4th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Report (No. 4) presented by Senator
Henderson, and read by the Clerk.
– Should the new relistribution scheme for New South Wales be presented to the Senate, will the Minister arrange for the display, or will vou, sir, permit the display, in the chamber at a map showing the new scheme, in order to facilitate discussion by-and-by?
– If there is a map available, as I presume there is, with the consent of the President I shall have an arrangement made for its display in the Chamber.
– Can thu Vice-Pre sident of the Executive Council tell me when it is likely that the return regarding Royal Commissions, which was ordered bv the Senate onThursday last, will be placed on the table ? In view of the early proro gation of Parliament, will he expedite its production a little?
– So far as the Government are concerned, the return will be supplied as speedily as possible ; but. seeing that at this time of the year the officers are very busy, it is impossible for me to say whether it will be furnished this week or next week.
Senator PEARCE laid upon the table the following papers: -
Lands Acquisition Act1906. - Land acquired at- .
Northampton, . Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
Port Augusta, South Australia- For Railway purposes.
Tolga, Queensland - For Postal purposes. Victoria Park, Western Australia- For Postal purposes.
asked the Minister et
Defence, upon notice -
Hashis attentionbeen called to the alleged caning of a Sydney Grammar School cadet by the acting head-master, at the instance of the military officials, for a breach of military discipline on parade?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
. -I move -
That this Bill be now read . 1 second time.
This is very largely a formal Bill, but still a very necessary one, in order to facilitate certain disciplinary matters, and to remove a disability which persons following seafaring occupations are under in complying with the conditions of the Naval Defence Act. I shall deal first’ with the question of disciplinary powers. Under the Naval.
Agreement of 191 1 ships . of the Royal Australian Squadron and the Royal Navy may be acting together for training. At the Naval Conference, held . in London in June, 1911, it was agreed, inter alia -
In pursuance of this agreement, the Im perial ‘Government have passed the Naval Discipline (Dominion Naval Forces) Act 191 1, by which power, is given for the application of. the Naval Discipline Act to the personnel of ships of Dominion Navies as soon as provision to that effect has been madein a Domiriion. It is proposed to apply the Imperial Act to the Commonwealth . Naval Force, and that, as I said, will enable joint courts martial to be held. A peculiar contingency may arise. Under the Naval Agreement we have arranged that ships of our Fleet and Imperial ships may, for the purpose of training, be brought together as one fleet.As amatter of fact, thathas already taken place, in that we have placed the destroyers on several occasions underthe orders of Admiral Sir George King-Hall, and they have acted withthe Imperial vessels of the Australian Squadron. We have of course, full power to convene courts martial, and so, of course, have the Admiralty, ‘ but previously there did . not. exist the.power for us to court martial’ a British officer if, when such a fleet happened to be assembled, an Australian. officer was the senior officer iri command, nor did there exist undet out ‘legislation power by which British officers could sit with Australian officers in such a contingency. Of course, whenthe Australian ships are under Australian command;and are nit acting with British ships, the court martial will cons’st of Australian officers: . Where an Australian shipis under the command of, and acting withj the British Fleet, and a court martial isrequired, it may be, of a senior officer, there . may ‘not be sufficient Ausira- lian officers on the ship to try him by court martial ; but, of course, if he is a junior officer, there will be sufficient Australian officers on the ship for that purpose. If a. vessel is on its own, it will be in Australian waters, and a court martial can be constituted of Australian officers, though not necessarily officers of that ship. The ship will go to wherever there are sufficient Aus tralian officers available, and the case will be heard. After June next the Australian fleet will predominate in these waters, lt is quite possible that the Imperial Government may leave one or two ships on this station, and these will be under the command of the Australian officer in charge of the Fleet. Under the arrangement entered into, the officers of the Imperial ships can, if the necessity arises, be courtmartial led by officers who are in the Australian Navy.
– It is reciprocal ?
– Yes. The power is already expressed in the Naval Defence Act, but only so far as our giving authority to British officers to sit on our courts martial. The British Parliament has passed ameasure empowering our officers to sit on. their courts martial, and in our Act we want to recognise the Dominion Naval Forces Act of last year. This amendment does not carry the matter any further. In that way, the two services will be linked up-together. Another point which is dealt with by the Bill is the question, of men who pass through the Senior Cadets into the Naval Reserve. . These mert have to So twenty-seven davs compulsory training per annum. The most desirable class of these men are those who follow seafaring’ occupations. Suppose that a ship comes into a port with two or three of the Naval Reserves on board who are due for their annual training. They may goon with their training, but at thetime their training expires the vessel on which they are serving may be in another port and, under the Act as it stands, the men will have to be discharged, and to wait about on shore. The Commonwealth will not be paving them, nor will their employers. They will lose the time until their ship comes back to the port, and they can resume their occupation. This Bill will give us power to retain a man in a case of that kind, and let him do more than twenty-sevendays continuous training a year, and acorrespondingly less period in the following year, so that he shall not lose any time or pay. The Bill also contains a technical amendment to embody in the Naval Reserve senior cadets who have passed into the Citizen Naval Force. Of course, it was always intended that they should be in the Naval Reserve, but that was not expressed in the Act. The Bill contains a further amendment, which practically deals with provisions of the Navigation Bill. It will be remembered that the Navigation Bill contains provisions regarding absence from duty, and various matters of that kind. It may be held that if a Naval Reserve man leaves his employment for the purpose of doing his continuous training, he has thereby voided his agreement. This Bill will make it clear that thatwill not happen. That is practically the scope of the measure. It involves no question of policy. It is essential that these amendments shall be made this session, and therefore I trust that the Bill will have a speedy passage.
– In view of the explanation of the Minister, I can assure him that the hope he has just expressed will have early realization. I see nothing to prevent this Bill going through as expeditiously as the forms of the House will permit. It is one of a class of Bills of which we may expect to have to consider many during the next few years. It was inevitable, in the introduction of our new system of defence, that experience would from time to time indicate where the existing law required strengthening or amendment. It was clear to any one who considered our first measure that alterations in it would become necessary. The only point to which I think reference need be made now is the evidence this Bill affords of a clearer recognition of the fact that there is the closest possible (relationship between the Australian and the Imperial Navy. This Bill indicates that it is the desire and intention of the Government that every facility shall be given to bring about the most complete cooperation of the two Navies. I welcome the Bill, not merely as an evidence of that desire, but as a piece of legislative machinery which we should all desire to give effect to. Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
Section twenty-one of the Principal Act is amended by inserting at the end of sub-section (2.) the words “ and of persons who are liable under the Defence Act to be trained in the Citizen Forces and who are allotted to the Naval Forces.”
.- This is the clause which deals with those who are liable under the Defence Act to be drawn from the Citizen Forces into the Naval Reserve.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 -
Section thirty-six of the Principal Act Is amended by inserting after the words “ Naval Discipline Act” the words “and. the Naval Discipline (Dominion Naval Forces) Act1911.”
– This and the following clause are the clauses which recognise and bring into force, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, the provisions of the Naval Discipline (Dominion Naval Forces) Act1911, to which I have already referred.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Training of persons serving on board ship).
– This is the clause which covers the case of men following seafaring occupations, and bound to compulsory service in the Naval Reserve. It also deals with the question of our navigationlaw, to which I have previously referred. ,
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6, and title, agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Standing Orders suspended and Bill passed through its remaining stages.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 4th December, vide page 6360).
Clause 3 - (1.) In this Act unless the contrary intention appears - “ Commonwealth “ includes any Territory which is partof the Commonwealth and any authority under the Commonwealth : “ Dependants “ means such of the members of the workman’s family as were wholly or in part dependent upon the earnings of the workman at the time ofhis death, or ‘who would, but for the incapacity due to the accident, have been so dependent; and where the . workman.
Senator McGREGOR South AustraliaVice President of the Executive Council) [3.57]. -It has been considered necessary tomake some amendments in this Bill’, in order to include the members of the Naval and Military Defence Forces. This was suggested in another place, and also in the Senate, and the matter having received consideration, amendments to this effect will be moved. As they concern members of the Defence Force, I have asked Senator Pearce to take charge of these amendments.
– . 1 should like the Minister to inform the Committee as to the scope of the Bill. 1 wish to know whether it will apply to the Northern Territory and such areas under the control of the Commonwealth as Papua and Thursday I sland ?
– Under the Bill, “ Commonwealth “ will include any territory which is a part of the Commonwealth, and any authority under the Commonwealth. From a territorial point of view, of course, it would not include Papua, and 1 assume that that is what the honorahle senator is really anxious about. An “ authority under the Commonwealth “ will include many things which may render the Commonwealth responsible forcompensation to workmen injured in connexion with contracts and work carried out by its authority.
– Is it not possible to include Papua ?
– The honorable senator will recognise that the Legislative Council of Papua, under the legislation we have passed, is given power to pass Ordinances conferring benefits of this kind upon residents of that Territory. It is consequently unnecessary to include Papua in this Bill.We all hope that the day will soon come when Papua will have so developed as to become an integral part of the Commonwealth.
– I propose to move an amendmrnt upon the definition of “ Dependents.” In the Act recently passed in South Australia these words are used - where the workman, being the parent of an illegitimate child with respect to which the workman has contributed maintenance in his lifetime, or has signed an agreement for support, or in respect of which child any maintenance or prematernity order has been made against the workman.
I move -
That after the word “ child “ where first occurring in paragraph (a) the words “ or in respect of which child anv maintenance or prematernity order has been made against the workman “ be inserted.
In view especially of recent legislation by this Parliament, it will be admitted that that is a very proper provision to insert, and it needs no argument to establish its fairness.
– As Senator Vardon has already said, the fairness of the amendment he has moved is apparent. In view of the fact that there are other amendments to be made in the Bill, and it will be necessary that it should be returned to another place, I do not see how the Government can refuse to accept the amendment.
– I have not risen for the purpose of in any way rebutiing the claim which Senator Vardon has advanced in support of his amendment. Like the Vice-President of the Executive Council, I support it most cordially. ButI cannot understand why there should be any limitation imposed at all, and why the mere fact that a person is dependent upon the injured workman should not of itself constitute the claim for compensation under this Bill. There are circumstances other than blood relationship which should surely be recognised as constituting a claim for compensation under this measure. We all know of the case of childless married couples who adopt the children of other persons without going through any legal process of adoption.
– The adopted child is provided for in the Bill.
– I am not speaking of what might be called a legally ad pted child. Cases must have come within the knowledge of honorable senators where it would be difficult to prove legal adoption, but not difficult to show that adopted persons were entirely dependent upon the workman who was injured or killed. Dependence upon the injured workman should constitute a claim for compensation. It is for this reason that we say that every industry should provide for its maimed and killed. That is recognised as a fair charge upon industry, and is the basis of all Workmen’s Compensation Acts. That being so, we have to ask the question : To whom should compensation be paid? We have accepted the principle that it shall be paid to the dependents of the injured workmen, and in this Bill have enumerated those who, whether because of blood relationship or relationship by marriage, may be considered dependents. I say there shnuld be no limitation of the time. The mere fact that some one is dependent upon the bread-winner who has lost his life, or become incapacitated, as the result of injury in the course of his employment, should constitute the sole claim for the compensation provided for in the schedule to this Bill.
– I should be pleased if Senator Vardon would agree to a slight alteration of his amendment to bring it into conformity with the drafting of the clause, and make it read - or of a child in respect of which any maintenance or prematernity order has been made.
– I am willing to accept that.
Amendment amended accordingly.
– I had hoped that some member of the Government would have justified the limitation in this Bill under the heading of “ dependents.” As Ministers are not prepared to do so, I will ask Senator Vardon to withdraw his amendment temporarily in order that I may take the sense of the Committee upon the proposition as to whether there should be any qualification for the right to share in the compensation provided for under this Bill than the mere fact that the person making a claim was dependent upon the breadwinner, who lost his life, or became incapacitated. Tf Senator Vardon will withdraw his amendment, 1 shall move to leave out the words “such of the members of the workman’ s family as were,” with a view should that be carried of moving the insertion of the words “any one who was.” The paragraph would then read - “ Dependants “ means any one who was wholly or in part dependent upon the earnings of the workman at the time of his death, or who would, but for the incapacity due to the accident have been so dependent ;
I need not capitulate what 1 have said. If we admit the principle that an industry should compensate those injured in following it, we have then only to consider the question - to whom shall the compensation be made? And I say that any one who is dependent upon the injured workman is entitled to compensation quite irrespective of any tie of blood relationship.
– I ask leave to withdraw my amendment temporarily.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I hope that Senator Millen will not persist with his proposed amendment. It would make the provision too wide, and would lead to a great deal of litigation, while every Court in Australia would probably give a different decision as to who was a dependant. Here wehave a definition of “ dependants.” The amendment that Senator Vardon has suggested would widen that term without materially affecting it from a legal point of view. Many men meet with fatal accidents who have fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and adopted children. If a case went to Court, the claimant would have to prove dependency upon the deceased. That is where the trouble would come in.
– That would have to be proved now.
– No ; the Bill defines what a dependent is. I hope that Senator Millen will not take steps to create more difficulty than will arise from the definition already in the Bill, with the amendment of Senator Vardon, which we are prepared to accept.
– The reply of the Minister has not convinced me. He says that the difficulty is to prove dependence. But the Bill as it stands compels the claimant to prove dependence. It is not merely that the Bill provides that a claimant has to be a member of the family of the injured person ; that is only one qualification. The next is that the members of the family have to be wholly or in part dependent upon the workman injured. That isto say, some kind of dependency has to be proved before the authorities. As far as the legaldifficulty isconcerned, ‘the only difference between the Bill as it stands, and as it . would stand . if my suggestion were adopted, is this: Asthe Bill stands, the claimant will have to prove two things - that he was a member of the workman’s family, and that he was dependent wholly or in part upon the workman’s earnings. Under my suggestion, he will have to prove one thing - that he was dependent upon the workman injured. I am quite prepared ‘to refrain from moving an amendment if any substantial reason is given, but the reason given by the Vice-President of the Executive Council cannot be regarded in that light at all.
– Let us assume the case of a workman who, as sometimes happens, makes a charity allowance of 2s. 6d. or 5s. a week to some old person, probably in consideration of affection or of some earlier attachment between them. The person in receipt of that allowance would, to some extent, be dependent, upon the person making it Would he. be a person entitled to compensation under- this. Bill ? I am not quite sure whether Senator Millen intends that, or whether the Government would accept such a responsibility. We know that these small charitable allowances are made to assist a person in indigent circumstances. How would they be affected by the Bill ? “Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) [3.16]. - I do not retreat from the position which I have taken up ; but as no one has indorsed it, I shall not occupy time unnecessarily in pressing the view which other honorable senators do not entertain, or which they entertain in such a doctrinaire fashion that . they have not enough energy to get up and say so.
Amendment (by . Senator Vardon) pro posed -
That after the word “ child “ where first occurring in paragraph(a) the following words be inserted : - “ or of a child in respect of which any maintenance or prematernity order has been made.”
– Do I understand that Senator Millen has withdrawn his amendment?
-He did not move it.
SenatorSTEWART.- Then the honorable senator merely got up and uttered a particular sentiment, ‘ after which he seemedto be so alarmed at his own liber ality that he suddenly collapsed. I intended to’ support him.I did not spring to’ my feet immediately, it is true, and say how delighted I was to find Saul among the prophets. But, apparently, the honorable senator was so frightened at the generosity, which, in his excitement, he had manifested, that he suddenly collapsed.
– I have something else to do than to stiffen the weak knees of a number of weak people like you.
