, especially in connexion with the sending of telegrams. Any member of the community who is in the habit of sending telegrams, whether frequently or occasionally, knows the trouble to which he is put under the existing system. He has to fill in a telegraph form, wait until the attendant counts the number of words, and informs him as to how much the message will cost. Stamps to the amount are then handed to the sender, who has to attach them to the telegraph form. If we had a stamping machine in operation, all that the sender ofa telegram would need to do would be to fill in the form, and pay what he was told the telegram would cost, and the machine would do the rest. It would be a great convenience not merely to the commercial community, but to thousands of our citizens.
– Is it intended to instal these machines in the Post and Telegraph offices as well as in private establishments?
– Yes ; and in the different Departments of the Commonwealth. These machines will be installed if the Bill becomes law. Honorable senators should not take the narrow view that the Bill should not be passed, because it is intended mainly to convenience the commercial world. Commercial men form an important section of the community, and by the use of these machines they will be able to carry on their business more expeditiously, and also economically because we all know that leakages take place in the use of adhesive stamps. The proposal also has some advantages from a hygienic point of view. I hope that the objection to the measure will not be persisted in. Honorable senators must recognise that before these machines are brought into operation, the authorities of the Post and Telegraph Department will thoroughly satisfy themselves that their use will be in the best interests of the Department, and of the citizens generally. If it be still contended that opportunities will be afforded for the perpetration of fraud, I repeat that a punishment of two years’ imprisonment, in view of the fact that the imitation stamp impression can be of no value to any one but the firm using a particular machine, should be a sufficient guarantee that the fears expressed by some honorable senators in this connexion are not well founded.
Question - That the Bill be now read a third time - put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Last week, I asked honorable senators to hand in their names to the Clerk, together with the addresses to which they desired the bound volumes of Hansard and Parliamentary Papers to be sent. Senator Sayers then stated that his volumes had not yet reached him. I promised to make inquiries. I communicated with the Government Printer, and have received the following reply -
In reply to your memorandum of the 24th inst. stating that Senator Sayers has complained that he has not yet received the bound volumes of Parliamentary Papers for last session, I beg to inform you that the volumes in question were delivered to the Senate room, Parliament House, on 31st May, 1912, in accordance with the request of Senator Sayers, dated 14th December, 1911.
The signature for the volumes referred to is not decipherable.
Acting Government Printer.
The Clerk of the Senate,
On receipt of that communication I caused inquiries to be made as to whether the volumes for Senator Sayers were addressed to Parliament House. It was then found that they were, and have been for some considerable time, in the Opposition room upstairs. I again express the wish that honorable senators will make it convenient to furnish the Clerk with the addresses to which they wish their bound volumes to be sent during next recess.
– I presume that it is not necessary for those honorable senators who have already furnished their addresses to the Clerk to do so again? I may mention that my bound volumes have always reached me regularly. I only wish the Commonwealth wouldsupply me with a room in which to store them.
Debate resumed from 25th October (vide page469i), on motion by Senator McGregor -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– Senator Millen, who moved the adjournment of the debate on this motion, being unavoidably called away, has asked me to take his place. This is a Bill for the purpose of granting to the State of Tasmania a sum of £500,000. I do not wish to speak upon it at great length, nor to deal with matters with which the Senate is perfectly well aware. It is within the knowledge of every one that a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into and report upon the subject, and that they recommended that a sum of £900,000 should be granted to Tasmania. The Commission started off upon its inquiries rather unfavorably. It commenced to investigate what was called “ a Customs leakage,” and I may admit at once that if Tasmania’s claim to assistance had been based solely upon leakages in that direction, no such sum as the Government propose to grant would have been justified. It is true, and I think is generally admitted, that Tasmania did suffer from “Customs leakages”; but she only suffered to a comparatively small extent, and probably did not suffer more than did other States. For instance, it is within our common knowledge that there must have been a considerable amount of leakage affecting the State of Queensland. In fact, under our system, that was inevitable. But as the Royal Commission pursued its inquiries, I am glad to say that it discovered that there was another and very satisfactory reason why Tasmania should receive financial assistance. I may remind the Senate that both Senator O’Keefe and myself have on many occasions, in the Senate, and outside also, drawn attention to the way in which Tasmania suffered under the bookkeeping section of the Constitution. The Senate must recollect that the claim which Tasmania has to make is not based on the facts as they exist today. She is entitled to a grant from the Commonwealth, not because of the existing arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States, but because of circumstances that existed in the early days of Federation. Those circumstances are well known. We had first of all in our Con- stitution what was known as the bookkeeping section. The operation of that section, until it was amended by Parliament, continued for five years. We had also what was known as the Braddon section. I was a member of the Senate - as were many others - when the bookkeeping section expired, as far as concerned the actual time limit fixed by the Constitution itself; but, of course, as we all know, it was provided that the section should continue in operation until the Parliament otherwise provided. During the time mentioned in the Constitution - five years - I, on more than one occasion, drew attention to the consideration that on the expiration of the bookkeeping section a different arrangement, fairer to Tasmania and the other States situated as Tasmania might be, ought to be made.
-i submitted a motion to the Senate dealing with the matter.
– Both Senator O’Keefe and myself frequently referred to it. I might also refer to a statement made by you yourself, Mr. President, when we were discussing the financial agreement in 1909. The bookkeeping section of the Constitution operated very unfairly as far as Tasmania was concerned. When the Braddon section was on the eve of expiring it was urged that some arrangement ought to be made which would embrace in its financial aspect not only the operation of the bookkeeping section, but also the operation of the Braddon section. In other words, the financial arrangement has to be dealt with on a fresh basis. I venture to say that, while the present Ministry came into power just as the Braddon section was about to expire, and appointed the Commission to inquire into Tasmania’s claims, and have since taken steps to remedy the grievance, nevertheless, any Ministry which had been in office at the time when the financial arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States came up for review would have given attention to Tasmania’s heeds, and consideration to that to which she was justly entitled. I will come now to the main point on which this claim is based. It is not based upon any Customs leakage, but upon the bookkeeping section. It will be remembered that under the bookkeeping section of the Constitution the revenues which each State of the Commonwealth derived from Customs and Excise were determined by the amount of duty that was paid by the citizens of that State on goods that were imported into it from outside the Commonwealth. The corollary to that was that just to the extent that the State of Tasmania - or any other State for that matter - imported and used goods that were manufactured in some other part of theCommonwealth did her finances suffer. Perhaps I am using the word “imported” rather loosely.
– The goods to which the honorable senator refers would have been imported to Tasmania from the mainland.
– Perhaps I should have used the word “ transferred.” In the Constitution the technical expression is “transfers.” The position was this: If Tasmania imported goods largely from overseas, under the bookkeeping section of the Constitution she would derive a considerable benefit ; in other words, would be entitled to a considerable amount of revenue from Customs, because she would be the consumer of the goods that came from abroad. But if the goods which she consumed were transferred from some other part of the Commonwealth into the State of Tasmania, to that extent under the bookkeeping section she suffered. I remember discussing this matter in the Senate, and particularly referring to it- as a matter of special interest to Protectionists. I was not appealing to those holding similar views to my own, but to members of the Senate who were Protectionists. I made the appeal on this ground : I said that Protectionists ought to recognise that their best friends, and the greatest helpers of the policy which they favoured, were the people of that State which chiefly consumed goods that were produced and manufactured in Australia. I do not think that any Protectionist would object to that argument. No Protectionist would deny that the State or the person who consumed the greatest quantity of Australian-made products was the best friend to Protection. Upon that argument, the best friends to Protection in the whole Commonwealth were the citizens of Tasmania. That is why they lost so severely in the early days’ of the Federation. The reason is very simple. Instead of importing goods from abroad to a large amount per capita, they transferred goods from other States of the Commonwealth, and consequently were large consumers of goods produced in Australia.
– Perhaps they used large quantities of goods made in Tasmania itself.
– Unfortunately, Tasmania produces very little in the way of manufacture ‘ goods. The value of our manufactures may almost be considered as nothing. It was si-> small as not to be worthy of consideration. Every one will admit that the policy F Protection, whatever results it had in regard to the Com monwealth of Australia, has not resulted in any large manufacture of goods in Tasmania. That is a fact now, and always has been. Tasmania is too small to become a manufacturing State. The geographical conditions are against that. Every one must recognise that the manufacturing interests of Australia must always be in the chief centres of population. It was because of these circumstances that Tasmania suffered by Federation. If, for instance, we had got all the people of Tasmania together, we might have put to them this argument : “ The amount of revenue that the State of Tasmania will get depends very largely on the total value of the goods imported into the State from oversea; the amount of revenue she will get from the Federation will have a considerable bearing upon the taxation she will have to impose on her citizens. If, therefore, you will all com-‘ bine to save yourselves from the heavy burden of taxation - if you will combine and buy only those things which are manufactured outside the Commonwealth, then you will be able, without any additional expense to yourselves, to add very largely to Tasmania’s revenue derived from the Commonwealth, and consequently to save yourselves from taxation which the State may have to impose in order to adjust the finances.” Such an argument would have been bad for any man with Federal views to advance, but he would have been absolutely justified if the one desire had been to increase Tasmania’s revenue, and save the State from imposing heavy taxation. I do not want to quote figures at length, but sufficiently to show how they bear out my argument. I will take the year 1899 as a more normal year than that immediately preceding Federation. In that year, Tasmania’s Customs and Excise revenue was £449,000. In 1890, it was a little more, £492,000. Federation was established in 1901, and I would like honorable senators to look at the effect 01 the Union on the Tasmanian revenue from Customs and Excise that is under the three-fourths distribution. In T901-3. it was £316,000; in 1902-3, £300,000; in 1903-4, £264,000; in 1904-5, £259,000; in 1905-6, £255,000; while in 1906-7, it was £223,000. The other figures I will not bother about. They are practically similar.
– Is Tasmania still on the decline, or gaining revenue?
– Until the financial arrangement was made, the revenue kept down to about £220,000, and since then new conditions have prevailed. The point is that in 1899, prior to Federation, Tasmania derived from its Customs Tariff, and that was not so high as the present Tariff, ,£440,000. During the years I have mentioned, although Tasmania’s population had not ‘increased at as rapid a rate as could be desired, it still had increased. I would remind honorable senators that, had Tasmania, not gone into Federation, one. might assume that the Customs revenue would slowly but surely have increased beyond the £440,000, owing to the growth, of population- and the general improvement that has taken place. On the figures I have quoted, I am safe in saying that Tasmania lost by entering the Federation at least from £220,000 to £240,000 a year.
– Would it not be fair to allow something for the gain in respect of transferred services?
– In the early days of Federation that gain was practically nothing. But it is so hard to compute the exact value to Tasmania of that transfer of services that I have left it out of my argument. I will put it in another way. Many of us have strong views on taxation. For instance, Senator Stewart has. I have heard him talking here about direct taxation as compared with indirect taxation. Let me tell the Senate how Tasmania has been affected in that way. Taking the figures in regard to the directtaxation paid in all the States, except Tasmania, the average per head is 18s. 9d. In Tasmania, the average paid in direct taxation is 32s. 6d. per head. Those figures are most instructive, almost alarming, I should say. From Senator Stewart’s point of view, Tasmania, may be ideally taxed.
– The high direct taxation ought to make it a most progressive’ State.
– Senator Stewart will agree that the contrast between Tasmania and the other States is tremendous. I would point to one other fact to show what Tasmania is doing to adjust her finances. Direct taxation in that State has increased since the advent of Federation from T2S. rod., which was the rate ner head in 1899, *° 32S- 6d. Per bead, which is the rate to-day.
– You have abolished the ability tax.
– We have a tax which has just the same effect - the income tax, with an £80 exemption. That was one of the main features of the ability tax.
– How much of that revenue comes from the other States through Tattersalls sweeps?
– I cannot answer Senator Givens exactly, but I have been told that the revenue derived from Tattersail’s is about £50,000 per annum.
– I understand from a very reliable source that it is not more than £30,000 or £40,000.
– I merely said what I believed to be the case. It does not affect this question at all. If Tasmania gets that revenue now, it had it years prior to Federation.
– It means that Tasmanian citizens are not paying quite so high a direct tax, as your figures show. Some of it comes from the Australian citizens who do business with Tattersalls.
