4th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Can the VicePresident of the Executive Council tell me when it is expected that the report of the Royal Commission on the Sugar Industry trill be tabled?
– The only reply I can give to the question is that the report will be tabled as soon as it is available.
– Is the Minister of
Defence in a position yet to give the information I sought to obtain from him the other day as to the truth or otherwise of statements appearing in print to the effect that the Postal Department at Hobart has declined to allow employes there time off to complete their military training?
– Reports have been called for in the matter, but they are not yet to hand.
MINISTERS, laid upon the table the following papers -
Census and Statistics Act 1905- Regulations relating to return of Trade Union Statistics. - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 216.
Defence Act1903-1912.- Military Forces.Regulations amended - Provisional. - Statutory Rules 1912, No.209.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906. - Land acquired - For Postal purpose -
At Kojonup, Western Australia.
At Granville, New South Wales.
At Cockburn; South Australia.
At Mundijong, W.cstern Australia.
At Gimlet, Western Australia.
At Claremont, Western Australia - For
Naval Defence Act 1910-1911. - Universal Training. - Provisional Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 210.
Postmaster-General’s Department : Papers relating to Supply under contract of Mailbag Labels.
Public Service Act 1902-1911. - Promotion of C. S. Daley to position of Clerk, 4th Class, Public Works Branch, Ceutr.il Staff, Department of Home Affairs.
– Can the Minister of Defence state when the cruiser Brisbane, which is being built in Sydney, is expected to be launched?
– No. The time of construction was 26 months, dating from 1st August last. We are not able yet to indicate any date for the launching of the cruiser.
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Will the Minister lay on the table of the Senate all papers in connexion with the adoption of karri sleepers in the construction of the Transcontinental Western Railway, and all reports thereon?
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
What is the present state of progress in the preparation of the official map of Australia, and when is it anticipated that same will be completed ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is -
The drawing of the map is complete, and proofs will, it is anticipated, be available in about one month, which, when received, ate to be referred to the State Surveyors-General for revision. The completed map. will probably be available early next year.
Debate resumed from 1st November (vide page 5007), on motion by Senator Givens -
That the ruling of the President be disagreed with on the ground that it would be subversive of the due protection of senators, and is not in accordance with the spirit and letter of the Standing Orders.
.- I do not intend to occupy more than a very few minutes in offering to the Senate-
– Order ! I forgot that the honorable senator has already spoken on this question.
– No, sir; you would not allow me to speak, and I handed in my notice of dissent.
– Which has been seconded.
-The honorable senator could have spoken when he handed in the notice of dissent, and before the motion was seconded.
– This is an adjourned debate.
– I am rather pleased, sir, that Senator Givens has continued the objection which I offered to the ruling of the Chairman, and has given the Senate an opportunity of expressing an opinion as to your own ruling. I have no personal feeling in this matter, but I hold very strongly the view that there should be the same rules for those who sit on one side as for those who sit on the other.
– Is that in order? It is a reflection on the Chair.
– I am not reflecting upon any one, nor have I such a desire. During the debate on Friday, two occasions occurred when I rose and asked for the withdrawal of something which Senator Millen had said, and a withdrawal was refused. While the matter was being discussed in the Senate, Senator Gould, an exPresident, asked that an interjection by Senator Needham be withdrawn, and immediately you turned to Senator Millen and . asked if he desired to have the expression withdrawn, and he having expressed that desire, the Senate had to take action because Senator Needham had refused to withdraw the statement. When the dispute between Senator Rae and the Chairman originated, I asked that Senator Millen be requested to withdraw a statement which he had applied to Senator Rae.
– The matter had lapsed.
– The Chairman informed me that he could not deal with two matters at the one time, and therefore he was of the opinion that the matter had not lapsed. It appears that the Chairman’s ruling was upheld by the President, because what I should have asked was that the words of Senator Millen be taken down. My contention is that a similar answer should have been given to Senator Gould when he called upon Senator Needham to withdraw a statement. It has become a. custom here that, when an honorable senator uses an expression which any other honorable senator considers offensive, the mere drawing of the Chair’s attention to the use of the offensive language has generally brought about its withdrawal.
– On almost every occasion.
– Except, unfortunately, when I have asked for the withdrawal of a statement. The same rule of practice should invariably be applied. When I rose on the second occasion in Committee to ask for the withdrawal of Senator Millen’s statement, my request was ruled out of order because, according to the Chairman, the matter had passed ; and his ruling was upheld by the President. For that reason, I intend to vote for the motion of Senator Givens. I did not think that the matter was of sufficient importance to follow up in Committee; but now that it has been taken in hand by Senator Givens, I think that we should endeavour to get established a system under which each senator will have to obey the same Standing Orders, and follow the same custom, and each side can reckon upon getting an absolutely fair deal.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [3.12].- There seems to be a reluctance on the part of honorable senators to discuss this matter, and I can well realize why that feeling exists. It is a very unpleasant and disagreeable duty for any one to take exception to a ruling from the Chair; but I put it to honorable senators on the other side : Is it not fair to maintain the actions of the President and Chairman as far as we can fairly and justly do so? Is it not in the interests of order, not only that decisions, from the Chair should be upheld, but that honorable senators should take whatever action they can to see that they, are upheld.
– Right or wrong?
– Very often the presiding officer occupies a very difficult position. I think that die sympathy of honorable senators ought at all times go out to the occupant of the Chair, and it is not conducive to the dignity of our proceedings, or the orderly conduct of business, for any honorable senators to say, “ We do not quite agree with the ruling of the Chair, and we dissent. Our dissent will probably- be carried, and it will not matter anything to the Chair whether we do or not.” A fair principle for honorable senators to follow is that, so long as they are satisfied that the presiding officer is acting fairly and honestly, it is their duty to uphold him, and noi to attempt to belittle his position.
– Do you not think that this is all begging the question?
– I shall come to the question soon enough. I want honorable senators to realize that it is not fair to attempt to override a decision given by their presiding officer on such a matter as that which arose the other day. If some principle was at stake, or if a ruling had been laid down as to the way in which a certain matter ought to be dealt with, and which could be regarded as a precedent for the future, it would be a very different thing. Now, take the present case : The Chairman gave a decision on a point of order raised by a senator. The Committee was not satisfied with that decision, and the matter was referred to the President, who took pains to listen to every honorable senator who wished to speak ; and then pointed out that, according to his reading of the Standing Orders, and the statements made to him of what had taken place in Committee, he had no alternative but to uphold the decision of the Chairman. Let me assume that there w.as a mistake made there. I ask honorable senators whether, on a future occasion when any disorder in debate arose, they would be one whit worse off. The reasons which were given for the decision of the Chairman, must, I think, commend themselves to honorable senators. In the first place, the Chairman pointed out that, apart from the fact that the words were not taken down, there was a standing order requiring an objection to be taken to terms immediately, no such objection was taken.
– Excuse me, it was.
– There was an objection taken by Senator Millen to a certain statement made by Senator Rae, and as soon as the objection was taken, another senator raised a point of order as’ to something which Senator Millen had said. We never heard a word as to what the objectionable terms were.
– You did; I raised that point myself.
– I can only judge from the Hansard proof. When Senator Millen made a certain statement, Senator Rae said that it was not right, or was not correct. Then Senator Millen uttered a few words, and Senator Rae said that his statement was a deliberate falsehood. That is a monstrous thing altogether; but, of course, that matter has been dealt with. Then comes the question that certain senators wanted to get Senator Millen to apologize. For what? Nobody has ever stated why an apology is required. I have never heard stated the special words to which exception has been taken. If honorable senators will take the trouble to read the Hansard report, which I assume is absolutely correct, they will be at a loss to find out what disorderly words had been used by Senator Millen. I think that the Chairman dealt with the incident in the only way he possibly could. It is distinctly disorderly for any honorable senator to deliberately charge both the Chairman or the President with having shown favoritism to one side, as against the other side. I could understand some honorable senators saying to the presiding officer, “We think that you made a mistake “ ; but for them to say that they are fighting to have both sides treated alike from “the Chair is distinctly out of order. Of course, we want both sides treated alike. I believe that our presiding officers use their best efforts in that regard. When Senator Gardiner alluded to the exception that I took to a remark made by Senator Needham, what action did the President take? He did not take any action on my complaint, but he turned to Senator Millen and asked, “ Senator Millen, do you take exception to the words?” and when Senator Millen replied that he certainly did, then action was taken by the Chair. That distinctly showed that, at that time, there was not one rule being applied to one side, and another rule being applied to the other side. If honorable senators will only carry their memories back, they will realize that, under the Standing Orders, no other decision could have been arrived at. Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that a different decision had been given. There might never have been a complaint that there was some favoritism. But if a different decision had been given, though I might have been of opinion that it was wrong, and that it was not a fair thing to make such a charge, nevertheless I should have been inclined to uphold the ruling of the Chair. This is a small matter that might have been allowed to pass without such drastic action being taken. I can only assume that the action has been taken because there was at the time a certain amount of excitement and feeling. I hoped, however, that after a spell of a day or two that feeling would have been allayed, and that honorable senators would have recognised that it was best to let bygones be bygones. Honorable senators are, however, within their rights in taking this action. If it were not for the provision in the Standing Orders that a decision of the President is to have the effect of a standing order, perhaps it would not have been thought necessary to submit this motion of dissent. But even though a decision becomes, in effect, a standing order, what is the consequence of it? It only means that, in particular circumstances, in regard to a particular instance, a certain decision was given. There is nothing to bind the President in regard to any future decision. I am perfectly certain that, if disorder arose in the future, the President would give a ruling according to the circumstances of the case. In this instance the President had to give a ruling upon facts reported to him by the Chairman of Committees. At the time we had no other report before us. Since then we have had an opportunity of referring to the Hansard report.
– I have not had that opportunity.
– Honorable senators will find from that report that there was really no reason to take this exception to the ruling of the President. I trust that honorable senators will realize that it is only fair and reasonable that they should maintain the decision of the President, even though they may not agree with it altogether, as long as they are satisfied that the decision was given honestly, and with the intention or dealing out impartial justice to both sides. Personally, I am very glad to bear my testimony to the fact that that has been the principle which- has actuated both the President and the Chairman of Committees ever since they have had the honour of occupying their present positions.
– - I should not have spoken at this juncture, preferring to hear other honorable senators address themselves to the question, had it not been for an interjection that came from this side of the Chamber when Senator Gould was speaking. Senator Gould made the remark ‘ that, in his opinion, the Chair should be upheld, and the interjection was to the effect “ The Chairman, right or wrong.” 1 wish to take this opportunity of saying that I do not agree with the sense of that interjection.
– I do not think that was said.
– Yes, I said that.
– I - I wish the Senate to understand distinctly that, as long as I have the honour of being the presiding officer in Committee, I do not wish to he supported when honorable senators think that I am wrong ; and I hope that if any honorable senator has any such idea in his mind, he will get rid of it at once.
– -The honorable senator need scarcely emphasize that.
– I - It seems to me that if a mistake has been made in reference to the decisions given from the Chair, that mistake was made by me, and not bv the President; because I take it that no honorable senator can read the Standing Orders without immediately coming to the conclusion that the President had no option but to decide against Senator Gardiner when he objected to my ruling.
– The only ruling now under consideration is the President’s.
– E - Exactly ; but the President’s ruling was based upon my decision in Committee.
– We cannot go back. The President might have reversed the ruling of the Chairman of Committees, o
– Wit With all due respect, I think that we cannot distinguish between the two rulings. Senator Gardiner, in his speech to-day, had to refer to the decisions given by both presiding officers.
– Is it worth while going back to the old matter of the ruling of the Chairman of Committees ?
– I - I should like to be allowed to put the matter in my own way. -1 cannot see how we can do other than bring in the circumstances under which my ruling was objected to, though I do not desire to go back to settled matters any more than is absolutely necessary. The point was that the President was asked to give a ruling, lt is that ruling which we are now discussing. The point of order on which the ruling was required was raised by Senator Gardiner, the gravamen of whose charge was that he was not allowed to make his objection in Committee on the only opportunity that he had. I know that honorable senators merely wish to deal with this matter in a fair way, and I would ask them to turn their minds back to what occurred in Committee. The objection taken by Senator Gardiner was to certain words that were used by Senator Millen. But Senator Gardiner is obviously in error when he says that he took the first opportunity afforded to him. If he had taken his objection at the right time, he would have taken it immediately Senator Millen uttered the words of which he complained. But he did not do that. In the first instance, Senator Rae did not take his objection to the words of which he complained in the ordinary manner. It was after Senator Rae had made a certain statement that Senator Gardiner rose to his feet and took objection to something which Senator Millen had said. I admit that Senator Gardiner did make that objection, and asked that Senator Millen should withdraw the words of which he complained. But he is in error in saying that he took the first opportunity of doing so.
– Dees the element of time convert a wrong into a right?
– The The element cf time has something to do with this question, inasmuch as we are working under certain Standing Orders. If the element of time has nothing to do with the matter we might as well throw the Standing Orders away.
– I took the objection whilst you were asking Senator Rae to withdraw his remark.
– I - I admit that the honorable senator got up to make an objection, but it was not made when Senator
Millen used the words complained of. If Senator Gardiner had objected to those words at the time they were used, it would have been a different matter. But he did not. I do not believe that Senator Gardiner holds the opinion that bias was shown by the presiding officers.
– Not bias, but different treatment.
– I - I am very sorry indeed that Senator Gardiner should repeat what he said in his opening remarks, that he believed that different treatment was meted out. I am quite content to leave myself in the hands of honorable senators, no matter on which side of the chamber they may sit. As far as I am concerned, different treatment has not been meted out to one side from that accorded to the other.
– There ought to be a little more lenient treatment meted out to the Opposition, because they are so weak.
– I - I do not think that that has anything to do with the matter. Senator Gardiner’s objection was entirely on the ground that he was not given an opportunity for objection to Senator Millen’s words at the time they were used, and that he took the first available opportunity. I say that I had no option to do other than I did, because Senator Gardiner did not take the proper opportunity of objecting, nor did he ask for Senator Millen’s words to be taken down when they were used. But if Senator Gardiner, or any other honorable senator, can, after an incident has been closed, ask for it to be re-opened-
– Senator Gardiner distinctly called attention to Senator Millen’s words when they were uttered. Here is the uncorrected report of Hansard, which shows that positively.
– I - I also have read the uncorrected Hansard report, and my recollection is that- it is different from what Senator Givens has said. The report shows distinctly that Senator Gardiner did not take objection at the proper time.
– He did. He said -
If a statement is made by one honorable senator, and another honorable senator takes exception to the statement by asking for its withdrawal, do not the rules compel an immediate withdrawal and the acceptance of the disclaimer.
– He He might have done that afterwards.
– No ; here it is.
– I w I will leave the matter with confidence to the majority of honorable senators who were present, and who know that Senator Gardiner did not take his objection at the right time. That being so, I had only one course to follow, namely, to refuse to allow the matter to be re-opened.
– But if any one took objection to what was said, was it not the Chairman’s duty to keep order?
– I - It seems to me that the President had no option but to give the decision he did under standing orders 418 and 419. Standing order 418 lays it down that -
When any senator objects to words used in debate and desires them to be taken down, the President shall direct them to be taken down by the Clerk accordingly.
Standing order 419 provides thai; -
Every such objection must be taken at the time when such words are used, and will not be afterwards entertained.
Your ruling, Mr. President, as far as I can remember it, was that Senator Gardiner did not take his objection at the time, and did not take it in the proper way, and, therefore, that it could not be entertained afterwards.
– Then the Hansard report must be wrong if Senator Gardiner did not take his objection at the right time.
– S - Senator Givens continues to interject, but his remarks do not alter the facts, as every honorable senator will see for himself, if he reads the Hansard report - presuming the copy which he has is the same as was supplied to me. My recollection, and the report, leave it absolutely clear in my mind that Senator Gardiner did not take his objection at the proper time. I have only this .to say in conclusion - that I trust honorable senators will realize that unless the President’s ruling is upheld, it will be necessary to alter the Standing Orders. In other words, if the ruling is disagreed with, the Standing Orders under which we are working cannot be maintained in their present form.
– If the Chairman of Committees breaks a standing order, why should the Standing Orders have to be altered ?
– D - Disagreeing with the President’s ruling will have this effect : that any honorable senator may, after there has been a dispute on a <matter which has been settled, bring it up again weeks later, or at an indefinite time afterwards.
– That has been done here before.
– It was done last week in Senator Givens’ case.
– Any Any honorable senator will be able to rise at any time, and ask that the Chairman or President direct certain words to be withdrawn which were used a considerable time before. It seems to me that we shall, in that way, land ourselves in rather an awkward position.
– What happened in the case of Senator Givens?
– Tha That matter and this are not on all-fours at all.
– In reality, they are.
- Sen Senator Needham must know that they are not parallel cases. It would be very awkward if, after an incident had been closed, an honorable senator was at liberty to demand that certain words, used, perhaps, a considerable time before, should be withdrawn. We should never be able to reach finality.
– All we ask is that the Standing Orders should be strictly adhered to.
– W - We have either to adhere to the Standing Orders or to dissent from the President’s ruling ; and, in the latter case, the Standing Orders will have to be altered.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.36]. - I thought that this matter was likely to pass off with a very little discussion. Senator O’ Keefe has entered into the controversy with a good deal of force, and, perhaps, with more vehemence than was at all necessary.
– I - I do not think that I imported any feeling into the matter, but I could not allow Senator Gardiner’s charges to pass unnoticed.
– It is not a question of feeling. I do not think that Senator O’Keefe-, seeing that his position is entirely unassailed as far as the question now before us is concerned, need have intervened. My honorable friend, as Chairman of Committees, gave a ruling on Friday against which there was an appeal. You, sir, in the usual manner, in conformity with the Standing Orders, heard that appeal, which was dismissed. Upon that ruling, the present appeal to the Senate was made. That is the whole matter. I do not think, with all due. deference to Senator O’Keefe, that his share in the business is at present in controversy. The whole question is simply whether your ruling, on the facts which were presented to you, is to be upheld. Upon the facta themselves, you had only the report that was presented to you by the Chairman of Committees. The words objected to were not taken down in writing. You had to act upon the report made by the high officer occupying the chair. That report was made to the highest officer in the Senate. Many, of us are not competent to form an opinion upon the facts at all. There is provided by the Standing Orders a method by which words which may be used in debate are to be taken down and placed” upon record. That course was not adopted in this instance. <Many of us are, therefore, entirely in §ie dark in dealing with the question, and coming to a decision upon it. Our knowledge of the course of events, the objections raised, and the order in which they followed or were dealt with we must accept from the Chairman of Committees. Senator O’Keefe had no need to defend himself in the exercise of the duties of his official position. He must deal, and we must assume that he will deal, honestly and fairly as between honorable senators in the discharge of his duties. If we once permitted an inquiry into the facts presented to the Senate, and upon which the President gives his ruling, we should never know where we were. We must act upon the report of the facts communicated to the Senate by the Chairman of Committees.
– The facts may be called in question.