– I believe the honT orable senator would have secured a good deal of support if he had moved an amendment. I was delighted to find him taking up such an attitude. In fact, we have no precedent for such an attitude being taken up by an honorable senator of his party. If he will move his amendment at a later period, I shall give him my hearty sup: port
Amendment agreed to.
Clause further consequentially amended.
– I move -
That the words “ or (c) any member of. the Naval or Military Forces of the Commonwealth be left out.
Paragraph c of the definition of “ workman “ excludes members of the Naval” and’ Military Forces from the operation of this Bill. It was thought at the time this Bil was drafted that their case was fully met by the Naval and Military Defence Acts respectively. But the matter has been gone.into more fully since the discussion that took place elsewhere, and it has been felt that the cases are only met to some extent, and that instances occur from time to time which are not met at all. It is, therefore proposed to include members of the Naval” and Military Forces under the Bill.O course, they will have a double resource. If they choose, they may avail themselves of the regulations under the Naval and Military Defence Acts; or they may chooseto take advantage of the benefits conferred by this Bill. But they will have to make their choice. As honorable senators canwell understand, there are cases which make it desirable to retain the regulations relating to compensation under the Navaland Military Defence Acts ; but, at the same time, it is not desired to exclude members of the Forces from the benefits of this Bill.
– Would the em. ployes of the Clothing Factories be classed as members of the Forces?
– Who are embraced within that category?
– The regular soldiers, the non-commissioned officers, staff sergeants, members of the Army Service Corps, members of the Permanent Army Medical Corps, and so forth.
– In time of peace.
– Yes, of course.
– I direct attention to a point raised by Senator Russell’s question. I am particularly pleased that the Minister of Defence desires to extend the operation of this Bill to members of the Naval and Military Forces - a pleasure, the bona fides of which are evidenced by the fact that I urged this course in my speech last evening. The point that occurs to my mind is whether, under the amendment suggested by the Minister, members of the Naval and Military Forces upon active service would not be included under the Bill. It is quite clear that they ought not to be included, and the Minister does not intend that they should be. We all recognise that if, unfortunately, any of our Forces were engaged in war, the provisions in this Bill would not cover them. Extraordinary conditions of that kind would call for extraordinary provisions to meet them. Butif we adopt the amendment now submitted, the position will be this: that “ workmen “ would include any member of the Naval and Military Forces. We surely do not intend that. I direct the attention of the Minister to this point in order that we may, if necessary, add one or two words to make it quite clear that the Bill is to apply to the Naval and Military Forces in times of peace. I suggest for the Minister’s consideration, unless he is satisfied that my fear is groundless, that instead of omitting paragraph c from the definition of “ workman “ he should allow the paragraph to stand, and add to it the words “ when engaged upon active service.” That would mean that a “ workman “ would not include a member of the Naval and Military Forces when engaged upon active service; but when not so engaged he would be covered by the Bill. Whether the words which I suggest to be added would meet the case in a legal sense I do not know, but the Minister has his draftsman behind him, who will be able to suggest terms that would cover what is to be understood by “active service.” .
– Would an accident at a review be “ acti ve service “ ?
– No, active service is actual warfare.
– The term would have to be defined.
– The first thing to be determined is whether it is intended that this Bill shall apply to our Naval and Military Forces in time of war. I presume that the answer to that question is no. The next question is whether the Bill is to apply to members of the Forces when not engaged on active service. That is what is intended. If the idea is accepted, the matter of finding proper terms will not be insurmountable.
– The questions raised by Senator Millen came before the law officers of the Crown when they were engaged in considering the amendment I have proposed. They advise that a wound or injury causedin war is not an “ accident “ within the meaning of this Bill. Clause 4 is the governing clause. It provides that -
If personal injury by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment is caused to a workman in the service of the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth shall, etcetera. A wound or injury in war is not an “ accident “ within the meaning of that clause.
– Suppose a man were to slip off a gun carriage; that would be an accident.
– When troops were mobilizing, a man might break his leg. That, I presume, would be held to be an accident.
-Colonel Cameron. - What about malingering? In a case of that kind we shall have to be careful.
– We shall have to deal with malingering in any case under this Bill. It is, however, the opinion of the Crown Law officers that it not necessary specifically to exclude “ active service,” because injuries so received do not come within the category of “ accidents.”
– The reply of the Minister of Defence suggests a doubt as to whether the Bill is explicit on the point. I do suggest that we should put the matter beyond doubt. Let us take the version which the Minister has given us as the opinion of his legal advisers. It is quite evident that they hadin their winds the case of men who are wounded on active service, but many men suffer accidents quite apart from the wounds which may be inflected by an enemy ; for instance, in mobilization, as the Minister has just suggested. All these injuries arise from a state of war, and ought to be dealt with under a special provision, which, I believe, Parliament will readily enact whenever it is invited to consider the matter. We have no right to differentiate between a man who is incapacitated by an accident in the course of war, and a man who is incapacitated by a wound inflicted by an enemy. The Minister’s remarks clearly indicated that his legal advisers kept their eyes on one class of incapacity, and that is incapacity arising from a wound inflicted by an enemy. I understand that for every one individual who suffers from the bullets of an enemy, there is a large number who are incapacitated by other causes. I hold that we have no right to include these cases in this Bill, and that they should be dealt with in a separate measure.
– I quite recognise, as Senator Millen does, that it will be necessary, if a war eventuates, to make special provision for the wounded and the killed. But I do not think that there will be any great harm done if a person does make a claim. Suppose that a person does make a claim, and is entitled to receive compensation, I have no doubt that any measure which Parliament may pass in the future to deal with the case of men on active service will provide that a man shall not receive double compensation.
– In order to cover both classes of case, I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That paragraph c be amended by the addition of the words “ while employed on active service.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4 - (1.) If personal injury by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment is caused to a workman in the service of the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth shall, subject to this Act, be liable to pay compensation in accordance with the First Schedule to this Act. (2.) Provided that -
– I move -
That paragraph a of sub-clause 2 be left out.
I cannot discover any good reason for . 1 provision of this character. If a man is injured, and is only incapacitated from his work for one day, I think that he ought to be compensated for that day. Why the period of one week has been inserted I have not been able to understand.
– Do you think he would be deprived of his day’s wage?
-I have known a Government to deprive a man of his day’s wage I do not think that this matter should be left to the good-will of any Government, because the Opposition might be in power some day, and they, of course, would dock a man the moment he met with an accident. If a man is injured and off work for a week, apparently he is to get no compensation. His wages may be£3 per week; his injury may cost him £2 or £3 in doctor’s fees, and that sort of thing.
– He will get compensation if he is off for a week.
– The provision says that a man must be off for a full week. Suppose that a man is off for five days, he will get nothing. I do not see the equity of the provision.
– Do you think that he would go back for a day ?
-Colonel Cameron. - He will get his wages.
– We are not entitled to assume that at all. Suppose that a man is idle for five days, and goes to work on the sixth day ; he is to get no compensation for the five days, whereas if he stays away for another day or two, or for a week, he will get compensation.
– Can you imagine him going to work on the sixth day?
– This is holding out a premium for fraud. The Minister suggests that a workman, knowing the law, will abstain from going to work on the sixth day, although he is able to do so, because he knows he will get no compensation if he returns. The honest and equitable thing to do is to pay a man compensation if he is off a single hour through injury.
– We are following out a universal practice. In the case of every trade union connected with mining, engineering, and almost everything else where there are benefits arising from accident or sickness, Or even, so far as carpenters are concerned, from unemployment the very same stipulation is made. This principle obtains in connexion with friendly societies accident funds and Workmen’s Compensation Acts. The rule has not been arrived at without some very serious discussion, because in every union with which I have been connected there have been a few members of the same inclination as Senator Stewart. This provision is based upon the experience of generations. As regards this Bill, the Treasurer has declared that a week is to mean six working days. I am sure that Senator Stewart will admit that an accident is of a very trifling character which will keep a man away from his work for one or two or four days.
– Why should he lose any money?
– Because he is the luckiest man in the world, not to be disabled for more than a week. That is why friendly societies, trade unions, and every one else adopted this principle. A man is lucky not to lose a week. Senator Stewart must recollect that under the Workmen’s. Compensation Act, and every system of that description, the benefit which a man may receive is only a proportion of that which he does receive when he is in actual work. Consequently, it is no encouragement for an honest man to discontinue his labour simply because he is going to get ha If -pay if he is idle a day or two longer. I think that the honorable senator ought to be satisfied with the experience of the numerous trade unions which have accident funds.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has given reasons for retaining this sub-clause, which I have no doubt are perfectly satisfactory to himself-
– And to the majority of the people. connected with these matters.
– The honorable senator has quoted the example of trade unions, and I suppose that when he mentions them he expects that at least every Labour senator here will bow the head to their supreme authority.
– Oh, no.
– My experience of trade unions is that they are extremely Conservative in many cases, that they are not abreast of modern thought, more especially in this department of legislation. In regard to friendly societies and others, I am not particularly concerned. Apart from precedent, the Minister has advanced no tangible reason why my amendment should be rejected. The honorable senator’s presence in this Chamber is a violation of all precedent. He has intruded himself into what has hitherto been considered the sacred preserves of capital.
– He did not intrude himself. He was sent here by the people.
– The fact remains that if precedent had been necessary for the honorable senator’s entry into this Chamber he would never have got here. I have heard no reason why the arbitrary term of one week should be fixed, though, no doubt, the trade unions had a good reason for such a provision. I know something of the history of trade unions, and I have often found that some of them hold very strange opinions. I have known trade unions at the meetings’ of which anything of a political nature was ruled on* of order. In many other ways the practices of trade unions have been extremely old-fashioned, and it is probably this conservative tendency on their part that is responsible for the arbitrary period- of One week. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has said that a man has a right to consider himself the most lucky fellow in the world if, as the result of an accident, he is not incapacitated for more than a week, but the man who does not meet with an accident is still more lucky. I can imagine many accidents which, though not of a serious character, might incapacitate a man, and compel him. to be absent from his work for five days. All 1 claim is that in such cases the workman should be paid compensation for the time he has been compelled to be absent from his work as the result of an accident, which may be due to neglect on the part of his employer, or to something in connexion with his employment over which neither the employer nor the employ^ had any control. A workman ought not to be asked to accept risks of that character. If, as the result of an accident, a workman is compelled to be absent from his employment for one day he should be paid for that day. This arbitrary term of one week is one of the most stupid and conservative propositions I ever heard of, and I am astounded that any Labour Government should ever have dreamed of introducing it. This is one of the things I used often to wonder at in the State Workmen’s Compensation Act. The State Parliaments, ruled by capitalistic Governments, have always grabbed eagerly at this exemption from payment of compensation for a period of a week Probably one reason was that they did not care to encourage men to gammon that they had been injured. We should assume that every man is honest until the contrary has been proved. In connexion with Bills of this kind I have listened to debates of the most sickening character. Representatives of capital have got up on their hind legs in the Parliament of the country, and assumed that a workman is necessarily bo wicked a character that he would put himself in the way of being maimed or disabled in order that he might claim compensation. That is taking a very low and uncharitable view of the human family. None of us is as good as he ought to be, and the average workman is as good as the best of us. He is no more inclined to malinger and pretend that he is hurt than is anybody else. If it is proved that a man has been pretending to be injured the law can deal with him, but in this Parliament we should assume that he is perfectly honest. I go upon the assumption that every man is honest.
– The honorable senator will be taken down if he does.
– That is the principle I am prepared to act upon, and I have found it to be a safe principle. Of course, one needs to take a very close ob servation of his man before he arrives at a. conclusion. If a man is absent through injury for one, two, or three days he should be compensated as well as if he were absent for a week. The provision in this Bill merely holds out an inducement to an injured workman to remain away from his employment for six days, because he will know that unless he does so he will be entitled to no compensation.
– No, it will induce him to go fo work.
– Why should he do so if he has been injured? Would the honorable senator compel a man to go to work when he could only do so with serious difficulty? I have known workmen on many occasions drag their poor limbs to work for the sake of their wives and children when they ought to be at home in their beds. We have in the Senate a majority representing the working people of this country, and we ought not to lend our countenance to anything of this kind. I trust that the majority of the members of the Committee will support the amendment I have moved, notwithstanding the position taken up by the Government.
– I could not support Senator Stewart in the abolition of this provision, but I think that a modification of it is desirable. I have known injured men to return to work before they should have done so, because they knew they would get no compensation or wages unless they returned to their work within a certain time. I recollect the case of a man who received a painful injury, and returned to work before he should have done so, with the result that he was subsequently laid up for three months. If the injury which a workman has received prevents him from returning to work for five days, why should he not be compensated to the extent of his wages <=. for that time?
– He will be if he remains away another day. There is an inducement to him to remain away for six days.
– In that case it would be an inducement to the workman to do what was wrong in order to secure compensation. There is a good deal in the contention of Senator Stewart, and I say that if a man is unable, as the result of an accident, to return to his work for three, four, or five days he should be compensated for the loss of his wages.
– How long would the honorable senator suggest?
– T think that fortyeight hours should be sufficient. I know that in the case of friendly societies sick pay commences from the time of the receipt by the authorities of the society of the doctor’s certificate. In all the circumstances, some modification of this provision is reasonable and desirable.
– I should like to be as generous as most members of the Committee, but we have in matters of this kind to be guided by experience. I can speak as one who has had considerable experience of the working of accident funds in connexion with men engaged in one of the most dangerous occupations, that of coal-mining. It is impossible to ignore facts ; and miners’ unions have found it necessary to take precautions to prevent men taking advantage of their fellow-men by unfairly drawing upon sick and accident funds. At one time in the Newcastle con I -mining district the miners engaged at all the mines in the district contributed to a general fund, and payments were made from the fund in the same general way. lt was found that under that system the demands upon the accident fund were so much greater than the contributions to it that the system had to be abandoned, and every mine was put upon its own financial basis. The object of this was to prevent the accident fund being imposed upon, and each local committee is held responsible for the proper administration of the fund. The Newcastle district is not singular in that respect, but similar precautions have had to be adopted in other places. Under the New South Wales Workmen’s Compensation Act, and under the Western Australian Act, no compensation is paid for two weeks, and in this’ Bill we have, therefore, adopted the happy medium. Senator Barker has admitted the necessity for some limit of time - whether it be an hour, a day, a week, or two weeks. Years of experience of the working of the sick and accident funds of trade unions have shown the necessity for a provision of this kind to prevent imposition.
– That is due to the limitation of the funds.
– I grant that; but, as trustees of the public, it is our duty to safeguard the public funds. I believe that the limit of a week, proposed in the Bill, is a very safe limit to adopt.
– I have been watching with some curiosity the efforts of honorable senators to ride two horses at the one time. In a circus such an effort affords amusement to the onlookers, if it does no great credit to the performers. I wish to put a fact before the Committee which will determine my vote on this matter if a division is called for. lt is immaterial to me whether a provision of this kind finds a place in the Compensation Acts that apply to private employment, because under our Public Service Act persons permanently employed in the service of the Commonwealth are given full pay if they are absent through sickness from their work for only a day.
– That is not accident or sick pay. .
– It is better-; it is full pay. We need not, in the circumstances, be influenced by the statement that in several Compensation Acts, and in accordance with the practice of trade unions and friendly societies, a provision of this kind is included. The question I put to the Committee is this, Is there any justification for differentiating between the treatment of permanent and of temporary employes of the Public Service? I cannot see that there is; and for that reason I shall vote for striking out the restriction to which Senator Stewart has directed attention.