– The citizens of Tasmania have a direct taxation of 32s. 6d. per head, while the average for the whole of the other States is only 1.8s. 9d. The figures I have given are sufficient to show that Tasmania’s financial position is a very singular one compared with that of the other States. Those figures ought to convince honorable senators that Tasmania does deserve some pecuniary compensation for the loss she suffered during the earlier years of ‘Federation. The question we are discussing has nothing to do with our position to-day. The Bill deals with nine years of Federation, and it was never intended by the Government or any of their supporters to have any reference whatever to the state of things to-day. Tasmania has now no complaint to make. She is in the same position as every other State. It was anticipated in framing the Constitution that certain inequalities would arise as between the States. We could have no greater proof of that than the bookkeeping provision and Braddon section. I would like to point out that it was hardly contemplated at that time that the financial arrangement entered into would be other than tentative, a time limit being introduced of five and ten years respectively. I regret very much, of course, and every honorable senn tor for Tasmania regrets, that the Government have not deemed it advisable to give Tasmania the whole of the amount the Commission decided in its unanimous recommendation that that State was entitled to. It is not for me to go into the reasons . for their action. I regret it. It is for me rather to justify the action of the Commission. I do not hesitate to say for one moment that it would have paid Tasmania as a commercial transaction, to have given to the Commonwealth Government £100,000 every year of the first nine years of Federation to be allowed the same source of Customs and Excise revenue as she had before Federation. I say that without the slightest hesitation.
– It would have been better for the Government, but would it have been as good for the people?
– And have continued the duties on tea and kerosene.
– I have not introduced any debatable matter. Senator Long perhaps does not know how I voted in this Senate. But I have never voted in my life for duties on tea and kerosene.
– I am sorry if I misunderstood the honorable senator.
– I have been particularly careful not to deal with any controversial questions. I have confined my remarks simply and solely to the subject-matter of the Bill. Will Senator Long say that if Tasmania had been left alone to make its own Customs and Excise Tariff, it would always have had a duty on this article, or a duty on that article? I cannot say what the State would have done, nor can the honorable senator do so. I shall deal with things just as they are without going into the question of policy. I believe that it would have paid Tasmania financially to have given the Commonwealth £100,000 a year for the right to determine her’ own Tariff. In these circumstances, surely it is almost an easy task for any senator from Tasmania to say that, on the facts which are presented in regard to the financial arrangements of the State, and especially in regard to its revenue since Federation, the present Government of the Commonwealth would Have been abundantly justified in giving full effect to the recommendation of the Royal Commission. I do not think that it is quite sufficient to tell us, as Senator McGregor did, that we ought to be satisfied with getting £500,000. I believe that the Government have recognised that the position is such that Tasmania is entitled to some assis tance. I know that many a senator hasrecognised that, too, before this question ever came up. I also know that many a member of another place has recognised inpast years Tasmania’s real claim to compensation. If the Government recogniseTasmania’s claim, and the facts and the figures do show that the sum recommended by the Commission, namely, £900,000, isnot in excess of the actual loss which the State sustained, it is exceedingly regrettable, at any rate to me,’ that they havepractically halved the amount. I know that it is difficult for me, standing on theOpposition side, to offer any remarks which would affect the decision of the Government. I am not speaking in a party sense.
– They will get some remarks from this side of the Chamber, too.
– I can only hopethat they will have more practical effect than, unfortunately, any remarks will havecoming from me. I dismiss the question of Customs leakage altogether, because leakage happened, wherever goods had to be transferred from State to State. Queensland, no doubt suffered from Customs leakage, and even South Australia suffered to a. certain extent, but that, consideration I dismiss altogether. I submit that, on thefigures, it is abundantly proved that, because of Tasmania’s loyalty to Federation, and the Tariff which this Parliament imposed, the State suffered. I say, further,, that the facts abundantly justify my statement that the State suffered to the extent: of more than the amount which the Royal Commission recommended Parliament should pay to the State. Because of thesefacts, if I am given an opportunity bySenator O’Keefe, or any one else, I shall’ be only too glad to support a request, because I believe absolutely in the meritsof this claim. I hope that the Government will give Tasmania the £900,000. I trust that an opportunity will be given tome to vote for that amount, because, on the facts and figures submitted, it ishonestly and fairly due. once the Government admitted the principle by offering; £500,000.
– I thoroughly indorse ‘everything which hasbeen said by Senator Clemons. The position is not at all satisfactory to senatorsfrom Tasmania. While we fully recognise that the present Government have donemore than did any previous Government” in bringing down a proposal for compensation we feel that the amount proposed to be- paid is too small. After this question had been discussed in Both Houses of this Parliament for a number of years, a Royal Commission was appointed to investigate the whole of the circumstances. I know that the chief ground which led to its appointment was that there had been a big Customs leakage, lt was discovered in the course of the very voluminous evidence taken that there was a leakage; but those who read the evidence, as I have done, will find that there was a great variety of opinion respecting the actual amount. Owing to the system of Inter-State transfers, it was impossible to discover what the leakage was, but it was put down unanimously by the Commissioners at about £10,000 a year for seven years, making a total leakage of £70,000. During the course of the inquiry it was shown clearly that Tasmania’s chief disadvantages under Federation were due to the fact that she was taking goods from the mainland, where they were produced or manufactured. On these goods there was no duty collected by Tasmania, because they had been made within the Commonwealth. I do not propose to refer at any length to the evidence, but I wish to call the attention of honorable senators to paragraph 15 of the report, which is unanimously signed by the Commissioners. It reads as follows -
Your Commissioners therefore recommend : -
That Parliament be asked to grant financial assistance to the State of Tasmania in terms of section 96 of the Constitution to the amount of£900,000 during the ten years ending 1920-21.
The payment of £900,000 on a sliding scale was recommended. I now ask honorable senators to listen to paragraphii of the report -
Definite action has been taken by successive Governments to grapple with the situation. Expenditure has been cut down, developmental work retarded, and direct taxation heavily increased. From 12s.10d. per head prior to Federation, it has increased to 32s. 6d., an increase of 19s. 8d. per head, as against an average increase for all six States of 2s. 4d.
That increase ought to satisfy Senator Stewart that the Tasmanian Government have done their duty, at least, in increasing the direct taxation.
– It ought not to satisfy you.
– The paragraph continues -
The direct taxation of 32s. 6d. per head compares with an average for all six States of 18s. 4d. The State has been compelled to increase its direct taxation by over 800 per cent. more than the average of the other States. From £111,515 in 1901 it had risen to £303,390in 1909-10. The exemption under the income tax is down to £100 for married and £80 for single men.
There is no other State in which the wageearners have to pay an income tax on such a low amount.
– You do not get any income tax from the land-holders.
– Yes ; we have the heaviest land tax of any State.
– That is not an income tax.
– I am afraid that Senator Stewart has not given to this subject the very close consideration which he gives to most subjects. Taking the evidence of all the witnesses whose names are furnished, it will be found that the consensus of opinion was to the effect that there was a loss of about £100,000 a year. The Commission came to the conclusion that the annual loss was at least £100,000 for nine years; but the facts elicited in the evidence show that the average loss for the period was considerably greater.
– It was twice that amount.
– Under its own Tariff, Tasmania had a revenue of £2 15s. 10d. per head ; whereas the Federal Tariff returned a revenue of only £2 is.10d. per head. During this period of nine years the State had a population of about 180,000, and if we multiply the per capita difference of 14s. between the two Tariffs, we get a leakage of £126,000 a year.
– That was saved to the people.
– No; that argument has been used in the Senate, but it is absolutely fallacious. If the honorable senator had been living in Tasmania for the last eight or nine years, he would know that, in spite of the fact that the InterState duties were swept away, very gradually, but steadily, prices came back to the old level. Before Federation, Tasmania collected, say, 20 per cent. on articles produced or manufactured in Australia; but as soon as Free Trade within the Commonwealth was established, the producers and manufacturers on the mainland got the benefit of the sweeping away of those duties, because the prices were gradually and steadily put up to what they were before Federation. The statement has often been made that the 14s. per head remained in the pockets, of the people of Tasmania, but it is proved to be entirely fallacious. The greater portion of it has gone to benefit the producers and manufacturers of the mainland. I only say “Good luck” to them. That is one of the benefits they derive from Federation.
-Colonel Cameron. - And a part of the price we had to pay for Federation.
– That is so. On the question whether the grant should bc £500,000 or £900,000, as recommended by the Royal Commission, it is clear that the difference of 14s. per head in the Tasmanian revenue from Customs during Federation would account, with a population of 180,000 people, for £126,000 per annum. Taking the average Customs revenue per capita in all the other States, the amount received by Tasmania each year has been considerably less. In 1903 Tasmania received in Customs revenue 8s. 3d. per head less than the average received by the other States from the same source. In 1904, Tasmania received 7s. 6d. per head less; in 1905, 8s. 4d. ; in 1906, 8s. 8d. ; in 1907, its. ; in 1908, 10s. 6d. ; and in the financial year ending 30th June, 1909, Tasmania received us. 3d. per head less from Customs revenue than the average of the other States. This is another set of figures which completely establishes the statement that Tasmania has suffered financially as a result of Federation. -I do not hold a brief from the Government of Tasmania, but I say that the Governments in power in that State during the last few years could scarcely have made a more heroic effort than they did to meet the situation by an increase of direct taxation. As I have already stated, the direct taxation in Tasmania prior to Federation amounted to 12s. 6d. per head, and up to the time the report of the Royal Commission was presented it had been increased to 32s. 6d. per head, or an increase, of £1 per head since Federation, whilst the average increase of direct taxation in the other States during the same period has amounted to only 2s. 4d. per head. Answering the question by another set of figures, let me inform honorable senators that in 1901 the value of the dutiable imports into Tasmania amounted to £1,586,000, whilst in 1909, although there was in the meantime an increase of population, the value of the dutiable imports had fallen to £1,486,000, or a decrease of £100.000. In order to show that the population had increased, I may say that the total value of goods transferred from other States to Tasmania, and imported from beyond the Commonwealth, increased* during the period mentioned by £1,156,000, or an average of about £100,000 a year. In spite of this fact, E have shown that the total value of the dutiable imports in the same period decreased:* by £100,000. These figures again showthat our claim is a sound one, and that Tasmania’s position under the uniformTariff has become a very difficult one todeal with. This question is now a matter of practically ancient history. Some attempts were made to deal with it as farback as 1903. Senator Keating will re- ( member that at that time Sir William Lynewent into the matter, and, speaking from memory, I believe that he recommended’ that Victoria and New South Wales should make some kind of compensation to Tasmania. At the close of the first five yearsof Federation, when it became competent for this Parliament to distribute the Customs revenue under a per capita system, instead of under the bookkeeping system; I’ submitted a motion in the Senate to providefor that being done. If that course had?then been followed Tasmania would not’ have the claim to compensation which isnow urged on her behalf. The numberswere against me, however, and I was unable, with the assistance of other representatives of Tasmania, to carry my motion. Then we know that the Royal Commission,, to which reference has been made, was appointed, and its report was in due coursesubmitted to Parliament. My quarrel withthe Government is that they have notadopted the recommendation of the Royal* Commission in its entirety, because theCommission, after taking voluminous evidence, unanimously reported that Tasmaniais entitled to a grant of £900,000. It is, of course, a question of finance, and the Prime Minister, who is also Treasurer of’ the Commonwealth, being possessed of afull amount of Scotch caution, says that agrant of £500.000 is a fair grant at the present time. No words used by the righthonorable gentleman or by any other member of the Government in the Senate or inanother place have led me to believe that the proposed grant of £500,000 should” end the matter. I understand that the. idea in the minds of Ministers is that £500.000’ is a fair grant to make at present, and that if the circumstances of Tasmania show at some later period that she is entitled to thebalance of £400,000 of the amount recommended by the Royal Commission, the-
Commonwealth Government then in power will be able to deal with the matter.
– That could not be done, because it would be based on something that is going on now, and we do not claim anything under the existing state of things.