– No; the Chairman of Committees may be wrong in his report as to the facts, but the Senate does not sit in judgment upon his report. His statement of the facts is that on which the President and the Senate act in debating the matter. We cannot in the Senate settle the difference of opinion as to the facts between the Chairman of Committees and Senator Gardiner. The question is whether the ruling of the President could be set aside, on the ground stated by Senator Givens, that it is subversive of the privileges of honorable senators, and that it is contrary to the Standing Orders. I do not agree at all with Senator Gould’s proposition that we must accept any ruling from the Chair. We may disagree with it, although we may fully believe that it was honestly and fairly given. It would be a sorry day for the Senate if we debated the ruling of the President on the ground that he displayed favoritism, or an absence of honesty and honour in the exercise of his duty. I disagree entirely with Senator
Gould’s proposition, and I say that it is no disrespect whatever to the Chair that any member of the Senate should challenge the ruling of the President, and elicit the opinion of honorable senators upon it. That does not involve a reflection upon the Chair, or an imputation of the honour of the President or of the Chairman of Committees. It is no foundation for a challenge of the ruling of the President or Chairman of Committees that he gave a preference to one or other side of the Senate. The expressions used by” Senator Gardiner were, perhaps, susceptible to some such significance, but I do not think the honorable senator really meant that. He was Expressing merely such a sense of injustice as any defeated litigant in a Court of law may consider that he suffers from when a decision goes against him. I am sure that honorable senators agree with me that Senator Gardiner did not intend to impute to the President favoritism to one side or the other, or to one senator in preference to another. What is the question with which we have to deal ? It is - Is your ruling subversive ot the privileges of honorable senators, or contrary to the Standing Orders? If it is in accordance with the Standing Orders, and still subversive of the privileges of honorable senators, the remedy is to reform the Standing Orders. So that we may dismiss the first ground stated for the motion, namely, that the ruling is subversive of the privileges of honorable senators. On the point that it is not in conformity with the Standing Orders, let us consider what the ruling was. It was, in substance, that the Chairman of Committees was right in ruling that the time had gone by for Senator Gardiner or any other honorable senator to call upon Senator Millen for the withdrawal of the language he used, assuming it to be unparliamentary and offensive. I have said that we are bound to accept the report of the Chairman as to what took place in Committee.
– No, we are not.
– We are not here as a jury to decide upon any conflict of recollection between the Chairman of Committees and an honorable senator.
– -We have something before us to assist our recollection.
– We have, but we are not dealing with that. If Senator Givens refers to Hansard, the reference is to something with which we are not concerned in dealing with the President’s ruling. The President acted upon a report as to the facts made by the Chair- . man of Committees, and it was upon that report of the facts that he ruled.
– The chief witness was excluded.
– To whom does the honorable senator refer?
– To Senator Rae.
– No, he was not excluded, because he. had no right to challenge the Chairman’s report of the facts to the Senate.
– He had a right to challenge Senator Millen’s statement.
– We are not dealing with Senator Millen’s statement. The honorable senator misunderstands the position. We are called upon to say whether the President’s ruling was right, and it was founded upon the statement as to the facts presented to the Senate by the Chair- . man of Committees. The matter was put with great clearness by the Vice-President of the Executive. Council on Friday last. When a certain statement was made by Senator Millen, Senator Rae, instead of calling for its withdrawal, as he might have done if he considered it offensive, took the law into his own hands, to use the words of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, and retaliated across the Chamber with an expression which Senator Millen regarded as grossly offensive, and the withdrawal of which he called for. The time had then passed, according to our Standing Orders, for Senator Rae to ask for the withdrawal of what Senator Millen had said, because, to again use the most appropriate expression of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, he had taken the law into his own hands, and had meted out the punishment which he thought fitted the offence against him. Senator Millen called for the withdrawal pf Senator Rae’s statement in retaliation. Even then, Senator Rae, according to the statement of the facts submitted to the Senate, might have been in a position to secure the withdrawal of Senator Millen’s statement by merely obeying the ruling of the Chairman of Committees. Instead of doing that he defied the Chair, and said he would not withdraw the statement which the Chairman of Committees called upon him to withdraw. That being so, you, sir, were sent for; the usual motion was put, and Senator Rae was suspended for the- remainder of the siting. Then the business of the Committee was resumed, and Senator Gardiner claimed that the language used by Senator Millen should be withdrawn.
– Some time previous to that I made the same request.
– I am speaking of the facts as they have been presented to the Senate. I may’ say that at this particular stage I was present in the chamber, and I know that the honorable senator wanted to make terms. Something was said about Senator Millen first withdrawing what he had said, and then Senator Rae would withdraw his statement, which was regarded as offensive. But the Chairman very properly ruled that he must deal with one thing at a time. Senator Rae wanted Senator Millen to withdraw his statement before he would withdraw his own later statement. The Chairman objected to that - course being followed, and any one who has any regard for the Standing Orders and practice of Parliament must come to the conclusion which the President did in the circumstances, and on the facts, as presented by the Chairman of Committees, namely, that his ruling in the matter was perfectly right. When the Committee resumed, Senator Gardiner revived the matter at a stage when, under the Standing Orders, it was impossible to revive it in the way proposed, and impossible for any one to call upon Senator Millen to withdraw anything he had said. The matter then came before the President again on the objection to that ruling. The Standing Orders are as clear as possible on the subject. We are asked to say whether the President’s ruling was in accordance with the Standing Orders. Under standing order 413, offensive words are forbidden to be used, and under standing order 419, to which you, sir-, made reference, the objection to the use of offensive words must be taken when such words are used, and will not afterwards be entertained. If an honorable senator feels aggrieved by the use of language which he regards as offensive, his business in his own interests, and in the interests of the maintenance of good order in the Senate, is to at once ask for the withdrawal of the offensive language. If, instead of doing that, he takes the law into his own hands, by throwing a taunt or some offensive retort across the chamber, that disentitles him to call for the withdrawal of the provocative words previously used.I think that is sound sense. If a man who is insulted takes the law into his . own hands, and knocks the insulter down, he cannot very well afterwards ask the person who insulted him to withdraw his offensive expression. That would be adding insult to injury. The Vice-President of the Executive Council clearly explained that the moment when offensive words are used is the time when an application should be made for their withdrawal. If that application is not made, and, instead, retaliation is made, under our Standing Orders the time for asking for the withdrawal of the provocative language has passed. It is not our duty now to decide whether the Chairman of Committees has, according to Senator Gardiner or Senator Rae, misstated the facts, but whether on the facts as he stated them the ruling of the President waS correct. The case in reality is a trivial one, but it deals with a matter of great importance, and that is the maintenance of order in the Senate, and, I think, to summarize, that we should dispose of this case by supporting the ruling of the President.
– It is just as well that we should have had this debate, because there is evidently some misconception in the minds of some honorable senators as to what the Standing Orders mean, and the. procedure which should be followed in such cases. I should like honorable senators who are disputing the President’s ruling’ to imagine what would have been his. position if he had accepted Senator Gardiner’s request. If at that stage lie had’ called upon Senator Millen to withdraw the words which were alleged to. be offensive, Senator Millen would have had only to decline to do so, and refer the President to standing order 419, and the President would then have found that he had taken a course which is contrary to the Standing Orders.
– Thert in future all that an honorable senator need do is to claim that offensive words, not having beer, taken down, need not be withdrawn.
– That is the procedure clearly laid down in the Standing Orders.
– Such a practice has never been followed here.
– If it has not been followed in the past, it is just as well, as I say, that this debate has taken place, so that ‘ honorable senators may know the practice laid down by the Standing Orders. Senator Symon quoted standing ordei 413, providing that no honorable senator shall use offensive words. The. words used by Senator Millen in reference, to Senator Rae were held by Senator Rae to be offensive, and with vety good cause, if I may express an opinion on that subject. But Senator Rae, if he had interrupted Senator Millen then, would have been out of order under standing order 417, which provides that -
No senator shall interrupt another senator whilst speaking unless (1) to request that his words be taken down.
Senator Rae did interrupt Senator Millen, but not for that purpose. He interrupted him to say something which Senator Millen regarded as offensive.
– Is a point of order an interruption?
- Senator Rae did not take a point of order. That was the trouble. Had he raised a point of order the difficulty would have been overcome, because the Standing Orders provide that the raising of a point of order is not an interruption.
– The uncorrected proof of the Hansard report shows that he did take a point of order.
– Senator Rae objected to Senator Millen’s statement, but he did not take a point of order.
– I did.
– When Senator Millen made his reference to Senator Rae’s speech, Senator Rae said that if the statement referred to him it was untrue, or words to that effect; buthe did not, at that time, tale a point of order, and that is the remedy provided if an honorable senator regards remarks made as offensive to him. The Standing Orders give him the right to claim the protection of the Chair, and that is what Senator Millen did. When Senator Millen did that, no matter what words he had used, Senator Rae had put himself out of court, because he prevented the Chairman from calling upon Senator Millen to withdraw the words to which he objected.
– It is like the Coalminers’ award to me - the last to come, and the first to go.
– Standing order 433 provides -
If any senator . . .
uses objectionable words, and refuses to withdraw such words; the President , may report to the Senate that such senator has committed an offence.
That standing order governs the Chairman of Committees as well as the President, and he had no alternative but to take the course he did.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that no other honorable senator has a right to raise an objection but the one to whom offensive words are used?
– I say that the words could not have been held to be offensive to Senator Gardiner, because they were not directed to him. They were directed to no one but Senator Rae, who objected to them ; but he should have made his objection in another way.
– The question is, whether I was right in taking a point of order.
– The offensive words were not directed to the honorable senator, and the Standing Orders do not give him a right to claim protection for another honorable senator.
– Another honorable senator raised the point of order against Senator Needham.
– I take the Standing Orders to mean that it is the honorable senator to whom offensive words are used who should raise the point of order. Senator Rae did not take that course. Senator Gardiner subsequently took a point of order ; but, granting that a point of order may be raised by an honorable senator to whom objectionable words are not used, the point of order was taken, in this case, at a . time when, under the Standing Orders, it could not be taken. Suppose that we grant that. The time when Senator Gardiner should have taken his objection was immediately after Senator Millen made use of the words, but the former did not take exception . until after the Chairman had proposed to deal with Senator Rae. There were only two senators who were entitled to speak at that time - Senator Millen ‘and any senator who rose to a point of order. Senator Rae’s interjection, like every other interjection, was disorderly. If Senator Gardiner had wished to do so at the rime, he could have raised a . point of order, notwithstanding Senator Rae’s interjection, but he did not do so. Even assuming that an honorable senator wishes to take the part of another senator, the only time to intervene is when the alleged offence takes place. I think, sir, that if we were to disagree with your ruling, ‘we should be allowing our feelings to run away with’ our judgment.. It should “ be remembered that whatever the rulings from the Chair may be; ‘ they form the practice of the Senate. ‘ On this occasion, «ur feelings may be sympathetic towards Senators Rae and Gardiner, hut we should all vote, on the mere question of what is the plain reading of the standing order.
Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland) [4,2). - I quite agree with one point made by Senator Symon, sir, and that is that your ruling was based upon a question of fact, and that the facts had to be reported to you by the .Chairman, and it is for the Senate now to emphasize the point that the Chairman is the proper source of a report of the facts.
– Without question?
– As a general rule, and almost without question. When the Senate is in Committee, the Chairman is the judge, of questions of fact and points of order, and when his ruling is dissented from, our final authority is the President. Can it be denied that it is from the Chairman that the President has to take a report of the facts? Any departure from that plain rule would land us in absolute chaos. A reference from the Chairman to the President is almost in the character of a judicial proceeding. An Appeal Court does not take the report of the facts from the counsel on either side, from the litigants or witnesses on either side, but from the Court which is appealed against, and if there is any doubt on a question of fact, the Appeal Court refers, not to the litigant or the counsel, but to the Court below. I hope, sir, that- your ruling based on a report of facts from the Chairman, will always be upheld. In this case, the Chairman’s report as to the facts was to a certain extent impugned by Senator Gardiner. We have had comments made by the Chairman on the very question of facts which he reported to you, sir, and I submit that his narrative of the facts is absolutely accurate. At the time his ruling was about to be considered, he gave to the Committee a short narrative of the facts, and in his recapitulation of the facts to-day he was as plain and as emphatic as he was on Friday last, when he submitted his report from the Committee. The most casual reference to Hansard shows that the point which Senator Gardiner has mentioned arose a very long time after Senator Millen had used- certain, words, to which Senator. Rae objected. I suppose that the proceedings would occupy about a foot of space in Hansard.
– Not 6 inches.
– Pardon, me j I have just had an opportunity of looking at the Hansard proof, and it goes to show that it was a long time after Senator Millen made his remarks in reply to the speech of Senator Rae, and after many interjections, that Senator Gardiner appeared on the scene.
– Would you Bay a minute I
– It was some time. Hansard speaks for itself.
– The matter occupies 8 or 9 inches.
– Senator St. Ledger might utter that’ amount of matter in two seconds.
– That may be so.
– How much of that time was taken up by “the Chairman ?
– It is not a question of time, but a question of the Standing Orders and their interpretation. What happened when. Senator Gardiner did intervene? I find that it was not on a point of order that he intervened the first time, but it was more in the nature of an interrogation. At that time he does not seem, according to the report, to have been very much troubled about a point of order. He seems to have been only troubled with ‘ a question as to where really the disorder was. If your ruling should be reversed, sir, the Senate will not know where it is until the Standing Orders in most important points have been overhauled and. changed. According to the rules of debate, if any senator thinks that an expression used by another senator is disorderly or offensive, exception must be taken at the time. Therefore, so far as Senator Gardiner’s contention can have any bearing on the matter, I submit that no case has been made out against your ruling. On a. previous occasion, I took objection to a remark made by an honorable senator, f thought that it was objectionable,’ whether it was applied generally or particularly. I drew the Chairman’s attention to the; exact words which had been used, and the whole matter was settled in about ten minutes. If any honorable senators on one side or the other’ do not take advantage of the protection which the Standing Orders confer upon them, they cannot complain afterwards with any reason. I ‘do appeal to the Senate that on a clear reading of the standing order, and the clear narrative of the facts from the Chairman, the ruling of the President should be upheld, otherwise a reign of chaos and disorder may begin.
– After the lengthy speeches 1 have heard from the other side, I begin to think that I am the only impartial person. As one who was here during part of the proceedings on Friday,, and was within listening distance during the remainder of the time. I wish to refer to the Chairman’s statement that Senator Gardiner raised his objection to a remark some time after the opportunity for doing so had gone by. Senator Pearce has raised the point that no one had the right to object except myself, as the senator aggrieved by the remarks of Senator Millen, as they applied to me only.
– S - Senator Pearce assumes that that is the only reading of the standing order. That is open to question.
– Whether that is correct or not, I do not know. On numerous occasions, I have heard honorable senators on the other side object to a remark, even when it was not addressed, to them personally. I think every honorable senator will admit that when an interjection or a statement has been deemed offensive by a senator, without in any way asking that the words should be taken down, generally the senator concerned has withdrawn the words, and, in some cases, apologized for the use of them. In fact, during the time that I have been a member of the Senate, I have never heard a request made that words should be taken down. When, on numerous occasions - because interjections are frequently made in this Chamber, and sometimes we get a pretty hard shot in upon one another - requests have been made for the withdrawal of words, the common practice has been for the honorable senator aggrieved to take exception to the language’ used, and to ask for a withdrawal. The request for withdrawal and- the apology have succeeded each other without any formality in the nature of the taking down of the words. If custom makes law, the custom-made-law in this Senate has been for the objection to be followed by the withdrawal forthwith.
– But the objection must be taken instantly.
– My objection was taken instantly. In fact, it was the electric way in which it was taken which led to the trouble. Senator O’Keefe, in making his statement to-day - and -I believe that hearted in perfect good faith- stated that the reason why he refused to take notice of Senator Gardiner’s point of order was, not that the time had expired for taking objection, but that he had not . time to deal with more than one point of order at a time. He was then dealing with the altercation between Senator Millen and myself, -and he held that that claimed precedence’ over Senator Gardiner’s point of order. But Senator O’Keefe - unintentionally, no doubt - has since - raised the point, that the time had expired within which Senator Gardiner might have acted. At the time, however, Senator O’Keefe, as’ Chairman of Committees, simply said that he could not deal with two points of order at once. Consequently, there was no attempt to deal with Senator Gardiner’s point. It appears to me, therefore, that Senator Gardiner was jockeyed out of his rights altogether - first, by not having an opportunity of raising his point of order ; and, secondly, by the Chairman stating that hjs objection could not be raised when he raised it, because if that were permitted, finality could never be reached.
– Hansard does not disclose that the Chairman of Committees refused to entertain Senator Gardiner’s point because he was already dealing with another point.
– I - I distinctly did make the statement that 1 could not deal with Senator Gardiner’s point while I wai dealing with the point affecting Senator Rae.
– I did not think that Senator O’Keefe would deny that he made the statement; but I point out that the two statements which he has made as to why he did not entertain Senator Gardiner’s point of order do not harmonize.
– I - I do not think that the honorable senator is putting the matter fairly.
– I am. not interested in the sense of wishing to be guilty of what Senator Pearce seems to think that some honorable senators on this side of the Chamber desire, namely, to upset the ruling of the President in order to secure revenge. I should be very sorry, indeed, if any honorable senator thought thatI would attempt to overrule a decision, either of the President or the Chairman of Committees, owing tn any feeling of that kind. I do not think that we are such a lot of children as to desire anything of the kind, or even to allow our judgment to be warped, in order to achieve a personal end. As far as I am concerned, I have paid the penaltyfor whatI did. Whether I deserved it ornot,I am perfectly satisfied. I have paid the price, and feel that I got good value for my money.
– I am not going to inake any more bones about it. When I say a thing, I desire to stink to it. I have done so in this instance, and that is all that troubles me about the matter. But I say, once more, ‘ that Senator Gardiner did raise his objection as soon as there was an opportunity of doing so; but there was, as mostly happens when such altercations occur, a certain amount of warmth amongst honorable senators, and there was a good deal of firing to and fro. Senator Gardiner had no possible opportunity of getting his point consideied, owing to the altercation going on at the time, until the turmoil had subsided- As soon as there was a semblance of calmness, however, he raised his objection, and the Chairman of Committees then said that that was not the proper time to raise it.
– Hansard shows that Senator Gardiner only asked the question when the Chairman intervened.
– The honorable senator has been reading Hansard more closely than I have done. At any rate, Senator Gardiner did raise the point. It appears to me that if there is any one against whom we should complain in this case it is the lawyers who have intervened in the debate, and who have befogged the mattet with technicalities. The three honorable senators who happen to be lawyers who have spoken on this question have, I think, justified the general distrust of the community in the expensive proceedings in which members of their profession are employed.
– Order! The honorable senator must discuss the question.