– Senator Millen did not do himself justice when, in the preface to his remarks, he said that he did not propose to bring logic to bear upon the point at issue. I doubt very much whether we have ever heard the honorable senator to better advantage from a logical point of view ; because, by his arrangement, he completely annihilated the opposition to the very humane proposal of Senator Stewart. The principle sought to be applied to this measure is one that is recognised by many private employers. Surely when we find the employers voluntarily recognising the principle, and placing no small burden upon themselves in consequence, we ought not to be slow to ask the Commonwealth, which is the greatest of all employers, to follow suit. I know from the experience of many years that the principle for which Senator Stewart contends has been recognised by the Amalgamated Miners Associations ever since I have been connected with them. Some friendly societies recognise the principle also. It has to be remembered that the loss of a day’s wages is a very serious matter to a working man. Not only is it a penalty upon the man himself, but it brings suffering and disappointment to the members of his family. I think the Government might accept the amendment .with a good grace.
– What sort of an accident will keep a man away from his employment for less than six days?
– An accident to a man’s hand or eye might temporarily incapacitate him, whilst not keeping him away from work for a very lengthy period.
– I cannot go the whole way with Senator Stewart in regard to this clause, but I think it should be amended. I should like to see the word “ week “ deleted, and the word “ day “ inserted. I believe that in those States of Australia where Workmen’s Compensation Acts are in existence the period is one fortnight.
– In Western Australia it is so. In that State, however, there is a proposal to reduce the period to one week. The Government have set an example in introducing this Bill, and I suggest that they should go a step further, and make the period of disablement one day instead of one week. We have had some argument on the matter of malingering. I do not think that any workman, who is a man at all, would malinger, because the very fact of malingering means that he receives less for his family than he receives when engaged in full employment. There is a provision in this Bill which protects the Government against the wilful and suicidal acts of an employ^. If a workman, in the course of his employment, gets his finger hurt, it does not necessarily mean that he remains out of employment for a week. I have had thumbs and toes injured, and was at work next day. _ I shall support an amendment which will indicate that the compensation should start after the first day of injury.
– ls it worth while to quarrel about one day?
– In some friendly societies the payment of the allowance during sickness commences from the day the doctor’s certificate is forwarded to the secretary.
– In some societies if n man is sick for less than a week he does not get paid.
– In the society to which I belong, if I become sick to-day, and procure a doctor’s certificate, my allowance commences forthwith.
– That is not so in the lodge of which I am a member.
– The question has been raised as to what expense will be involved if we make the term one day instead of one week. I do not think that the increase will be appreciable. If we are to pass a Workmen’s Compensation Bill, let us make the job as perfect as possible, or else leave it alone.
– The Minister has asked whether there are any societies in which the payment of sick pay commences from the day of sickness. The Miners’ Accident Association, Charters Towers, and the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows, pay on account of accidents from the time the doctor’s certificate is filed.
– So it would be under this Bill. Those who say it would not do not understand it.
– I understand that, under this Bill, a man would not receive sick pay until he had been one week sick. Suppose that a miner, following his occupation, gets a piece of steel in his eye on the night shift. Suppose that he goes to the doctor next morning. The doctor removes the piece of steel, and gives the man a certificate certifying that he will not be able to follow his employment for two or three days. His sick pay commences at once. Honorable senators have only to look at the monthly reports issued in districts where there are Miners’ Accident Associations at work to see that that is so They will see that there are men on the list for two days, three days, a week, or a fortnight. As soon as the accident occurs, and the doctor gives his certificate, a man gets his’ pay. That is what Senator Stewart’s amendment provides. If the Government are going to pass such a measure, they should follow the lines laid down by friendly societies and accident associations, as well as by many private employers. The difference is not worth quibbling about. The clause as it stands will induce men to malinger. If a man is injured slightly, and knows that he will not get sick pay until he has been away a week from his employment, he will stay away for a week.
That consideration alone ought to guide us. A man may be ready to go to work again at the end of three days. But if he cannot get sick pay until he has been away a week, he will be inclined to stay away a week. The amendment is a well considered one, and I shall support it.
– - It seems to me that the curse of most good legislation consists in absurd restrictions with which it is surrounded, and that are mostly founded upon a more or less conservative distrust of the people. What is the alleged reason for the restriction which Senator Stewart’s amendment seeks to wipe out. It is a fear of what is called malingering. But if a man knew that he would not get any sick pay for less than six days’ abstention from work, he would be dead sure to make it six days, if he made it any period at all.
– If a man is given to malingering, he will make the period as long as he can.
– That interjection is not logical. This clause offers an inducement to a man to make the period of abstention long. A statesman now dead said that it was the duty of Governments, as far as they could, to make it easy to do right and difficult to do wrong. Here we are shown, by the remarks of Ministers and their supporters, that the ordinary man will deliberately malinger. Surely it is better to trust to the honesty of the average man. The average man will know whether his accident justifies him in making a claim and bringing the necessary proof that it is a valid one. If he is incapacitated for an absurdly short time, probably he will not make a claim, though I have known that to be done in the case of lodges. When I first read the Bill I thought that this restriction of one week was absurd, and I still hold that view. No solid argument has been adduced to show that a man is not entitled to compensation if he is deprived of the ability to earn his wages during any period, no matter how short it may be. We all claim that, generally speaking, workmen deserve and require every penny which they earn. An accident which deprives a man of 52 s. means that his average weekly wage for the year is reduced by1s. That is a matter of considerable importance to the ordinary person. The loss through an accident may amount to or £4. In a measure of this kind we have no right to put a man under such a disability. It seems to me that Ministers fallaciously imagine that to give compensation to a workman is an act of charity. If that is their view, we have no right to be charitable at the expenseof the taxpayers to Commonwealth servants, but if we take the stand that it is an act of justice to compensate a man if he loses through an accident what might amount to £20 in wages, it is equally an act of justice to compensate a man who loses through an accident £1 in wages. Therefore, I intend to vote for the amendment. Those who have referred to trade unions and friendly societies are not right if they assert that a week’s restriction is universal, and if they merely use it as an argument because it is a precedent, I say that the precedent is of no special value, and certainly is not applicable to this case.
– I think that the Government have put in this Bill the restriction of one week because the vast majority of Workmen’s Compensation Acts are based upon one week as a unit from which compensation to a workman shall begin. I prefer to stand by the experience of the Legislatures of the world, notwithstanding that we are a Commonwealth, rather than fall back upon a restriction of three clays, or two days, or one hour. The practice of trade unio ns has been cited. Probably some trade unions compensate their members if they are out of work through illness for a day or two days.
– Some do.
– It is evident that some trade unions pay for one day’s loss of work, and that others pay for two days loss of work. Every man who is paying into a trade union is paying into an insurance fund to protect himself when he is thrown out of work for a day or two. In a Workmen’s Compensat ion Bill we cannot provide that an employer shall give adequate compensation for the injury which a worker receives until we have an insurance measure. Without those two measures every compensation scheme is bound to be more or less defective. The Government do not want compensation to be mistaken for insurance, and this is not an Insurance Bill. I admit that it is not perfectly just or fair that a man who is paid by the hour should lose his pay when he meets with an accident.
. -I cannot agree that there is any particular reason why compensation should be limited to cases in which there is a week’s illness. I dare say that many honorable senators know of cases where a man has been wholly incapacitated from working in a mine, although the incapacity did not last for a week. I am concerned with mining companies, which pay when a man is disabled for less than a week. On the other hand, we have heard that there is a danger of malingering. ‘ I have drafted an amendment which I think will meet both cases, and that is to add to paragraph a the following words - unless a duly appointed medical practitioner has certified that the workman has been wholly incapacitated for some lesser period.
– Who will pay for the certificate?
– The Bill provides that no compensation shall be paid to a workman without the production of a doctor’s certificate. I think that my amendment will meet those who wish to see a man compensated if he is injured for three days, and, at the same time, those who desire to take adequate precaution against the danger of malingering. I ask Senator Stewart to adopt my suggestion.
– If I fail to carry my amendment, you can propose the addition of those words as an amendment.
– I move the amendment, sir.
– There is already an amendment before the Chair, and that is to strike paragraph a out of sub-clause 2.
– I would point out to you, sir, that if Senator Stewart’s amendment iscarried there will be no paragraph a for me to tack these words to. I desire to know if I can move the amendment now ?
-The honorable senator cannot move an amendment, because there is already an amendment before the Chair.
– I intend to vote for the amendment of Senator Stewart, because I think that a man should get payment just as much if he is laid up by accident for a day as if he is laid up for a week. The Bill relates to casual employes of the Commonwealth. I believe that if an employe loses a day or two through an accident, a deduction will be made from his fortnightly wages, and, therefore, it is quite right that he should receive compensation for the accident. As the secretary of a trades union I have had many years’ experience in the administration of an insurance fund, and they pay for one or two days, as the case may be. It recognises that, whatever time a man may lose, he is entitled to a certain amount. I admit that some trade unionsdo not follow that course. During ten years I have never known a man to ask for a day’s pay, but I have known a man to apply for two days’ pay. If the provision is deleted, I do not think that men will be found applying for one or twodays’ pay if they lose that time through an accident.
– Judging from the drafting of the “Bill, the Government have followed the Seamen’s Compensation Act. In 1909 a Conservative Government brought down a Seamen’s Compensation Bill, of which this clause was part and parcel, but the High Court for certain reasons ruled that the Act was ultra vires. In 1910, the present Government brought down a Seamen’s Compensation Bill containing this very provision. While it was under consideration here, the Government knew that a seaman had certain rights under the Merchant Shipping Act. These rights have been confirmed by the Senate in connexion with the Navigation Bill, and one right is that, if a man is injured or hurt in following his avocation, he is entitled to medical attendance and maintenance until he is cured, or dies, or is brought back to the place wherehe signed In the Seamen’s Compensation Bill no attempt was made to repeal that provision of the Merchant Shipping Act, and consequently the moment that a man is hurt he has a claim upon his employer to maintenance and medical attendance.
-Bear in mind that he is on board ship all the while, and cannot get away.
– He may or may not be on the ship. He may be in a hospital.
– On the ship?
– If a man meets with an accident on a wharf in Melbourne, he is immediately taken by an ambulance to a hospital, and the ship-owner is responsible for his medical attendance and maintenance, in addition to the compensation. Yet here in connexion with servants of the Commonwealth we repudiate medical attendance, maintenance, and wages for seven days. Is it fair that we should saddle the private employer with obligations which the Commonwealth Government should not be asked to bear? The members of this Senate voted for these provi- sions in the Seamen’s Compensation Act two years ago, when the present Opposition were in possession of the Government benches, and when the High Court ruled that that Act was ultra vires honorable senators again passed a similar law.
-It is right to point out that the same provision appeared in both Acta
– That is the very point I am making. Each Act provided for medical attendance and maintenance of the injured seaman until he was cured, died, or was brought back to the port in which he shipped. Senator Stewart’s amendment is a very modest one. It would provide merely that an injured workman should be paid his wages while he was, unable to return to his work. It should not be forgotten that his first week’s wages would probably go to the doctor, and he would have, in addition, to providefor his maintenance until he was able to return to work. 1 hope that the amendment will be carried, and that the Government will not be so foolish as to continue to oppose it.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [4.54].-I have listened patiently to all the arguments in support of the amendment. I have considered the matter with an open mind, but I do not see my way to support the amendment. It is futile to speak of a time limit of twenty-four hours, or forty-eight hours, and I recognise that it is a question of accepting Senator Stewart’s amendment or the clause as it stands. I intend to support the Government should a division be taken on the matter. I have examined various Workmen’s Compensation Acts passed by other Legislatures, and in every one I find provision made for a period of seven days before an injured workman is entitled to compensation. In the Seamen’s Compensation Act, which we passed in this Chamber as recently as the 18th December of last year, provision is made that the employer of an injured seaman shall be liable to compensation in accordance with the schedule to the Act -
Provided that the employer shall not be liable under this Act in respect to any injury which does not disable the seaman for a periodof at least one week from earning full wages.
That is a provision contained in the last Act dealing with this matter which this Parliament has passed. Senator Guthrie’s references to the Seamen’s Compensation Act do not bear out his contention. We do not propose to make any alteration in the com pensation to be paid to persons injured in the employment of the Commonwealth Government. Whatever their regular rate of wages may be, it must be paid to them without reference to the fact that they will be entitled to compensation in the event of injury incapacitating them from work for anytime. This compensation will be something superadded. We have heard a great deal about what is done by trade unions and friendly societies. We may assume that the members of trade unions take good care to do what is fair and reasonable in their own interests, and we know that they have been considering this question for more than a quarter of a century.
– They are still considering it.
– It should not be forgotten that trade unions have their own accident funds which are provided by contributions from the members of the union, possibly from employers, and also from the Government. The point is that these funds are contributory funds. I have some experience of a system of the kind in operation in New South Wales, because I happen to be a member of the Board of the Miners Accident Relief Fund in that State. That is a purely contributory fund, to which the miners contribute so much a week, and to which the employers and the Government also contribute. Injured miners are entitled to a weekly compensation from that fund during the time they are unable to work.
– In some of the States, the accident fund of trade unions is formed entirely by contributions from members of the unions.
– That only strengthens my case. The contributions to such funds are taken from the wages earned by the members of the union, but the fund from which compensation will be paid under this Bill will not be added to by any deduction from the wages earned by men in the employment of the Commonwealth. In a case of a contributory fundi a man should not be required to suffer, even though he should lose only half-an-hour’s employment. We should give some weight to the fact that a provision similar to this is to be found in all Workmen’s Compensation Acts. They have received full consideration at the hands of men as able as we are, and as anxious to do a. fair thing. Many private employers pay. their employesfor the time during which they are absent from their employment as the result of sickness or injury, and the Government of the Commonwealth ought not to be less liberal. In the case of permanent employes of the Government, their ordinary rate of pay is continued to them during the time they are ahsent from their employment as the result ot sickness or injury. Many of the temporary employes ot the Government have been engaged in the service for long periods of time. They are paid regular weekly wages, and why should they not be treated in the same way as permanent employes?
– They cannot be so treated.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - Assuming, for the sake of argument, that they were, Senator Stewart says, “I do not wish these men to be given full pay for the time during which they are absent from their work as the result of an injury. I desire that they should receive only 50 per cent, of the usual wages paid to them. If they are earning 10s. a day, I say that they should receive only 5s. a day for the time that they are ahsent from their work as the result of an accident.” I do not think that the honorable senator will receive much support for legislation of that character.
– When did I say that ?
.- That is what the honorable senator’s amendment means. If he took the trouble to make himself acquainted with the schedule to the Bill which regulates the amount of compensation, he would ha.ve found that the payment provided for in case of accident is only 50 per cent, of the ordinary wage. In the circumstances, we should be acting much more fairly by the workman if we supported the Government and passed the clause as it stands.
– Does this Bill provide that an injured workman shall get full wages for any less time than a week?
– No, it does not. Under this Bill, the injured workman would receive no compensation until after the first week, but the period during which compensation would be payable would date from the time he met with the accident, and he would get only 50 per cent, of his ordinary wage.
– But if he is absent for three days as the result of an accident he will get nothing.
.- Under the Bill he would be entitled to no compensation.
– And his wages would be stopped.
– We have not come to the schedule yet; we can amend the schedule.
– We must view the amendment in the light of what is provided for in the schedule. If a workman is absent through injury from his work for three days, he will not be entitled to compensation under this Bill, but if he is in the permanent employ of the Government, he will be entitled to be paid his wages. The difficulty in connexion with the temporary employe is that his services may be required for only a day, but we have a very large number of men in the temporary employment of the Commonwealth who are really continuously employed, and I am sure no member of the Committee would object to their being treated in the same way as we treat our permanent employes.