– Certainly not. I was going to say that I think it would have been far better if the Government had adopted the recommendation of the Royal Commission. There is ample evidence attached to their report to justify a grant of ?900,000 to the people of the Commonwealth. One does not need to compare the circumstances of one State with another, but we are all aware that the State of Western Australia, under the present financial agreement with the States, is to receive on a sliding scale an amount of ?2,250,000, in addition to the amount of 25s. per head of her population, the amount of the payment made to the other States. We know also that Western Australia had her own Customs Tariff, in addition to the Commonwealth Tariff, during the first years of Federation. I propose, when the Bill gets into Committee, to move that another place be requested to increase the proposed grant of ?500,000 to ?900,000, and in support of that amendment 1 ask what better evidence could we have than that given by Mr. Knibbs, the Commonwealth Statistician, who, it will be admitted, was an absolutely disinterested and impartial witness before the Royal Commission? I quote the following evidence, which will be found at page 15 of the Minutes of Evidence attached to the report of the Commission -
I take it that the Official Year-Book of the Commonwealth is as accurate as it is possible to make it? It is as accurate as the data.
At page 806 of the issue No. 3, covering the period 1901-g, you give a table showing the surplus Commonwealth revenue per head of population paid to the States for ‘1904-5 to 1908-9. Docs anything in that table strike you with regard to the position of each Slate? - Tasmania, of course, appears in a very disadvantageous position indeed, while New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and Victoria are in a very relatively favorable position. Western Australia, on account of her special circumstances, appears in a very favorable position.
Tasmania comes out a very bad last in that regard? - Yes. I state in my memorandum previously referred to that in the nature of the case, a small State, other things being equal, is at some disadvantage, and T urge that as a ground for favorable consideration, apart from the evidence of the Tasmanian claim. From the figures it appears that Tasmania does come [ out very badly. In my memorandum of 9th
May, 1907, I endeavoured to compare, item by item, the previous Tariff of Tasmania and the Commonwealth Tariff. This was a big undertaking, and it was necessary to interpret as best, we could when there was a difference in the items, because there was a difficulty in that regard. It gave this result : - “ It appears thathad the Tasmanian Customs and Excise Tariff of 1899, namely, that in vogue in 1900, been in operation in that State in 1906, the revenuederived from this source would have been ?708,735, instead of ?326,395 actually collected. This indicates that the substitution of the Commonwealth for the State Tariff, and the accompanying provision of Inter-State free-trade, has had the effect of depriving the State Treasury of a certain amount of the funds, namely,. ?382>34?, which it would otherwise have received.
That is, of course, for one year. It seems to me that that argument is unanswerableAccording to the evidence of Mr. Knibbs, Tasmania in 1906 received ?383,000 lessthan she would have received prior to Federation if her population had remained thesame. I say that our claim that we havereceived an average of ?100,000 a year less from Customs revenue for the past nine years can be substantiated from theevidence of almost any witness who appeared before the Royal Commission. Surely we could have no better authority than the Commonwealth Statistician for such a statement? I can refer honorablesenators to another authority, Sir ElliotLewis, who was Premier of Tasmania. I admit that he may be considered prejudiced, to some extent, in favour of Tasmania’s claim, but in this matter he was only stating the facts. In giving evidencebefore the Commission, he said -
I have taken from the last Budget-paper of” Mr. Fisher, at page 23, a table which shows.the net Customs and Excise revenues of theStates between 1900-1 and 1909-10, and whichI have had printed, and which I ask the Committee to append to my evidence [vide appendix). It shows that in 1900-1 Tasmania received’ ?475,000. Leaving out the odd figures the average return since that year has been ?.361,000,. or an average loss of ?114,000 per year, a percentage loss of 20.04 p?r year, and an aggregate loss of ?1,028,000 in nine years.
Sir Elliot Lewis, dealing with the question through another set of figures, shows that for the last nine years the loss to Tasmania was ?1,028,000. Evidence was also given- before the Royal Commission by Captain. Evans, who was Treasurer for Tasmania for some time. I find that he said -
As regards its finances, Tasmania would have been to-day in a very flourishing condition indeed if there had been no Federation. 1 donot want it to be understood that Tasmaniahas not gained advantages by Federation, but it certainly had to make sacrifices in the matterof its finances. I have pointed our what would have received some years after the advent of Federation by increased imports under our old Tariff between £600,000 and £700,000. I have noticed that already the figures have been quoted at this inquiry. In the year prior to Federation we collected under our Customs Tariff about ‘ £497,000. So strongly was I of opinion that Federation was going to be a good thing for Tasmania that I spared no effort in that direction; in fact, I not only spoke from the platform, but also from lorries and carts, and all sorts of things, in fighting for Federation. We were always led to believe that at no time in the history of the Commonwealth would this little State be in a worse position than it was at that time prior to Federation - that is, that we should always get from the Commonwealth a return sufficient to pay the interest on our pre-Federal debts, which was something like £319,000. In 1900 we obtained from Customs £497,000, but only in one instance have we received back from the Commonwealth the amount of £300,000. It has been a diminishing amount each year. In 1902-3 we received £301,978; in 1903-4, £263,191; in 1904-5, £259,099; in 1905-6, £256,391; and in 1906-7, £223,727. I cannot give the figures for later years, but they can be obtained without difficulty from the Statistician. You will see that only in one year have we received over £300,000; it has been a diminishing amount each year. Therefore, I am quite satisfied that Tasmania has made a sacrifice of something like £200,000 a year in the interests of Federation.
I quote this evidence from Captain Evans in reply to the interjection made, by Senator Stewart -
I know it has been said that while it came out of one pocket it went into the other, that under our Federal Tariff we get free a large number of goods which were not on the free list of the State Tariff, that we have also got a reduced Tariff in other directions, and that the prices of goods, clothing, &c, have been cheaper, and, therefore, the people have gained a benefit. But my personal experience, and the information I have .gained from various householders, is not in that direction at all. They state that the prices of their goods are higher than they were prior to Federation. T am convinced that if we had simply gone in for Inter-State free-trade, Tasmania would be in a far better position financially, and we would not have1 such heavy burdens of taxation on the people of the State as we have been forced to impose on them owing to our reduced revenue from Customs year by year.
To sum up, it seems to me that during the nine years which have been referred to we received in Tasmania, roughly speaking, about one-half the amount we would have received from Customs revenue if there had been no Inter-State Free Trade. Though only about half the amount of Customs revenue has been collected from the people of Tasmania, they have been no better off, because they have had to pay the same prices for the goods they have consumed, and the benefit” has been derived by the manufacturers and producers of the mainland. On these grounds I think that representatives of Tasmania are fully entitled to. ask the Senate to give effect to the recommendation of the Royal Commission in its entirety. One need not go into history to show that such grants as are asked for here are not new to Federation. It is sufficient to say that in the Dominion of Canada similar contributions have been made in aid of some of the Canadian Provinces, whose financial arrangements were disturbed by the establishment of the Dominion.
– Only recently that was again done in Canada.
– That is so. Clause 96 of the Constitution is very clear on this question. It reads -
During a period of ten years after the establishment of the Common-wealth and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides, the Parliament may grant financial assistance to any State on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit.
In . granting such assistance to Tasmania, the Federal Parliament will not be entitled to consider that it is making Tasmania a charitable allowance. It is really a question of compensation.
– The matter ought to be put on the same footing as the special terms granted to Western Australia.
– It is not a dole.
– It should not even be called a grant. It is a matter of compensation, such as was foreseen by the framers of the Constitution might, and probably would be, necessary.
-Colonel Cameron. - We do not ask for the amount as charity ; we demand it as a right.
- Mr. John Henry, one of our leading politicians, a member of the Federal Convention, who had had much experience as Treasurer of Tasmania, pointed out that something of the kind might be required.
– I drafted an amendment for Mr. Henry to the same effect, though a little wider, and he moved it in the Convention.
- Mr. Henry foresaw what was likely to occur. He knew that there would be financial trouble to Tasmania owing to the disturbance of her revenues under Federation, and he pointed this out to such effect that what he said hnd a great deal to do with the insertion of section 96 in the Constitution. That being so. I am going to ask the Senate to request another place to increase the sum df £500,000 to ,£900,000.
– Why not make it a million?
– Well, I wonder that the Royal Commission did not make it a million pounds. They would have “been justified in doing so. All the figures go to prove that the loss for nine years was considerably more than-£roo,000 per annum. Still I am. willing to follow the Royal Commission’s report in its entirety, and to ask for £900,000. To secure this end, I have given notice of ,a series of requests to alter the word “ five “ to “ nine.” I also propose to move an amendment to do away with the sliding scale. My idea is that the Bill should be altered to give Tasmania £100,000 a year for nine years. I would have it remembered that such a grant would, to some extent, compensate for the period of nine years during which Tasmania lost a tremendous amount of money. We should not forget that the Tasmanian people were splendid Federalists. They were absolutely and intensely loyal to the Commonwealth. Although they knew that if they purchased, for instance, boots manufactured in Great Britain or America, their State would receive so much per pair, their regard for Australia was so strong that the greater number of the young Tasmanians preferred to buy boots made in Australia.
– The figures show that clearly.
– For example, I use” such boots, but it can be applied to nearly every other article. I may remind Senator Stewart that it applies to sugar. Tasmania was loyal to Queensland sugar. She lost in that way a great amount of revenue which she would have obtained from Customs, had . her people chosen to consume sugar produced outside the Commonwealth. I think I have quoted sufficient figures to demonstrate that the Royal Commission’s report left practically no option to the Government but to bring down a proposal of this description. The evidence and recommendations would have justified the granting of the full amount mentioned by the Royal Commission, but I am grateful to the Government for what they have done, because as one of their supporters, I am glad to feel that they have done the right thing. But at the same time, -I cannot’ avoid mentioning that the Royal Commission’s report was unanimous, although it was a nonparty Commission, representing every State in the Union, and all shades of thought in politics. Whilst, therefore, I am glad to admit that the present Government is the first that has recognised the obligations of the Commonwealth to Tasmania, I am, at the same time, very sorry that they have not “ gone the whole hog,” and given effect to the Royal Commission’s recommendation in its entirety.
– The honorable senator ought, in fairness, to admit that this is the first Government that could have moved in the matter. No Government, until 1910, could have touched it.
– I do not desire to introduce contentious matter, because, as have said, the question is a non-party one’; but I may point out that the argument has been fairly -used that it was quite possible for an arrangement to be made in the early years of Federation, when all the States were receiving a large amount of money per annum beyond the three-fourths which the Constitution required to be paid ‘to them. Out of the surplus, the Commonwealth Government might have paid compensation to Tasmania just as Western Australia received special treatment.
– Western Australia got that under the Constitution.
– I do not wish to be drawn into a party argument, nor shall I pursue the point any further. If we are not successful in carrying a request to increase the amount from £500,000 to £900,000, I trust that .the present Government, if they continue in power, will bring down a Bill for the payment in the future of the Balance which I contend is rightly and justly due to Tasmania as compensation for her past losses.
– I welcome the arrival of .this Bill in the Senate. Like those who Have already spoken, I should have preferred to see provision made for carrying out the full recommendation of the Royal Commission. In that we have been’ disappointed. As I hope to see the measure passed, if not. in an amended and better form, at least in its present form, as early as possible, I shall be brief in addressing myself to the motion for the second reading. It has been observed by preceding speakers that the present is the first Government that has proposed anything of the kind. But as has been rightly urged elsewhere, and’ as I took the opportunity of saying most courteously when a similar observation was made by the Prime Minister in Hobart, no other Government prior to this one had such an opportunity of dealing with the subject as the present Ministry have. The opportunity is, of course, afforded by the termination of the Braddon section.
– The Senate was given an opportunity when the honorable senator moved his amendment to the Financial Agreement.
– My point is that no Government had an opportunity of dealing with the subject satisfactorily until the termination of the Braddon section, and my amendment was to legislation intended to operate after such termination.
– An opportunity was afforded to the Government of the day at the end of the first five years of Federation, but the majority refused to take action.
– No previous Government had the same control over the finances of the Commonwealth as this Government has.
– What about the £6, 000,000 surplus revenue?
– Previous Governments were bound under the Constitution to return at least three-fourths of the Customs revenue to the States. It was thought in some quarters, indeed, that they were bound to return not only the full threefourths, but also the unexpended portion or the surplus of the Commonwealth’s own one-fourth. Even those who thought that it was not necessary for the Commonwealth to return any portion of the onefourth to the States, were, nevertheless, of the opinion that at the very least it would be necessary to have a definite allocation of the surplus revenue remaining out of our own one-fourth, and that opinion needed indorsement by the High Court. That is why we passed the Surplus Revenue Bill in 1908.
