4th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– In this morning’s Age there is a report attributing to the Honorary Minister a statement in this Chamber that the Postmaster-General had consulted such parliamentary representatives of Tasmania as were available before rejecting a certain offer. I wish to know whether it is a fact that the parliamentary representatives on both sides in the other place were consulted, because that Housewas then in session.
– When the PostmasterGeneral was indisposed a deputation of all the Tasmanian senators and, I think, the representatives of Tasmania in another place waited upon me in regard to the Tas-. manian mail service. They made certain representations, and desired to get an assurance from me that they would have an opportunity of being consulted before a final decision was arrived at by the PostmasterGeneral in connexion with that service. I gave them that promise, and I believe that when the tenders were being considered the Tasmanian representatives, both here and in another place, were given an opportunity of having a consultation with the PostmasterGeneral in regard to that service.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Afairs, upon notice -
In view of the fact that a ceremony is to take place next March in connexion with the founding of the Federal Capital, when will the Government give the opportunity, promised by the Minister for Home Affairs, for Parliament to discuss the proposed name of the Capital?
– I am informed by my colleague that the matter is still under consideration, but he hopes to be able to make an announcement very shortly as to the procedure he proposes shall be adopted.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the questions are as follow : -
A report on this field’ by Mr. Carne, Assistant Government Geologist of New South Wales, is in course of preparation. On its receipt the question of what other Government action, if any, is necessary will be considered.
– Is the Government aware that if this tramway is constructed it will, in all probability, be a paying concern from the very beginning, owing to certain mining developments which are taking place in Papua?
– It is impossible for me to reply to the question, and therefore I ask the honorable senator to give notice of it.
– I give notice for Wednesday next. The Government does not appear to know anything about anything.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister of Trade and Customs is not conscious of having made any such statement. It certainly does not represent the views he holds on the subject.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and the desired information will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the questions are as follows : -
– One might as well ask the sphinx .a question.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice - -
– The answers furnished to me are -
No. It was printed at the office which does practically all the publications issued from the Bureau of Census and Statistics.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– When the honorable senator’s question came under my notice I issued an instruction for a telegram to be despatched to the Commandant of Tasmania, but so far no reply has been received. When a reply is received I shall give the information at a later hour, or, if Parliament is not sitting, forward it to the honorable senator.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That the Senate approves of the distribution of the State of New South Wales into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs. Frederick Poate, Hugh Lang well, and John Gilbert McLaren, the Commissioners for the purpose of distributing the said State into divisions, in their report dated the 17th December, 1912, and laid before the Senate on 18th December, 1912.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
– It is extremely improper that the Standing Orders should be suspended in connexion with a measure involving such large amounts of money, and dealing indirectly with multifarious acts of administration I fully expected that the Leader of the Opposition would have objected ; but it appears to me that if the Opposition ever had a punch, it has lost it.
– You should remember that we punched, you during the last two days, and that you did not get very far ahead.
– I can remember when a proposal of this kind would have been treated by the Labour party as it deserves to be treated. I wish to again protest against this method of dealing with the administration of the country. The control of finance, owing to our slipshod methods, is fast going out of the control of the Parliament. Indeed, I am very doubtful whether even the Government has any control of it. The permanent officials seem to govern the country. It has been stated that finance is government. If that is so, Parliament is a quantity that need not be considered, because it has no control over the financial administration. It has abdicated its function, and in doing so it has done something which is in direct betrayal of the trust reposed in it by the people. We were sent here by the people to keep a keen eye not only upon legislation, but also upon administration. We are considered to be auditors in a kind of way for the people who pay the taxation, but apparently that position has been abandoned both by the Government and by the Opposition. As a matter of fact, Parliament has completely refused to perform that duty. I disagree with the suspension of the Standing Orders in this instance. I think that a measure involving the expenditure of millions of money, and affecting details of administration throughout the Commonwealth ought not to be treated in this perfunctory fashion. If I could persuade a sufficient number of honorable senators to join me in bailing up the Government on this Bill, I would press this matter, but apparently honorable senators fail to realize their responsibilities in this matter.
– The honorable senator moralizes, but will never help.
– I help you when I think you are right.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That so much of the Standing Orders be sus pended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
Bill read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
Bill read a first time.
– I . move -
That this Bill be now read a second time. In the early days of this Parliament legislation was passed dealing with the introduction of immigrants into this country, and after having had considerable experience it has been found necessary in the interests of the people of the Commonwealth to make some slight amendments. The first amendment provided for in the Bill is intended to empower the officials of the External Affairs Department, as well as officers of the Customs Department, to act in connexion with immigration matters in different parts of the Commonwealth. It is also proposed to substitute the title “ Immigration “ for the title of the existing Act, “ Immigration Restriction.” Although our laws have been of a restrictive character, we have no desire to retain a title which may create a wrong impression that we desire to restrict immigration in a general sense. All the restrictions we impose are in the interests of the health, safety, and general welfare of the people of the Commonwealth ; and we are prepared to welcome healthy and physically-sound immigrants from all European countries - especially countries in which people of the British race have settled. We propose to strike out the whole of the sub-clauses in section 3 of the Act except paragraph a, and substitute others ; and it is intended to add to the list of contagious and communicable diseases which shall be regarded as disqualifying a person as an immigrant. I am sure that honorable senators will give their hearty support to this amendment. We have also made various amendments with the object of obtaining effective medical examinations of all immigrants coming to Australia.
– Where ?
– In Great Britain. Even if a medical examination is not made before an immigrant goes on board ship, he will be examined on board. At present, in cases where immigrants are not examined as to their physical fitness and freedom from communicable diseases before they reach Australia, it is very hard upon them when they have to be sent all the way back to the place from which they came. Therefore, it is proposed to establish in the Old Country a sort of limited medical bureau for the purpose of examining immigrants. Under this system it will be possible for an intending immigrant to submit himself to the village doctor for examination, and for a small fee to obtain a certificate which will qualify him to go on board ship.
– Will the immigrants be subject to other examinations ?
– Yes. In addition to that the master and medical officer of the vessel, acting in conjunction, will have imposed upon them the duty of examining immigrants and giving them certificates which will have to be attached to the passenger list. Even in the case of those who have obtained certificates from medical officers ashore a re-examination will have to be made, because a person might obtain a perfectly legitimate certificate and transfer it to some one else not physically sound. Then again, even though a man might be perfectly sound and free from disease when a certificate was given to him on shore, he might develop symptoms of communicable disease while on board ship.. It will be the duty of the master to report to the authorities at the first port ofcall in Australia.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Is not that done now ?
– We are tightening up the law at the points where it was loose ; and honorable senators must acknowledge that these provisions are in the interests of the people. The provisions will apply not only to immigrants assisted by the Government, but to all passengers coming to Australia.
– Will it apply to first class passengers?
– Yes. Everything is being done to protect the interests of the people here. It may be considered that we should establish immigration depots such as those in Canada and the United States, in which immigrants are detained and examined. But ‘in those countries all the immigrants are landed at the one port, whereas in Australia they are distributed over six or seven ports ; and it would be very expensive to establish and maintain a depot at each of these places. We have therefore felt called upon to adopt other precautions that will serve the same purpose. All this is being done in the interest of the people of Australia., and also with the object of minimizing the hardships upon persons desiring to come to Australia. I have no doubt that honorable senators will do all that they can to assist the Government to place such legislation on the statute-book as will carry out the intentions of the Government.
– I have only one remark to make regarding this Bill, and that is that the parent Act bears an awfully bad title, lt is called the Immigration Restriction Act. I cannot understand why the framers of that Act did not hit upon a more suitable title.
– It is an immigration regulation Act.
– That is what it ought to be called. Any person in the Old Country, on having his attention directed to this Act, would say at once. “ What do those people in Australia want ? They want_ to restrict immigration.” It leaves a false impression on the minds of people at a distance, and the Government should take into consideration the desirableness of changing the title at once with the view of giving it a title which would convey the intention of Parliament - that was, to regulate and not restrict immigration. The American Government long ago adopted similar legislation, but they did not call it an Immigration Restriction Act. They had1 more sense than to give it a title which would create a wrong impression in the minds of the people of other countries.
– I do not wish to interrupt the honorable senator, but I think he will see that this Bill practically does what he suggests in sub-clause 3 of clause 1.
– I am pleased to note that. As regards the subjecting of persons coming to Australia to a medical examination, there is nothing novel in that proposal, because, twenty-seven years ago, when I was coming to Australia, every person was subjected to a medical examination. It is quite proper that passengers on a vessel should be medically examined in order to insure the safety, well-being, and comfort of those who are coming to Australia. This proposal is in the interests of the people of Australia, as well as those who come out here, and will be productive of much good.
– The briefest comment that one can make on this Bill is that the whole effect of it will be seen in its administration. No one can possibly object to the principle of the Bill, but as to whether it is going to be a Bill to benefit Australia, or whether, under cover of its provisions, it is to be made a measure for the checking of immigration, will remain to be seen when administration has proceeded for a sufficiently long period to permit of a judgment being formed. It will appear that trouble will probably arise under this double examination which will be required when the Bill becomes law. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has admitted, and I think the Bill makes it clear, that it is intended that there should be a medical examination at the port of departure, and when the new arrival’ reaches Australia he is to be subjected toa further examination.
– He would be under the Quarantine Act, anyhow.
– That is so, but I want to point out that a particular danger may arise in this way : Some reasons for which a man may be kept out of Australia are largely matters of opinion, and not of fact. When a passenger leaving England with a clean bill’ of health develops a disease on the journey it is only right that he should be examined and kept out of Australia, or in quarantine, as the case may be. But I want to refer to matters arising under sub-clause / of clause 3, which reads - any person suffering from any other disease or mental or physical defect, which from its nature is, in the opinion of an officer, liable to render the person concerned a charge upon the public or upon any public or charitable institution ;
That is not a matter which it is possible to reduce to any standard or principle of regulation. I will take the case of a man who may be termed a physical weakling. The medical officer at Home certifies that there is nothing in that person’s mental or physical condition that is likely to cause him to become a charge on the public revenue, but when that person arrives in Australia the medical officer here may take an entirely different view, and decline to grant a certificate. That is not fair to the intended immigrant, and would place the Government and the country in an invidious and unfavorable position.
– Such an immigrant am always appeal to the Minister, and he would be sure to receive justice.
– I am not so certain about that. In the meantime, even when justice is given, it is delayed, and it seems to me that the administration will have to be very careful indeed, and to pick its steps very warily, to prevent trouble arising. There is no trouble in the case of a disease which doctors can define, but it is a mere matter of opinion when you ask a doctor whether an individual submitted to him for examination is likely, at any time, because of physical or mental weakness, to become a charge on a public institution. Doctors will differ, as they do in other matters. It being impossible to lay down any standard regarding that matter, we will run a very big risk unless a great deal of discretion is exercised.
– We must err on the side of safety if we err at all.
– That is so; but if the Minister puts it that way I would suggest that it could be dealt with differently - that is, that while giving the doctor here full power of veto in respect of communicable diseases, or any of those matters set out, on the particular point to which I have referred the certificate issued by the doctor at Home ought to be sufficient, the immigrant being subjected only to an. examination as to the state of his health. I have no desire to do more than to direct atten tion to what I regard as a possible source of trouble, which can only be avoided by the most careful consideration.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [11. ir.].I should like to add a few words to what Senator Millen has said. I do not propose to go over the ground which Senator Millen has covered regarding the question of examination, because I realize the necessity of making sure that people who emigrate to this country are sound in mind and body, and, of course, we expect that the measure will be administered fairly and honestly. But there are some points which I think call for some explanation from the Minister. The original Act provides that amongst the persons who may be regarded as prohibited immigrants, is -
Any person likely, in the opinion of the Minister or of an officer, to become a charge upon the public or upon any public or charitable institution.
That has been replaced by paragraph / of clause 3, but I find that there is a further provision in “this Bill which seems to place a great deal of power in the hands of the Minister, and which calls for explanation. It is provided that -
The Minister may, if he thinks fit, prevent an intending immigrant from entering the Commonwealth, nothwithstanding that a certificate of health has been issued to the intending immigrant.
An immigrant may have complied with all the provisions of the law to entitle him to come out here. He may have a medical certificate at Home, and a further medical certificate on his arrival here, but notwithstanding that, the Minister may, if he thinks fit, prevent him from entering the Commonwealth. We ought to have some explanation as to why that power is to be reserved to the Minister, and under what circumstances it is likely to be used.
– I have already explained that. You must put the ultimate power in the hands of somebody, and you must leave it to the discretion of somebody.
– The Minister is alluding to a case where injustice is possibly being done to an individual by means of these double examinations. As the Leader of the Opposition stated just now, a man might be regarded by the medical officer at Home as mentally and physically fit to come into the country, but the doctor here might consider that he would be likely to become a charge on a charitable institution. Then the
Minister can interfere and give the individual a fair measure of justice. But I am referring to a case in which an individual has got all the necessary certificates, and the Minister says, ‘’ Notwithstanding that you have those certificates, T am not going to permit you to come into the country.”1 That is a matter which requires very careful consideration. I could understand the Minister being given power to see that justice is done to the immigrant, but I object to his being given the power he is given in this Bill to do the individual grave injustice. Sub-clause 5 of clause 5 of this Bill provides that -
If an immigrant is, within three years of his entering the Commonwealth, .found to be suffering from .or affected with any disease or disability, either specifically mentioned or of a class mentioned in this Act or the Regulations, he shall be deemed to be a prohibited immigrant, unless it is proved to the satisfaction of the Minister that he was free from the disease or disability at the time he entered the Commonwealth.
A man. comes here as an immigrant and, after being three years in the Commonwealth, develops a certain disease, and unless he can satisfy the Minister that he was free from the disease at the time of his arrival he may be treated as a prohibited immigrant, liable to fine, imprisonment, or deportation. That is a very stringent provision. No one is more anxious than I that Australia should be peopled with healthy ;md vigorous inhabitants. It should not be forgotten that immigrants will be liable to medical examination before embarkation and after their arrival in the Commonwealth. A man may secure certificates of health after each of these inspections, yet if, within three years after landing in this country, he develops disease he may, under this clause, be treated as a prohibited immigrant. Whilst we should do everything that is humanly possible to prevent the immigration of persons tainted with disease, no immigrant who has successfully passed the medical examinations provided for should have hanging over his head for three years after his arrival in Australia the possibility of being treated as a prohibited immigrant. “
– He may have contracted disease here.
– I take the case of a man who, within three years after his arrival in the Commonwealth, contracts a pulmonary disease. There may have been no indication in him of any such disease at the time of his landing in the Commonwealth. He may have answered all the questions which are put to an immigrant as to his family history, setting forth the cause of death of his parents. It may be that, although the family history is a bad one, and his parents died of consumption, the medical officers have felt justified in giving him certificates of health. He will still be liable for three years after his arrival in Australia to be treated as a prohibited immigrant. As such he may be subjected to a fine of £100, to imprisonment for three months, and to deportation. That, in my opinion, is a most unfair provision. There are only a few ports in Great Britain from which immigrants will ordinarily leave for Australia. As a rule, they are not blessed with too much cash, and I say that their medical examination prior to departure for this country should be undertaken by the Government, and at the Government expense. There is another matter of importance to which I wish to direct attention. I believe that when immigrants arrive in Australia they should be provided with accommodation for, at least, a week or two, while they j.re seeking employment. One of the great difficulties with which they have to contend under existing conditions is the lack of a home to go to on arrival. It is a standing disgrace to the community that immigrants, with young children growing up around them, who are the very people we most desire to see come to Australia, have the greatest difficulty, on arrival here, in obtaining accommodation while looking for employment. The Government of the Commonwealth are responsible for immigration, and this is a matter which they should take in hand. Some people might contend that the matter is one which should be left to the State Governments.
– It would be an interference with State rights.
– That is .nonsense In some places, owing to private effort and the efforts of some of the churches, homes are provided for a limited number of immigrants. Years ago, when a very large number of immigrants were pouring into the different States, we had in some of the States immigration barracks in which new arrivals were accommodated for a week or two. I do not advocate that immigrants should be kept in homes for an unlimited period of time. If necessary, a. small charge might be made for the ae- commodation provided, but we should certainly provide homes for people for the first week or two after their arrival in a strange Country. Such accommodation might very well be provided in centres in the various States other than the ports of arrival. This practice would to some extent prevent the congestion of population in /the different capitals. In Sydney, Melbourne, and the other capitals young fellows may be seen walking about the streets, and they remain so long in the big cities that they begin to feel that those are the places in which they should secure employment. The Government might overcome this difficulty by making some such provision as I have suggested for the distribution of immigrants in the country districts. The Commonwealth Government do not meet the expense of bringing immigrants to Australia, each State Government making their own provision in that regard. The immigrant does not come to Australia at the expense of the community at large but of the particular State from which he comes. This throws a burden upon the State Governments which, I think, might reasonably be undertaken by the Commonwealth Government. As a result of the existing practice a Victorian immigration agent will advise intending immigrants not to go to New South Wales or Queensland, but to go to Victoria where they will enjoy a better climate. I should prefer that intending immigrants should be invited to regard Australia from a broad stand-point. They might be told that if they desired to settle in a State with a cool climate excellent opportunities would be afforded in Tasmania or Victoria, and if in a warmer climate in New South Wales, Queensland, or Western Australia. We are told that a house divided against itself must fall. Australians are, I think, sufficiently broadminded to recognise that there are advantages and opportunities open to immigrants in every State. The practice of the immigration agents for one State belittling the possibilities and advantages^ of settlement in the other States is not in the best interests of the Commonwealth as a whole. I am delighted to find immigrants coming to Australia no matter in which State they’ may settle.
– What about the Northern Territory?
– The Northern Territory is no longer under the control of an individual State, and whatever may be done to induce immigrants to go there must be done by the Commonwealth itself. I do not want the Commonwealth to stand in the position of competing with States in the matter of immigration. Let the immigrants choose, when they come to this country, in what State they will settle. A little while ago a conference was held at which it was suggested that the Commonwealth’ Government should provide ,£25,000 per annum towards attracting immigration to> Australia. Although that provision would’ not attain the end that I desire, it is a-, step in the right direction, and would have been a recognition by the Commonwealth that it was desirous that immigration should continue to be a real live policy, and that we wish to people our waste spaces with persons of the right type. When immigrants go to the United States of America the National Government takes them in hand. It is not left for individual States to deal with the question. In Canada also we do not hear that Quebec is attracting a flood of immigrants or that Ontario is taking the matter in hand. We simply hear that immigrants are going to Canada. Immigrants are not allowed to remain in the port of arrival, but are taken at once to the various centres where there are opportunities for them.
– That is because the Dominion Government controls immigration entirely.
– The Commonwealth has a similar right to control immigration. This ought to be made a broad national question. Canada has a population of between. 7,000,000 and 8,000,000. Nevertheless there is not in the whole Dominion a city as large as Sydney or Melbourne. The chief city has a population of less than 500,000.
– Does the honorable senator favour increased powers being given to the Federal authority?
– I favour the Federal authority using the power that has been given to it by the Constitution in reference to dealing; with immigration.
– Does the honorable senator want to prevent the States from competing ?
– No, the States should continue to do as they think fit, but, naturally, the Commonwealth will overshadow any attempts which they make. Their work will necessarily be of a subsidiary character. 1 trust that the matter will be ‘taken in hand seriously, and that a proper system of immigration will be adopted. ^
– I agree with much that has been said by Senator Gould. The first thing that ought to be done, in the interests of immigrants themselves, is to provide that the inspection at the port of departure shall be of a most effective character. A large proportion of those who emigrate to Australia are working men and women, who can ill afford to lose time and money in a futile hunt for quarters on their arrival. No one objects to inspection when immigrants arrive. That is desirable and necessary. But when that inspection has taken place, the immigrant should become a citizen of the Commonwealth. Senator Gould has taken objection to sub-clause 5 of clause 5, in which it is ‘provided that if an immigrant develops a disease within three years after arrival he shall be treated as a prohibited immigrant. But the very object of inspection is to insure that immigrants shall be free from disease. An immigrant who is not free from disease ought not to be permitted to land - that is to say. if the disease is of so serious a character as to make the immigrant likely to become a burden on the community. But I do not agree with treating an immigrant as a prohibited person if he develops a disease three years after arrival. Anything that happens after he has been inspected and allowed to land should not involve disabilities under this measure. It is easy to contract diseases in Australia, although this is probably one of the healthiest countries in the world. A man may contract consumption or develop cancer in Australia. We have even had people developing leprosy. Therefore, the provision to which I refer seems to be drastic and unnecessary. When considered in all its aspects it’ seems to imply a reflection upon the administration of the immigration law. Senator Gould has also urged that accommodation should be provided for immigrants on their arrival. I quite agree with him. The position in Melbourne is a most serious one, and is calculated to give people, who come here with the honest intention of becoming citizens of the Commonwealth a most . unfavorable impression. Recently it has been exceedingly difficult for immigrants to get housing accommodation, and for what they could get they have had to pay a ransom. That is not welcoming people who come from the other end of the world to live amongst us. The Commonwealth should certainly provide accommodation for a limited period. I also agree with Senator Gould that the Commonwealth should take in hand the whole question of immigration. If the Imperial policy with which both the Opposition and the Government have thrown in their lot is to be carried out, it is the duty of Australia to provide room for the surplus population of Great Britain. I do not say that I agree with that Imperial policy, but the people of Australia having per medium of both political parties, to all intents and purposes, adopted it, then for the safety of the Empire it is imperative that they should take a closer interest in the question of immigration than they have done hitherto. I agree with Senator Gould that the Commonwealth should take over the control of immigration. It should not only provide housing for the immigrants here, but place them where they could be trained to earn a living for themselves. I have often advocated this in other places than the Senate. I believe that it is something which must be done in the very near future. It is essential in the interests of Australia and of the people who come here that before they are turned loose under new conditions they should receive a preliminary training in the methods of earning a living which prevail in Australia. And when the Commonwealth takes over the control of immigration, as I hope it will do at a very early period, upon the Government will lie the responsibility of providing avenues of employment for immigrants. That immediately brings me face to face with a most important aspect of a policy which seems Fo have been tacitly adopted on both sides of the Chamber. If we take over immigration, questions will then require to be dealt with which are now burked by both political parties. I refer to the Tariff and to land value taxation. If we are to get immigrants here in large numbers, there must be land for them. Where have the States land available for immigrants ? Why, it is almost impossible in any State for people who live here to get land. How is it possible for people who have very little money, and are not trained in Australian habits or industries, to get land?
– Is there not plenty of land in Western Australia?
– We do not want to people Western Australia only, but the whole Commonwealth. We ought to have millions of people. I appeal to Senator Walker, who is an Imperialist, that if this Empire policy is to be carried out, for the sake of the Commonwealth, the Empire, and the millions of men and women in Great Britain to whom it would be a perfect God-send to be sent out to a country like this, all political parties should unite in doing something which would be a benefit both to them and to us. But, unfortunately, no party is prepared to do anything. The Labour party will give us neither Tariff reform nor any additional measure of land value taxation. The Conservative party will give us nothing ; it cries out for more people. Why? To become the slaves of the land-owning monopolists in Australia. So far as this Parliament is concerned, I have no hope from % either side of the Chamber. One party which is in power, and could do things, deliberately refuses to touch with its little finger one or other of these questions, which are of so much importance to the Commonwealth. I trust that honorable senators will stop mouthing, and do something. I refer not to one side of the Senate, but to both sides. It is of very little value foi us to come here and say that we are in favour of immigration, or against it, and do no more. If we are in favour of people coming here, let us provide avenues of employment for them when they do come. Will honorable senators on the Opposition side help us with the Tariff, or with land value taxation? Will they do anything to increase employment other than .to bring people out here, and subject them to the stress and strain of competition, to penury and poverty. And now I appeal to honorable senators supporting the Government. What are they doing? They refused to touch the Tariff, although they knew that Tariff reform meant employment for hundreds of thousands of men and women in this country. They refused to break up land monopoly, although they knew that ultimately it would mean the opening up of avenues of employment to millions of people. Both parties refused to do a single thing to benefit Australia in this con nexion. It is not a pleasant duty for me to talk in this way in Parliament, but somebody has to tell the truth. I am stating what appears to me to be the plain,’ honest truth. We are. all pretenders, more or less. Both parties here are pretenders ; they are doing nothing effective.
– Are you pretending now ?
– No. I feel perfectly sure that the honorable senator believes very much as I believe, whether he says what he thinks or not. It is desirable that somebody should say what he thinks, that we should not all be continually going round masked, and appearing to be what we are not. If we desire Australia to progress, the questions I have alluded to must be dealt with effectively. We must have more people ; we must be placed in a position to defend ourselves against aggression; we must help the Empire if that is to be the policy. I have always been opposed to that policy, but, apparently, as I have said, it has been accepted by all parties. If it has been accepted, then let us carry it out to the best of our ability.
– If you are opposed to the Imperial policy, why should you now ad vocate it?
– I must do what other people do - make the best of a bad bargain. If a bad deed is done, my obvious duty is to make it as little injurious as possible.
– But you are advocating an increase of population for other reasons entirely.
– I am advocating it for the sake of Australia. So long as we have a population of only 4,000,000 we have no title to this continent. The only thing that can give us a title is a much larger population, and the only way to get that population is either to grow them here or to secure .them” from other parts of the world, and provide means of living for them. My charge against both parties is that neither is doing anything to bring that about.
– I recognise that this is a most important measure. I am in entire accord with the position taken up by Senator Stewart, but I have risen chiefly to ask whether the Government intend to take any steps to improve the conditions of immigrants on board ships. The way in which emigrants are packed on vessels - packed like sardines - is enough to make them disgusted with the new country to which they are bound before their eyes behold our shores. . Coming from clean, wholesome homes in England, and finding themselves packed in musty, stuffy cabins, nine out of ten are ready to start back before the ship reaches our shores. They land here in a condition of mental irritation, which makes it impossible for them for the time to be anything like contented settlers. I do not know whether this measure contains any provision to improve the travelling conditions, or whether the Government, through their agents, will make an effort to restrict the number of persons who may travel within a given space on a vessel, or to take care that immigrants are provided for in a better manner. I have seen immigrants land from some of the best boats ; But what the people in authority consider the best boats for that class of passengers are not, to my. mind, nearly good enough. It is high time that the Government began to take an interest in people from the day they sign on as willing to come out here until the day when they find employment here.
– A man cannot get much accommodation for £12 for a two months’ passage.
– Then the number of passengers on a vessel should be restricted. I quite understand the force of the interjection. If we want a desirable class of people to come here, why subject them- to conditions which are limited by the amount of money which is allowed to the shipping companies -for bringing them out? I agree with Senator Gould that £12 will not go far in keeping an immigrant for six or eight weeks - it would scarcely keep a man on land- but that does not meet the objection to this most undesirable system of packing people on boats under conditions to which human beings should not be subjected. That is happening now all along the line. 1 think that while the Government should take a hand in this movement there should be a Government guarantee to each person who arrives here that employment for at least six months will be found. Not only that, but no persons should be invited to come here until people are in a position to guarantee six months’ employment to every man they control. That may seem impossible at present ; under the old order of things it was impossible. But with a Government constructing a Capital, building railways to link up the east and the west, and carrying out developmental works in the Northern Territory, I venture to say that not only each Australian workman, but each workman in another country who offers his services to us ought to be offered six months’ employment. The Government would, I think, find it most profitable to guarantee six months’ employment to every man who comes here.
– Do you think that the railway works are likely to be profitable ?
– I do not know whether they are likely to be profitable, but their construction is inevitable.’ There are many other railways which must be built in time to link up the State systems with the Western system, and the Northern Territory railway must be completed.
– Immigrants are the worst possible kind of men you can get for railway work.
– I would not give preference to immigrants, but to Australians. To my mind this is a simple proposition. It will lead the Government into a new groove. Perhaps our honorable friends opposite will oppose it as a system of Socialism. I do not care whether they do or not; they can govern this country whether they are on this side or occupying the Opposition benches. The question of restricting a certain class of immigrants has a most important bearing upon the future of Australia. There are many aspects of this subject which are of great significance. At the present time sufficient efforts are not made to attract a desirable class of people from other countries than Great Britain. What is the condition of the manufacturing centres of Great Britain? It is such that we are getting, not the most desirable class of immigrants, but those who can get away from conditions so unbearable that they can endure them no longer. There can be nothing sadder to an Australian than to walk through the great centres of industry and witness the condition of the people. When we think of the vast operations of the manufacturing centres in the Old County - the different industries, the hands employed, the machinery used, and the capital invested - our heads, actually swell with pride at the thought that we belong to a nation which can produce such magnificent works. But when we visit their back streets and slums, and our coats are plucked at by little children asking for pennies to get bread, and looking as if they want it, we would have hearts of stone if we” wished to do anything to prevent those people from coming to a country where there is more sunshine, more fresh air, more opportunity for decent living, than in the over-crowded centres of the Old Land. A Government worthy of its name should act considerately in these cases. Persons who leave Great Britain, Germany, or France should have some guarantee that when they come to this country they will not be made serfs by those who are anxious to reduce wages. There are two sections of the people clamouring for immigration. One section desire to see Australia developed legitimately, whilst the other section desire that a sufficient number of workmen shall be introduced to enable employers to reduce wages. We need only look at the organization of the employers, and the capital at their disposal in order to realize that it is time the Australian Government took over the whole question of immigration, and dealt with it in a masterful manner.
– I hope honorable senators will recognise that this is a general Immigration Bill, and does not apply merely to immigrants assisted to come here by their friends or by the States. It will also affect all those who pay their own passages. In the sense in which some nonorable senators have been discussing the measure it is not an Immigration Bill at all. All that is desired is to insure that those who come here shall not introduce diseases which will endanger the general health of the community. Other points nave been raised in regard to which I will be prepared to make any explanation that may be desired in Committee. With regard to the probationary term of three years, to which special reference has been made, I would point out that some people obtain entry into the Commonwealth under false pretences. There are stowaways from all parts of the world, and even with the most careful supervision some persons who should not be allowed to remain here gain admittance. Therefore, it is desirable to confer the power referred to. Honorable senators may rely upon the law being administered with common-sense and sympathy.
Question resolved in the affirrmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee -
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 verbally amended and agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 -
Section five of the Principal Act is amended -
by adding thereto the following subsections : - “ (5.) If an immigrant is within three years of his entering the Commonwealth found to be suffering from or affected with any disease or disability either specifically mentioned or of a class mentioned in this Act or the regulations, he shall be deemed to be a prohibited immigrant, unless it is proved to the satisfaction of the Minister that he was free from the disease or disability at the time he entered the Commonwealth.”
– I thoroughly agree with the remarks which have been made by Senator Stewart and Senator Gould with regard to the proposed new sub-section 5, and I suggest that it be withdrawn. It would be very hard on an immigrant if, after he had been here for almost three years, it were discovered that he was suffering from a com-, municable disease, and he had to prove to the satisfaction of the Minister that he was free from disease or disability at the time he entered the Commonwealth. A man might come here in perfectly good health, and believe himself to be quite free from disease, and it would be inhuman if, after two or three years, he were found to be suffering from a disease, and he were required to give up all his interests, and clear out of the country. The provision is undeserving of the attention of a humanitarian party such as honorable senators opposite claim to belong to.
– I do not think that the proposed new subsection should be struck out. because an immigrant might be affected with some disease which might temporarily escape notice, or he might by fraud or by collusion with other persons, evade the provisions of the Act. But three years seem to be an unreasonably long period, and I’ would suggest the substitution of six months. - I move -
That the words “ three years,” line 5, proposed new sub-section (5), be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ six months.”
I do not see how a man could be called upon at the end of three years to prove that he was not . suffering from disease at the time he entered the Commonwealth, and on the face of it the provision seems ridiculous.
– I have clearly pointed out that in some cases immigrants may come in under false pretences. They may come in under a certificate which has been obtained by some other person, and after coming here may develop diseases of a highly dangerous character. I do not think the period of three years is too long. In the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Bill there is a provision in which the same term is specified in regard to blind persons coming here, and it must be remembered that in nearly all cases the limitation is six years. Three years is only a reasonable time within which to discover whether any fraud or concealment has been resorted to. If this provision is retained it will act as a warning to intending immigrants. I know that there are many families in Great Britain that send their black sheep and invalids to new countries like this, not with the view of improving their condition, but simply to get rid of them, and we have a right to protect ourselves.
– If there is any necessity to guard against fraud, this is the most amazing clause that has ever been constructed for the purpose. If a person has come out here under false pretences, I agree that he should, even within twenty-one years, be either deported or punished for fraud, but this clause does not say anything about punishing a man for coming here under false pretences. If it is desired to punish a person who comes here under false pretences through getting a clean certificate to which he was not entitled, he should be dealt with under our criminal law, but to throw the onus upon a person of proving that he was healthy on his arrival here, if within three years of his arrival he is discovered to be suffering from some disease, is asking that person to prove the impossible.
– I can hardly believe that the Government have seriously proposed this provision without the most careful consideration, and I think that, in all probability, the Minister could tell us that this particular term has been fixed on reference to those officers who are competent to give an opinion as to the period within which a disease might disclose itself. It is all very well for Senator Rae to suggest that six months should be a sufficient period to elapse in order to accurately determine whether any immigrant is or is not suffering from either an acquired cr congenital disease of serious import to the community, but I feel confident that medical authority will, so far as the Government is concerned, establish the necessity for a very much longer period than six months to elapse to make it abundantly certain that anybody coming to Australia in the most bond fide manner is or is not afflicted with a congenital or acquired disease.
– How is that person to be held blameworthy when the seeds of the disease may have been there unknown to him?
– It is not a question of the person being held blameworthy so much as the desire to keep Australia white and pure. If .the Minister could give the assurance that the period is one that has been adopted on careful inquiry and on the advice of the medical officer’s of the Government, I think there would be little hesitation about passing the clause as it stands.
– I intend to oppose both the amendment and the clause, and, after the amendment has been disposed of, I shall move the following amendment : - “ Production of a medical certificate shall be prima facie evidence of the contents thereof.” The object of that amendment is to allow an immigrant who is being dealt with under the provisions of this clause to be able to say, “ Well, here is the medical’ certificate, which states that I was healthy, on my arrival here; you must take that asprima facie evidence.” I believe that it is the desire of both sides to have immigrants in this country, but there is nodoubt that this clause will act as a great deterrent to intending immigrants. A person desirous of coming to this country will, on being made aware of the provisions of this clause, say, “I am free from disease now, but if I go out to Australia I may- be treated as a prohibited immigrant, and be subjected to a fine or imprisonment.” The clause is very drastic and unnecessary, and will defeat its own purpose.
– Senator Rae’s amendment tones down the harshness of the clause to a great extent. I recognise that safeguards should be taken to preserve the health of the people of Australia, but there is a morbid fear of contagion that is even evidenced in such a clause as this. We should take proper measures to isolate dangerous diseases, but we should not let our fear of contagion go to such an extent as to inflict hardships in cases which should have our sympathy. I can see no great wrong in an unfortunate individual, suffering from consumption in the Old Land, being allowed to have the chance of prolonging his life by living in the dry atmosphere of Australia. We are simply taking as brutal a stand as we can take in cases of that kind. If some one who was dear to us was suffering from a disease, and the medical advice was that there was a chance of prolonging life in another country, what would we think of the people in that country if they closed the door against that person ? It is simply inhuman to provide that an immigrant who has been doing well in this country, but who is found to have a disease after being here three years, shall be deported, and compelled to start life afresh in another country. I am not even satisfied with the period proposed in the amendment. I would rather see a Commonwealth Health Board appointed to prevent as far as possible the spread of diseases than have a drastic clause of this character in the Bill.
– I wish to say in reply to Senator Keating that no Government frames such measures as this without consultation with all the authorities available. Dr. Norris in his report has stated that if we do not adopt this precaution persons who have been rejected in Canada and America will try to come into Australia.
– A strict watch at our ports would keep them out.
– Senator Rae requires information that is precise in every particular. I may inform him that not “ long ago an immigrant was arrested in Melbourne, and while in gaol a medical examination, which became necessary, disclosed the fact that he was a syphilitic subject. That person got into Australia through lax administration of the Immigration Restriction Act, or through fraud. If such diseases in immigrants were not discovered for eight or nine months after their arrival in Australia we should, under Senator Rae’s amendment, have no power to deal with the persons affected. In the interests of Australia, the period of three years provided for under the clause is a fair limit, and I am sure that honorable senators generally will come to that conclusion.
. -On the face of it, the provision in the Bill seems to be a very harsh one. Senator Gardiner referred to the case of a man who might some time after his arrival in this country exhibit indications of consumption. We know that thousands of people who have been predisposed toconsumption, or in the early stages of the disease, have on going to the dry Western States of America, completely recovered. I can quote the instance of a man with a large family who is now living in Melbourne. Years ago, all the doctors here told him that he was consumptive, that he had only one lung, and had not a year to live. He went to North Queensland for a time, and to-day he is an independent man, living again in Melbourne* in good health, and is over sixty years of age. It should not be forgotten that doctors are not infallible. I believe that if a proper medical examination of intending immigrants is made prior to their departure for Australia and a further examination is made on their arrival here, those who are given certificates of healthshould be free agents after their arrival. Suppose that half the crew of a ship on her arrival here desert the vessel. There is no examination of these men at all.