– We should have to amend the Public Service Act to do that.
– If the Government continue to pay a man his wages, he cannot claim compensation as well.
– My contention is that if Senator Stewart’s amendment be agreed to, we will deprive an injured workman of the possibility of getting his full ‘wages during the time he is absent from his employment. I do not see why the Government should draw a distinction in this Bill between the permanent and temporary employes of the Commonwealth. We have done so in the Public Service Act, and it is now proposed in this Bill that a workman injuredin the course of his employment shall receive only 50 per cent, of his ordinary wages.
– There is no compensation for injury to a permanent emplove.
– If a permanent employe is laid aside in consequence of accident or illness he is given his full wages for a certain period.
– Suppose he meets with a fatal accident?
– That is a different case, and it is provided for. His dependents may receive from £200 to£500, whichever amount more nearly corresponds with three years’ wages. If we regard this matter in the light of experience and the practice pursued by unions and friendly societies, honorable senators will be well advised to stand by the clause as submitted by the Government.
– I intend to stand by the Government in this matter. This is a Workmen’s Compensation Bill, and the recognised principle of such measures is that compensation for injury to a workman is a fair charge upon theindustry in which he is employed. That is a sound principle. It has been said that unless a man is laid up for six days he will get nothing under this Bill. There appears to have been an assumption on the part of some honorable, senators throughout the discussion of this clause that the Government will be less liberal than any private employer, and will do what a private employer would never think of doing. In the case of private employment, if a man is absent from his work for a few days as the result of injury or sickness, his employer, in the majority of cases, pays him his wages for the time he is absent from his work. I do not suppose that any Government in the world would dock an employe of his wages if he were absent for a few days as the result of an accident which occurred in connexion with his employment. Any Government that proposed to treat their employes in that fashion would find that the people would rise up in indignation against them. We know that private employers find it necessary to insure against claims which may be made upon them under Workmen’s Compensation Acts. The Government could do the same thing, or could be their own insurers against such claims. The majority of private employers would not think of stopping a man’s pay because he was absent from his work owing to an accident, for the simple reason that if the employe chose to make a claim for compensation, the employer would have to go to an insurance company, fill up a number of forms, and incur a great deal of trouble, and as it would not be worth his while to do that, he would prefer to pay the man. his wages. We are asked to say that the Commonwealth Government, as an employer, is going to be so mean and shabby that when a man meets with an accident, and remains away from his employment, his pay will be immediately stopped. I believe that the Commonwealth will treat its employes as fairly as a good private employer would ; and my experience is that employers as a rule do pay their men from the time of the occurrence of accident. As a rule, men will do the honest thing, and will not be malingerers. There should be confidence between a Government as employer and the men employed. In order to save a whole lot of trumpery claims, this limitation of a week is laid down, but it will not prevent a man being paid his wages if he is away for two or three days.The laying down of a limitation will make for simplicity in the working of the measure.
Question - That paragraph a, proposed to be left out, be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
– . 1 move -
That after the word “ compensation,” in paragraph (b) of sub-clause 2, the following words be inserted : - “ from the Commonwealth or any person or to receive from the Commonwealth any gratuity or payment in respect of the accident.”
The effect of the amendment will be to provide that if a man who might get compensation under the Defence Act regulations elects to get compensation in that way, he shall not also be compensated under this measure.
Amendment agreed to. .
Senator VARDON (South Australia; [5.18]. -I move -
That the word “ wilful,” paragraph(c), be left out.
The word “ wilful “ is really useless. It is rarely possible to prove wilful misconduct on the part of the workman.
– It is done in the Courts every day.
– No man wilfully puts himself in the way of meeting with an accident. He does not get his leg broken or his hand crushed on purpose.
– But his wilful misconduct may contribute to an accident.
– If the word is not deleted, the whole paragraph will be useless.
.- I wish to give an instance where a man wilfully put himself in the way of meeting with an accident. He was warned not to go into a certain lift. Notwithstanding the warning of his employer, he did enter the lift, and the result was that his foot was crushed. Was not that “ wilful “ misconduct? The .paragraph as it stands is reasonable.’ It would be absurd to strike it out.
Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland; [5.24]. - I move -
That the ‘words “ if it appears that the claimant has a claim,” paragraph (e), be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the’ following words: - “if, within the time hereinafter in this Act limited for taking proceedings an action is brought to recover damages independently of this Act for injury caused by any accident, and it is determined in such action that the injury is one for which the Commonwealth is not liable in such action, but that he would have been liable to pay compensation under the provisions of this Act, the action shall be dismissed ; but the State or Federal Court in which the . action is tried shall, if the plaintiff so choose, proceed to assess such compensation, but may deduct from such compensation all or part of the costs which, in its judgment, have been caused by the plaintiff bringing the action instead of proceeding under this Act. In any proceeding under this sub-section, when the State or Federal Court assesses the compensation it shall give a certificate of the compensation it has awarded and the directions it has given as to the deduction for costs, and such certificate shall have the force and effect of an award under this Act.”
Those words are taken verbatim from a section contained in the English Act, and in five State Acts, with a slight adaptation, inserting the word “Commonwealth” instead of “employer,” and the words “ State and Federal “ where the word “ Court “ is used.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the fact that a clause so worded exists in five State Acts accounts for the increase of lunacy in Australia ? :
– It has been adopted in the legislation of New South Wales, where it was proposed by the
Labour Government of which Senator Rae is a minor, if not an humble, supporter.
– He is an apologist for that Government at the present time. .
– The honorable senator iswrong in the last statement about the Labour party in the State Parliament being the authors.
– If they did not bring it in, they were not fit to be called a Labour party ; and if it was brought in by the Liberal party, so much the better for that party. The honorable senator can have it either way, or on either cheek. The amendment 1 suggest will not add one penny to the cost or the risk already contemplated by the Commonwealth. It will give, not a dual claim to the workman, but only an alternative line of relief. It is asked why a workman should have two chances. The Judicature Act instituted two forms of relief which can be administered by the same Court. In other words, the same Court can give relief at equity or at law, as the case may be. Previously a litigant had to go to the Equity Court to get relief in equity ; and if it turned out that he made a mistake in going to that Court, then he had to go to the Queen’s Bench. The object of the Judicature Act was to afford two lines of relief to suitors in the Supreme Court, irrespective of the two divisions of law and equity. These two lines of relief are now open to every litigant in a Supreme Court throughout the Empire. Why should we not give two lines of relief to Commonwealth workmen, and make the thing sure?
– Make sure of the first line?
-Exactly. If the honorable senator knew the history of litigation prior to the passing of the Judicature Act, he would know that clients were often ruined because the Courts had not the opportunity to give the alternative relief. If a Commonwealth workman mistakes his relief by appealing to the com-, mon law, or to the Employers’ Liability Act, and fails there, why should he not be able to apply for relief under this measure? It is said that it will, give that relief. I ask honorable senators to take the clause as it stands, and see if any provision guarantees to the workman that, if he mistakes his relief, compensation is secured to him under this measure. There is not one provision which makes that clear and sure, and that is why I wish the Committee to insert my amendment. I believe that every workman throughout the Commonwealth, with perhaps the exception of Victoria, has this alternative relief. It is provided, not only in the Imperial Act, but also in the Queensland, New South Wales, South Australian, and New Zealand Acts.
– Will it not weaken the measure?
– No, certainly not ; it will strengthen the measure. Suppose that a young man has his legs or his arms cut off through the wilful negligence of the Commonwealth authorities, £500 will be no compensation for that man if he can prove a case of wilful negligence. £1,ooo may not be sufficient damages to him, nor even .£5,000. If he seeks compensation at common law, or under the Employers’ Liability Act, and fails, then under the State law he is not entirely debarred from getting some relief. He can claim compensation under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, and the Court will assess the damages, deducting the costs occasioned by him in seeking a wrong form of relief. I have had no explanation of why that singularly fair and equitable provision was omitted from this Bill. The Government took clause after clause from the Imperial and State Acts, but dropped the provision which, on its very face, gives an advantage to the worker. It is said that the Bill is sufficiently declaratory in the nutter, but I doubt it. I fear that, unless the Government accept my amendment, a Commonwealth worker who fails to get a remedy under the common law, or the Employers’ Liability Act, will be deprived of any relief at all. Let me now point out the danger of not accepting my suggestion. T credit the Ministry with a sincere desire to do the best they can for their workmen in the circumstances, and not to harass them in any way. I shall quote from a case’ on the point. It is the case of Cribb v. Kynoch Ltd., which was heard in the King’s Bench division in 1908, and in which a portion of the judgment delivered by Lord Justice Smith in the case of Edwards v. Godfrey was read and adopted by the Master of the Rolls, Cozens- Hardy, who said -
The learned Justice therefore assumed that the option had been exercised, although it had failed. “ Having been defeated in this action, there would, but for the provisions of section 1, subsection 4, have been an end of any claim by the respondent against the appellant in respect of the injury. That sub-section, however, is in favour of the workman, and gives him a very great advantage where he has exercised his option, and finds too late that he has exercised it in the wrong way ; it gives him a locus panitentia, and enables the County Court Judge before whom the action is tried, if applied to by the plaintiff at the time, to assess compensation under the Act. That is a clear benefit to the workman, and while giving it to him the sub-section also confers a benefit upon the employer by giving the County Court Judge power to deduct from the compensation which he awards all the costs caused by bringing the action instead of taking proceedings under the Act ; that is a fair enactment, giving something to master and man alike. I believe the construction which I have placed upon sub-section 4 to be the true one ; were it not so the workman would never make his application for an assessment of compensation while the County Court Judge had seisin of the action ; he would wait until the action ‘was at an end, and would then bring a fresh claim under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, and would so get compensation withouthaving the costs caused by his bringing the action set off against the amount of his compensation.”
Cozens Hardy, the Master of the Rolls, adopts that portion of the judgment of Lord Justice Smith, and points out that but for that provision, which I wish to have inserted in this Bill, that advantage would not have fallen to the workmen, lt was that provision which gave the workmen a locus panitenica and an advantage. I do not know whether it is necessary for me to labour the matter further.. I have performed my duty in directing attention to it. I cannot see how the Government can object to the amendment. I hope that the Minister, before asking the Committee to turn it down, will give reasons why it should do so. ‘ Until I went into the cases I was inclined to think that possibly such a provision would give an undue advantage to the workman, ‘but, as I traced the matter further, I found that, notwithstanding the decisions of the Law Courts and the numerous discussions which took place in connexion with the passing of Workm n!s Compensation Acts in every State and in the Imperial Parliament, such a provision was included in those Acts. I wanted to find some test as to its benefit, and I turned up this case, in which the Master of the
Rolls points to the benefit of such a provision to the workman. If a Commonwealth workman failed in an action at common law, or under a State Workmen’s Compensation Act or Employers’ Liability Act, he would be expressly debarred under this Bill from taking proceedings under it. I. propose that we should say that we shall not deprive the injured workman entirely of all relief because he has applied to the Court for a remedy under other Acts,’ but will charge him with the costs of the proceedings.
– If a workman in private employment brings a suit for damages at common law or under an Employers’ Liability Act, and fails, can he then bring a suit under the Workmen’s Compensation Act?
– Certainly he can ; and it is exactly the intention of my amendment to give him that right. The provision which I wish to have inserted in this Bill is included in the State Acts, and in the Imperial Acts, expressly for the purpose of giving an injured workman that advantage. This Bill sets aside all precedent in the matter.
– No, the honorable senator does not understand what it means.
– I might return the compliment. The honorable senator and the Crown Law officers may be quite assured on this point; but why did the State Parliaments and the Imperial Parliament deem it necessary to insert the provision to which I have directed attention?
– We had better make the honorable senator our Crown Law adviser.
– I should be permitted to put forward ray views without being subjected to that kind of personal criticism. I have before now been right upon a constitutional point, and the Crown Law officers wrong.
– It is all right, so long as the honorable senator does not charge for his opinion.
– I got nothing for it, but the Commonwealth might have been saved hundreds of pounds it my advice had been taken. Lawyers and Judges differ ; but on a legal question the views of those who are supposed to know something about law should be listened to. The workman in private employment under every Workmen’s Compensation Aft in Australia has a right to bring a suit at common law, or under an Employers’ Lia bility Act, for damages in case of accident ; and if he fails has a right to ask the Court to which he applies to assess the damages which would be due to him if he had brought his suit und:r the Workmen’s Compensation Act, and the Court may assess the damages and deduct costs-, because the workman misconceived his tI U line of relief. Why should an advantage be conferred upon a workman in the employ of a private employer which is not to be given under this Bill to an employ-* of the Commonwealth? The Minister of Defence says that I do not understand the matter; and, if so, perhaps the honorable senator will say why such a provision as that which I desire to have inserted in this Bill finds a place in the Imperial Act, and in the different State Acts dealing with the question of workmen’s compensation. Paragraph c of this clause reads -
If it appears that the claimant has a claim for compensation for the injury under any other law in force in the Commonwealth or any other place, compensation under this Act shall only be allowed upon the claimant undertaking not to claim compensation for the injury under any such law.
If an injured workman applied to a Court for compensation by bringing a sun at common law or under the Employers’ Liability Act, that would, under this paragraph, be a bar to his obtaining any relief under this Bill.
– It is virtually contracting out.
– Exactly. It amounts to that. We say that if a workman claims compensation iti any other way, we shall not permit him to claim it under this Bill. I do not wish to leave it to a Court to interpret the line of action which a workman may have chosen to follow. We know that at times Judges interpret the law very strictly. Why the Government should take up their present attitude in this matter I am at a loss to understand-. I am submitting what I believe to be a necessary amendment of the Bill. I believe that without it the Government may, under this measure, inflict grave injustice upon Commonwealth workmen, and, if they do, they cannot be excused after the warning I have administered.
– The reading of the amendment is sufficient to condemn it. I have repeatedly given the assurance that such an amendment is not necessary. ‘ Senator St Ledger would know that if he read the Bill carefully. If a workman in the employ of the Commonwealth is injured as the result of an accident, and desires to take proceedings under this Bill, he must give an undertaking that he will not apply for compensation in any other direction. But it is clear that if he takes proceedings at common law or under an Employers’ Liability Act in the first instance, and is not successful, it will be competent for him to bring a suit against the Commonwealth under this Bill. That has been clearly stated several times. Of course, if a workman by bringing a suit at common law is successful in obtaining damages, he cannot subsequently claim damages under this Bill. We made a certain provision in the Seamen’s Compensation Bill to meet a doubtful case which might arise.
– I have in my amendment inserted words to meet that.
– The honorable senator has put in bushels of words. It is the very diarrhoea of words which the honorable senator has used that condemns his amendment.
– That is utterly stupid.
– The honorable senator has gone through all the Workmen’s Compensation Acts he could find, has made a conglomeration of the lot, and put it before us in an unintelligible way. I pointed out long ago that all that he desires to provide for is already provided for in the Bill, and therefore the moving of his amendment was a work of supererogation.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [6.3].- It is not fair of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to attempt to put the amendment on one side bv ridiculing it. 1 followed Senator St. Ledger’s speech very carefully, and though Senator McGregor says that the amendment is merely a conglomeration of words, I remind him that it is identical with the provision appearing in the Imperial Act, which reads -
If, within the time hereinafter in this Act limited for taking proceedings under this Act, an action is brought to recover damages independently of this Act for injury caused by any accident, and it is determined in such action that the injury is one for which the employer is not liable in such action, but that he would have been liable to pay compensation under the provisions of this Act, the action shall be dismissed; but the Court in which the action is tried shall, if the plaintiff or defendant shall so choose, proceed to assess such compensation, and shall, unless good cause t.o the contrary is shown, deduct from such compensation all the costs which, in its opinion, have been caused by the plaintiff bringing the action instead of taking proceedings under this Act, and shall enter judgment accordingly.