– I take it that the honorable senator was quite sincere in moving for a special grant to Tasmania some years ago?
– Exactly ; long before doing so I endeavoured to assist Sir William Lyne, then Treasurer of the Commonwealth, to bring about a similar result. The work which I did for him at his request and upon this subject is to be found on record in one of our parliamentarypapers. Apropos of the question whether the grant should be £500.000 or £900,000. I may point out that the particular proposition which I submitted to the Senate on the occasion to which Senator Ready has just referred was for a distribution during a period of twenty-five years- which the then Government were contemplating as the period for a new allocation of revenue as between States and Commonwealth - of a special amount of £75,000 a year to Tasmania, diminishing by £3,000 each year until the amount disappeared. If that had been carried the amount paid to Tasmania would in the aggregate have been £975,000. The Royal Commission have since recommended that the amount which should be paid to Tasmania is , £900,000, spread over ten years. I do not propose to quote a large number of figures on the present occasion, because the subject has been before the Senate frequently in different forms - twice on my own motion - and I am inclined to think that some honorable senators are coming to the opinion that we Tasmanians are treating them to figures ad nauseam. Possibly, if we continue to do so, we shall find ourselves in the position of entertaining each other within this Chamber instead of having ‘ honorable senators from other States as part of our attentive audience. I do wish, however, to quote a. few figures as illustrative of the decline of the revenue of Tasmania after the establishment of Federation. The figures are the net receipts for Tasmania from Customs and Excise under the Commonwealth regime. Reference has been made to the fact that in the year preceding Federation the Tasmanian Customs and Excise revenue ran up to about £450,000. I am inclined to think that it nearly reached £500,000. Nor were there any special circumstances to swell t he revenue derived through the Tariff. It was steadily increasing year by year.
– The revenue would have been £700,000 by now.
– It would have been under the continued and similar operation of the old Tasmanian Tariff.
– It would have reached £700,000 in 1907, according to Mr. Knibbs.
– In the year 1900- 1, under the Commonwealth regime, the net Tasmanian Customs and Excise revenue was £475.568. There was no Commonwealth Tariff in operation until October of 1901. Consequently the revenue for 1900-1 was collected under the old Tasmanian Tariff. In the year 1 901-2, nine or ten months of which saw revenue collected under the first Commonwealth Tariff, the net yield of Customs and Excise revenue for Tasmania was £373,140 - a drop of 25 per cent, as compared with the previous year. In 1902-3 the net revenue was £360,607; in 1903-4. it was £342,189; in1904-5, £333,651;in1905-6, £326,395. It will be observed that there was no recovery during that period. In 1906- 7 the revenue went up a little- to £343,000; and in 1907-8- obviously in contemplation of the alteration of the Tariff, as in other States- it jumped up to £409,000 odd. It receded in the first year of the operation of the new Tariff of 1907- 8 to £374,000, and in 1909-10 it was £391,000. It will be noted that throughout that whole period there was a steady decrease in the return of Customs and Excise revenue to Tasmania up to 1906. It has been said that part of this decrease was due to leakage, and part to the displacement of imported goods in Tasmanian use by goods of Australian production and manufacture. I wish to draw the attention of honorable senators to the effect of the Commonwealth Tariff in the two States which were, and are, the greatest States for the production and manufacture of Australian goods. Neglecting the odd hundreds, in 1900-1, Victoria collected £2,570,000. In 1901-2, it collected £2,376,000. Where Tasmania dropped 25 per cent., Victoria dropped but 8 per cent., and it could certainly then claim to be the greatest State for the output of goods of Australian production and manufacture. In 1902-3 the Customs and Excise revenue of Victoria rose to £2,499,000, exclusive of the sugar Excise revenue which was put to a trust account. In 1903-4 it rose to £2,443,000; in 1904-5 to £2,488,000; in 1905-6 to £2,537,000; in 1906-7, to £2,719,000; in 1907-8, in anticipation of a new Tariff, to £3,212,000 ; in 1908-9, it was £2,861,000 ; and in 1909-10, £3,048,000. Victoria’s fall in the first year of the Federal Tariff was 8 per cent., as against Tasmania’s 25 per cent. Victoria’s fall only lasted for a year or two, whereas Tasmania’s fall was 25 per cent, in the first year, and progressively steady in succeeding years. Take New South Wales, which has a great output of goods of Australian production and manufacture. In 1900-1, before the operation of the Federal Tariff, its Customs and Excise revenue was £1,958,547. In 1901-2 it bounded to £2,812,000, being an increase of 45 per cent. as against
Tasmania’s decrease of 25 per cent., and Victoria’s decrease of 8 per cent. The Customs and Excise revenue of New South Wales wept on bounding, attributable no doubt to the fact that it had not developed its capabilities in production and manufacture as much , as it might have done, the effect of a protective Tariff was a swelling of revenue from goods imported from abroad. In 1902-3 the Customs and Excise revenue of this State rose to £3,478,000; in 1903-4, to £3,229,000; in 1904-5, to £3,033,000; in 1905-61 to £3,233,000, until in 1906-7 it had increased to £3,573,000, which was an increase of 85 per cent. on its revenue for the year in which the State entered Federation. The revenue of New South Wales has continued to increase, for in 1907-8 it was £4,514,000; in 1908-9, £4,263,000; while in 1909-10 it was estimated at £4, 180,000, and actually reached £4,449,000, or an increase of far over 100 per cent. on 1900-1. I think that these figures go to show that Tasmania can rightly claim that as regards the use of Australian goods per head, and loss of duty revenue, she has stood pre-eminently prominent among the different States. It was the use of goods coming most largely from New South Wales and Victoria, to the exclusion of goods from abroad, which caused this continuous drop in the Customs revenue of Tasmania. All the time that he was Minister of Trade and Customs and also when Treasurer, Sir William Lyne recognised that there was in Tasmania a displacement of what are called imported goods by goods transferred from New South Wales and Victoria. He put his case to the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria, and at last he convinced the Premier of the latter State that he should pay a certain sum per annumthrough the Commonwealth to Tasmania, but the Premier of the former State was not so amenable to reason.
– I think that it would be more correct for you to say that the Premier of New South Wales did not dispute the claim of Tasmania, but said that it had not been made manifest that the claim was against New South Wales.
– The Premier of New South Wales thought that the claim should be made against the Commonwealth. Sir William Lyne recognised that the bulk of the loss was due to the fact that New South Wales and Victoria were the two large manufacturing States from which Tasmania drew, and I think that he suggested that £40,000 a year should be retained by the Commonwealth to be handed’ to Tasmania, of which Victoria should pay £25,000 and New South Wales £15,000.Senator Millen has interjected that it was not made manifest to the Premier of New South Wales that there was a claim by Tasmania against that State. I think that that is largely due to the fact that Sir William Lyne had not the same opportunity for putting the case as clearly before him as he had to put it before the Premier of Victoria.. I know that he had several interviews as well as correspondence with the Premier of Victoria, but interviews which had been arranged from time to time between him and the Premier of New South Wales had to be abandoned. I believe that if the same opportunities for interviews had been afforded or the three Ministers had been brought together, the matter would have been settled. With regard to the title of the Bill - the Tasmanian Grant Bill- -I think that “ grant “ is hardly a correct term to use. It is really compensation.
– What does it matter? .
– It is better to have the fact properly recognised in the title. As regards Western Australia, a constitutional provision was made at the outset in favour’ of that State, and avowedly it was based upon its peculiar position in the group, and the fact that it had not then developed its manufacturing or producing resources. It was recognised that there would be an immense drop in the revenue of the State by reason of importations from the eastern . States, which would displace dutiable goods from elsewhere. But. I do not know that that has ever been called a grant. I think that the right of Western Australia to that special consideration was freely conceded throughout the Commonwealth. We ought to realize that the actual position and experience of Tasmania is very much like that which was foreseen regarding Western Australia.
– But there was no grant made to Western Australia.
– No, but there was a special provision put in the Constitution that Western Australia should have its own Tariff for five years, but diminishing on a sliding scale, and subsequently, in connexion with the distribution of revenue, a special provision was made over and above the per capita distribution for a certain period. The report of the Royal Commission has been received in Tasmania, I need hardly say, with marked demonstrations of satisfaction. There has been no hostile criticism levelled at it so far as I can remember. But I think that the bulk of the citizens of the State found, and still find, the action of the Prime Minister, in deciding to make provision for £500,000, really unintelligible. I do not know that any reason has as yet been advanced for adopting the Commission’s unanimous report to a certain extent, and practically ignoring the balance of its recommendation. I do not know that any Minister has attempted for a moment to give any reasons further than that he thinks that £500,000 would be a very satisfactory sum for the State just at’ present. In these circumstances, we might expect to get some justification for this departure from the Commission’s recommendation to the extent of 40 or 50 per cent.
– You always ask for more than you want, expecting the amount to be cut down.
– We ask for what has been recommended unanimously by the Commission. I hope that in Committee we shall find honorable senators who supported my proposals for the payment of £975,000, voting for a request for an amendment to increase the amount to £900,000. Otherwise, I trust that we shall get some satisfactory reason, which we can take back to the people of Tasmania, why the Government and the Parliament have departed from the general principle which was recommended with such unanimity by the Commission. I have very much pleasure in supporting the second reading of the Bill.
Senator Lt.-Colonel CAMERON (Tasmania) [6.10]. - I rise to support the Bill, and I am very pleased that one of Tasmania’s senators has intimated his intention to move in Committee for the payment to that State of the amount which the Commission recommended as being fair. There has been a displacement of revenue. Revenue which, prior to Federation, Tasmania received was diverted to the two largest States, and, seeing that a Royal Commission has gone fully into the merits of the case, I think it is only right for the Commonwealth to carry out its recommendation, because it has been clearly shown that the State lost to the extent of £100,000 a year between the introduction of the Federal Tariff and the new system of distributing the revenue. I do not believe that if I were to talk for a month . I could put the position more pointedly to the Senate. The benefits of Federation have been mutual, except in respect to the distribution of revenue year after year. A large sum which Tasmania used to receive through the Customs went to increase the revenue of the two largest States, and it is time, I think, that it was returned to the State, not in the spirit of a grant, but in a spirit of justice. I have much pleasure in supporting the measure.
– I find myself in a somewhat awkward position in dealing with this proposal. I do not very well see how I can oppose it, but, on looking into it, I really cannot find any good reasons why I should support it. Undoubtedly Tasmania is in a difficult position. She is in the situation of a person who has got into bad health by indulgence in habits prejudicial to her well-being, and, owing to a somewhat drastic system of treatment of her disease, she is now in a very weak position. Several honorable senators have lamented the fact that, owing to Federation, the people of Tasmania have been compelled to resort to what they are pleased to term very drastic direct taxation. I for one welcome that fact. I believe that it will ultimately be found to be very much to the advantage of the State. I trust that, before many years are over our heads, the proportion of direct taxation now paid by the people of Tasmania will be equal, if not surpassed, in every other State of the Union. On looking into the Tasmanian Tariff prior to Federation, I found that it was one of the most extraordinary revenue Tariffs I have ever had the misfortune to peruse. It did not attempt in the slightest degree to create industries. It was reaching out for revenue all the time, and, like the horse-leech, was never satisfied. It was a Tariff under which it would have been impossible to establish manufacturing industries on any large scale. It was a revenue Tariff pure and simple.
– Order ! The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing a Tariff matter on the second reading of this Bill.
– Other honorable senators have, in the course of the debate, dealt with the receipts of Tasmania prior to Federation. I am referring to the kind of
Tariff that was in operation in Tasmania at that time.
– Order ! No other honorable senator has so far dealt with the policy adopted in Tasmania. Honorable senators have referred to the actual receipts from Customs prior to Federation, and have compared them with the receipts since Federation was accomplished.
– If one is to be confined to the mere letter of the subject, it will become impossible to discuss it at all. Senator Keating pointed out what is stated in the report of the Royal Commission, that, if Tasmania were now drawing revenue from her Tariff prior to Federation, she would be receiving nearly £1,000,000 per annum.
– I did not say nearly £1,000,000. I said £700,000.
– I think that I am quite justified in pointing out that, in my opinion, it is most fortunate tor the people of Tasmania that they did join the Federation, because they are now under a Tariff which, if it is not perfect, is at least in many respects very much better than the one they had prior to Federation.
