7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 8 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Min- ister for Defence, in view of the armistice, whether - the Government are taking any steps for the release of Australian interned prisoners, and, if not, will they immediately take steps for the release of Australiah-born interned prisoners?
– I should like the honorable senator to elucidate his question. Does he refer to persons born in Australia and now interned in Germany, or to persons born in Australia of enemy origin and interned in Australia?-
– I refer to Australianbom persons interned here in Australia. I understand that persons interned in Germany are to be at once released.
– The terms of the armistice provide that British and other Allied prisoners of war interned in Germany are to be at once released, but the arrangement is not reciprocal,, and the destination and treatment of German prisoners of war interned in Allied countries are questions to be remitted to the Peace Conference. The Commonwealth Government will naturally await a communication from the British Government on that matter before taking any action.
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether he will give immediate attention to the release of those Australian-born internees ‘ who are not prisoners of war, but who were merely interned for the safety of the State, and against whom there is nothing but suspicion?
– The armistice terms to which I have referred apply not merely to prisoners of war in a military sense, but also to civilians who have been interned.
– That being the case, I ask the Minister if. he will give the prisoners of Australian birth who have been interned in Australia on suspicion of being a menace to the safety of the State an opportunity to submit to a tribunal their claims for immediate release ?
– Every application dealing with individual cases will be dealt with on its merits.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether the Government do not consider it desirable, owing to -recent public utterances of the Prime Minister, to take into early consideration the whole matter of the position of the Commonwealth in connexion with peace negotiations and conditions and Australia’s interests therein?
– The Government have given and are giving consideration to this matter. Beyond that I do not feel at liberty to speak at this juncture..
Holiday in Celebration of Armistice.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister, in view of the fact that many of the Commonwealth public servants had only a partial holiday yesterday, whether the Government will take into consideration the desirableness of granting to all employees of the Commonwealth Government a holiday, on the same conditions that attach to the holidays granted on Good Friday and Christmas Day, in celebration of the armistice?
– I am not aware of the fact for which Senator Needham vouches. My own experience was that the public servants knew of the holiday yesterday long before many of their Ministerial chiefs were aware of it.’ However, the honorable senator having raised the question, I shall remit it for the consideration of my several colleagues.
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether he has any objection to the preparation and laying upon the table of a return showing the total aggregate enlistments in the Australian Imperial Force, and the total for each military district?
– I shall have inquiries’ made, and if the information sought by the honorable senator can be given in that form it will be given, and I shall have -the return compiled.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service)’ Act 1911 -
Awards of Commonwealth Court of Con ciliation and Arbitration, and other documents in connexion with plaints submitted by -
Australian Postal Electricians Union - Further Variation (dated 9th October, 1918).
Australian Postal Electricians Union - Further Variation (dated 16th October, 1918).
Australian Telegraph and Telephone Construction and Maintenance Union - Further Variation (dated 16th October, 1918).
Commonwealth Railways Act 1917. - By-law No. 8.
Copy of letter addressed to the Acting Prime Minister by the Auditor-General, comment- ing on certain remarks made in Parlia- ment by the Hon. W. G. Higgs.
Papers presented to British Parliament -
Ministry of Reconstruction. - Agricultural Policy Sub-Committee -
Summaries of Evidence.
Public Service Act 1902-1917. - Promotion of W. Thomson, Department of the Treasury.
Report, together with Minutes of Evidence relating to the proposed Arsenal railway, presented by Senator Henderson.
– Has the Minister representing the Treasurer noticed reports in the press that at a race meeting in Sydney last week there was a list of twelve races in which 241 horses competed, and that racing commenced at 12 o’clock and finished at 6 o’clock? If so, will he consult with the Defence Department with the object of having such races distributed over two days in a week, so that, instead of getting only £500 “ in taxation, the Government will gejt £1,000?
– As I am not in the habit of reading the race proceedings of this country, I am not aware of the facts as stated by the honorable senator, but I will bring the matter under the notice of the Acting Prime Minister
– Will the Minister for Defence take into consideration the question of having compiled a list of all the soldiers who embarked from Australia during the war, and having this information published in book form and placed in the library of the Commonwealth ?
– Some little time ago I brought befoTe Cabinet a sugges tion for the compilation of a record of war services, not merely in relation to the Army, but the Navy also. Cabinet, approved “of the proposal, and it is the intention of the Government to compile such a record.