– But if when discovered they are found to be suffering from communicable disease they may be deported.
– They have, first of all, to be discovered. The real difficulty is that the medical examination is often a very perfunctory one. I have been ranged up with other passengers on a ship> and I know the kind of examination of the passengers that was made. We ali walked through a door, and a medical man, standing at the door, looked at us as we passed. A man might contract cancer within three years after arrival in
Australia, as the result of an accident, and yet, under this clause, he would be liable to be deported.
– No, he would not, if the accident which led to the disease occurred here.
– Who is to prove that the disease was the result of the accident ?
– He should be able to prove it himself.
– Within three months of landing in Australia a man might catch a cold which, as the result of neglect, might develop into consumption, and a medical man upon examining him might come to the conclusion that the disease was in his system when he arrived in Australia.
– This is only a wise precaution.
– It seems to me to be very harsh. Medical men generally claim that the climate of Queensland in districts west of a line from Roma northwards is very suitable for persons consumptively inclined. There is there a dry climate for nine months of the year, and any person going to that part of the Commonwealth when he is in the early stages of consumption may hope to be entirely cured. Why should we prevent people so unfortunately placed from taking advantage of such an opportunity to be restored to health ?
– Under our law we could not admit such persons to some parts of the Commonwealth and exclude them from others.
– Are we going to prohibit such people from entering the Comnonwealth altogether ?
– Then I do not agree with the proposal.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [12.37]. - I am glad that Senator Rae has submitted an amendment to this clause. He proposes : hat the period shall be limited to six months. In my second-reading speechI said that this was a very unjust provision, and might materially interfere with immigration. The Vice-President of the Execu- t ive Council referred to the case of a man who was shown to be suffering from a syphilitic disease. Unfortunately, the taint of such diseases exists in many f amiies, and it may be years before indications of them appear in particular persons. Under his provision a man may be charged with being a prohibited immigrant if such a disease shows itself within three years after his landing in Australia, unless he can prove that he was free from the disease at the time he entered the Commonwealth. It should not be forgotten that, in addition to this provision, we contemplate strict medical examinations of intending immigrants before their departure for Australia, and on their arrival in this country. As to the examination conducted on board ships referred to by Senator Sayers, while they often seem to be perfunctory, it should not be forgotten that, before they take place, the examining officer has had an opportunity of consulting the doctor of the ship, who is liable to pains and penalties if he misrepresents the condition of a passenger. If a passenger is suffering from a communicable disease, the fact must be disclosed to the examining medical officer. He is then able to carefully examine such a passenger, and decide whether he should be permitted to land. The Government, in my opinion, would be well advised in accepting Senator Rae’s amendment. The time provided for in the amendment would give a sufficient opportunity to discover whether an immigrant is suffering from a disease which would justify his deportation. Some time ago a case of small-pox occurred in one of the States, and every one entering the State was supposed to be examined, and required to obtain a certificate of health before he was allowed to land. He was required also to inform the authorities of his whereabouts, not for a period of three years, or even six months, but only for a few weeks, in order that, should he develop the disease in the meantime, steps might be taken for his. isolation in the interests of the community.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Amendment (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ (5A.) Section 6 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting from paragraph (b) the words “ in the form of the schedule,” and inserting in their stead the words “ as prescribed.”
Clause 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 verbally amended, and agreed to.
Clauses 8 to 10 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– No doubt honorable senators will consider this to be one of the most important Bills of the session. We must all recognise the delays that have occurred in connexion with the business of the High Court of Australia, and the inability of the Court to meet in many directions the requirements of the public. It has been thought necessary to make new appointments to the Bench so as to give the Judges a better opportunity of fulfilling their duties without endangering their health and shortening their lives.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - What evidence is there of their inability ?
– What I am stating are facts. The Bill will therefore enable additional appointments to be made. The only other alteration proposed has reference to the method of dealing with constitutional cases. At present, when there is an equal division of opinion amongst the Judges a casting vote has to determine the issue. The Bill provides that in future when a constitutional case is being tried, if the Judges are equally divided, the case is to be heard again before a larger number of Judges. The increase in the number of Judges, and the provision for doing away with the casting vote, are the whole of the matters contained in the Bill. I move -
– I do not think that the VicePresident of the Executive Council has done himself justice in the short and skimpy statement which he has made. It lasted only two minutes, and gave us very little information. As far as the High Court is concerned, the fact is that it is well up to date with its work. The Arbitration Court is not overwhelmed with work either. I learn that during the past four years the Arbitration Court has made 124 awards: In 1908, it made four, in 1909 three, in 1910 twenty-four, and in 191 1 ninety-three. If we are going to adopt the principle of compelling the miners of Croydon, in Queensland, to be treated in precisely the same way as the miners of Tasmania, we shall have cases lasting as long as the tramway case, the hearing of which occupied 100 working days.
– I understood the honorable senator to say that the Arbitration Court had not done much work.
– I am now dealing with its present position and what is likely to be the case in the future. The number of awards made by the Arbitration Court during 1912, including the award in the main tramway case, was five. The number of plaints in the course of hearing, not including the main tramway case, was two. The number of plaints filed, the hearing of which has not been commenced is eleven. I have obtained this information from the Industrial Registrar, who has been good enough to say that he will be glad to supply any further information in his possession. It is sufficient to say that the Courts at present are not so crowded with work that it is necessary to appoint extra Judges. The High Court has been able to keep up to date, in spite of the illness of Mr. Justice Barton, and the regretted illness, and subsequent death, of Mr. Justice O’Connor.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– When we adjourned for lunch I was pointing out that the High Court, in spite of the disadvantage under which it has operated for some time, is well up to date with its work, and the record of the Arbitration Court shows, in my opinion, that there will be no necessity for the appointment of two Judges,when the late Mr. Justice O’Connor’s place has been filled. I hardly like to believe that we must take top seriously the remarks which Senator McGregor made on another occasion when he referred to the necessity of appointing Judges who would, as he said, hold the same opinion as the party to which he belongs.
– Who would be Australians.
– There is no real necessity for pressing this measure at the present time. The High Court is about to enter upon a long vacation. It will not sit for three months, and then it will be two months before the referenda proposals can be decided. Parliament can be convened, and if it becomes necessary, it will be quite possible to appoint additional Judges after the winter vacation. If we appoint two extra Judges now, as suggested, we shall have seven Judges to control the business of this country with a population of not more than 4,500,000. Yet in the United States of America, with a population approximating 100,000,000, forty-eight States, and six outlying Territories - a country in which people are fond of going to law - the whole of the Supreme Court work can be carried on with one Chief Justice and eight associated Justices. We may possibly want extra Judges if the referenda proposals are carried, but pending that I believe the additional appointments are entirely unnecessary, and a waste of money, and we may find ourselves permanently saddled with additional Judges for whom we are unable to find any work. I move -
That all the words after the word “ That “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ this Bill be no further proceeded with pending the result of the Referendum votes, thereby enabling Parliament to form an estimate of the number, if any, of additional Judges required in the High Court.”
– Senator Chataway in moving his amendment drew attention to certain utterances by the Vice-President of the Excutive Council. I do not intend to discuss those utterances; they are now before the world, and, I take it, express the policy of the Government. But in connexion therewith I desire to quote section 9 of the Judiciary Act, which imposes certain obligations upon those who are, or may be, appointed to the Bench of the High Court. Itreads -
Every Justice of the High Court shall, before proceeding to discharge the duties of his office, take an oath or affirmation of allegiance in the form in the Schedule to the Constitution, and also an oath or affirmation in the form following : -
I, A.B., do swear that I will well and truly serve our Sovereign Lord the King in the office of a Justice of the High Court of Australia, and I will do right to all manner of people according to law without fear or favour, affection, or ill-will : So help me GOD.
Or, I, A.B., do solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that -
And so it runs on as above except as to the words “ So help me God.” That provision applies to those who are on the Bench’ now, as well as to those who will go there. Another great question has arisen, and in order that it may be thoroughly understood, I shall confine myself to a brief quotation from the discussion of the case Moore head v. Hud-dart Parker Limited. I shall make no comment, but merely read the remarks, which will show the issues which have arisen, and those which are still before us. The quotation is taken from the Argus of the 21st October, 1908 -
Justice Isaacs. - I want to prevent any misconception. I should feel bound by that decision if sitting alone -
He was referring to the decision in Barger’s case - but I do not feel bound while sitting as a member of the Full Bench. I shall deem it my paramount duty to deliver my judgment according to what I think the paramount law demands. This Court is not in the position of the House of Lords, and the principle has not yet been determined by the Privy Council.
Chief Justice. - That proposition of my learned brother has never been laid down by any Court before, and is altogether inconsistent with any principle of British Courts.
Justice Isaacs. - But not American Courts.
Justice Higgins. - I, too, should feel bound by that judgment if I were sitting alone, but as a member of this Court I feel quite free to deal with the matter.
Chief Justice. - According to this, any decided point may be re-argued so long as anybody cares to raise it, and the result will be that business could not be carried on.
Justice O’Connor. - Of course, a judgment may be reviewed, but as long as a decision stands it is difficult to see how there can be any continuity in the interpretation of the Constitution unless it is followed. I shall follow any decision of the Court here in constitutional matters, as in any other case.
Justice Isaacs. - The American Court overruled decisions of a hundred years before.
Chief Justice. - And that has been commented on not with admiration.
Distinct issues are raised. I wish to call attention to some equally important issues, which I shall express as briefly as possible.
I think that as a matter of positive law of the Commonwealth -
The second principle I advance for the consideration of the Government while making these appointments is-
The third principle I beg to assert is -
And the last principle I submit as part of a guiding law of the Constitution is this -
That is an expression of the principles of a positive law of the Commonwealth, which binds the Parliament and everybody in it. One of the ablest thinkers of the last century remarked that there can be no safety for the people where positive law is not the sole rule of judicial proceedings. That remark was made by Condorcet when he was discussing the constitution of a judicial tribunal. It is to be hoped that the persons who may beappointed to the High Court Bench will act in conformity with the oath they will take, and in conformity with those settled principles of the law which, I venture tosubmit,I have fairly accurately set out.
– This measure, I think, every honorable senator will agree, is a very necessary one. It appears that the business of the High Court has been growing so rapidly in the past, and is likely to increase so largely in the future, and that the business before the Arbitration Court is likely to be so much greater than it is, that it becomes necessary to add to the number of Judges. That justice ought not to be delayed is one of the first axioms we should lay down. And further, our Judges should not be like over-driven members of Parliament in the closing hours of the session - worked to death. Judges should always be able to bring their clearest and most mature faculties to the consideration of a question. Everything concerned with our social activities is very often placed in their hands. They ought to be men of impartial jndgment, with no particular bias one way or the other, but able to interpret our laws fully and fairly. There is another requisite which,. I think, ought not to be ignored in the choice of the gentlemen who are to sit in future on the High Court Bench. It is all very well to say that men must be impartial, but I think that they also ought to live in the present. Their minds ought to be attuned to the generation in which we live. Instead of that, most of our Judges, unfortunately for ourselves, and unfortunately for the country, live largely in the past. They were trained to the traditions of a dead and bygone age ; they were trained in a murky atmosphere of precedent, and have never been able to free themselves from those influences. Therefore, when new Judges are appointed to the High Court Bench, they should be men who have been brought up under new conditions - men who have absorbed, so to speak, the Australian spirit, and are not likely to interpret our Constitution or our laws in the spirit of a hundred years ago, as has, unfortunately, been found to be the case in more instances than one. Honorable senators on the Opposition bench may probably think that what I want are biased Judges - Judges with a leaning towards Labour. I want nothing of the kind. It would be most unfortunate if any encouragement were given to the idea that our Judges should be biased. The introduction of bias into our Courts would mean that each political party would appoint to the Bench men who would feel bound to be the servants of those who appointed them, and this would bring about corruption and chaos. I am quite willing to take the verdict of the High Court on every occasion. If it declares that the Constitution does not give us sufficient power, the remedy open to us is obvious. All we have to do is to go to the people and obtain their authority for the wideningof the Constitution. It is necessary that the greatest care should be exercised in the choice of our Judges, to insure that they shall be live men who are in line with the new conditions which have been recently brought about, and who are likely to interpret our Constitution in accordance with the ideas of the people who are in Australia to-day. After all, when every argument has” been exhausted and every factstated, the dead are dead, and only those who are alive to-day should exert any influence in our affairs. We are having our day and hour, and we should do what seems best for us for the present. The future may very well be allowed to look after itself.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [2.48].- I think we have some ground for complaint in respect of the perfunctory manner in which this Bill has been placed before us. The Minister in charge seemed to be racing with the clock, and he succeeded in beating it to the extent that time was allowed for another honorable senator to speak before one o’clock Without delivering an exhaustive speech, the Minister might have briefly stated whatever good and valid reasons can be advanced in support of the measure. Perhaps the Vice-President of the Executive Council thought he might be betrayed into a serious mistake such as he made some time ago, when- he spoke of the class of* men we should have on the High Court Bench. The Minister who introduced this Bill in the other Chamber mentioned as one reason for bringing it forward the inability of the High Court to cope with the work it was called upon to perform. I would like to know whether the Vice-President of the Executive Council has any report from the High Court Judges as to the necessity of strengthening the Bench. I have never known of an attempt to increase the number of Judges without first ascertaining from, the Bench whether they considered ‘ it necessary. I wish to know whether the Justices of the High Court have made any representations, or have been invited to offer any opinions, as to the present proposal.’ If it were a matter of policy, the position would be different. One of the proposals in the Bill is that, on all constitutional matters coming before the Court, an absolute majority of the Justices shall determine the law. That, of course, is a matter of policy and principle, and I do not suggest that the Justices of the High Court should be asked to say whether the proposal is right or wrong. That is a matter upon which we can very well exercise our own judgment. When we are dealing with questions relating to our constitutional powers, it is eminently desirable that we should have the full strength of the Bench to consider them. But I think we are entitled to ask for good and valid reasons before we increase the strength of the Bench. If honorable senators will look at the records of the Court they will find that the work has been largely in connexion with the appellate jurisdiction. ;
– Is not that likely to increase ?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT. GOULD.-Probably. It has not been shown that the Court has been overworked in consequence of the large number of cases coming before it. But we know that great pressure has resulted from the illness of two of the Judges-, and the fatal illness of the late Mr. Justice O’Connor. I quite recognise that the vacancy now existing on the Bench should be filled ; but nothing has been said to justify an’ increase in the number of Justices. The amendment submitted by Senator Chataway to the effect that the consideration of the BUI should be postponed until we know the result of the forthcoming referenda, is worthy of serious consideration. When we have the result of the referenda before us we shall be in a better position to judge as to what is required in the way of strengthening the Bench. It is most undesirable that a measure of this kind should be brought before us at this stage of the session. If any difficulty had been foreseen in regard to the carrying out of the work of the Court, the matter might have been dealt with months ago. The appointment of Judges is one of the most important matters to which the Government can be called upon to attend, because we have to depend upon our Judges for the protection of individual interests, as well as of those of the State and Federal authorities. I wish to add a word to what has been said by Senator St. Ledger with regard to the undesirability of the decisions of the High Court being open to review at any moment. Under such a condition of affairs we must destroy the certainty which should attach to the interpretation of our laws. I do not know whether the Government would hold’ that the decision of four Justices should be taken as definitely interpreting the meaning of the Constitution. I should like to know whether, in the event of one or two Judges retiring, or dropping off the Bench, they would consider it a right and proper thing for the whole matter to be reconsidered, and possibly a reverse’ decision given. One of the great advantages of the decisions of an appellate Court is that the law is laid down definitely and with certainty. Whether or not we agree with the law as laid down, we know what has been determined, and if we are dissatisfied with the decisions given, it is open to us, through Parliament, to alter the law, so that it may be in con- formity with our desires. But there should be no re-opening of the decisions of the Court in the manner apparently contemplated, if we are to judge by the remarks of Mr. Justice Isaacs and Mr. Justice Higgins. What is the position? When matters come before these Justices they are prepared to deal with them, and to accept the decision of the Full- Court, but if they can get the matter again referred io the Full Court, they regard themselves as justified in taking up a different attitude. This seems to me to be an altogether undesirable position. It seems to me that we now have an opportunity to make the’ necessary provision for pension rights for the Justices of the’ High Court. The salaries of the Justices are no greater than those paid to Judges in the larger States, who are entitled to pensions.
– Does not the honorable senator consider that the Justices of the High Court get enough salary?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - No, I do not, because many of our present Justices, before they went on the Bench, were earning larger incomes than. they are now receiving.
– No one forced them to go on the Bench.
– No, but we are anxious to obtain the very best talent, and we ought to be prepared to pay the market price. When we compare the salaries given to men holding similar positions in the States, we will see that we are not treating our Justices liberally. If we made provision for pensions, the positions of the Justices of the High Court would be rendered very much more attractive and secure. .It will be very much more in the interests of the Commonwealth to accept the amendment of Senator Chataway. It would not dispose of this question; it would simply leave it until we got further information, which would be very valuable when the decision . of the people was re- corded on the referenda proposals. If they do not agree ,to do that, ‘ the Government ought to be very chary about making two additional appointments on such weak reasoning as has been submitted both here and in the other Chamber. That reasoning does not commend itself to me as being sufficient to justify us in supporting the appointment of two additional Judges. If the appointments are not necessary, we are not justified, merely for the pure love of having the opportunity of getting the political patronage into our hands, in involving the country in the expenditure of from ,£8,000 to £10,000 a year. It has been pointed out by one honorable senator that in the United States of America, -with- a population of upwards of 90,000,000, nine Judges undertake the whole of the work. When people consider the number of Judges that we have in our States and under the Commonwealth, they will be astounded at the number of Judgesnecessary to carry on the judicial work of the country. It ought to be shown clearly that it is necessary to add to the number of Judges before any proposal of this kind is accepted.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
Section 4 of the principal Act is amended by omitting the word “ four “ and inserting in its stead the word “six.”
-8].- I move -
That the word “six” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ five.”
I think that, by the appointment of one additional Judge, the whole of the business of the Court can be overtaken for a long time to come, assuming that the Judges continue in good health ; and even if there were periodical breaks through the illness of a Judge, the Court would still be strong and able to carry out the work.
– We cannot accept this amendment, and if Senator Gould, or any other senator, wants any evidence as to the necessity for a very substantial increase in the number of Judges, he has only to look at the sittings of the High Court during the last two years, and he will find that the remanets from previous sittings have always exceeded the number of new cases. That shows the obvious necessity for the appointment of additional Judges.
– Even if we assume that, as the Court has been constituted during the last twelve months or so–
– The last two years.
– Even if that is so, we have to remember that the Court has not been up to its full strength. It has been carrying on with practically one man short, and it is quite natural that the work, under those circumstances, should get somewhat in arrears. I submit that it is only necessary to make, at the outside, one additional appointment, and then see howthe Court can get along before we go to the extreme of adding two Judges at the present juncture. I cannot keep from my mind the sinister remarks which the Vice-Presidentof the Executive Council made some little time ago in this chamber. We cannot dissociate those remarks from this Bill. The Vice-President of the Executive Council’s statement practically amounted to a declaration on his part that he believed that his political party should find representation on that Court.
– I never said any such thing. I only said, in reply to your interjection, that our party had as much right to representation as any other party. That is not saying that I desire that our party should be represented on that Court.
– If the VicePresident of the Executive Council looks up Hansard he will find that he claimed that his party should be represented on the Court, and said that we should have Australians on the Bench. That is a very serious reflection on Justices Barton and O’Connor. I do not want to deal with that matter, but I cannot dissociate the remarks which the Minister made from this Bill, and I interpret this Bill as providing the means by which the Minister can carry out the object which he clearly had in his mind then. Under those circumstances, one is entitled to ask that the Government should make good the claim to appoint two additional Judges on the ground of public necessity. They have not done so.
– It is self-evident.
– I admit that it is self-evident, if we accept the declaration of the Vice-President of the Executive Council made here a week ago. If the object is to put on the Bench Judges who may be in sympathy with the Government, I admit at once that there is self-evident necessity for it.
– You argue the question so much, that it makes me believe that, if your party were in power, you would do worse.
– The honorable senator justifies it on the assumption that some other party would do worse.
– That is the honorable senator’s only objection.
– It is a very serious objection from the point of view of the public that a political party should use its power to carry legislation to enable it to place on the High Court Bench Judges whose opinions are in accord with its political principles.
– They will be Australians, anyway.
– That is as much as to say that those who are on the Bench now are not Australians. All these interjections . of the VicePresident of the Executive Council make one only the more convinced that the Bill is introduced, not because the High Court needs strengthening, but because it is felt to be desirable in the interests of the Labour party to have on the Bench gentlemen holding views in sympathy with theirs. Similar opinions have been expressed in connexion with the appointment of public officials generally. We have been told that the Government are entitled to select for appointment to the Public Service gentlemen holding views in sympathy with those held by the Government.
– That the holding of those views should not be a bar to their appointment.
– No; it has been claimed that the holding of such views is a justification for their appointment.
– It was always done by the Fusion Government.
– The honorable senator is welcome to any comfort he can find in his frequent use of the term “ Fusion.” The fact remains that mem- bers of the Government to which he belongs in this chamber, and elsewhere, have made public declarations that they believe they are entitled to inquire into the political opinions of individuals before appointing them to public offices. Now we find that the same principle is applied to the constitution of the High Court. In the circumstances, the Opposition would be failing in their duty if they did not merely protest, but voteagainst this proposition.
Question - That the word proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority …. 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment and passed through its remaining stages.
Senator FINDLEY (Victoria- Honorary
Minister) [3.22]. - I move -
That this Bill he now read a second time.
Since they have been in office, the Government have been extremely anxious to extend telephonic communication, especially in remote districts of the Commonwealth that are far from the large centres of population. Honorable senators will understand that the cost of constructing telephone lines is very great in places where suitable timber for telegraph poles is difficult to get. Under the principal Act it is laid down that telegraph poles shall be 20 feet high. The object of thisBill is to reduce the height from 20 feet to 18 feet, not in large centres of population, where the suspension of telegraph and telephone wires at a height of less than 20 feet might be dangerous, but in places where the population is not large, and the suspension of the wires at a height of 18 feet would lead to no inconvenience. Power is taken under this Bill, by regulation, to reduce the height of the poles to 18 feet in such places, and to 12 feet where lines are constructed along country roads, and in places throughout the Commonwealth where the population is scattered, and no danger would arise from the suspension of the wires at such a height. It is believed that the measure will lead to a considerable reduction in the cost of the erection of telephone lines in sparsely-populated districts, and will, consequently, enable the Government to materially increase the facilities for telephonic communication.
– - Inmy opinion, it would have been very much better if the Government had given honorable senators a much earlier opportunity to discuss matters connected with the telephone service. I do not know what the experience of other honorable senators may be, but from my own experience of it, I am prepared to say that it seems to be in a. state approaching chaos. It is in a condition that is highly discreditable to some one.I do not know whether it is the Government who are to blame for this, or the people in charge of the service.
– Order ! The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing on this Bill the administration of the telephone service. I remind him that the Appropriation Bill is on the businesspaper of the Senate, and will come up for consideration presently.
– I have no desire, sir, to question your ruling, but I understood that I would be in order in discussing the service.
– The honorable senator was proceeding to discuss the administration of the service. I remind him that the consideration of the Appropriation Bill has been ordered for a later hour of the day, and on that Bill the honorable senator will be able to discuss the administration of the service in detail.
– Unfortunatel y, there will thenbe no time to do so. I have no doubt that this Bill has been introduced on the advice of the responsible officials, but it does not appear to me that it will effect any great reform or improvement in the telephone service.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Amendment of section 85).
– - I suppose that the Department is satisfied that a 12-ft.pole is sufficiently high ? We all know the danger that may arise from live wires, and I can conceive it quite possible that danger may arise from a wire only 12 feet from the ground.
– There is no danger. There are no live wires in connexion with telephones and telegraphs.
– I always understood that they were dangerous.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The object of this Bill is to enable the people of the Commonwealth to have placed before them in a concise form the reasons in favour of and against the adoption of the Constitution Alteration Bills. The amount of space that may be occupied in stating the arguments for or against each Bill is not to exceed 2,000 words. That is to say, there will be a total of 12,000 words for the six Bills. If either party does not utilize 2,000 words upon one Bill it may correspondingly increase the number of words upon another Bill. This method of circulating information is not an innovation. It has been adopted by various States in America in which the referendum is in use.
– May we advance fresh arguments, or only those already used in the course of debate ?
– I regret to say that I have been unable to find that the Opposition have used any arguments up to the present. If between now and the time when the pamphlet is produced they can discover some arguments, fresh or stale, they will be at liberty to use them in the pamphlet. The estimated cost of printing, publishing, and distributing a copy to each elector is1d. per copy, or a total of£10,000.
– There is a good deal to be said by way of commendation of the idea embodied in this Bill. The people cannot have too much light thrown on what is proposed by the referenda proposals of the Government.
– I hope that the Opposition will intrust the task of preparing its case to Senator St. Ledger.
– I hope so too, because it happens that I have twice been conspicuously successful in connexion withreferenda proposals, and hope to repeat my success. I hope that every member of the Opposition will have the same successas providentially attended my efforts. I wish to know, however, whether there is to be any editing of the reports contained in Hansard when the volume containing the referenda debate is issued? Another point which occurs to me is that another place discussed the Referenda Bills separately, whereas in the Senate we discussed them cumulatively. Will that difference appear in the publication of the Hansard volume? Will we be able to separate our arguments according as they apply to the various Bills, or to send in a condensed statement that will cover the whole six? I am inclined to oppose this proposal, because every one of us had an opportunity of stating his case under the proper limitations of debate. We had the Hansard staff to report what was said. The interpolation of fresh matter now seems to me to be an interference with the province and duties of Parliament. I presume that it will be possible for somebody to tone down what was said in the debate, so as to make our utterances convey to the public quite a different meaning from that conveyed on the floor of the Senate. Is the treatise which is to be issued to be edited by each party? Are the parties to put into it anything they like?
– Are we to make a fresh resume?
– It will not represent the views of individuals but of parties.
– Who is going to express the party view?
– The party collectively.
– Then am I to send in to my leader, Senator Millen, a statement of my case? If so, what is to happen if he does not choose to approve of it? I hope that the remark will not be put down to inflated egotism when I say that I am prepared to stand or fall by my speech on the referenda proposals. I do not want to improve upon it, or to take away from it. Perhaps there are some things I should like to add. There may be some things that it might be well to omit. But if this kind of thing is going to be done at all, I should prefer that the speeches actually delivered in Parliament were circulated. If the editing and re-editing of Hansard is to go on, what will happen? A member of Parliament will make one speech at night, and if the next morning he does’ not like what he has said, he will circulate a new deliverance, full, perhaps, of nice poetical or rhetorical language. Personally, I am not inclined to support the Bill, though as the principle is a good one I am not hopelessly hostile to it.
– I rather suspect that I may differ from some members of my party in reference to this Bill, because I am absolutely opposed to the principle which it represents - that is, the spending of the money of the public for the purpose of doing party propaganda work.
– Then is the honorable senator going to abolish Hansard?
– We do not distribute Hansard in order to advance the interests of parties.
– Oh yes, we do.
– Hansard is a record of the proceedings of Parliament.
– It is distributed to a very great extent.
– The distribution of Hansard does not affect the fate of any political party. It has been stated by politicians on both sides that the referenda will be inseparably interwoven with party fortunes at the next election. I do not hesitate to say that, in my judgment, the referenda question and the fate of parties will be linked together.
– Both sides will be equally represented in the pamphlet.
– I have said that there ought to be no partisanship in the discussion of this matter, because whether it be good or bad it applies equally to both sides. I am objecting to what is proposed on the principle that we are now asked to take money from the Treasury on behalf of the propaganda work of both parties. That is what I hold to be wrong. Public money ought not to be spent for any such purpose. I simply state my objection to the main principle of the Bill as one which, if adopted, is capable of infinite and iniquitous extension. If we adopt this principle there is no reason why, a little later on, it should not be extended to defraying other electioneering expenses, either in connexion with matters inseparable from referenda, or in connexion with’ matters purely concerned with elections. I also want to know how this Bill is to be administered. The first difficulty that presents itself is this : It is provided that arguments for or against a proposed law are to be authorized by a majority of the members of both Houses who voted for or against.
– Who is going to see that the arguments raised have any relation to the proof? Who is to edit the pamphlet ?
– I will come to that point. In the first place, the argument has to be approved by a majority of those who voted for or against the particular Constitution Alteration Bill to which the argument applies. Is the certificate of the leader of each party to be taken, or do the Government propose to appoint officials to attend a party caucus in the. one case, and a party meeting in the other? I accept the compliment paid to me by honorable senators opposite, as recognising the very apt description I have given of the two gatherings. That is the first difficulty in the matter of administration.
– Will it not be in the interest of your party to have the strongest arguments adduced - is not that likely to bring about harmony?
– The question on which I wish to rivet attention is : Ought public money to be spent to help any political party to put forward its arguments? Another matter occurs to me. ‘I want to know what safeguards there are against tampering with the manifestoes when they have been submitted. That is a very im- Oportant point.
– ‘Surely you would keep a proof of the original matter.
– Yes, but that is not the point. Each party is supposed to hand in its manuscript on a certain date, and there is, I take it, to be some editing of the manuscript. Who is to bo the editor? Each party will not be free to send out what it likes, because- restrictions are imposed.
– How would it be for the parties to edit each other’s manuscript?
– Are we to edit our own manuscript or each other’s ? This matter may fill Senator Rae with great glee, because he happens to be in ‘a position where, I am sure, all the machinery of office is behind him, and if there is any possibility of tampering with the manuscript, that possibility will rest in the hands of himself and his friends.
– In other words, you think that I may be the editor?
– In view of_ the publicly-expressed opinion of the Ministry, it is quite possible that they will select an editor with whose political views they have first made themselves familiar. The two documents have to be handed to some.body
– To the Chief Electoral Officer.
– The manuscripts, I take it, will be handed to somebody other than that officer, because they have to be edited. Each side will not be free to put forward what it likes there are restric-tions which bind both parties.
– Read the Bill.
– I ask the Minister to say if it is not proposed to apply restrictions, whether they are contained in the Bill or not.
– There ought to be some restrictions.
– Exactly, and there must be. It has been stated elsewhere by the Attorney-General that it is proposed to put a certain limitation on the matter to go into the manifestoes. The manuscript is, I understand, to be handed to the Chief Electoral Officer. Each side will be at liberty to appoint a gentleman, who is called an arbiter, but who, I take it, may be more correctly designated as an editor. Each editor will be entitled to go through the manuscript prepared by either side, with the view of seeing that nothing therein conflicts with the regulations. What one editor or arbiter may regard as objectionable because of its personal character another editor or arbiter may pass as unobjectionable. Further, there is a great possibility of unfairness being done to the party which happens to be in Opposition. The editors will have to send the edited manuscripts back to the authors in order that those gentlemen may make necessary alterations, so that an editor or an arbiter appointed by a party will when handing back the manuscript to his party be in a position to tell them the nature and the contents of the manuscript submitted by their opponents. It will then be quite competent for that party to re-write its manifesto, in order to make out a specific answer, without giving a reference to the arguments advanced in the opposing manifesto.
– It is awful to think that we cannot get a statement without all that.
– It looks to Senator Barker as if there was nothing to be done but to write out a statement and print it. It is, however, obvious that there must be restriction and supervision.
– As regards personalities, certainly.
– When does a1 thing become personal, and when does it cease to be personal ? I can become personal with Senator Barker without even mentioning his name. Suppose, for instance, that in a manifesto a statement is made that the referenda proposals are being submitted, not because of any need to alter the Constitution, but to enable the Labour party to advance its programme or the personal interests of its members. Will that be personal?
– It will impute motives.
– Exactly. It may state the motives of the party, but it will not be personal to individuals. It will be most difficult and delicate for even unbiased judges to say where the line should be drawn to secure a fair statement. Assuming that each party appoints its own arbiter. Each arbiter will have to see both manifestoes, and then if alterations are to be made a party can easily invite the rejection of this manifesto by putting in obviously objectionable matter. The manifesto will be sent back to the party and revised, but the revised manifesto will not be referred to the other party. To my mind, this proposal is full of danger ana difficulty, and that compels me to oppose the Bill, quite apart from my original objec- tion that public money ought not to be spent for the mere aiding of a party’s propaganda and electioneering work.
– The issue of these pamphlets is a most excellent idea. To say that this is a proposal to assist the propaganda work of a party by the expenditure of public money is to take, a most extreme view of it. At an election where persons only are concerned there may be, not merely two parties, but half-a-dozen; there may be various sections and grades of thought in regard to political subjects which would make it distinctly unfair for any two parties, because they happened to be the dominant ones, to have the sole right of putting before the public their views on some political questions. This is not an election, but a reference to the people of certain questions to which there can be only one answer or the other. Therefore, it is no more a spending of public money to aid a. particular party than would be the spending of public money on ordinary educational work through a Public Instruction Department. It is simply proposed that the best arguments available, pro and con. shall be taken to the door of the elector, so that, instead of being blinded and befogged by mere party statements, he may get, as nearly as practicable, a fair understanding of the position.
– Will not this be a party statement?
– It will be a party statement in a sense, but impersonal, because the limitation to 2,000 words on each proposal will, I think, induce those who draw up the statements to be as concise and terse as possible, and to use only valid argument. Personalities and imputations, while they might catch a vote here and there, would not be as effective generally as the soundest arguments which can be adduced on the merits of the proposals.
– Would you justify a similar expenditure on any ordinary party programme ?
– On such a matter, for instance, as land nationalization?
– Not unless it was to be submitted to a referendum. On a. concrete proposal an elector can only say “Yes” or “No,” but on a political issue the electors might wish to say, “A plague on both your Houses.” The people did not, I am satisfied, fully comprehend the last referenda proposals, and many were utterly be- fogged as to how they ought to vote. The circulation of these pamphlets will put the issues very clearly before the electors, and enable them to give a more intelligent vote ; and, what is more, there will be- less discontent with the verdict than there was on the last occasion. As regards details, I take it that it will be possible to issue regulations.
– The Bill gives no power to make regulations.
– I hope that both parties will endeavour, no matter who draws up the statements, to put the arguments in the clearest and simplest English possible, and not to befog the electors with a lot of parliamentary and technical phraseology. I hope that no lawyers will be engaged in the preparation of this literature, but practical men, who, if necessary, will rather put a point in the language of a bullock-driver or drover than in the language of a parliamentarian. The adop-tion of this plan will be of real educational value. I trust that more frequently the electors will be educated on specific proposals instead of being blinded by misleading statements from honorable members animated by party prejudice, and from a press similarly actuated. This is the first opportunity We have had of putting a clearcut statement before the electors, and they will, I am sure, welcome the pamphlets.
– This is one of the most extraordinary pieces of freak legislation that has been brought forward by the Government. It is proposed that the Government shall have printed and distributed to the electors a pamphlet which is to contain 24,000 words of explanation with regard to the referenda proposals; and in addition to this, there are to be printed papers showing textual alterations of the Constitution.. The pamphlet will have all the appearance of an official document.
– It will be an official document.
– I fail to see how it can be an official document if. for example, I am asked, as the representative of one of the parties, to prepare a statement for publication. Three persons will be called upon to contribute to the pamphlet. First of all, there will be the editor of the Labour party’s arguments; then the editor of the Liberal party’s arguments; and thirdly, the Chief Electoral Officer, who is to include all sorts of matter explanatory of the proposed alterations. The arguments pub forward will be looked upon as official, and those who go on the public platform will be expected to keep, within the scope of those arguments. I, for one, will not consent to having my hands tied, but will hold myself free to apply any particular argument I may think fit to the conditions obtaining in the locality in which I am speaking. I do not care if fifty pamphlets are issued; I shall consider my-self in no way bound by the arguments formulated and issued by some members of the Liberal party.
.- I think the principle of the Bill- is an excellent one, but a serious omission appears to have been made. How is it proposed to exercise supervision over the arguments to be submitted to the electors? There will be ample opportunity for making misleading statements in an article or declaration containing 2,000 words.
– You will be allowed to put in as many lies as you like, so long as they are not of a personal character.
– It would not be so- bad if the Chief Electoral Officer could exercise some control over the matter to be published.
– I am not prepared to trust any party statements to the editing of an official.
– I would be prepared to trust any official appointed by the Government. My complaint is that no provision whatever in the direction I have indicated appears in the Bill. It may be that both parties in their endeavours to make out the strongest possible case will be guilty of serious misrepresentations; and I want to know who is to judge as to whether the statements made are correct or otherwise. The difficulty should be overcome, even if it is necessary to provide for regulations dealing with the situation. No doubt on the last occasion a large number of electors voted under a misapprehension, on account of misstatements made; and we should take care that no misstatements are contained in a document which will go forth with the official brand upon it.
– Must not each party necessarily believe that the arguments of the other side are misleading ?