– The manufacturing industries of the State are in a worse position to-day than they were prior to Federation.
– That may be so ; but thehonorable senator overlooks the fact that, prior to Federation, Tasmania was an island State, separated from the other States of the Commonwealth. If the manufacturing industries of Tasmania are not now so prosperous as they were prior to Federation, it must be remembered that other industries of the State, such as the fruit industry, and the potato industry, are now very much more prosperous than they were prior to Federation.
– We had free ports for such produce in New South Wales prior to Federation.
– New South Wales was the only State of the Commonwealth which permitted the importation of such products free of duty. In every other State Tasmanian products were subject to duty. The fact remains that, if Tasmania has lost in one way by Federation, she has gained in another.
– But she has lost a lot more than she has gained.
– Tasmanians may think so. My own opinion is that she has gained very much more than she has lost, and if the people of Tasmania were only reasonably intelligent they might gain very much more than they have gained. By wise, virtuous, and patriotic government, Tasmania, instead of being the laggard in the Commonwealth race, would be the most prosperous State in Australia.
– I am under the impression that the honorable senator warned Queensland against joining the Federation.
– We are discussing Tasmania, and not Queensland, at present. I have a very warm place in my heart for Tasmania. I believe she is the most fortunately situated. State of the Commonwealth. She possesses rich land; a great supply of water power which might be very profitably used, and huge iron, tin and other mineral deposits. She has a right to be proud of herself, instead of being in the dumps, as she seems to be at the present moment.
– In common with many more, the honorable senator is very much at sea with regard to the rich lands of Tasmania. In respect of rich lands, proportionately, Tasmania cannot stand comparison with the other States.
– I am aware that the area of rich lands in Tasmania is not so large as in some of the other States.
– The proportion of rich lands to the total area in Tasmania does not compare favorably with the proportion in the other States.
– I do not know whether I shall be in order in referring to the slow progress made by Tasmania during recent years; but during the period 1906 to 1911 the population of that State increased at a much lower rate than did the population of any other portion of the Commonwealth. The increase was, in fact, so low that it was almost on a level with the ratio of increase in the denselypopulated countries of Europe. That is a state of affairs which should not exist in a young country like Tasmania. It is evidence of the adoption of a very conservative or retrogressive policy. We are quite entitled, when discussing a grant of £500,000 to a particular State of the Commonwealth, to point out how it is that that State happens to be in need of assistance. I find, on investigating the financial affairs of Tasmania, that 42 per cent, of her whole income is required to meet interest and sinking fund for her debt.
– It requires £400,000 out of a total income of £1,000,000.
– It requires something over £400,000 a year, or about 42 per cent, of the total annual revenue, a much higher proportion than in any other State, and about 15 per cent, higher than the average for the Commonwealth. Going further into the matter, I find that Tasmania has spent between £4,000,000 and £5,000,000 on railways, and pays about £172,000 a year in interest on those railways; whilst the annual loss on their working is over £100,000. Another very important fact is that she has spent nearly £3,000,000 on roads, which expenditure, so far as I can discover, returns no direct revenue at all.
– Is the honorable senator referring to the expenditure from loans ?
– Yes. There may be an indirect return from the last expenditure to which I have referred, but I have no evidence of that. The broad fact remains that nearly £8,000,000 have been spent in Tasmania on making roads and railways, bridges, harbors and public works of that kind, which usually lead to large public developments. It seems to me that that money has to a very great extent been wasted in Tasmania. It may be that there are huge areas of good land lying idle along the railways and roads. I do not know which of the two assumptions is the true one - that’ the money has been wasted because the roads and railways have been constructed in wrong places, or that the lands along them are locked up. Whichever is the case, it is evident that there has been something radically wrong in the conduct of public affairs in that State. Honorable senators have been deploring the fact that there has been a very large increase of direct taxation and a reduction of indirect taxation. I point out that indirect taxation is largely drawn from the pockets of the poor, and that direct taxation usually comes from the plethoric banking accounts of the rich. Honorable senators, therefore, are wasting their sympathy, not on the poor, with whom one would expect them to have sympathy, but on the rich. I am not a bit sorry for the rich because they have had to pay a little more.
– Unfortunately, in Tasmania, the poor have to pay as well as the rich.
– There is no exemption under Tasmania’s land value taxation, and I am very glad of that. The principle has been applied in that State in its -entirety. But even then what does it amount to? It is id. in the £r on land up to the value of £2,500. I do not call that drastic taxation. A id. in the £1 on £2,500 amounts to about £10 a year.
– At any rate that is higher than the taxation in any other State in the Commonwealth.
– It is, but I should “like to see the land value taxation in every State of the Commonwealth higher than that. A man owning land of the value of £2,500 pays in Tasmania only £10 a year in taxation upon it.
– But under the Federal land tax a man owning land up to the value of £5,000 escapes taxation altogether.
– I am referring now ito the Tasmanian land values tax, and I say that whilst a man who owns £2,500 worth of land pays a tax of £10 a year upon it, a working man with a wife and a family of four, and earning, perhaps, £2 per week, which is about the average working man’s wage in Tasmania, contributes between £18 and £20 a year to the revenue through Federal Customs taxation.
– So he does, and I -agree that it is disagraceful.
– I should like to see the land value taxation very much increased, and the taxation through the Customs largely decreased. I have no earthly sympathy with a man who, owning £2,500 worth of land, pays £10 a year in taxation upon it, but I do sympathize with the working man who gets only £2 a week, and has to pay £20 a year in Customs taxation.
– Why did the honorable senator assist to make him do so when we were considering the Tariff?
– I did my best to avoid that when we were considering the Tariff. If I made mistakes I am willing to unmake them. I am only most anxious that the Government should give us an opportunity to revise the existing Tariff.
Silting suspended from 6.30 to S p.m.
– When we adjourned’ I was endeavouring to prove that by entering Federation the incidence of taxation in Tasmania had been very considerably altered. I am upheld in that position by the evidence given by James Robert Collins, Accountant of the Commonwealth Treasury. On page 4 of the evidence taken by the Royal Commission,
Question 49, Mr. Collins’ testimony is reported as follows -
In your position of accountant of the Commonwealth Treasury, have you observed that since the advent df Federation the Customs revenue of Tasmania has suffered a considerable decline? - I have, and I believe that it is principally due to the imposition of a uniform Tariff, under which very much lower rates of duty are levied than were in force in Tasmania prior to Federation. It is also due to the abolition of Inter-State duties.
Mr. Collins evidently thought, as I think, that while certain taxpayers in Tasmania have to pay more to the Government than previously, and while the Government gets less from the great body of people than it did before, Federation has not been a substantial gain to the average citizen from the taxation point of view. As far as I can make out, a man getting £2’ a week in Tasmania pays very much less taxation now than he did previous to Federation ; whereas land-owners and people earning more than that income have to pay considerably more than they did before. That is a position upon which I congratulate the people of Tasmania. I do not think that they are to be pitied, for Federation has evidently benefited, from the revenue point of view, the great mass of the working people of that State. That being the case, I, at least, cannot be expected to have any sympathy for the richer classes. Undoubtedly the new state of affairs has brought the Government of Tasmania face to face with a rather difficult position. Instead of still further taxing the rich, that Government comes to the Commonwealth, and asks for assistance. I say that when a person comes craving for help from another, he ought first to demonstrate that he is utterly unable to help himself ; because, if assistance is given to him while he is in a position to do something for himself, his moral stamina is lowered. I am afraid that this £500,000 is going to do the people of Tasmania considerable injury. Instead of setting their own house in order, heroically tackling the rich man, and compelling him to pay very much more taxation than he is doing at present, the taxpayers of other portions of the Commonwealth will have to come to their assistance. It is a most important fact that, by giving this grant to Tasmania, we are not helping the working people of that State at all. They will have to pay as much in the future as they are doing now. We are subsidizing the rich man.
– No, we are not.
– Men like Senator Clemons and others.
– No, we are not.
– Senator Stewart talks as though he were a poor man.
– In comparison with some honorable senators I am a very poor man.
– Well ! We will not be personal; let us talk without mentioning names.
– I hope this will not go into Hansard. In any case, I wish, in all seriousness, to point out to honorable senators what they are doing. They are subsidizing the rich people of Tasmania, who are well able to bear a much heavier burden of taxation than they now carry. We are not going to help the Tasmanian working man at all by this legislation. Those people will have to pay in the future just as much as they pay now. In fact, I am not sure that we are not going to do something which will even damage the prospects of the Tasmanian working man. If the Government of the State were com,pelled to resort to legitimate direct taxation, the probability is that the railway position, which is now most unsatisfactory, would, within a very short period, be materially improved. I wish to quote some figures, upon the authority of Mr. Knibbs, with regard to public works and services throughout the Commonwealth. The average annual receipts from railways and tramways throughout Australia amount to £4 19s. 2d. per head of the population. In Tasmania the receipts are £1 13s. 9d. per head per annum.
– The trouble is that, through the subsidizing of industries in other States, the population is being dragged away from Tasmania.
– The Government of the State is driving them away. If Senator Long were Premier of Tasmania, I have not the slightest doubt that, instead of people leaving the State and coming to the continent, it would be the other way about. If he were at the head of a stalwart phalanx of Labour men, I have not the slightest doubt that the boot would be on the other foot.
– Then the honorable senator is refusing to vote for the grant because a Labour Government does not happen to be in power in Tasmania?
– How does the honorable senator know that I am going to vote against the grant? He had better wait to see how I vote. I am a charitablydisposed man, who gives a shilling and) adds a little lecture.
– If the honorablesenator gives us some sugar with the lecture we shall be quite satisfied.
– If Senator Clemons had been here a little while agohe would have got, not only sugar, but treacle. The figures which I have quoted are most important, and they show what isresponsible for the financial difficulty in which Tasmania finds herself to-day. It isnot caused by Federation, but by the factthat Tasmania has expended nearly £10,000,000 on railways, bridges, roads, and harbors which are not paying. There is the position in a nutshell.
– Are not the railwayspaying working expenses?
– Barely ; it takesthem all their time. There is an averageloss of a little over £100,000 a year.
– Surely ‘the honorable senator would not compare the railways in Tasmania with those on the mainland?
– That is one reason why I say that we shall probably bedoing an injury to Tasmania by giving her this grant. If we do not give her thegrant she will have to increase her direct taxation, and the result will probably begreater traffic and larger receipts for therailways.
– Does not the honorable senator think it is desirable to consider how the mileage compares with thepopulation ?
– Is there not more direct taxation in Tasmania than in any otherState ?
– There is, but there ought to be more. Instead of assisting Tasmania to add to her direct taxation, we are practically subsidizing the rich, people as against the poor.
– Bring up the direct taxation in other States to the level of” ours.
– That is what I have been hammering at ever since I became a member of the Senate. I havebeen continually saying, “ Increase the direct as opposed to the indirect taxation.” That is the one song that I have been singing. Apparently honorable senators do not likethe music.
– The honorable senator’s voice is getting a bit rusty.
– I believe it is, but I shall keep going as long as I have breath.
– Why does not the honorable senator show his approval of the one State that has gone in for direct taxation.
– I most undoubtedly approve of direct taxation, and I want more of it. Senator Clemons apparently does not approve of it, or does not want more. He wants his State to be subsidized. He comes to the Commonwealth and says, “ Look at how we people in Tasmania are taxing ourselves.”
– But they have not imposed enough taxation yet.
-They have not gone far enough.
– Is the honorable senator aware that we have the lowest exemption in the British Empire?
– I know all about that, but I am not referring now to income tax or probate duties. I am not alluding to any other form of taxation than land values taxation. I do not suppose that you, Mr. President, would permit me to go into this matter at length, but if I were allowed I think I could show honorable senators that there is ample room for much greater land values taxation in Tasmania than the paltry instalment which is now levied. It is accepted everywhere that the building .of railways and the making of roads, ‘bridges, and other conveniences largely increases the value of land.
– The building of a railway in Tasmania is much more costly than in any other State.