– I thought I had been discussing it pretty closelv. I wish now to reply to some of the ridiculous legal interpretations put upon our proceedings by the three legal senators - Senator Gould, Senator Symon and Senttor St. Ledger. Senator Gould maintained, practically, that the rilling of the President should he upheld, right or wrong, in order that the dignity of the Chair might be maintained. Senator Svmon claimed that the report of the Chairman of Committees to the Presi dent should be accepted, and that there should be no question whatever concerning the facts as he stated them. I think I
Bhall be in order in relating a case that occurred under my own notice in the New South Wales Parliament some years ago. The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly had listened to a report from the Chairman of Committees concerning an incident in consequence of which an honorable member had been ordered out for not obeying the Chairman. The Speaker listened to three other honorable members, each of whom gave his version of what occurred. Without imputing any deliberate unfairness to the Chairman of Committees, or insinuating that he had not fairly and completely stated the position, according to tbe best of bis ability, the Speaker, atter listening to the statements of the other honorable . members, said that on the evidence submitted to him, he did not feel inclined to uphold the Chairman’s decision ; and accordingly he gave an order that the honorable member who had offended should be admitted without being called upon to withdraw or to apologize for anything that had occurred. Yet, Senator Symon and Senator St. Ledger would hold that the report of the Chairman must be accepted without question.
– I said that the Chairman’s report should be followed in nearly every case.
– The three legal senators to whom I have referred do not seem to recognise that even the most fair-minded Chairman in the world might, unintentionally, put a matter in a way that’ was not a full and complete statement of the case.
– I - I have not upheld that position.
– The honorable senator is too broadminded to make any such claim, though that is the position which has been sought to be established by honorable senators opposite. I claim that we should have here a democratic” procedure as well as a democratic policy, and that therefore the decisions of the President or the Chairman of Committees should always be open to review. If honorable senators think that they are not in accordance with the best interests of procedure in the Senate, they should be at liberty to express their opinion quite irrespective of the “ dignity of the Chair,” or any other consideration. Personally. I do not intend to vote upon Senator Givens’ motion as it may be thought that I am personally interested in it.
– I wish briefly to state that I think that a good deal that might have been left out has been imported into this debate. I was present in the chamber during the whole of the incident that occurred on Friday. I have no hesitation in saying that the Leader of . the Opposition, as usual, proved himself a very clever tactician. I say that unhesitatingly. He uttered some of the most .insulting language that a man could use, but he did so in a fashion that is practically all his own. If I remember rightly - and I think I am speaking correctly - he practically charged Senator Rae with being an anarchist.
– lt was not at that time that exception was taken to what I said.
– Yes, it was at that time that exception was taken. The Leader of the Opposition, I say, actually charged Senator Rae with being an anarchist.
– And is he not?__
– What does the honorable senator mean by “ practically charged”?
– Well, the Leader of the Opposition charged Senator Rae with using, language that was really anarchistic; but he was clever enough to make his charge without bringing himself under the notice of the Chairman, whilst Senator Rae “ fell in “ by being just a little too slow.
– It is the first time that I ever heard that accusation made against Senator Rae.
– I entirely agree with Senator Pearce in hoping that the day will come when it will be recognised that the senator against whom a charge is made is the proper person to take exception to it. My own opinion is that the Standing Orders make it abundantly clear that when exception is taken to a statement made by an honorable senator, it must be taken at the time ; and I say without hesitation that Senator Gardiner- did not avail himself of the proper opportunity. It is not a bit of use trying to argue that he did object to Senator Millen’s statement at the time when he should have done so. If he had taken objection to the statement, then T presume that the Chairman of Committees would have compelled Senator Millen to make a withdrawal. But Senator Gardiner waited until Senator Rae had been called in question for his refusal to withdraw language which he had used. It was after Senator Rae had refused to obey the Chairman that Senator Gardiner roseto his feet, and asked for the withdrawal of words used by Senator Millen. I an* quite satisfied that Senator Millen displayed his usual agility in procedure in reference to what occurred..
– -I obeyed the Standing Orders:
– Yes, but though the honorable senator complied with the Standing Orders, ! think he was wrong in reference to what occurred, and onlygot out of his difficulty in consequence of the_ impetuosity of Senators- Rae arid Gardiner.
– It is a pity that several honorable senators have imported into the discussion of thismotion matters which are not relevant to it,, and which, so far from throwing any lightupon it, have clouded the issues, and, tosome extent, created a false issue. It is most regrettable that Senator Gould should have tried to induce the Senate to believe that the motion is a personal . matter between you, sir, and those who. are moving; to disagree with your ruling. On several occasions since I have been a member ‘of the Senate motions have been submitted to disagree with the ruling of the President, but on no occasion until to-day have I heard it suggested that there was anything personal in the matter, or anything more than a desire to have the question at issue settled in a manner satisfactory to the Senate and to the President. I can imagine that it. would be of the greatest possible advantage to a President or Chairman of Committees to have a question referred from their decision to the whole Senate, which,, after all, must be the final arbiter of the conduct of its affairs, and so have a decisionrecorded which would guide them in their action in the future. I think that you,, sir, would be the last to take any motion of this kind as personal between yourself and honorable senators moving in this direction,, and you would be the last to accuse me of anything personal in the action I have taken. It is also exceedingly regrettablethat Senator O’Keefe, as Chairman of Committees, should have taken up the attitude of threatening the Senate with all’ sorts of disaster if we carried this motion. He says that if we do so our StandingOrders must go into the melting-pot, and we must create an entirely new procedure-
I entirely differ from that line of argument. The Tightness or wrongness of your decision in this matter rests upon the Standing Orders as they are, and the decision of the Senate will be an interpretation of the existing Standing Orders, and will not create any necessity for new Standing Orders. With this reference to arguments which have been brought forward, I desire to again briefly state the case which is put before you. Let me here say that Senator Symon contended that all you need to guide you, and all, in fact, that you can be guided by in this matter, is the statement of facts as put before you by the Chairman of Committees. I hold that that contention, is entirely wrong. Otherwise, why does the President ask for, and patiently listen to, other honorable senators if he is bound to be guided only by the statement of facts as put before him by the Chairman of Committees? It would be farcical for you, sir, to allow any other honorable senator to discuss a matter reported to you from Committee if, when the Chairman of Committees had stated the facts, you were bound to assume that his statement was correct. I admit that you must attach a great deal of weight to any statement by the Chairman of Committees, but, like other human beings, the Chairman of Committees is fallible, and, in an atmosphere of excitement such as arises when a disagreement occurs between honorable senators, there is considerable confusion, and any member of the Senate may be excused if his recollection of what takes place is not consecutive or very clear. It is because of the value of a consensus of opinion as to what takes place that it is desirable that you should hear, not only the statement of facts from the Chairman of Committees, but from other honorable senators as well. But I do not intend to rely upon the statement of facts by any honorable senator. I rely upon the indisputable statement of facts as taken down by the impartial recorders of our proceedings. I believe that it is essential, if we are to have our Standing Orders fairly carried out, and our rights and privileges safeguarded, that we should clearly lay down our procedure. Senators Pearce and Henderson have put forward the idea that the only person entitled to take objection to the use of offensive words is the honorable senator to whom the words have been used. They have cited the Standing Orders in support of that contention. But I point out that it is the duty of the President and
Chairman of Committees to maintain order, and prevent the use of insulting or offensive words, if they hear them, without waiting for their attention to be called to them by any honorable senator.
– How can that be when it is the honorable senator to whom the remarks have been applied who must determine whether they are offensive or not?
– Not always.
– That is .the ruling of the President.
– We shall come to that in good time. I am disputing the contentions put forward by Senators Pearce and Henderson that it is the duty of the aggrieved person to call attention to the use of offensive words. Standing order 413 says -
No senator shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any member of such House, or of any House of a State Parliament, or against any Statute, unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal, and all imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on members shall be considered highly disorderly.
How can an Act of Parliament call attention to the use of offensive words with regard to it? How could the Parliament sitting in Perth call attention .to the use’ here of offensive words against it? The merest examination of the contention puts it out of court at once. We know, also, that over and over again in the Senate an honorable senator who has not been referred to has called attention to the use of offensive words. I direct the attention of Senator St. Ledger to the fact that when he says that Senator Gardiner’s calling attention to the matter was merely by way of interjection, the report shows that when Senator Gould called attention to the matter it was also merely, by way of interjection. I quote from the uncorrected Hansard proof -
– I ask, sir, whether Senator Rae is in order in making that statement here concerning any member of the Senate ?
– That was- after a point of order had been taken by myself.
– That was during the discussion, and I point out that Senator Rae also took a point of order.
– That also was after the point of order had been taken by myself.
– The Chairman said that Senator Rae was first.
– The Chairman decided that I was correct, and that the point of order was first taken by myself.
– He stated clearly enough, according to the report, that Senator Rae took his point of order first. I may briefly go over what occurred. Senator Rae made a speech in Committee on a clause of the Navigation Bill. In the course of that speech, he made some reflections upon the magistracy of the country generally, and stated that, although he was one of the unpaid magistrates himself, speaking generally, they were not a very admirable crowd. Senator Millen followed Senator Rae, and, in his usual very clever way, immediately twisted that into a statement by Senator Rae that he was in favour of anarchy, or something to that effect. In order to be perfectly fair to Senator Millen, I shall read from the Hansard proof exactly what he said -
If it serves no other purpose the speech of Senator Une is extremely interesting as being an open and avowed declaration of anarchy.
– No point of order was raised on that remark.
- Senator Rae interjected, “ It was nothing of the kind,” and Senator Millen then went on to say -
The honorable senator has said here, as plainly as words can convey, that if any individual entertained a bond fide genuine disbelief in the integrity or impartiality of magistrates, that was an excuse for him to disregard their decisions.
I listened very carefully to Senator Rae’s speech, and I unhesitatingly say that that is a gross misrepresentation of what he said.
– Perhaps the honorable senator will read the following remarks, which show what Senator Rae admits having said.
– I shall read them-
– I did not. I said that distrust of the magistracy had been amply justified, and it is a deliberate falsehood for the honorable senator to say what he said.
– Does the honorable senator say that he is reading from an uncorrected proof ? The proof handed to me by Hansard does not contain words which he has read into the statement of Senator Rae.
– This is the Hansard proof that I have here.
– The honorable senator says that it is an uncorrected proof. Where did he get it from? I have the
Hansard proof. We have a right to know when these proofs are supplied to us as uncorrected that they are proofs of what was said, or we should know who has been tampering with them.
– This proof has beers handed to me as an uncorrected proof.
– It has evidently been* corrected. The proof I have reads -
I did not. I said that it had been amply justified.
The honorable senator has read into that, the words ‘ ‘ distrust of the magistracy “ - two very different things.
– What does “it” mean?
– It is evident that those words have been inserted by some oneas something left out. The report is -
I did not. I said that it has been ‘amplyjustified.
What does “ it” mean’?1
– “ lt “ is the accusation I made as to the breaking of the law.
– No. If it meant that, Senator Rae would have been saying that Senator Millen’s statement was amply justified, and 1 am sure that Senator Rae: did not say that. There was something-, which Senator Rae claimed had been amplyjustified. What was that? Evidentlysome one has put in “ distrust of the magistracy,” and that is what any one would1 assume from having listened to SenatorRae’s diatribes against the magistracy.. The report goes on to say -
– I rise to order.
– I rise to .order.
So far as one can see from the report^, both honorable senators rose simultaneously. .
– They are not reported? as having risen simultaneously.
– The reporter couldnot put one set of words on top of the - other. The report goes on to show that the Chairman took Senator Rae to have been first on his feet to raise the point of’ order.
– He did not raise apoint of order.
– I did.
– The report showsthat Senator Rae did rise to order.
– That was after he had made use of the - objectionable words to which Senator Millen took exception.
- Senator Rae alsotook exception to the words used by Senator Millen. No notice was taken of Senator Rae, but apparently when honorable- senators on the other side get up, they must have things all their own way. If that were to be the procedure followed in this chamber, the position would be intolerable.I quote again from the report -
– I ask first, sir, that Senator Rae should be called upon to withdraw the statement that my remark is a deliberate falsehood.
– Order. Senator Rae has risen to a question of order.
– I was the first to raise a point of order, and I have a right to be taken notice of.
– I did not hear the honorable senator.
– I cannot help whether you heard me or not, but I was the first to raise a point of order.
– The honorable senator will notice that Senator Rae did not dispute my contention.
– It seems to me that Senator Rae had not time to dispute anything.
– He had time to speak immediately afterwards, and he did so.
– I continue the report -
– The honorable senator has accused me of saying that any one who does not believe in the magistrates or authorities has a right to disregard any law. If he deliberately states that it is an absolute falsehood.
– That is not a point of order, sir, but a repetition of the offence.
I point out that it was neither an offence nor a repetition of an offence, because Senator Rae used the word “ if.” He wanted to know from Senator Millen whether he deliberately put those words into his mouth. He said that if Senator Millen did so use the words, his statement was a falsehood. If Senator Millen did not so use them, then no offence could be taken by the honorable senator from what Senator Rae said.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - That has nothing to do with the present question.
– It has everything to do with the question as to what were the facts, and whether we should allow the ruling which is now taken exception to to be regarded as a precedent. I am not going into the question of whether Senator Rae was guilty of an offence. I have already dealt with that. I have said that I have no complaints whatever to make with regard to the way in which Senator Rae was treated. I consider that the Chairman of Committees extended every courtesy and leniency to him. My complaint is, as I have stated before, that the same rule was not applied to Senator Millen, who admittedly offended Senator Rae by the utterance of words regarded by him as objectionable. Senator Millen said that he was ready to withdraw his statement if the Chairman of Committees called upon him to do so, and I believe he would have done so.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - What were they?
– That Senator Rae’s statement was an avowed declaration of anarchy.
– I intend to have this in Hansard, so that every one may know what the facts are.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - It is already in Hansard.
- Senator Millen, in reply to the remarks of Senator Rae, said that they did not represent a point of order, but a repetition of the offence, and the report then continues -
– I say that it is an absolute and deliberate falsehood.
– I ask, sir, whether Senator Rae is in order in making that statement here concerning any member of the Senate?
– I ask Senator Rae to withdraw the statement that Senator Millen has given utterance to an absolute and deliberate falsehood. I intend to take a further proceeding, but I ask the honorable member first to withdraw his statement.
I want to know what was the further proceeding which Senator O’Keefe, as Chairman of Committees, intended to take ? Anyone who was present at the time, or who reads the report of the proceedings, must assume that it was his intention to take steps to compel Senator Millen, as well as Senator. Rae, to comply with the Standing Orders. There could be no sense in the remarks of the Chairman of Committtees if that was not his intention. The report continues -
– I will not, because if Senator Millen repeats the statement, I will say that it is not so.
– I ask the honorable senator to withdraw the statement.
– I will withdraw from the Chamber, sir, if you like.
– I ask the honorable senator to withdraw the statement.
– I will not withdraw the statement, because it is so. With all respect to you, sir, I would sooner leave the Chamber.
Honorable Senators. - Chair, chair.
– Order. I ask Senator Rae to withdraw the statement.
– No, I will not. I never withdraw anything once I say it.
– The honorable senator ought to be made to withdraw from the Chamber, and no doubt the Chairman will take the proper course.
– Senator Rae might trust the Chair to take the necessary action to protect him ; but, as a first step, he, in my opinion, must withdraw bis statement.
I think the Chairman was quite right in that. Senator Rae should have obeyed the Chair, and should have withdrawn his statement. He did not do so, and he suffered the consequent punishment. But that did not excuse Senator Millen from non-compliance with the” Standing Orders, or Senator O’Keefe, as Chairman of Committees, for not enforcing upon Senator Millen compliance with- the Standing Orders. Senator Millen was himself the cause of the whole trouble. Senator Rae got into trouble because of language used by Senator Millen, which he considered offensive, and yet Senator Millen gets off scot free. That is what I am complaining of.
– I - I think another statement was made, and a very strong one, which does not appear in the Hansard report.
– I am not trusting in the matter to any one’s memory. I have read from the uncorrected Hansard proof the report of what occurred. As showing his willingness to comply with the Standing Orders, I can read the following remarks by Senator Rae -
– May I ask, sir, will Senator Millen first withdraw his statement, because, if I withdraw my statement, and he does not withdraw his statement, I shall have to make it again ?
There was reason for Senator Rae putting it in that way, because Senator Millen was the original offender.
– And, apparently, had refused to withdraw it.
– No; I had not been asked to do so.
– That is the case. Senator Rae was willing to have the whole thing passed over, with no more ill-feeling or bacl blood, and to comply with the standing order, provided that Senator MilJen would do the same thing. When Senator Rae has endured the punishment put upon him by the Senate for his offence1, no further complaint could be levelled against him ; but Senator Millen was not made to obey the standing order, nor was he subjected to any punishment, because, as Hansard shows, he was not asked to withdraw his statement. That is where the ruling of the Chairman, in the first .place, was wrong, sir, and your action, in upholding his ruling, consequently, was also wrong. We want the thing to be on a proper footing. If it is complained that Senator Gardiner did not call attention to the incident at the proper time, let me remind honorable senators that the whole thing occurred in a few moments.
– I was present all the time, and can say that that is not so.
– Nonsense ! According to the Hansard report, Senator Gardiner interposed. Addressing the Chairman, he said -
If a statement is made by one honorable senator, and another honorable senator takes exception to the statement by asking for its withdrawal, do not the rules compel an immediate withdrawal and the acceptance of the disclaimer?
The rules do that, and* Senator Rae called attention to the remark almost immediately, as will be seen by this report.
– Was that before or after Senator Rae was dealt with?
– Before. Of course the Chairman was quite right in pointing out, at that time, that he could not deal with two matters at once. We are not complaining, that he did not do so. What we complain q£ is, that, after having dealt with one offender, he allowed the other offender to escape scot-free.
– The other case has not been opened at all. How can he know ?
– Because the Chairman refused to open the case after his attention was called by Senator Rae to the remark of Senator Millen. His attention was called to the remark by the very fact that- the incident took place. Even while it was taking place, Senator Gardiner pointedly drew attention to it. Immediately after the incident had closed, and Senator Millen had risen to. continue his speech, what happened ? Senator Gardiner thought either that some action would be taken, or that Senator Millen would voluntarily withdraw the remark; so he sat quietly for a little while to see what action Senator Millen or the Chairman intended to take. He then rose and drew attention to the remark of Senator Millen, and yet nothing has been done. It has been stated that attention to a remark must be drawn the moment that it is used. Now, a case occurred- very recently, where a senator drew attention to certain words days after they were .used, and no exception was taken; even by the senator against whom the. action was directed. We have been given all kinds of fancy readings of the standing order. Since I have been a member of the Senate, I have never heard a request made that words complained of be taken down.
– I have a distinct recollection of having once moved in that direction.
– It may have been one of the interesting performances of the honorable senator, when I was not here.
– I am not sure that you were not the offender.
– Perhaps. I have submitted this motion for two reasons. As stated in the motion, the President’s ruling, if not reversed, will be subversive of the- due protection of senators. I do not think it is desirable that they should be deprived of their due protection ; but they undoubtedly will be if this decision be allowed to stand, because, just as happened in this case, an honorable senator on this or the other side, may take exception to what another senator has said about him. He may think the statement grossly offensive, highly insulting, or absolutely injurious to him, either as a private citizen or as a member of Parliament, and he may resent it accordingly. As soon as he has resented the remark, he will be hauled up, and, if he refuses to go on the stool of repentance, or to eat humble pie, and apologize to everybody all round, he will be punished, simply because he has. resented a remark which is grossly offensive or insulting to him; and then, after he has been punished, the original offender will escape scot-free. Consequently, the ruling will be subversive, as my motion says, of the due protection of senators. I think it will not be disputed that it is contrary to both the spirit and letter of the standing order, which provides that an offensive statement, when attention is called to its use, must be withdrawn. Attention was indisputably called to the remark of Senator Millen at the time it was made. The very interjection of Senator Rae that it was a falsehood called attention to the remark.
