17 January 1918

7th Parliament · 2nd Session

The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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SUPPLY BILL (No. 4) 1917-18

Assent reported,

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Senator MILLEN:
Minister for Repatriation · New South WalesMinister for Repatriation · NAT

– I move -

That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 3 p.m. on Tuesday next.

Honorable senators will recollect that at our last meeting it was impossible to say definitely when business from another place would be available for transaction here.

Senator O’Keefe:

– I rise to a point of order. If the motion now submitted by the Minister is carried, will it not preclude the asking of questions?

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon T Givens:

– No. The Standing Orders permit the Minister leading the Government in the Senate to submit a motion concerning the conduct of the business of the Senate at any time. When the motion now submitted is disposed of, notices of motion and questions may still be dealt with.

Senator MILLEN:

– I was explaining the circumstances under which our last sitting was adjourned. Honorable senators opposite will possibly be as well informed as I am concerning the progress made elsewhere.

Senator Reid:

– Does the Minister call it progress?

Senator MILLEN:

– I do, having to speak within the limits of debate defined by the Standing Orders. The position so far as I can size it up, is that there is not likely to be any business available for transaction by the Senate this week. At the same time it is reasonable to assume that another place will have completed the important business on which it is now engaged, and will also have passed the Supply Bill, which is next on the businesspaper there, by the termination of this week. Ordinarily, we should meet again on Wednesday next, but I am taking the liberty of inviting honorable senators to meet a day earlier. I am satisfied that the Supply Bill will be before us then, and we shall thus be able to deal with it a day earlier than if we adopted the usual course.

Senator Long:

– Does the Minister not contemplate a change of Government?

Senator MILLEN:

– There has been a change of Government so recently that I see no necessity to contemplate another. Honorable senators know the reasons underlying this motion, and I invite their co-operation in carrying it.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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Senator MAUGHAN:

– I ask the Min ister representing the Prime Minister, without notice -

  1. How many Commonwealth police officers have been appointed for the State of Queensland?
  2. What is the nature of their duties?
  3. What are the expenses entailed to date?
Senator MILLEN:

– I remind the honorable senator that it is not the practice to answer questions when a vote of censure of the Government is in progress.

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Report of the Standing Committee on

Public Accounts upon the Papuan Oil Fields presented by Senator Earle, and ordered to be printed.

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Senator O’KEEFE:

– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence whether long-distance wireless messages are received at wireless stations in Australia containing information of great importance to members of Parliament, and are censored, because it is considered inadvisable by the Defence Department to make them public? Would it be possible for members of Parliament to be given access to such messages in a confidential way?

Senator THOMAS:

– What would be the good of that?

Senator O’KEEFE:

– I am asking the question. Is it a fact that such messages are received, and are censored for reasons connected with the conduct of the war? Is there any means by which members of this Parliament could be given confidential access to the information contained in those messages, so that they might be informed concerning many things that it would be advisable for them to know?

Senator MILLEN:

– I intimated in reply to a question put by Senator Maughan-and Senator O’Keefe, as an old parliamentarian, should be aware of the fact - that it is not the practice of members of the Government to answer questions in the circumstances under which we are meeting to-day.

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Thefollowing papers were presented: -

Audit, Act 1901-1917.- Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - financial year 1916-17- Dated 27th December, 1917.

Judiciary Act 1903-1.910 and. High Court Procedure Act 1903. - Rules of Court (Admiralty Rules)-Statutory Rules 1917, No. 322.

Naturalization Act 1903-1917.- Return of number of persons to whom naturalization certificates were granted during 1917.

Public Service Act 1902-1916.- PromotionsHome and Territories Department -

H. C. Green.

A. H.Lumsden.

Department of Defence -

G. P. Embelton.

W. Howie.

Department of Trade and Customs - H. W. Bennett.

Trade Marks Act. 1905-1912.- Regulations amended, &c.- Statutory Rules 1917, No. 291.

Unlawful Associations Act 1916-17. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1917, No. 264.

War Precautions Act 1914-1916,- Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 253, 254, 265, 271, 281, 282, 283, 290, 302, 304, 306, 308, 314, 315, 316, 319, 323, 324, 326.

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Senator BARNES:

– ‘Will the Leader of the Senate state if the Government are taking any steps for the protection of returned soldiers who are being dismissed by private employers for the action they took in fighting conscription?

Senator Lynch:

– And vice versa.

Senator BARNES:

– The honorable senator canput it that way if he likes.

Senator MILLEN:

– I regret that, in view of the nature of the question, I am obliged to give the honorable senator the same answer as I gave to the two previous questions.

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Commonwealth Police

Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -

That the Senate do now adjourn.


. -I wish to bring under notice the action of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), or whoever is responsible in delaying the tabling of regulation 325, authorizing the Attorney-General to constitute a Commonwealth police force throughout Australia. I listened to the list of regulations under the War Precautions Act as read out by the Leader of the Senate. I noticed that he went to No. 322, then back to No. 264, and then jumped in stages up to 326. So far as I could ascertain before the Senate met, No. 325 has not yet been tabled. It is not fair for the Government to withhold it until the closing hours, or minutes, of a session, as has been done on previous occasions. My inquiries as to the tabling were hurried, and it may already have been put before the Senate ; but if it has not, the Government ought, at the first opportunity, even before this sitting terminates, to put it before the Senate.. It has been in honorable senators’’ boxes for some time, and the order in the Government Gazette, following the issue of that regulation on 11th December, has been published in the newspapers. I am sure honorable senators would welcome the opportunity of saying whether they indorse the action of the Government, the Prime Minister, or the Attorney-General, in going to the extent of the action taken on that occasion. The general impression appears to be that the constitution of this police force in Queensland has been one of the greatest farces perpetrated since the inception of the Commonwealth, and it is due to honorable senators opposite, as well as to those on this side, to be allowed an opportunity to say whether they are prepared to back up the continuance of that farce or not. If the Government are not prepared to table the regulation at once they should end the farce, which has gone much too far.

Senator Foll:

– My experience was that the State force was ratherafarce.


– I believe the honorable senator had some experience in

Northern Queensland that would lead him to that conclusion. I appeal to the Minister to let us have the regulation, if it has not already been tabled,before the closing hours of the session.

Senator MILLEN:
Minister forRepatriation · New South Wales · NAT

– The honorable senator will readily understand that I am not aware of the particular regulations to which the numbers I read out apply. I shall make inquiries on the point he has raised.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned 3.15 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 January 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.