– I quite understand that, but the building of railways in Tasmania increases the value of land just as much as it does anywhere else on this continent. When you build a railway in any district you at least double the value of the ‘land there. A man having a piece of land worth £2,499 pays £10 8s. 3d. in Tasmania. In all probability half - I might say a very much greater proportion - of that value is community-created value. A nian who has an estate worth £1,250, in all probability, has the value of his land increased by the building of a railway to £2,500. That is to say, the community has presented him with £.1,250 sterling. Capitalized at 5 per cent., you have a sum which the community presents to him equivalent to £62 10s. per annum. Of that amount the State asks him to pay £10 8s. 3d., leaving him still to the good to the amount of over £50 a year. Yet he has the audacity to come forward and talk about “ this drastic land values taxation.”
– Surely the honorable senator knows that the man who received the present from the community has gone long ago.
– Are we going to continue an evil system like this simply because some measure of reform which may be initiated may hit somebody? Somebody must be touched.
– If the honorable senator had land worth £2.500 would he think that the community had given that value to it?
– It does not matter what I should think or do. .If I were a rich man I should do probably what other rich men would do. But I happen to be a poor man, and to be advocating the cause of the poor; and I say that this system is doing greater injury to the working people of Tasmania than anything else that could be mentioned. Therefore, I am doing my little best to try to remedy it. I may now tell Senator Clemons that I intend to vote for f-his grant of £500.000 to Tasmania. I do so with very great reluctance, for the reasons I have given. But there is one thing that consoles me, and it is that I hope that within a very short period the people of Tasmania will be restored to sanity, and that instead of having a reactionary Government in power, as happens to be the case at present-
– It does not happen to be the case.
– I hope that some Government will be in office which will pass good legislation, and place Tasmania in her proper position amongst the States of the Commonwealth.
– Like Queensland, without a land tax.
– It is not my fault if Queensland has not a land tax. If I were dealing with Queensland I should say just as much about her as I have said about Tasmania.
– The honorable member would be “ spanked “ if he did.
– I have risked “. spanking “ before now, and am prepared to risk it again. I trust that in the very near future, mainly on account of the drastic direct taxation of which we have heard, Tasmania will be able to take her proper place amongst the States of the Commonwealth.
– After the scathing criticism which we have heard from that good Federalist, Senator Stewart, who, after all, intends to vote for the grant of £500,000 to Tasmania, I think it would be just as well if a little more were said from the Tasmanian point of view. I have not occupied a seat in the Senate as long as some of my colleagues have done, and I cannot speak with personal knowledge of all the happenings in connexion with her claims for assistance as they can do. I want to point out, in reply to Senator Keating, that the history of the claim clearly proves that overtures for assistance were made to the various Governments preceding the present one, but made entirely in vain. According to the comprehensive report presented by the Royal Commission, which I am happy to say was a unanimous one, the claim originated in 1903. We find that time after time representatives of the State did make certain statements to the previous Administrations, but up to the advent of the present Government the request for help was made in vain. In the report of the Commission we find this paragraph -
The Prime Minister (Mr. Deakin), on his return from England in 1907, and Sir John Forrest held, according to Captain Evans, that any Customs leakage loss was not a Commonwealth financial responsibility, but one which ought to be accepted by the two States which were chiefly gaining by the Tasmanian trade, viz. - New South Wales and Victoria.
Captain Evans, at one time Premier of Tasmania, gave very interesting data in this regard. Examined by the Chairman, in reference to his remarks in Tasmania, he gave the following evidence - 446. Do I understand from your remarks that Tasmania was then paying a subsidy for the mail service by the Loongana? - It was then paying the whole of the mail subsidy. 447. Although it was a Commonwealth affair? - Yes; but that was rectified. I must admit that, on his return, Sir John Forrest took the subject in hand, and put the service on a proper basis. Although it was only a matter of a few thousand pounds, still that was of great assistance to us. That was all that he did at that time. As regards the leakage question, he pointed out the great difficulty which the Commonwealth Government had to contend with. He said that it was not a matter in which the Federal authorities could interfere very much, that our InterState credits ‘were principally with New South Wales and Victoria, but with Victoria more than New South Wales. These were the two States we were dealing with, as far as Interstate credits were concerned, and they -were gaining the benefit of any argument I put forth at that time as to the leakage question. Therefore, he argued, and so did the Prime Minister on his return from England, that it was not a financial responsibility of the Commonwealth, but one which ought to be accepted by the two States which were gaining the advantage by our large business with them. ‘He was quite prepared to recognise the responsibility as to a fair amount, but it must be a return from those two States’ share of the Customs and Excise revenue. We failed to attain our object at that time, after holding several conferences. I even went to Melbourne on three occasions to deal with the matter.
That evidence shows clearly that the present was the first Government to seriously take up the question with the idea of helping the little State. I do not think that this aspect of the question has been touched upon during the debate. Although I intend to vote against the Government on the amount of the proposed grant, still I give them credit for having attempted seriously to do something for the State I represent.
– Are you not “ a creature of the Caucus “ ? Will you dare to vote against the Government?
– I will even commit that enormity. Although I am very pleased that my colleagues have refrained from introducing any party feeling into the discussion - and I congratulate them in that respect - yet I find that already in Tasmania, before the Bill is even passed, the party organs are endeavouring to make political capital in order to damage the Labour party at the coming election. Surely it is not fair for the Tasmanian correspondent of the Launceston Examiner to make such statements as I am about to read in his Federal letter, especially in connexion with Tasmanian senators who sit on this side -
The Tasmanian Grant Bill.
The Tasmanian Grant Bill got through the Representatives, and yesterday the second reading was moved in tlie Senate. The debate inthe Representatives developed some peculiar features. Mr. Laird Smith and Mr. Jensen being controlled by the caucus, had to accept the £500,000 that the Government offered. Mr. Atkinson and Mr. Mcwilliams wanted to go further, but could not, because they were blocked by the rule which prevents a private member from increasing such a vote such as this. The real power lay with the Labour members, who could have exercised pressure through the caucus. They might also have made themselves heard in the House against the Government, but they were stopped by party considerations. This is one or the disadvantages of being a Labour member. You have to submit yourself to an iron discipline, whether it is against the interests of your constituents or not. Mr. Mcwilliamsendeavoured to corner both Mr. Laird Smithand Mr. Jensen by proposing a technical amendment in Committee, with a view of increasing the grant. It was called a trick, but they hadto vote for it. Next week the Bill will pass the Senate.
These remarks are an absolute distortion of the plain facts of the situation. The question of a Tasmanian grant has not been mentioned at any Caucus held by the Labour party. This is not a Caucus question at all. It is one of those questions on which we are free to vote as we wish, or in accordance with our promises to our own constituents. This trash sent to a leading newspaper in northern Tasmania is a deliberate misrepresentation which is calculated to place the Labour party in a false position. I acquit honorable senators on the other side of any blame in the matter. So far they have not attempted to make political capital in this debate, but if they do - and I give them credit for being too honorable and conscientious to do so - I wish it to be clearly understood that we on this side are not bound in any way, and that it is not a question of which the Caucus has any control. Senator O’Keefe has given proof of that by giving notice of a request to increase the amount. When a division is taken, we shall see how honorable senators on each side feel towards Tasmania.
I have no quarrel with anything said against the Government in reference to the amount. They have the right to propose whatever amount they think fit; we, in this Chamber, are quite free to vote as we think fit, and I shall have a good deal of pleasure, in spite of the terrible Caucus, in voting for a grant of £900,000. The fact that Tasmania has been badly governed in the past, and that past administration has stunk in the nostrils of the other States, does nol’ interfere with the justice of this special claim. It is altogether outside the question of the good or bad administration of Tasmania’s internal affairs.
Our honorable friends on the other side have spoken with two voices on this subject. Immediately preceding the agitation for a Royal Commission during its visit to Tasmania, every one of our Liberal leaders in Tasmania cried stinking fish. They said that the people of the State were poverty-stricken, and wanted help. That was largely true; but the same people, now that the State elections are finished, are to-day stating from every platform, and in the State Legislature, that the prospects in Tasmania were never brighter, that we were never better off, or in such a flourishing condition.
– Is not that true?
– No. The position which they maintained, and which we as a Labour party maintain, was that our condition was not good.
– Are not your prospects good now?
– Our prospects are good, provided that we get decent administration, but the condition which our Liberal friends twelve months ago claimed was bad has not been altered one iota since they made that claim. Really their contention is illogical. We are in need, not only of Commonwealth assistance, but also of decent internal administration, and I admit, to a large extent, Senator Stewart’s impeachment of it.
– This Bill will not help the internal administration.
– It will, inasmuch as I believe, with Senator Stewart, that within twelve months we shall have a Labour Government in Tasmania, who will be financially assisted by this grant, but even then we shall have to increase the present heavy taxation. We shall, however, tax the people who can well afford to pay, and not, as in the past, introduce an income tax with the lowest exemption to be found in Australia.
On what does the State’s chief claim to consideration rest? More than anything else, it rests upon disturbed trade relations, and the Commission put their finger on the spot very pithily when they agreed to this paragraph in their report -
Tasmania’s purchases from other States during the bookkeeping period were comparatively heavy, the Customs revenue thereby suffering. Whereas all other States from 1900 to 190S increased their purchases from the Commonwealth from the value of £27,424,000 to £38,444,000, or 43 per cent., Tasmanian purchases increased from £1,060,000 to £2,534,000, or 139 per cent. Whilst this increase of £1,474,000 took place, the other States increased their purchases from Tasmania by £677,000. If the difference be credited to Tasmania on a 20 per cent, basis for Customs purposes, the State’s revenue would be increased by £159,400 per annum. Tasmania’s total imports in 1900 were £9 14s. 6d. per head. In 1908 they were £18 ns. per head, an increase of 16s. 6d. Of that sum £7 10s. rod. fer capita represents the increase in Inter-State imports.
Tasmania has been the one State which has been conspicuous in its consumption of Australian-made goods; and that, put in as few words as possible, is the whole secret of the claim. Senator Stewart, and. I think, other honorable senators, referred to our factories. He stated that we had practically unlimited water-power. I admit that ; but I ask our critics, in this regard, to remember that, whereas we started Federation with comparatively unorganized manufactures, Victoria had a splendidly equipped and extensive system of factories, able to turn out goods equal to anything that we could import.
– With your waterpower, you could run a factory more cheaply than could any other State in the Commonwealth.
– I admit that, too. At the establishment of Federation, we had not only well-equipped factories, but factories which were paying much lower rates of wages than were paid in any other part of the Commonwealth. Under our Tariff, 23 per cent, of the total imports were on the free list ; whilst, under the Commonwealth Tariff, 52 per cent, were put on the free list.
– And 15 per cent, was the average duty.
– The revenue duties resulted in a great loss to Tasmania. Directly we federated, commercial travellers came across in hordes from Victoria and New South Wales looking for business. Victoria has always been noted for its splendid business men and well-equipped system of business organization. Well, these commercial travellers came to Tasmania and swamped our factories.
– Could they undersell you ?
– Yes; because they were paying higher wages, and getting a very much higher standard of efficiency, once more exploding the old economic axiom, that low wages mean cheap goods. Tasmania had a wage-list which was 10, 20, and even 30 per cent, lower than that of Victoria, yet Victorian manufacturers sent goods to Tasmania, paid the freight, and undersold us. Why ? Because they had efficient and well-organized factories. They had machinery and men capable of turning out goods superior to anything in the Commonwealth at a lower price.
– Not superior to anything in the Commonwealth.
– Well, equal.
– In furniture, we can knock them all into a cocked hat.
– Yes; and so far as furniture is concerned, I am pleased to say that South Australia has to send to Tasmania for 1,000,000 super, feet of timber per annum for one firm alone. Regarding the factories in Tasmania : In 1901, there were 7,466 employes; in 1908, 8,727 employes; and in 1909, 9,322 employes. In Australia, the employes in factories numbered, in 1901, 204,317 .; in 1908, 257,526; and in 1909, 266,405.
– You increased in a much lower ratio.
– That is the point. The increase in employes in the other States was about 25. per cent., while in Tasmania it was 17 per cent. We found even worse than that. Victorian manufacturers dumped goods into Tasmania, and undersold our factories. They sent in their goods, and sold them at cost price until they had ruined our factories, and obtained the trade, when at once they reverted to the old standard and Tasmania still had to pay. That is one very vital matter which was dealt with at length by the Royal Commission. They proved beyond a doubt [hat dumping did take place, and was very detrimental to Tasmania’s trade relations. On that ground alone, leaving out the £70,000 for leakage, we are entitled to all that the Commission recommended,
I believe that the Government would have been better advised had they proposed a grant of £900,000. I quite recognise that Governments do not always adopt the reports of Royal Commissions. I know of no case where the report of a Commonwealth Commission has been entirely adopted. The Tariff Commission made many recommendations, and how many were adopted? The Oversea Shipping Commission, the Navigation Commission, and the Postal Commission all made numerous recommendations, but in no case were they adopted, in toto. It is quite the rule that the recommendations of Royal Commissions are not fully given effect to.