– Is that taking exception to words under the standing order?
– Senator Rae rose to a point of order in the heat of the moment. It cannot be disputed that objection was taken to the remark of Senator Millen. Senator Rae had to suffer for his indiscretion. He was made to toe the mark, and was asked to eat humble pie, or get outside.
– And the falsehood remains.
– He refused to eat, humble pie or go on the stool of repentance, and, to use a colloquialism, he was “ emptied out.”
– On a point of order, sir. I direct your attention to a statement by Senator Rae that the falsehood remains, evidently directed to myself. I desire that the words be ‘taken down.
– May I ask Senator Rae if he made the statement which is attributed to him, and, if so, whether he will withdraw it?
– I made the statement that the falsehood uttered last Friday still remains. To the best of my belief and knowledge, it does remain. Is it disorderly here to- speak the truth, sir ?
– Order ! The honorable senator, if he made a statement like that, must withdraw it. For the honorable senator to say that the falsehood remains is practically “to repeat the offence for which the Senate dealt with him last week. I ask him if he will withdraw the statement ?
– W - Why not let us get to a vote.
– As the honorable senator declines to withdraw the statement, I have no option but to name him for disobedience to the Chair.
– I am very sorry that anything of this kind has occurred. I hope that Senator Rae will reconsider his decision and withdraw the expression which he made use of. It is no pleasure to members of the Senate to have to take sides on a matter of this kind. I move -
That Senator Rae be suspended.
-The Standing Orders provide that the senator whose conduct is in question should be asked if he has a statement to make, or whether he wishes to withdraw the expression complained of. I ask Senator Rae if he has a statement to make, or wishes to withdraw the remark complained of?
– I have a statement to make, sir. On Friday last, Senator Millen made certain statements which are on record, because I saw them in the Hansaid proof submitted to me. The statements are not correct, if I may put it that way, and Senator Millen has not been called upon to withdraw them.
– Chair 1
– Surely, when I am asked to do so, the honorable senator will allow me to make a statement.
– Are you going to withdraw the word “ falsehood” ?
– Of course, if honorable senators opposite want to run the whole show, let them do so. Certain statements which were absolutely incorrect, entirely strangers to the facts of the case, were placed on record. I have a copy of the Hansard proof submitted to me, which contains, in an even grosser form than I thought they were uttered by Senator Millen-
– That is most incorrect and unfair.
– Am I not permitted to say that they are untrue ( lt the honorable senator takes exception to my use of the word “ falsehood,” I will say that the incorrect statements ot Senator Millen remain on record ; and I will withdraw the other words.
– J understand that Senator Rae has withdrawn the first statement which he made. A motion for * suspension has been moved. Is it the pleasure of the Senate that the motion be withdrawn ?
– 1 ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
– I have no more to add. 1 have stated, as fairly as 1 could, the case in favour of the motion. 1 believe that the ruling of the President, if upheld, will be subversive of the due protection of senators, and I do r.ot think that, even bv a straining of the Standing Orders, it can be construed as being in accordance with them, because they are framed to nf? rd senators due protection from offensive or insulting remarks, or expressions or misrepresentations which may be regarded as offensive. If the ruling of the President is to remain, then senators will not have that protection which, I take it, is intended to be afforded to them, both by the spirit and the letter of the Standing Orders. I commend my motion to honorable senators, and 1 hope that it will be decided entirely on its merits.
– There are one or two remarks which I wish to make before the question is put. 1 do not think that Senator Gardiner meant to apply to myself the remark that honorable senators on the other side of the chamber- are treated differently. I think that I can pass over that remark, because I do not believe that it was intended in the sense in which it would generally be taken. There is no reason why I should take offence at honorable senators generally disagreeing with a ruling, and I trust that no such impression exists. The Chair may, in the opinion of honorable senators, make a mistake, and they are quite justified in taking exception to a ruling. The Chair, T take it, considers the questions which are raised, and decides on the statements of fact, and the representations made by various honorable senators, lt has’ been stated that the practice has not been strictly followed of asking that the words complained of be taken down. I admit that the Standing Orders have not been followed, because the practice has been that, when’ an expression has been used which has been deemed to be unparliamentary, some honorable senator has risen to a point of order, and called the attention of the Chair to the fact that unparliamentary words have been used, and the Chair has asked the honorable senator using the expression to withdraw it. On the other hand, when it has been a personal matter, it has been the practice for the honorable senator who took exception to say that the expression was offensive to him. I should like to point out that an expression mav be used which may be offensive to one honorable senator and not offensive to any other honor.nb’e senator. Consequents, an honorable senator who thought a remark offensive, has risen and said that the remark was offensive, and asked that it be withdrawn, and invariably it has been withdrawn. So far as this general di-bate is concerned, a great deal of extraneous matter has been dragged in. I have nothing to add to the ruling I gave on Friday. I have read very carefully the report of the ruling, and I cannot see that, on the facts which were put before me at the time, or the statements made by honorable senators who were invited to speak, there is anythingI can add to what I then said.
Question - That the President’s ruling be disagreed with - put. The Senate divided.
Majority …. … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, with an amendment.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message resumed from 1 st November, vide page 5007) :
Clause 99 -
The acts specified in Column 1 hereunder shall be offences against discipline, and a seaman or apprentice committing any one of them shall be liable to a punishment not exceeding the punishment set opposite to the offence in Column 2 hereunder : -
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After the word “ desertion “ in column 1 insert “ failure or refusal without reasonable cause to join the ship or proceed to sea in the ship.”
– Since we last dealt with this matter,I have had inquiries made as to the necessity for the amendment of the House of Representatives. I am informed, hv responsible officers, that the failure of seamen to join ships at the last moment is unfortunately very common, especially in the case of foreign ships ; and that the consequence is the engagement of substitutes from boardinghouse keepers, and others, which brings about serious abuses. Seamen quite commonly fail to join for some trivial reason, or, perhaps, through indifference ; and there is room for suspicion that, in some cases, where men are eligible, dummies are sometimes put up to sign an agreement with the intention that, after the ship has obtained her clearance, other men who are not eligible to sign, such as deserters from other ships in port, or incompetent men, may be supplied at the last moment to take their place. That practice gives an opportunity for the crimp to pursue his objectionable calling. It is quite true that this clause does not impose a penalty on crimping, hut it does penalize those who are practically encouraging crimping. It is absolutely necessary that there should be some penalty for failure to join a ship. The penalty proposed is a maximum one, anil would only be imposed in very glaring cases. As, however, there seems to be seme feeling that the penalty is rather too high as compared with other penalties in the Mill, 1 am prepared to move an amendment upon the House of Representatives’ amenament to provide that the penalty should be , £10 instead of £20. But I ask the Committee to agree to the amendment made by the House of Representatives, assuring honorable senators that I am satisfied, as the result of inquiries that 1 have made, that the amendment is as much in the interests of the seamen as of ship-owners, because it will help to make crimping more dillicult, and will penalize those who allow themselves to be the employes of the crimp.
.- I am glad that the discussion which took place last week has had the result of inducing the Minister to propose that the’ penalty shall be reduced from ?20 to j?io. But, nevertheless, I do not think that the clause is going to have the effect that the Minister desires. Personally, I think that we ought to have stringent provisions against men who enter into contracts which they fail to keep. But I point out that this matter has been under the consideration of the Imperial authorities for a considerable time, and that the decision arrived at so far is that, in the opinion of the Board of Trade, it is inadvisable to make a breach of a civil agreement a criminal act. That is really the point. The objection to the penalty in this case is that it does make criminal what is really a civil offence. The Act passed in Great Britain in 1906 provides’ that when a seaman fails to join his ship, the master shall retain his certificates and return them to the superintendent. The superintendent is to report to the Board of Trade, and the man will not be permitted to ship in another vessel until the Board of. Trade allow him to do so. That, I think, is a better mode of punishment than fining a man a sum which, in all probability, he will never be able to pay, with the consequence that he will have to go to gaol.
– The honorable senator said on Friday that the provision was a farce.
– What I said on Friday was that the position taken up by the Board of Trade was the better one. Even in the agreement between- the shipowners and the seamen, it is provided that if a man fails to join his ship, the matter shall be reported, and the man is then suspended from his union. That is our present procedure. Another part of the section of the Merchant Shipping Act dealing with this matter relates to allotment notes, or advance notes. We have abolished advance notes in relation to agreements made in Australia, and 1 am not sure whether, when a seaman engages in Australia with the condition that he is to be paid elsewhere, we can enforce any penalty. We are now dealing with the case of a man who refuses to join his ship, 01 who wilfully misses it, or is guilty of misconduct in relation to joining ; and the British Act provides that, in such a case the superintendent shall keep the seaman’s papers until the matter has been determined. If that were done here, the seaman could not ship in any port of Australia until his case had been dealt with by the Minister.
– The honorable senator said on Friday that it was useless to forfeit a man’s certificate, and that I could go to sea as a fireman or an A.B. without any difficulty.
– I said that that was so under present circumstances ; but under this Bill we are providing that a seaman must show his papers.
– Is there a superintendent in every port.
– A ship cannot clear out if there is no superintendent. I move -
That the amendment be amended by adding the following words: - “where it is shown to the satisfaction of the Superintendent that a seaman lawfully engaged has wilfully or through misconduct failed to join his ship, the Superintendent shall report the matter to ‘the Minister, and the Minister may direct that any of the seaman’s certificates of discharge shall be withheld for such period as he may think fit, and while a seaman s certificate of discharge is so withheld the Minister may refuse to furnish copies of any of his certificates of discharge or certified extracts of any particulars of service or character.
– Senator Guthrie intends to follow up this amendment by another one practically abolishing the monetary penalty. He proposes that the penalty shall be that the seaman’s discharge shall be withheld from bim. That is practically the only penalty that the honorable senator would impose. Senator Guthrie and I came to cross purposes on Thursday last over this matter j and as. Hansard has been quoted to-day, I venture to hope that the honorable senator will look up what he said when the matter was last under consideration. I have taken the opportunity of doing so, and will quote from the discussion that took place. Senator Guthrie said -
The Minister asserted that there is no such provision in the Merchant Shipping Act. I say that it was the Minister who made a wrong statement. The English Act of 1906 provides that if a man fails to join his ship the superintendent may withhold his previous discharge. But there is no penalty.
I was under the impression that the Merchant Act imposed a more severe penalty than this Bill does, and I said -
That is a pretty drastic punishment, is it not?
Senator Guthrie replied
It is not so drastic a penalty as ?20.
Yet the honorable senator is now practically proposing to put in a penalty which, he says, is not so drastic as a fine of £20. When I alluded on Friday to the seriousness of depriving the seaman of his discharge, Senator Guthrie said -
A discharge is not worth a snap of the fingers at the present time. The honorable senator can ship to-morrow as an A.B. or a fireman.
Later on, the honorable senator said -
There are hundreds of men going to sea to-day without a discharge.
Consequently, the honorable senator is now proposing to put into this Bill, as a penalty, the loss of something which he says is not worth a snap of the fingers.
– At the present time. But this Bill is going to alter all that.
– There is no provision in the Bill for the cancellation of a discharge, and if a man’s last discharge is held up by the Minister, he can simply go to sea on his previous discharge.
– No; that is always cancelled.
– It all comes back to the old position. We want men to have a sense of their responsibility and to realize what the signing of agreements entails, and we do not want to give encouragement to the practice of breaking agreements, because we say that that practice gives the crimp his opportunity. It is always in such cases that the crimp comes in. The evidence taken before the Royal Commission shows that crimps actually get seamen to enter into agreements with the intention of inducing them to break them at the last moment, in order to afford them an opportunity of supplying other men. This penalty will deter men from lending themselves to that practice. I ask the Committee to agree to the amendment of the House of Representatives ; and when we come to the next amendment I shall be prepared to ask the Committee to reduce the penalty from£20 to £10.
– I have listened patiently to the reasons put forward by the Minister for the insertion of this sub-clause and penalty, and I do not think that the amendment of the House of Representatives would prevent crimping at all. Seeing that a seaman would probably have no goods and chattels, there would probably be as good a chance of recovering the penalty if it were £100, instead of £20. It is very hard to impose a penalty upon a man who refuses to go to sea in a ship because he considers her unseaworthy. The whole question hinges on the words “ reasonable cause.”
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - That would be a reasonable cause, under the Bill.
– In reply to an interjection, the Minister said that an expert would decide whether a ship was fit to go to sea or not. I am in the trade, and I remember pointing out that a certain steamer was unfit to go to sea, and a fireman came ashore from that ship half anhour before she left the port. His substitute never returned. He was scalded to death before the ship was out one hour. Experts had definitely stated that that ship was seaworthy, both before and after the occurrence ; and under this Bill a man who came ashore in such circumstances, and who would probably lose his life if he did not do so, might be subjected to a penalty of £20. That does not say much for expert opinion. I say that if a man believes that his life will be in danger on any ship, he should have the right to say that he will not go to sea -in her. With Senator Guthrie, I do not believe in making the breaking of a civil agreement a criminal offence. I shall vote against the amendment of the House of Representatives. I believe that, in regard to the preservation of life, and in the interests of seamen and passengers, the Bill as it left this Chamber was a good measure; but it has come back from another place a complete wreck, and is absolutely useless, so far as the interests of seamen are concerned. No proper consideration was given to these amendments in another place. Their discussion was confined to about half-a-dozen honorable members ; and almost every amendment, no matter in whose interests it was proposed, was accepted in order to get the Bill through. I hope the Committee will disagree with this amendment, though I am not altogether in favour, of the amendment proposed by Senator Guthrie. I think it is an improvement on the proposal of the Minister.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [5 45].- As Senator McDougall regards the Bill as being perfectly wrecked by the amendments inserted in another place, I should like to know whether he intends to be logical, and to vote against every one of those amendments. With respect to a seaman leaving a ship because she is unseaworthy, an amendment carried in another place provides - if a British ship is “unseaworthy a seaman or apprentice belonging to her shall not be deemed to have committed a breach of his agreement by reason of his having refused to sail in her while she is unseaworthy ; and any seaman or apprentice so refusing may claim his discharge unless the ship is made seaworthy within a reasonable time.
That meets the objection which the honorable senator has raised.
– Who is going to say whether a ship is seaworthy or not?
-Colonel Sir -ALBERT GOULD.- That will be decided by experts. I would ask the honorable senator whether he does not think that they would be more likely to be competent to say whether a ship was seaworthy than any seaman on board the ship?
– Probably the rats would be the most competent authority on the subject.
– I am not bringing them into the discussion, unless the honorable senator’s reference is to seamen who desert their ship. The question is whether we can have more confidence in the opinion of surveyors than in the opinion of individual seamen. If we were to allow an. “individual seaman to determine w whether ;a. ship was seaworthy or not, every seaman, .would be able to please himself as to whether he sailed in a ship or not. A vessel. “might be the most seaworthy ship in the ..world, and all a man desiring to leave her would have to say would be that, in his opinion, she was not seaworthy.
– Seamen do not get the chance to point put that a ship is unseaworthy.
– Provision is made for that to be done. No seaman should be in a position, by merely saying that a ship is unseaworthy, to refuse to sail in her. Such a question might be decided by some skilled authority. It is true that a skilled authority might make a mistake, because of human fallibility j but it is also true that the loss of a ship may not be attributable to her being in an unseaworthy condition.
– In regard to the vessel to which I have referred, a certificate from a surveyor as to her seaworthiness was received the very day she sailed.
– How many ships have been lost at sea that have been said to be seaworthy when they left their last port?- Will Senator Guthrie contend that no seaworthy ship has ever gone down?
– No; unless through a collision.
– The objection to the amendment is a very poor one. I do not think that the amendment submitted by Senator Guthrie is of any value. It would, in my opinion, be very much better to adhere to the Bill to accept the definition of an offence and provide for a penalty. Senator McDougall ‘ says that it may not be possible to recover the penalty. That is so; but the seaman would have staring him in the face his liability to a penalty, and that might make him keep his agreement.
– What does it matter to a seaman whether he is in gaol or at sea? The honorable senator knows that there is no difference.
– That is all nonsense. We should make seamen realize that when they have entered into an engagement they areexpected to carry it out, unless there is a reasonable cause for breaking it. It is provided here that if a seaman has a reasonable cause he may refuse to join a ship without being liable to a penalty.
– What would happen if the seaman did not pay the penalty ?’
.- He would be liable to imprisonment.
– There is no provision for imprisonment in the clause.
– - We have a general Act dealing with these matters, and, where penalties areprovided for, they may be recovered by distress, or failing that, the offender isliable to imprisonment for varying periods, according to the fine imposed. The suggestion of the Minister that the penalty in this case should be reduced from £20 to;£io may, or may not, be a wise one, but I point out that the penalties generally provided for in this Bill are very much lessthan those provided for in the case of similar offences under the Merchant Ship- ping Act, or in previous drafts of thisBill.
– My amendment proposes the penalty provided for under theMerchant Shipping Act.
– Only for one portion of it. The honorable senator’s amendment leaves out the most stringent penalties provided for under the Merchant Shipping Act.
– Senator Guthrie tells us that the Merchant Shipping Act provides for a certain penalty, and the Minister asserts that the honorable senator has omitted the most stringent penalties provided for in the Merchant Shipping Act. When we look to an honorable senator for guidance in this matter, it is unfair that he should refer us to one portion, and not to the whole, of the provisions of the section referred to. Shipping people have pointed out that the penalties provided in this Bill are very small. They fear that they will have very much difficulty in maintaining discipline because of the reduction of the penalties, and now some honorable senators are proposing to further reduce them.
– At one time, the penalty for killing a hare was transportation.
– I agree that we should not impose vindictive penalties, but such as will be sufficient to prevent the commission of the offence we are legislating against. I consider it to be my duty to oppose Senator Guthrie’s amendment.
– Unless I am able to convince the honorable senator that he should support it?
– Just so. I have not a very strong opinion as to whether the penalty in this case should be reduced from £20 to ^10, but I do wish to see something done to make men realize the gravity of the offence of breaking their engagements. A ship is compelled to carry a certain complement of men. The master has engaged all the seamen necessary. The vessel is ready to go to sea, and, at the last moment, several men refuse to go on board. The master is then dependent on the crimp to supply him with men to replace those who left the ship at the last moment, or, in the alternative, to hang up the ship at a cost of, perhaps, ^200 or ^300 a day until he can in a regular way secure men to replace those who have deserted. Honorable senators may have no sympathy with a particular class, but they are here to do what is fair between all classes, and if we find that an offence is committed which places a person at a serious disadvantage, it is our duty to take steps to prevent the commission of such offences, and a penalty being entailed upon people who ought not to suffer a penalty. It is reasonable that the offence dealt with in this clause should be marked in such a way as to deter men from committing it.
– Senator Gould suggested that I failed to mention the whole of the facts in a reference to the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act.’ I wish to explain the matter to the honorable senator. Under this Bill, so far as Australia is concerned, ari advance note will become a thing of the past. There will be no encouragement for the crimp to put a man on board a ship because of the advance note. There will be no blood money under this Bill, and the occupation of the crimp will be gone.