– Yes, but it is a matter of degree. For example, if the Opposition declaration contained a statement that if the proposals were carried the Government would be certain to tax the people out of existence, the misleading effect would be much more serious than any that would follow a misrepresentation from the platform. The statements from both sides should be carefully edited.
– You edit ours, and we will edit yours.
– I would be perfectly willing to agree to that.
– I warn the honorable senator that if that arrangement were made there would not be much left of the statement coming from the Labour side.
– I would urge the Vice-President of the Executive Council to give some assurance on the point to which I have referred.
– The more we look at this proposal the more absurd and nonsensical it appears. I cannot see that any good purpose would be served by the publication of the document contemplated, and its circulation throughout the Commonwealth at a cost of between ,£10,000 and ,£15,000. It is proposed that two statements shall be published, one by the majority of those members of both Houses who voted for the proposals, and the other by the majority of those members who voted against the proposals. But there are parties, altogether independent of the Labour party or the Opposition. We know that the Labour party were not put into power by the votes of Labour men only, and we know that if the Liberals obtain a majority at .the next election they will not owe it entirely to the members of their political organizations. There are parties outside both these bodies who have an equal right to place their views before the public. They may have the strongest reasons to urge for or against the adoption of the proposals. Take, for example, the Temperance party. The Temperance party may be very strongly interested in the proposal that the Commonwealth shall exercise control over all matters connected with trade and commerce, and particularly in the suggestion that the Commonwealth Government should nationalize the liquor traffic, and that they should conduct licensed houses at the Federal Capital.
– Would you also give the Socialists a chance?
– Why not? Why should they not place their views before the public?
– They can, and will.
– But their statement will not be circulated by the Government, and they will not be able to put forward their views under the same official stamp that will add weight to the representations of other parties. I share the view of Senator Chataway that those who desire to carry on the referenda campaign should not have their hands tied by the arguments advanced in this document. The printing will cost at least £^10,000, and in my opinion this expenditure will be absolutely wasteful and useless. Senator O’Keefe asked who was going to edit these statements. The Bill provides that after the statements are drawn up they shall be forwarded to the Chief Electoral Officer, who shall - within two months after the expiry of those eight weeks, and not later than one week after the issue of the writ, cause to be printed and posted to each elector, as nearly as practicable, a pamphlet containing the arguments together with a statement showing the textual alterations and additions proposed to be made to the Constitution.
Will the Chief Electoral Officer submit them to anybody else and ask, “ Is this a fair statement from that point of view?” Or “ Is this a fair statement from another point of view?” The more I look at this proposal the more I see the futility of it from a practical point of view.
– This is an American invention.
– I do not know whether in America, when an alteration is proposed to be made in the Constitution, a pamphlet is published and issued to the forty or forty-five million electors in that country ; but I do not think the alert Americans would be likely to do anything of that kind. I desire to express my strong disapproval of the proposal. I do not think it will serve any good purpose, and the money spent upon it will be absolutely wasted.
.- I have very little faith in the efficacy of this attempt to give us a perfect political education. How many people will read this document? It would take an ordinary individual, I suppose, a day at least to read through these 24,000 words. ‘ Then, again, is this manifesto going to prevent the issue of any other manifesto? Are the different parties to be at liberty to issue any other manifestos which they choose? If this document is to complete the education of the people, why not distribute it to every elector, and let politicians stop at home quietly and allow the people to vote without addressing them ? That would save a great deal of trouble and expense. Then, again, are these papers to be signed ? We are compelling all our newspapers to have every political article signed within three months of the polling day; and should no these papers also be signed in order that those reading them may be able to gauge the value of them ? I believe that both sides will try to put the position fairly from their points of view; but that will not gel away from the fact that the supporters of bofh sides will state things in their own way, and will colour their statements as much as they please. I shall not be bound by what is contained in this document, which will be of very little use. I do not think it will be valued by the electors and in nine cases out of ten it will be thrown into the waste-paper basket.
– rt is most amusing to see the RipVanWinkles of the Opposition rushing out of their caves and blinking at the sun when something happens to disturb their ancient repose.
– I rise to a point of order. I desire to know if the honorable senator is in order in accusing honorable senators on this side of being Rip VanWinkles ?
– I do not think the expression is unparliamentary. Unless the honorable senator takes exception to it as being personally offensive, I cannot ask for its withdrawal.
– I am very sorry if I have offended. Senator Vardon by comparing him with a gentleman who slept for a very long time, and who has been dead for some centuries. But the attitude taken up by members of the Opposition on this question gave me the impression that they are not up to date, and that they have not yet realized the changes which are gradually taking place in our system of government. In the old days, when the franchise was confined to a few, it did not matter very much whether the people were educated in politics or not; but nowadays, when every man and woman in the Commonwealth is held responsible for the good government of the country, it is extremely desirable that we should have instructed electors. Appeals to ignorance can never do good to the people of the country, either individually or collectively. It is the desire of every member of the Government party, at any rate, that the people of the Commonwealth shall have placed before them a fair statement of our case before they give any decision, and I see no reason why the Opposition should not agree to the proposal if they want an unbiased and fair statement of the case from both sides put before the electors. Senator Millen talked about party politics, but this is not a question of party politics. It is a question of widening the Constitution, so as to give the Federal Parliament fuller powers; and surely on a question of that magnitude, which intimately affects the welfare of every person in the Commonwealth, it is desirable that the people should be fully instructed before they record their votes. I can easily understand the Opposition desiring to keep the people in ignorance. Trie Opposition, as a party, lives on. the ignorance of the people. If the people were instructed, as they ought to be, the Opposition, as a political party, would not live twenty-four hours. The people would sweep them out of existence. Conservatism is a parasitic growth on ignorance. It disappears before knowledge, just as the snow disappears before the sun ; and when ‘the people of Australia are informed, as they will be, and as I believe they desire to be, the party which is now known as the Fusion party - otherwise the Conservative party - will no longer have any existence in Australia. I can understand why the Opposition object to this proposal. They have a huge army of newspapers from end to end of the Commonwealth fighting their battles every day of. the week and every week of the year. They have an army which is ever on the march, and which is ever attacking, by fair means or foul, making misstatements, trying to poison the public mind, distorting facts, and doing everything in its power to deceive and betray the people. That is a statement which may be objected to ; but any one who cares to review the political history of Australia during the last twenty years can come to no other conclusion than that the reforms of which we are proud to-day have been won in the teeth of members of the Opposition. Australia would have been a very poor place to live in if the press of this Continent had had its way. Instead of being the foremost country in the world, it would have been on a level with countries at which we now point the finger of reproach. For the liberty and the conditions which prevail in Australia to-day we have not the press to thank. We nave to thank the strong right arm of the Labour movement, and the people behind it, the spirit that animates it, and the justice which governs it. The Labour party has nothing particular to gain by the issue of this document, except that it desires that the jury shall not be packed, and that the electors shall have an opportunity of understanding the questions at issue. The Conservative press is full of misstatements, misrepresentations, and innuendos, and every kind of device is resorted to to obscure the real issue. Need we be surprised at that when the campaign upon which we have set out is a campaign against trusts? The trust is an animal that lives in all countries, and, while it may not be so large or powerful, or have such sharp teeth or long arms, in one country as in another, still it is of the same species everywhere. What do we find in America? We find the trusts curbing the Legislature; we find them commanding the press ; we find them buying up the Judiciary, and using every means in their power to deceive the people of that great Republic. Are they not trying to do the same thing here on a smaller scale? Has not one trust been accused of contributing the sum of £50,000 to the war chest of the Opposition? I do not know whether the statement is true, but I think that very probably it is. If I were a member of a combine, and had such an interest in the matter as some of them have, I should not begrudge the payment of .£100,000-
– To whom?
– To the press, for the purposes of defeating the proposals of the Government. If the powers which the Labour party are asking for this Parliament are granted bv the people at the referendum, the combines will lose far more than £100,000 as the result, and they know that perfectly well.
– They will lose their lives.
– As combines they will, and I hope, in the interests of the people, that that is what will happen. It is patent why the Opposition are opposed to this proposal. It means the spread of knowledge, and knowledge is power. I approve of this innovation. I think it an excellent idea. I have sufficient faith in the representatives of the Labour party who will draw up their statement to believe that they will do it in a fair and straightforward manner. I believe that the Leader of the Opposition will also present a fair statement to the public. That being the case, both sides of the question will be put before the great jury of the Commonwealth electors, and they will then be in a position to say “ Yes ‘’ or “ No “ when the trial comes on.
– - I wish to say a word in reply to the objection urged by Senator O’Keefe. Honorable senators generally are unduly alarmed as to the effect of this proposal. I ask them to consider what we do in regard to H amaral. It is circulated throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth to any extent which honorable senators please. How is the editing of Hansard carried out? Honorable senators edit Hansard themselves, subject to such corrections as are made by the chief of the Hansard staff, whose only duty in the matter is to see that the text of what honorable senators have said is adhered to.
– If that is what is going on in connexion with Hansard, it is news to me.
– I can quite understand that even the editor of Hansard would never attempt to edit the honorable senator’s speeches.
– And I scarcely ever touch a Hansard proof.
– I can quite believe that also. Notwithstanding, the liberty which is given to honorable senators, I venture to state that Hansard is a Very correct record of our speeches. In connexion with the document provided for in this Bill, the persons who supply the “ copy “ will be the accredited representatives of the respective parties. It has been suggested by the AttorneyGeneral, though it is not provided for in the Bill, that the statements supplied by the accredited representatives of the parties will be sent to the Chief Electoral Officer. Each party will nominate a person who will be, as far as possible, impartial, whose duty it will be to see whether anything is contained in the statements submitted, to which, on personal or other grounds, objection may be taken. If it be found that there is something contained in the statements to which objection may be taken, the two arbiters will decide upon the appointment of a third person, who will determine whether- the objectionable paragraph or statement shall be altered or excised.
– There is no provision for that in the Bill.
– I have admitted that, but the Attorney-General indicated in another place that that is the course which is to be followed. That should remove Senator O’Keefe’s objections. If we can place sufficient trust in the impartiality of Hansard to permit it to be circulated without any limitation there can be no reason to object to the circulation of such a document as may be prepared under this Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
After section six of the Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act 1906-1910 the following section is inserted : - “6a. - (1.) If within eight weeks after the passage of the proposed law through both Houses there is forwarded to the Chief Electoral Officer - the Chief Electoral Officer shall, within two months after the expiry of those eight weeks, and not later than one week after the issue of the writ, cause to be printed and posted to each elector, as nearly as practicable, a pamphlet containing the arguments together with a statement showing the textual alterations and additions proposed to be made to the Constitution.
-37J - We have a further explanation of this matter from the Minister of Defence. It would appear that any honorable senator will have the privilege of submitting any argument he pleases to the accredited representative of his party, and if it secures his approval it will be published in the proposed pamphlet. The pamphlet, we are told, is to be issued on the authority of the Chief Electoral Officer. I wish now to know whether the accredited representative of the party to which I belong is to be guaranteed against action under the law of libel - if, for instance, a reflection upon the Minister of Defence is contained in the statement presented on behalf of the Opposition. If the Chief Electoral Officer is to be held responsible for the circulation of the document, is he to be indemnified against action under the law of libel? It should not be forgotten that Senator Stewart has accused members of the Opposition of misrepresentation, lies, and libel upon Ministers, and members of the party opposite. I wish to know whether the privilege of Parliament will apply to this document.
– I take it that it will be a Parliamentary Paper.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to make that clear? He knows that he is going a little too far. In order to test his sincerity in the matter, I move -
That the following words be added to subclause I : - “ and such statement shall possess the privileges of Parliament.”
Will the Minister of Defence accept that amendment?
– Honorable senators opposite must be very hard up.
– The Minister of Defence suggested that amendment by his interjection. He said that he assumed that the statements would be as authoritative as are the utterances of a member of Parliament. Every statement we make here has the privilege of Parliament, and we cannot be brought to book for any statement we make. This goes to show how dangerous these political instruments may be when put into the hands of those who do not know how to use them. I know where this thing comes from, and I know its purpose. I have not raised this difficulty, but I had the Minister of Defence in the box and under crossexamination for half a minute, and he has let the whole ‘‘cat out of the bag.” I wish him now to stand by his statement that the proposed pamphlet will possess the privilege of Parliament, and to make that clear in the Bill. If the Government are prepared to guarantee that the Chief Electoral Officer will be indemnified against action under the law of libel for the publication and circulation of the proposed pamphlet, he will be able to say what he likes in it. I shall press my amendment to a division in order that the Minister of Defence may make his words good, and that whatever goes into the pamphlet shall have the privilege of Parliament. Senator Stewart has been asking for freedom. I therefore trust that he will vote for this amendment, which will enable anything to be put into the pamphlet, subject to the approval of the party leaders and of the Chief Electoral Officer.
– According to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1911, section i8iaa -
On and after the date of issue and before tike return of any writ for the election of a member for the Senate or for the House of
Representatives, or for the taking of any referendum vote, every article, report, letter, or other matter commenting upon any candidate, or political party, or the issues being submitted to theelectors, printed and published in any newspaper, circular, pamphlet, or dodger shall be signed by the author and authors giving his and their true name and address or names and addresses at the end of the said article, report, letter, or other matter. Penalty, £,50.
If this pamphlet is to be a joint publication, embodying the manifestos of a majority of the party who voted for the referenda proposals, and a majority of those who voted against them, it will have to be signed by all those who contribute to it. Are we, then, to have a string of names attached tothe pamphlet ? Suppose that I send in a contribution which is embodied in the pamphlet. I shall have to sign that portion in order to conform to the Electoral Act,even though I may not agree with other things contained in the statement. Is the pamphlet to consist of several paragraphs, theauthors of each of which will sign their names ? It appears to me that we shall get into a frightful tangle about the matter. Evidently the Bill will not repeal or modify any portion of the Electoral Act, unless a provision is inserted with that specific object. Here we have an illustration of the folly of trying to make individualssign statements which are the work of anumber of people. I shall, after Senator St. Ledger’s amendment is disposed of, move an amendment to meet the point that I have been putting.
– The Government cannot accept Senator St. Ledger’samendment, which is totally unnecessary.
Question - That the words proposed tobe inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 2A. Nothing in section 181AA of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902-1911 shall require the attachment of the signatures and addresses of the contributors to such statements.”
I have given reasons for this amendment, which, I think, will avoid the creation of difficulties later on. I do not think that the carrying of it will delay the Bill.
– Senator Chataway is unnecessarily alarmed about difficulties which he thinks will arise under this Bill. The arguments in the pamphlet will be drawn up by individuals representing respective parties. The person appointed by one party or the other may, in making up his arguments, take suggestions from others, but the statement will be his own. and will be printed over his signature. As he will sign it, it will conform to the Electoral Act.
– Who will sign the statements ?
– The representative of the respective parties.
– Will he not be open to a libel action if there is anything libellous in the pamphlet?
– I do not know.
– You are restricting the members very much.
– I would refer my honorable friend to Senator St. Ledger, but I do not think that either party has an idea of putting in anything libellous. Certainly, the amendment is unnecessary.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - The idea is to protect the Government from getting into a difficulty.
.-Ido not know why the Minister should hesitate to accept the amendment. The views to be put forward in the pamphlet are not to be the views of any one man. The Bill provides that each statement is to be the manifesto of the majority of the party in Parliament supporting it.
– Voiced by the man signing the statement.
– One portion of the statement will be supplied by one member of the party ; another portion will be supplied by another member ; and so on. But, even if the whole of the statement were written by one man, there should not be an obligation cast upon him to attach his signature to it. The views in a statement will not be put forward as the views of an individual, or as the views of a party, but as the views of the majority of a party on whose behalf the statement is circulated. I thought that the Minister would have readily accepted this amendment, which would have removed these manifestos from the operation of section i8iaa of the Electoral Act, because, if there is anything to which that section is inapplicable, it is documents of this kind.
– -If that provision in the Electoral Act meant anything, it certainly meant that it should apply to members of Parliament issuing a pamphlet as well as to any one else issuing a pamphlet. If members of Parliament issue a joint statement over the signature of one man, he will be the author of everything contained in that statement. That will invite an organization to do precisely the same thing at a general election, and it will not be possible to convict any body which issues a joint pamphlet of a breach of the Electoral Act, seeing that the Government will have already, by its action in this matter, authorized a similar offence to be committed. I venture to predict that unless my amendment is adopted, our example will be followed by political parties during electioneering campaigns. A party will issue a joint pamphlet signed by a junior clerk, and it will not be possible to secure a conviction.
Question - That the new clause be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This, to my mind, is another Bill of the session. It is one which, no doubt, will be of very great importance to the trade, commerce, industry, and transport of Australia. Under the Constitution it is practically imperative that, sooner or later, an Inter-State Commission should be appointed. Unsuccessful attempts have been made in the past to bring legislation of this description to some finality. According to the Constitution, the duties of an Inter-State Commission should be to look after railways, navigable rivers, differential and preferential rates, and questions of that kind generally, with such other duties as Parliament may impose upon it. From the immense growth of the Commonwealth, from the magnitude of its affairs, the present Government think that the time has arrived when an Inter-State Commission should be appointed, and invested with power which will enable it to benefit the people. I could dilate at great length upon the advantages of such a body if clothed with the necessary powers to make its work effective, but every honorable senator is, I know, anxious to get to the consideration of the Estimates, and, therefore, I shall be as brief as I possibly can. This is an extensive Bill, containing 79 clauses, included in six parts. The clauses are of a machinery character, and will, I have not the least doubt, pass with very little difficulty. When the Bill is passed and given effect to, we shall have in existence a standing Commission of an advisory character. It will be practically a Board of Trade to look after the interests of the trading public, and a body for the protection and development of the Constitution, which should prove very satisfactory to our constitutional friends in the Senate. The Inter-State Commission will make such investigations as will enable it to be practically an advisory board to Parliament itself. With all these attributes, and the many duties imposed upon that body by the Bill, if the right men are appointed–
– Ah ! “ the right men.”
– Who could be better judges of the men to be appointed than the present Government? Has the honorable senator any suspicion that thepresent Government will not appoint theright men?
– I hope that they will.
– I am sure, and I believe that every senator on this side is sure, that the Government will appoint the right men. They will appoint honest, impartial men, with all the qualifications necessary to carry out the work they will Be called upon to perform. No one on this side is alarmed, and no one on the opposite side need be alarmed. I feel sure that when the members of the Commission are appointed, the whole of the people of Australia will be satisfied, whilst those who come after us will be well pleased with the work performed by the Commission.
– I approach the consideration of this measure with very mixed feelings. I cannot help remembering that the party now represented on the Treasury bench opposed a similar measure three years ago, when it was introduced by the Government with which Senator Millen was connected. I recently read the speeches delivered on that occasion by senators who were opposed to the Bill, and, in my opinion, those utterances demonstrated that there was very small, if any, need of a measure of this character. But, apparently, a change has come o’er the spirit of their dream. In his second-reading speech, the Vice-President of the Executive Council did not go into details. He did not attempt to tell us why this change of policy had taken place. He merely referred to the fact that the institution of the Inter-
State Commission was authorized by the Constitution, and that the behest of the Constitution must be obeyed.
– Owing to the growing importance of the Commonwealth.
– The Constitution was taken from America, and while an InterState Commission may be very useful and necessary in that country, where the railways and a great number of other public utilities are owned by private companies, I fail to see where the need for it - to such an extent, at any rate - comes in here. In j 903, when the first Inter-State Commission Bill was introduced, one reason advanced was that it was necessary to deal with the differential railway rates in operation in the various States. In 1909 that difficulty had been overcome by the Railways Commissioners of the various States, who met and amicably settled their differences. This being so, I do not see why we should appoint this Commission, and give it great powers which will probably never be used. I can quite understand that in America the need for a Commission of this character is clamant. There the whole of the transport business of the country is in the hands of competing railway and steam-ship companies, and therefore it is necessary to have some tribunal to exercise control. In 1909, it was stated by the Labour party that the introduction of the Inter-State Commission was designed to save the face of the Government on the question of the new Protection. I believe that the present Bill has been introduced to save the face, not only of the Government; but of the Opposition, with regard to the old Protection.
– You do not say that the Government brought in the Bill to save the face of the Opposition ?
– I think so. One of the questions with which the Commission will be empowered’ to deal independently altogether of Parliament is the effect and operation of any Tariff Act or other legislation of the Commonwealth with regard -to revenue, Australian manufactures, and industries and trade generally. I would like some member of the Government to say what information Parliament requires with regard to the Tariff. Some time ago ji Tariff Commission sat for a considerable time, and at considerable cost issued a report, and published voluminous evidence, to which I believe very scant consideration was given.
– But further information is necessary to enable Senator Barker to find out where he stands on the fiscal issue.
– I believe that Senator Barker knows perfectly well where he stands, and that Senator Millen is equally well aware of his own position. I presume Senator Barker is a Protectionist - at least he ought to be ; whilst Senator Millen is a Revenue Tariffist. What information do we want with regard to the Tariff that is not readily available to any one who chooses to look for it ? The fiscal policy of the people of Australia is Protection. That is the policy they have adopted by huge majorities on various occasions. But, unfortunately, it has not yet been brought into force by the Parliament of the Commonwealth. This is only another instance of the way in which parliamentary government is used at times to deceive and betray the people whose interests are supposed to be conserved. All that any man who believes in Protection needs to do is to examine the lists of imports and to observe the huge quantities of goods that are flowing over our Tariff wall, at the same time noting how the Tariff revenue is swelling as the revenue of no other country has done, from the same source, in the history of civilization. If the country wants Protection, there is no need to establish this Commission to look into the question. It seems to me that the Commission is to be a sort of standing Royal Commission. The Government could not appoint another _ Royal Commission to investigate the Tariff question, because Royal Commissions have become more or less discredited. In fact, it has become almost an adage that whenever a Government feel that’ they are in a difficulty with regard to any question, and want to shelve it, they refer it to a Royal Commission. Ordinary Royal Commissions have an end. They are constituted for a particular purpose. But this Commission is not only to be perpetual, but is to have a charter to rove all over the continent, and is to be empowered to investigate every conceivable thing in connexion with the political, social, and industrial life of the Commonwealth. It is to cover ground already covered much more effectively by other agencies. We want Protection. We do not want the question to be shelved by a reference to the InterState Commission. We have all the facts we require with regard to the Tariff. We see how goods which ought to be manufactured in the Commonwealth are flowing over our Tariff wall, and this fact, together with the swelling revenue we are receiving from this source, points to the fact that our Tariff is not a Protectionist, but a revenue, Tariff. We do not require the Inter-State Commission to inquire into this very patent fact, at great cost, and at long-drawn-out periods of time. We want something done in this connexion as soon as possible, and any honest politician who desires to carry out what is the declared policy of .the country has the way clear before him. But I have been driven to the conclusion that the Government do not want to touch the Tariff. They are a revenue Tariff Government, and require revenue, and they know that any cutting into the Tariff in the direction of Protection will mean loss of revenue. Therefore, they seek to avoid the necessity of dealing with this question. The Opposition welcome the Inter- State Commission for exactly the same reason. They are delighted to see the revenue going up. They expect to assume office shortly, and they are not anxious to interfere with the large amount of revenue now flowing into the public purse. Therefore, it appears to me that both parties have combined to “bilk” the community out of what the people want. This is an old parliamentary device. It is, indeed, one of the failings which are incidental to parliamentary government. Instead of Parliament doing what the people want, on many occasions it exhausts every resource in trying to evade the popular will. On this occasion we have the Government and the Opposition shaking hands with each other on shelving this question of Tariff reform. I object to anything of that kind. I have all the information I want with regard to the Tariff. I know what it is doing with regard to the revenue. I know what it is doing with regard to Australian manufactures and industry and trade generally. I want no Commission to tell me a single fact in connexion with these matters that is not already in my possession, and, therefore, I object to this power being handed over to the Commission. The Commission is to be authorized to investigate the “ encouragement, improvement, and extension of Australian industries and manufactures in markets outside of Australia, and the opening up of external trade generally.” What have we the High Commissioner for? Are not London and Europe our principal markets? If that is the case, is not the
High Commissioner, with the staff at his. disposal, in a much better position to investigate matters affecting markets outside? Australia, and the opening up of external.’ trade generally, than any Inter- State Commission could possibly be? Then, again, the Commission is to be authorized to .investigate matters affecting labour, employment, and unemployment. Any man who has paid, the slightest attention to the affairs of this Commonwealth knows that all that we want to enable the people off Australia to be constantly and profitably employed is that the abounding natural resources of the country should be placed at the disposal of the people of the country. In connexion with this matter, there is not a single fact which is not patent to> any person who cares to inquire into the subject; indeed, the facts are so clearly visible that he who runs may read. It is not an Inter-State Commission to inquire into these matters that we want, but legislation to effect the remedies we desire for conditions that are known to exist. This sort of thing reminds me very forcibly of what happens occasionally in Great Britain. There are in Great Britain a great number of people who are of a most sympathetic disposition, and who will do anything for the poor, except, as some person very rightly said, get off their backs. These people occasionally agitate for the appointment of a Commission to inquire into the cause of poverty and the remedies that might be devised. Every one knows what is the cause of poverty. The cause of poverty is the unequal distribution of wealth, and the only thing that will cure poverty is a more equal distribution of what is produced.
– The restriction of production through land monopoly is the greatest cause of poverty.
– Certainly. It is perfectly well known that there is land monopoly in Australia. We do not need any Inter- State Commission to inquire into that. The facts are patent to every one. All the information which the Government requires in connexion with that matter can easily be obtained through the Land Tax Department; indeed, the Government does not need any information at all on the subject, because the fact is staring the people of Australia right in the face all the time that there is land monopoly in every State of the Commonwealth. The appointment of an Inter-State Commission seems to be somewhat in the nature of a pious attempt to stave off questions of land reform and effective attack upon land monopolies; and, for that reason, as well as the reasons which I have stated in connexion with the Tariff, I am opposed to it. We have all the information we need in regard to those two matters, if we are serious in our professions of anxiety to deal with these questions. If we are not serious, and if we are only sparring for time, so to speak, in order to avoid dealing with them in the near future, this Inter-State Commission is a remarkably convenient method of accomplishing that end. I do not wish to go into the Bill at length ; I have dealt with the two questions which appeal to me most strongly; but I do say that it is not at all fair to the Senate that a measure of this importance should be brought before the Chamber in the closing hours of the session, when honorable senators have no opportunity of dealing with it as it deserves to be dealt with. Here is a measure which gives a particular Commission very extensive powers. The Commission is not only to be the eyes and ears of the Government, as has been stated by Mr. Deakin somewhere else, but it is to be a judicial authority. Its powers are to be of an unusually extensive character, and, that being the tease, Parliament should have ample opportunity of dealing with it, and trying to put it into workable shape. Then I object to the extravagant salaries which are proposed to be paid to the Commissioners. It is proposed to pay .£2,500 to the Chief Commissioner, and to each of the other Commissioners ,£2,000 a year. The three Commissioners will mop up between them £6,500 a year. Before the Commission is one year in existence it will have a huge Department, and before we know where *we are this Department of the Commission will be costing anything from .£30,000 to £[50,000 a year. And for what? To get the people of Australia information which they already have, or which they can obtain without costing the Commonwealth one single farthing. As regards its judicial powers, have we not the High Court ? Are we not adding to the number of Judges of the High Court, and is it not more desirable that judicial questions should be dealt with by Judges - men who are trained in that kind of work-than by men who, possibly, will be mere amateurs ? It is provided in the Bill that one of the Commissioners shall be of experience in the law.
– Yes, and what kind of experience? Is he to be a barrister, or a solicitor, or a solicitor’s clerk, or a barrister’s clerk, or a police magistrate, or what is he to be? I do not see why one of these Commissioners should be a lawyer. As a matter of fact, lawyers are probably the worst class of people who could be chosen to make the inquiries that are allotted to the Commission in part 3. Lawyers usually confuse and confound matters. Any one who has sat in this Chamber as long as I have, and listened to the arguments of a dozen leading lawyers - one contradicting the other, one giving one reading of the Constitution and another giving another reading - in the end comes to wonder whether there is really anything in the law except its uncertainty. Even Judges of the High Court differ. Men of such great capacity as our High Court Judges take opposite views on questions on many occasions; and, that being the case, I have come to the conclusion that the opinions of lawyers are not worth very much. I do not see any hope of successfully opposing this measure, seeing, that it has the blessing of both the Government and the Opposition - that is one thing that made me extremely suspicious of it - and seeing, also, the right-about-wheel which the Labour party have performed in connexion with it. Three years ago the Labour party were opposed to it : to-day they embrace it. I should like to know why there has been this sudden change of face when the need for the measure now is no greater than it was then. I trust, however, that the appointments to the Commission will be such as to commend themselves, not only to Parliament, but to the country. I hope they will be impartial, and I hope, also, that the members of the Commission will have no bias against the declared policy of Australia with regard to the fiscal question. I am somewhat like the Vice-President; I want men on that Commission who will-
– Be Australians.
– Yes ; and who, instead of hindering the development of Australian industries, will do all in their power to promote and help those industries. The responsibility, of course, is upon the Government. If the appointments are not suitable, Parliament will have its remedy. I hope they will be suitable^ - I believe they will be suitable - but time will tell. If I thought that by voting against the second reading of the Bill 1 could defeat it I would do so; but seeing that there seems to be a junction of forces, that both sides of the Chamber are in favour of it, any opposition to it appears to be hopeless.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [5.45].- On the broad principle of ‘the establishment of an Inter-State Commission, I suppose that honorable senators on both sides are now in agreement, but Senator Stewart was amply justified in complaining that a Bill of this magnitude and importance should be introduced in the closing hours of the session. The necessity for it has not arisen suddenly, and if the Government considered that it should be taken in hand, it might very well have been submitted at a very much earlier date, when it could have been given the attention its importance demands. When, one considers the immense powers proposed to be given to the Inter-State Commission, it is farcical to ask honorable senators to consider this measure at this stage of the session. Senator Stewart was quite right when he referred to the opposition given to a similar Bill by members of the Labour party three years ago.
– -No; not to a similar Bill.
– Senator Pearce occupied more than two hours in opposing that measure.
– One important provision of the other Bill does not appear in this Bill - making the Inter-State Commission an Industrial Appeal Court from State Wages Boards.
– The honorable senator’s objection to the previous measure was not confined to that. He criticised and condemned it. Other members of the Labour party also condemned the measure, and spoke of the proposed establishment of the Commission as extravagant and unnecessary. Speaking on, the question of differential rates, Senator Pearce said -
In America, the evil which the appointment of an Inter-State Commission was intended to remedy was that of differential railway rates. The possibility of the re-imposition of similar rates here does exist, if the Railways Commissioners chose to tear up the agreement at which they have arrived. But what was the force which impelled them to arrive at that agreement? It was the knowledge that this Parliament has power to create an Inter-State Commission. Therefore, until we have proof that there is a likelihood of the Railways Commissioners abrogating the agreement at which they have arrived, we ought not to be in a hurry to establish this costly tribunal.
I ask the Minister of Defence now to say whether .there is any likelihood “of the Railways Commissioners abrogating the agreements already entered into. . He went ore to say -
For the sake of an imaginary break away from the existing agreement, is it worth while setting up such a costly Commission?
He pointed out that the salaries alone would amount to £6,500 a year, and the cost of the Commission annually would be about £30,000. He said further -
If we regard this Bill merely as one which is intended to provide for the functions which would be ordinarily discharged by an InterState Commission, its consideration may very well be deferred. There is nothing to be gained by passing it. It embodies a costly and unnecessary scheme. I venture to say that the real reason for its introduction is a desire to save the face of the Government on the question of the new Protection.
– Hear, hear ! I stand by every word of that.
– Do the present Government desire by the introduction of this measure tosave their face on the question of new Pro,tection ?
– No, we have left that part out of the Bill.
– The honorable senator further said -
They seek to tack on to clauses relating tothe appointment of an Inter-State Commissionprovisions relating to industrial matters, in the ope that by so doing they may secure the support of both sections in this Parliament, and thus insure the passing of the Bill.
The honorable senator’s speech occupied two hours in delivery, and covers about thirty pages of Hansard. From beginning to end it was devoted to showing how undesirable the establishment of an Inter-State Commission was on the ground of expense, and because it was entirely unnecessary.
– I flatter myself that I killed that Bill.
.- Certainly, the Bill did not survive. I recognise that. We have before us now a Bill proposing to grant great powers to an Inter-State Commission. Senator Pearce opposed the previous Bill because it gave the Commission the power to interferewith industrial conditions, yet I find that in clause 16 of this Bill the Commission is to be charged with the duty of investigating all matters affecting -
They are also to investigate river questions, rates, and preferences, and the work of carriers and State authorities other than Slate railway authorities. There are many provisions in this Bill which were not in the previous Bill, and many which were in the previous Bill have been omitted from this measure. This Bill indicates the great reliance which the Government propose to place upon the ability of the Inter-State Commissioners to deal with the very important matters which may be referred to them from time to time. Senator Pearce was not the only member of the Labour party who saw fit to adversely criticise the previous Bill. Senator Henderson also wished to destroy it, and assisted the present Minister of Defence in his opposition to it. He objected to the provisions enabling the Commission to deal with industrial matters, and he said of the Government -
They have designed the Bill, I think, to relieve themselves of the necessity of having to go further with their new Protection proposals. By this means they will get a body of men, who, like the Dublin Corporation, will stand in a position to be uninjured in either body or soul for the term of seven years.
Senator Lynch delivered a long speech on the measure, and also criticised it adversely. In spite of all this, we have not had a single word of explanation as to why the members of the present Government have “jumped Jim Crow” in their attitude towards this question.
– Would the honorable senator remain here for two or three days in order that he might be given the full explanation?
-. Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - It is a disgrace to the Government to introduce such a measure in the closing hours of the session, and ask Parliament to swallow it holus-bolus. We know that honorable senators are anxiously looking forward to the time when they will be able to get away from this place. A number have already departed for their homes, and, in the circumstances, it is utterly impossible that this measure can be debated and considered on reasonable lines.
– It is not impossible; we might be able to do it next week.
– It is all very well for the honorable senator to say that, but we know how the business of this Parliament has been conducted recently. Honorable senators and members in another place have accepted without discussion proposals which, in ordinary circumstances, they would debate at length. We have had twenty-three measures introduced in the Senate within a fortnight of the time when it was expected the session would close. There is no time to discuss this Bill in such a way as to determine the best method of carrying out the object for which it has. been introduced. It may be that it contains provisions which are unconstitutional, but we have notime to consider it. The Government are, however, taking care that a certain amount of political patronage shall be placed in their hands at the last moment. They are passing legislation which will enable them to exercise their patronage in the selection of persons for appointment to these important public positions. I shall say nothing with respect to the appointments which they will make except that I hope they will be such as will give general satisfaction. It is highly undesirable that in the closing hours of a moribund Parliament power should be given to the Government to make five of the most important appointments that could be made. I have said that if it could be shown that there is some urgent necessity for the passing of this Bill at the present time some excuse might be offered for the action of the Government. But if the measure is urgent to-day, it was urgent three months ago, and might have been properly considered if introduced at that time. It is very much to be deprecated that honorable senators should be prepared to allow themselves to be bull-dozed at the end of a session into passing important legislation without proper consideration. We shall be asked presently to take up the consideration of the whole of the Estimates for the year covering an expenditure of about£20,000,000, and will be expected to pass the Appropriation Bill in a very limited period.
– Let us, come back after Christmas.
-.Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - If that were proposed, how many honorable senators would be prepared to come back here from Western Australia or Queensland? Honorable senators are perfectly well aware that they would not be prepared to do so. The Government are charged with the duty of having a sufficient number of members of the Senate present to form a quorum for the transaction of business.
– We can do it, too.
– I challenge the Government to give us an opportunity to discuss this matter fully together with the Appropriation Bill after Christmas.
– We can sit on Monday and Tuesday, if the honorable senator pleases.
– It would require several weeks of parliamentary time to do ample justice to the measures which have been thrust upon us during the last few days. I am not prepared to give consideration to the provisions of this Bill within the time left to us. I make this protest against the unfortunate habit into which Parliament is getting “of passing measures when there is no time to give proper consideration to them.
.- I join with Senator Gould in protesting strongly that such a measure as this should be brought in during the last few days of the session. This Bill could have been introduced months ago. This procedure makes the Senate a mere registration Chamber for the other House.
– The GovernorGeneral announced in his Speech at the beginning of the session the legislation that would be dealt with.
– As Senator Gould has said, this Bill would not have been introduced except for the patronage connected with it. The Government have lived on patronage. When they cease to exercise patronage they will cease to live.
– Some Government would have had to introduce this Bill, and consequently to exercise patronage.
– I am aware that it was imperative, under the Constitution, that some such Bill should be introduced; but, that being so, why did the party opposite oppose the Inter-State Commission Bill some years ago? I again protest against this procedure, and express the hope that the time will come shortly when the business of the country will be transacted in a proper manner.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 (The Chief Commissioner).
– This clause provides that one of the Commissioners shall be a person learned in the law. Will he always be the Chief Commissioner ?