– It is nearly as long as the Boot: of Joh.
– The honorable senator cannot dismiss the amendment in that way. It is a copy ot a provision of the law enacted in Great Britain as recently as 1906, and Senator St. Ledger has said that a similar provision is to be found, to his knowledge, in at least four of the State Acts. I could understand the Government taking exception to conferring Federal jurisdiction upon the Courts in a matter of this kind, and Senator St. Ledger is desirous of overcoming that difficulty. I think it might be overcome if, instead of asking the Court to dismiss the matter, we provided that, in the event of a verdict for the defendant or the plaintiff being nonsuited, the Court might issue a certificate. The amendment is fair and reasonable, and I think that it would be valuable. There is one point which might be arguable. It was decided in the case of Cribb v. Kynoch Ltd.. that -
The “option” given to a workman by the Workmen’s Compensation Act 1897, section i, sub-section 2 *[fi), either to claim compensation under the Act or take other proceedings cannot be confined to an option binding only in the case of success.
The words used in the Bill are that “he would not be entitled “to recover compensation.” I admit that recovering compensation and claiming compensation are two different things. A man might claim compensation and not recover it, and he would then be entitled to avail himself of a further remedy. If a workman claimed, and recovered, compensation, no matter howsmall the amount might be, he would be estopped and debarred from taking further proceedings, even though he should be dissatisfied with the compensation granted to him. We should bear in mind that it is very doubtful whether a workman would be entitled to sue the Commonwealth, unless the power to do so is expressly conferred upon him by law, because a Government is in an entirely different position from a private employer. Paragraph e may be construed to mean that if an injured workman applies for compensation the Government may be in a position to say to him, “ We are willing to compensate you without the trouble of litigation or arbitration; but if you take compensation from us you must give an undertaking not to seek it elsewhere.” The whole question is whether we can, by virtue of that word “recovery,” draw a distinction between the decisions of the Court. We ought to avoid the possibility of a man being compelled to run two law suits instead of one. If he loses the first suit, he will probably become liable for a large amount of costs; and if he runs another he will inevitably incur fresh costs. A man has to encounter many pitfalls when he sues under the common law. It would be well that careful consideration should be given to this matter, so that we do not unnecessarily promote litigation. I cannot imagine that a section of this character would be embodied in an Imperial Act unless there were a good reason why a safeguard should be thrown over a workman when seeking to obtain compensation. As has been pointed out, at common law the amount of compensation is not limited. A promising young man with a family growing up around him might meet with a serious accident causing his death. The damage might be estimated at ten times £500. If the family were advised that there was good ground for <, proceeding at common law, it would take that course. If it were found that the common law remedy did not exist, it might be desired to have a provision of this kind. I urge the. Government not to be too hasty in coming to a decision. The matter is worthy of careful consideration. I suggest that the legal advisers of the Government should consider whether the clause might not be so worded as to attain the object that Senator St. Ledger desires. Provision might be made that in case of the plaintiff being non-suited, it would be within the competence of the Judge to decide whether he was entitled to claim under the Workmen’s Compensation Act; and then the amount of compensation might be assessed. It is bv no means an unusual circumstance for a jury to be called upon to assess damages in the event of certain points of law, reserved bv the Judge, being decided in favour of the plaintiff to a suit.
– I think that we ought to be very careful before accepting such an amendment. The first principle of a Workmen’s Compensation Bill is that it should, as far as possible, avoid the cost of litigation. I think that the adoption of such an amendment might be dangerous. The Commonwealth Government say, by means of this Bill, that, in the event of one of their employes being injured, a certain compensation shall be paid. Senator St. Ledger suggests the alternative that the employe” shall be left to sue the Commonwealth Government at common law, or under an Employer’s Liability Act; and that, if either of those should fail, he should fall back upon the remedy offered by this measure. What will be the costs entailed upon the plaintiff by the time he finishes the law proceedings ?
-It will be entirely at the option of the claimant whether he proceeds under this measure straight away.
– I think it would be better to adopt the clause as it stands, so as to save the applicant from law proceedings. Indeed, if this Parliament could pass an Act to prevent people going to law, it would be to the advantage of the country. If I were injured, I would rather take the £500 which would Be available to me under this Bill, than risk having to pay costs to the extent of £500 in proving a case at common law, and then not succeed.
– I admit the difficulty pointed out by Senator Gould. It is difficult to confer Federal jurisdiction upon State Courts so effectively that they can exercise the authority that I should like them to exercise under this Bill. It is for that reason that I have inserted in the amendment the words “ Federal or State Courts.”
– Does the honorable senator say that if those words were not inserted a case could not be taken under this Bill to a State Court?
– Possibly not.
– Our Federal Acts are being interpreted by State Courts every clay.
– Does the honorable senator think that State Courts can put their hands on Commonwealth employes ipso facto ? The judgment in d’ Emden v. Pedder did not empower the State Courts to put their hands on Federal instrumentalities, and I doubt whether State jurisdictions could affect the Commonwealth in this way.
– That judgment was given in an income tax case, and had nothing to do with State Courts entertaining proceedings under Commonwealth law.
– The Commonwealth has complete control over its own instrumentalities, and, under certain circumstances, officers and workmen employed by the Commonwealth are Commonwealth instrumentalities. Would they be able to go into a State Court, and invoke a remedy against the Commonwealth? it is absurd that we should have such nonsensical remarks made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council as we have heard this afternoon. My amendment was characterized by him as a mere “ diarrhoea of words,” when, as a matter of fact, it is a copy of a provision which was the work of some of the ablest draftsmen in Great Britain, and embodied the result of years of experience.
Sitting suspendedfrom 6.30 to 8 p.m.
Senator MCDOUGALL (New South
Wales) [8.0]. - I move -
That, in the opinion of the Senate -
As a matter of national policy, the Australian Citizen Army shall be entirely Australian administered, trained, and led by officers raised from the ranks of the Forces.
An Imperial officer (of General rank) may be engaged to act as Inspector-General, but it shall be no part of his duty to suggest any departure from the national policy of Defence.
In submitting this motion, I do not suggest that our Army should consist exclusively of men who are Australianborn, but I do contend that it should be composed of men who have made Australia their home, and who intend to remain here. I do not believe that the Australian officers in our Citizen F’orces are getting a fair deal in the matter of promotion. I am very sorry that in all cases the Commonwealth authorities seem to be obsessed with the idea that no Australian can render any service which requires the exercise of skill. If we require a bank note or a postage stamp to be printed, the practice is to send to the Old Country to get somebody to undertake the work. Such a policy does not command my approval. If the present practice is to be continued the Defence Department should hang up a notice to the effect that “ No Australian need apply.” It has come to this : that young Australians who have gone to the Old Country, and have passed the highest examinations there, on returning to seek naval positions here, have been turned down, whilst Imperial officers with inferior qualifications have been appointed. The policy of the Government should be to establish a citizen soldiery. I was elected on a platform which makes for a citizen soldiery in prefercence to a permanent defence force. If we are to have a citizen soldiery it should be commanded by citizen officers who have proved themselves thoroughly competent to discharge the duties of training and leading our Forces. Yet the practice of the Defence Department is to recruit officers from British and Canadian regiments, notwithstanding that we have officers here who in actual warfare in South Africa completely lost them. The regrettable incidents of that campaign are familiar to all. Those incidents arose, not from want of capacity, but from that lack of ordinary common-sense and shrewdness which are always noticeable in men with a purely academic training. We ought not to pay too much attention to the opinion of Imperial officers who have grown up in an army where routine and custom have been settled for generations, and where the iron discipline in force is destructive of originality and initiative. These officers arrive here with a wholesouled contempt for Australian officers, whom they describe as being of “no class “ simply because they are not descended from families of importance, but are the sons of parents who have worked their way up in Australia.
– It is just as well that I should say what I think. I have heard an imported officer say that.
– I wish the honorable senator would give me the name of the officer whom he heard say it.
– It is of no use giving the Minister of Defence the names of officers. . I have supplied them before.
– That is no way out.
– I have given the Minister the names of officers before. I know that I am nobody in his estimation. But I have the same right here as he has, and I intend to exercise my right of criticism. The administration of our Defence Department is absolutely as bad as it can be. Of course, it must not be imagined that we get the best British officers because the Old Country cannot spare them. Even if she could, their lack of colonial experience would neutralize the value which they might otherwise be to us. By the time they have been in Australia for a couple of years, they have just begun to learn a few of the things which are requisite for its defence. We must always bear in mind that the defence of the Commonwealth is the primary object for which our Citizen Army was established, although I have no doubt that if its services are ever required in any other part of the world to keep the British flag flying, it will not be slow to render assistance. Let me relate an incident in which one of these imported officers figured not long ago. One of his first acts after his arrival was to lecture an up-country Light Horse troop upon their bad riding. He told them that they were composed of Rood material, and that in about two years he thought he would be able to lick “them into shape, and make them good riders. YetI will undertake to say that any officer in that troop could have lost him over a mile of rough country. .
– What was that officer’s name?
– I will give it to the Minister. These same officers are, without doubt, among the finest rough riders in the world, and, when given a chance in South Africa, they conclusively proved that the riders required on active service are not those of the stiff-jointed class, who look so well on parade. We do not want showy riders in our Army, but good rough-country riders. I know that the Imperial officers look very showy in the saddle : but not long ago I saw one of them fall off his horse at the Centennial Park. Svdney. I do not wish to say a word against them ; hut their appointment here for a short period is useless, from the stand-point of leading and training the Australian Army. T think that the ex- change of officers is unsound, as, by the time the Imperial officers have gained a little colonial experience, they are sent back to their positions in the British Army, where the experience they have gained in Australia is of very little use. Immediately one officer goes, another is appointed to fill his place, and he frequently undoes whatever little good has been done by his predecessor. It is wonderful how these imported officers from one army differ in their methods and ideas. They appear to he unanimous only upon one point, namely, that the Australian officer knows nothing. Most of them treat their duties lightly, and regard their sojourn here as a pleasant holiday, and a break in their soldiering. These birds of passage are useless to us. If we are going to have officers from other armies, who, no doubt, would be useful for certain technical services, they should be engaged for a number of years, and be in addition to the peace establishment, so that no Australian should be kept out of his just promotion because of their presence amongst us. So long as we give these exchange officers positions of command, the same number of Australians will be denied promotion and told that they cannot perform duties which they have never been allowed to attempt. It really amounts to this, that we are asked to believe that Australians, with their fondness for sport and open-air life, and with their proved capacity for managing affairs of State, are fit only for the rank and file of our Army, and must be led by imported officers from the Old Country. I know that in NewSouth Wales an exchange officer was placed in command of our compulsory training system, where the most important of his duties included the following: - Organization for war, schemes of manoeuvres including concentration, preparation and maintenance of defence schemes, training of the troops, and the education and examination of officers. Fancy an officer who is to remain here only twelve months being allowed to settle the momentous issues involved in some of those duties. To crown the absurdity, this officer supervizes compulsory training in the greatest State of the Commonwealth. I have nothing to say against this officer, who comes from Canada. But do we for a. moment admit that out officers, who for years have devoted their leisure to our great volunteer movement, are not as capable of managing our affairs as are Canadian officers? Is the Canadian Army superior to our own? I think not. Surely there must be an Australian better qualified for this work, on account of his local knowledge of our requirements. The influence of these imported officers is all in one direction, namely, to make our Forces an imitation of those of Britain. That may be a good thing in its way, but we must recollect that the conditions which obtain in Australia are entirely different from those which obtain in the Old Country. Britain’s Army is composed of regulars, while ours is a Citizen Force. Of course, the excuse is that sometimes our soldiers may be called upon to fight along- side British soldiers, that if they do they must have the same methods of operation, and that, therefore, they must be trained in the same methods. On many occasions Australian soldiers have fought alongside British soldiers with a different method, proved themselves capable of holding their own, and falling in line with British soldiers without the slightest trouble, so that the contention that like training is necessary, for fear that they may be mobilized at some time in case of war, is untenable. Our soldiery is of a different calibre altogether. It is simply a citizen soldiery, composed of men who give up a certain part of their time to the defence of their country. I believe that our citizen soldiers should be trained and drilled by Australian officers who have risen from the ranks of the citizen soldiery. Owing to the influence of the imported officers, we are adopting the drill -training and equipment of the regular army, and the justification put forward is, as I have stated before, that they may be at some time mobilized together. I do not for a minute doubt the honour, the bravery, or the devotion to duty of the British officer. I admit that it is unquestioned. Only a few years ago, however, we had the spectacle of British Generals being outwitted by Generals who had not been trained in military colleges, and who, although not trained in languages dead and alive, and all that sort of thing, were able to adapt themselves to their country, because they had studied its mountains, its flats, and its geography. These men were able to outwit our best Generals for a very long time. But when our Generals had been able to study the conditions of warfare in that country, the victory was theirs in a very short time. We as Australians should train our soldiers for the defence of our country. We should teach them the geography of Australia and what is necessary for the carrying out of our defence scheme. Another matter I wish to draw attention to is the way in which our officers are examined for promotion. Papers marked in the Old Country and maps drawn there are used, and we find the use of such terms as heath, bogs, moors, fens, fells, canals, hedgerows, weirs,towpaths, and other things with which we are not likely to meet in Australia. Would it not be better to print maps of portions of our own mountainous and river country, and examine cur officers on these maps, instead of examining them on maps which are drawn from another country, where the same conditions do not exist as obtain in Australia ? Our officers should become familiar with the conditions ofour country, and not with the conditions of any other land. I do not propose to say very much regarding the second part of my motion. I do not know exactly what the salary of the Inspector-General is, but I dare say that it is about £ 1.800 a year, probably more. He has a staff officer and a clerk placed at his disposal. He is not responsible to anybody but himself; he spends the greater part of his time in office work at head-quarters, which, in my opinion, is not legitimate work for an InspectorGeneral. The legitimate work, so far as the inspection of the forces is concerned, can be, and is, I believe, carried out in a very small portion of the year.
– Can he not advise on military matters, apart from policy ?
– Yes, as I recognise in the motion. My idea is that if a man comes here he should not stop for a long time, or, if we are going to have a practical Inspector- General, he need only be here for a portion of the year. Six or nine months would be quite sufficient to carry out all inspection duties. We do not expect the Inspector-General to examine ledgers and register correspondence, which he is doing, and which any accountant could practically do in a few days. It is absurd to have an Inspector-General travelling about and doing audit work at an expense of about£3,000 a year, including travelling and clerical work. If we had an Inspector of General rank visiting Australia every three years for a few months, travelling over the country and reporting upon his experience, that would be ample to meet our requirements. I submit this motion as an Australian. I am an Australian born, but that does not make me better than any man who has made Australia his home. I call all the people here Australians. My opinion is that our officers in the Army are not getting the fair deal which they should. I believe that, instead of superannuating them and putting them on the unattached list, and so doing away with the services of many men who have devoted their lifetime to the study of Australian warfare, they should be placed in the positions in which the exchange officers are placed. If we are to have exchange officers here, let them be outside the organization altogether; let us get the benefit of their advice, but do not put them in the responsible positions in our forces which
Australians should hold. I know that some honorable senators wish to proceed with other business in order to get to a vote. Otherwise I could occupy the time of the Senate much longer in giving many instances of the way in which young Australians have been treated by the representatives of this Government. In my opinion, this treatment is unfair and unjust, and I hope that the time will come when Australians will receive a fairer deal than they are receiving at present.