– The majority of them are shelved.
– I am willing to admit that fact; but I say that, in view of the way in which Tasmania’s finances have been dislocated by her entering into the Federation, the Government would have been well advised if they had asked Parliament to grant to that State the full amount recommended by the Royal Commission that investigated her claim. I am glad to have the assurance of the Vice-President of the Executive Council that the amount proposed by the Government may be regarded as an instalment, and that, if a future Administration is disposed to grant Tasmania the balance of the £900,000 recommended by the Royal Commission, it will be admitted that we can put up a good claim for it. I believe, however, that this is the time to deal with the matter, and I hope that Senator O’Keefe’s suggested amendment will be adopted, and the full £900,000 recommended by the Commission granted to the State from which I come.
Senator Stewart has said that Tasmania could get along very well without this grant, but the more one investigates the figures, the more one is forced to the conclusion that she could not do so owing to her trade being swamped by the other States, and the disturbance in her trade relations with, the rest of the Commonwealth, to which I have already referred. I took the trouble to draw up a table, which will show what would be the position of Tasmania, assuming the same ratio of public expenditure that takes place in the other States. If we were to adopt Senator Stewart’s recommendation and initiate a public works policy on lines similar to those of the other States-
– I did not recommend that at all. I think that Tasmania has already gone too far in that direction.
– I am glad to hear the honorable senator say so. I can give figures to show that, if we taxed ourselves in Tasmania to carry out a public works policy on the lines adopted in the other States, our State would at once become bankrupt. In 1908-9 the Tasmanian people paid in direct taxation £1 7s.per capita. There was 25 per cent. added for surtax, income, land, and ability tax, equal to 5s. 6d. per capita. If Tasmania is to remain solvent, she cannot continue the policy at present adopted for the construction of roads, bridges, and unproductive works from borrowed money. The facts show that the public men controlling the affairs of Tasmania in the past did not possess the statesmanship of a bullfrog. It is not right that we should continue to finance Tasmania on such lines. I find that even ex-Senator Dobson, who will scarcely be regarded by any one as a Democrat, in giv- ing evidence before the Commission, said -
Unless a generous subsidy is given to Tasmania we shall have to go on with the rotten system of borrowing money from England to build roads just outside the city to bring in the raspberries.
– That is bad.
– I admit that it is; but some of our friends on the other side, during the recent State election, went through Tasmania justifying the expendi ture of borrowed money upon the construction of non-productive works. Senator Stewart’s criticism was searching, and we must admit that that policy will have to be altered, and a more honest system of finance introduced. If in Tasmania we are to pay for roads and bridges out of revenue, it will require an amount equal to 14s. 9d. per head of the population, and that money would have to be raised by taxation. That would bring the direct taxation of Tasmania up to £2 13s.8d per capita. If Tasmania spent thesame average amount as the other States on the important and vital matter of education, it would involve additional direct taxation to the extent of3s. 8d. per capita. If she subsidized hospitals and benevolent institutions as liberally as do the other States further taxation to the amount of1s. 4½d. per capita would be required for the purpose. If she spent as much proportionately as is spent in the other States on technical education, another 4d. per capita would be required. If Tasmania protected the people and property of the State to the same extent as is done in the other States, additional taxation to the extent of1s. 7d. per capia would be involved ; and, when all these things were done, direct taxation in Tasmania would then amount to £3 os. 8d. per capita, as against 16s.5d. for the rest of Australia.
I maintain that the finances of Tasmania must be established on a different basis, and she must, at the same time, be compensated for her losses through Federation. These losses are due to causes altogether apart from those which have made Tasmania the most backward amongst the States in the matter of internal administration. I was very pleased to hear my colleague from Tasmania - Senator Clemons - say that in the past honorable senators representing Tasmaniahave expressed a desire that something should be done for that State, and that many an honorable senator had recognised in past years Tasmania’s claim to compensation. But, with all due respect to Senator Clemons, I point out that they did no more than express a desire ; and I repeat that the present Government is the first Government of the Commonwealth that has evinced a desire to do something tangible to assist Tasmania.
– They are the only Government who have had the money.
– No; the only Government who have had the courage.
– Senator Long has put the matter very nicely. The present Government are the only Government of the Commonwealth who have had the courage to make such a proposal. I believe that, if they did not hold possession of the Treasury benches, and Tasmania were not represented by so many Labour men as sit in the National Parliament to-day, we should not be discussing this Bill to-night. I believe that it is wholly due to the increased Labour representation sent to this Parliament by Tasmania that we are now discussing a proposal for special assistance to the State I represent. In justice to the Government I am supporting, I want that statement to be made public.
The Government have not gone so far as we desire, and I yet hope that Senator McGregor will prove amenable to reason and logic, and agree to grant to Tasmania the amount recommended by the Royal Commission. I frankly recognise the fact that the Government have grappled with the question with an earnest desire that long-delayed justice should at last be done to the Cinderella State of the Commonwealth. Our claim is a just one, and, although we are asking for assistance under section 96 of the Constitution, we make our claim without any loss of self-respect, because Tasmania is entitled to the grant recommended by the Royal Commission. Her people have been good Federalists, and good members of the Commonwealth. It is for that reason that they have been penalized, and, when the Government are attempting to help us out of our difficulties, I should be lacking in my duty as a representative of Tasmania if I did not frankly express appreciation of their action.
.- Owing to the fact that for weeks past I have suffered from a severe dental trouble, it is impossible for me to discuss, at any great length, the matter now before the Senate, though it is, of course, of great moment to the State from which I come. I cannot allow the second reading of the Bill to pass without expressing the gratitude I feel to the present Government for the very prompt manner in which they proceeded to deal with the question of assistance to Tasmania as soon as they sssumed possession of the Treasury benches. It is a matter of history that the Government were not in office for more than a few weeks when a motion was submitted by a representative of Tasmania for the appointment of a Select Committee to investigate the claims of that State to a special grant. The Select Committee was subsequently converted into a Royal Commission, the members of which visited various States and inquired very exhaustively into the whole question. No member of the Government or of the Senate can claim to express anything like as sound an opinion upon the justice of Tasmania’s claims as can the members of that Commission. The fact that they unanimously recommended that Tasmania is entitled to a grant of £900,000 should of itself have been sufficient to induce the Government to treat that State more generously than they propose to do in this Bill. I feel sure that it will not alarm the members of the Government in the Senate when I say that the combined forces from the State of Tasmania will fight to the last ditch to secure for that State the full amountrecommended by the Royal Commission. We can look to our friends on the Opposition benches to come to the assistance of our little State in this matter. I should like to say to Senator Stewart, without entering into any question of party, and without being too critical of the mismanagement of past Governments in Tasmania which the honorable Senator says in a measure was responsible for the present position of the State, that the patriotism of Tasmania, and her loyalty to the Federation, has, in some measure, contributed to her present position. It is because Tasmanians, setting an example which, I am sorry to say, has not been followed by other States of the Commonwealth, have used and consumed Australian-made goods, that the State is in her present position. If the people of the other States had followed that example, our imports would not have increased so hugely as they have done.
– Western Australia consumes about twice the value of Australian goods that Tasmania does.
– Western Australia is, perhaps, second to Tasmania in that respect. 1 am hopeful that the Government, even before a vote is taken on the request given notice of by Senator O’Keefe, will come to the conclusion that the honorable senator’s proposal is a reasonable one; that it will meet with their approval, and that the Bill will be returned to the House of Representatives withthe request that the grant should be increased to £900,000. I regret that, for the reason I have mentioned, I am not able to go into the question as fully as I should like, but if I were in the best condition, I, perhaps, could not add anything to the arguments which have been so clearly, logically, and collectively put before the Senate by other representatives of Tasmania. I content myself by expressing the hope that to-morrow we shall be able to send across to Tasmania the good news that the Senate, which, after all, is the States’ House, has taken a more just view of Tasmania’s claim than was taken of it in another place, and has agreed to confirm the recommendation of the Royal Commission and give her £900,000.
Senator VARDON (South Australia) (8.57]. - This matter has been talked about a good deal, and we have heard it said that action should have been taken very much sooner, and justice done to the State of Tasmania. I have here the report of the Royal Commission, and I see that it commenced its duties on the 10th August, 1910, and the report is dated 23rd September, 1 01 1. In the circumstances, I do not know that there is any great reason to complain of delay in the matter. The Tasmanian claim is either just or unjust. It is right that we should recognise it in full or that we should refuse to recognise it altogether. But the Government have recognised the claim to a certain extent. The Royal Commission, after investigating the matter thoroughly, and taking evidence which covered between 300 and 400 pages, came to a unanimous conclusion that the sum of £900,000 should be paid to Tasmania to recoup her for the loss she had sustained because of her entry into the Federation.
– The Royal Commission was representative of all the States.
– I was going to say that the Commission was not a one-sided one. It did not represent one party, but all parties in the Commonwealth Parliament, and all of the States. The members brought up a unanimous report, recommending that £900,000 should be paid to Tasmania; and, that being so, I am at a loss to understand why the Government should have proposed a compromise in the matter. It certainly cannot be owing to shortness of funds, because we know that their expenditure in many directions has been exceedingly lavish.
– They did not wish to be considered extravagant; and the Opposition are always charging them with extravagance.
– Senator de Largie will, I am sure, admit that we do not say anything of that kind without good rea son. In this matter I am prepared to stand by the unanimous report of the Royal Commission. I think that, seeing that they made an exhaustive inquiry into the subject, and every member of the Commission signed the report, their recommendation should be honoured in full. I am prepared to so honour it. I can claim no special knowledge of the details of this matter; but when I find a Royal Commission has done its work as it seems to me the Royal Commission inquiring into this subject did, and its report is presented without dissent from any member of it, I feel bound to say that its report should be honoured. I have only to add that I shall support the second reading of the Bill; and if in Committee Senator O’Keefe submits the request of which he has given notice, I shall be prepared to stand by him.
– I am rather glad that this opportunity is presented of doing somewhat belated justice to the State of Tasmania. I differ from some of my colleagues who have alleged that the proposed, grant is something in the nature of charity. I regard it as simply an act of justice. Coming, as I do, from another State of the Commonwealth that has been .similarly situated, I can sympathize fully with the Tasmanian people in their present position. If we only look to one indication of progress we can see that the island State, in comparison with other States, has not occupied a favorable situation. I take the number of employes engaged in factories. If we turn to the statistics for New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland, we see that the number of persons employed in factories has increased enormously during the last seven years. In the powerful State of New South Wales, where a new policy has been enforced, which has made for prosperity, the number of employes in factories has increased 50 per cent., whereas in Tasmania the increase has been very far below that proportion.
– What is the reason for Tasmania’s backwardness? There are no Wages Boards there.
– Come, come ! We have Wages Boards.
– The reason is that through the throwing down of the Tariff walls under Federation the manufacturers of neighbouring States, where industries are more highly organized, were able to flood the Tasmanian markets with their products. The industries in that State were not so highly developed. As a result, a large number of men, who formerly worked in Tasmanian factories, sought employment on the mainland, and shifted their domiciles. This is one of the direct results of Federation, and it is such a result as will always follow a Federation having the conditions which exist in Australia. The States in which there were large centres of population, and where there were highly organized industries, were favorably situated in the matter of competition in comparison with smaller communities. To some extent, the same thing happened in Western Australia. There were industries there which were in the early stages of development. Some of them have .since gone altogether, and others are maintaining a meagre existence. The result is plainly shown in the dwindling number of factories. I intend to vote for this proposal in the belief that it is nothing but a simple act of natural justice to Tasmania. I should like to vote for the full amount recommended by the Royal Commission, but I think that in supporting the Government proposition we shall be going a great way towards securing justice to Tasmania to compensate her for the position in which she finds herself. It is not her fault that she is in a weak financial position. It is simply the result of federating with the other States of the Commonwealth. It is but reasonable, therefore, for the other States, which have benefited to the extent that Tasmania has suffered, to come to her assistance, and recoup her fairly for the loss which she has sustained. 1 shall vote for the proposal of the Government, believing that it is a fair one ; but if, in the future, the facts reveal that Tasmania is still in a condition demanding assistance, I shall be prepared to review the case, and vote for further compensation or recompense, if that be necessary.