– It is not absolutely necessary, but it may be advisable.
Clause agreed to.
Clause7 - (1.) The Chief Commissioner shall receive a salary of Two thousand five hundred pounds a year, and each of the other Commissioners shall receive a salary of Two thousand pounds a year. (2.) There shall be paid to each Commissioner, on account of his expenses in travelling to discharge the duties of his office such sums as are considered reasonable by the Governor-General.
– I move -
That the words “ five hundred “ be left out.
It appears to me that the salaries provided for are unnecessarily extravagant.
– The Sydney Chamber of Commerce the other day said that the salaries were too low.
– I am not influenced by what the Chamber of Commerce said.
– It was not the Adelaide Chamber of Commerce.
– If it had been it would have made no difference to me. The salaries of the Commissioners will aggregate £6,500 a year. I do not know what their travelling expenses are to be, but I presume that they will be on a liberal scale, equivalent to those paid to Ministers-, who, I believe, get several guineas per day.
– Ministers only get £1 5s. per day.
– We ought to be told what the travelling allowances of the Commissioners are to be. I have an idea that this Commission is going to cost us a very large sum indeed. The effect of my amendment will be to reduce the salary of the Chief Commissioner to £2,000 per annum ; and, if the amendment be agreed to, I shall also move to reduce the salaries of the other Commissioners to £1,500 per year.
– When the Inter-State Commission is appointed, the members will doubtless have to meet in conference officers of the different State Departments; and it would not be very nice for them, with a salary of £1,500 a year, to have to meet, say, the Railways Commissioner of New South Wales, who is paid £3,000 a year.
– If that argument is worth anything, the salary of a member of the Inter-State Commission ought to be £3,000
– No. The Government have considered this question very seriously, and have adopted the scale proposed by the Fusion Ministry, of which the honorable senator was a supporter.
– The honorable senator then opposed the proposal.
– Not on account of the salaries, but for other reasons which I cannot discuss now. The members of the Labour party are not mean enough to think that gentlemen occupying positions on a body like the Inter-State Commission should be belittled as compared with the more highly-paid officers of the States, with whom they will have to come into contact. The salaries have been fixed by the Government after due deliberation, and, as for the allowances, the remarks of Senator Vardon are absolutely incorrect. The travelling allowance of a Judge of the High Court is, I think, £3 3s. a day, and the salary of an Inter-State Commissioner is much less than that of a Judge.
– It is about £500 less.
– It is about £1,000 less in the case of some of the Commissioners, and, therefore, the travelling allowances are proportionately less. As we know, the travelling allowance of every public officer is based on the salary paid, and if the salaries proposed for the Inter-State Commission are reasonable, then the travelling allowances are reasonable.
– I cannot support the amendment of Senator Vardon. The Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce in Sydney told me that he was very much afraid the salaries offered would not. attract first-class commercial men, and knowing something of the salaries of senior officers in various institutions, I do not think that those provided in the Bill are too high. I should like to know whether the head office of the InterState Commission will be in Melbourne, so long as that city is the Seat of Government, and, subsequently, at Yass-Canberra.
– Certainly. The Inter- State Commission will have power to travel from State to State, but the headquarters will be at the Seat of Government.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [6.16].- The Government, we are told, have considered the question of salaries, and have determined to adopt those suggested by their predecessors three years ago. Imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery; but I think that, under all the circumstances, Senator Vardon is entitled to a little more information than he has obtained. Is it contemplated, as suggested by the remarks of Senator Walker, to give the position of Chief Commissioner to one of the leading mercantile men of the community? Is it not more likely that men, who are better known to us in Parliament, may have the luck to be asked to fill a position of the kind? There have been so many rumours as to “the probability of certain gentlemen being appointed, that it would be a good thing to have those rumours either confirmed or officially denied. We have to consider the duties to be performed by the Inter-State Commission, and we have also to consider what salary will be most likely to induce applications from fully competent men. As to the salaries paid to the High Court Judges, we should remember that those gentlemen stand in a very superior position. The High Court decisions are, of course, all-important so far as the law is concerned, and, therefore, the highest ability ought to be attracted to the Court.
– There is no comparison so far as the salaries are concerned.
– At any rate, I have a good deal of sympathy with Senator Vardon, who is proposing a reduction; and if the question goes to a division I shall probably be found supporting him, unless I am given much more substantial reasons for the salaries set forth in the Bill. The Chief Railways Commissioner in New South Wales gets a larger salary than is proposed for the Chairman of the Inter-State Commission; but I believe that the other Commissioners are paid only . £1,500 a year. The whole responsibility in New South Wales is really thrust on the Chief Commissioner.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Vardon’ s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolvedin the negative.
.- There is a stipulation in the clause that the Commissioners are to be paid travelling expenses. I do not wish to ask what the amount will be, but to express the hope that it will be reasonable. The largest amount allowed to an official in Australia for travelling expenses is four guineas a day. In my opinion, one-half of that amount is enough for any man for travelling expenses in Australia. The money of the taxpayers ought not to be thrown away. I hope that the travelling allowance to a Commissioner will not exceed the amount I have stated.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 8 to 12 agreed to.
Clause 13 -
A Commissioner shall not be in the employment of or hold any official relation to any common carrier, or be in any way concerned or interested in the business of a common carrier, or in any way participate or claim to be entitled to participate in any profit, benefit, or emolument arising from any such business.
.- This is rather an important clause. A Commissioner will have to deal with a great many other things besides that of common carrying, whether on land or on sea. He will, for instance, have to deal with the production of, and trade in, commodities, the encouragement of industries and manufactures, markets, the operations of the Tariff, prices of commodities, profits of trade and manufacture, wages, labour, bounties, population, and immigration. There are opportunities for a person to be interested in every one of those matters. A Commissioner ought, it seems to me, to be as much debarred from having an interest in those matters as he should be debarred from having an interest in the business of a common carrier. I propose to move an amendment.
– If you will read clause 15 you will see that there is no necessity for an amendment.
– That clause provides that the Commissioners shall devote the whole of their time to the performance of their duties, and that no Commissioner shall accept or hold any paid employment outside the duties of his office, or be a director of a company. It has nothing to do with the point I am discussing now. It is not a question of employment at all. It may be a question of speculation or investment. It may be a question of where duties are proposed to be raised, or a question of dealing with works on rivers, or a question of land settlement. A Commissioner ought not to be interested in any matter with which he may have to deal. Therefore, I move -
That the following words be added : - “ or in any other business which the Commission may require to deal with.”
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [6.27]. - I have not noticed whether clause 15 will meet what Senator McColl desires to have met.
Senator McColl___ Not at all.
– The clause before the Committee appears to deal chiefly with the prohibition of a Commissioner from being interested in the business of a common carrier. Having regard to the multitude of other duties which will devolve upon the Commissioners, they should be debarred from holding an interest in any matter in respect of which they may be called upon to make inquiries, or to conduct an investigation. It may be, of course, that the Commissioners will be men of such high character that, even though they might be personally interested in a matter with which they were dealing, that fact would not affect their judgment.
– In clause 14 we provide against anything of that kind ; it is very comprehensive.
– Clause 14 provides that a Commissioner shall not exercise any power under the Act in any matter in which he is directly or indirectly interested.
– He may refrain from voting on one particular matter.
– It appears to me that, although clause 14 is intended to embrace everything, it is not comprehensive enough to meet the case which has been suggested by Senator McColl.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 14 (Commissioner not to act where interested).
.- -It seems to me that this clause will not impose a sufficient check on the Commissioners. Clause 16 contains several paragraphs all of which are connected with industries and manufactures. There is nothing to prevent a Commissioner being interested in one of these. I think that these provisions require to be tightened up very considerably. They leave a very wide door open, and no persons are inclined to be more censorious than are honorable senators opposite. Consequently, anything which will allow of any suspicion being attached to a Commissioner ought to be removed.
– This clause provides that a member of the Commission shall not act if he is in any way interested in any matter which comes before it. I hope that Senator McColl will not delay the passing of the Bill, seeing that the clause already provides for adequate protection of the public interests.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 15 agreed to.
Clause 16 (Commission to investigate certain matters)..
– This clause will confer upon the Commission powers which were not conferred by the last Inter- State Commission Bill. I refer to the powers which will be vested in the Commission by paragraphs e,f,g,andh. I do not know whether the Government anticipate the defeat of their referenda proposals. It looks as if they do, and it seems that they are, therefore, anxious to bring in all these questions. The Commission is to be charged with the duty of investigating various matters, amongst them the price of commodities, . the profits of trade and manufacture, wages and social and industrial conditions, and labour, employment, and unemployment. I wish to know why persons who are engaged in business should practically have to answer the same inquiries from quite a number of sources. Already provision is made in the Australian Industries Preservation Act for inquiries to be put to them by the Minister of Trade and Customs. The Commonwealth Statistician also has power to make a number of inquiries bearing on the same subjects. I fail to see any necessity for vesting the Commission with power to inquire into these matters seeing that they are sufficiently provided for already.
– They are not provided for.
– If wages and social and industrial conditions are not covered by Wages Boards, I do not know what is. If a good many of these matters are not covered by our Arbitration Court, I do not know what is.
– This clause will not give us legislative powers.
– I know that. But why should people be called upon to answer questions from two or three different sources ?
– Why do we register a dog, or a birth, or anything else ?
– That is’ just one of those irrelevant interjections which are characteristic of the Vice-President of the Executive Council. We have a right to know why the Commissioners are instructed to investigate matters in regard to which it is the duty of other authorities to make inquiries.
– What other authorities ?
– Provision is made for investigations under the Industries Preservation Act.
– Only under special circumstances.
– The inquiry of the Inter-State Commission will be made only under special circumstances. These provisions are unnecessary; they put work on the Commission which it is not needful for it to do, and overload the Bill.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 17 -
– In regard to paragraph c of this clause, 1 would point out that section 100 of the Constitution says -
The Commonwealth shall not, by any law or regulation of trade or commerce, abridge the right of a State or of the residents therein to the reasonable use of the waters of rivers for conservation or irrigation.
The control of irrigation and water conservation was one of the knottiest questions with which the Convention had to deal, and its settlement took several days, # being almost as diffi cult as the settlement of the financial question. In New South Wales and Victoria, especially in the latter State, the waters of the Murray are being used for irrigation more and more every year; and I, as a Victorian senator, am jealous of the interference by any authority with that use. I do not think that the Commission should have the power which is given in the clause, and I shall, later, move an amendment.
– Under this clause, the Commission may, on its own volition, proceed to an investigation of what we may call the rivers question ; but, under the provision in the Bill of 1909, which was warmly opposed by the present Ministers, the Commission’s investigation had to be at the instigation of the Governor-General, which, in my opinion, is better. The rivers question creates a good deal of interest as between State and State, and frequently threatens to develop into a political question. It is, therefore, not desirable te* have any public body empowered to investigate it on its own motion, and, it maybe, contrary almost to the will of the Parliament. It is reasonable to assume that, the Government of the day would be the best judge whether an investigation was needed. I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council if he will accept an amendment on the clause?
– Senator McColl need not be alarmed. The Commission, under this clause, has power to investigate only ; it cannot take action at any time. Its duty will be to assist the Parliament in determining whether there has been any violation of the Constitution in respect of the disposition of the waters of the rivers. The framers of the Constitution seemed to think that this was specially the work of the Commission.
– The Vice-President has not replied to my question. To my mind, there is the possibility of friction between State and State, and State and Commonwealth, in regard to the rivers question, and the initiation of an investigation should, therefore, be in the hands of the Government. The present Administration is generally asking for more power, and in this instance I wish to increase its power. Trouble might be created by over-zealous action on the part of the Commission in inquiring into a matter in regard to which the Ministry of the day was negotiating with the State Ministry.
– Senator Millen ought to know that the rights of individuals may be abridged by the action of others, and those who deem themselves injured may appeal to the Commission for an inquiry. The honorable senator would be the last to say that a Government should have power to prevent such an inquiry. We think it better to leave the Commission free to act as it thinks necessary.
– The Minister ignores the fact that it is one thing to deal with individuals and another to deal with sovereign States, and it may make trouble if a body of this kind is left free to inquire, at its own volition, into matters concerning which the Governments of the States have jurisdiction.
– The Constitution gives the Commission this power.
– Section 101 provides -
There shall be an Inter-State Commission, with such powers of adjudication and administration as the Parliament deems necessary for the execution and maintenance, within the Commonwealth, of the provisions of this Constitution relating to trade and commerce and of all laws made thereunder.
I am not suggesting that the Government are acting in excess of their powers.
– The honorable senator should also read section 100.
– That section declares that the Commonwealth shall not abridge the right of a State or of the residents therein to the reasonable use of the waters of rivers for conservation or irrigation. That is a limitation to which I am glad the honorable senator has drawn my attention. There are limits beyond which the Inter- State Commission cannot go, as the High Court is at present constituted. How it will be constituted a few months hence I do not know. Communications between sovereign Governments should be made direct, and not throughpublic servants. The Commissioners will be public servants.
– They are only to report.
– But they are to have power to call for the production of papers out of any State Department. There is a recognised channel along which communications between sovereign Govern ments flow, and it should be observed in this case. Riparian matters are highly important, and we should be careful how we deal with them. I move -
That after the word “ Commission,” line1, the words “ when required to do so by the Governor-General,” be inserted.
– I am thoroughly in accord with this provision, believing it a proper one to make. The Murray waters question is already a very important one, and I think the Commission should have this power. At the same time, I am surprised to learn from the Vice-President of the Executive Council that any one may request the Commission to investigate. Surely that is not intended. I think that Senator Millen is right in urging that the recognised channels along which communications between one Government and another pass should be observed in this instance, and I heartily support the amendment.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 18 to 42 agreed to.
Clause 43 (Commission may state a case).
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) [8.34[. - This is a provision which would enable the Commission to submit to the High Court a question of law provided it is moved to do so by one of the parties before the Commission. This would unduly restrict the Commission, because it might desire to have the opinion of the High Court on a point of law for its own guidance before giving “its decision. Under the clause, the Commission would not be able to refer a point of law to the High Court on its own volition,, and the parties could not move in the matter until the decision of the Court had been given. In support of my contention, I may point out that in the Judiciary Act 1910 it is provided -
Whenever the Governor-General refers to the High Court for hearing and determination any question of law as to the validity of any Act or enactment of the Parliament the High Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine the matter.
That provision was adopted, because it was pointed out that Parliament frequently legislated, perhaps in ignorance, as to its constitutional powers, and that it might be desirable to obtain a declaration as to the powers of the Parliament, even though there was no case before the Court. The Commission should have the power before entering up its finding, and perhaps adjudicating between conflicting parties, to itself seek the guidance of the High Court. Under the provision as it stands, the Commission will be called upon to give its decision, although it may be in doubt upon a question of law, and only after its decision has been given will it be possible for one of the parties to submit a question of law to the High Court. The Commission should be able to ascertain what the law is, and then give its decision equitably to both parties, and thereby save further litigation.
– I have no legal authority for saying so, but I think the power provided for in the clause is given for two reasons. In the first place, it has been found that unless there is a legal point actually at issue, the High Court will not give a decision, and, in the next place, I do not think it would be wise to give to the Inter-State Commission, unless it is moved to do so, the right to submit every difficult’ question that might arise to the High Court, and thus shirk its own responsibility. -Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) [8.38]. - The argument of the Minister impresses me ; but my point is that the Commission should have an opportunity of going to the High Court before giving its decision. However, I do not propose to hammer away at proposals, how.ever good they may be, in view of the fact that the Minister makes it clear that he is not prepared to consider them.
– I think the honorable senator must see that if the power he proposes to give the Inter- State Commission were exercised, the parties who moved the Commission might be involved in very heavy costs. It would not be right for the parties appearing before the Commission to be involved in costs on the ipse dixit of the Commission when they had no desire to go before the Court. It might readly be assumed that if any of the parties saw that there was a legal point that would be likely to be to their advantage they would very soon move the Commission to state a case before the High Court.
– The Minister says that if the Commission proceeds of its own volition, it might involve the parties before the Commission in costs. That would certainly be the case if the clause remained as it is now, but if the amendment were made that I suggest, giving the Commission the right to move of its own volition, an alteration of the clause would be necessary to state that in that case the costs would fall upon the Commission, as they ought to. The whole position is this : that the Commission is togo blundering along in the dark without the legal advice of the High Court, giving decisions which may be wrong, but trusting to luck, with the result that the unfortunateprivate litigants would be cast in costs when they carried an appeal to the High Court.
– There can be nocosts given against the Inter-State Commission.
– That is the old fiction that you cannot give costs against the. Crown. It is one of the relics of barbarism to say that the Crown should be exempt, from costs which fall upon individuals. We ought to keep down to a minimum the costs. in which private individuals will be involved when they come before the Commission. The attitude I am taking up isthat the Commission ought to have the right, when it is in doubt on a legal point, to place the case before the High Court, and get the guidance of that Court. If the Commission wants legal advice it ought to pay for it. When the Commission is in doubt as to what the law is, the responsibility ought to be on the Commission to find- out the law, and not throw the cost of doing that on the parties before the Commission.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 44 to 66 agreed to.
Clause 67 (Dismissal by employers of witness).
– This clause provides that if an employer dismisses an employe for giving evidence before the Commission, he shall be guilty of an indictable offence, and liable to a penalty of£500, or imprisonment for one year. The clause is absolutely useless,because, if an employer wants to be nasty, he has a hundred and one ways of making a man’s life miserable. He can submit a man to all kinds of petty indignities, until the man will not care about staying in his employ. Then, again, I think the penalty of £500 or imprisonment for one year for dismissing an employe is altogether too severe.
– This clause is taken from the Royal Commissions Act.
– I know that, and that is all the more reason why it should not appear in this Bill.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 68 and 69 agreed to.
Clause 70 -
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia -
Minister of Defence) [8.49]. - I move -
That the following new sub-clause be added : - “(3.) Where the expenses allowable to a witness summoned under this Act for travelling from the place where the summons is served to the place at which he is summoned to attend exceed 5s., the amount of such expenses shall be tendered to him before the journey.”
This amendment is moved in pursuance of a promise made by the Attorney-General in another place.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 70 agreed to.
Clause 71 -
Proceedings for the commitment for trial of any person charged with an indictable offence against this Act may be instituted by any person.
– This is a provision to enable proceedings for indictable offences against the provisions of this Bill to be instituted, in the legal phrase, by a “ common informer,” and not by direction of the Attorney- Gene ral, whose business it should be to protect the Inter-State Commission. If I happened to see evidence in a newspaper report of the committal of an offence against this Bill, I should have the right under this clause to lay an information against the offender and have him prosecuted. Surely the Inter-State Commission will be able to deal with persons who commit offences against the provisions of this Bill. I suppose that the next proposal will be to provide for the imposition of a fine and allow a common informer to get a portion of it. That is the usual inducement to common informers to take such action as is contemplated under this clause. I consider it an unheard-of provision, and I hope that some explanation of it will be given. As the VicePresident of the Executive Council apparently does not choose to reply, I suppose I am to understand that I am correct in my statement that any informer maytake action against any person who has offended against this Bill, and that the Government are not prepared on their own volition to protect the Inter-State Commission.
– If an award is made by the InterState Commission in favour of a person, and the award is broken, to the injury ofthat person, he should have some remedy, and this clause will give it to him.
– That is only in the case of awards, but we have been told that the Inter-State Commission will not make awards, but inquiries. “ It does not seem to me to be at all reasonable to permit any person to lay an information against another, and have him prosecuted for an offence against this Bill.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 73 to 79 and title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment, and passed through its remaining stages.
– - I rnove -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I am sure that every honorable senator on this side admits the importance of land tax assessment. This little Bill is introduced with the object of more equitably distributing the land tax between the owner and the lessee. There may be some technicalities in such a measure, but in view of the fact that all who have a substantial interest in the community-created values of land should contribute to the revenue there can be no objection to the passing of this measure.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [8.58].- Perhaps it is a mercy that the Minister in charge of this Bill did not take the trouble to read the very technical explanation of its provisions, which was read in another place when it was under consideration there. I have had an opportunity during the last few minutes to read it, and I must admit that I do not feel at the present time competent to properly discuss it. It appears to me that the principle on which the Government have gone is this. They think that there are some places in which they can tighten the screws, and, by so doing, screw a little more money out of the taxpayers of the country.
– Which the tax.payers are entitled to pay.
.- The Vice-President of the Executive Council attempts to persuade us that this is only a little Bill, intended to make the original Act work more smoothly in the desired direction. He has forgotten to point out that there is a provision in the Bill dealing with the method in which the assessment is to be made, and the unimproved value of properties is to be estimated. An effort is evidently to be made to reduce as far as possible the unimproved value which is to be deducted from the improved value.
– Will the honorable senator not admit that the object of the measure is to prevent the evasion of the land tax rather than to impose additional taxation ?
– If this Bill is administered as I suppose it will be, there can be no doubt that it will add to the amount of taxation derived by the Government under the existing Act. It is a very unreasonable thing to bring forward so highly technical a Bill as this must necessarily be at so late a stage of .the session. Probably it is all plain to the Land Tax Commissioner and his -officials, who are familiar with the working of the existing law, and probably see where some tightening up is required. That seems to be the principal consideration of Minis ters and their advisers. If I were satisfied that it was a fair and reasonable measure I would concur in it, because I fully realize that we have accepted and embodied in the law of the Commonwealth the principle of the taxation of the unimproved values of land. But we ought to be very careful when we are making alterations’ in the law and changes with regard to the way in which details are worked out. Under certain circumstances, people may be quite satisfied that a fair thing is being done; in other circumstances, they may feel that wrong is being done. In any case honorable senators are literally in the dark, as far as concerns information that has been supplied by the Government. Consequently, I shall have to be content to register my protest against the way in which the subject is being dealt with, and to express regret that Ministers have not seen fit to make such an explanation as honorable senators might reasonably expect when called upon to give a vote upon such a Bill. But I know perfectly well that all that the Government have to do is to submit a Bill of this kind and call upon their followers to support it. They need not give arguments or -reasons. No member of their party cares two straws for reasons. The Government simply say, “ We want this Bill,” and that is sufficient for their supporters. There is no question of giving independent consideration to the measure. Such a procedure is an absolute farce. It is like turning the handle of a machine and producing manufactured goods.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Amendment of section 3).
– Will the Minister explain these clauses as they are put? It is utterly impossible for honorable senators to understand them, unless we receive a Ministerial explanation. We have not had time to compare the Bill with the principal Act, and to study the effect of the proposed alterations of the law. Even the Prime Minister, in introducing the Bill in another place, declared that it was so technical that he did not understand it. Surely some information might be given to us, so that we may know what we are voting for. If the VicePresident of the Executive Council cannot explain the clauses, I shall take no further. part in the consideration of them in Committee, because I regard the whole procedure as a farce. Clause agreed to.
Clauses 3 to 12 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
Senator VARDON (South Australia; [9.7].- I wish again to enter my sincere and earnest protest against legislating under these conditions, and against the discourtesy of the Government towards honorable senators.
d- - Their incompetency.
– The Bill is exceedingly difficult to understand, and honorable senators could not be expected to grasp its meaning within the time that has been available to them. They could not find out what the amendments of the law imply. But the Vice-President of the Executive Council sits at his desk, and, when information is asked for, does not vouchsafe a word of explanation. His second-reading speech was the most perfunctory thing of the kind I have ever listened to in all my life. I utter my most sincere protest against this kind of thing as being unjust, unfair, and unwarrantable in every way. I hope we shall never see a Bill handled in such a way in the Senate again.
.- Senator Vardon asked in the most courteous manner that the clauses of the Bill might be explained one by one. He made no attempt to “stone-wall.” He simply asked for an explanation, as he had a perfect right to do. Ministers are expected to understand what we are doing. If they do not, they ought not to be there. It is their duty to give us the information we desire.
– I understand all about it.
– Then it is the “ insolence of office “ that is being exhibited.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [9.9].- I can understand that honorable senators feel very indignant at the way we have been treated. The remarks that have’ ‘just been made were quite justified. But, after all, we must give some consideration to the ignorance and incompetency of the Minister in charge of the Bill with regard to what it really means.
– Thank you very much.
– Are these remarks in order ?
– I point out to you, Mr. President, before you give a ruling that I referred to the “ ignorance and incompetency “ of the Minister in regard to the provisions of the Bill.
– You need not be offensive.
– Oh, let him alone.
-. Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - But the Minister says that I am not offensive in my remarks; and surely they cannot be offensive to Senator de Largie, who is not in charge of the Senate. Even the Prime Minister admitted that he did not understand thismeasure.
- Senator de Largie has asked my ruling as to whether the words used by Senator’ Gould are out of order. Senator Gould has made the explanation that his statement as to “ignorance and incompetency “ of the Minister had reference only to the Bill before us; and I certainly do not think that the remark is out of order.
– I do not think that any Minister has found himself in a position to explain the real merits of the Bill. I am aware that a technical explanation was handed to one pf the Ministers, and that that description was read in another place, but honorable members there had no opportunity to enable themselves to thoroughly understand what they were dealing with. When an honorable senator asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council to explain the clauses as they came up for consideration, it would have been much better on the part of the Minister to have admitted his inability to give an explanation, and to state, what is really the fact, that the Bill is submitted to us at such a time, and under such circumstances, that we must accept it on trust. I was determined not to offer any remarks on any of the clauses in Committee, for the simple reason that I had no information that would justify me in doing so, and because I felt that it would be a case of “ the blind leading the blind.”
– More politeness !
– If the honorable senator thinks that anything offensive is intended, I can assure him that that is not so.
– But the honorable senator has used the words.
– If the words are offensive I shall certainly withdraw them.
Senator -McGregor. - I do not think the words are offensive, but they are not fitting words to be used by one like the honorable senator.
– I have told the honorable senator that there was no intention to be offensive in making the remarks.
– I would not accept the honorable senator’s apology if he gave it to me for 6s. 8d. !
.- If the Vice-President of the Executive Council does not desire my apology he shall not have it. All this only shows how the Senate is being treated. Even ordinary courtesy cannot be extended by Ministers to honorable senators opposite. It is a great pity that the Minister did not either attempt to give the information, or admit that he could not do so. He has the officers of the Department close at hand, and I presume that those officers, who had something to do with the preparation of the measure, could assist him in the matter. But we are expected to swallow all the legislation offered, in order that we may get away for the Christmas holidays. t If this is :to happen time after time, then all that Ministers have to do when they have a difficult piece of legislation that is likely to be opposed, is to keep it until the last moment.
– There are certain proverbs which are so generally understood that they are frequently used for the purpose of illustrating an argument, and Senator Gould used such a proverb.
– Do not apologize for him I
– I am not apologizing for anybody. I desire to protest against the effort made to so twist a wellknown proverb as to make it appear to have a personal application. As to the Bill itself, I am ‘free to admit that, beyond the one clause relating to the valuation of improvements, I do not pretend to know anything about it, and I fancy that no one in this Chamber can claim any advantage over me in that respect. I make no excuse about the matter, seeing that in another place the Prime Minister himself read a memorandum from the officials of the Department, and he was not at all diffident in saying that he did not understand the Bill he was introducing. The whole measure is so highly technical and legal that even a constitutional lawyer like Mr. Irvine admitted that, although he had spent hours over it in his endeavour to grasp its full meaning, his labour had been wasted. Under the circumstances, we have to assume that, in some way, tthis Bill originated in the Department itself, and that the proposed amendments, good or bad, are put forward on the part of the administrators of the Act as necessary to supply some defects which experience lias disclosed. In the absence of any knowledge as to what the amendments mean, and of anybody able to explain them, I can only : assume” that they have:, been submitted because they are necessary, and, under the circumstances, I must accept them, in the hope that they will enable the Commissioner of Taxes to do what he thinks is necessary to effectively administer the main Act.
– Honorable senators opposite have become very dense. I am sure that, even apart from the clause relating to the value of improvements, I could, if there was any amount of time at our disposal, explain the provisions of the Bill with satisfaction to myself, though I do not say with satisfaction to honorable senators. Senator Gould, however, says that it is my ignorance of the subject that has prevented me from giving any explanation. Why does the honorable senator not ask ari explanation of every clause in every other Bill that is submitted ? It is the custom at the end of the session to allow clauses to pass as rapidly as possible ; and if any honorable senator desires any explanation of a particular provision, such explanation is never withheld. As to the use of proverbs by Senator’ Gould, the meanest dog in the world would not afflict another afflicted dog in such a way, because it would have the common sense to think of the value of the proverb, and the application of it before using it. If Senator Gould did not use the proverb intentionally, then he used it without thinking of its application, and he is just as blame- worthy as if he had used it intentionally. However, I have no desire to pit my knowledge against that of Senator Gould,or even Senator Millen, on questions of this sort. Does either of those gentlemen, or does Senator McColl, or Senator Vardon, imagine that it is the duty of a Minister to explain every clause and every phrase in a Bill ?
– Yes, if an explanation is asked for.
– I was not asked to give an explanation of every clause ; no particular information was requested, and I gave all the necessary genera] information on the second reading. In any case, it is the duty of honorable senators to read Bills for themselves.
– When there is time.
– Honorable senators have as much time as I have, and probably more; and they are as much called upon to do the work of the country as any Minister of the day. I always endeavour to carry out any business I have to do as carefully and as courteously as possible, and if honorable senators on the other side are inclined to be insulting and thoughtless in the way they have Been this evening, then they can take what they like from me.
– Yes, we can treat it with contempt.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
The PRESIDENT laid upon the table
Audit Act 1901-1909. - The Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure during the year ended 30th June, 1912, accompanied by the Report of the AuditorGeneral.
Ordered to be printed.
Order of the Day discharged.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is a very short Bill to correct what may be considered to be, if not a mistake, a misunderstanding in the Inscribed Stock Act of 191 1. Section 45 provides that a report shall be furnished in March and Sep tember of each year, and that at those times 10s. per cent. interest shall be allowed to a sinking fund. As the allowance is made every half-year, the aggregate is ?1 a year. The provision might be read by some persons to mean that 1 per cent., instead of 1/2 per cent., has to be put to the sinking fund. The object of this little Bill is to amend the section by introducing the words “ per annum “ after the words “ ten shillings per centum,” so as to make it quite clear that it is a1/2 per cent. sinking fund which is intended.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages.
Bill received from the House of Representatives ; Standing Orders suspended, and Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The object of this Bill is to validate certain Orders in Council dealing with the acquisition of properties. The Crown Solicitor has informed the Government that the acquisition of certain properties for the general purposes of the Commonwealth is not strictly in conformity with the law, and that an amendment is necessary to validate those purchases.
– In what way has it been an informality?
– The lands were acquired for the general purposes of the Commonwealth.
– Is it necessary to state the specific purpose for which a property is acquired?
– Yes. There have been half-a-dozen cases of this kind, and it is thought desirable that they should be validated. Hence the introduction of this measure, which will validate what has been done, and enable the lands acquired to come within the scope of the Act.
– I should like to be abundantly clear as to the purpose of this Bill, and to see whether, in addition to validating certain purchases already completed, it may or may not open the door and encourage a practice which is undesirable. I understand that hitherto the Act contemplated that where a piece of land was acquired by the Commonwealth it should be so acquired for a specific purpose. I ask the Minister to say whether the law requires that the specific purpose shall be stated ?
– And now it is desired to be able to acquire a property without stating the specific purpose?
– No, only to validate what has been done. Half-a-dozen acquisitions have taken place for Commonwealth purposes..
– I understand that the Bill validates certain acquisitions which have already been made; but does it make a practice part of the law in future?
– It simply validates certain acquisitions which have been made for Commonwealth purposes?
– That is all right.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [9.29].- The Minister stated, I think, that these were lands acquired within the Federal Capital area. It does not apply to any other properties, I presume?
– Yes; to the property at Perth, amongst others. In all, there are about half-a-dozen cases.
– Are the properties situated in different portions of the Commonwealth?
– They were all acquired for public purposes, and so used, and there was an oversight, I presume, in regard ?o the dedication ?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Certain notifications to be deemed effective).
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) (9.31]. - I would like to point out that, so far as I remember, this is the first validating Bill which we have had to consider in the Commonwealth Parliament.
– We had a validating Bill in connexion with the Trust Fund.
– I had forgotten that. It seems to me that, in dealing with validating measures, it is desirable that we should follow a practice which obtains in my own State, namely, that where such Bills deal with specific parcels of land, there should be attached to them schedules showing the particular pieces of land to which they apply. It appears to me highly desirable that that practice should be adopted if it be found - as it probably will - that we shall require to pass validating Bills in the future.
– I think that the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition is one which deserves consideration, but I would urge him not to press it in relation to this Bill”. I will bring his suggestion under the notice of the AttorneyGeneral, because one can easily see that, as the years go by, it may be necessary to introduce further validating Bills.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, with a message intimating that it had agreed to the amendment made by the Senate with an amendment, to which it desired the concurrence of the Senate.
That the amendment be considered in Committee forthwith.
– This is merely a drafting amendment, and does not in any way affect the amendment inserted in the Bill on the motion of Senator Chataway having reference to the making of a return. I move -
That the Committee agree to the amendment of the House of Representatives upon the Senate’s amendment.
Motion agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendment made by the Senate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
– There is nothing but a desire upon this side of the Chamber to assist the Government to close the session. But this is the second new Bill which has made its appearance here to-night; and, although I admit that both measures are small, I should like to have an assurance that we are not going to have crowded upon us a lot of Bills of which we have never heard anything.
– This is the last one.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
– South Australia - Vice-President of the Executive Council) [9.41]. - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time. I am sorry that the Bill has been so late in coming before the Senate. It is believed that the Commonwealth Workmen’s Compensation Bill recently passed will obviate to a great extent the necessity for measures of this kind in the future ; but since the inception of Federation, whenever the Government have felt legally or morally bound to provide compensation for any reason to the relatives of deceased public servants, the money has been voted in this way. Claims are constantly made by widows and relatives of deceased public servants, of whom some have died as the result of accidents, others just before beginning a six months’ leave on full pay to which they were entitled, and others, again, under other painful circumstances. We appointed a Committee to investigate all these claims, many of which, although the position of the claimants was painful and pathetic, could not reasonably be held to bind us, but the eighteen cases mentioned in the schedule were reported upon as cases in which the Commonwealth was morally or legally bound. The total sum which it is proposed to pay is , £2,246 18s. 6d. The amount is not a large one, and, in respect of some of the claims, we are paying for lives sacrificed in the saving of other lives and property. There is one very striking instance of that kind in the list. In every case the claim is a reasonable one.
– Will the Commonwealth Workmen’s Compensation Act, when it becomes Jaw, cover all future cases of the kind dealt with in the Bill?
– Not all, but most of them.
– What class of cases will it not cover?
– Cases in which the Commonwealth public servant is drawing over , £500 a year.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Payments to be made).
– I should like the Minister to explain why provision has not been made for a young man named Nicholas Dunn, who, some six or seven years ago, was employed as a messenger of the Postal Department at Fremantle. He got a severe wetting one night, turned up at his work asusual next day, but had to go home before the day was over, and has never done a day’s work since.
– Was he on duty when he got wet?
– He was outdelivering messages until a late hour. It has been suggested, though not very strongly, that his illness may have been due to some inherent constitutional weakness. But, having investigated the case, I find that Dunn is one of a large family, of whom none of the others, including the father and mother, has ever suffered from any illness. The father is a wharf labourer at Fremantle, and made no claim at the time on his son’s behalf. Had he made a claim, it would probably have been recognised. When, six or eight months ago, I was informed of the case, I brought itbefore the Minister, but my request has been put off from time to time. The doctors donot seem to know quite what is the matter with the sufferer, whether he is afflicted’ with sciatica, rheumatism, or something else; but he has been in bed in hospitals ever since he took ill, at first in Fremantle, and now in Melbourne. His condition ispitiable, and I am surprised and disappointed that he has not been provided for. It seems that if one puts a case fairly but mildly it is passed over without consideration, and that it is necessary to raise an outcry in order to call attention to it.
– Is this youth entitled to receive an invalid pension?
– I do not know; but I do know that he is not in receipt of one.
– As he is a young man, he would probably be better off if he received an invalid pension than he would be if his case were dealt with as are others in this measure.
– I deem it my duty to ask for an explanation as to why his case has been passed over. As the matter has been before the Treasury officers for some time, an explanation should be forthcoming. It is true that most of the items in the schedule represent grants to widows, but this lad is in a most helpless condition, and his case is thoroughly deserving of consideration.