– So far as this motion expresses an ideal of national policy, the Government and I are heartily in accord with it, and, moreover, have in every possible way given effect to it. But I certain!y. divorce the motion from the remarks of Senator McDougall. In my opinion, he did not even keep to the motion. With regard to the second paragraph, it is no part of the InspectorGeneral’s duty “to suggest any departure from the national policy of defence.” His duty is to report to the Government as to how far the Military Board, which administers the Defence Forces is carrying out the Government’s policy of national defence. And, so far as the present InspectorGeneral is concerned, I can say, without fear of contradiction, that he has done that fearlessly and well. Senator McDougall made a number of reckless statements; but I think that, in justice to the British officers who are here on exchange, he should have had the fairness to couple with those statements the names of the officers against whom he levelled the charges. It is not fair, on the floor of Parliament, to make sweeping and general charges against a body of men who are, I feel sure, trying to do their duty to the best of their ability, and who are here at our request. It is not fair to make sweeping and general charges against them, dealing with specific instances, as Senator Mcdougall s said he was doing, without giving the names of the officers, in order that the truth or otherwise of his statements may be Inquired into. To show the unfairness of this method, Senator McDougall said he would give the instance of a British officer who was brought out here to instruct the Light Horse. It may surprise the Senate when I state that there is no British officer in the Commonwealth a.t the present time, nor has there been since I have been Minister of Defence, who was brought out here as an instructor of Light Horse.
– I did not say that he was.
– I appeal to members of the Senate if I have not correctly stated what the honorable senator said.
– I did not say that he was brought out here for that purpose at all. I said that he was an instructor.
– There is no British officer here to-day who was brought out for that purpose, or who has any right to take that work. There is no British officer allotted for that work. Senator McDougall brought in the question of printing bank notes, postal notes, and stamps. As the Defence Department does not do that work, I do not propose to reply to his statement, beyond remarking that every British officer who is here to-day is an exchange or instructional officer. He is here for the purpose of training, not our troops, but our officers, and giving them the opportunity of qualifying for promotion.
– Was he not training the Light Horse, then?
– In exchange for that, our Australian officers get the opportunity of going to England, being attached to a regiment, and getting regimental training, .which we cannot give here, because we have no permanent regiments. It must be remembered that our permanent officers are not officers who are to command. Every one of them is practically an instructional officer. Ours is a Citizen Army, and the positions of command are exercised by citizen officers. The permanent staff of officers exists only for the purpose of instructing the Militia officers. The whole scheme of Australian defence is that in time of war our Army shall be led by its citizen officers. In time of peace, therefore, we keep up an establishment of permanent instructors. How do we get our instructors ? We call for applications, and have an educational examination. Men come forward who have had no military training at all, and after they pass an educational examination they pass into our forces. There is no regiment, except the Garrison Artillery, to which we can attach them. How is it done? We put them in schools to which are attached the British officers to whom Senator McDougall takes so much’ exception.
– I did not tate exception to them at all.
-The young officers, who have as much brains as has any one else, but who have never had any training, are put in these schools, where the British officers, who have had experience and an opportunity of exercising a troop, instruct them. After six months probation, an officer is given a preliminary practical examination, and if he passes the test, he gets a lieutenant’s commission. Then, after he has obtained a little more experience, and as soon as we can get the British Government to agree to take him as an exchange officer, he is sent to England, or India, where he is attached to a regiment, where he “gets, for the first time in his life, what is surely an essential to an officer who is going to instruct other officers - an opportunity of exercising troops in the field and administering, or helping to administer, a regiment from day to day. The British officer who has exchanged with him, and has, in the meantime, been acting as an instructor to other junior officers here, takes ‘ no position of command. He does not go on our list of promotion. He does not fill up our establishment. He takes the position on the establishment which the officer who went to England or India held. He does not interfere in the slightest way with the promotion of anybody. Every year an officer returns from England to Australia, and an English officer goes back to England from Australia. As showing what our officers think of the matter, there is tremendous keenness and competition amongst them as to which of them shall be allowed to go to England or to India.
– For a holiday. 1 have got all this from the honorable senator’s officers.
– If the honorable senator regards the visits of these officers to England and India as so many holidays, I invite him to read the reports, not of the officers themselves, but of the officers in command of the regiments in England and in India to which they are attached, to discover the work they are called upon to da The time when regimental life in the British Army was a holiday has gone by for ever since the South African war. Training in the British Army has since that war been taken very seriously, and the days of holidays in the Army have gone for ever. I can mention a few instances of British officers who are in Australia at the present time. I do so in order that I may refer honorable senators to practical illustrations. We have organized in Australia a General Staff. The duties of members of the General Staff include the preparation of Australian schemes of defence. This is a most technical and scientific branch of defence, and no man is capable of doing this work who has not received a scientific military education. In Great Britain no officer can be appointed to the General Staff unless he secures the position by showing his fitness for it in actual warfare, or is a graduate of a Staff College. We have at the present time four Australian officers in attendance at Staff Colleges. There is one Australian officer here at the present time, Major White, who has been through the Staff College, and we are sending another this vear. We desire that our General Staff shall be composed of officers holding the Staff College certificate, and we are paying the British Government £200 a year for each officer attending the College.
– How long will we be in training our officers at that rate?
– Not very long, because at present our General Staff is limited to twelve. On the Head-quarters Staff we have two officers holding the Staff College certificate - Major White, to whom I have already referred, and a British officer. In each State we have a representative of the General Staff, and, with the exception of the officer at Sydney, every one of these positions are filled at the present time by Australian officers, who have had absolutely no training in General Staff duties. If they were asked the question themselves they would at once confess that they have had no practical training or education to fit them for the work which they are called upon to do.
– They never get the opportunity. That is the trouble.
SenatorPEARCE. - I have just said that there are four Australian officers attending the Staff College at the present time, and we fill every vacancy in the College that we are permitted to fill with our officers. We have a General Staff officer in New South Wales, but he does not stand in the way of any Australian officers, and as soon as we have an Australian officer qualified to take his place he will be placed in that position. As fast as our officers are turned out of the Staff
College we shall put them into these positions, because we recognise that it is highly unsatisfactory that our Military Forces should be commanded by men without scientific military training. When our officers can be spared these General Staff officers get them together, and give them instruction which they could not otherwise receive. There is no officer in Australia who could give this instruction but one who has himself learned the business at the Staff College. The fact that we have British officers here holding Staff College certificates gives us the opportunity to secure for our Australian officers at least elementary instruction in General Staff work. We have another British officer in Australia who was brought out to instruct the Army Service Corps. This is a branch of defence which until two vears ago was practically neglected, and left without efficient organization. This officer does not stand in the way of any Australian officer. Every position in the Army Service Corps in Australia is open to every Australian officer. The British officer does not hold any position of command, but he goes from State to State, and instructs the Army Service Corps in the different States. He gives them lectures and practical illustrations of their work. He is really their schoolmaster, but he holds no position of command.
– Is he the man who instructs the Light Horse?
– He does not deal with the Light Horse at all. He deals only with Army Service Corps work. We have, further, a captain attached to the Field Artillery. There is in Melbourne and in Sydney also a permanent battery of artillery. Each battery is commanded by an Australian officer, and this British officer is attached in turn to each of the batteries.I saw him myself in the National Park only a week ago. I saw the batteries in action, and this British officer rode around observing the work done. On its completion the officers of the battery were called together, and he pointed out to them the mistakes they made.
– Did they make mistakes ?
– I think they are human. This British officer pointed out what in his opinion would have been a better way to carry out certain movements. From the time when he became a subaltern this officer has been attached to what is acknowledged to be the finest body of artillery in the world - the Royal Horse Artillery. He has had experience, and has been trained in the school of that famous regiment. Our officers have had no such opportunities, and since Federation we never had a permanent battery of artillery in Australia until last year. In the circumstances, how could our officers secure the necessary training unless they are provided with instructors. I may mention the fact that the eighteen-pounder gun is a highly technical instrument of war, and artillery is one of the most scientific branches of defence. The British officer to whom I have referred gives our Australian officers the benefit of his experience and training, and thus enables them to hold commands which otherwise they would be unable to hold. Where is the injury to the Australian officer in all this? Not a solitary one of the British officers brought here, and doing work of this kind, holds a position of command in any part of the Commonwealth, and notone stands in the way of the promotion of a single Australian officer. Wherever we have an Australian officer qualified to fill one of these positions there will be a vacancy for him.
– Does this apply also to the Navy?
– It applies also to the Navy, but as the motion does not refer to the Navy, I do not propose to do so. If a similar motion is submitted in connexion with the ‘Navy, I shall be prepared to deal with it. Senator McDougall was misinformed about the General Staff officer to whom he referred. I have identified the officer mentioned as a General Staff officer, because the honorable senator said that he prepared defence schemes and examined officers. As that is - General Staff work I have concluded that the officer referred to must be a General Staff officer. The honorable senator has said that this man is dealing with our universal training scheme. It may surprise the honorable senator when I tell himthat the officer in question has nothing whatever to do with the universal training scheme, and never comes in contact with it at all
– The honorable senator does not know very much about the matter himself.
– I frankly confess that if the statements made bySena or McDougall to-night are statements of fact I must, during the two and a half or three years I have been in charge of the Defence Department, have been blind and deaf to what has been going on in the Department. The officer in New South Wales who deals with defence schemes and the examination of officers does not come into touch with our universal training scheme, and never comes directly into touch either with the cadets or the trainees who pass into the Citizen Forces. It is evident that in this matter Senator McDougall has been misinformed and led astray. The honorable senator referred to the South African war, and it is quite true that Boer Generals, uneducated from a theoretical point of view, were able to secure many successes over British Generals. But I point out to the honorable senator that they failed eventually.
-I said so myself.
– What we want to do if ever we are involved in war is to succeed eventually. A few minor successes gained by Boer Generals at the outset of the South African war, important though they were, d’d not decide the issue. There is this also to be said : It is generally conceded by those who are in a position to express an opinion that the British Army has learned the lesson of the South African war, and has taken it to heart. The education and training of officers and men of the British Army are to-day entirely different from what they were before that war. All the British officers who have come to us are comparatively young men who were trained in the school of the South African war. Many of them earned their present rank, and some of the medals they wear in the field, in South Africa.
– Many Australian officers have done that.
– Certainly ; and I say, “ All honour to them.” I am not putting the British officer against the Australian officer. I deprecate any attempt to do so, but I say that the Australian officers are benefiting by the presence in Australia of British officers, and by their instruction. Let us consider how the Australian officers themselves view this matter. On my initiative we recently had conferences of militia officers in every State, and later a main conference held in Melbourne to which the State conferences sent their resolutions and representatives. What did these officers say about the British officers in Australia? At every one of the conferences, and at the main conference in Melbourne; resolutions were unanimously passed calling on me to take action to bring more British officers to Australia in order that our Australian officers might get the instruction they stand so much in need of. That is my reply to the statement made by Senator McDougall.
– Did they not ask the Minister to send more officers Home as well?
– They did.
– The honorable senator omitted to mention that.
– I make that statement now. What they asked was that the system of exchange of officers between Australia and Great Britain should be extended ; that more officers should be sent from Australia, and more brought from Great Britain.
– Was the main conference composed entirely or almost entirely of Australian officers?
– It was composed entirely of Australian officers and citizen officers. The only permanent officer present was the Adjutant-General, who prosided at the conference, and did not vote.
– Was there perfect freedom of speech at the conference?
– Yes, and an invitation was issued to those attending all the conferences to put any subject they wished to have discussed on the agenda-paper.
– They wanted a holiday.
– I venture to say that not one of the officers who attended the conference could afford to leave the Commonwealth. All of them are busy men, and they could not go to the OldCountry if they had the opportunity. Most of them are senior officers, and the men they had in mind in the resolutions they passed are the junior officers who are coming on in the Defence Force. Another of their recommendations was that we should import at once a large number of sergeant-major instructors from the British Army. At the present time we are trying to train our sergeant-major instructors at Albury in a six-months’ camp. They say that that is not sufficient; that they cannot get proper training under those circumstances ; and that it is imperative that we should bring out properly trained sergeant-major instructors. So that these citizen officers themselves not only do not condemn the Government for what we have done, but say that we have not gone far enough. If there is any person who has any right to pass judgment on this question, surely it is the Australian officer - who is a militia officer at that. We now have his opinion. 1
– The Australian officer has been working under our conditions for years.
– He has; he has had the experience, and knows the difficulties which have to be contended with, from having as instructional officers men who are not sufficiently trained. What he desires is that the men appointed to instruct him shall be properly trained ; and in/order to secure that object he desires that we should bring out more British officers.
– When they come out, does it mean promotion for them?
– No, they come out retaining the rank which they hold in the British .Army. The only exception is that of the Inspector-General, who on his appointment received a step in rank.
– Does the same apply to Australian officers who go Home?
– Yes. This question of exchange of officers is one to which I have given considerable attention. Within about a year after I became Minister of Defence, a number of officers were brought to Australia, and I was subjected to a bitter personal attack by a portion of the press of this city, though not, I am glad to say, by the press of any other State.
– When the honorable senator says “ the press of this city,” does he mean one particular newspaper?
– Yes, I mean one newspaper.
– It is a cowardly thing to speak of a newspaper without mentioning the name
– It was the Melbourne Age. I went into the facts fully, because 1 felt that if there was anything in the statements made, I ought to change the policy. In order to look into the whole question personally I took this precaution. Our officers who go to England, India, and Canada have to send out monthly reports. I obtained these reports, and read them through. I found that the note struck in the whole of them was that these were the first opportunities the officers had had in their lives of obtaining instruction to fit them for the positions they held in Australia.
– Opportunities for piano playing.
– I found that every one of the officers said that he had obtained immense benefits from the opportunities afforded him for training in India, England, or Canada.
– That does not say much for those in command in this country.
– It does not reflect on them, because, as I have pointed out, the officers who have gone abroad have had the first opportunity afforded to them in their lives of being associated with a permanent army. We have no permanent troops in Australia. That is not the fault of our officers.
– We have had officers who came from the Imperial Army.
– We have very few officers in our Forces who came from the Imperial Army. If the honorable senator will go through our list, he will find that we have scarcely a dozen officers in the whole establishment who came from the British Army. Practically the whole of the officers have been trained in our own Forces. I am not going to oppose this motion, because I contend that it expresses the ideal of this Government, that- the Australian Army shall be entirely officered by Australians. Indeed, that is precisely what is being done to-day. The only officers brought here are those required to serve as instructors of our officers to fit them for positions in this country.
– Why does the Minister accept the motion, under those circumstances ?
– There is no harm in a motion which expresses what is being done to-day. The only point to which I take exception is the part which appears to cast a reflection on the InspectorGeneral. I differ from that entirely. I agree that it is no part of the Inspector-General’s duty to suggest departures from the national policy of Australia. Certainly, the present Inspector-General never has done so. Senator McDougall made some reference to the way the Inspector-General is carrying out his duties, and said that he was doing audit work. I do not know who gave the honorable senator that information j but I can assure him that the InspectorGeneral never deals with auditing matters at all.
– Does he not look over documents?