– What about the payment a seaman receives from the shipowner ?
– Let me deal with one thing at a time. The honorable senator has accused me of playing into the hands of the crimp, and’ I want to show that .the occupation of the crimp will be gone,1 under this Bill. I come now to another point. When this Bill comes into operation, every man who goes to sea must have :a certificate. It is not a matter of putting any Tom, Dick, or Harry on board a ‘ship. The Minister stated that I had mentioned only part of the punishment provided in such a case under the Merchant Shipping Act. Section 65 of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1906 is divided into two sub-sections. The first sub-section deals with the case of men who have been given advance notes, and who desert owing the advance notes. Under this Bill, such a case could not occur, because we have done away with advance notes. The second sub-section of section 65 of the Merchant Shipping Act is, but for the fact that I provide for a reference from the superintendent to the Minister, instead of from the superintendent to the Board of Trade, practically identical with British law. Sub-section (1) of section 65 of the Act of 1906 reads -
Where a seaman who has been lawfully engaged and has received under his agreement ar» advance note, after negotiating his advance note wilfully or through misconduct, fails to join his ship or deserts from her before the notebecomes payable, he shall on summary conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding £$, or, at the discretion of the Court, to imprisonment not exceeding twenty-one days. But nothing in this section shall take away any remedy by any action or by summary procedure before a justice which any person would otherwise have in respect to the negotiation of the advance note or which the owner or master would otherwise have for a breach of contract.
That is where provision is made for an advance note, and the penalty under the Merchant Shipping Act is only ^5, or imprisonment for twenty-one days.
– But they could hold his certificate as well. The honorable senator is making provision for only one form of punishment.
– Because our Bill does not provide for an advance note.
– What about the penalty of £5?
– That refers to the case of the desertion of a man who has been given an advance note and has cashed it.
– There is a civil remedy provided for that. 1
– I refer honorable senators now to the instructions issued by the Board of Trade to officers in the British Colonies and Possessions under the Merchant Shipping Act.
– The Merchant Shipping Act specifically provides that its provisions shall not interfere with a civil remedy for the recovery of money advanced under an advance note.
– I repeat that there will be no advance notes under this Bill, and I am dealing with cases which will come under this Bill. Here are the instructions to superintendents of mercantile marine in Australia, as issued by the Board of Trade-
Failure to join covers a case in which a seaman joins his vessel and works on board but leaves subsequently and does not go to sea in the vessel from the port of engagement. The attention of superintendents is called to their duties. Superintendents are specially directed to sub-section (2) of section 65 of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1906-
Their attention is not called to the provisions of the first sub-section of that section.
– Because the master has to deal with those matters.
– The Minister has asked where the owner comes in, and I say that once a man has committed an offence he knows that he will be dealt with severely, because he may be prevented from following his occupation, whereas, in the other case, a great many crews would be better off by paying the penalty than they would be on the ship. They would have as much freedom, and as much space to get about in, and probably be as well fed, except that they would not be earning wages.
– You mean that the men would be better off in gaol.
– The men would be better off there than they would be in a good many ships, except that they would not be earning money. Honorable senators ought to consider well before they pass this provision, and remember that we impose no such penalty on any other class of workman.
– Yes, we do.
– If a man fails to carry out his week’s engagement, he is not sent to gaol.
– If a man enters into a contract, and does not carry it out, he can be proceeded against.
– He can be sued for the recovery of damages.
– He can be sued under the Masters and Servants Act.
– The cry raised in England against the Masters and Servants Act was that men ought not to be sent to gaol for breaking a civil agreement. The Merchant Shipping Act of 1906 was the outcome of inquiries by three different Commissions.
– But the honorable senator is not adopting it.
– I am adopting it to all intents and purposes so far as it can be adopted in this Bill. Of what use is it to me to take sub-section 1 of section 65 of the Merchant - Shipping Act, which relates to only those cases where men have received advance notes, which the Bill provides shall be illegal. If a man gives an advance note, he will be liable to a penalty.
– To fine or imprisonment.
– The penalty provided in sub-section 1 of section 65 is for taking the advance note and using it, but the penalty for not joining the ship, which is provided in sub-section 2, means the suspension of his certificate and books. I hope that the Committee will make the alteration which I have asked for.
– Before a sort of interregnum occurred, I opposed this clause on account of the difficulty of getting a square deal from the magistracy. . I am more emphatic than ever in my opinion that the average worker cannot get a square deal from the average magistrate.
– As the result of the interregnum ?
– No. I may say that since Friday I have received from New South Wales a letter, in which the writer states that the extent to which seamen were victimized by biased and incompetent magistrates was scandalous.
– You must have a bad lot in New South Wales.
– No ; the magistrates are much the same everywhere. Give power to the average man belonging to a particular social class, and having no sympathy with any other class, and he will not treat the workers as they should be treated.
– To whom will you give power?
– I will give as little power as possible to any one.
– That is anarchy.
– It is not anarchy; at any rate, in the sense which the honorable senator means..
– Mr. Chairman, I take exception to an expression used by Senator St. Ledger. He said, that a statement used here meant anarchy. I ask that his words be taken down.
– You might give me a chance to withdraw the remark or to explain it.
– The remark was made in a jocular manner.
– I desire that the words be taken down. ‘
– It may save time if I ask Senator St. Ledger to withdraw the words instead of waiting for them to be taken down.
– If Senator Rae thinks that the remark is objectionable, though he did not even mention that he did, or if Senator Gardiner thinks that the remark is objectionable, certainly I will withdraw it.
– The words have been withdrawn.
– Yes, I do think that the words are objectionable.
– If other senators think that the expression is objectionable, I withdraw it.
– Certainly I do think that the words are objectionable, because I know that they were used in an objectionable sense. Before our proceedings are resumed, sir, may I ask if I am “ sat upon,” and that no notice is to be taken of my request ?
– Order ! Senator St.-Ledger distinctly said that if the words objected to were objectionable to Senator Rae or Senator Gardiner he withdrew them.
– I do not wish to be offensive, sir, but I would remind you that only on Friday last, when I asked that certain words be withdrawn, no notice was taken of my request. To-day I asked that certain words be taken down/ and all that has been done is that the words have been withdrawn, and.no notice has been taken of my request.
- Senator Rae.
– 1 am still of the opinion that nothing like justice will be done .to alleged offending seamen unless we either reduce the penalty to a minimum, or strike out the clause, and substitute something different, because we cannot amend the Judiciary Act. The Minister’s proposal to reduce the penalty from £20 to ;£io is altogether insufficient. If be would agree to accept a penalty of £2, I should not mind trusting 40s. worth of discretion to a magistrate. Beyond that, I should like every man to have the right to object to his case being tried by summary jurisdiction.
– And go to a Court?
– And go to a Court, where he would have a jury of his fellowmen to settle it. It is time that we had a reform. The Minister should, instead of reducing the penalty to ,£10, make it not more than £,2, or find some other means of having a seaman tried who is accused of this offence. ‘
– If you reduce the amount below £5 a seaman cannot appeal.
– He has Buckley’s chance of appealing anyhow, because the average man has not the money with which to appeal. I know that I had to be content -with one loss, without risking another. The average seaman is not a man with a college education ; but, like myself, and a few others, he has had to go to work at an early age, and, consequently, he does npt know the intricacies of the law, and cannot avail himself of the opportunity for defence as persons in a high social scale can. I want to protect the sailor from the absolutely savage and inconsiderate way . in which he is treated when hauled before the average magistrate, paid or unpaid. I have no confidence in either section of them. The average magistrate takes the word of the master of the ship or the prosecutor, who, in the first case, can generally afford to employ a lawyer. And any man with common humanity in him - at any rate, any man . with a consciousness of the wav in which his class has been ground down and ill-treated - must have felt his blood boil as he has read the press reports of numerous instances where, on the most trumpery evidence, the average seaman has been fined and convicted. This is simply a scandal, which should have aroused the indignation of this and other Parliaments years ago. Sometimes seamen are sentenced to long -terms of imprisonment, to be served in prison until the ship is ready to sail.
SenatorChataway. - Does not this provision mainly deal with the holding up of certificates ?
– It deals with the question of fining a sailor £20 who fails to join his ship without reasonable cause. In the shearing industry, a man is permitted to refuse to shear sheep which he reasonably believes to be wet, because certain persons find, or claim that in so doing they are liable to get rheumatism.
– Is not that a scientific question which has to be settled by science?
– It is . not settled by science. I am not dealing with fancies, but with facts. While a shearer cannot, from any other cause, break the agreement without suffering a certain penalty, yet, if he says that he has reasonable cause to believe that the sheep are damp enough to be injurious to his health, he is permitted to refuse to shear them, even though he may hang up the shearing.
– Pending investigation.
– If it can be proved that the sheep did not go there wet, nor have any wet fall upon them, the man who objected to shear may be mulcted in a penalty for having made an absolutely false statement. .
– They analyze a wool sample now, surely?
– They will not take ariy analysis. If a majority of the men decide that the sheep are wet, they may cease to shear them, but if onei individual finds fault, with the decision of the majority, because he believes that the sheep are still sufficiently wet to be injurious to his health, and abstains from shearing them, he cannot be discharged. If a sailor has what he deems to be reasonable cause for not joining his ship, his statement of the cause ought to be sufficient.
– Yes, sufficient for him to cancel bis engagement. There is nothing more important to the average person than his life. If a man honestly believes at the last moment, even though his belief may be deemed to be founded on a superstition, that if he goes to sea the ship will probably be lost, I reckon that he should have a chance to get out of his bad bargain. But this clause provides that he shall not get out of that bad bargain except by forfeiting £20. Let me remind the Minister that for a very much more serious offence - one which might endanger the safety of the ship, and even the lives of the crew or passengers - a man may be fined only ten days’ wages.
– For insubordination, the penalty is a month’s imprisonment, or the fine of ten days’ wages.
– Look at the inconsistency of these two penalties. In one case, a man may be fined £20, but in the other case, if a fine is inflicted, it cannot exceed ten days’ wages. What is a day’s wage?
– Three shillings.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Do you advocate an increase of punishment ?
– No. What I am pointing out is that it is wrong to penalize a man’ , £20 for not joining his ship, and, at the same time, to provide that for insubordination or refusal of duty on board a ship a man can only be fined, if a monetary penalty is inflicted, ten days’ wages.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Otherwise, a month’s imprisonment.
– Which he would probably have to serve on board. A fine of £10 is, I think, unreasonable. If the Minister will reduce the fine to £2,I think it willbe quite enough, otherwise I shall be compelled to vote for the amendment.
Governor-General’s Ball - Stateof Business - Labour Party and Society Functions - Control of Expenditure - Financial Position : Imports and Exports : Gold - Land Values Taxation - Protection - GovernorGeneral’s Residences - Federal Capital: Accommodation for Parliament - State Governors - Defence - High Commissioner’s Office: Case of Mr. F. Savage - Private Members’ Business.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I think the Vice-President should explain why the Senate should adjourn now. As far as I can see, we have plenty of business. We have the Navigation Bill, and if that is not sufficient, we can proceed with the Workmen’s Compensation Bill. I have heard of no reason why there should be an adjournment.
– Has not the honorable senator received an invitation?
– An invitation to what ? It appears that there is some function on to-night, and apparently the Senate is asked to adjourn because of it. I have always been against that sort of thing.
– I have seen the honorable senator at some of the functions.
– The honorable senator never saw me at a social function in his life.
-I did. I sat by the honorable senator’s side.
– That was at a public function; not a social one. As far as 1 understand, the function to-night is of a social character. We are setting an exceedingly bad example to the people of Australia, and especially to the working people. Our party has always cried out against the social life which is supposed to be led by the Governor-General. We have looked upon it as a national excrescence. Yet we are now proposing to act in the same way as the party with which Senator Millen is allied.
– The honorable senator could not do better than follow our example.
– On some future occasion, when another Government is in power - as in all likelihood will be the case some day - and proposes to adjourn to attend a social function, if I objected, I should be met at once with the statement that a Labour Government acted in the same way under similar circumstances. I do not see why the business of the country should be put off for the sake of allowing honorable senators to attend a social function. This abuse ought to be checked’. What have we to do with the society life of this country? We are a body of men sent here to try to frame laws which will bring about such a state of affairs as will completely excise society lifeas we know it. We look upon people who represent society as parasites. That is my position as a Labour man. I say that the very existence of these people, with their wealth, is to a great extent responsible for any poverty that we have in the country. No elevation of the masses can take place here or elsewhere unless the rich are called upon to suffer in some way.
– To disgorge.
– They must be compelled, as the honorable senator puts it, to disgorge. The mountain of wealth must, to some extent, be levelled into the hollows of poverty before anything like a re-adjustment can be effected.
– Suppose the honorable senator himself were called upon to disgorge to-morrow?
– I should not object to my few pence being handed over. I do not think it would matter two straws to me if I had a million ; I should still be against the system which produces millionaires. But for that system, there would be no such society functions. Who will be at this ball ? With the exception of a few members of Parliament, invited because of their public position, the whole of the people present will belong to the smart set, the rich people, who have large possessions and who have the. masses in their power. I am speaking now wholly and solely as a member of the Labour party. We are here as a party to secure, if we can, a readjustment of social conditions, and to try to bring about a more equal distribution of the wealth of the country. It is our work to eliminate poverty. I am one who believes that that cannot be done without depriving the rich of a very large proportion of the possessions which they now have. I object to doing anything which will in the slightest degree countenance these functions. I think the question is a most serious one. Indeed, the more
I consider it, the more I am satisfied that we, as representatives of a reform party, of a party which desires to bring about a complete revolution in the existing] state of society, ought to object to everything of this character.
– We certainly should object to subordinate the business of this Parliament to a social function.
– Certainly. 1 feel that it is necessary to put the brake on in some way or other, and I shall, as far as I am concerned, object to hang up the business of this country for any such purpose. We have before us at present the Navigation Bill, which affects hundreds and thousands of seamen. That measure has been before us for years. It has been hanging, like Mahomet’s coffin, between heaven and’ earth. I look upon it as -.». very old friend. I have seen its face and shaken hands with it so often that I think it is time we got it embodied in the statutebook. We also have before us the Workmen’s Compensation Bill. Some poor man may be injured to-night, and, unless the Bill is passed rapidly, I do not know how he will obtain compensation.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 o’clock.
– I am firmly of opinion that we ought not to permit foolish social functions to interfere with the performance of our public duties. Some honorable senators may say that it really does not matter if those honorable senators who are away attend our sittings’ or not. Probably that is, to a certain extent, correct. But it .appears to me that, in this, as in a great many other things, it is the first step mat tells. There is an old Latin verse to the effect that the way to the lower regions is quick and easy. Every political party is in danger of degeneracy.
– Not every party, surely ?
– Yes, every party and every individual. Those of us who are students of history must be familiar with the rise, progress, and declension of various kinds of political and social ideas. I can remember very well when I became an active participant in the Labour movement twenty or thirty years ago, how we looked upon those social functions in which some honorable senators now seek to engage. One of the things to which we were particularly averse was the society idea as allied with politics. Indeed, we considered that society, as it is generally understood, was nothing but a combine or trust organ ized, not only to maintain -the privileges which it already possesses, and which assist in a very large measure in plundering other portions of the people, but to extend those privileges ; and we conceived in those days - probably we were wrong - that if we could -strike a blow at the society idea, we should at least have taken one step in the right direction towards bringing about a new state of affairs. During my connexion with politics, I have seen no reason to alter my opinion. The qualification for a place in society is not wisdom, or learning, or good character, or anything other than one thing.- The one qualification for entrance to society is the possession of good red gold, or its equivalent. Holding, as I do, that wealth can only be achieved, and that the rich’ can only exist because of the poor, I hold that anything which tends to bolster up society ‘ or to assist it in carrying on its war against the common people - because that is really what is taking place every hour of the day, and every week of the year - is something to which- we, -as a reform party, ought to be consistently opposed. Some honorable senators may say that, being legislators, we ought, if invited, to attend a function given by the GovernorGeneral, who is the representative of the King, and one of the principal political factors in Australia. But I do not really see what we have to do with the GovernorGeneral. We are sent here to try to bring about a better state of affairs for the great mass of the people of this country. Notwithstanding the great prosperity of Australia, there are many in our midst who are strangers to all the luxuries, and not a few of the common comforts of life. We have people who labour under serious disadvantages in every sense of the term. Our business is to try to evolve a state of society that will improve matters and place those who are now on a low social level in a better and higher sphere of life. I do not think that a war of this kind - for it really is a war - can be helped by assisting at functions such as the one on account of which it is now proposed to stay the proceedings of the Senate.
– Let us go to just this one.
– I suppose the honorable senator is exceedingly anxious to” go.
– He would be glad if Senator Stewart would go with him.
– “Probably, if I thought as he does, I should .go. But, thinking as I do, I have no intention of going. I do not desire to hinder any honorable senator who wishes to igo from doing so. All that I contend is that we are sent here to do the business of the country, and to discharge our duty. We are within reach of Christmas, with a large quantity of business still- before us. We have a number of measures on the noticepaper. There are, I believe, others in reserve. As far as I can gauge things, there will be very little time between now and Christmas to give those measures the consideration which they deserve. ‘
– We can come back after Christmas.
– I should not have the slightest objection to coming back. 1 think we should sit until the business of the country is finished in a workman-like manner. But I know that the majority of the Senate would not be* with me in that. As Christmas approaches, they will be in a hurry to get away, and will be disinclined to give consideration to business. I have bad to complain, on a number of occasions, about the scant discussion that the Estimates receive. The probability is that my complaints will have to be made again this year. We vote away millions of money with very little consideration. It is a most unfortunate, fact that Parliament has little or no power over the spending of money. The whole control seems to have centred itself in the hands of the Government. Parliament is practically impotent. Of course, honorable members of the Opposition may think that that is as it ought to be, but I have a different opinion. I think that Parliament ought to be supreme. I hold that ordinary members of Parliament have as great a responsibility to the country as have the members of the Cabinet. They should be given every opportunity to criticise the administration, and to keep their eyes upon the expenditure. I do not wish to take up the role of a Cassandra, but I can see that there are financial rocks ahead. The time is rapidly approaching when whatever Government may be in power, whether a Labour or a Conservative Government, financial trouble will be knocking at their door. Honorable senators, instead of indulging in society pleasures; in which, but for their official position many of them would have nothing whatever to do- instead of being like moths fluttering round the society candle - should be devoting themselves assiduously to the business of the country. They’ should be devising ways and means to keep the ship off the rocks which undoubtedly lie ahead. I know that some honorable senators on both sides say, “ Do not worry, everything will come out all right. Possess your soul in patience and we shall come out right, as we have always done before.”
– Is it a more serious offence to have a night off occasionally than to stay away for three months in one session ?
– We are having nights off on many occasions.
– But only one of us took three months off in one session
– I am that one, and I took those three months off because I was perfectly aware that nothing of any consequence was being done in the Senate.
– The Senate adjourned for five weeks of that time.
– That is so.
– There are honorable senators on the other side who have not been here for three months in three years.