– I have a knowledge of the case which has been brought forward by Senator de Largie. I do not know the lad, but am acquainted with the conditions that led to what is practically his perTmanent disablement. As Senator de Largie has explained, he was a telegraph messenger at Fremantle, and whilst delivering messages one night got a thorough drenching. Next morning his illness commenced, and ever since then his father has been saddled with the expense of endeavouring to restore him to health. At present the lad is undergoing massage treatment in Melbourne at a cost, which is being borne by the father, of something like £1 per week. Any officer of the Commonwealth, whether he be youthful or aged, should be entitled to compensation if, while in the discharge of his duty, he contracts an illness that is attended with serious results. The father pf this lad has a large family, and his occupation is by no means continuous. He may work for six days continuously, and then be out of employment for three or four weeks. Senator- de Largie and I have made representations to the PostmasterGeneral in regard to this case, but finality has not yet been reached. As to the question raised by Senator Millen, I think it probable that the lad is eligible to receive an invalid pension; but even if that is so, it should not relieve the Ministry of its responsibility in another direction. The Ministry should reconsider the case of this lad, and see if some relief cannot be given. I believe lt to be a special case. The cost of the boy’s conveyance from Fremantle to Melbourne, under the care of his father, with a view to his obtaining better surgical or medical treatment, was defrayed by the union ot which the father is a member. The lad was in St. Vincent’s Hospital for some time, but was not cured. The only argument that the Cabinet can adduce against what I consider to be a legitimate claim is that the father did not make application for a gratuity when the illness first occurred. That is not a very solid argument against giving the compensation that we have sought. It was thought day after day that the lad would recover, but he has not done so. He is just entering into manhood, and will probably remain a cripple for life. I have not heard that the Department denies that the illness was contracted whilst he was discharging the duties of his office; and if provision cannot be made in this Bill to meet his case, I think the Ministry should give some guarantee that it will be reconsidered with a view to granting him a gratuity or compensation.
– - There must be some peculiarity attaching to this case. That may be due to the circumstance that the sickness commenced, according to Senator de Largie, some six or seven years ago ; but the fact remains that the Committee appointed by the Cabinet, and which had a number of cases before it, knows nothing about it. I could not give any guarantee, but I can assure Senator Needham and Senator de .Largie that the case will be inquired into, and that an explanation will be forthcoming as to why the name has not appeared in connexion with this list. The claims referred to in the list have been made in respect to men who were entitled to furlough and had a moral claim on the Commonwealth in that direction.
– Is there no case of compassionate allowance ?
– No ; that question was not considered iri this connexion. When the boy first became ill, a compassionate allowance should have been asked for, and it is hardly fair to bring forward a claim at this stage. There must have been some peculiar circumstances connected with the case, or it would have been included in the list.
– The fact that prompt action was not taken by the parents of the boy should not be urged as an excuse for ignoring any claim that may now be put forward. The case should be dealt with on its merits. When we find poor people trying to carry a load on their own shoulders, instead of making a claim for compensation that might have been justly urged, we should regard their conduct as rather strengthening their claim than affording an excuse for shuffling out of responsibility. I have had several letters in connexion with this matter, but, at present, I can lay. my hands on only one of them. I should like to read the letter to show that, so far as myself and Senator Needham are concerned, the case has not been neglected. At the beginning of the year we placed the case before the Postmaster-General, and 1 received two or three letters stating that it was being considered. Ultimately, I was informed that a Committee of the Cabinet had been appointed to inquire into claims of this kind. Having been informed by the Postmaster-General that the case had been taken out of his hands and transferred to those of the Treasurer, I wrote to the Prime Minister, from whom I received the following reply, dated 27th November last -
I am in receipt of your letter of to-day with regard to the case of Nicholas Dunn, formerly a telegraph messenger in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in Western Australia. I may say that this case is one of a number which have unfortunately occurred, and which are somewhat similar in character. They are being considered by the Government, and I shall let you know the decision as soon as a determination has been arrived at.
I know that Ministers cannot be expected to follow the trail of every individual case, but I think the officers who have charge of these matters have shown carelessness, and should have been able to afford some better explanation than has been offered up to the present.I will not allow myself to be put off in this matter, but I will see that justice is done. All I ask at present is that the case shall be considered on its merits.
Clause agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment ; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the message being at once considered and all consequent action taken.
Motion (by Senator Walker) proposed -
That the message be considered in Committee at a later hour of the day.
– I object to this message being considered at a later hour of the day. At the least, it might be considered when the Senate meets to-morrow.
– That is when it will be considered.
– That is not a later hour of the day. This is a Bill in which I have taken a very great interest. I have neither had the opportunity nor the time to study the amendments which have been made in another place. If it is to be taken at a later hour of the day, it might be sneaked through at any time, and I object to any sneaking through of this Bill. I have been told that it is intended to bring it on to-morrow. Why not be honest and fair, and put it down for consideration to-morrow? This is a private member’s Bill, and as soon as the message comes from the other House, instead of leaving it in charge of the private member, the Vice-President of the Executive Council takes charge of it. That is a course which I venture to say is unprecedented in this or any other Legislature.
– It is very frequently done at the end of a session.
– It has never been done, and if I were the private member in charge of the Bill I would resent the action of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, just as much as he would resent a private member attempting to take charge of Government business.
– A private Bill of mine was taken up by Senator Millen when he was Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– If the Government adopt the Bill I have nothing to say, but I should like to know if the Government do adopt it. I desire to take this point of order : The Senate having decided that the consideration of private members’ business shall be postponed until all Government business has been dealt with, have we any right to deal with this measure until the Government business has been disposed of?
– I would point out to the honorable senator that we are only receiving a message from the House of Representatives. A motion has been moved that it be considered at a later hour of the day. If that is done it will be made an Order of the Day for a certain time, when it will come on for consideration.
– I am rather under a debt of gratitude to Senator Givens for the course which he has taken to-night. It serves to remind me of my Sunday school training, and brings to my mind the statement about “ straining at gnats and swallowing camels.” The honorable senator has given us an excellent exhibition of that to-night. He has been remaining in this House quiet and passive, so tame as to take food out of your hand, while we have been suspending the Standing Orders and rushing Bill after Bill through at lightning speed, and now when this little innocent Banking Bill comes along, which does not affect one-tenth of the interests which were at stake in connexion with other measures, he lashes himself into a fine fury of indignation.
– All this time has been wasted through the want of an explanation. Senator Walker spoke to me about this message, and I first suggested that it be made an Order of the Day for tomorrow, but this idea then occurred to me : Suppose Senator Givens and other honorable senators keep the Senate sitting on the Estimates till mid-day to-morrow, there will then be no to-morrow as far as a sitting of the Senate is concerned. I, therefore, suggested to Senator Walker that he should make the consideration of the amendments in the Bill an Order of the Day for a later hour of the day. There is no intention on the part of Senator Walker, or anybody else connected with this proposed procedure, to bring on the Bill at tonight’s sitting, or at any inconvenient time. Senator Walker is quite willing that it should be considered to-morrow.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Population Statistics and Electoral Enrolment - Commonwealth Bank and State Savings Banks - Defence Forces : Cases of Major Pearce andMajor Lenehan - Post and Telegraph Employes, South Australia : Transferred Officers - The Tariff : Newsprinting Inks - Sugar Industry : Royal Commission’s Report - Finance : Auditor-General’s Report - Uniform Railway Gauge - Federal. Capital Designs.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
In introducing this Bill, it is not my intention to refer at length to the financial position of the Commonwealth, because, were I to do so, I should be largely repeating, what I said when the Budget-papers were laid on the table of the Senate. I took considerable pains at that time to put before honorable senators and the people of Australia our financial position, and the financial operations and transactions of the Government. If honorable senators wish to refresh their memories on the subject, they will be able to peruse my remarks in Hansard. The remaining appropriation required to be made in connexion with the Estimates amounts to £4,977,653. It wilt be remembered that we have passed a number of interim Supply Bills for amounts; which, added to the amount to be appropriated under this Bill, bring the total appropriation for the services of the year up to- £9,616,666. Of course, the expenditure of the Commonwealth represents an amount in excess of that, because we have made other appropriations in connexion with suchBills as the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill. I might inform honorable senators of the amounts required for various public Departments. The appropriation required for Parliament amounts to £34,154; for the Prime Minister’s Department, £50,200; for the Treasury, £644,296; the Attorney-General, £48,794; External Affairs, £527,810; Defence, £2,512,400; Trade and Customs, £395,445; Home Affairs, £443,669;and Postmaster-General, £4,253,410. These amounts represent a total of £8,910,178, and there have to be added appropriations for refunds of revenue to the amount of £200,000, and for Treasurer’s Advances to the amount of , £500,000.
– This is an occasion on which one is at liberty to travel over a very wide field. I should like to allay any alarm that may have arisen in the minds of honorable senators by informing them that my observations will be limited, both as to the number of the subjects with which I propose to deal, and the amount of time I hope to occupy. There are two or three matters which this is the most suitable, as it is now the only, occasion to refer to. First of all, I should like to say, with regard to the preparation of the Estimates, that our officials, in accordance with timehonoured expedients, adopt such a form of presenting the accounts as renders it impossible for any one who is not a chartered accountant to know exactly what is toeing done. I take the Department of Defence for example, and it is not possible to find out, even at a very considerable expenditure of time, exactly what is being spent in connexion with that Department. Yet we have a statement published in which it is asserted that the departmental expenditure is set out so clearly that any one can find out what is spent by each particular branch. My complaint is that, if you want to find out what is the expenditure on account of the Defence Department, you have not only to turn to the Estimates of that Department, but also to the Estimates of the Department of Home Affairs, and to the Estimates for each State in which expenditure is taking place That is not a convenient way in which accounts should be presented for the inspection of members of Parliament, however convenient it may be for the officials of the Treasury; and it ought to be possible to frame these accounts in such a way that by turning to one sheet one might find a summary showing accounts spent in respect of each Department under one heading.
– There is a summary.
– I see that the Minister recognises my point. I have no complaint to make against the Government, because they are simply following a timehonoured practice. But I am pointing out that it is a practice which may make for the convenience of the Treasury in keeping accounts, and for the convenience of other Departments, but not for the convenience of members of Parliament and of others who wish to examine into the expenditure of the Commonwealth. Now I want to say a word or two about a matter upon which I have been engaged for some little time. I refer to the discrepancy between the electoral enrolments and the figures of the Statisticians. I do not withdraw one inch from the position which I took up originally, that a discrepancy exists to-day which has not yet been satisfactorily explained, and neither Mr. Oldham nor any one else, however skilfully they may try to do so, can cloak the real issue. The last thing which Mr. Oldham had to say upon the matter was that the State Statistician’s figures were different from those of the Federal Statistician. We knew that all along. When I brought the matter before the Senate originally, I mentioned the discrepancy between the electoral enrolments, the figures of the State Statistician, and the figures of the Federal Statistician. It is now admitted by the Federal authorities that the Federal Statistician’s figures have to be thrown on one side, because they are admittedly defective. All that I have to say on that point is this : It seems to me to be a marvellous piece of audacity to suggest that the State Statistician is to blame for accepting them. The State of New South Wales has never accepted the Federal figures. It has always demurred to them. Yet Federal officials now say in this document that it is clear that the figures supplied by the State were defective. The State did not supply those figures, except in this way - that the Federal authorities themselves determined that a calculation should be made, and requested assistance from the State railway officials. That is to say, they really obtained the assistance of porters, and took the counts which they made. The responsibility must remain with the Federal authorities, not with those of the State. Turning to the figures themselves, I shall ask the Minister to give his personal attention to this matter, because, quite irrespective of the fact that it principally concerns the State of which I am a representative, it will be admitted that it is absolutely important to us to know that our electoral system is working satisfactorily. The figures supplied by Mr. Oldham the other day, giving the figures furnished by the State Statistician, showed that there were 968,000 adults in New South Wales. From that number has to be taken 26,000 persons who are not qualified for enrolment. That brings the adult population of New South Wales entitled to enrolment down < to 942,000. There were actually enrolled 935,744.
SenatorPearce. - At what date?
– As far back as April, and terminating in the last week in July. Here is the position to which I direct attention. At that enrolment, spread Over a long period, whatever advantage Mr. Oldham may get in one way by the enrolments after the1st July is lost by the fact that it was three months before then that the enrolment commenced to be taken. There were, according to the State Statistician’s estimate, 6,256 electors in New South Wales who had been missed. That is to say, only a shade over1/2 per cent. of the adult population failed to get on the rolls. Now I ask any one : can it be believed that in any State - especially a State like New South Wales, with large inland districts and with a considerable nomadic population - it is possible to enroll the population so near to the mark that the shortage is only a shade over1/2 per cent. ? In order that we may get some idea as to what is a reasonable shortage to expect, I turn to the figures for other States. I exclude Victoria, because that State is similarly affected. I turn to South Australia, and I find that there the shortage is 5 per cent. as between the adult population and the enrolment. In Western Australia the shortage is 41/2 per cent. Taking those two States as a guide, I ask honorable senators to put to themselves this question - Do they believe that in New South Wales the enrolment has been carried on so carefully that there is only1/2 per cent. of the adult population - that is to say, one individual in every 200 - whose enrolment has been missed? I submit that it is quite evident that there has either been a duplication of enrolments or some amount of fraud. By duplication I mean that electors have got on to the rolls more than once in a bona fide manner without knowing that the duplication occurred. It is impossible either to deny or affirm that fraudulent enrolment can take place under the card system. The attempt made by Mr. Oldham to buttress his position by praising the work of the New South Wales police is quite beside the question. I admit at once that the police force of New South Wales is an experienced body, quite capable of performing this work. No one questions their fitness or their integrity in the discharge of their duties. But what takes place? A policeman goes to a house and leaves cards, which he afterwards collects. He cannot vouch for the accuracy of every card handed to him. He hands the cards in and collects them later on. That is the beginning and end of his duty. If one of the inmates attempts to stuff the rolls the policeman may detect it, or he may not ; but it is certainly impossible for an ordinary policeman to call at every house in the district allotted to him and to say whether there are five, six, or seven persons in a particular house who are entitled to enrolment. As long as the cards are properly filled in, and there are addresses upon the cards to which acknowledgments can be sent by the electoral officers, that is all the police are concerned about. There is another way in which a duplication of enrolments can take place, and that is by any one taking a card, filling it in, and dropping it into the post. No one is in a position to check it as long as there is an address upon the card to which an acknowledgment can be sent. The name is received and the person for whom it stands is enrolled as an elector. It is said that by means of this wonderful card system it would be possible to detect the duplication of a name. That is perfectly true, if there is more than one card for one person and one address; but if a fraud is being attempted the person attempting it is not going to be foolish enough to put the same name on two cards. He would simply put some one else’s name on the second card. There is also another method by which it is possible for enrolment to take place improperly. That is to say, a person who is not yet twenty-one, but who will be twentyone in the course of a few months, may fill in a card, or may act upon the suggestion of some over-enthusiastic political friend. who induces him to fill up a card before he is entitled to do so. No policeman would ever be able to say whether the person who filled up the card was twenty or twentyone years of age. I submit that I have made out a good case for inquiry. The Federal officials who are responsible for the card system are the last persons who can be expected to see defects in it. Although the duplication may go on to-day it is not going on for very long, and sooner or later we shall have to have a check. We shall not necessarily have a check for a whole State, but may take a particular town, or a particular district, or a particular block of buildings, in order to ascertain whether there is any evidence in support of the statement that I have made that the rolls are inflated. Now I want to say a word or two as to the action taken by the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank in projecting himself into the region of politics. This is one of the most serious matters which can be brought before Parliament. We passed an Act, when we established the Commonwealth Bank, providing that the manager of that institution should be free from political control, and not required to conform to political influences in the conduct of the institution. The Act set out, amongst the duties of the manager, that he was to manage the bank, that he was to have charge of the appointment of the staff, that he was to furnish the Treasurer with certain statements, that he was to prepare a certain balance-sheet, that he was to appoint a place which was to be the head office of the bank, that he was to have power to establish branches and arrange for agents, and that he was to do a number of other things. But no power was given to the manager to bring about any change in the basis of the bank. As the bank is constituted to-day, it is an institution solely for the purpose of carrying on Commonwealth business and for establishing Commonwealth Savings Banks. No power is given to the manager to propose amalgamations with other banks. The question whether the Commonwealth Bank is to absorb or swallow up the State Savings Banks is purely a political matter, as to which the manager of the Commonwealth Bank is not intrusted with any initiative. The Minister said that what the Governor had done in the matter was done with their ‘ approval, but on his own initiative. This is a matter of party politics, and by taking any steps in such a direction Mr. Miller is not only going beyond . the duties intrusted to him, but is taking up an entirely unsatisfactory position. There are people actively engaged in politics who object - as I do - to the Commonwealth attempting to absorb the State Savings Banks. It is a matter upon ‘ which parties differ strongly. Under the Act under which Mr. Miller was appointed he had no power at all to do anything more than manage the Commonwealth Bank. He might just as well go about and try to arrange an amalgamation with certain of the private banks as try to arrange an amalgamation with the State Savings Banks. That he is doing so, there is no dispute. If is admitted that he is trying to bring about an amalgamation with the State Savings Banks. That, I say again, is a political ques- tion, which may be taken up by the Government for party reasons, but is not within Mr. Miller’s province, and is entirely at variance, not merely with the traditions, but with the accepted practice of the Public Service, the members of which are not permitted - unless deputed to do so by a Minister - to enter into the heated arena of politics. I only regret that I had no opportunity of bringing this matter before the Senate earlier. It is much to be regretted that Mr. Miller has taken a step that is not within the scope of his business, in interfering with matters which are in controversy, and which are capable of influencing the votes of electors at the coming elections. No one can dispute that the question of whether we are to absorb the State Savings Banks is a question of party politics ; and Mr. Miller has no power under the Act under which he has been appointed to interfere with matters of that kind. What has occurred justifies me in saying that, however much Mr. Miller may know about banking - however competent he may be as a banker - he has little knowledge of the restraints which are imposed upon public servants. I turn to another matter. Some time ago, a question came up in the Senate as to the appointment of certain officers to a command in the Military Forces. I think Major Lenehan and Major Pearce were the two officers concerned. Has the appointment been made yet? I should like to know.
– I am glad to hear that. But for the flaw that was discovered in the Act, Major Pearce would have received the appointment. The flaw was discovered, and although it was made good, the Minister abstained from making the appointment, on the eve of doing so, until further opportunity was given to; Major Lenehan, who had failed once, if not twice, to qualify. I ask the Minister to look into the matter, and .to see whether Major Pearce ought to suffer on account of the defect in the Act, for which he was in no way responsible. Major Lenehan has shown his qualifications for the post, and it appears to me extremely unjust that he should be made to suffer under the circumstances. I ask the Minister to extend what I regard as only common justice.
– I do not desire to enter into a discussion as to the details of this Bill, for the reason that it seems to me practically a farce to introduce the measure when half the year has gone, and, at any rate, half the money has been spent.
– That half of the money was duly appropriated, and the honorable member had his chance to speak on the Supply Bills.
– However that may be, I desire to take this opportunity to express my great regret that a vote was not taken on the motion that I submitted with regard to the post and telegraph employes of South Australia. That motion simply declared that an inquiry, by means of a Select Committee, should be made into the grievances of people who have been complaining since 1904. I have had no intimation from the Government as to whether they are favorable or otherwise to that proposal. The ex- PostmasterGeneral promised that the whole matter should be referred to arbitration, but that idea was vetoed by the Attorney-General.
– Is the honorable senator in order in discussing a question which is the subject of a notice of motion that has been dealt with, but not finally disposed of.
– Under ordinary circumstances, Senator Vardon would not be in order, but, seeing that Government business now takes precedence, it is doubtful whether he will get a chance to discuss the motion to which he refers; and, in any case, I think that the whole range of the Appropriation Bill should be open to discussion.
– The Minister of Defence took the trouble to block that motion.
– The motion may come on to-morrow, if private members’ business is taken.
– I do not believe for one moment that there will be an opportunity to take a vote on the motion, and I am quite within my rights in referring to the matter at the present time. The officers agreed to the suggestion that their grievances should be referred to arbitration, but the Attorney-General declared that the matter must go to the High Court. In my opinion, however, the High Court has no jurisdiction, unless the matter is taken there as a distinct case. Such a course was previously adopted, and the verdict was against the officers taking action; and, therefore, Parliament is the only body to which they can appeal for redress. Mr. Justice Higgins, when the
Western Australian Association case was before him, took the view that they could not be heard unless the case was treated as part of a Commonwealth case. Mr. Glynn considered the matter, and expressed the view that the South Australian officers affected by the claims were only a section of the South Australian Association, and that it was, therefore, doubtful whether they could be represented in the Arbitration Court. That gentleman expressed the further doubt whether the section affected could register as an association, and thus get to Court. There was another question, namely, that even if they could get an award, could that award be made retrospective ; and my own opinion is that it could not. In fact, the whole matter is beset with difficulties so far as arbitration is concerned. The Public Service Commissioner is a czar, who rules with an iron hand ; and all I asked was that the Select Committee should be appointed to make an inquiry. What the report of that Committee would have been I do not know, but I have no doubt that any report by such a body would have been accepted, and nothing more would have been heard of the matter. Unless something of the kind is done, the discontent will continue, and I am afraid that the officers affected may not feel all that enthusiasm in their work that is so desirable. Under all the circumstances, I very much regret that an opportunity was not given to take a vote on the motion, and thus satisfy what, I am sure, is a most reasonable request. There is another question which has been raised by the Country Press Association in. this and other States. Under the Tariff, news-ink, invoiced at 6d. a lb. and under, was admitted free, but all of a sudden the Department decided to charge a duty, which, in some cases, amounted to 25 per cent, and 30 per cent. I introduced a deputation to the Minister of Trade and Customs on the subject, and the case was placed fully before him. Senator Findley was instrumental in having this ink made duty free, and I think he will sympathize with the people on whose behalf I am now speaking. As a reply to the representations of that deputation, the following letter was received from the Department - 30th October, 1912.
Adverting to your letter of 2nd instantwith reference to the representations made by the deputation from your association relative to the classification of certain printing inks as “ news printing,” I desire to point out that, whilst certain news’ printing inks are provided for under item 359 of the Tariff, provision is also specifically made for printing inks n.e.i. - Item 358.
As it is known that there are some jobbing inks which are sold in the country of export at less than 6d. per lb., it is necessary to make some line of demarcation between such inks and genuine news printing inks.
It has, therefore, been decided to admit as news printing ink any black printing inks the domestic value of which does not exceed 3d. per lb., provided, of course, that such inks are imported in packages containing not less than 1 cwt.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) Frank G. Tudor.
The Secretary, Victorian Master Printers’
Assocn., 450 Collins-street, Melbourne.
I do not know whether it is the intention of the Department to play into the hands of big metropolitan newspaper proprietors, but that is the result. The proprietors of those newspapers who use this low-quality ink not only get that ink free, but are not called upon to pay duty on their news paper, though I have nothing to say against that.
– Not only the big newspaper proprietors, but the owners of jobbing offices use the low-quality ink.
– There is no doubt that the limitation of the value to 3d. per lb. plays into the hands of the big newspaper proprietors. Jobbing printers in the country require ink of a little better quality, and they use it for practically every kind of work. What the Senate intended was that any black ink, invoiced at 6d. per lb. or under, should be admitted free.
– Why should the rich newspaper proprietors get their ink. in free while the poor country printer has to pay duty ?
– That is the very point I am putting; the poor struggling man in the country has to pay duty all the time.
– Make them all pay duty.
– I should then have no complaint. Some of the people who imported these inks in good faith have been prosecuted for fraud, and placed in danger of losing their reputation.
– One firm was prosecuted.
– There was more than one firm.
– The firm of Detmold was one.
– That was one firm, and the prosecution, I am glad to say, was dismissed; but there were other cases. A man in Adelaide who had been importing Kidd and Company’s inks, told me that he was threatened with all sorts of pains and penalties, and eventually had to pay a large amount of duty, though I do not think that, in the circumstances, he ought to have been called upon to pay. The Victorian Master Printers’ Association sent the following reply to the Minister -
In your letter you state that, “ As it is known, that there are some jobbing inks which are sold in the country of export at less than 6d. per lb., it is necessary to make some line of demarcation between such inks and genuine news printing inks.” My association quite agrees with you that a price line of demarcation is the only possible one, but would point out that that line has already been drawn by the Legislature which fixed the - price limit of news (or,, in other words, common black) printing ink at. 6d. per lb., in the country of export under item. 359 of the Tariff. My association is, therefore,, altogether at a loss to understand why that limit has been altered to 3d. Taking into consideration the fact that news inks are invoiced.by British and other makers up to 9d. and rs. per lb., the limit of 6d. fixed by the Tariff is low, and to arbitrarily reduce it to 3d. is. to place all users of better class news inks at a great disadvantage.
That is, I think, absolutely correct. The Tariff should be administered, not simply with the idea of securing every possible fraction which can be obtained, but fairly, as was intended by Parliament; and in these cases I do not think that has been done.
.. - I desire to take this opportunity of discussing a matter of very great importance, particularly to the State I represent, and also to the Commonwealth ; and I make no apology for asking for the attention of the Senate at this late hour of the session, because this is the first opportunity I havehad. I desire to discuss on this motion the report of the Royal Commission on thesugar industry-. If I am- asked why I doit now, I reply that I am reminded of the- clergyman’s exhortation at the commencement of the marriage service, that if a person has anything to say he should say it then or for ever after hold his peace. It will be seen that the penalty of holding his peace for ever after is attached to the fact that he did not speak when he had the chance, not to the fact that he did speak. It is probable that I shall not hold my peace hereafter on this subject; therefore I am not going to incur the penalty. The Sugar Commission was appointed to inquire into a very important matter, and I am free to confess that they collected a great deal of valuable information, and furnished the Parliament, the Government and the country, with some very useful suggestions ; but, so far as I can see, their main conclusions are not justified by the evidence, or by the facts. I wish to place on record my disagreement with those conclusions, which I shall indicate as I proceed, and give my reasons for my disagreement. That is anything but an agreeable task for me to undertake, because two, at least, of the members of the Commission I regard as very dear personal friends of mine - men for whom I have the highest possible esteem. It seems to me, knowing the men as 1 do, that it cannot be altogether their judgment ; that they weakly consented to a compromise, and, as most honorable senators know, compromises never accomplish anything. They solve no problem, and leave every difficulty in exactly the same position as it was in previously. That, it appears to me, was the reason why these gentlemen were induced to sign a report which I find it extremely difficult to believe they were in accordance with. The Commission, in their report, travelled far beyond the authority which they received from the Governor-General. For instance, they recommended that the business of refining sugar should not be nationalized. They had no authority from the commission to make any such recommendation, or any such inquiry.
– If they had reported in favour of nationalization, would that have been beyond the bounds of their commission ?
– Certainly, it would have been beyond the bounds of the commission if it were something which was unconnected with or inexpedient in connexion with the industry. What was the range of the commission intrusted to them? They were appointed - to inquire into and report upon the sugar industry in Australia, and more particularly in relation to : -
They were not asked or authorized to offer any comments or remarks, or make any report, with regard to legislation which they thought inexpedient. They were authorized to recommend to Parliament what they thought it ought to do, not to recommend what they thought it ought not to do, and, therefore, they travelled entirely outside the bounds of their commission. Further than that, the Commission ventured into the domain of political principles, with which their authority had nothing to do, and it appears to me that in doing so they ventured to explore a region which they were entirely unfitted to explore, and most certainly they were very much more incompetent to act as guides or advisers to anybody else. Yet they ventured to act as guides and advisers to this Parliament. Either they must have been ignorant of the facts or, if they knew the facts, they must have ignored them. The first thing I want to take to prove that count is the recommendation in regard to the beet-sugar industry. They were not authorized by His Excellency to inquire specially into any particular source of sugar, but to inquire into the sugar industry. Whether it was produced from cane, beet, maple, or any other possible source had nothing at all to do with the Commission. Still they went out of their way to make a special set of recommendations with regard to the beet-sugar industry. They recommended that the beetsugar industry should not be encouraged in
Australia, and that, if ever it got up to a production of 10,000 tons, a special Excise duty of £2 a ton imposed on all beet sugar produced in excess of 10,000 tons. What does that recommendation amount to ? Let the beet industry represent an infant boy, and the recommendations amount to this: “We will protect and nourish the infant until it reaches lusty youth, but directly it attains to manhood we will strangle him.” A more asinine recommendation was never offered to a Parliament. Besides, it is an absolutely illegal recommendation, because the Commonwealth has not the power to differentiate in that way. Yet a professor of law was chairman of the Commission making that report ! The Commonwealth is expressly forbidden by the Constitution to differentiate between the product of any State as compared with the product of any other State, between States, or in any way between the products of a State. Clearly this Parliament has not power under the Constitution to give effect to any such recommendation as the Sugar Commission made in that particular direction, but, even if it had the power, it is a totally untenable position for any Commission, or for the Parliament, to take up. Not only is it untenable to prescribe what is to be the source of the sugar production in Australia, but it is unjustifiable from any economical stand-point. From any standpoint it is the business of this country to go in for the production of an article from the source which will pay it best. That is the true industrial economy which it is wisdom to pursue. If in the ultimate it proves more profitable, more economical, for Australia to produce its sugar from the beet, then it is from the beet that it ought to be produced, and, instead of strangling that industry when it begins to reach a lusty age, it should be encouraged. In my opinion, that recommendation of the Commission was entirely useless and wholly uncalled for, in addition to being utterly absurd, as I think I have shown. It has never been known yet, in a country which could produce sugar-cane successfully, that the beet could compete with the cane as a source of sugar production in that country. 1 have absolutely no fear that in Australia the beet sugar will ever successfully compete with cane sugar grown in the tropical and semi-tropical portions, because the cane is much more productive of saccharine matter than is the beet, can be more econo mically grown, gives a much larger crop, and is not so precarious, and, in addition, the sugar produced from the cane is superior for very many purposes to beet sugar. Not only did the Commission go entirely outside the ambit of their authority by venturing into a domain which, apparently, they did not understand, but they also sent to us a proposition which, I say, it is impossible, from an economical, or just, or constitutional stand-point, for this Parliament to accept. In the tropical portions of Australia - in North Queensland particularly, and, I believe, also in the Northern Territory and north-west coast of Western Australia - there is abundance of land which is eminently suited to produce cane in unlimited quantities to supply the needs of Australia for very many years. That being so, there was absolutely no necessity for the Commission to go out of their way to suggest the strangling of the beet-sugar industry, because the cane-sugar industry, unaided, will inevitably .beat it. Further, in New South Wales and Queensland, where other industries have been found to be more profitable than sugargrowing, sugar cane will gradually go out of cultivation, so that North Queensland, and a portion of Western Australia, will eventually be called upon to produce all the sugar that we require. I come now to the most important recommendation which the Commission have made, and I propose to examine it at some length. The Commission went out of their way to condemn the nationalization of sugar-refining, although, as I have already pointed out, their commission did not empower them to make any recommendation whatever in the matter - did not empower them to tell this Parliament what was not expedient. On pages 46, 47, and 48 of their report, the Commission deal with the question of the nationalization of the. refining industry. They say -
The refineries are the controlling factor in the sugar industry. If the’ refineries were nationalized by the Commonwealth Government, public authorities would fix the price of refined and raw sugar respectively; and they could also make the payment of the fixed price for raw sugar conditional in the case of each mill upon a payment by that mill of a fair price for the cane. Any profits resulting from the control of the industry would find their way to the public purse. Despite these indisputable advantages, we cannot recommend the course suggested. Several reasons, in their cumulative aspect, convince us that, at any rate for the present, the nationalization of the refineries would be inexpedient. These reasons may be briefly stated : -
The Efficiency of the Refining Industry as it is at present carried on. - Advocates of the public ownership of industries rightly dwell upon the avoidance of the wastes of competition. But, in the case of the refining industry in Australia, such wastes are negligible.
Of course they are, because competition has been eliminated, and the wastes attendant upon competition are consequently eliminated. But will anybody say that, if the refining business were carried on by the Commonwealth under the one management and supervision from end to end of Australia, the waste due to competition would not be equally eliminated, and the position would not be equally advantageous to the people? The report goes on to say -
Further, taking into consideration the various difficulties with which public ownership has to contend, and the high efficiency of the present refining business in Australia, we do not think that the public ownership of the refineries would prove as financially successful as the present private ownership.
The Commissioners there contradict the experience of the world. Do the shareholders of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company perform a single act in the way of refining themselves? Certainly not. They have to rely absolutely upon employed supervision and employed labour. Is there anything in the world to prevent the people as a whole, if they were the owners of the refineries, obtaining equally competent men to manage and work the business for them as are obtained by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company? The history of the whole world goes to show that public ownership is more successful everywhere than is private ownership. Will anybody tell me that in Australia, with all the faults of management and all the faults of political influence, our railways are not more economically managed in the interests of the people than they would be if they were controlled and owned by private individuals? I venture to say that there is no public man in the Commonwealth who will give his adherence to such a proposition. If our railways were owned by private individuals, the latter would have to do exactly what we do. They would have to seek out competent men to manage for them, and they would have to get the very best men available to run and control the various departments.
– In the Old Country, where there is private ownership of railways, they have the most capable men in the world perhaps, and yet the system is a failure.
– However enjoyable a Christmas trip round the world might be, the time at my disposal will not permit me to indulge in it. I ask, “ Is not our Post Office better conducted in the interests of the people than it would be if it were in the hands of private enterprise?” Similarly, our telephonic and telegraphicsystems are more economically managed1 than are the telephonic and telegraphic systems of other countries where they are in the hands of private enterprise. There is no comparison between the economical) way in which the people of Australia procure telephonic advantages, and the way in which people obtain those advantages in the United States of America, where the telephone system is controlled by private individuals. In England, too,, where the telephone system was in thebands of private enterprise for- a long: time the Government found it necessary tostep in and take control of it for the advantage of the people. Yet the members; of the Sugar Commission say, in regard tonationalization, that, for the present, they, cannot recommend it. If public ownership of the refining industry in Australiamay be expedient in the future, why is it not expedient now? Upon every hand we hear the growers and workers complaining; of the disadvantages under which they labour owing to the mills being in the hands of private owners who fleece them,, whilst both growers and millers complainof having to accept a less price for their raw sugar because they have no market open to them other than that of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. Consequently, they have to accept the terms of that company or starve. That the people who are engaged in the sugar industry should beabsolutely at the mercy of private individuals, and that combinations of millersand a monopoly of refineries should have such absolute control over that industry, is an awful state of affairs. It strikes me as extraordinary that the Commission, in view of the testimony which was tendered tothem, could bring in a report affirming that it is inexpedient to nationalize the industry at the present time, because nationalization would mean giving to the people engaged in it that protection which they do not at present enjoy - protection from being fleeced by rapacious private owners, who openly stated in their evidence that the only bar to their profits was “ How much could they get?”
– On the first step, the honorable senator has failed.
– What step?
– I do not know what the honorable senator is talking about. The facts are that both the growers and millers are at the mercy of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, that the growers in many cases are at the mercy of both the millers and of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and that there are combinations of millers as well as a monopoly in the refining business. The growers who are at the mercy of the millers have either to accept the terms offered to them or starve. This is the evidence tendered to the Commission, and its truth has not been denied by the millers. On the contrary, it has been confirmed by them. Public ownership would correct all that. It would insure to the growers and millers that a fair price would be paid for the cane, and that nobody would be unduly fleeced. Everybody would get a fair price all round, while the grower would be able to pay reasonable wages to his workers to enable them to live under proper conditions. The report proceeds -
In the first place, I dispute the dictum of ;the Commission that we should have to buy ,the good-will of anybody. Of what does ;gOod-will consist? The good- will of any ^business consists of the habit that the public -contract of buying from somebody who has the habit of selling. That is the only possible definition of good- will. Does any.body for a moment think that the people would not prefer to contract the habit of dealing with themselves for their own profit rather than the habit of dealing with a big private monopoly, which fleeces them every day in the week, and which even goes so far as to corrupt the Governments of the country in which it carries on operations ? Must we, forsooth, purchase the good-will of this company before we can start a business of our own ? Suppose that another big, wealthy firm came to Australia and said, “ There is a good thing in this refining business. We will embark upon it, and will fight the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. We shall then see who will come out on top.” Would it be thought” for a moment that such a firm was bound to buy the good-will of a rival company at any unreasonable figure that might be asked? A private individual, or combination of individuals, would say, “ We have as good a right under the law to carry on this business as you have.” But we are told by the Royal Commission that the Government would have to buy the good-will from the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. I totally disagree with that statement. If the Parliament decided that the Commonwealth should take over the business, we should have to pay a fair and reasonable price for the land, buildings, and machinery, and if a price could not be agreed upon, the matter would have to be settled by arbitration; or the plain course is open to the Commonwealth, if it desires to protect the people, of starting in business in competition with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, thus restoring to the consumers and producers the benefits of competition. To make use of a bull, the more the people would lose by such an arrangement the more they would gain. The difficulty which the Commissioners foresee in such an event is the having to face cutthroat competition. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company would immediately reduce the price of its sugar, perhaps even below cost. But what would be the result? The people would be able to buy sugar so cheaply that their gain would more than counterbalance any additional taxation that might have to be imposed to make good the loss on the refining business. The Commission overlooked that obvious fact. The report continues -
Although the Colonial Sugar Refining Company makes large profits, those profits accrue in part to their oversea trade and business, their ownership of sugar mills, and their dealings on the market.
Such profits as it does make on its refining are made under existing conditions - conditions which give to its plant a value in excess of earning capacity under the altered conditions which would be involved in nationalization. In the general result, we cannot avoid the conclusion that the Commonwealth Treasury would be involved in a heavy financial loss, unless it were prepared to make higher demands on the consumers than is necessary under a system of private-owned industry subject to appropriate regulation.