– Certainly, he does. When the Inspector-General visits a State he has to report upon the work of the Commandant. He has to report, not merely on parades, not merely on the troops whom he sees at drill, but also on the internal administration. To do that he must peruse documents. He must go into the office and call for reports. He must scan them, and make comments upon them. I venture to say that the Inspector-General is prepared to be judged on the report which he submits to Parliament. If Senator McDougall can show from the Inspector-General’s report that he has been doing audit work-
– I did not say he was.
– The honorable senator said that he was doing clerical work. He is doing nothing that he has not the right to do.
– Did Senator McDougall refer to that by way of commending the Inspector-General?
– It may have been SO; but I took it that the honorable senator was objecting to the way the InspectorGeneral is doing his work. His reports are available. Senator McDougall has an opportunity of pointing out where the InspectorGeneral has failed in his duty. I invite him to do so if he can. In my opinion, the Inspector-General is carrying out his duties well and faithfully. Certainly he does not figure much in the public eye. He is not one of those who goes to banquets and public functions more often than he can avoid. But he seems to” me to do his work in a very thorough fashion.
– He says pretty strong things sometimes.
– He does say strong things, but he has kept faithfully to the regulations governing his appointment. He has to report to the Government from time to time upon the administration of the Defence Department’, and the way in which the Military Board is giving effect to the policy laid down by Parliament. That is his duty, and that is what he is doing. I can only say that, while Senator McDougall, in submitting this motion, has taken a step which, to my mind, is unnecessary, nevertheless, on the whole, I do not object to it. though I regret that, in moving it, he has made statements of a character which reflect on particular officers who are in Australia, and who, in my opinion, are rendering good and faithful service ; and he has done this without mentioning the officers to whom he has referred, and giving us an opportunity of rebutting the statements.
Debate (on motion by Senator Guthrie) adjourned.
Assistance to Beneficiaries.
The Order of the Day (Senator ChataWAY’S motion) having been read, and no action taken, dropped.
Debate resumed from 28th November, vide page 6095 on motion by Senator St. Ledger)-
That, in the opinion of the Senate, it is desirable that a Royal Commission be appointed to inquire into the best ways and means of consolidating and converting the State debts.
– I shall not detain the Senate long in making a few observations in reply to the speech of the Vice-President of the Executive Council. I may be permitted to express my astonishment that such a reply should be made, in view of the fact that it was foreshadowed in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech at the opening of Parliament that the Government intended to take this matter of the State debts ‘into consideration.
– We are considering it every day.
– Surely it is time ;that something definite was done. But it must have been evident to every one in the Senate that the Government do not care two straws about the question. I take this opportunity of congratulating the VicePresident of the Executive Council on making it evident to the whole Commonwealth that, though the Government have been considering and considering, the mountain which has been in labour has not even brought forth a ridiculous mouse. The honorable senator paid me the left-handed compliment of saying that it was evident from my speech that 1 had taken some pains with this subject. Then he went on to put some of his usual spice into the debate by saying that I had made a botch of «it. He said that I had forgotten the difference between the Imperial stocks which Mr. Goschen consolidated and our Australian stocks - that I had altogether ignored the fact that the Imperial stocks were under the control of one Parliament, whereas our stocks are under the control of seven Parliaments. That was the reason upon which he based his accusation that I had made a “ botch “ of the matter. But honorable senators will recollect that I cited Mr. Goschen’s scheme of consolidation only for the purpose of proving the benefit which would accrue from the consolidation of our State debts, and I distinctly stated that Mr. Goschen had to deal with four principal stocks, in addition to some minor stocks. Why, an infant could not forget that our stocks represent the borrowings of six different States. If we can consolidate those stocks, we shall be so much nearer converting them at, possibly a lower rate of interest than that at which they were originally raised. It was simply puerile on the part of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to attempt to make it appear thatI had forgotten the difference between the Imperial stocks and the stocks of the several Australian States. The Government will be failing in one of their most important duties if they refuse to avail themselves of the opportunity to consolidate our State debts. It is true that the work is one which is surrounded with difficulties. But those difficulties must be faced, and the sooner they are faced the better. It is not creditable to the Government that this motion should have been treated with the flippancy which was displayed by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. He was the representative of the Treasurer, who is also the Prime Minister, butI refuse to believe that he ever seriously consulted the Treasurer upon this question, to which a reference was made in the Governor-General’s speech. I hope that the motion will have the effect of arousing the Treasurer and Prime Minister to an appreciation of its importance.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from 28th November (vide page 6099), on motion by Senator Story -
That, in the opinion of the Senate, and in furtherance of the Northern Territory Acceptance Act 1910, the Oodnadatta railway should be extended northward to the Macdonnell Ranges at the earliest possible date.
– I do not think that the Senate is now in possession of any more information than it was at the time this matter was first discussed.
– What about Senator Story’s speech? Did not he advocate a route ?
– Yes, but that route had been advocated previously.
– Why bind ourselves to proceed from Oodnadatta rather than from Pine Creek?
– Exactly. We know that from Oodnadatta northward to the Macdonnell Ranges the country is of a very poor character. It has been proved by men who have travelled over it that that portion of the Territory will not be a payable proposition, no matter what route the railway may follow. But before we are asked to proceed with this line we should have before us plans showing the best possible route for connecting Port Darwin with the southern and eastern States.
– With Rockhampton?
– No. I am prepared to support any route which can be shown to be the best. A start has already been made with the construction of the transcontinental line from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie. That will cost a large sum of money - we do not know how much within£1, 000,000. Now Senator Story asks us to proceed with another railway in the absence of a proper survey and of adequate data.
– What does the agreement entered into by the Commonwealth with South Australia say ?
– I have not mentioned South Australia. I am prepared, if a railway has to be constructed, to vote for that which the engineers employed by the Government say is the best route. We should pause for a considerable time before we launch into an expenditure which will probably run from£6,000,000 to £8.000,000. We should not start before we know what we are doing. The Senate should first be provided with full and reliable information as to surveys and costs. We should have comprehensive information regarding, not one route, but several routes. It should always be remembered that the cost of this work will have to be borne, not by South Australia or any other State, but by the Commonwealth at large. If the line has to be built with the money of the people of Australia, the best route in their interest should be adopted. No special line, planned for the benefit of any State or individuals, should be built. * It is a very large order which Senator Story wishes to give the Government. We know that some States do not desire further taxation. The Commonwealth has had to assist Tasmania £0 the amount of half a million sterling, and if we proceed with these extravagant propositions - propositions which will not be wanted for many years to come - we shall land the Commonwealth in such a position that it will have to raise more revenue.
– You do not class the Tasmania!) grant as an extravagant proposition ?
– I am merely stating in passing that the people of Tasmania cannot very well stand more Federal taxation. Through joining the Federation that State lost a certain proportion of its revenue, and the Commonwealth has made good that loss to a certain extent. How can we ask the people of the Commonwealth to submit to further taxation in order to proceed with the construction of this railway, when the Senate is not provided with proper information?
– There is no necessity for further taxation.
– I think that if we continue these large naval and military schemes there will be need to impose further taxation.
– Put on more land tax.
– I believe that the Government intend to raise an additional sum of ^200,000 a year. I do not suggest that the honorable senator has a personal interest ‘ in advocating the construction of this direct line from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. I know that it has been advocated by every representative of that State, and it has been urged, too, that no deviation should be permitted, no matter what route may be found. It is only right, I think, to wait until surveys of the various routes mentioned have been made, and the pro fessional advisers of the Government have settled which, in their opinion, is the best route.
– The agreement with South Australia is to link it up with the Territory by a line of railway.
– We are prepared to do that.
– When we please.
– The agreement with New South Wales was that the FederalCapital should be established in that State, but it took this Parliament ten years to. decide upon a site. We agreed with South Australia to build a railway, and its representatives want to rush its construction. They are not willing to take three years to find the best route.
– We want the Territory developed.
– Why did not South Australia develop the Territory when it had the chance? They now want the Territory developed at the expense of the Commonwealth, and, therefore, they desire to rush this line through at any cost. According to all the information we got when the Pine Creek to Katherine River Railway Survey Bill was before the Senate, a line from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek will not pay for many, many years. Senator Story said the other night that a certain railway will not pay for fifty years. I do not think that a direct railway through the Northern Territory from Oodnadatta would pay even in that time. What is the real reason for all this hurry?
– We want to develop the Territory.
– Let us make a beginning. We have not a thousand people settled in the Territory yet. The Government wish to wait to find out how they are to develop the Territory. Is it proposed to build a railway in order to carry a few Chinamen to the south?
– No, to carry people up to occupy the Territory.
– 1 do not think that many persons will proceed by this line, if it is constructed, to populate the Territory. If it is to be built for that purpose it will be a very extravagant expenditure. If the Government bring people from the Old Country they will not bring them to the south of Australia and send them north by the proposed line from Oodnadatta, but they will bring them direct to Port Darwin. If no one goes into the Territory until this line is built, it will be a long while before many persons are there. Now that we have taken over the Territory we must bring people there, but I want tq know when we are going to do that. Surely it will be time enough to start when a broad scheme is laid down for settling the Territory. And when that scheme is a success, surely it will be time enough to open up a communication by railway with the southern States. It is not any hard and fast route which should be adopted, but the best route which it is possible for our engineers to discovery and the best route might be found 100 miles east or west of the Macdonnell Ranges. Surely the Senate is entitled to the fullest possible information before the Government are asked to rush in . to build, the proposed line. I am puzzled to discover why there should be all this great hurry. At the end of a session it is proposed to pass a motion urging the Government to proceed with the construction of the line without delay. It will not be long before a new Parliament will have to be elected, and no matter what resolution may be passed here this session, that Parliament will please itself as to whether it will act upon the resolution or not. As every one knows a resolution expires with the Parliament in which it is passed, and if the Government take no steps before Parliament rises, this motion, if passed, will lapse. It is only a flash in the pan. If it had been submitted ‘ earlier in the session the Government might, have found time to collect some information, but I do not think that they have any more information to-day than they had twelve months ago. I hope that the Senate will not pass the motion. I do not think that it is fair or right to ask the Senate to pass the motion until the Government are prepared to bring down plans and specifications, and say which, in the opinion of their advisors, is the best route to adopt. When the best route is submitted, I shall be prepared to act in the interests of not a party or a State, but the country as a whole. I do ‘not think there is any intention on the part of the Government or the Parliament to build this line during the next year. If the construction of the line is found necessary, and a proposal is brought forward a year hence, I believe that the Senate will be quite prepared to consider it on its merits.
– I should not have risen but for the extraordinary speech of Senator Sayers. 1 cannot see why any one should object to the wording of the motion. This proposal is not only “ in furtherance of the Northern Territory Acceptance Act,” but in fulfilment pf a solemn contract which was entered into. Senator Sayers laughs at my remark, but how does he construe this part of the schedule to that Act?
Construct, or cause to be constructed, as part of the Transcontinental Railway, a railway from a point on the Port Augusta Railway to connect with the other part of the Transcontinental Railway at a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper.
The construction of this line is part of the contract into which this Parliament entered when it took over the Northern Territory. As a matter of policy it will be a good thing to carry the railway as far as the Macdonnell Ranges, because everybody admits that at present it ends in a kind of dead-end. The lino was never intended to stop at Oodnadatta, but was built by the South Australian Government with the intention of being carried farther. The revenue fell off, a drought occurred, and the Government did not feel justified in proceeding further with the work at that time. We have to consider what the possibilities may be if the railway is carried to the Macdonnell Ranges. There are very great mineral possibilities in that region. Every one who has been there knows it, and we have had reports over and over again from mineralogists to the effect that the Macdonnell Ranges country is a great mineral field. It cannot be developed under existing conditions, because the cost of communication and transport would b« so heavy that it would be quite unprofitable to attempt any mineral development of the country. For that reason this line should be extended at least to the Macdonnell Ranges’. It has to be remembered that within too miles of the present terminus of the line at Oodnadatta, the country becomes very much better than in the neighbourhood of Oodnadatta. The rainfall and herbage are much better. That is a reason why the terminus of the line should not be allowed to remain where it is at present. It is admitted that a heavy loss is incurred on the running of the Tailways from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, and I take it that the wisest policy which this Parliament could pursue would be 10 endeavour to put an end to that less. It could be stopped by extending the The to good country and the mineral fields of the Macdonnell Ranges, and a railway at present “v ~ing an annual loss might thus be turned into a profitable concern. Senator Story is not asking for anything unreasonable when he asks that the line should be extended as far as the Macdonnell Ranges. I do not know what the exact distance from Oodnadatta would be.
– Four hundred miles.
– I do not think the distance is quite so great as that. But the extension of the line to the Macdonnell Ranges would change the whole aspect of that railway proposition. I may say that the country through which the line would go is easy country. There are no engineering difficulties, and it would be a cheap line to construct. Senator Story does not ask that the railway should be carried right on to Port Darwin at once, but that it should be extended until it reaches the good country, capable of development and calculated to make this unprofitable line profitable. I am surprised that the Government did not immediately express their sympathy with so reasonable a proposition. They might very well have accepted the motion, because no absolute date is suggested for commencing the work of extending the railway. The Government might very well have insisted that there should be a new survey made, and that it would not be wise to act upon the existing rough survey. But they might have added that if the new survey revealed the fact that it would be advantageous to build the line they would be prepared to undertake the work. They might have readily taken up so reasonable a position.
– We are not going to oppose the motion. The honorable senator is only “ stone- wal ling “ it.
– That is a little information which I am very glad to get. If the Vice-President of the Executive Council had volunteered it a little earlier it would have saved a lot of time.
– The honorable senator said so a week ago.
– I object altogether to the Vice-President of the Executive Council saying that I am “ stone-walling “ the motion.
– If the honorable senator had been present when I spoke on the motion he would know that I said the Government did not intend to oppose it.
-I am glad to get that information from the honorable senator. But I still object to him, or any one else, accusing me of “ stone-walling “ be- cause I speak on this motion. Such a charge cannot be levelled against me, because I have never indulged in “ stonewalling “ tactics. . I have a right, in common with every other member of the Senate, to express an opinion on this motion, and to urge the Senate to adopt it. 1 agree with Senator Story that this line should be extended at the earliest possible date. I hope that it will not be long before the contract entered into with South Australia will be carried out. It was, in my opinion, a mistake on. the part of the South Australian Government not to have insisted upon a time limit for the extension of this railway. However, it is not in the agreement, and we cannot insert such a condition in it now. But we should determine that at the earliest possible date this work shall be carried out.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [9.35].- It may be within the recollection of honorable senators that when the agreement between the Commonwealth and South Australia for the transfer of the Northern Territory was under consideration, I took exception to the condition that the Commonwealth should construct this line of railway, contending that it would be very much fairer to leave to the Parliament of the day the work of carrying out such railway construction as it might consider most conducive to the settlement and development of the Territory. However, this Parliament determined to ratify the agreement, tentatively entered into between thePrime Minister and the Premier of South Australia. . It is complained now that a time should have been fixed within which the extension of this line from Oodnadatta should have been undertaken. But it would have been impossible to fix a time for beginning the construction of a railway which will involve the expenditure of millions of pounds, and which, consequently, will deserve the most careful consideration. I accept the terms of the agreement that a railway must be constructed to connect Pine Creek with Oodnadatta, and that the Une must cross the northern boundary of South Australia. But I decline to agree that we are bound to construct a line which will be of greater benefit to a particular State than to the Northern Territory and the Commonwealth as a whole. Australia as a whole has to meet the expense of constructing the railway, and should have the right to say whether it shall go from south to north or north to south, and whether it shall go in a direct line or take a devious course. I have said before, and still con- tend, that so much of the Northern Territory as will be developed by railway construction will be best developed, not from South Australia, but from the eastern seaboard of Queensland, and railway construction in that direction should first be undertaken. I am prepared to carry out the agreement with South Australia that a line connecting Pine Creek and Oodnadatta should eventually be constructed. But we should not be; confined to the adoption of a particular route, in view of the small information on the subject which is in our possession to-day. If the railway be ex- tended, as suggested in this motion, from Oodnadatta to the Macdonnell Ranges, that will determine the particular route by which Pine Creek and Oodnadatta are connected.