– One thing about me is that when I am here I try to get the Government to do something. Some other honorable senators seem to waste their great talents and energies in trying to prevent the Government doing anything, and the honorable senator, who, by interjection, referred to my absence, is probably the chief offender, not only in this chamber, but in the whole Parliament. I know of no member of this Parliament who is so consummate an artist at applying the brake to the wheels of progress as is the honorable senator who occupies the distinguished position of Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
-The honorable senator is not doing badly himself just now.
– I am trying to induce the Government to go on with business. If the Vice-President of the Executive Council will tell me that he is prepared to go on with some business - the Workmen’s Compensation Bill or some other business-
– Is not the Government hop, business?
– It is business of a kind which cannot be transacted here. It must be transacted on a polished floor to the strains of music, and we have neither one nor the other here. I may take this opportunity of referring very’ shortly to what I conceive to be the perilous times ahead of the Legislatures of the Commonwealth. I have pointed to the. probability of a financial debacle. I believe it is coming; it is imminent, and it is. inevitable. Our Customs revenue is leaping and bounding, and I do not know of a similar revenue being received in any civilized community. Why is . this the case? It is because, insteadof having a Protective Tariff, we have a revenue Tariff. As any one who has studied the subject knows, a revenue Tariff is a modern instrument of torture. Something which squeezes the last drop out of the poorest members of the community, which was originally devised to save the rich from taxation, and which is now continued, to my intense disgust, by a party that was sent here to look after the interests of the poor. The flowing river of revenue is very likely soon to become a trickle like the Cotter River at Yass- Canberra. Instead of flowing perennially like that noble stream, the Snowy River, it is likely soon to become a chain of mud-holes, with more mud than water. Our exports are falling off by millions. I think we shall probably be ^£20,000,000 short in our exports this year, whilst, as every one knows, our imports’ are increasing. If we take , £15,000,000 off the income of the people of Australia they must spend less, the Treasury must get less, and the Customs revenue, instead ofgoing up, as it has been for a number of years, will get on to the down grade. I want to know what is going to happen when that comes about ? Whilst the revenue has been going up expenditure has been increasing at a still greater rate. There seems to be no brake likely, to be applied to that branch of public finance. Our expenditure is growing continually, and I have no hesitation in saying that in the next two or three years our income will dwindle. What is going to happen then?
– The Deluge !
– No, it will not be the Deluge; it will be the drought. It might be a deluge for the present Government, for I wish to tell the Vice-President of the Executive Council that nothing so discredits a party, or a Government, as non-success in finance, whether they are to blame for it or not. The inevitable end of a Government, which has evil luck in the matter of revenue, is defeat at the polls. The whole history of representative govern ment shows that, and I see no reason ‘.why it should be different in the case of a Labour Government.
– Any Government that had a few supporters like the honorable senator would be bound to go sooner or later.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council opens up a very interesting subject. . If he only knew it, probably 1 am one of the best supporters he has in this Chamber. It is not the man who flatters you, or the man who echoes your every thought, who is your best supporter.
– It is the candid friend.
– It is the candid friend very often who is your best friend. It is not because I am hostile to -the- Labour Government or the. Labour party that I say what I do. It is because I believe in the Labour Government and the Labour party. I desire to take steps which will lead to better results. The Opposition would be glad to get into power, no matter what might be the financial predicament, because it would lay the whole blame for the situation on the Labour party. It would say, “ Labour members talk about being financiers, but look at the huge deficit they have left. Everything is in confusion. The country’s credit is ruined. Desolation faces the people.” That would be an easy tale to tell.
– The honorable senator promised to be optimistic.
– I believe in the future of Australia, and I am about to speak of the most important source of revenue that 1 know of. Whatever Government may be in power a few years hence will need more revenue. Where is it to come from?
– From the land.
– That is so, though I do not know whether the interjection is serious or ironical. The Labour party is opposed to borrowing for any but reproductive works, and there is certain expenditure which it could not curtail - for instance, that on old-age pensions. We must provide for the defence of the country, which is costing between £3,000,000 and , £6,000,000, and within a few years, should the military authorities have their way, will cost between £10,000,000 and , £15,000,000.
– What about protection ?
– We need protection from the enemy within and the enemy without. We 1 need to be protected from the land monopolist.
– What about a tax on dividends?
– There are already heavy taxes on dividends. The honorable senator is endeavouring to be personal because I draw a few dividends. The company in which I hold shares pays income tax to both the English Government and a State Government, and its shareholders do the same, so that ft is heavily taxed. It is assisting to develop the resources of Australia. But the monopolist, whether he holds a huge area in the country or a small block in the town, spends nothing on development. Like a spider waiting for a fly, he waits until his prey is caught and ready to be eaten. The Vice-President of the Executive Council is exceedingly averse from taxing the land monopolist any more. 1 heard him say that he hoped that the £5,000 exemption would never be reduced, but, from my point of view, revenue must be obtained by means of a land-value tax, whereby the community merely takes back the value which it has created, and which the private owners of land have hitherto put into their pockets.
– That is why we are all poor.
– It is one of the principal reasons. Those who own the land own the people on the land. Australia will not be as prosperous as she should be, nor have a sufficient population to defend her against a foreign foe, until her resources have been developed. Goodness knows what may happen to Great Britain within the next ten years. Germany is building ship after ship with the scarcely veiled purpose of attacking and destroying the British Navy at the earliest opportunity. Should that Navy be destroyed, although the people of Australia would fight as perhaps those of no other country have ever yet fought for their hearths and homes, what could we do with our small population? What we should do, and do quickly, is to get more population by breaking up land monopoly by means of land-value taxation. I do not care whether it pleases my constituents or the people of Australia, I conceive that I am placed in a position where it is my bounden duty to tell them the truth as I see it. I am doing my little best to assist in bringing about a state of affairs which would undoubtedly result, in the very near future, in a large increase of population, not only within our own borders, but from places far beyond the seas. This is one question that calls loudly for the attention of Parliament. We have land monopoly rampant in every State. Even in Queensland - where land is probably more plentiful than in any other State, save Western Australia - when a piece of land is thrown open,- even for grazing selection, in some cases, there are hundreds of applicants for it. That discloses a state of affairs which is extremely hostile to the best interests of the people. This Parliament has the power to deal with land monopoly. Our party has a majority in each House. The people have given us a mandate to deal effectively with this giant evil which is strangling the progress of Australia. Is the Government prepared to take the necessary step? It will need revenue very shortly, and here is a way to secure it. Australia requires population for defence and development, and here, to my mind, is the principal method of achieving that end. I trust that, in the near future, the Labour party outside Parliament will become so seized of the absolute necessity of drastic and effective action in this direction, that it will compel Parliament, however unwilling, to take speedy and effective action. Another question with which the progress and prosperity of Australia is bound up is that of Protection. With this question, there is coupled the idea of the new Protection, which is really by no means new. What is the view of Labour people with regard to Protection ? Is it “protection to the manufacturers? What have we to do with the manufacturer ? We are not manufacturers, and I do not know that any one of us has any interest in factories, except that they provide employment for the people. . *
– We have to see that the manufacturer gets a fair deal.
– My interest in manufactories is for the purpose of utilizing the resources of the country, and teaching the people to produce, within their own territory, the things they require ; and to do that, and maintain the Australian standard of living, we must have effective Protection. What is the good of living in a fortress if the enemy can shell your town, destroy your goods, and kill the people who live in it ? That is exactly the position in which Australia stands to-day. We have a Tariff which, so far from protecting us effectively against the competition of cheap labour, is absolutely futile. Millions of pounds worth of goods, which ought to be manufactured in the Commonwealth, are pouring over the Tariff wall into Australia every year. Very soon, although, fortunately it is not the case at present, large numbers of our people will be idle, and will be clamouring to the Commonwealth and State Governments to find employment for them. If we had an effective system of land values taxation, and a Tariff which would give us- a minimum of revenue with a maximum of industry, we should be on the highway to a state of affairs in which the people of Australia would be more comfortably and more solidly prosperous than they are even at present. I am utilizing the present occasion to get off my chest a few remarks that have been sitting rather uneasily upon it for some time, and possibly I ought to thank the GovernorGeneral for having, unwittingly, given me an opportunity to say what I have said. I trust that the remarks I have made will not go in at one ear and come out of the other so far as my party are concerned, but that honorable senators generally will rise to their responsibilities, realize that much of what I have said is true, and that whilst we have had for a considerable time great prosperity, the lean years are advancing upon us with rapid strides. Revenue will then go down, when expenditure must be maintained, and new sources of taxation must be tapped.
– We shall then have a go at the honorable senator’s dividends.
– That would not make the honorable senator either richer or poorer. While the present system is continued - and I say this to Senator Ready - under the sanction of law, and with the support of the majority of the people of the Commonwealth,’ capital which is invested in industry is just as much entitled to fair remuneration as Labour is. It is no use saying that the man who engages in business is not to make a fair profit if he can. He cannot carry on unless he does. These are aspects of the question which honorable senators would do well to consider. Not one of us living in Australia to-day is responsible for this state of affairs. The land monopolist is not responsible for his position, the rich man is not responsible for his, nor is the business man responsible for his position. The poorest man or woman in the Commonwealth is not responsible, lt is the system under which we live that is responsible. It is the system which produces rich at one end and poor at the other.
– The one is the necessary complement to the other.
– Quite so. I should like this Parliament to seriously set its hand to the plough, to reform, and so try to change the system that not only poverty, but riches also, would be abolished. If we can accomplish that, we shall have done a great good, and the people who will live in Australia hundreds of years hence will have reason to bless our memory.
.” - I - I thought that some other honorable senators might have desired to address themselves to this question, and I was, therefore, somewhat reluctant to rise, because -I have several matters which the motion for an early adjournment affords me an opportunity to bring before the Senate.
– Matters of urgent public importance ?
– They are all matters of urgent public importance - certainly they are of as much urgency as is the proposed adjournment of the Senate. From a social point of view, I am not particularly keen as to whether we adjourn or not. I think we must congratulate Senator Stewart, as the candid friend of the Government and of the party which keeps the Government in power. He is the friend who is not carried away by the glamour of the circumstance that the Labour party is responsible for the management of the affairs of this country. He is one who sees clearly what should be done, and who is always prepared to point the finger to show the Government the course which they should take. Although they may not stand up in their places and argue upon the same lines, I am sure that there are a great many honorable senators who are in entire accord with what he said. Senator Stewart referred to the millions of pounds’ worth of manufactured goods which are pouring over our Tariff wall. I hope that a good many of those millions of pounds’ worth of goods will find their way into the hands of the people. That we are importing - as Senator Stewart pointed out - millions of pounds’ worth of goods each year more than we are exporting-
– Not each year.
– The circumstance that we are importing more than we are exporting shows that we are growing richer. We are getting not only more things than we want, but more than we have paid for. That aspect of the question always appeals to me when the vexed question is raised, “ On which side is the balance of trade?” To my mind, it is on the side of the people who get the biggest end of the stick-
– What about the balance of debt ?
– Fortunately, this Parliament is not going to add to our burden of debt. If Senator Givens will look at the management of our finances by the Government, he will find, not merely that we have been able to meet our needs out of revenue, but that we have been able to incur obligations for defence, and to liquidate them from the same source - obligations which were altogether beyond the imagination of any previous occupants of the Treasury bench.
– How much longer shall we be able to do it?
– If we could not carry on for a day longer, what we have already achieved is an accomplishment which I shall always look upon with pleasure and pride. I shall always regard it as one of the greatest works attempted in finance by any Australian Government. Look at the huge Trust Funds which have been built up - funds which are in the hands of the Government, and which have enabled them to assist the States very materially. Take, for example, the moneys which have been loaned to Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, and Tasmania. Not only have we assisted the last-mentioned State by means of a loan fund, but we have actually passed a Bill to grant her a sufficient sum to tide her over her small financial difficulties. Senator Stewart has asked me how long this condition of things will last. My reply is, as long as the Australian continent is well governed, and it will be well governed so long as the Labour party is at the head of affairs, for the simple reason that we have in that party clear-sighted men like the honorable senator, who will keep the Government up to the collar.
– Why not put him at the head of the Government?
– If I had known as much when the Government were selected as I do now, my vote would have been cast to place him at their head.
– Is the honorable senator serious?
– I am. When 1 see a man who is able and willing to work, and who, in addition, is clear-sighted, I cannot fail to admire him. Senator Stewart is not anxious to rest for a few hours because of a social function. I agree with the view which he has expressed that we should not waste time. I venture to predict that during the first three weeks of December we shall be asked to pass Bills to which it will be impossible for honorable senators to give due consideration. A month from to-day the valuable time which is being lost to-night in discussing this motion1-
– It is not being wasted.
– The Government will benefit largely by this discussion. If they read the lesson aright, and remember the instruction which has been tendered to them this evening, the country will know the benefit which they have derived from the debate upon this premature motion for adjournment. There are other matters upon which I might touch at length on an occasion of this kind. For instance, there is the failure of the Government to provide a residence for the Governor-General in Sydney. To my mind, it is a question of great urgency. I recognise that the Government may have a very good answer to all that has been said about the little incident which caused New South Wales to be without an official residence for the GovernorGeneral. I have watched the whole of the proceedings without any bias one way or the other. It is between the two Governments only a question of a few thousand pounds. I can quite realize that the present Commonwealth Government, having had a residence for the Governor-General in Sydney provided by the State Government for ten years, feel inclined to say, “ If the State Government will continue to provide a residence for the GovernorGeneral, we shall still make arrangements for His Excellency to occupy it; but if you ask us to take the responsibility of providing a residence there, we are not going to do it, because Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, and Hobart might make a similar request.” All these great cities have a perfect right, not only to demand, but to insist that the Commonwealth Government, if they find a residence for the GovernorGeneral in New South Wales, shall find a residence for His Excellency in the capitals of the other States. That is absolutely a logical position. I am not taking up the stand of, shall I say, a New South Welshman, who believes that Sydney is the whole of the Commonwealth, and that the Governor-General should reside there, irrespective of anything which may happen. I believe that we have arrived at a time when the Commonwealth Government should shift its head-quarters to the proper centre, and that is to the Federal Capital site. They should arrange for this Parliament to meet next time on that site, and for the Governor-General to’ be provided with a residence there. And if we are having the use of a Parliament House, and a Government House at the expense of the people of Victoria, the people of Australia should be sufficiently independent to say to the former, “ It is too big a burden for you to pay for the upkeep of your Governor’s residence, and also the Governor- General’s residence.” I maintain that the GovernorGeneral should be housed at the cost of the people of the Commonwealth. Not only should he be housed at their cost, but his chief residence should be where the Parliament sits; and the sooner Parliament shifts to the Federal Territory the better. 1 believe that temporary arrangements would be more satisfactory than to wait until the complete scheme of the Federal Capital has been carried out. I believe that immediate arrangements should be made for the building of a few halls, a few houses of accommodation, or hotels - a few places where members of Parliament and officers could be accommodated. All that could be done in a very few months, and from the next meeting of this Parliament the Governor-General could be housed in the Federal Territory ; and, so far as State residences are concerned, a fair, equitable arrangement might be made by the Commonwealth Government. I deplore altogether the statement that if we provide the Governor-General with a residence in Sydney, the Victorian Government will rightly say that we. should pay for his residence here. Not only should we pay for his residence here, but the present Government-
– How many houses can a man live in at the same time?
– I know that His Excellency cannot occupy each house at the same time; but I maintain that the present Government should call together immediately the Premiers of the different States, and discuss with them the question of dispensing with the services of State Governors, allowing the Governor-General to fulfil all functions in regard to important matters, and leaving, as in New South Wales, all unimportant matters in each State to be attended to by the Chief Justice, acting as Lieutenant-Governor. That would involve no additional expense to the States. The Government of each State could reserve the State Government House as a residence for the Governor-General when he goes there as their representative. I venture to say that it would mean an immense saving to the whole of the States. Let us just look at the position. Here is a population of 4,500,000 people, with seven representatives of His Majesty within its borders, when one representative of the King would be ample. It would be a link, we will say, connecting us with the other side of the world. We have reached such an enlightened era that the people of Australia, in order to maintain the Empire in its integrity, are spending millions and millions annually. I think that Senator Stewart estimated the cost of defence this year at .£6,000,000. Therefore, in considering this subject, there is no occasion to introduce the question of loyalty or disloyalty into the discussion. We are showing our willingness to maintain the solidarity of this country by the amount of money which we are prepared to expend. We are spending, I understand, about ,£3,500,000 011 the building of a Navy, and a considerable sum on our system of military training. This expenditure is undertaken not because of any fear which the people of Australia may have of an immediate invasion, because if ever -an invasion is threatened, we shall have ample time to get ready for it provided that we have the men trained, the arms for them to carry, and not only the ammunition, but factories for the manufacture of ammunition. So far as loyalty to the Empire is concerned, it is our self-interest which makes us loyal, and although some of us may think that our interest does not lie that way, it is merely one of those questions which can be debated, possibly with almost convincing arguments from either side. It is not always the section that boasts most about its loyalty that is most to be relied upon, because, away in the north of Ireland we have a threat by some of the most prominent men in the British Empire that they are prepared to take up arms, shed blood, fight against the flag, and fire upon the soldiers of the King because they cannot get their own way in regard to a certain measure which is before the British Parliament. I am not taken very much by claptrap about loyalty. But as regards the question of the people of the Commonwealth finding the money to house the GovernorGeneral, I think that if the Government have not considered that point the sooner they do so the better.
– Has he not a good house ?
– Yes; but it is of no use for the honorable senator to say that the Governor-General has one place to live in. Because the people of the Commonwealth are widely scattered, and all interests must be considered. The fact that the Governor-General is well housed in Melbourne may be very well-
– I mean that he will not suffer from the cold or the heat.
– His Excellency is not housed here at the cost of the people of the Commonwealth, but at the cost of the people of Victoria, which is, I think, a great injustice. I consider that if the people of this State provide a residence for their own Governor, it is up to the people of this wealthy Commonwealth, who can afford to lend money to the State Governments to help them over a difficult period of finance-
– Do you not think that the New South Wales Government should be as generous as the Victorian Government ?
– I do not think it is a matter of generosity or charity, but purely a business undertaking, and the sooner the Commonwealth Government realize that we should not accept a gift from Victoria, or any other State, the better it will be.
– When we go to Canberra, we will build a house for the Governor- General .
– If I were of the pinion of the Vice-President of the Executive Council another session would not pass before we were housed in the Federal Territory.
– It will take a long time to get there if the Government propose to adjourn for every twopence-halfpenny function !
– If every function that attracts the Opposition causes the Government to postpone business, I do not know how long the time will be. I understand that the preparation of the Federal Capital is in the hands of the” Minister of Home Affairs, who is carrying out the work in a systematic manner, and securing plans which will make this one of the first and most up-to-date cities of the world, so far as the best brains can do that. It would, however, be much better to be on the spot now, when there would be no adjourning for a ball at Government House in Melbourne. The Government must either manage the business or go out of management ; we cannot dilly-dally with the affairs of this great Commonwealth. There are many measures of importance, including more particularly the Navigation Bill, that require our close attention ; and I think it was ill-advised on the part of the Minister to propose an adjournment. Arrangements might well have been made for those who desired to go to the ball, leaving those who desired to work to remain at Parliament House; and an excellent opportunity for progress is presented in the absence of the entire Opposition. If the Vice-President of the Executive Council will consent to withdraw the motion, I will sit down.