There is not a particle of justification in the evidence for that conclusion. By no system of reasoning is it possible to arrive at it on the facts placed before the Commission. What would be the “ altered con- ditions “ under nationalization? The industry could be carried on exactly as at present, but we could give to the employes a fairer deal than they get from the company, and to the consumers a part of the profits which now go into the pockets of the shareholders. This could be done without taxing the community one farthing. A further reason for reporting against nationalization given by the Commission is this-
The Speculative Character of the Refining Industry. - When it is proposed, as we assume that the advocates of nationalization do pro- pose, that the Commonwealth Government should uy out the refineries at their present value as a going concern, it is impossible to ignore the statements of experts to the effect that the time is not far distant when the rivalry of mill white sugar by discovery of new processes will materially depreciate the value of the refined article. The making of mill white sugar has made rapid progress in other countries. A new process has been submitted to the Commission. (Compare also the Batelle White Sugar Process - Appendix No. 3 - and the! proposals of Mr. J. R. Paddle for treating liquid sugar - Appendix No. 8 - a proposal which was favorably commented upon by Mr. J. C. Brunnich Agricultural Chemist to the Queensland Government. Q. 25927.) These various processes are in too experimental a stage to be made the subject of specific recommendations by your Commissioners, but they have an important bearing upon the proposal to nationalize existing refineries. There is a possibility that the day is not far distant when the business of sugar refining will be relatively of much less importance than at present. If this condition of things should come about, and if the Commonwealth had purchased the existing refineries, while the refining companies might be grateful, the public Treasury would be likely to incur a heavy financial loss.
We believe that the foregoing considerations constitute in their cumulative aspect a convincing reason for seeking some other way of ensuring an equitable distribution of /the profits of the sugar industry among its various branches.
The conclusion that, because certain improvements may be applied to the refining of sugar, making the present machinery useless, the Commonwealth should not nationalize the refining business is one of the most asinine ever come to. On the same reasoning, Robert Stevenson would never have constructed the Rocket, which has been improved out of existence, until, to-day, we have the magnificent locomotive that draws the Sydney express out of the Spencerstreet station each evening. Nothing is to be done, because it might be improved upon later. What are the facts? If processes are improved, necessitating the scrapping of the present machinery, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Will have to alter its methods, and the Commonwealth would have to do the same. We must progress with the times. Another reason given against nationalization is this -
If the Commonwealth refinery entered into competition with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, the Commonwealth refinery would be severely handicapped. It would have great difficulty in obtaining regular supplies of Australian raw sugar, and in getting its refined article regularly on the market. It would be expected to pay high prices for raw sugar, and to accept low prices for refined sugar. It would, moreover, come into competition with a longestablished business conducted with a very high degree of efficiency. We have frequently had occasion to criticise the Colonial Sugar Refining Company from various points of view, but we donot hesitate to express our admiration of the economic efficiency which characterizes every branch of its business which has conn- under our notice.
No one disputes the efficiency of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. It isone of the most efficient business organizations in Australia, and it is especially efficient in the business of fleecing the public. It fleeces every one, from the workers in its employment, the growers of the cane, the millers, to the consumer who puts a spoonful of sugar in his tea. We are told that the Commonwealth would have to pay more for its raw sugar than the Colonial Sugar Refining Company pays, and to sell its refined sugar for less than the company gets. But the public would be the gainers, because they would get cheap sugar, and in that way would benefit more than they would suffer by the imposition of taxation to make good the loss on the refinery. A higher price for raw sugar is what the growers and the millers want. They complain that at present they do not make enough. Therefore, that reason for not engaging in the sugar refining business is too absurd. The report continues -
In order to prove really effective for the purposes we have now in view, the Commonwealthrefinery would have to proceed on a large scale. This would imply a duplication of refining: plants in Australia quite inconsistent with a sound economy of national resources. For the- foregoing considerations, as well as for others, we are of opinion that the proposal to establish a Commonwealth refinery is impracticable.
This last reason is no better than the others. It does not matter to the public how efficiently an industry is run if they gain nothing thereby. What does it matter to the people that there is not too much machinery in use at the present time, since they do not get any benefit from the economic and efficient management that exists. The only way in which the people can protect themselves against this continual fleecing is by carrying on the business themselves. Let me now show what this company, which this kind, thoughtful, and considerate Commission says we should not compete with or nationalize, has done for Australia. I make no complaint about the manner in which the company has been managed. Everything that has been done has been strictly legal, and in accordance with recognised commercial practice. They were perfectly entitled to do it, and most people have a great admiration for them because they have done it. I shall rely, for the most part, upon either the report of the Commission itself, or on the evidence given before it, to justify my criticism of its report. At page 44, the Commission define the financial position of the Company as follows : -
The financial position of the company, as disclosed in the evidence, thus appears to be as follows : -
Amount paid by shareholders in cash,
Shares capitalized out of profits and so distributed among shareholders, £625,000.
Making the published capital on which dividends are paid, £3,000,000.
The company possesses, in addition, an inner or undisclosed reserve of, say, £3,000,000.
So that the true capital of the company is, say, £6,000,000.
In working out the figures, I myself have come to the conclusion that the true capital of the Company at present is £7,500,000. Setting aside my own conclusions, however, and accepting those of the Commission, we find that the Company has a true capital of £6,000,000, which has been built up on a total contributed capital of £2,375,000. In other words, the only capital actually put into the Company by the shareholders in the first place was £2,375,000 the balance of £3,625,000 has been built up out of profits. The profits of the company, as I shall show presently, have been very extensive; and in addition to those profits the company has built up all this capital. Let me give a simple illustration to explain the position. If I make this year £300, but draw upon that income to the extent of only , £100, putting the balance to capital accumulation, no one can say that my profit or dividends on the year is only £100. My profit, no matter what I did with it, was really £300. And so, in addition to the enormous dividends which the company has paid, it has added to its accumulated capital no less than £3,625,000. It has not added all that to its share capital. As a matter of fact, it has added to its share capital only £625,000. That does not seem very much to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, but it would be a very fine Christmas box for me, and for the rest of my days I should consider, if I had it, that I was by no means a poor man. In addition to the amount so placed to its share capital, the company has a further capital of £3,000,000 in the shape of reserves. All this has been built up at the expense of the public. I say unhesitatingly that this statement of accounts, as shown by the evidence, does not convey for a single moment any idea of the true capital of the company. For years it has been building up secret reserves, mainly hidden from the public by writing down year after year the values of its property. If it were proposed to nationalize the whole business throughout Australia to-morrowthe company would demand a great deal more from the Government than it has set down in its books as the value of its property. The Commission goes on to state that -
This means that £2,375,000 has yielded investors generous dividends distributed halfyearly, and reserves (inner and distributed) of £3,625,000. We think it fair to conclude from these figures, supplied by a company whose expansions of business have been built on a basis of milling and refining profits, that the milling and refining industries in Australia are conducted as a matter of fact under conditions which admit of high profits.
The foregoing conclusion becomes irresistible when we remember that other milling and refining concerns, conducted exclusively in Australia, and without the enormous advantages of large scale organization, are also able to show substantial profits.
There is only one other refinery in Australia which deals in refined sugar, and that is the Millaquin Refinery, which also makes large profits. Big profits, therefore, are not peculiar to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. The Commission point out that large profits are almost inseparable from the business of refining as at present conducted in Australia. I shall show later on that there is no such thing as competition in the industry ; and, therefore, if the people are to be protected at all, they can secure that protection only by taking over the business and working it for themselves. I have here a statement of the Colonial
Sugar Refining Company’s profits over a number of years, and a recital of them will convey to honorable senators some idea of how the business of the company has progressed. The following table deals only with the disclosed profits, as shown by the half-yearly statements : -
The company has been making over 15 per cent. on its profusely-watered capital.
– Is the reference in the table to a dividend at the rate of 10 per cent. per annum or per half year?
– Per annum. A recital of these enormous profits - profits amounting to hundreds of thousands, made out of the producers, on the one hand, and the consumers, on the other, is calculated, to use a colloquialism, to make a poor man’s mouth water. During the last three half-years, notwithstanding the immense watering of capital, the dividends of the company have been increasing. In September, 191 1, they increased, from 10 per cent. to 11 per cent. In March of this year, and again in September last, the dividend was at the rate of 121/2 per cent. The figures I have given show the profits as disclosed at the last half-yearly meeting in September last. They are not mine - they are the actual figures put forward by the company itself. That being so, on its own showing the company is making enormous profits.
When I have referredin this Chamber to the great profits secured by this company, it has frequently been urged that we should not forget that it has large investments outside Australia, and that a very considerable portion of its profits is derived from those outside investments. Fortunately, the Commission has done us a valuable service, inasmuch as it has disclosed the fact, on the evidence given upon the authority of the company itself, that all its investments outside Australia are the result of accumulated profits made in Australia. In other words, all these outside investments have first been squeezed out of the producers and consumers of the Commonwealth. This is what the Commission say on the subject -
For the year ending 30th September, 1912, the dividends (inclusive of bonuses) amount to121/2 per cent….. Now, a nominal dividend of I21/2 per cent. on nominally paid-up capital of £3,000,000 is in reality a dividend of approximately 153/4 per cent. on the actually paid-up capital of £2,375,000. In addition, over £80,000 has been added for the same year to the balance of the profit and loss account. Taking into consideration the fact that the balance to profit and loss account, Sep- tember, 1911, was £123,444, and bearing in mind that the company has a further disclosed reserve labelled Replacement and Depreciation Fund, of £500,000, the conclusion would appear to follow that the company might have distributed with perfect safety the £80,000 -carried for the year to the balance of profit and loss account. Had this been done, the dividend would have exceeded 19 per cent, on actually subscribed capital.
Sitting suspended from 12 to 1 a.m. (Saturday).
– Following on the quotation which I read just before the adjournment, I wish to make a further reference to the report of the Commission at page 43, which shows conclusively that the investments of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company outside of Australia are the result of Australian profits. The Commission say -
The dividend (plus bonus) of 15$ per cent, above referred to must not be taken as normal. It represents, indeed, the maximum attained in a year when the price of sugar was high. But we have to remember the large addition to the balance of the Profit and Loss Account for the same year, and that the balance-sheets give no indication of the extent to which declared profits have been diminished by appropriations to other purposes. The general policy of the company has been to declare a dividend of 10 per cent, on nominal capital, and to utilize surplus profits in the creation of reserves and the extensions of plant. “ Since 1890,” said Mr. Knox, in giving evidence, “ we have told the shareholders from time to time that a certain amount of profit was kept in hand, and was being used in the development of the business. We have also told them that at the present time practically our investments outside Australia nave been covered in this way.” (Q. 26918.) “ Quite recently we told the shareholders that the whole of our assets - I forget whether we used the term ‘ in Fiji ‘ or ‘ outside Australia ‘ - have been covered by undivided profits. I forget exactly the words used. The assets outside Australia are between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000.” (Q. 27345.)
Thus it will be seen that my contention that the enormous profits not disclosed by the company are used in increasing their properties, and various mills and refineries, is established. It is proved conclusively that all their investments have been built up out of the profits squeezed from the people of Australia. And yet we are told by the Commission that this is a beneficent monopoly, and that we should not proceed to nationalize it. This statement was made in face of the fact that nothing but good has resulted from the nationalization of such monopolies. Will any one contend that where the tramways are controlled by municipalities or the State, or where gas or water supplies are similarly controlled, the benefits conferred upon the public are not infinitely greater than those resulting from similar enterprises carried on by private enterprise? In the one place - Broken Hill - where the people have to rely upon a private company, the water supply is exceedingly bad, the price is excessively high, and the people are continually agitating for State or municipal control in order to relieve them from the exactions of the private company. In the same way the people of Australia are groaning under the exactions of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and yet we are told that it is a beneficent monopoly, and that the people should not do anything in the way of nationalizing it in order to protect themselves. I want to prove that there is a combination, and I will do so by reference to the report of the Commission and the evidence. At page 20 of their report, the Commission say-
The price of raw sugar is not arrived at as a result of competition. It is fixed by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. Although the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is not the only refinery, it refines the great bulk of the Australian raw sugar, and its single rival (the Millaquin Refinery) is a negligible quantity as a competitor. Further, while the Colonial Sugar Refining Company determines the price of raw sugar, the millers in turn determine the price to be paid to the growers for their cane. In general, the determination is arbitrary, in the sense of being unaffected by serious competition.
And yet, forsooth, we are not to protect the public from this arbitrary determination of prices by nationalization or cooperation. I am here to enter my strongest protest against the conclusion arrived at by the Commission. The Commission go on to say -
Sugar-cane is not a commodity which can be easily carried from mill to mill ; it gravitates to the mill which is nearest at hand, and with which it is connected by tram lines for carriage of the cane. Where several mills could compete, they have, at any rate in some cases, preferred to combine for the purposes of fixing prices or of apportioning areas of supply.
I will prove conclusively that there is an absolute combination in order to fix the price for cane paid to the farmers. These big companies go to the length of absolutely refusing to take cane from growers who are within the sphere of influence of the mills with which they are working in combination. The great Powers are jealous of any intrusion within their spheres of influence, and, in so far as the sugar business is concerned, these sugar companies are the great Powers of AustraliaThe report goes on -
While many of the mills are owned by growers, the growers who are shareholders are in a position to profit unduly at the expense of the growers who are not, either by differentiating between the prices for the cane, or by fixing for all supplies of cane a price sufficiently low to enable the miller to make up on his milling account what he loses as a grower. In the net result it may be said that the grower, who incurs the greatest risks, and represents for national purposes the most important element in the sugar industry, is the person who makes least profit out of the industry.
As usual, the grower, who is the man at the bottom, is fleeced most, and makes the least out of the industry, which is absolutely dependent upon him for its supplies of raw material. I said I would show absolutely by the evidence that there was no competition, and, at the same time, I want to prove that Mr. Knox, in his evidence, was absolutely disingenuous. Not only did he display want of frankness, but he deliberately deceived the Commission. I am indebted to the Government Printer for an advance copy of the evidence, which has not yet been distributed. I could not obtain the index, because it is not yet printed, and I found it a heavy task to wade through 1,100 pages of evidence without an index. I will be able to prove that not only is there an agreement between the Millaquin Refinery and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, but that the larger company exercises absolute control over the other in all its transactions, and absolutely fixes prices. Mr. George S. Pearson, the manager of the sugar and produce department of Messrs. Gibbs, Bright, and Company, at page 560 of the minutes of evidence, was examined as follows : - 15324. Do the prices quoted bythe companies always move together automatically ? - We do not compete with Millaquin, but the extraordinary part about it is that when the Colonial Sugar Refining Company advances its prices or reduces its prices, you will always find the two announcements in the newspaper on the same date, and I feel satisfied they have an understanding. As nobody outside knows when the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is going to advance its prices why should the Millaquin Company know it. I am pointing out that they declare an advance together on the same day. and why should the Millaquin Company know of an advance or a reduction when nobody else knows it?, The following are the advertisements of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company and the Millaquin Company which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on the dates shown : -
The company has this day advanced its prices, which are now as follow : -
This advance is entirely due to the unexpectedrise in prices during the current month in the European markets, consequent upon the unfavorable effect of adverse weather conditions on the growing beet crop.
Edw. W. Knox,
Sydney, 28th July,1911.
We have this day advanced the price of our sugars £1 per ton, and now quote, delivered Sydney : -
Syrup and treacle unchanged.
Challis House, Sydney, 28th July, 1911.
The company has this day advanced its prices, which are now as follows : -
Edw. w. Knox,
Sydney, nth August, 1911.
We have this day advanced the price of our sugars £1 per ton, and now quote, delivered. Sydney : -
Syrup and treacle unchanged.
Challis House, Sydney, 11th August, 1911. ,
It will be seen that the advertisements bear exactly the same date, and, strange to say, they appear in the same column of the newspaper. The same witness went on to give evidence as follows - 15325. Do you think from the fact of those advertisements always appearing at the same time, and in juxtaposition to one another in the newspapers, that they are sent in if not by the same person at any rate at the same time? - Yes.
How could he reply in any other way? Mr. Knox, in giving his evidence, absolutely denied that there was any arrangement between his company and any other for controlling prices. And yet here we have the advertisements of the two refinery companies published on the same date, and in the same column. The evidence that there is a combine to control prices is absolutely conclusive. The Millaquin business is so small as compared with the enormous transactions of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company that it is reasonable to assume that the Millaquin Company have to do exactly as the Colonial Sugar Refining company require. I want to further show what this beautiful company does when it has control of mills. In addition to being a large refiner in the Commonwealth, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company controls mills which produce about one-third of the raw sugar produced in Australia, and in every case I find that the price which it pays for the cane in the same neighbourhood is very much below what is paid by the co-operative mills. I have here a case in point, which came under my own personal observation, and with which I am exceedingly familiar, to show how privatelyowned concerns run for profit compare with publicly-owned concerns, or mills which are owned and run by the growers. In the Cairns district there are two mills - the Mulgrave Central Mill, which is a cooperative mill, owned and run by the growers, and the Hambledon Mill, which is owned and run by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and which crushes the grower as well as the cane. Here is a list of the prices paid from 1902 to 1908 by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company’s Hambledon Mill and the Mulgrave Central Mill-
For 1902 - Hambledon Mill, 15s. gd. ; Mulgrave Central Mill, 16s. 6d. ; 1903 - H, 15s. 10d ; M, 16s. ?d. ; 1904 - H, 17s. 7)d. ; M, 18s. rod. ; 1905 - H, 14s. 1 1/2d ; M, £1 os. 3d. ; 1906 - H, 13s. 6d. ; M, 15s. 2d. ; 1907 - H, 12s. rod. ; M, 15s. 5d. ; 1908 - H, 13s. 7jd. ; M, 16s.
All those figures are minus the bounty. How can anybody expect that the growers would be satisfied to produce for a private mill which would pay them, as it did .in 1905, as much as 6s. per ton less than the co-operative mill. Taking the average yield at 15 tons per acre, that amount’s to £4 10s. per acre per annum. That shows conclusively that the growers who supplied the co-operative mill, owned by the growers, were very much better off than those who supplied the mills owned by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. Those figures prove conclusively that there is no comparison, as far as advantage to the public is concerned, between publicly and privately owned concerns. I. go further than that, and I say that if the Mulgrave Central Mill had received from the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which was the buyer of its raw sugar, the price which it ought to have received, it would have paid the growers very much more. It has been said that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company does not make anything extraordinary out of refining, but I have quoted figures to show that the profits which this company is making are enormous. Nobody really knows how enormous they are, because, as Mr. Knox very sapiently said, it is not the Business of the company to let the public know how much it is making. The company refused to give information in that regard to the Commission. It said, “We have obtained an injunction from the High Court, and we refuse to answer the questions. That is outside our ken.” The members of the Commission said to Mr. Knox, “Will” you not tell us about the Australian part of your business That is within your ken.” The reply was, “We do not keep separate accounts; we cannot give the information to you,” and they got out of it. The company, entrenched as it was behind a judgment of the Court, absolutely refused to give information to a Commission appointed by the representative of the King, to obtain essential facts to enable this Parliament to pass legislation for the welfare of the people. In spite of the limited information available, I have tried to find out what the actual profits of the company on refining are. I have taken the figures given by Mr. Knox in his own evidence, and I have added every conceivable legitimate charge that I could think of. I have put down the cost of refining at £1 5s. 9d. per ton. That is the amount stated by Mr. Knox in his evidence. I have ‘ allowed for carriage of “raws” from mill to refinery, bags, &c, 12s. 6d. The bags are supplied, I understand, to the mills from which the company buys the sugar, and the company pays the carriage from the port at which the sugar is delivered to their refinery. I know that the price which it was paying for conveying its sugar from the most remote ports in Northern Queensland to their refinery was 9s. To that I added 3s. 6d. to cover contingencies; arid I put down the total cost of carrying at 12s. 6d. I have put down the loss of weight in refining at 5s. per ton, which is the amount allowed by the Commission in its report. Then 1 have ‘allowed 5s. .per ton for depreciation. On the 200,000 tons of sugar produced in Australia, it amounts to about £60,000 per annum for depreciation. I regard that as a very /handsome allowance. Distributing charges I have put down at 2s. 6d. The company having a monopoly, and the people who buy sugar being compelled to go to it, it requires no travellers on the road, and there is practically no cost for distribution at all. However, I have allowed 2s. 6d. per ton, making a total cost of £2 10s. 9d. Adding to that the Excise duty of £4, we have a total of £6 10s. 9d. per ton. When the selling price of refined sugar is £19 per ton, the price paid for raw sugar is £9 7s. 6d. The difference in price between “ raws “ and “ refineds “ is, therefore, £9 12s. 6d. ; and the total cost of refining and distributing, including the Excise duty, being £6 10s. 9d. per ton, there is left a profit of £3 is. 9d. A profit of 2S. per ton is made on every advance of £1 in the selling price of refined sugar over £19. Very often, sugar sells at £241 £25, and £26 per ton. If the price is £24 per ton, or £5 more than the standard selling price of £19, there is an additional profit of 10s. per ton to the company. I have tried to make every legitimate allowance on a generous scale, and I have worked it out that they make £3 is. 9d. per ton when sugar is selling at £19, and £3 10s. when it is selling at a fairly high price. In England, where “ raws “ and “ refineds “ are being continually sold, the difference in price to the general public is never more than about 30s. per ton; whilst here in Australia, after allowing every possible charge, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company makes a net profit on the lowest selling price of sugar of £3 is. 9d. Yet this Commis- sion tells us that we should not interfere with this company, that it is really a beneficent company, and is doing wonderful work in the interests of the sugar industry. The marvel to me is how the sugar industry has been successful, in view of the exactions to which it is subjected. The company has always had mighty friends in this Parliament, and in the Parliament of every State in which it is carrying on operations. One of its directors was for many years in the Queensland Parliament, and was always ready to fight for the interests of the company, voice its opinions, and advocate its claims. I venture to say that there are shareholders of the company in this Parliament - I go further, and say they are ia this Senate - ready to protect the interests of the company, voice its claims for consideration, and ‘“repel any attacks made upon it. Not only here, but in every, place in which the company operates, it follows the same tactics. No later than yesterday, the following appeared in the Melbourne Age -
C.S.R. Company in Fiji. - Seventeen Natives killed on tram lines in two years. - Suva, Wednesday. - The Government Colonial Sugar Refining Company Bill has been passed by the Legislative Council. It provides for a better supervision of the company’s tram lines. Seventeen Indians and natives were killed on the tramways in two years. The company announced that it would stop development work, and the Government replied that it would not be intimidated. Four of the elected Opposition members left the Chamber as a protest against the Government forcing the Bill through.
The company was able to exercise such an influence in the Fijian Legislature that four members, no doubt representing the company, left the Chamber as a protest against the Government daring to interfere with the business of the company, although the legislation was intended as a safeguard to human life, and to protect the unfortunate people who are working for them, seventeen of whom were killed in less than two years, no doubt through mismanagement. Yet the members of this Royal Commission say that we should not interfere and nationalize this industry. There is another aspect of the question in connexion with the report of this Commission which I now want to deal with, and that is, that another great evil from which the industry is suffering is that the growers are at the mercy of the private millers who crush the cane and produce the sugar, and are also at the mercy of the Colonial Sugar Refin- ing Company’s private mills wherever those mills exist. The Royal Commission reports -
The suitability of the soil and climate of the Queensland littoral for the purpose of sugar cultivation is sufficiently demonstrated by the progress of the sugar industry in the past. The occasional presence in certain regions of floods and cyclones, the existence of pests, and the difficulty of clearing the land in the first instance, have undoubtedly retarded that progress; but their influence has probably been less deterrent than the inadequacy of the price paid for cane, the difficulty of securing efficient labour, and changes in legislation together with an uncertainty as to the course of future legislative policy.
After enumerating the pests and other disadvantages to which the growers are subject, the Commission lays stress upon the fact that the chief factor operating against the profitable pursuit of the industry of the grower is the inadequacy of the price paid for cane. Why is the price inadequate ? In the first place, as I have shown, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, being the only buyer of raw sugar, is enabled to fix the price, and does not give the price which it ought to give, because it desires to make an undue profit out of the business of refining and distributing sugar. I say that the only way to protect the growers from this rapacity is to nationalize the industry of refining sugar. That would give a fair deal all round, and protect the interests of growers, workers, millers, and: consumers alike. It would not permit any party to the production of sugar and the control of the industry to be exploited in any way. I wish now to quote some of the evidence with regard to the combine of millers and their control of the price paid for cane. I find that at page 39 of their report the Sugar Commission says -
With regard to those areas in which the mills are situated in sufficient proximity to admit of the growers having a choice of market, the mills have been able, by agreements or understandings (either as to price or as to areas of supply), to render the choice of little value to the grower. Indeed, as regards the Mackay Sugar Manufacturers’ Association, it would be not unfair to assume that the price for cane fixed by the association would be the price which the least efficient mill could afford to pay. In each year since 1907 the association has fixed the price at 13s. per ton of cane, wholly disregarding the rise in the price of refined and raw sugar. (See, for example, Questions 11 162-3.)
So that honorable senators will see that a rise in the price of sugar in the market is of no advantage whatever to the grower, because the miller and refiner between them take every farthing of it, and. leave the unfortunate growers to stew in their own juice. The Commission go on to say -
On this subject we wish to draw attention to the following extracts from the evidence.
They quote first from the evidence, not of a grower, but of Mr. W. J. Edmonds, Chairman of Directors of the Marian Central Mill Company Limited - 9435. Are you the chairman of the Millowners’ Association that has been referred to in evidence to-day? - I am the chairman of the Mackay Sugar Manufacturers’ Association. 9436. Is it a registered company? - No. 9437. Is it a voluntary association? - It ismerely a combination of business people, the same as the farmers have.
He excuses himself by saying, “Please, sir, I only did what the other boy did.” He gives this further evidence -
Is it a combination to regulate prices? - Not necessarily.
It has agreed to regulate prices? - We do that.
Of course, they did. I quote again from the Commission’s report -
William Gibson, Manager Bingera Plantation, Gibson and Howes Limited, Bundaberg. 21804. As a matter of fact, do you compete in each other’s areas; is there not a sort of tacit agreement that the mills will not compete for cane against your neighbours, as though each mill had its own defined district? - Millaquin has been taking cane out of our area for the last three or four years.
Honorable senators will see that these people assumed that they had. each an area of operation - a sphere of influence - and no foreign power dare set foot in it, on pain of mortally offending those who claimed to control it. 21805. Then that does not hold? - We do not care if they take it. We cannot stop them. We go into their territory; but my principals have all along considered that we should not encroach on other people’s territory. Many a time we could have done so profitably, but we never did it.
Robert Mathieson, Secretary of the Australian Estates and Mortgage Company Limited, Melbourne. 14283. Are you aware that there is no competition between the Pioneer and Kalamia mills? - Yes, the Kalamia mill is practically controlled by Mr. Drysdale. 14294. Are you aware that the ruling price is fixed by a number of mills in an association of which the Palms is a member? - No; I thought our mill worked on its own.
I could quote at much greater length onthis heading. There is a large body of evidence which goes to show that the millers have agreements, understandings, and combinations amongst themselves to fix the prices to be paid to growers; that they have arranged areas, spheres of influence, and one miller is not permitted to interfere within the sphere of influence of another. In consequence, the profits that the millers are able to make are extraordinary. For instance, Mr. Drysdale, of the Pioneer mill, one of the biggest private mills in Queensland, gave this evidence. He was asked -
Dealing with the last five years, I must still press you to put a figure on what you think, having regard to the nature of this business and its present position, would be a fair interest on your capital ?
His answer was -
As much as you can get.
That is their idea of a fair profit - as much as they can squeeze out of the unfortunate farmer. This is a further quotation from his evidence -
What would you put it down at? - Fifteen per cent., or more if you could get it.
Apparently, nothing under 15 per cent, would be acceptable. Yet these are the people who have been complaining that they were ruined by Federal legislation and the continual interference of this Parliament in the industry. Looking at the evidence and report of the Commission, I find that the price paid for cane by the mill varies from 8s. 6d. to 19s. 6d. per ton, and, generally speaking, the price paid runs from 13s. to 1 6s. per ton. The quality of cane varies with different species, with locality, and with the season. Generally speaking, the cane is richest in sugar contents in the more northerly areas. It takes from 8 to 10 tons of undamaged cane to make a ton of raw sugar. Referring to Ihe mill-owners, the Commission report -
Mill Owners. - A large number of the mills are owned by growers, to whom the State of Queensland has advanced funds on the deeds of their freeholds for the erection of mills on a cooperative or quasi co-operative principle. These are generally described as Central Mills. Other mills described as Proprietary are owned by private individuals or companies. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company mills about one-third of the Australian output of raw sugar.
After hearing the evidence submitted to them, the members of the Commission were bound to state, and they have done so, that the grower gets the worst of the deal. They say that the price paid for cane is too low, and that the only remedy is that something should be done in the way of fixing prices. I agree that that is an excellent remedy. It is the second best way put of the difficulty j but, as a solution of the whole trouble, it is not comparable to the plan of nationalizing the refining business, and establishing co-operative mills to enable the farmers to get the last farthing of profit out of their enterprise by eliminating the intermediary miller. I have carefully read the report of the Commission, and have gone through as much of the evidence taken by them as I could, though I only got the latter portion of the evidence late yesterday evening. I am bound to say that there are two facts which stand out like beacons, and which he who runs may read. No intelligent and impartial person reading the report and evidence submitted by the Sugar Commission can avoid the conclusion that there are two things necessary to place the sugar industry upon a substantial and enduring basis of prosperity. These are, first, the establishment of cooperative mills to enable the grower to get every farthing of profit on the production of raw sugar; and, next, the nationalization of the refining industry to insure a fair price for raw sugar to the millers, and prevent any undue exploiting of the consumer. I shall refer to comparatively few of the other matters dealt with by the Commission. One of the remedies which they suggest for the protection of the interests of the consumer, is a sliding scale of import duty. That is to say, that when the price of cane abroad is high, the duty should automatically be proportionately decreased. In this way, the Australian people, in the opinion of the Commission, would never be called upon to pay too high a price for their sugar. I disagree altogether with that conclusion. I fail to see why any uncertainty with regard to the amount of the duty should exist in connexion with the sugar industry any more than in connexion with the clothing, woollen, furniture, bootmaking, or a hundred and one other protected industries that I could mention. I further say that the proposal, if adopted, would be ineffective. What would happen? It is only a highly organized body, like the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, in possession of a full knowledge of all the facts, that would be enabled to foresee and forecast what would be likely to happen in the near future. That company, being able to accurately forecast a shortage, would, by means of its enorcous capital resources, buy sugar abroad when it was cheapest, import it, and keep it in bond until it wanted it to supply the public. In that way, this company would secure the whole of the advantage of a fluctuating import duty, and the public would receive no advantage at all. It is clearly shown, by the evidence given before the Sugar Commission, that it is possible, only at certain periods of the year, to buy sugar abroad to advantage. The general public would not be in a position to do this, and, therefore, would not be able tq derive any advantage from the proposed sliding scale of import duty. The consequence would be that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company would be able to buy sugar abroad, keep it in stock, and import it when the import duty was low, and to foist it upon the consumers of Australia when the duty was high. In this regard there are several other aspects of the question which are rather tempting to any one who is interested in this question, and which I think are worthy of careful examination. They show that a fluctuating duty would not be operative, and could not be taken advantage of by the consumer, because it is a well-known fact - and, I have put on record in Hansard at various times copies of circulars which prove the statement - that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company absolutely dominates the consumer by its system of rebates and discounts. The company gives a small discount to the small buyer, and gradually increases the discount as the amount of sugar purchased becomes larger; the amount of the discount corresponding to the amount of the purchases. In addition to that, the company has an agreement with the buyer that he shall not purchase sugar from any other manufacturer, on condition that the company grants at the end of the year a rebate of 10s. per ton. Thus a small buyer cannot go elsewhere than to the company to supply his occasional needs, because by doing so he would Jose the rebate, amounting, perhaps, to hundreds of pounds. So that he is entirely at the mercy of the Colonial Sugar Refining “Company, and would not derive any advantage from a fluctuating duty. Opportunely enough, there comes to hand at this moment a copy of this morning’s Age, which contains interesting news from New Zealand in reference to the operations of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. The news is headed “Sugar Monopoly ; Anti-Trust Law ; Six Firms Convicted; Fines Amount to £6,500,” is telegraphed from Wellington, and is dated 20th December. The following is the telegram : -
Judgment was delivered to-day by the Chief Justice in the first series of prosecutions under the Commercial Trusts Act (1910). The parties concerned in the case, with which it is alleged there were breaches of the Act in regard to transaction in sugar, were the King as plaintiff, and the following defendants : - Merchants’ Association of New Zealand, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, incorporated in New South Wales; the Sugar Refiners and Sugar Merchants of Auckland, Levin and Company, W. M. Bannatyne and Company, Joseph Nathan and Company, all merchants of Wellington.
His Honour found all defendants guilty of the conspiracy charge, and fined each £500. The Sugar Company was also found guilty of giving discounts to Levin and Company, an offence under section 3 of the Act, and was fined £250. The Sugar Company was also found guilty of refusing to deal with a firm because that firm would not become a member of the Commercial Trust, and was fined a further sum of £25°- AH the defendants, other than the Sugar Company, were found guilty of an offence under section 9, in that they knew and were concerned in offences _ committed by the Sugar Company, and for this offence they were fined each £500. Judgment was therefore entered against each of the defendants in the first section for a_ sum of £1,000, with costs. In the second action (dealing specially with Levin and Company), judgment was entered for defendants, with £8 8s. costs, for each of defendants’ disbursements. A stay of proceedings was granted, pending an appeal, security to be lodged by 21st January.
I have instanced some of the doings of the company in Australia and in Fiji, and while I am making these very observations the report from New Zealand comes to hand.
– Right hot off the coals.
– This company has been convicted of taking advantage of its commercial position in New Zealand to squeeze the people, and of boycotting a firm of merchants because they would not stand in with a despicable combine. That is a specimen of the operations of this beneficent company, which is, comparatively speaking, blessed by the sapient Royal Commission with whose report I am dealing. The company has done the same sort of thing in Australia as in Fiji and New Zealand. I wish now to offer a few remarks on the bounty and Excise question. I agree in the main with the conclusion arrived at by the Royal Commission on this point. The only reason why it was ever necessary to resort to the Excise and bounty system in connexion with the sugar industry was in order that this Parliament might have some sort of control in regard to wages’ conditions and other matters connected with sugar production. This
Parliament had no other way of exercising control over the labour conditions or any of the other conditions under which the industry was conducted. It was necessary for an effective system to be adopted. The bounty and Excise system, therefore, was the outcome of the necessity for adopting a method of control. The Royal Commission has recommended that the system be abolished, and, as honorable senators all know, during the last few days this Parliament has passed Acts abolishing the bounty and Excise. But Parliament has adopted a wise precaution by providing that these Acts shall not come into operation except by proclamation oh a day to be fixed in the future ; and I wish now, speaking on a question with which I am familiar, to say that I hope that the Government will never issue the proclamation bringing these new Acts into operation until they are well assured that sufficient and effective action has been taken by the Government of Queensland to insure that both workers and canegrowers shall have a fair deal. We need to insure that the workers shall get a fair deal from the growers and the millers, and that the growers get a fair price for their cane from the millers who handle it. Having a great interest in the sugar industry, and being, perhaps, as much concerned as any man in this Parliament with the welfare of the people engaged in it, I express the hope that any Government which may be in office in the Commonwealth will not bring these bounty and Ex-‘ rise Abolition Acts into operation until such time as they are well assured that the Queensland Government has taken the necessary action to protect both workers and growers. Speaking with regard to the labour conditions, I may remark that a great deal of dissatisfaction used to be caused to the growers on account of the class of labour available. The Royal Commission has put its finger on what was wrong in that connexion. The Commission say -
Latterly, as was admitted in evidence, there has been an improvement in the class of labour offering, and the opinion was expressed that if better conditions could be offered, a more desirable class of men would be attracted to the industry. A very large proportion of the labour required is drawn from the larger centres of population, the local supply rarely, if ever, being equal to the demand.