– Did not the agreement provide for that?
– No; the agreement mentions only the terminal points, and I submit that if it can be shown, in the interest of the Northern Territory and Australia generally, that these terminal points could be best connected by a route other than the direct route, that is the course which should be followed. We have already committed ourselves practically to the construction of a railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine River, but we are all agreed that, however the line is to be taken from Pine Creek toOodnadatta, it must go by the route we have adopted, from Pine Creek to the Katherine River. If it could be shown that wo could best develop the Northern Territory and best serve the interests of Australia as a whole by carrying the railway in a western direction, I should be found advocating the. adoption of that course. If it be found that Port Darwin is primarily the centre from which the development of the Territory should proceed, it would be better, in the early stages of our occupation of the Territory, to link up Port Darwin with the various districts that will find their natural outlet there. To say that the development of the Territory will best be promoted by constructing a fine of railway with the object ofbringing everything to the extreme south does not appeal to me. I would prefer that Port Darwin should be given railway communication with the interior of the Territory.
– How far is Port Augusta from the centre of Australia?
– It is a very long distance from the centre of Australia. But we are not, I presume, making the centre of Australia our ‘ sole objective. We must develop the northern portion of the Territory as well as the central, and we cannot overlook the fact that development in every State in Australia has taken place in the first instance on the sea-board. That probably will also be the case in the Northern Territory, and we should not attempt to develop the centre at the expense of the sea-board. It is but natural that the sea-board should be first developed, because it is more accessible. I realize that we have undertaken a national responsibility for the construction of a through railway, but we have to consider the best interests of the Commonwealth as a whole in keeping faith with South Australia. I consider that South Australia has been more than generously treated. We have taken over the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, involving us in a less of from £80,000 to£90,000 a year. We did so because it was agreed that South Australia would not have constructed this line except with a view to the ultimate development of the Northern Territory. I give South Australia all credit for the work she did towards the development of the Northern Territory. She had taken in hand a gigantic task. Naturally she tried to develop it in such a way as would tend to strengthen - I will not say aggrandizeherself. She was not called upon to develop the Territory in the interests of Australia as a whole. I have no doubt South Australia thought that the Territory would be valuable. At any rate, the task was a plucky one to be taken in hand by a State, small from the point of population and wealth. But now that the Commonwealth has taken over the Northern Territory, it is not fair for South Australia to say, “ Having got you to go so far, we want you to go further, and to restrain yourselves from coming to an unbiased conclusion hereafter as to railway development.” The railway suggested would be 400 miles in length, and would traverse country far removed from ports. It would, therefore, be expensive to construct. I suppose it would cost about £5,000 a mile. The line would probably involve an expenditure of £2,000,000 sterling. Is it fair to pledge the Commonwealth to such an outlay at the present moment? Suppose that the Go- vernment were prepared at the present time to go on with the railway. Would they not have to inquire whether it should be built towards the east or west, or be brought down from the Katherine River in a southerly direction? The South Australian representatives would naturally, if this motion were passed, urge that the Senate was pledged in a certain direction. I deprecate an attempt being made at this stage to pledge the Senate in favour of a railway along any particular route. We understand that there is very little valuable country between Oodnadatta and the Macdonnell Ranges. It has been suggested that there is possibly some rich mineral country in the Ranges. The suggestion was made at one time that it would be fair for South Australia to be allowed to retain the country up to the Macdonnell Ranges, and construct a railway there from Oodnadatta herself. She would then get the benefit of any mineral finds that were made. But South Australia was not prepared to accept that position. Why? She saw plainly that it would involve her in heavy expenditure, which she was not prepared to undertake. Under the circumstances, it is not fair to ask us to pledge ourselves. We are not bound to build the railway within any specified time. It has been mentioned that although there is a statutory obligation to establish a Federal Capital in New South Wales, practically no definite steps were taken in that direction till ten years after the commencement of Federation. Even yet we have not accomplished the feat of going into the Federal Capital and making it our home. Probably we shall not doso for some years to come. South Australia ought to be content to wait in the same way. She must wait until such a time as may commend itselfto the Commonwealth, always stipulating that the work shall be done within a reasonable time. Of course, the representatives of South Australia may be expected to vote for a particular route, which would be of great material service to South Australia herself.
– It is the only way of developing the Territory.
– In my opinion, the Territory can be better and more rapidly developed by another line of railway, and therefore I object to be tied up in this manner.
– Can we keep the promise to South Australia, and at the same time make any wide deviation between the two points - Oodnadatta and the Katherine River ?
– I think that . I reasonable deviation, if shown to be advantageous, might be made. No doubt the South Australian representatives are justified in urging that the work should be proceeded with as rapidly as possible. But I would point out that Senator Story’s motion, if carried, will have no effect after the end of this session. It is merely a declaratory motion affording scope for debate. It does not bring us to grips with the question at issue, as is done when a Bill is submitted, or when a motion is proposed actually directing the Government to carry out a line of policy. If both Houses carried such a motion, the Government would, of course, have to bring down a measure. But a motion of the kind before us is hardly worth the paper it is printed on.
-Has the VicePresident of the Executive Council expressed the policy of the Government ?
– I am not in the confidence of the Government. I take it that the VicePresident of the Executive Council was expressing his opinion as a South Australian. When he moved the second reading of the Bill for. the making of a survey between Pine Creek and the Katherine River, he showed great astuteness and ability in keeping his opinion to himself with regard to a railway from Oodnadatta northwards. I do not know what the attitude of the Government is officially regarding the motion. I was not surprised at the pleasure manifested by Senator Vardon when he heard the expression of opinion from the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who is, of course, an honest, loyal and zealous supporter of South Australian interests. Naturally he has a strong feeling in a certain direction. Probably, if I were a South Australian, I should have the same kind of feeling. I give the South Australians all credit for their support of South Australian interests, though I do not promise them that I can give them a vote for this motion. It is too early for us to pledge ourselves until proper inquiries have been made. If reports are hereafter obtained which are sufficient to satisfy me, and any sensible man, thatthe route proposed is the proper one, I shall be prepared to give a fair and reasonable amount of support to the proposition.
– I move-
That the following words be added : - “Cost to be paid on the land grant principle.”
If the land grant principle were adopted, I should say that the sooner the railway was built the better it would be.- Of course, we are under an obligation to build the railway; but I have always been consistent in saying that it should be built on the land grant principle. I show my consistency by moving this amendment.
– There being no seconder to the amendment, it lapses.
– I look upon the arrangement, which was arrived at some two years ago, when the Northern Territory was transferred to the Commonwealth, in the light of a solemn compact between the Commonwealth and South Australia, under which that Territory was to be connected by a line of railway between Oodnadatta and Pine Creek. If we view that compact from the stand-point of a sale and purchase, it was an undertaking by the Commonwealth to purchase from South Australia 350,000,000 acres of land, and to pay for it by promissory notes, which were to be met by the carrying out of certain public works. Yet we find honorable senators vacillating, notwithstanding that the two terminal points of the railway have already been determined.
– Only the two terminal points.
– Honorable senators are merely splitting hairs when they advocate a departure from a fairly direct route between those terminal points. When the compact has been carried out there is no reason why Queensland should not be linked up with this transcontinental railway at any point that she may desire.
– At her own expense.
– The honorable senator does not wish to repudiate the agreement with South Australia, but he desires to delay giving effect to it as long as possible. Another honorable senator has pointed out that the country in, the vicinity of Oodnadatta is nothing but a sandy waste. Nobody disputes that. But I would remind him that the railway has already .been carried to that point, and that only a few more miles have to be traversed for it to emerge from that desert country. Within 85 miles of Oodnadatta some of the best horses in Australia are bred. If the whole of the country between Oodnadatta and the Macdonnell Ranges were a desert there might be something in the argument of Senator Sayers, but anybody with any knowledge of that country knows that it is not.
– What is the population settled within that 400 miles of Territory?
– It is very sparse, and as the honorable senator knows, the great drawback of the Territory to-day is lack of population. Nobody knows better than he does that South Australia handed over this vast Territory - a Territory greater in extent than New South Wales, and probably more valuable when it is properly developed - because she was not strong enough to develop it. He was generous enough to admit that, and he also acknowledged that South Australia had done her share in maintaining a White Australia. That State, I contend, has done a great deal. Did she not connect the north and the south by telegraph ?
– It was a great “ deal.”
– Does the honorable senator recognise what the Commonwealth has obtained as the result of that deal? It has purchased 350,000,000 acres of land for about one penny per acre. I admire the honorable senator’s ideas of land values if he imagines that South Australia has made a great “deal.”
– What about the liabilities which have been transferred to the Commonwealth?
– Including those liabilities, the Northern Territory has not cost the Commonwealth 2d. per acre. In my judgment South Australia made a thundering bad bargain. It would have been better for her to have borrowed the money with which -to build this transcontinental line herself. However, theagreement has been entered into, and I do not believe that any honorable senator would be prepared to hand back the Territory to South Australia if it werepossible to do so.
– Some one has said’ that it is inhabited chiefly by sandfliesand blacks.
- Mr. West, the representative of East Sydney in the otherbranch of the Legislature, has in his pos- session some pictures of wonderfully good country in the Northern Territory, which only awaits development. Nobody questions the fertility of a large portion of that huge area. The only question which we have to consider is whether the Commonwealth is going to carry out its compact with South Australia by linking up Oodnadatta and Pine Creek by railway at the earliest possible moment. I am pleased to know that the Government sympathize with this motion. But I should have preferred them to have submitted a Bill for authorizing a survey of the route. That is what this motion implies.
– Oh, no.
– Does the honorable senator think that the passing of this motion will be regarded by the Government as an instruction that they should build the line forthwith? He knows different. Their first act will be to get a survey made, and to have plans of the route prepared. I trust that those honorable senators who wish to delay the construction of the line will realize the responsibility which rests upon them, and in the interests of Australia will sanction this developmental work at the earliest possible date.
– I hope that the honorable senator will always observe that principle.
– God forbid that I should ever follow any other. I am not here to represent the interests of South Australia alone, but the interests of Australia.
– If this line be constructed, will not the Labour party be accused of further extravagance?
– I should be very sorry for any person who would describe as “extravagance” the construction of lines of development. Honorable senators must not forget the solemn compact which was entered into between the Commonwealth and South Australia in regard to this railway. All I ask is that that compact shall be respected.
– Have not we a right to express our opinions as to whether or not it is in the best interests of Australia?
– We must observe the compact.
– But we are not pledged to follow any definite route.
– When the two terminal points were specified, was it not implied that the line should follow the most direct route?
– What is the distance between the Macdonnell Ranges and the Katherine River?
– It is rather more than 500 miles. However, I have no desire to labour this question. I merely ask honorable senators to honour the solemn compact into which the Commonwealth has entered with South Australia.
– I do not propose to occupy the time of the Senate for more than a few minutes. .Naturally I feel gratified at the very cordial reception of my motion, and also the sympathetic manner in which the Government have promised to deal with it. One or two honorable senators have mentioned that South Australians have a more lively interest in this question than have any other senators. In submitting the motion I carefully refrained from dealing at all with the contract between the Commonwealth and South Australia. I placed the proposal before the Senate from a broad Australian point of view. I pointed out that it was to the advantage of Australia that this railway should be pushed along into good country and made to pay at the earliest possible moment. I mentioned, of course, that the present heavy deficit would then be wiped off. Those who twit South Australians with having a selfish motive in supporting this proposal come, strange to say, from only two States - Queensland and New South Wales. I was assured that I would have the solid opposition of every Queensland senator, and I am more than gratified at the very cordial support which Senator St. Ledger has given to the motion.
– Support !
– Undoubtedly. It will be remembered that Senator St. Ledger supported the motion in the most unreserved terms, complimenting me up;3n the manner in which it was introduced, and promising to vote for it.
– Did he?
– Undoubtedly. Senator St. Ledger stands out as the one bright, illustrious statesman from Queensland who is prepared to vote on a question of this character from the Australian rather than from the State point’ of view. I am very gratified with the way mv motion has been received, and I hope it will be carried by an overwhelming majority. The Government have told us that they are in sympathy with the motion, but unless they proceed to do something more than to express sympathy. I shall not be satisfied. Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I should like to know from Senator McGregor, by way of interjection, whether, for the rest of the session, private business is to be put on one side? If that is the intention of the Government, I -do not think it is fair to deny to honorable senators an opportunity to bring on business which they have placed on the noticepaper.
– Order ! The honorable senator will be out of order in proceeding on these lines, because notice has been given of a motion which, although it does not appear on the business paper, will come up for consideration tomorrow.
– I wish to enter a protest against the intention of the Government to take the time allotted for private business, because I think that an apportunity should have been given to honorable senators to get a vote on their proposals. There is a large number of motions on the business paper, and some of them are of importance ; but if the Government’s motion is carried to-morrow, that business will be put on one side. T am very anxious to ascertain the views of the Government regarding a motion T have on the business paper. I think that cn Thursday last the Government took the trouble to block any discussion on the motion, and so prevent themselves from expressing an opinion on what is a most important subject.
– In what way?
– I think the Minister put up some supporters to talk so that my motion should not come on.
– That is unfair and incorrect.
– If it is incorrect, I accept the Minister’s assurance.
– I can assure you that it is incorrect, because I was ready to go on.
– An opportunity ought to have been given to the Senate to express its opinions on the various motions in the names of private senators. I have been endeavouring to get some means of satisfying the claims of a large number of post and telegraph officers. Unless Parliament is prepared to take the matter up there is no other way of getting justice done to them. When Mr. Justice Higgins was in Western Australia recently he said -
The Western Austra’ian Association being part of a federated body were not in Court unless he treated their case as part of a Commonwealth case.
– Order! The honorable senator must know that he cannot discuss the merits of his motion, even on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate.
– I shall not say any more now, sir, but will discuss the matter to-morrow when the Government bring forward their motion to take away private business,.
– There are some very important motions in the names of private senators to be dealt with. Of course my’ motion will go by the board. May I suggest for the consideration of the Government that rather than deprive honorable senators of further time for considering private business they should give a special opportunity for dealing with that business ?
– I am rather surprised at the statements of Senator Vardon, because, as an old parliamentarian, he knows very well that at the end of a session such action has always been taken in connexion with private business.
– Yes, and with a good deal of Government business, too.
– Yes ; but it all lies with honorable senators themselves. All that is asked now is that Government business shall be allowed to take precedence iri future. Last week I sent Senator de Largie round to find out if honorable senators were prepared to come back on Tuesday to discuss private business, but we could not get enough to make a quorum. Yet honorable senators will get up and talk in what to me is - well, I shall not say what it is, because it is rather amusing. It is a burlesque for any one to talk in that manner with respect to private business, when honorable senators were not prepared to take a whole day on Tuesday for the discussion of it. I can assure honorable senators that if Government business is despatched with any kind of alacrity the probability is that there will be time for the discussion of private business, but it will all lie with themselves.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.27 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 December 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1912/19121205_SENATE_4_68/>.