– It is open to honorable members to defeat the motion.
– I do not know about that, because, like Senator Stewart, while I like to show the Government the way it should go, I have no idea of flogging them. If it came to a question of whether the business should be taken out of the hands of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, as representing the Government, I should loyally vote with him ; but, at the same time, I am loyal to my election pledges and my platform, and must offer a protest.
– The Government would not resign over a small matter like this !
– Then we may be able to negative this motion without offending the Government, although I have seen a State Government resign because a motion to adjourn a debate was negatived. I have offered my protest, though I do not say I would vote against an adjournment if the Government contested the matter. I rose, amongst other things, to compliment Senator Stewart on the able manner in which he has placed before the country the duty of the Government on the present occasion.
.- The Government ought to be thankful that they have two such candid critics as Senator Stewart and Senator Gardiner. There is an old and true saying that a candid critic will, in five minutes, point out more faults that need correction than any other kind of critic will do in five hours. I take strong exception to the action of the Government in proposing this adjournment, and I do that for one reason only, namely, that the work of this Parliament should not be subordinated to any .social function at Government House or elsewhere. I am pleased to see that the proposal is meeting with objection from at least three States - Queensland, New South Wales, and Tasmania - and I have no doubt that before the Government succeed in carrying the motion, if they do so, they will hear a protest from each of the Stages. This is an occasion on which the Government can look for loyal support from the Opposition. At other times, when the Government are in need of support and fighters, they have to look to this side, which they so frequently treat with contempt.
– It is not of much use to look to the other side now.
– No, because an arrangement which, apparently, has been made with the Opposition explains their absence.
– If the Standing Orders permitted me, I should say that that statement was - well, you know !
– Yes, I know ; and we will keep it to ourselves.
– There has been no arrangement, anyhow.
– I say, with all due respect to the Vice-President of the Executive Council, that the absence of the members of the Opposition lends some colour to the statement which I have made.
– lt was only a guess on the honorable senator’s part.
– It was not a bad guess.
– “ Suspicion haunts” - something; I forget the rest.
– Perhaps it is as well that the honorable senator does forget, because I am not anxious to fall out with him. We have been on excellent terms since I have been a member of the Senate. Many matters might occupy our attention. They will have to be disposed of before the prorogation, which, I presume, will take place some time before “Christmas. Probably, in a week or two, the Government will ask the Senate, to sit at halfpast 10 every morning, in order that we may get though our business. I wish to take advantage of the present opportunity to bring a matter before honorable senators which concerns them. I especially invite the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to the facts, because I assert that information supplied to me, and to the Senate generally, by him last session was absolutely misleading. The information was given to the Vice-President of the Executive Council by the leading officer in the External Affairs Department. Upon the Appropriation Bill last year, I brought under the notice of the Government the fact that an officer, Mr. F. Savage, had been transferred from the Commonwealth Service in this State to the High Commissioner’s office in London. Mr. Savage occupies a very prominent position in that office to-day. I pointed out that he had not received the consideration that was extended to other officers of the Commonwealth who were sent to London, and who remained there in a temporary capacity for some time.
– I understand that he worked very hard to get there, too.
– Then the honorable senator understands what is absolutely incorrect; and his interjection makes it all the more incumbent upon me to get at the truth about the statement which was tendered to the Senate by him last session.
– I think he was pulling the honorable senator’s leg.
– We might expect an interjection of a more sensible character from a gentleman who is the leading representative of the Government in the Senate. Nothing is more calculated to bring a great national party like ours into discredit and contempt than frequent interjections of the character of that of which the honorable senator has just delivered himself.
– Hear, hear!
– No amount of funny business on trie Minister’s part will excuse him for misleading the Senate; and I am going to prove the assertion that I have just made. When this officer was transferred to London, he was not given any allowance, as were other officers who had been sent Home in a temporary capacity. I pointed that fact out to the Government last session, believing that they would recognise the justice of the officer’s claim, place him on the same footing as other officers, and give him the regular allowance over and above his salary. The Vice-President of the Executive Council told the Senate that there was never any doubt about the permanency of Mr. Savage’s appointment, and that he went Home to the High Commissioner’s
Office in the full knowledge that his transfer was to be, from the time of his arrival, of a permanent character. But what are the facts? In answer to a question addressed to the Government by myself during the present session, it was shown that the facts were as I stated them to be last session. I asked the Government the date of the transfer from Australia of Mr. F. Savage to the High Commissioner’s Office, London, and the date of his permanent appointment to his present position. The Vice-President of the Executive Council replied -
Mr. Savage left Melbourne on the 30th March, 1906, and took up his duties in the Commonwealth office, London, on the 30th April, 1906. His permanent appointment to the High Commissioner’s office dates from 1st April, 1910.
That was almost four years after he had been transferred from the service in Australia. I made the same statement to the Senate when I addressed myself to the question last session, and the facts were denied in toto by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, acting on the advice of the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs. In Hansard for last year, page 4193, Senator McGregor, in reply to a statement of mine, is reported to have said -
The permanency of his appointment is beyond all doubt. Seeing that this gentleman was anxious to go to London and occupies a very good position, and seeing that the ^100 has been granted to him as a solatium, I think that everything that could be done fairly has been done.
Later on, dealing with the statement of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, I said -
I assert again, notwithstanding the contradiction of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, that this officer did go to London with the understanding that the appointment was of a temporary character.
The answer that the Government gave to my question during the present session proves beyond any doubt whatever that Mr. Savage occupied his position in london for nearly four years before its permanency was confirmed. Further, I said, last year -
If there is a possibility of establishing this position beyond the shadow of a doubt from the files of the Department, I am going to have it established, notwithstanding the assurance that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has received from the Secretary of External Affairs.
I direct the special attention of the VicePresident of the Executive Council to the information supplied through him, and to the fact that it has had, and could have,
no other effect than to mislead members of the Senate as to the true position concerning Mr. Savage’s transfer to the High Commissioner’s office. The fact that since that time that gentleman has been fairly dealt with does not alter the fact that the responsibility rests upon the Government for presenting information to the Senate which was not consistent with the facts of the case. I assure the Vice-President of the Executive Council that I wish this matter to be looked into, and I propose to have an explanation from the official responsible for it, as to why such information was presented to the Senate. That question is of some importance, though the Vice-President of the Executive Council has evidently paid very little attention to it.
– I was listening attentively. It was a savage and unjustifiable attack upon the Government !
– The honorable senator must have been listening attentively, and I am flattered by the attention he gave me while I dealt with a matter which I believe’ is regarded as important by every member of the Senate. Leaving that matter, and going back to the more important question of whether the Senate should adjourn in order that two or three members of this National Legislature should go and see other people kicking up their heels at some social function in this city, I wish’ to say that to me it is humiliating in the extreme that important matters, such as those which appear on our business-paper, should be hung up for any such function. It is true that the consideration of the amendments made in another place in the Navigation Bill have been postponed until to-morrow, and that they could not be brought on again to-day. That might have been necessary in the interests of the Government. But there are other matters on our business-paper of perhaps equal importance to the people of Australia. Why could we not have gone on with the Workmen’s Compensation Bill ? Is that measure so unimportant that it may ‘be laid aside in order that some members of the Government and of the Opposition may enjoy themselves socially?
– I am enjoying myself immensely.
– I am sure the honorable senator is. We might have continued the discussion upon the Budgetpapers. They involve questions relating to the expenditure of nearly ^22,000,000 of revenue. When we do enter upon the discussion of the Budget-papers, no doubt the Government will send round word asking us to curtail our speeches as much as possible, in order that the session may be brought to a close before Christmas. I suggest that their action to-night, without consultation with honorable members on this side, is not calculated to secure from them the allegiance and loyalty they have displayed in the past. I can say, candidly, speaking for myself, that I wish to be consulted in future before any arrangement is made for an adjournment such as that proposed to-night.
– Was the honorable senator here?
– Certainly I was here.
– I did not see the honorable senator.
– It is a matter of deep regret to me that the Vice-President of the Executive Council should be unable to see me here or anywhere else.
– He can hear the honorable senator.
– There is very ‘little doubt about that. We have had a cheap sneer from the Opposition with reference to the absence of Senator Stewart in the early part of the session. It came with very bad taste from honorable senators opposite, when we remember that, without any reason of ill-health, there are some senators on the other side who in the last three years have not put in a total attendance of two months. In the circumstances the gibe at Senator Stewart, who was prevented in a great measure through ill-health from being present during the first two months of the session, does them no credit.
– Tasmanian senators were the worst offenders.
– We may leave to honorable senators opposite the privilege of being personal. I shall not mention the honorable senators to whom I refer, beyond saying that they were members of the Opposition. If the Government were short of business to go on with, what in the name of all that is reasonable was there to prevent them giving private members an opportunity to discuss their business this evening? In another place, with the object of bringing the session to a close as quickly as possible, private members’ business has been superseded, and presently, no doubt, we shall have the representatives of the Government in the
Senate commandeering the time allotted to honorable senators for the discussion of private business.
– Commandeering the time and guillotining the business?
– I thank the honorable senator for that expression. It describes the proposal that is likely to be made, and I say that if such a proposal meets with opposition from this side, the Government will have only themselves to blame for it. There is a number of matters of great urgency and extreme importance on our business-paper which might have been’ dealt with. I do not propose to refer to them now, because I am not anxious to delay the progress of business. I understand that at least eight or nine other honorable senators wish to address themselves to the question, and I shall not detain the Senate at any great length, except to express the admiration I feel for the courage displayed by Senator Sayers, who is the only member of the Opposition who has remained in his place. I am satisfied from what I know of him that the honorable senator will join in the protest against the suspension of business for the purpose which has been referred to so often this evening. I hope to hear his invectives directed at the Government. In order that I may not be accused of being an obstructionist, I shall not longer delay the putting of the question, contenting myself, in conclusion, with the expression of the hope that this is the last occasion on which we shall be asked to subordinate the business of Australia to any social function.
.- Whilst at first I was opposed to the idea of adjourning for a social function, I am convinced, now that I have heard the speeches that have been delivered during the evening, that much good has come from the morion for the adjournment. The country and the Senate would have been the losers had there not been this opportunity provided for the splendid and scholarly address on the land question delivered by Senator Stewart. The intelligence of honorable senators has been sharpened and invigorated by the speech of Senator Gardiner, who spoke of the need for erecting tents for our accommodation on the Federal Capital site, and added a little homily on the fiscal question. The motion also gave occasion for the striking impeachment of his party which we had from Senator Long. It showed the country that many of us who sit on this side are not subservient to the Caucus, but are able, when the occasion serves, as it does to-night, to thunder forth defiance, bloodshed, and murder at the Government that we support. The country will know, too, that honorable senators are ready to take every opportunity to ventilate every little grievance. I am glad that I have not donned my dress suit and gone to the dance.
Honorable Senators. - Why didn’t you?
– Well, I did not get an invitation.
– Have you got a dress suit?
– I am under no obligation to answer questions in this chamber concerning the extent of my wardrobe.
I have risen to combat a report persistently circulated by the Opposition, of which Senator Sayers is at present the only representative, that gold has been driven out of Australia by the policy of the Labour party. This fairy tale has been told especially at afternoon tea parties of ladies. But it has no foundation in fact, as the following figures will show. I have made a comparison between the operations during the last two years of the Fusion Government and those during the first two years of the Labour Government. In 1908, the total imports for Australia were £48,608,921; and, in 1909, £50,115,521 ; or, in the two years, £98, 724,442. The exports in 1908 were £50,120,838; and, in 1909, £56,638,552 ; or, in the two years. £106,759,390 ; an excess of exports over imports for the two years of £8, 034,948. Let me contrast those figures with these for the first two years of the Labour Administration. In 1910, the total imports of Australia were £58,682,391 ; and, in 191 1, £64,997,907 ; a total for the two years of £120,680,298. The exports in 1910 were £69,855,873; and, in 1911, £67,435,172; a total of £137,291,045 for the two years, and an excess of exports over imports for that period of £13,610,747. In view of the large increase of both exports and imports, the excess was not proportionately large, but let us contrast the figures relating to the importation and exportation of gold. In 1908, under the Fusion Administration, our imports of gold specie and bullion were valued at £1,190,352; and, in 1909, . at £1,056,375; a total of £2,246,727. For the same years the exports were £14,190,222 and £8,680,284 respectively, a total of £22,870,504. The excess of exports over imports was £20,623,777 in respect of the two years’ period during which the Liberal Administration was in power. Let us look now at what took place during the first two years of the Labour Administration, and refute the statement so current in antiLabour circles regarding the actual position. In 1910, our imports of gold specie and bullion amounted to £1,331,960,andin1911 they amounted to £1,969,581 ; while our exports in 1910 amounted to £4,635,277, and in 1911 to £12,047,086. Our total imports for the two years were £3,301,541, while our total exports amounted to £16,682,363. The excess of gold exported for the two years was only £13,380,822, as against an excess amounting to £20,623,777 during the Liberal Administration. In “other words, we have sent out in round figures £7,000,000 less of gold than was exported during the Fusion Administration. And yet we hear the cry from the house-tops that, under the Labour Administration, gold is daily being sent away to pay our national debt.
– Perhaps the writer of the special articles in the Argus will take a note of these figures.
-I hope that he will, and I trust that Labour people will also do so, and refute a lie that seems to be current, in view of the imminence of the general elections.
– I think we ought to have a quorum. - [Quorum formed.]
– Like Senator Stewart, I am deeply interested in the land question. I am sure that the honorable senator never speaks on the subject without honorable senators on this side listening to his utterances with almost bated breath, for it is well known that he has made a close study of the question. The idea of a single tax - and I do not accuse Senator Stewart of being a Single Taxer-
– It is not a crime.
– It is not. As a rule, Single Taxers are Free Traders; but we have in this Chamber the curious anomaly of an honorable senator who is not only a Single Taxer, but a Protectionist.
– I am not a Single Taxer.
– The honorable senator is not an orthodox Single Taxer. I have here a very interesting little volume dealing with the history of the island of Van Dieman’s Land, for the years 1824 to 1835 inclusive, to which is added a few words on prison discipline by Henry Melville. This work was published in 1835, and the man who wrote it was imprisoned for twelve months for writing it. I am informed that there are only eight or ten copies of this work in existence; and Senator Stewart will, I am sure, be very interested in it. I find that, as far back as 1835, Henry Melville,, who was not only a newspaper editor of considerable literary ability, but a man who had given the economic question of the land serious consideration, wrote as follows : -
Should the Home Government abolish the present system of selling land - which experience will soon point out as absolutely necessary to save the Colony - emigrants would flock to Vain Dieman’s Land as they, did five years since; and supposing that the giving away of land can be managed without introducing the corruption and the jobbing hitherto so prevalent, the greater part of the island would soon be studded with villages and farms, containing an industrious, a healthy, and a loyal British people. No doubt that five or ten years of encouragement would find half the island located, and the greater portion to individuals possessing less than 1,000 acres. Till such time as five millions of acres are located, the revenue might be raised as at present, viz., by the duty on spirits and tobacco; but when that quantity of land should be given, then the revenue should be drawn from the real property by means of a quit rent. If threepence per acre were fixed upon land under cultivation and sixpence an acre upon all such as remained in a natural state, a sufficient sum would thus be raised for the support of a Government suitable to the number of its acres and its inhabitants.
He elaborates that point, and shows that, at the expiration of about ten years, after the institution of a quit rent - we shall call it, if Senator Stewart pleases, a single tax - the revenue would have been sufficient for the total governmental upkeep of the Colony.
– It would not then be necessary to raise taxation.
– At the time at which Melville wrote, it was necessary to raise revenue to proceed with the development of Tasmania ; and, had his proposal been adopted, we should have had in little Tasmania an object-lesson to the world- so far as land tenure is concerned.
I mentioned a few nights ago, that there was a limitation on the area which could be given away in free grants at the time in question, and I was asked for more conclusive proof of my statement. I shall give it now. According to this work, page 134, the largest grant that would be made to any fresh settler without purchase at that time was 2,560 acres; the smallest 320 acres. Notwithstanding this, we find that many of the forefathers of the present land-holders jobbed and obtained the land on all kinds of pretences from the Government. They practically “peacocked “ the eyes out of little Tasmania. Mr. Melville gives some very striking facts dealing with this matter. I should like to read the whole volume, but I am afraid that even Senator Stewart, interested as he is in this question, would scarcely like me to do so at this stage.
– Is the book to which the honorable senator refers in the Parliamentary Library?
– It is. Mr. Melville wrote -
The land jobbing system which has been carried on with impunity would astonish, were it possible to be made public; men who ten years* since were almost penniless have by some unaccountable means become land-holders of 10 to 30,000 acres.
At this time, an Ordinance was in force under which no man had a right to acquire more than 2,000 acres. -
Surveyors whose salaries were nominally but trifling, have been most fortunate in the jobbing, and have amassed wealth with a rapidity truly astonishing. What is the most extraordinary portion of the system which has been allowed, is, that the Government surveyors have been permitted to measure their- own land, either granted or purchased - and in a very large grant a few hundred acres, more or less, is of trifling import; it would be invidious to point out any one individual as having so .done, when the system to this day is general. The land jobbing has been carried on from the very highest to the very lowest of Government 06cers, even ‘His Excellency the LieutenantGovernor, besides possessing large funded property, is a very extensive land-holder; and with such an example before him, some of ,his leading friends have outstripped him in the number of acres, if not in the value of the propetty.
In other words, the Lieutenant-Governor himself set an example by being a land jobber of the first water. Upon .the need for small holdings, and the settlement upon them of a healthy rural population, the writer says -
The Home Government has thought’ proper not to attend to the prayers of the land-owners; and yet not a single individual ever talks of abandoning his estate - indeed, were the large land-owners more severely taxed, it would bc advantageous to the Colonies, ‘ it would reduce principalities, iw hereon but a few individuals are maintained, and change those barren and waste principalities to prosperous farms and happy villages. It is beyond dispute, that had the land about Perth and Norfolk Plains been granted in small lots of 500 acres to various industrious individuals, instead of 70,000 acres to one family and 30 to another, there would have now been no scarcity of bread ; for that part of the country alone could grow more wheat than would serve this colony as well as the whole of the Sister Settlement.
I have read sufficient to show that the system of land tenure which obtained in the early history of Tasmania was one which has been rightly described as nothing less than sheer robbery. We are paying the price for that to-day.
In Tasmania, a holding of 20,000 acres is regarded as a big estate, while in New South Wales, that area would probably be called a farm. But in my own State, these areas are a great block to progress. The land tax, which is operative to-day, does not sufficiently penalize the owners of such estates. Nearly every one of them can pay the tax, and look pleasant. In dealing with this question, I may be pardoned for recounting a little experience which I had recently. I was travelling in the train with two Tasmanian land-owners, who were discussing the Federal land tax, and who did not know that I was a member of the Commonwealth Parliament. One of these gentlemen, who contributes a little over £1,000 a year by way of land tax, remarked to the other that the tax he had to ay represented quite a large sum of money, Just then, we were passing along the Hobart Domain, from which the torpedo boat destroyers, the Parramatta and the yarra, could be seen in the offing, and the other gentleman inquired, “ Do you ‘ see those boats?” “Yes,” replied the first speaker. His companion then said, “ Those vessels have been built with our money, and you and I will see the day when those jolly unions will have them. They will then bring them up here, and bombard our lands with them.”