Of course, that is but common sense. While the conditions were bad, while wages were low, while the hours were long, none but men who could not make a success in any other calling, who could not obtain work elsewhere, would seek employment in the sugar industry. But when the conditions of employment are reasonable, when the accommodation is decent, and when wages are good, men will flock to the industry, and we shall find that there will be very little dissatisfaction on the part of the growers, whilst, also, there will be nothing but contentment and good feeling between them and the workers. In this connexion I wish to quote an instance of the misrepresentation resorted to by a certain section of people in Queensland in regard to this Parliament and its legislation. I hold in my hand a copy of the last issue of the Australian Sugar Journal. Turning to the title-page, I find it stated that the Journal is issued, by the Australian Sugar Producers’ Association (Limited. It is the chief organ of the privately-owned mills and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, because we have it in evidence that the company gave the handsome subscription of £7,000 to enable the Journal to get a start. The issue which I hold in my hand was published in Brisbane on the 5th December, 1912. I wish particularly to call the attention of honorable senators to a paragraph which was originally published in a newspaper called the Mackay Mercury - a journal which was controlled by Senator Chataway before he entered this Parliament, and of which, I believe, he is in control to-day. This is’ the sort of misrepresentation which is perpetrated by that newspaper, and which is copied into the Australian Sugar Journal. The paragraph is headed, “ How Tudorculosis Helps the Worker,” and reads -
The Hampden correspondent of the Mackay Mercury supplies the following, which there is reason to believe is by no means an isolated case, and, indeed, may be regarded as typical, of the advantages (?) which the worker generally is deriving from Mr. Tudor’s misguided interference with the sugar industry. Even in this unimportant locality we had an illustration of the effect of Mr. Tudor’s pernicious edict re rates of wages. A worker, 58 years of age, was looking for employment. He valued his services at 10s. per week. A farmer wanting somebody to boil the billy and cut chaff, thought the old chap about fit for the job, but not wishing to imperil his rebate, directed the old chap to the Excise officer at the mill, to see if Mr. Tudor would allow him to work for 10s. per week. He returned with a letter stating that he would have to be paid at the rate of £1 4s.
That settled it; the farmer cuts his own chaff while waiting for the billy to boil, and the man, mo doubt, is still looking for work.
I characterize that statement as a disgraceful lie, because if the farmer referred to employed a hundred old men boiling billies and cutting chaff, he could pay them as little as is. per week if he liked, because they would not be affected by the rates of wages fixed by Mr. Tudor. Those wages would not apply unless the men were engaged in cutting cane or in sugar cultivation. But that is the sort of misrepresentation that is indulged in by these people, who do not hesitate to come and ask for a patient hearing for their claims. I say that when people tell such disgraceful lies, one is entitled to give little credence to anything they say at any time. While 1 am dealing with the question of the workers and rates of wages, I wish to allude to another of the recommendations of the Royal Commission regarding the abolition of the bounty and Excise in relation to the wages question. On page 37 of the report, the Royal Commission recommends -
With that last recommendation, I am entirely in accord. Molasses is an important by-product which is going to waste in untold quantities in Australia, while, at the same time, people who require it are, in some cases, importing it That being so, it is only fair that a reasonable amount of protection should be afforded to assist in the establishment of an important industry in this country. This Commission, in advising either the equalization or the abolition of the bounty and the Excise, recommended the Government to pre-date the equalization or the abolition to the 1st July last year, in view of the increased rates of wages prescribed by Mr. Tudor in August last. I emphatically and entirely disagree with that recommendation. The Commission, in making it, went out of their way to practically pass a vote of censure on Mr. Tudor, and declared that he was not justified in doing so, because the grower could not pay the wages at that particular time, and under the conditions. I dispute that conclusion entirely; and it is only part and parcel of the old cry raised by the growers. They found they were being crushed, fleeced, and exploite’d by the private millers on the one hand, and by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company on the other ; but, instead of continually fighting for a fair deal, they sought to recoup their losses by dragging the workers down to the lowest possible wages. The workers were the easiest got at, and as the growers were crushed from above, they tried to crush those below them. I have advised, over and over again, that the proper policy for the growers was to do as the wild horses do on the Russian steppes when they are attacked by wolves - gather together in a mob, put their heads together and kick out their heels like mad. Instead of that, they sought to squeeze the workers down to a miserable wage, and, because they could not get decent men at the price, they howled and begged to be allowed to go back to black-labour conditions. From my knowledge and experience, I know that, even without the abolition of the Excise and bounty, there was ample justification for the rate of wages prescribed. . Some time ago, the matter came up for discussion in the Senate, and I then pointed out that the rates set down by Mr. Tudor for workers in a tropical climate were not so good as the rates prescribed by the Arbitration Court for fruit-pickers at Mildura and Renmark. At the same time, we were told that it was impossible for white workers to work in Queensland, owing to the severe climate and conditions. I should like to quote the evidence given before the Commission, in order to lay before honorable senators a representative case, and show what are the profits from the sugar industry under the conditions which then existed, and to leave the House and the public outside to judge whether Mr. Tudor was or was not justified in his action. Mr. Alexander Innes, chairman of directors of the Plane Creek Central Mill Company Limited, gave evidence before the Commis- sion on the 14th December last, and in that evidence he set out a return showing the cost of clearing, cultivating, and harvesting an acre of virgin average forest land, as shown in the following table -
ReturnShowing the Cost ofclearing, Cultivating, and Harvesting an Acre ofvirgin Average Forest Land.
Farmers’ Returns - 47 tons at 15s. 4d., Black Cane, £36 Os. 8d. 47 tons at 22s. 4d., White Cane, £52 9s. 8d.
Black Cane, £360s. 8d., less £11 15s. l0d., £24 4s. l0d.
White Cane. £52 9s.8d., less £30 9s. 6d., £220s. 2d.
In addition, the farmer has his land cleared, grubbed, and placed under cultivation, and yet the average profit per acre is £7 i0s. per annum. In the face of this, we are asked to believe that the industry cannot afford to pay decent wages.
In the wheat industry, which has to pay good wages, the gross returns from year to year is not more than 30s. per acre, and the average profit not more than 12s. 6d. I do not desire this to be regarded as an isolated case. Mr. J. R. Paddle general manager of the Government Central Sugar Mills, on the 4th April last, laid before the Royal Commission a return showing the price received for a ton of cane from the miller, and the rebate, the total receipts per ton of cane, the average acreage crop per annum, the average yield per acre, the total receipts per acre, the total receipts per annum per farm of 20 acres, the net profit per acre, and the net profit per annum per farm of 20 acres; and we see that the net profit per acre ranges over £9, £8 8s., £1 16s., and £7 in four different districts. Yet we are told by this Government officer, and the Royal Commission fathers the suggestion, that Mr. Tudor was not justified in prescribing the rate of wages he did until the bounty and Excise had been abolished. I totally and absolutely disagree with that idea. There is another misconception that I wish to correct with regard to the sugar Excise and bounty. Even Senator Findley, in charge of a Bill yesterday, made the mistake that is very prevalent, of saying that the Government derive a revenue of £1 per ton for every ton of sugar produced by white labour - that, inasmuch as there is a difference of £1 per ton between the import duty and the Excise, the Government necessarily get that £1. This, on the face of it, is a sort of statement that might well be generally accepted.
– The Royal Commission says that the amount is 15s.
– Yes; but I desire to show that even the Sugar Commission did not take all the factors into consideration. The Commission points out that the bounty is paid on the raw sugar, while the Excise is paid on the manufacture of refined sugar ; and that, as one ton of “raws” will not produce a ton of “ refineds “ the Government do not get paid Excise for so many tons as they have to pay the bounty on. That is quite right, and the conclusion of the Commission in regard to the 15s. is about correct. But there is a further important consideration. The moment the cane is delivered at the mill, the farmer gets the warrant for the payment of the bounty, and may cash his cheque at the bank immediately, while the Government may have to wait months for the,
Excise. The sugar which is produced from that cane, and on which the Crown has paid the bounty, is taken in bond to the refinery, and the £4 Excise is not paid upon it until it goes into consumption. Of late years the bounty paid has averaged over £500,000 a year; and as the Government is out of that money from six to twelve months before it gets it back in the shape of Excise, it is fair that the Government should be credited with the amount of interest they have lost all that time. There is another £10,000 or £12,000 which is to be accounted for in that way ; and if we add that to the £7,000 or £8,000 which the Act costs to work, we shall find that the profit of the Commonwealth will be less than £1 a ton - indeed, in my opinion, it does not reach 10s. a ton. I forgot to mention one matter when I was dealing with the question of whether the growers were able to pay the increased rates of wages. And I want to quote here the prospectus of the Fairy mead Sugar Company Limited, which was published in the Argus of 10th August last. It is stated in the advertisement that a copy of the prospectus had been filed with the Registrar-General of Joint Stock Companies of Victoria, in pursuance of section 87 of the Companies Act of that State, so that it can be inspected by any person at the public offices. The Fairymead plantation, in the Bundaberg district, is owned by Young Brothers, who were once about the greatest growlers in the sugar industry. They were continually howling about the blue ruin which was overtaking them owing to legislative interference, and how everything was going to the dogs generally. Yet in that very prospectus they stated that the capital they were asking was £265,000, with power to increase, divided into 265,000 shares of £1 each ; and in justification for that very high capitalization they pointed out that the profits were over £8 per acre, and that for the whole eleven years since 1891 the profits averaged £25,071 a year. These people are millers and growers combined, and for the last six years, during which time the white-labour (policy has been enforced, the profits averaged £27,564 a year, so that after they were ruined the profits were £2,000 a year more than was the case before they were ruined. Those profits were made on an area of 3,404 acres under cane, thus bearing out the figures which I formerly quoted, that the profit per acre per annum amounts to £7 or over. In face of all these facts and magnificent profits - not made in an isolated year, but over a number of years - not made in an isolated district, but over a number of districts - can any one deny that Mr. Tudor was not more than justified in putting forward the rates of wages which he did? There was no necessity for the Sugar Commission to go out of its way to recommend that we should pre-date something in order to make good the loss to the growers alleged to be caused by that action of Mr. Tudor. There are several other aspects of this ques tion into which one is almost tempted to wander. But 1 must call attention to this fact : that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company have a fixed standard price for raw sugar, on which their other prices are varied in accordance with a fixed scale. The price they pay for raw sugar is £9 7s. 6d. when the price of refined sugar in Australia is £19 per ton ; and for every £1 they increase the selling price of refined sugar, they return in payment to the millers who supply the raw sugar 18s. a ton, thus keeping for themselves an additional profit of 28. a ton. But the Commission very rightly say that the growers rarely or never get any portion of the 18s., that their standard price for sugar all the time is based upon £19 a ton, that the bonus of 18s. - and sometimes there are three or four bonuses - is grabbed by the private miller, and that the growers never share it. The Commission point out, on page 48 of the report -
The disadvantages of existing arrangements or offers as to a sliding scale of prices are chiefly two- -
The growers rarely share any part of the bonus paid to millers of 18s. for every £1 increase in the selling value of refined sugar.
The sliding scale, in so far as it is in operation, is fixed, not by competition, nor by collective bargaining, nor by an impartial body, but by private business concerns, which enjoy a more or less monopolistic control.
It will be seen that I am not making that statement on my own authority, but on that of the Commission; and it is also given in evidence. I think I have said enough to prove, and to prove pretty conclusively, that what is really wrong with the industry, if anything be radically wrong with it, is that the only thing necessary to put it on an absolutely certain foundation is to insure to the growers - and thus enable them to insure to the workers a fair deal - a fair price for their cane, in accordance with the selling price of sugar in Australia - and also to insure to the millers a fair price for their sugar. As I have said, there are two conclusions standing out like beacons unmistakably to any one who lias studied and read the evidence as I have done, who knows the industry as I do, arid who is acquainted, with the facts as I know them and have known them for a number of years. There are two things necessary to be done, and only two. First, it is necessary to nationalize the business of refining, so as to protect the interests of the consumers on the one hand, and to protect the producers and the workers from feeing fleeced and exploited on the other. But, while it would, be a great advantage to go that far, we would not get the full fruition of that beneficial action unless we went one step further, and established cooperative mills for the benefit of the growers. It is of very little use to multiply the mills in a particular district if there is not competition, and the unanimous evidence is that even in districts where there are many mills there is such a combination amongst the millers that the growers are absolutely at their mercy, the same as if there was only one mill. 0 In many districts here is only one mill which can take cane from the growers, and, that being so, the f rowers, as stated in evidence, have either > accept the price dictated to them or to starve. Some of the richest and most fertile districts in Australia are to be found on ;the northern river areas of Queenland, and I am sure that there must be similar areas in the Northern Territory, and. the north-west portion of Western Australia, containing almost limitless possibilities for the extension of the sugar industry. The proper way to insure a full supply of Australian sugar to meet the consumption is for some authority, whether it be the Commonwealth or State, to establish cooperative mills in those districts, and enable farmers and others to go on the land, clear it, and grow sugar at a profitable rate; and then, in addition to that, if we take over the business of refining, we shall be able to insure to them the last fraction of profit. As I have shown, the profits made by the Colonial Sugar Refining ‘Company are enormous. They are made out of the consumers and the workers on the one hand and out of the growers on the other. Every man in Australia is fleeced by them - every grower, as well as every worker engaged in the industry, is fleeced by them. -They exploit everybody with whom they come in contact; they corrupt Parliament; they form combines everywhere. I have quoted evidence from Fiji and from New Zealand, and evidence given in Australia, to show that everywhere the company is alike. They are out for the biggest profits they can get consistent with keeping the industry alive. Of course, it would not do for the company to kill the industry, because then they would make nothing. They are not so foolish as to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. They will keep the goose alive, and collar the eggs as fast as she lays them. They will only give the goose enough to provide her with sufficient nourishment to produce the golden eggs which they collar. That is the position of the company with regard to everybody else engaged in the industry; and I say emphatically that the conclusion stands out, like a well-lighted beacon on a dark night over a gloomy sea, that the one remedy is the nationalization of both branches of the industry - milling and refining. In order to show what the present results are, I have here a carefully prepared table of what the value of cane really ought to be when sugar is at a certain price. It is certified to by George R. Patten, first assistant chemist at the Bureau of Sugar Experimental Station, under date 9th March, 191 1. It is a very complete table, going into all details, but I only want to quote the average. When the number of tons which contain 1 ton of obtainable sugar is 9 tons, the price fixed by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, irrespective qf the rise or fall in the price of sugar, is 1 is. per ton of cane. When sugar is £19 per ton, the price is 9s. 6d. per ton of cane, and the actual value of each ton of cane, if the possible obtainable cane sugar is extracted is, *£2 is. 10d. per ton. Is not that proof positive of the most enormous scale of fleecing imaginable? Yet we are told by the Sugar Commission that the company is rather a beneficent one. I have said sufficient under that heading to show that the conclusions of the Commission are based upon an entire misconception of the position disclosed by the evidence which w,as tendered to them. Another matter into which the Commission inquired was the relation of the sugar industry to other industries. From the howl of the jam-makers in regard to the duty on sugar, one would imagine that they were being harshly treated. As a matter of fact, if I had time I could prove that there is almost as effective a combination amongst the jammakers as there is amongst the sugarmakers. I could also demonstrate that there is as big a combination amongst the confectionery-makers as there is amongst the sugar-makers. The plea of the jammakers is that they should get sugar, as a necessary part of their raw material, free of duty. Now, the duty upon sugar is only £6 per ton, whereas the duty upon jam is 2d. per lb. under the general Tariff and 1 1/2d. per lb. under the Tariff for the United Kingdom. That is equivalent to a duty of £14 per ton. In the making of jam a ton of sugar is required for every ton of fruit which is used. It will be seen, therefore, that when sugar is put into jam it enjoys a protection of £14 a ton. The jam-makers evidently desire Protection for themselves and Free Trade for everybody else. The case of the confectionery manufacturers shows up in an even worse light. Whereas the duty on sugar is £6 per ton, the duty on ordinary sweets is 3d. per lb. under the general Tariff and 2jd. per lb. under the Tariff for the United Kingdom, which is equivalent to a Protection of £23 6s. 8d. per ton. Yet the makers of confectionery have the unblushing effrontery to complain of their position. There is not the slightest particle of justification for any such complaint. I do not intend to weary the Senate by dealing with this subject at greater length. But I make no apology, whatever for having occupied the time which I have occupied in dealing with it. It is a subject which especially concerns the State which I represent, and it is one of importance to every man, woman, and child in Australia. The Sugar Commission collected a large amount of exceedingly valuable evidence in relation to the industry, and its members have made many useful suggestions. We owe that body, perhaps, a good deal of thanks for its labours. But, in the main, I do not agree with the conclusions of the Commissioners, and I thought it necessary to embrace the only opportunity which I shall have this session of placing my views before the Senate and the country. I hope that when the time comes this Parliament, and the people of Australia, will be wise enough to follow the beacon-light which is disclosed in the evidence, and to adopt the only two remedies which will place this industry upon an enduring basis - the policy of nationalization for the refining business and of cooperation for the milling business.
– It is a great pity that the very important speech which has just been delivered by Senator Givens was not made at a time when it could be properly reported in the newspapers, in order that it might be digested by the public. I confess that I do not know a great deal about the sugar industry, but it is one upon which I am open to learn. We must all regret that the Appropriation Bill has been presented to us at such a late period of the session, particularly as the question of finance is not receiving that consideration which its importance merits. The Budget is the people’s balance-sheet, and it ought to be submitted in such a form that the people can understand it. The Government have not made any attempt to throw light upon it. In another place, where some critical speeches were delivered upon it, not a single member of the Ministry rose to reply to them-.
– Those speeches did not touch the Budget. The members of the other branch of the Legislature talked about every subject on earth except the Budget.
– How can the Minister of Defence say that of the speeches which were delivered by Mr. Irvine, Mr. Harper, and others?
– It is a fact.
– It is an absolute contradiction of fact. Never in my political career have I seen a Budget treated as this Budget has been. It has been the invariable practice of Treasurers to reply to any smashing criticisms that may have been bestowed upon their Budgets. Since the present Government came into office there has been a woeful slackness in the matter of presenting the national accounts to the Auditor-General. During the first year of the Ministry’s regime that officer drew attention to the fact that, although the financial year closed on the 30th June, 1910, the accounts were only received by him on the 10th March, 1911. He stated that his previous annual reports had always been prepared in time for presentation to Parliament before the close of the session. But, although he reported in that way, we find that, in his next annual report, he says -
The right honorable the Treasurer’s statement of accounts for the year 1910-11 was not received by me complete until this day, the 30th April, 1912, when the statement of the Treasury balance was signed by the Treasurer.
Is that creditable to the Treasurer or to the Department over which he presides? What would be thought of a Board of Directors who came before a meeting of shareholders and presented to it accounts which had not been audited ? Mr. Israel goes on to say -
The first instalment’ of the statement was received in the middle of March, but the accounts generally had been fully audited, so far as that was possible, in anticipation on receipt of the statement. As was the case in the previous year the Treasury statement came to hand too late for submitting to Parliament with my report during the last session, and as required by the provisions of the Audit Acts, the statement and report are transmitted to the Treasurer for publication in the Commonwealth Gazette.
Upon the present occasion the position is not quite so bad as that. But to-night, in the dying hours of the session, the AuditorGeneral’s report has been submitted to us - at a time when no honorable senator will have an opportunity to peruse it.
– It has been presented at an earlier period than it has been submitted in any year since the inception of Federation.
– The AuditorGeneral, in his first report, said -
The late receipt of the statement and accounts made it impossible for my report to be prepared and presented to Parliament prior to the close of the recent session. My previous eight annual reports had been submitted for the information of Parliament in the first instance.
This Budget especially is one which ought to have been fully discussed,” because it deals with a much greater expenditure than does any previous Budget. It discloses an enormously, increasing revenue and an enormously increasing expenditure. It shows that the cost of governing this country is increasing by leaps and bounds, and at a rate far more than the additional duties which have been imposed upon the Government warrant. Excluding new items of expenditure, such as the Northern Territory, the Port Augusta railway, invalid and old-age pensions, maternity payments, sugar and other bounties, naval defence, and the Fleet Unit, the bedrock cost of governing this country is over £4,000,000 more than it was three years ago. There is absolutely no justification for that. The figures which I have quoted have been supplied to me by Mr, Knibbs, the Commonwealth Statistician. When I looked into them I was appalled to find that our expenditure was so great. But I rose more particularly to deal with two questions, one of which is of immense importance to the Commonwealth - I refer to the width of gauge which has been adopted on the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway.
At present this’ question is in a most unsatisfactory position. It has not received fair play from the Government, who have practically forced a particular gauge on Australia regardless of its future interests. One of the planks in the Government programme is the adoption of a uniform gauge for Australia, and, naturally, it was thought by everybody that that gauge would be adopted after due inquiry had been made into this important question. But there has really been no proper inquiry into it. A Bill authorizing the construction of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway was submitted by the Government, and in it provision was made for the construction of that line on the 4-ft. 8J-ih. gauge. No attempt was made to get evidence on the subject of what gauge should be adopted from the best experts available. There has been no effort made to secure a solution of this most abstruse engineering question. In the construction of that railway the best men have not been employed. The gentleman who has been placed in supreme charge is an officer who was cast off by New South Wales, who is out of date, who is wedded to a particular gauge, and who declined 10 listen to anything that might be said in favour of any other. One would have thought that the Government, in the interests of Australia, would have instituted a full inquiry into this matter, in order that the best gauge might be adopted. But, instead, they acted in the most arbitrary manner, and with a view to suiting their own party exigencies. In other words, they disregarded the best interests of the Commonwealth. They have thus put the achievement of a uniform gauge further off than before. The gauge adopted is in use in countries which would gladly discard it if that were possible, in favour of a wider one, as they find that it is causing congestion, and preventing the handling of traffic as they would like. New South Wales is the State responsible for the main break of gauge in Australia ; but the golden opportunity for coming to an arrangement to secure a uniform gauge was lost when the Commonwealth adopted the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge for the trans-Australian line. Future generations will rue ‘this making of the question a party one. Having given considerable attention to the subject, I brought it before the Senate in November of last year; but the Government rode rough-shod over all suggestions differing from their decision. Since then, they have reopened the question. Had Ministers believed that they had adopted the best gauge, they should have stood by it, but they consented to the reopening of the question by taking part in a Conference on the guage question, on which they were represented by their engineer. They sent a partisan to rule the Conference instead of getting an outside man.
– The honorable senator is anti-Australian.
– That is humbug. Australia has not had the experience in these matters that other countries have had.
– There are many more miles of 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge than of any other.
– Great Britain, Canada, and the United States of America bitterly regret that they have not a wider gauge, but they cannot make a change now. I have already put into Hansard figures showing the mileage of the various gauges in use, and shall not repeat them now. Australia has spent £150,000,000 on railways, the interest bill being about £5,500,000 a year. New South Wales has 3,643 miles of 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge; Victoria and South Australia, 3,982 miles of 5-f t. 3-in. gauge ; and there are in Australia 7,263 miles of the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. This Government had it within their power to have had the same gauge from Albury to Western Australia, but they have adopted a gauge which makes a second important break at a long distance from Albury, increasing the confusion and making uniformity less possible of achievement. South Australia wanted the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. But the Governments of the States were not consulted, though they are the owners of the existing railways, and will have to consent to any alterations necessary to obtain uniformity. The highest engineering authorities in the world condemn the action of the Government in this matter. The position in Australia has attracted a great deal of attention in other parts of the world, and Engineering,, the journal which speaks with the greatest authority on these subjects, unreservedly condemns the action taken. This is what it says on the subject -
The last few months have witnessed a recrudescence of the unfortunate dispute over the question of a standard gauge for Australia. We purposely avoid the use of the term “ uniform gauge,” for to any one who knows the country it must be patent that uniformity of gauge is only a remote possibility, since many of the narrowgauge development lines will probably remain unconverted for a long time to come. On the other hand, a standard gauge is an urgent necessity, easy through communication between the important centres having become imperative. The matter is one deserving of the most careful consideration, for it is naturally desirable that the system finally selected should be such as will benefit the country in the greatest degree, having regard both to present conditions and to the possibilities of the future. The present state of affairs has been precipitated by the attitude of the Federal Government, which has narrow-mindedly chosen to settle by the party machine a far-reaching question, which properly should have been left for decision only to enlightened experts of liberal outlook.
We have on previous occasions advocated the federalization of Australian railways, principally because we hold the view that, properly advocated, it would facilitate the evolution of a coherent railway policy, and that it could be introduced in such a way as practically to put an end to the parochialism which has been so harmful to economic development in the past. For the moment, however, the powers that be have played us false. The Federal Government has embarked on railway ownership under the most unfavorable auspices. The system inaugurated is open to most of the abuses which have troubled the railway development of the individual States in the past, and the manner of its inception gives but little promise that the Federal railways will be conducted on the broad principles so essential to success. These railways are consigned to the care of the Minister of Home Affairs, who has not, and cannot be expected to have, much knowledge of railway matters, and for the purpose of their development this Minister has been invested with powers enabling him to construct railways, acquire land, appoint officers, and, in fine, decide matters which, as a rule, demand, for their proper consideration, knowledge resulting from a life-long training.
Recently a Bill was before the Federal Parliament to authorize the construction of the transcontinental railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie. It was brought forward in an incomplete condition. The Government appears to have been determined to be as reticent and as vague as possible as to how funds were to be provided for the purpose of building the line. It was only with very considerable difficulty that some explanation on this point was drawn from Mr. Fisher. The question of the acquisition of land was similarly slurred over, and no definite arrangement with the States involved was shown by the Government to exist.
With regard to the gauge, the Government, at the advice of their consulting engineer, formerly an official connected with New South Wales, settled upon 4 ft. 8£ in., on which system the railways of ‘that State are built, and Ministers refused to make this matter for concessions of any kind, neither would they consent to remit it, as an open question, to a committee of impartial experts for decision. Intimately connected with the settlement of the gauge is the question of Federal financial assistance to those States which may be involved in the expense of conversion, in’ order that the ideal of unbroken through communication may be realized. On this point the attitude of the Federal Government was no mei.e satisfactory than on others. Mr. Fisher would commit himself no further than to the general statement that “ the Government will meet the States with an open and a generous mind, to meet any difficulty that may arise, to adjust the gauges to that of this (trans-continental) railway, so that as soon as it is open it will be possible to run with the same engines from Fremantle to Brisbane.” In view of the vagueness of these words it is not surprising that the States most likely to suffer from the Government’s proposals should have raised a vigorous protest against the hasty action taken, for with the construction of this transcontinental line the standard gauge for Australia will be practically decided.
The Government has had the choice of three gauges - namely, the 3-ft. 6-in., the 4-ft. 8£-in., and the q-ft. 3-in. Of the first, there are some 8,604 miles constructed, and the railways on this gauge are being rapidly extended. It has been recognised, however, that for a continental system called into being to a large extent by a need for rapid transport, this gauge does not afford sufficient potentialities to enable it to compete in this instance with those of greater width. It has, nevertheless, a staunch little band of advocates, who, in support of their arguments, point to the wonderful development witnessed on the narrow-gauge lines in South Africa, where the 3- ft. 6-in. gauge is the standard. There it has been developed to the limits reached nowhere else. Normal loads 10 feet in width can be carried on the South African lines, where waggons of 50 tons capacity are in use, and trains of 1,600 to 1,800 gross tons are being handled there on up-grades of r in 100 by Mallet articulated compounds. Nothing approaching this has been accomplished on the 3-ft. 6-in. lines of Australasia, and New South Wales, with its 4- ft. 8£-in. gauge, cannot ‘show anything like so good an appreciation as this of the principles governing economical operation.
Of the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge Australia possesses about 3,824 miles, all within one State (New South Wales). The adoption of this gauge as the standard would therefore relieve New South Wales of all expense for conversion, while it would result in the corresponding advantage that it would be possible to make shipment direct, if necessary, from any part of the State to points on the east and west trunk line. The proposition in favour of the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge is therefore not unnaturally viewed enthusiastically by representatives of the State of New South Wales. It is not, however, of universal acceptance, since, from the point of view of the possibilities of economical operation, the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge has a very serious rival in Australia. In fact, to prove the efficiency of the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge, the Government, its officials and supporters, have been drawn into the most fantastical of reasoning. It is, for instance, advanced that, as the fastest passenger trains and the heaviest freight trains in the world are run on 4-ft. 8^-in. lines, this gauge should prove adequate for Australia “ for all time to come.”
It requires very little dialectical skill to expose the fallacy of these points made in the present connexion. The conditions do not exist in Australia to-day which would allow of anything approaching the fast or heavy trains in service where the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge is worked to its utmost capacity, and the argument is therefore inapplicable. We have even seen it recently asserted that the running speed of trains on the Sydney-Brisbane service has been no better on the New South Wales 4-ft. 8^-in. portion of the route than on the Queensland 3-ft. 6-in. section. It has also to be borne in mind that the gauge of the rails is not the only thing that controls the carrying power of a line. Of at least equal importance is the loading gauge, the limitations of which in the case of our English railways is now being so severely felt. With regard to big trains, the 4-ft. 8£-in. loading gauge in Australia prohibits the use of the large locomotive and waggon stock in service elsewhere, and therefore operations cannot be reduced to similar economical methods without reconstruction. If, in order to render such manner of operation practicable, reconstruction of permanent works, necessary to allow of an enlargement of the loading gauge, be accepted, large expense must be incurred, and the only sensible argument in favour of the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge is at once discounted.
This last is to the effect that it would be cheaper to convert the present 5-ft. 3-in. lines to 4-ft. 8i-in., and vice versa, by about two millions sterling. This figure ignores the need of readjustment of the present 4-ft. 84-in. loading gauge, so that either the arguments enforced by reference to the capacity of that system in the United States of America, or this estimate for the cost of conversion, must be abandoned. The two cannot be worked concurrently, since they clash. Supposing for a moment that, while saving this extra two millions expenditure, existing and converted 4-ft. 8 1/2-in. lines were to be put in a position in which operation could be conducted on the best principles, it ls worth while giving brief consideration to the weight that such reasoning should have. At 3^ per cent., the rate of interest on the railway loans, the saving of this two millions would mean an annual saving for interest of ,£70,000. Now the net surplus, after payment of interest, of the systems of the three States primarily involved, amounted, in the last year for which reports are available, to about ^1,199,711 - a sum about seventeen times as great as the additional charge. There is, indeed, little doubt that if even a portion of the optimism regarding the continent is warranted, the expenditure of the additional two millions need not be feared. When it is further remembered that in some States the sum of money sunk in the railways is only approximately known, and that no small amount has been appropriated to railway development, free of interest, out of consolidated revenue funds, the Australian political conscience would, we aic sure, find this additional two millions no insurmountable difficulty. The question of additional expense might, therefore, with advantage be put on one side, and the problem considered from the point of view solely of the respective economic values of the 4-ft. 8£-in. and the ‘5-ft. 3-in. gauges. Of the former, there are, as already stated, 3,824 miles, and of the latter 4,079 miles.
The cheapest form of handling freight, if conditions will allow, is in large train-loads at moderate speeds. A great deal of the Australian traffic, being seasonal traffic of extremely long average haul, is suitable for handling in this way. Some idea of the average hauls, which will tend to increase as development is pushed further into the interior, may be gathered from New South Wales statistics. From these it appears that the average haul for general goods in truck-loads on that system is 353 miles; for wool it is 297 miles; for grain and flour, 262 miles; and for live stock, 257 miles; and so on. In fact, of eighteen classes of traffic, only six average less than 100 miles average haul ; though since coal is mined near ports, the average for all classes together is reduced. Since the sale of wool, &c, is dependent upon foreign markets, cheap internal transport is essential to the development of the interior. A difference of 6£ in. in gauge width, allowing an increase in the width of rolling-stock of over 1 foot, would, at a conservative estimate, render possible an increase of loading of 20 per cent, for equal train-lengths; but the greater width will allow of the use of more powerful engines, and thus much longer trains could be worked, rendering the need of duplication, which is already being felt in New South Wales, much more remote. The advantages of the wider gauge have been realized in India and in the Argentine, and it is rather surprising that the Australian Government, in support of its attitude, should be forced to fall back for its examples even on such a country as the United States, where the gauge was not fixed by such economic considerations as affect modern traffic, and where, in order to get the traffic over the road, higher speeds and lighter loads than are well known to be the cheapest are being more and more largely adopted - in other words the cost of transport is increasing.
One or two other phases of this question are worth noting. The increase of gauge from 4 ft. in. to 5 ft. 3 in., though small, is claimed to be valued from the point of view of defence. Curiously enough, the reason advanced for this is that the adoption of this gauge would enable rolling-stock to be readily obtained from abroad in case of emergency. This is an inversion. If suitable stock can be readily obtained abroad, it would enable an enemy having secured a pied i terre in the country, to supply its own requirements quickly. If suitable stock were unobtainable readily, and the country’s stock had been withdrawn, a most salutary delay would be imposed on the invader, unless considerable prior preparations had been made over seas. A unique gauge is therefore an immense advantage. Moreover, from all stand-points1 the hasty purchase of foreign 4-ft. 8£-in. stock is to be discountenanced. We have consistently held that railways should purchase to their own standards and designs. If this be done, contracts may as well be made for 5-ft. 3-in. as for 4-ft. 8£-in. stock. During the South African War immense quantities of standard South African 3- ft. fi-in. stock were built in this country and shipped very rapidly, and the gauge had no effect upon the execution of the orders. The few inches differences between the 4-ft. 8£-in. and the 5-ft. 3-in. gauges would certainly have little influence in this direction. Lastly, it may be pointed out that the purchase of stock abroad is altogether contrary to Australia’s national _ ideals, so that this argument has very little in its favour and much against it. <The_ subject thus raises a multitude of points to which, unfortunately, machine politics allow scant consideration. The question is one involving a very careful appraisal of several economic factors, but has mainly been settled on fictitious arguments adduced to bolster up a case based almost wholly on a comparatively small saving is present cost. The decision is of wide-reach ing effect. If the ambiguous promises of help towards the cost of conversion do not materialize, South Australia and Victoria may not feel themselves justified in incurring much expense for an> object to attain which it is felt that all should bear a proportionate share. Particularly is it considered that New South Wales should help in this matter, since it was due wholly to that State’s vacillating policy in the past that the present situation has arisen. It is rightly felt that she should bear some of the cost towards the solution of this problem for which her fickleness has been responsible, but at present it seems likely that she will obtain her desires at no cost to herself, and that the expense will fait on the innocent States of South Australia and Victoria. If the two latter States do not feet inclined to go further in this matter than isabsolutely necessary, and New South Wales elects to build a line from Cobar to BrokenHill, already contemplated, Adelaide and Melbourne might ultimately find themselves completely “ side tracked “ so far as transcontinental traffic is concerned.
The ideal of a Federal Government would be one capable of acting as a just assessor, making’ equitable adjustments between the various States on sound economic principles. From the railway point of view nothing of this kind is to be noticed about the present party in power in theCommonwealth. So unsatisfactory, in fact, has been the manner in which this decision has beenreached, that the Inter-State Conference of Premiers and Treasurers has now referred the gaugequestion to a Commission of railway engineers. This, of course, should have been done by the Federal Government, who should have only acted after receiving a report from such a body. We may venture to remark, even at the risk of giving slight offence, perhaps, that the value of such a report as this, which the Commissionwill doubtless produce before long, would be greatly enhanced if it were possible to includeon the Commission engineers who have had experience of the limiting conditions of operationin the United States, and also in India and the Argentine. The very best report is wanted from men free from any suspicion of being influenced by local traditions. If the Commission’s report is in favour of a 5-ft. 3-in. standard gauge, and such a report were adopted by the Inter-State Conference, it will be interesting to see what the Federal Government will do. It would naturally be expected to fall into line, whatever its present attitude ; but in Australia all sorts of strange and illogical things are possible.
I desire to put both sides of the question fairly before the Senate, and, therefore, I shall read a reply to this article, which is so highly condemnatory of both the Government and its Engineer-in-Chief - by that engineer, Mr. H. Deane -
THE AUSTRALIAN RAILWAY-GAUGE PROBLEM.
To the Editor of Engineering.
Sir, - As a subscriber to your journal for about forty years, and being accustomed to look upon your editorials as embodying the most trustworthy facts, I was surprised to read your article of April 5, entitled “ The Australian Railway-Gauge Problem.”
The gauge that was adopted by the Commonwealth Government for the Kalgoorlie - Port Augusta Railway was decided upon not in consequence of any recommendation by the consulting engineer, but it was selected by Conference of Railway Commissioners in 1897, when Mr. C. Oliver, Chief Commisioner of New South Wales Railways (4-ft. 8^-in. gauge), Mr. John Mathieson, Victorian Railways Commissioner (5-ft. 3-in. gauge), and Mr. Pendleton, Railways Commissioner of South Australia (5-ft. 3-in. gauge) met at the instance of the Federal Council, and recommended for adoption in Australia the 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge. So convinced at the time were the Victorian Railways Commissioner, his officers, and the Government of Victoria of the correctness of the selection that orders were given to prepare the way for unification by building all future Victorian rolling-stock in such a way that the wheels could, later on, when the time came, be pushed inward on their axles to suit the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge. .
That is an absolute misstatement. The Government were not aware that anything of the kind was being done.
– The Government was never consulted.
– Does the honorable senator say that such a conference was not held?
– There was a conference, but the Government were not consulted in the matter.
In 1903 a Conference of Engineers-in-Chief of the States took place, and ratified the previous decision.
Mr. Deane is putting his case, of course, in the light most favorable to himself.
In February, 1911, a Railway War Council was called together by the Commonwealth Government, at which the Railways Commissioners of all the States were represented. It was decided, without demur, that the gauge to be recommended for the Kalgoorlie - Port Augusta line was 4 ft. 8^ in. ; and a further resolution was passed that the Australian capitals should be connected with the same gauge.