L9-S]- - I do not think that any criticism of a very vital character has been advanced against the Government proposal. Although the members of the Opposition have been very generous, and Government supporters have been fair in their criticism, still I think that some reply is necessary to assertions that have been made on both sides. I am pleased to hear from’ those senators who support the Government that they recognise that we are the first Government to take this matter up seriously. Members of the Opposition, by interjec tion, have sought to make it appear that it was not within the power of the Commonwealth Parliament, prior to 1910, to doanything of the kind. Even Senator Clemons, backed up by Senator Keating, referred to the financial sections of the Constitution, and especially to the Braddonsection. I reply that there is not a section in the Constitution which offered the slightest bar to any previous Government doing, what this Government is now proposing. Let honorable senators read section- 96 of the Constitution. It lays it down that for a period of ten years after the establishment of the Commonwealth, and until the Parliament otherwise provides, such financial assistance may be granted to any State as Parliament thinks “fit. Is there any condition or embargo there? A Government could have taken action tenyears ago; and it certainly is not because the attention of the Government of the day was not called to the position of Tasmania that action was not taken.
– The honorable senator is surely not asserting that Tasmania suffered ten years ago?
– Certainly she suffered. She was complaining withinthree years of the establishment of the Commonwealth.
– The first complaint ‘ was in 1903.
– Tasmania was complaining at that time against the bookkeeping section of the Constitution.
– She complained that she had not sufficient revenue to meet her requirements. It seems a very peculiar thing that any excuse should be made on behalf of any past Government on this account, because; during the first ten yearsthe Commonwealth paid back to the States £6,059,000, out of which it could have taken action in this direction; and that is twelve times the amount that is being set apart by the present Government to assist. Tasmania. As I said in my secondreading speech, it is hardly fair when we are going to assist a friend, a brother, or a relation to say anything about the reasonswhy such assistance is necessary. But statements have been made during the course of the debate by those who have been advocating the cause of Tasmania to the effect that the amount derived from Customs and Excise revenue fell from- £475,000 in 1900 to a little over £220,000 a few years later. If honorable senators look closely into the question, they will find that the £475,000 was taken out of the pockets of the people of Tasmania. Does anybody imagine that they did not feel it? A few years later, only £220,000 was taken out of their pockets.
– No; that is all that went back to Tasmania. That was Tasmania’s three-fourths.
– Well, say that £320,000 was taken out of the pockets of the Tasmanian people. That means that £155,000 still remained in their pockets.
– Not a bit of it. That money went to Victorian manufacturers.
– If, at one time, £475,000 was taken out of the pockets of the people, and a few years later only £320,000 was taken out of their pockets, evidently £155,000 still remained in their pockets.
– Is the honorable senator’s argument tending to show that Tasmania ought to pay a bonus to the Federation?
– I am not saying anything of the kind, but I am pointing out in my own way the sophistry and fallacy of an argument of that description. In combating these statements, I am no less a friend of Tasmania than I ever was, and I am prepared to do all I possibly can for her. It is not the fault of the majority of the people of that State that they have not been able to put their affairs on a better foundation. We know that they have not been able to work out their own salvation, but we hope that in future they will do so. I have shown that that money still remained in the pockets of the people, and, consequently, as it was not taken out by Federation, there was no loss to the people of Tasmania generally. Another statement that has been made is that the people of Tasmania were loyal to Federation, because, instead of consuming imported goods, they purchased Australian made articles. Senator Clemons has repeatedly used that argument in the Senate. He has pointed out that if the people of Tasmania had imported goods from abroad, and paid Customs duties on them during the operation of the Braddon section, they would have been acting in their own interest.
– I said that they would have been increasing the revenue, and saving local taxation.
– Will any honorable senator stand up here, and say that the business people of Tasmania were so patriotic that if they could get goods from outside Australia 2½ per cent. cheaper than Australian-made goods they would not have imported from abroad?
– The business people had to get what their customers asked for.
– I know the business people of Hobart and Launceston just as well as any one does, and I know that it was because they could get their goods cheaper, more expeditiously, and of better quality, than they obtained them from Australia. I am not speaking of the people generally, but of the business people; and every honorable senator from Tasmania knows as well as I do that they are no better and no worse than the business people of any other part of Australia. There is not a business man here who, if he could get goods from outside Australia2½ per cent. cheaper than he could obtain them in Australia, would not jump at the chance.
– Will the honorable senator accept me as a business man?
– Perhaps I would make an exception of the honorable senator, because I have always regarded him as a patriotic Australian, and especially as a patriotic Tasmanian. Still, it would be a strong temptation if such an offer as I have indicated were placed before him; and strong arguments and powerful evidence would have to be brought before me to convince me that he would not take advantage of any bargain that presented, itself. It is a business instinct to do so, and to rest a case on such an argument is not to found it upon common sense.. I might refer to other points that have been raised in the course of the debate, but I have no desire to delay the Senate. I am anxious that this Bill should be passed as rapidly as possible in order that it may receive the Governor-General’s sanction, and that the people of Tasmania may obtain the benefits derivable from it immediately. I do not blame the Tasmanian senators for doing their very best for their State. We ought all to be Australians, however, before we think of the interests of any particular State. If we look at this matter from an. Australian point of view, we shall realize that the money to be granted has to come out of the pockets of the whole of the people of the Commonwealth. Furthermore, if the request, which has been foreshadowed, were carried, the Bill would be delayed. It would have to go back to another place, and then there would be no possibility of carrying it.
– That is not a fair argument.
– Surely the Government may be supposed, to have canvassed this question honestly and sincerely in both Houses of the Parliament, and they ought to know something about the general opinion. They have brought forward a proposal which they thought they could carry without great difficulty in both branches of the Legislature. If the Bill be sent back to another place, it will cause difficulty between the two Houses, and will delay the assistance which we desire to give to Tasmania. We may well leave the future to look after itself, and determine at some time hereafter what, if anything, is necessary to be done. It will be a fair thing to give the Government proposal a chance,and see whether it does not help Tasmania to get out of the longstanding and almost hopeless position in which she has been for the last forty or fifty years, and to become one of the most prosperous States in the Australian Union. I therefore hope that the suggestion will not be pressed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
Subject to this Act, there shall be payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, for the purposes of financial assistance to the State of Tasmania, the sum of Five hundred thousand pounds.
– I have given notice of my intention to move a series of requests. I desire “nine” to be substituted for “five” in clauses 2 and 3, and “ according to the scale in the schedule “ to be omitted from clause 3. These requests, if carried, will necessitate some alterations in the schedule. The effect of the requests, taken together, will be to increase the £500,000 to £900,000, and to make the payment extend over nine years, at the rate of £100,000 a year, instead of extending over ten years at a varying rate. I do not think it necessary to repeat any arguments I have used as to why these alterations ought to be made. I am quite willing to take a test vote on the first request. In spite of the speech made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, I see no reason why the Senate should not request a grant of £900,000. The Minister has really not advanced any argument against my proposal, because the contention that there is very little chance of the other House acceding to a request of the kind is not one which ought to be used here. I have no doubt that both he and his colleagues are satisfied in their mind that they cannot get more than £500,000 from theother House, but I would remind him that on several occasions, although the other House did not agree in full to our request, a compromise was arrived at.
– The other House has agreed to our requests in full dozens of times.
– Exactly ; and, although on this occasion, there may not be a majority willing to accede to our request in full, there is room for compromise between the two amounts.
– We would sooner have £900,000 a year hence than £500,000 to-day.
– Yes. In the first place, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend clause 2 by leaving out the word” Five,” with a view to inserting in lieu, thereof the word “ Nine.”
Question put. The Committee divided-
Ayes … … … 13
Noes … … … 14
Majority … … 1
– Mr. Chairman, I draw your attention to the fact that Senator Guthrie crossed the floor after the tellers were appointed.
– I did not happento be looking.
– I suggest, sir, that you should ask Senator Guthrie if that is not so.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Did Senator Guthrie cross the floor after I appointed the tellers?
– I crossed the floor before any names were called by the tellers.
– I ask you, sir, to decide if it is competent for an honorable senator to cross the floor after the names of the tellers have been called.
– Certainly not.
– Then I draw your attention to the fact that Senator Guthrie has not said that he did not so cross the floor, but that he crossed it before any names had been told.
– I asked the honorable senator did he cross the floor after the tellers were appointed, and I want his answer to that question. .
– My answer is that I did cross after the tellers were appointed, but before any names were called.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable senator was out of order in so doing, and he must go to the other side.
– I think it is competent for you, sir, under the Standing Orders, to call me to the table and ask me on which side I desire to record my vote.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.No. The honorable senator must go to the other side.
– I shall take an opportunity of reversing the vote.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 (Payments to extend overperiod of ten years).
– I may state that, in view of the result of the test division, I have no intention of moving the other requests.
– I propose to ask for a recommittal of the clause at the proper stage.
– It would have gone in the negative, anyhow.
Clause agreed to.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) tive in this matter, but in view of thecircumstance which undoubtedly led to there being placed on record a decision at which the Committee did not wish to arrive, I would suggest to Senator Guthrie, or those who have taken a more active part in the matter,’ that they can now obtain another expression of opinion from the Committee by submitting a request to alter the total in the schedule from £500,000 to £900,000, which, if carried, will leave with the Government the responsibility of adjusting the details of the schedule.
– And of making consequential amendments in the measure.
– I have no objection to attempt a correction in that way, but it is my intention, at the proper stage, to move for a recommittal, in order that the previous difficulty of Senator Guthrie may be overcome.
– Why not take the opportunity which is suggested by Senator Millen?
– It is all the same to me when it is done.
– Move a request now.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the Schedule by increasing the total to£900,000.
– That was not my object. I had quite another object.
– I do not object to a vote being taken, but I wish to know, sir, whether a request which will have substantially the same effect as the request which has just been negatived, can be moved. I wish to have the point settled, not so much in connexion with this Bill as a guide in the future, because in the New South Wales Parliament I have been prevented from doing what is now proposed by Senator Clemons.
– This is a remarkable situation which has arisen. If the Committee should carry this request, it will stultify its previous decision.
– That is why I wanted to move for a recommittal in the ordinary way.
– The Committee has, by a vote, determined that a certain thing shall not be done, and now, under cover of the procedure suggested by the Leader of the Opposition, it is invited to stultify its vote. This request, if carried, would attain exactly the same object as would have been attained if the previous request bad been carried. I am not supporting the point of order of Senator Rae against Tasmania. I voted in favour of a grant of£500,000 The Committee has decided that Parliament should assist Tasmania to that extent, and if the request now moved is accepted the Committee will stultify itself.
– To save you from rilling on the point, sir, I shall, by leave, withdraw my request, with the intention of moving for the recommittal of the Bill at the report stage.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Schedule, preamble, and. title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
Motion (by Senator Clemons) put -
That the Bill be recommitted, with a view tohe reconsideration, of clause 2, and consequent amendments.
The Senate divided.
Maiority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia -Vice-President of the Executive Council [9.50]. - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is a very short Bill, and I move the second reading this evening for the convenience of honorable senators in ordertha they may have an opportunity to consider it, and come here at a subsequent sitting prepared to carry it into law. The objectis to amend the present Designs Act and bring it into harmony with our amendment of the Trade Marks and Patents Acts. The principle of the existing proposal is to makethe Designs Act applicable to the Territory of Papua. We have already made the Patents Act and the Trade Marks Act applicable to the Territory. It is advisable that our legislation regarding such industrial affairs as trade marks, patents, and designsshould he uniform. A short amendment of t he existing law is desired in the direction of extending the time during which a design, shall be the property of any individual registering it. We propose to provide for three periods of five years each. At the close of each period of five years of course a fresh application for registration will be necessary, and the applicant will have to pay the necessary fees. These are the principle objects of this amending legislation. I think it will convenience honorable senators if I move the second reading now If it is considered necessary, any member of the Senate may move the adjournment off the debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 9.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 October 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1912/19121030_senate_4_67/>.