I do not take such a serious view of the position as did that gentleman. But in looking through the land assessments in Tasmania, I find that the large land-holders there are not being penalized to the extent, that I imagined they would be. In a number of the most fertile districts, the land is not being subdivided as quickly as I should like to see it subdivided. In these circumstances, why not ask Dr. Stewart to prescribe .the remedy ? Let us increase the land tax without increasing the rates imposed under it. Let us make the higher rate apply right down, as was proposed by
Senator Givens at the last Labour Conference. The tax would then be effective. At present, a man owning £60,000 worth of land is required to pay the higher rate only upon the last £5,000. Upon the whole estate, the tax would probably work out at about 2d. in the £1.
– On an estate valued at £60,000, it would amount t® only 3d. in the £1.
– That is not enough. Only two land-holders have applied for and obtained relief under section 66 , of the Act. That circumstance shows that the tax does not press harshly upon landowners. If we made the higher rate apply in the manner suggested by Senator Givens the taxation on many estates would be doubled, and we should hasten their subdivision for the purposes of closer settlement. Seriously speaking, I, for one, will not rest content, but will seize every available opportunity to force the Government forward until we get the land tax increased.
At the next election I am going to the people of Tasmania, not as a candidate, but as a kind of supernumerary, and I intend to tell them from every platform that the tax will have to be increased, and that it will be the Labour party to whom they will have to look to increase it, and not, as has been implied! from the other side, the Opposition. As there are two Opposition senators present, I had better be careful in what I say now. We shall have to go forth to the people, and tell them that we - I refer now to Senator Stewart and myself, and, no doubt, I can command the sympathy of Senator Long - will not be satisfied until our demand for increased taxation on those who are best able to bear it is given effect to.
– During this debate, various matters have been introduced, and as I understand that the Vice-President of the Executive Council wishes to speak for an hour, there is no occasion for me to say a great deal. When this discussion was started, on account of the rather glum looks of some senators who were speaking, and the strained relations that were growing up between the Minister and Senator Long and others, I began to think that if such a sacrilegious thing as a cartoon of the Senate could have been sketched, it would have depicted a number of senators with the legend underneath, “ These are the blokes that lost their tin.” It seemed to me as if disappointed punters were speaking. I know that that remark does not apply to Senator Stewart, because he is not animated by any feeling of disappointment at his share in the Cup debacle. The social function which was supposed to be the reason for the proposed adjournment of the Senate is one in which only very few senators could possibly participate in any circumstances, and the bulk of the people not at all. Therefore, it appears to me that the objections raised by Senator Stewart are perfectly valid, that we should not allow the business of the Senate .to be interrupted by functions of this kind, which only concern a very few persons - those who can be well spared, at any rate, for they all belong to the Op-‘ position. It is true that the Senate has previously adjourned for other purposes, but as we are- approaching the end of the session, it is only right that we should get through with the business of a contentious character as soon as possible, so as to provide time for dealing in an intelligible, and, I might add, almost a leisurely manner with various topics which come up for treatment at that time. A promise has been made by the Leader of the Senate that time will be given to honorable senators on both sides to discuss those matters of which they have given notice of motion. There are one or two motions standing in my own name, and motions in the names of senators on both sides of the chamber, nearly all of which provide ample food for thought and room for deliberation. We know that the discussion of private business, while it very rarely leads to legislation being passed immediately after such discussion, does sow the seed, as it- were, which, in many cases, bears fruit a very few sessions afterwards. Under our present conditions it is the best means available for bringing into the arena of practical politics questions which, before they are ventilated in this public fashion, are looked upon as the dreams of faddists. Nothing tends more, I think, to keep the life-blood of new ideas circulating in a healthy manner in the legislative halls than the provision of an opportunity to private senators to bring forward matters which have not yet reached the stage when a Government will take them up. It is, therefore, the most superficial criticism which we frequently hear urged against the condition of private members’ business that it is a waste of time and a farce. I know, from my experience in the Parliament of New South Wales, as well as in the Senate, that very many questions which, prior to their being ventilated at the instance of pri- vate members, were looked upon as mere idle political visions, have been brought intothe realm of realization within a remarkably few sessions. 1 may mention such a question as the provision of old-age pensions. 1, recollect the time when, in the New South. Wales Assembly, this was a matter for mere academic discussion on private members’’ night. I recollect, too, the time when evenone man one vote was rather a matter for debating societies, and womanhood suffrage was looked upon as even a wilder dream than it is now in any part of the civilized’ world. There are other matters which will occur to every honorable senator.
– Voting by ballot was debated in the Imperial Parliament for fortyone consecutive years before it became law.
– I do not wonder at that, because the Imperial Parliament moves very, very slowly, as the Conservative instinct of our British cousins leads them to be slaves to tradition rather than to open their minds to new ideas, as is the case in these younger countries. But, while that is so, I maintain that the time is drawing, nigh when this session must close, or the. Houses be adjourned over Christmas. T think that the promise of the Leader of tha Senate to give honorable senators on both, sides an opportunity of, at any rate, having some discussion on the motions standing, in their names should be redeemed as soon as possible, and that, instead of wasting an evening by adjourning the Senate as was originally proposed, it would be more tothe point to have an extra sitting. I believe that this fooling away of time only makes men too lazy to do work even when they are sitting. I think that there would be far more solid work done if, when we started a job, we stuck to it like a man doesoutside until it was finished. Instead of that, what did we do to-day ? We started with a discussion on a matter which was not of a practical character, and then got on to the Navigation Bill. Practically we did nothing before progress was reported,, and the adjournment of the Senate _ was moved. I hope that the time which has been spent this evening in uttering protests against the proposed adjournment will’ make the Government a bit careful about submitting a similar motion in the future. I desire now to refer to a matter which may be of passing interest to honorable senators, as well as to members of the outside public. In the Melbourne Herald, I find a description of a social function which is being held in this city, and it appears that from the State which I represent there have been brought 15,000 Waratah blooms, in order to decorate the room. Apart from the vandalism involved in destroying flowers in this wholesale manner for the purpose, mentioned - much as I like the flower, and appreciate it for decorative purposes-
– I have seen some of it at Parliament House.
– I have supplied many for sick and dying friends, and there is no better use for flowers than that of brightening the bedside of the afflicted. I have no objection to buying or cutting Waratah ; my objection is that we are being asked to adjourn in order to give some persons an opportunity to attend a social function. There will be a room magnificently decorated with 15,000 blooms ; but I ask, how many people will have an opportunity of enjoying the magnificent sight? This is where I agree with my friend and colleague, Senator Stewart, in deprecating anything which tends to give our moral support to society functions. On such occasions we are shown how only a few favoured persons in the community can enjoy the most rare and costly luxuries by excluding others from their legitimate share of this world’s goods.
– Does the taking of the bloom kill the tree?
– :It does not necessarily kill the shrub, but the stalk from which one cuts a Waratah will miss the next year in blooming. I cultivate the flower myself, and, therefore, can fully appreciate its beauty. However, we are not much concerned with that aspect of the question. I wish to point out that we are now afforded a striking instance of how magnificence obtained at an enormous cost belongs to a social order against which the Labour party should be a standing protest. This is a social order which can go to the greatest lengths’ in cost in order to tickle the fancy of a few persons only for a few short hours, while the great body of the people, who have to find the money, are impoverished thereby. It may be like sowing seed on stony ground to mention these facts, but I do so as a standing protest against anything which tends to give our support or sanction to a social system which creates millionaires by draining and robbing the poor of their legitimate reward. As a Socialist, I should be very glad to see the crimson Waratah as a fitting emblem of the socialistic people. I like to see Australian industries, flowers, and everything else patronized ; but it is a great pity that we do not as a body better realize the requirements of the whole of the people than to allow the great Labour cause we are here to represent to be, to some extent, dragged in the dust by giving our sanction to a social function, which, if we were in Opposition, or in the rank and file of the party in the country, we should be the first to deride and decry. Feeling as much class-conscious as ever I did when in the ranks outside, I am glad of this opportunity to enter my protest. I do not do this because there is any evil in dancing, racing, or any other pleasure, but because I object to a purely class institution, reserved for the wealthy, being made the medium of our wasting time that should be devoted to infinitely better purposes.
– It is as well to acknowledge at the outset that I am entering on a dangerous task in offering an opinion which does not seem to be shared by many of the previous speakers; it is like entering where angels fear to tread- As for the motion, so far as I can understand, it simply means that we are asked to sacrifice two and a half hours’ work to-night to enable most, if not all, the members of the Cabinet to attend this social function. If it is contended - and this appears to be the main contention - that we cannot make this sacrifice, then those who hold that view cast a very serious reflection on the work done by the Labour party and this Parliament since it was called into existence three years ago. I hold that we can afford the time - that we as a party in Parliament have put up .an absolute record in the output of legislation since we had a mandate from the people of Australia. It shows, therefore, rather a mean, or I had better say a paltry, spirit on the part of any member of any chamber, or of this Parliament, to begrudge two hours and a half’s diversion to the members of the Cabinet in whom we have placed an implicit trust that remains undiminished. The members’ of the Government work six, and even- seven, days a week ; and the present circumstances disclose a case, if ever there was one, of the great failure on the part of the average human being to place himself in the position of “ the other fellow “ when called upon to exercise calm and unimpassioned judgment. The men invited to this social function are representing this Parliament. We were not all invited, and I am amongst the uninvited.
But that is no reason why I should not put myself in the place of those who have been invited. Let me add that we have delegated our power to the three members of the Senate who sit at the table. Those three men, by virtue of the positions they occupy, were invited to this social function, and I hold that, by reason of their invitation and their representative capacity, we, to a certain degree, were invited through them. As far as the work of the session is concerned, I think that those who sent us here, and who still stand at our backs, are fairly well satisfied with the work that we have done.
– We might do a little more.
– In fact, we have been told in Parliament and elsewhere that we have been doing too much, and that the country is suffering from over-legislation. My view is that we have placed on the statute-book almost the full programme of legislation which we were sent to this Parliament to carry out.
– We are nearly ready to be canonized.
– I do not say that; but the position, when stripped of extraneous considerations, is simply this : Are we willing to give an opportunity for two and a half hours’ diversion to men who have been working so hard to realize the policy which we have intrusted them to carry out ? Let me emphasize that point by saying that members of a Labour Government stand in an entirely different position from members of any other Government of which I ever heard. The men intrusted with conducting the business of the country as Labour Ministers have to undergo the keenest scrutiny, not only from members of the Opposition, but from every single man who sits behind them.. Every action of theirs is scrutinized. The searchlight of inquiry is turned on every corner of their administration. In order that a Labour Minister may do justice to his position and his trust, he must devote every minute of his time to his duties, and must even rob himself of the rest to which he is entitled. Many of them not only devote many hours per day to their work, but also work on Sundays.
– That is dreadful !
– I do not say that it is dreadfuL.
– Private members of Parliament do the same.
– Of course they do. A position in Parliament is one in regard1 to which a man can go slow or hard, as hechooses. What. is the position in regard tr> these invitations? If we had all been invited to the function, I venture to assert that the matter would have been treated differently.
– That is not the reason for the opposition.
– I do not know what the reason is.
– I did not get an invitation, and did not want one.
– All that we were asked to do was to give an opportunity tothese men,, whom we have placed in office,, to enjoy two and a half hours’ diversion! after a session of nearly six months, and towards the close of a Parliament of threeyears. If we cannot afford to give them this time, we must be very hard taskmasters indeed. Why should we demand the full pound of flesh from those who have worked so hard ? I have had a trifling experience, ‘but enough to make me understand that the man who diligently discharges the work of a Minister of the Crown certainly has no child’s play before him. He must work hard and long ; must, master all the details of his Department must make himself acquainted with the Bills for which he is responsible, and must be careful that at no time he is made to look foolish through lack of knowledge of the affairs intrusted to him. Senator Rae has referred to the gorgeous scene at Government House to-night; and, as far as I could put any reasonable construction upon his remarks, his objection was because the function was not available to the whole of the 4,500,000 people in the Commonwealth. But is that any good reason why about 150 people should not enjoy themselves there? Let me point out that on Eight Hours Day in Sydney, a banquet took place, at which leading members of the Labour party enjoyed themselves. Certainly the banquet was not available to every member of the Labour party in New South Wales. Yet I am sure that those who were not present did not begrudge those who were there the .opportunity of enjoying themselves.
– Does the honorablesenator place that banquet on the same plane as this “ hop “ ?
– I say that there is practically no difference.
– The honorable senator is joking.
– My honorable friend must be very keen-sighted to recognise a joke in that remark. He must have more perspicacity than I can understand. The banquet at the Trades Hall in Sydney symbolized the same idea as does the function to which reference has been made tonight. Those who were present had an opportunity of enjoying themselves for a few hours. The sons of Labour thought it wise to turn aside from the roughandtumble and the turmoil of their ordinary occupations to enjoy a little respite.
– To celebrate a great national principle.
– Those who were not present did not object, and why should we object to the enjoyment of those who attend the Government House ball any more than we object to the enjoyment of those who attended the Labour banquet in Sydney ?
– But why should Parliament adjourn on account of the ball ? That is the point.
– I am about full up of these mock heroics, because they are nothing else. Could we not spare two and a half hours, in view of the immense amount of work that has been accomplished in the direction of carrying out the. programme of legislation to which our party is pledged ? For myself, I say that, regardless of the consequences, I am prepared to let these men off the chain for two and a half hours. Those who are not prepared to do so ‘are hard taskmasters, and some who are hard taskmasters will not acknowledge it. On such occasions there is always an indulgence in witticism which is quite understandable ; but, if we view the matter squarely, we must admit that the adjournment of the Senate for two and a half hours this evening would not have prevented us from finishing the work we have set our minds to do. It would not prevent us. carrying out our programme of legislation ; and, if it did, those who have objected to the adjournment would have to share the blame. I believe that the men who have gone to the ball to-night are entitled to the diversion we have given them.
– But honorable senators did not give it to them.
– I am sorry that I could not give it. Some of them have been able to go to ‘ the ball, and I say, “ Good luck to them.” ‘ I say, in all seriousness, that the people of Australia have not sufficient sympathy with the work of their public men. I honestly believe that the men. who, as members of different Cabinets in Australia, industriously apply themselves to the work of their offices, go down to the grave much earlier than they would if they continued to follow an ordinary, hum-drum occupation. We have only to look at the pictures exhibited in our Library to see- that robust men have gone down to an early grave ; and we know that that has been, in a great measure, due to the assiduity with which they applied themselves to the performance of their public duties. We have placed men in such positions who’ have never shirked’ their work, and we should never begrudge them a respite of two and a half hours that they may reinvigorate themselves to accomplish the ‘balance of the work of the session.
If no other honorable senator has any remarks to make on the adjournment of the Senate. I should like, in reply, to congratulate honorable senators who have So gallantly and stubbornly resisted the passing of the motion.
– We s - We should have adjourned, before this, in any case.
– There is not the slightest doubt that, in ordinary circumstances, we would have adjourned at about this time. I say, in reply to some ‘ honorable senators who have accused mem-‘ bers df the Government of a lack of diligence, energy, or industry, that such charges cannot fairly’ be made against representatives of the Government in the Senate. At any time in . the past, in the present, or in the future, I have been prepared to sit for twenty-four hours, if necessary, in the interests of the country. I have never shirked a late sitting in the Senate yet ; and, with the help of Providence, I hope I never shall. I am at all’ times prepared to give my very best services to the members of the Senate, and tothe people of Australia*, and so is every other Minister in the Senate. In the circumstances, it is rather mean on the part’ of some honorable senators, who have known the representatives of the Government in the Senate for so long, to insinuate that the Government have any sinister motive in submitting the motion, or that they are in any way inclined to pander to the social customs of the country. I would also say. that it is not becoming of honorable senators, especially on this side, to reflect in any way, or at any time, upon any section or member of the community giving the slightest pleasure to the smallest number of the citizens of Australia. Though I moved the adjournment of the Senate ostensibly to give certain persons an opportunity to attend the function which has been so often referred to, it was for no benefit or pleasure to me. I have enjoyed myself more in listening to the speeches which have been made on the. motion ; andI am willing to sit here as long this evening as honorable senators are prepared to do the business of the country. To speak in the way in which an honorable senator has spoken, of the decoration of any place with the choice flowers of Australia, was, I think, rather mean, and beneath a representative of Labour, because the bringing of those flowers from the different hills of New South Wales, and collecting them here in Melbourne, must have cost a good deal of money; and I would ask, Who benefited by that? Was it better to allow those flowers to die on their stems unseen and unadmired than to pay labour to collect them and bring them down here, even though it should be to give . pleasure to but a few? At almost every. Labour function I have attended, flowers have been freely used in the decoration of the humble places in which those functions were held. On many occasions, I have paid my 2s. 6d. or 5s. to go to those places, and, with othersj have admired the beauties collected there in the form of those natural ‘productions of the country ; but, according to the argument of some honorable senators, because I and other people could afford to pay 2s. 6d. or 5s. to see those things, and hundreds or thousands of other people in Australia could not afford to do so, or . had not an. opportunity of seeing them, those who attended the functions did wrong. I can only attribute such remarks to envy or hypocrisy, and I do not care which alternative honorable senators accept. I wonder whether yesterday’s great demonstration in Victoria in connexion with the famous Melbourne Cup race has had anything to do with the irritability exhibited here to-night? Very few people in Victoria who have ever attended a Melbourne Cup race have not looked with admiration upon the scene exhibited on the lawn at Flemington on a fine Cup day. All the citizens of Victoria or of Australia could not enjoy the scene, though Senator Rae or Senator Long may have been present at the Cup race yesterday, and other senators were . there, they could not enjoy themselves on the lawn, I suppose. They were too democratic to mix with society, and, of course, went on to the poor man’s lawn, and looked oyer the fence to admire this beauty. Their democratic instincts were too keen, and their hatred of society too marked, to allow them to be seen there. There will be another similar gathering to-morrow. Surely they will not attend it, because society will be represented there in all its gorgeousness.
– The honorable senator will want us to-morrow.
– The business of the country will go on, even if honorable senators are absent. I hope that to-night’s discussion may be profitable, but so far as Ministers are concerned, we are at all times prepared to do the business of the country. No one can -Bay that I have neglected the work of my office. On behalf of the Minister of Defence, and in the interests of business, I wish to announce that the first business on the noticepaper for Friday will be the Redistribution of the New South Wales Electoral divisions. I can hardly be’ expected to move the second reading of the Commonwealth Workmen’s Compensation Bill tonight. When I address myself to that measure, I hope for a full attendance of senators, so that the second reading discussion may obviate delay in Committee. If honorable senators desire to stay later to-night, and will negative the motion for the adjournment, I shall be prepared to sit until morning, listening, to the discussion of the motion regarding the Budgetpapers of the Treasurer.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 November 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1912/19121106_SENATE_4_67/>.