Before finally taking the step to introduce the gauge of 4 ft. 8£ in. into the Railway Construction Bill, the acting Prime Minister, at the suggestion of the Minister for Home Affairs, whose knowledge you deride, invited the Premiers of the different States to approve of a conference of chief engineers of the States , together with the Commonwealth representative to discuss and report on the .gauge question. All the States agreed except Victoria, whose dissent caused the matter to fall through. The Commonwealth Government had no further option in the matter than to adopt the gauge’ which had already on several previous occasions been selected as most suitable for the whole of Australia.
The writer of your article appears to regard favourably^ the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge as used in South Africa, yet at the same time condemns the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge for Australia. If “ nor mal loads 10 feet in width can be carried on South African lines where waggons of 50 tons capacity are in use and trains of 1,600 to 1,800 gross tons are being handled,” how much more can be accomplished in this direction with a 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge?
The question is not as to whether conditions “ exist in Australia to-day which would allow of anything approaching the fast or heavy trains in service where the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge is worked to its utmost capacity,” but it is as to whether the gauge referred to is reasonably adequate for the requirements of this country, not only now, but as far as may be foreseen. Moreover, it is not primarily a question as to cost of conversion. If it can be demonstrated that the standard gauge is sufficient for Australian needs, then, but not till then, questions of finance may be permitted to weigh.
In considering the efficiency of any gauge, one must keep in view the chief objective of a railway, which is to afford quick and efficient transportation cheaply.
It is not “ surprising that the Australian Government in support of its attitude should be forced to fall back, for example, even on such countries as the United States,” because, as a matter of fact, in no country in the world has the science of railways been developed to such an extent as in the United States. Whether the gauge there was “ fixed by such economical considerations as affect modern traffic” is immaterial, inasmuch as with the gauge available the railways of the United States are able to effect transportation as efficiently, and, in respect of ‘goods traffic certainly, more cheaply than any other country in the world.
It is not correct to state that “ higher speeds and lighter loads than are well known to be the cheapest are being more and more largely adopted” in the United States. Indeed, the reverse of this statement is true, for the tendency throughout the United States and Canada is most clearly in the direction of heavy train loads.
Equally incorrect is the assumption that the small truck and train loads of Great Britain are even remotely due to the gauge, for the size of the British truck is determined mainly by the existence .of cramped discharging and loading places, situated at right angles to the running line, and the size and weight of the trains by limited station room and short distances between stations.
That a difference of 65 inches in gauge has no bearing on the size of locomotives or of cars, or on the weight of the train-load, is determined primarily by the fact that the largest locomotives, the most capacious trucks, and the heaviest trains are in use on the lesser gauge, not on the 5 ft. 3 in., and this general conclusion is strengthened by experience, even in Victoria, where, although a few of the locomotives are of about 25,000 lb. tractive power, the standard locomotive (those recently imported and others in course of construction) are of only 20,000 lb. tractive power, or exactly half of the power of a modern American goods locomotive.
Goods train loads show even more conspicuously in favour of America, where trains of from 2,000 to 2,500 tons are regularly hauled over long distances as compared with a maximum of about 700 or 800 tons in Victoria. These figures are quoted merely to show the absurdity of endeavouring to prove that the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge is more suitable for cheap and efficient transportation than is the 4 ft. 8£ in.
The issue is simple. The standard gauge has proved its fitness to carry trains at a rate of 70 to 80 miles per hour, to carry locomotives of up to 378 tons in weight, and trucks of a capacity of 50 to 60 tons, and on such a gauge train loads of from 2,000 to 2,500 tons weight are being hauled.
What more than this does the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge permit of? What more is required? The locomotive, like every other machine, has its economic limit; trucks and trains likewise are subject to the universal law, which defines where efficiency begins and ends. To reason that the size and power of the locomotive may be developed indefinitely, and yet with satisfactory results, that the capacity of a truck may with advantage be stretched much beyond the highest yet reached, or that train loads may be economically increased beyond the present limit of some 2,500 tons, is to ‘ enter upon a field of sheer speculation in defiance of the world’s experience. Even if the speculation were likely to prove sound, it would be of no greater value in bolstering up the -case for a 6£-in. wider gauge, because it has not yet been demonstrated that the maximum capacity of the standard gauge has been reached. Certain limits have been adopted, it is true, but those limits are higher in the countries using the standard gauge than in those of 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. As a matter of fact, there are strong economic reasons in favour of the limitations referred to, and there is no evidence whatever that with a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge they would be exceeded. 1 am reading this letter in full, because I desire to fairly represent Mr. Deane’s side of the question. To this letter the following note was attached by the writer of the article -
While thanking our correspondent for the compliment with which he opens his letter, we must say that we have nothing either to withdraw from, or modify in, our editorial on the above subject in our issue of April 5. So far as the gauge controversy went, our leader concerned itself mainly with the crudeness of the reasoning adopted by the advocates of the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge. The syllogistic methods which we then discussed are not of a type we are prepared to accept. Mr. Deane, unfortunately, merely reiterates in favour of the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge system the arguments which we particularly had in mind at the time of writing, and for our views on them we would therefore refer our readers to the article above-mentioned. The question is, not what are the maximum capabilities of the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge, but - supposing a choice of gauges possible - what is the best gauge to adopt in view of probable requirements?
Two matters, however, demand further attention. Mr. Deane implies above that we assumed the small truck and train loads of Great Uri tain to be due to the gauge adopted. Nowhere in our article did we speak either of the gauge, trucks, or train loads employed here. Our only mention of Great Britain had reference to the loading-gauge, the limitations of which, we said, were severely felt. This is well known to be the case. Again, Mr. Deane taxes us with inaccuracy with regard to American practice, but it is very well known that in the United States .there has been, in recent years, a very remarkable development in the traffic handled by regular fast freight trains running to schedule times, a system of working approaching that in vogue here, but comparatively little used in America a few years ago. Further, while, for ordinary freight, heavy loads from the ideal aimed at in North America generally, it is often impossible for the railways, with the traffic they have to handle, to allow their roads to be occupied sufficiently long for trains of maximum possible loads to be worked. Though the loads are still large, higher speeds, and lighter loads than the maximum, are employed. -ED. E.
I find that Mr. Deane’s statement was challenged by an Australian Engineer, Mr. James Alexander Smith, a past president of the Engineers’ Institute of Victoria, who has had considerable railway experience, and may be assumed to know what he was writing about. He would not have occupied the position of president of the Institute for several years unless he’ had been a man of considerable experience in his profession. He wrote as follows -
To the Editor of “ Engineering.”
SIR, - In Engineering for July 12, page 59,
Mr. H. Deane replies to an editorial on the above question, dated April 5.
The intent of the first portion of the letter, to which the present communication is confined, is dual : the demonstration that every means has been exhausted to determine the gauge most suitable for Australia, and the unanimous choice of the 4 ft. 8£ in. as that gauge.
The facts, “and the official documents which record those facts, do not support those contentions. This it is proposed to show by excerpts from the documents with which it is reasonable to suppose your readers are unacquainted. The complete printed Government papers are, however, forwarded to you in order that there shall be no question of the accuracy of the quotations, literally and in regard to their context. It will be gathered that political expediency and State interests rather than economics and engineering issues have hitherto predominated.
The letter states :- “ The gauge [4 ft. 8£ in.] that was adopted by the Commonwealth for the Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta Railway was decided upon not in consequence of any recommendation by the consulting engineer [Mr. Deane], but it was selected by a conference of Railway Commissioners in 1897.”
Those Commissioners conferred on the general questions affecting a proposed line in which several Colonies were interested. It was before federation. The members - one from New South Wales, one from Victoria, and one from South Australia - were not engineers. Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania were not represented. Mr. Mathieson (Victoria) had recently been appointed manager of the Victorian lines. The legislation which created that position vested all matters connected with the construction of new lines in an independent Board, which was not represented on the Conference. Mr. Mathieson^ previous experience had been in connection with British (4 ft. 8£ in.) and Queensland (3 ft. 6 in.) lines. The chief determinant with the Commission was the question of conversion costs. It was estimated that conversion from 4 ft. 8^ in. to 5 ft. 3 in. would cost £4,260,000, as against £2,360,500 in the case of the converse procedure. (The greater cost included a provision, since found non-imperative, for the re-sleepering of the New South Wales lines.) The estimates referred to three States only.
As a proof that the opinion was accepted, the letter continues : - “ So convinced at the time were the Victorian Railway Commissioner, his officers, the Government of Victoria, of the correctness of the selection that orders were given to prepare the way for unification by building all future Victorian stock in such a way that the wheels could, later on, when the time came, be pushed inwards on the axles to suit the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge.”
The minor matter referred to is, possibly, a wise provision for military or other emergencies. It costs nothing. But no large inference must be drawn therefrom, for it has been authoritatively stated that no Victorian Government has at any time endorsed or sanctioned any change from the existing 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. The Commission was vested with no executive power.
Briefly it had not, and could not have had, before it, in 1897, the larger experiences of the present,, and the larger issues of the present and future of a federated continent.
The letter continues : “ In 1003 a Commission of engineers-in-chief of the States took place and ratified the previous decision “ - i.e., that of 1897.
The statement is brief. It can with advantage be elaborated thus : The Conference was convened by the Commonwealth not to decide upon a gauge for Australia, but to determine certain matters, of which gauge was one, in relation to a certain proposed line. They very cautiously refrained from making, or endorsing, the general proposition. Further there was not unanimity even in respect to the specific case. Mr. A. B. Moncrieff, M.Inst. C.E., recorded this dissent : “ On behalf of the South Australian Government I dissent from the adoption of the 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge for the final estimate of the railway, because my Government objects to an arrangement which involves three breaks of gauge between Perth and Adelaide.”
The report was printed and circulated as a unanimous finding upon all issues. The dissent was suppressed. A protest was met by the statement to the South Australian Government by the Commonwealth (which admitted the existence of the dissent), that, “ amongst other important subjects, that of gauge was considered, and the report, which was unanimous, and which was signed by Mr. Moncrieff, recommended the adoption of the 4-ft. 85-in. gauge.” The South Australian Premier replied, unanswerably thus : - “ The dissent was part of the report, and ought, we contend, to have been published accordingly. Without it the report does not represent the requirements of the State, but conveys the appearance of a unanimity which does not exist.” The letter continues, cumulatively, that a Railway War Council, sitting last year, recommended “ without demur,” that the gauge of the_ KalgoorliePort Augusta line, and of the lines connecting the Australian capitals, should be 4 ft. 8± in.
The Council deliberated for three days in. secret upon a number of issues. The report assigned by the President and Secretary only. Individual views and reasons are therefore not known, but one of the members (Mr. Moncrieff) had, as quoted above, already recorded his position, and it is believed that the representative of at least another State did not concur. Of the fourteen members, three only, in addition toMr. Deane, were railway engineers. The published and limited recommendations in regard1 to gauge read thus : - “(a) A uniform 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge of railways, linking up the capitals between Brisbane and) Fremantle, (b) A gauge of 4 ft. 84 in. in the trans-continental line from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta.”
In its memorandum to the several States theCommonwealth expressly requested that those two resolutions be separately considered in order that the ratification by the States - without which, the proceedings were void - of the other issues could be obtained without delay.
A later memorandum, instead of seeking the opinion of the States on those issues, put it that there was unanimity in regard to the adoption of the 4 ft. Si in., and requested the States* Premiers to nominate their engineers-in-chief to> meet under the presidency of Mr. Deane to- “ report upon the probable expense involved, in the conversion of the trunk lines to 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge.”
New South Wales replied that it would appoint a representative if it were thought a definite decision would result, but pointed out that there must first be a large amount of preparatory States estimating. Tasmania declined toappoint a representative. The remaining States, other than Victoria, accepted, but only for thelimited purpose specified.
Victoria pointed out that there was not unanimity, and that the question of the decision inrespect to a uniform gauge for all ‘ Australia should precede such a Conference, and that, further, the matter was listed for discussion by the States’ Premiers at a pending meeting. Later the Victorian Acting Premier wrote requesting that a Conference between the Commonwealth Ministers and the States’ Premiers should be convened “at as early a date as practicable, toconsider and deal with the political, financial, and engineering problems which are involved,”’ and advised “ that this Government further strongly urges that, pending such deliberation, the Commonwealth Government should take the necessary steps to prevent a final decision beingarrived at with respect to the gauge of the proposed trans-continental line, intimately related as such subject is to the general question of gauge conversion, in which the States of Australia are vitally concerned.” The request wasnot acceded to.
The statements in Mr. Deane’s letter are that the Commonwealth invitation was “ to discuss and report upon the gauge question ;” that “ all the States agreed except Victoria, whose dissent caused the matter to fall through;” and that “ The Commonwealth Government had no further option in the matter than to adopt the gauge which had already on several previous occasions been selected as most suitable for the whole of
Australia.” It will be seen that these statements are not supported by the published official records.
It will also be gathered that from the first there has been distinct evasion of the clear-cut issue - what is the gauge best suited, on the merits, to Australia’s present and prospective needs?.
Also, it must be patent that a problem worthy of . the prolonged impartial attention of the world’s first specialists is being dealt with in an utterly inadequate manner and by indirect methods.
I remain, &c.
Jas. Alex. Smith
Melbourne, August 27, 1912
– I have not called the honorable senator to order, but I would point out to him that there is a standing order which provides that an honorable senator shall not read his speech. The honorable senator has done nothing but read for forty minutes, and I think I have given him a fair opportunity.
– I am not reading my speech, but I am quoting these statements so that both sides may be fairly represented.
– If it were possible to evade the standing order in that way any honorable senator might, for hour after hour, read a book in which his views were expressed, and secure the reproduction of what he had read in Hansard. The honorable senator has been reading from a newspaper for forty minutes.
– I have now read all I desire. I merely wish to clearly represent both sides of the question, and I have not transgressed the standing order. The statement has been made that the Victorian Government ratified the arrangement, but the following question, asked in the Victorian Assembly, and the answer, show that that statement is not correct -
Has any rolling-stock been constructed for a 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge? If so, was the Parliament or the Government of the day consulted in any way, and did Parliament or the Government authorize it?
There is no record that either Parliament -or the Government sanctioned the adoption of this principle, or that the then Commissioner (Mr. Mathieson) consulted or made any representations to the Government on the subject.
A conference was lately held, at which representatives of the various States conferred with Mr, Deane. It was limited as to the work intrusted to it, and no evidence was called. The members of the conference merely discussed matters. The engineers were construction engineers, and had had very little experience of the working of railways. We have no evidence of what took place beyond the findings of the con ference, from which it appears that the matters before the conference were not dealt with in a scientific manner. The conference had no authority to take evidence, and it was impossible for them to decide the questions submitted to them without obtaining information as to experience in other parts of the world. The Prime Minister, although professing to leave the matter to the conference, showed that he was determined to have his own way, because, at the opening of the railway at Kalgoorlie, on 14th September last, he said -
Having discovered that the work was necessary, it was the business of the Commonwealth Parliament to carry it out. His Government had made a start with the Trans-continental Railway because it realized that the work was urgent. There had been great controversy over the gauge of the line, but in the opinion of the Commonwealth Government the proper gauge had been decided on. There were seven trans-continental railways in North America built on the 4-ft. Si-in. gauge. The present was not the occasion to argue the question. The gauge had been decided, and the fact that it had been determined by the Commonwealth for a great length of line meant that in the near future it would be the gauge for the main lines in Australia.
What was the use of asking engineers to attend the conference -if that was in his mind? It is said that the main issue on which this question has been settled is the cost of conversion. The question of economical management or development does not seem to have been regarded at all. If this gauge is adopted, Victoria will be compelled to change ‘the gauge of all its lines, in order to avoid being sidetracked in connexion with the transcontinental traffic, as well as the traffic of the Riverina district. The capital expended on the Victorian railways is ^150,000,000, A difference of 1 per cent, or less in efficiency would be worthy of serious consideration in such a connexion; but according to engineering authorities, there would, in working the traffic, be an advantage of 20 per cent, in favour of the 5-ft. 3- in. gauge, as against the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge. Looking to the future, seeing that we are fixing the gauge for all time, the question of an additional ^2,000,000 is scarcely worthy of consideration. Only the present has been looked at ; the future has been entirely ignored. We are told that one of the reasons in favour of the 4- ft. 8£-in. gauge is that when you get rolling-stock from abroad it is of that gauge, but that is a point that we ought not to take into consideration. We want to make our rolling-stock here. Our policy is to encourage local effort, and to have made here everything that we possibly can. In time of war, if Great Britain had command of the sea, there would be no supply of rolling-stock needed; but if Great Britain had not that command, we could not get rolling-stock, no matter how much we required it. The gravity of this danger ought to be obvious to every one. We find that Japan, the country from which danger is most threatened, has lately adopted the 4-ft. 8j-in gauge, and that very fact ought to make us chary of adopting the same gauge. If we have a 4-ft. 8-in. gauge, Japan, in time of war, would only have to convey its plant and material to Australia, and the railway lines here would be ready to put its rolling-stock on. This question of the gauge ought to be seriously considered, because some day or other it will become of vital importance. This Board has reported that the two gauges are alike in value, but that cannot be the case. One or other must be the best, and the quotations I have given show that the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge is 20 per cent, better than the other gauge. The powers of the Board were limited, and the decision they arrived at was protested against by Mr. Fraser, a Victorian engineer. It is said that we should have consulted” other countries on the question. When we were calling for designs for the Federal Capital we consulted the whole world, and in this matter, which is infinitely of more importance, why should we not have had the experience of the world ? We have no evidence to show that the Board . made due inquiry. It took no evidence in other countries; it had not sufficient information as to the experience of other countries, and it is flying in the face of modem experience to recommend a 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge. 1 wish to refer to one other subject, and that is the Federal Capital. When it was proposed to build the Federal Capital, the best designers in the world were asked to send in designs. The response to’ that request was very large. The British architects and designers would not compete. For some very strong reason they withdrew entirely from the competition. However, 1 37 designs were sent in. They were submitted to a Board of adjudicators appointed by the Minister of Home Affairs, and seventy-three days -were occupied by the Board in making a final selection. They placed an American design first, a design from Finland second, and a design from
France third. The Board were not unanimous in their decision. Two were in favour of the designs which I have mentioned, and the third adjudicator favoured three other designs. The competitors naturally expected that the one whose design was placed first would have charge of the work. It must have cost .the competitors a great deal to draw the plans. Most of them got no reward at all, and the reward which the successful competitors got was not very much, in view of the great trouble they went to. The Minister of Home Affairs appointed a departmental Board on the 27 th June, and that Board reported on the 25th November, taking 151 days to come to a decision. That decision has been approved by the Prime Minister, but an utterance of his made last week shows that he has somewhat qualified his decision. He now says that he does not know whether it is the best design or not. An extraordinary position has arisen with which the people ought to be made acquainted, and which ought to have the attention of the Government and Parliament. It appears that the Board has laid out a scheme for the Capital, which has teen taken mostly from plans that were not considered worthy of notice by the adjudicators. The Australian Mining Standard of the 5th December prints the following criticism -
The position in regard to the Federal capital is interesting, but decidedly unsatisfactory. A departmental board, consisting of officers of the Department of Home Affairs, was appointed to investigate and report upon the suitability of the three premiated designs and the purchased design, and this board has now recommended the “scrapping” of all these designs and the adoption of a new one, which it has “ made up out pf its own head,” as the children say. We are not aware that any one of the six departmental officers who have formulated this design has any claim to be considered a master of the art of city-designing, yet they have taken it upon themselves to put forward a scheme which they seem to think is far in advance of that of any of the ones submitted by duly qualified architects. It may have been right to submit the first premiated design or even the whole of the half-dozen designs named by the gentlemen who adjudicated upon all the designs competing, but this should only have been for the purpose of seeing if the design that won the first prize was capable of improvement in minor details. That, in fact, would have been not only the wise course to follow, but also the only honest course, since clause 23 of the conditions clearly states : “ The Government by its own officers will give effect to the adopted design.” There was indeed another clause permitting the incorporation of parts of any competitor’s design, but we maintain that this clause 23 clearly suggested that the design adopted would be made the basis of the ultimate plan. There can be no doubt that it was so regarded by the majority of the draughtsmen who competed, and that the hope of winning great kudos and also a very important engagement for the supervision of the work of putting the design into practice was an important factor in inducing men to compete. Many of them must be very heavily out of pocket in consequence; and perhaps, if the truth were known, even the successful ones have not made very much by it. We hold, then, that the action of the Minister in remitting these designs to a departmental hoard really amounts to a gross breach of faith to ‘the winner of the competition. It strengthens this belief to know that clause 14 of the conditions provided that after adjudication by a properly constituted hoard, the Minister would come to a decision, and that his judgment should be final. Now on July 19 it was notified officially, the notification being dated May 23rd and signed “ King O’Malley,” that the design which had met with the especial approval of the board was to be regarded as the accepted one. In the face of these facts, it is difficult to see how the Minister can be warranted in accepting from the departmental board a plan which is not based upon the first premiated design. The intention was apparently to take the first design as a basis and incorporate it in such features of the second and third designs and of the design specially favoured by the minority of the board as lent themselves for the purpose. The departmental board, has, however, departed entirely from this intention by putting forward a plan which has taken nothing of either the second or the third of the premiated designs, and only a fragment of the first. This new plan may be a great deal worse or a great deal better than any of those it is to supersede, but it is not to be considered as a modification of any of them. It is an original plan, and, moreover, one which was not submitted for competition. If we are to have the capital designed by the officers of the Department of Home Affairs there was no need to expend £5,000 or £10,000, or whatever the amount may have been, upon the farcical competition which was held. If the departmental board has merely sucked the brains of the 149 competitors who replied to the Minister’s request for designs, it cannot be said to have done a very honorable thing; if it has constructed this plan without any influence from the suggestions of others, then the design should have been put in with the others and submitted to the same adjudication. It is to be doubted if the action taken in this matter will add to the credit of the Commonwealth.
The intention was to take the best points out of each of the first three designs and incorporate them in one design, but the Board has taken an entirely different course. It has only taken a very small portion of the first design, nothing of (he second and third designs, and has brought forward an entirely new design, taken mostly from a design which was put entirely on one side by the adjudicators in the first instance. It is stated in The Contractor that the design it has produced is mostly that of Mr. McDonald, of Sydney.
It seems extraordinary that this should have been done.
– Can you not find out whether it has been done or not?
– I am. putting forward statements that are made in public print, and it is for the Government to make inquiry. It will not be considered creditable to Australia when it is known abroad that the results of the world’s competition have been set aside. I bring the matter forward in order that the public may know how the decision has been arrived at, and that the Government may inquire as to whether the statements to which I have directed attention are correct.
– The honorable senator should have made the inquiry before he made the charge.
– Not at all. It is no duty of mine to make the inquiry. I bring these statements before the Senate, and it is for the Government to see whether they are correct. If they are correct, the conduct of this matter is not creditable to them or their officers. I have done what I believe to be my duty in the matter, and I shall not make any further reference to it. I have here the report of the officers which was laid before the Senate, and Mr. O’Malley wrote the following memorandum upon it -
Report received. Arranged for copies of the report to be tabled in the House, and for the original plan and for the sketch which accompanies the report, to be exhibited in Queen’s Hall, Parliament House, the plan and sketch to be first photographed with a view to reproduction. I desire to convey to the Board my appreciation of their valuable services, and of the thought and care bestowed upon their work. It appears to me that a city laid out on the lines indicated in the Board’s design, incorporating, as it does, the salient points of the premiated and purchased design, should be both practical and beautiful. (Signed) King O’Malley.
Minister of Home Affairs. 26th November, 1912
Yet the first prize in the competition has been given to a design, a fragment of which only has been adopted, whilst the second and third designs are not included at all in the new design, upon which we are given to understand the Government intend to proceed. I hope the Government will make the necessary inquiry into this extraordinary matter, and will be able to satisfy the public with regard to it.
Question resolved in the affirmative-
Bill read a first time.
Bill read a second time.
Clause1 agreed to.
Clauses 2 and 3 postponed.
First schedule agreed to.
Second schedule -
Parliament: Junior Messengers’ Salaries - Defence Forces : Salaries - Lighthouse Expert : Allowance - Naming of Federal Capital - Home Affairs Publication
– I wish to make an inquiry concerning the salaries of certain officers of the Senate. I understand that, sincethe inception of Federation, three of the junior messengers, receiving £156 a year, have been given no increase of salary, although during that time other officers of the Senate have received increases. The President of the Senate, who has charge of the officers of this Chamber, is aware that the cost of living has considerably increased in the last eleven years. If the officers to whom I refer have faithfully performed the duties of their position, they are, I think, entitled to some consideration. I believe that the matter has been before the Joint House Committee. I understand that, after they have worked a certain time, some of the. messengers receive 5s. as overtime; but this does not apply to the two junior messengers to whom I refer. I ask the President to reconsider the position of these officers, and see whether they cannot be given some increase of salary. It may be said that £3 per week is a sufficient salary for them, in view of the fact that their duties are not onerous when Parliament is in recess. But £3 per week in the case of these men is not quite the same as a similar salary paid to persons outside Parliament, because they have to keep up an appearance which might not be considered necessary in the case of men engaged in other employment. I ask the President of the Senate to give the case of these men further consideration.
– I understood Senator Needham to say that the officers to whom he refers have not been given any increase of salary, whilst higher-paid officers of the Senate have been given increases.
– No. I said that other officers of the Senate have been given increases.
– Some increases have been given under the following conditions :
When the Clerk of Parliaments died, certain promotions took place, and though the officers promoted did not at once, except in one case, receive the full amount of the salary paid to their predecessors in the same offices, it was understood that they would receive increases of salary until they reached the salaries received by their predecessors. Two of the officers promoted in that way are now receiving the maximum salary for the office which they fill, and there is only one who is not receiving the salary paid to the officer who held the position before him. Senator Needham has said that the messengers to whom he has referred have to keep up an appearance, but I remind the honorable senator that the uniforms worn by the messengers are provided for them, and, so far as I know, they have no appearance to keep up. Mr. Speaker and I have consulted upon this matter, and concluded that the position filled by these men is fairly well paid for at £3per week. We considered the case of the senior messengers, who are paid a salary of £186, and last year we were not able conscientiously to advise the Treasurer to pay more for these positions. I do not know whether the messengers have remained at the same salary since the opening of the Federal Parliament, but when I became President of the Senate, the junior messengers were receiving £156, and the senior messengers , £188, with the exception of two messengers and the two housekeepers. The Estimates for the Parliament will have to be considered again, but I cannot promise the Senate that I will be prepared to recommend any increases until I have consulted with Mr. Speaker. The messengers of both Houses are given the same salaries, because it would not be right to have the messengers in one House played off against those of the other. The practice followed By Mr. Speaker and myself has been to consult each other before recommending any increases of salary.
– I thank the President for his sympathetic reply. With reference to the statement that the messengers are provided with uniforms, I should like to say that two of the junior messengers to whom I have referred do not wear uniforms. If the President makes further inquiry he will find that my statement that these three men have not received any increase of salary since the beginning of Federation is correct
– Do they receive the maximum salary for the position they occupy?
– I understand that they do. But could not that maximum salary be raised? The tendency of industrial tribunals throughout Australia has been to raise minimum and maximum salaries. I hope that the President of the Senate and the Vice-President of the Executive Council will not decide that because these men are receiving the maximum” salary so far fixed for the positions they occupy they must for ever remain at that salary.
– They may be promoted some day.
– The question might arise whether the maximum at present paid is sufficient for the duties which these officers perform. I ask the President to consult with Mr. Speaker, to see whether some recommendation cannot be made to the Treasurer to grant some increase of salary to these men.
– Senator Needham’s statement that one of the messengers does not wear a uniform is quite correct. The position is that certain cleaners on this side are called junior messengers. On the House of Representatives side it is only those who are doing messengers’ work who are called messengers. The cleaners are not on the regular staff ; that is to say, they are not working under service regulations. The whole of the employes on the Senate side, however, are on the staff, and wherever there has been an opportunity for a permanent officer to obtain promotion it has been given to him. Lately, an officer who was on Queen’s Hall duty was put on the Senate staff, and a boy on this side was transferred to the House of Representatives staff, where he was enabled to get an increase. I do not say whether the position of messenger is worth more than £3 per week, but hitherto I have been of opinion that messengers and cleaners were fairly well paid at the salaries they obtained when I became President.
– Will the President give an assurance that he will consult Mr. Speaker with a view to raising the maximum ?
– I have already said that. I have been accustomed to consult with
Mr. Speaker on matters of the kind, before our Estimates are recommended to the Treasurer.
– I have a quantity of documents to which I intended to refer, but I shall content myself by asking the Minister of Defence one or two questions. I should like to know, in the first place, how it is that some officers receive increases whilst others are decreased in salary, or left in the same position? I should also like to know the reason why some men who are receiving small salaries are getting no increases whilst officers in receipt of large salaries are getting substantial increases. I never believe in cutting down salaries, but I think that if there are increases they should be paid all round. Some of the gunners and warrant officers are getting no increases at all. What is the reason for that?
– It is not correct that any- officer’s salary, is being decreased. There is not a man in the Defence Forces who is getting less this year than was provided for on the previous Estimates. It is, however, a fact that some officers are getting increases whilst others are not. But that is easily accounted for. Some officers become entitled to increases after so many years’ service. They get their increment in the year in which they become entitled to it. As regards increases to the men, I may point out that when this Government came into office the rank and file were being paid 2s. 6d. per day. This Government increased the amount by is. per day. We did that last year. We cannot be expected to give increases every year. I do not suppose that Parliament would stand that, nor would the taxpayers approve if Parliament did. It cannot be complained that this Government have not treated the men with some amount of generosity. As regards noncommissioned officers, these Estimates show that increases are being given to all those who did not receive increases last year. Increases are being provided by means of alterations of the regulations. In addition to that, non-commissioned officers of the instructional staff are being paid higher rates for new positions created to give opportunities for promotion that did not exist hitherto.
.- I call attention to the fact that the Commonwealth expert in regard to lighthouses has his salary put down on these Estimates as an allowance. I should have thought that the payment to him would be described as a salary. Why is the amount put down in this form ?
– Commander Brewis is not a permanent officer of the Commonwealth. He has been specially engaged by the Commonwealth Government, and will continue in our service until the work for which his services are required is completed.
– Earlier in the session the Minister of Home Affairs made a promise that before Parliament rose an opportunity would be afforded for discussing a suitable name for the Federal Capital. We do not want to have the capital called O’Malleyville or Findleyburg.
– Why not call it Drinkwater ?
– That would be reasonable. I am afraid that the name will be fixed by administrative action before the foundation of the city is formally laid next March. I trust, however, that the Government will not be led astray by the various suggestions which I have seen in the press to give the Capital the name of some person or town, or to apply to it some silly word like Pacifica or Federalia.I also hope that we shall not have a Scotch name to perpetuate the memory of the VicePresident of the Executive Council.
– Call it Chataway.
– I should not like my name to be degraded in that way. Why not adopt a native name?
– What about Wyona. which means “ the place.”
– I take the opportunity of expressing the hope that the Government will not fix upon any foolish freak name. Canada chose a beautiful name for her Capital in Ottawa. We also might find a suitable native name.
– The Minister of Home Affairs has no desire to exercise any autocraticpowers in this connexion, but, on the contrary, is anxious to consult members, although Parliament may not be sitting. There is one matter thatI should like to take this opportunity to refer to, because a question has been asked relating to it. This has to do with some allegation or suggestion that the covers of some books have been torn off in the Department of Home Affairs, and others substituted bearing the name of the Minister. In answer to this I have been supplied with the following memorandum -
A Mount Kosciusko has been made out of a very small mole-hill. This was a publication in which the Minister of Home Affairs was very keenly interested, and the compilation of which he had personally urged. Some dozen advance copies were got out hurriedly for the press, and these were by an inadvertence printed without the name of the Minister. Not a single cover was stripped off, nor was a single copy of the paper reprinted. One statement that has been circulated is that the whole publication had to be reprinted. Of course, there is not the slightest truth in either statement. Not a single copy of the paper has been destroyed, nor has a single cover been torn off, as an inquiry would have readily elicited.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clauses 2 and 3 and preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
FURTHER SUPPLEMENTARY APPROPRIATION BILL 1910-11.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
Honorable senators may have noticed that every year there are appropriations for the preceding financial year, and such appropriations we roust always expect. The appropriations are in connexion with various sums that have from time to time been paid out of the Treasurer’s Advance without parliamentary authority, and it is only after the Auditor-General has gone through the accounts, and disclosed the actual amounts, that the necessary sanction can be sought.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 postponed.
– Under the heading of Parliament, is the amount there set down that which is referred to in the AuditorGeneral’s report as having to be placed on the Supplementary Estimates for Ministers’ travelling allowances?
– I think that the items, so far as the two Houses of Parliament are concerned, speak for themselves. The increased salaries were those of the officers mentioned at the top of the page, and these were promised three or four years ago. In order to keep the promise, the money was drawn from the Treasurer’s Advance, and, consequently, the amount must appear in the. Supplementary Estimates
– The only reference that I know of is that of the Prime Minister’s direction as to the travelling expenses of Ministers.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clause 2 and preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request ; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is very similar to the one we have just passed, with this exception - that whereas that one applied to ordinary services, this one applies to works and buildings. The amounts which it covers were obtained mostly from the Treasurer’s Advance, and have to be authorized. I do not think it is necessary to state the amounts in respect to the different Departments, but the total amount is £58,492.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages.
Senator FINDLEY laid upon the table the following paper : -
Lighting of the Western Coast of Australia (King George Sound to Cambridge Gulf) - Report, with recommendations as. to Existing and Additional Lights, by Commander C. R. W. Brewis, R.N., dated 20th December, 1912.
Ordered to be printed.
The Clerk laid upon the table the following return : -
Return to Order of the Senate of 28th November, 1912 -
Factories established by the Commonwealth since April, 1910.
Ordered to be printed.
Motion (by Senator Barker) proposed -
That the report from the Printing Committee, presented to the Senate on the 19th December, 1912, be adopted.
– I wish to enter a protest against certain documents which are recommended in the report to be printed and also against the manner in which certain papers have been laid upon the table of the other House. I refer to the alleged annual report from Papua. The Department appears to have taken a huge bundle of papers including the ordinary returns of receipts and expenditure - trifling items such as 17s. 6d. for typewriting - tied them up with the inevitable red tape, handed them in, put them on the table, and said,. “There we table the annual report.” The report has given the Printing Committee a great deal of trouble. At the present moment there are certain documents included in the order which, to my mind, should not be there. For instance, we now. propose to alter our form of the Papuan report by puttinginto it a long list of receipts and expenditure - the same sort of items as we get in the report of the Auditor-General, and are apparently published in the Gazettt or elsewhere.If the Ministers are going to table huge masses of correspondence and papers that make our volumes too bulky they will put the Printing Committee in a very awkward position. We are in this difficulty that, whereas we recommend the printing of a document, we have taken out a certain amount of the stuff from the bundle which was tabled, and that by order of the House, somehow or other, has to be got back to the Department to which it belongs. Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) pro posed -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until half-past10 a.m. this day.
– I think we ought to get a word of. explanation concerning this motion. We have been here since yesterday morning. It is now twenty minutes to 5 o’clock, and we have been up all night. Some of us are 5 or 6 miles away from our homes., We shall not have time to go home and get a little rest before we shall have to rush; back, to my mind unnecessarily. I want the Minister to tell us what is the particular necessity for coming back at halfpast10 o’clock.
– I will, if you will only give me leave. I would have told you before if I had thought it was necessary.
– So far as I know, we have not made an amendment in a Bill of the other House.
– Yes, we have. .
– Nor has the other
House made an amendment in a Bill of the Senate. Is that the only business for which we are to be called here so early. If other business on the notice-paper is to be gone on with, it ought to be gone on with now.
– There will be an exchange of messages.
– So long as we get an understanding that only necessary business of that kind, and no business on the notice-paper, is to be proceeded with, 1 am quite willing to agree to the motion, otherwise I am not.
.- Are we to understand that all the private business is going to be discharged from the notice-paper without honorable senators having an opportunity of going to a vote?
– If the honorable senator had just kept his seat I would have explained.
– But you might not have explained.
.-Honorable senators are too eager to rise and ask silly questions. Senator Givens as an old parliamentarian ought to know why we propose to adjourn to halfpast 10 o’clock. That is the hour at Which the House of Representatives is to meet, and what is the use of that House meeting then if the Senate is not sitting? As there was no consultation with respect to the matter before the other House adjourned it is necessary that we should meet at the same hour as that House to complete the business as quickly as possible. It is necessary that the two Houses should be sitting at the same time for the exchange of messages. There is no other Government business coming on, and when the Minister of Defence said that there was ho business that is what he meant.
As regards private business, if there is timethat will lie with private senators themselves. We are not going to curtail the opportunity of private senators to do business if there is time to do it. But I can assure honorable senators that as soon asthere is an opportunity of finally adjourning both Houses of this Parliament the Government will make every expedition in that direction.
– We will see about that when to-morrow comes.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.43 a.m. Saturday.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 December 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1912/19121220_SENATE_4_69/>.