– In view of the fact that the War Precautions Act will automatically lapse shortly, will the Government take into consideration the advisability of providing some other legislation whereby some of the regulations will remain in force, so as to prevent disorganization, until such time as it may be convenient for the whole. of the regulations to be repealed?
– The Government are fully alive to the possibilities mentioned by the honorable senator, and have the matter under close consideration with a view to taking such action as may be necessary.
Peace Conference : Representation of Australia.
– I have received an intimation from Senator ‘Needham that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The representation of Australia at the Peace Conference.”
Four honorable senators having risen in their places,
.- I move-
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until 9 p.m. on Thursday.
I do not think any apology is required from me for having submitted this motion. The time is opportune for the discussion of this subject, seeing that, the armistice has been signed, and that the Empire, including the self-governing Dominions, and our Allies, having come to the conclusion of this terrible conflict, are now preparing for the Peace table. I have noticed in the press during the last few days that some anxiety has been felt as to whether or not Australia would be represented, and it is imperative, I think, that we should give consideration to this question now. We have been informed that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) is somewhat anxious about the matter himself, and is not altogether pleased that Australia was not represented at the Versailles Conference. But it is of greater importance that the Commonwealth should have a place at the Peace table. I do not think there willb aany disagreement in the Senate. on this subject, because the peace to be determined will, we hope, endure for all time, and prevent a recurrence of the awful carnage we have gone through in this war. It is only right also, in my opinion, that both sides of political thought in Australia should be represented at that Conference. Every honorable senator will admit that both sides of political thought in Australia’ have been- represented in every theatre of war - on Gallipoli, in France, in Palestine, and in other places. That being so, both sides of political thought should be represented at the Peace Conference. “We have contributed freely of our blood and treasure in order to help the Motherland and the Empire to secure victory. As the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) remarked yesterday, in one of the finest utterances I have heard him make in this Senate - and he has made many - when the call came from overseas Australia immediately responded to it. I have said that both sides of political thought were represented in that response. So they were. But I venture to say that the majority of our Australian Army consisted of Australian workers. When we know that the conditions of peace will have a very important bearing upon the future of the workers of this country, it will be recognised that it is essential that they should be represented at the Peace Conference.
– But the-honorable senator’s party does not represent the workers.
– In order to show what the Australian Labour. party have regarded as the conditions which should govern the settlement of the war, I propose to institute a very interesting comparison between the war aims of that party as expressed in the resolutions of the Perth Conference in June last, the utterances of Mr. Lloyd George on 5th January, 1918, the statement of President Wilson on 8th January, 1918, and the declaration of the British Labour party in December, 1917. I shall not read lengthy extracts from these, but merely sufficient to show that the Australian Labour party, Mr. Lloyd George, President Wilson, and the British Labour party were practically agreed upon all questions in regard to the conditions that should govern either an armistice or peace.
– From what does the honorable senator intend to quote?
– From the Western Australian Worker of Friday, 5th July, 1918.
– Will the honorable senator quote the resolutions of the Perth Labour Conference?
– I am just about to do so. Number 1 resolution of ihat conference reads -
The right of small nations, including Ireland, to political independence”.
On 5th January, 1918, Mr. Lloyd George said -
The first requirement of Great Britain and the Allies is the complete restoration of the political, territorial, and economic independence of Belgium, Arabia, Armenia, and Mesopotamia, which are? in our judgment, entitled to the recognition of their separate national conditions.
– It is the resolution of the Perth Conference in regard to anti-recruiting that I wish to hear read.
– I am not discussing the question of recruiting or antirecruiting just now.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) As Senator Needham’s time is limited, I must ask honorable senators to refrain from interjecting.
– On the 8th January, 1918, President Wilson said -
Roumania, Serbia, and Montenegro, shall be evacuated; occupied territories restored; Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea ; and the relation of several Balkan States to one another determined by friendly counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality; and international guarantees of the political and economic dependence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan States should be entered into.
The British Labour party on 17th December, 1917, affirmed -
The people of the Balkans and Poland should decide their own future, irrespective of Austrian, Turkish, or other foreign domination.
No. 2 resolution of the Perth Labour Conference reads -
That the European countries invaded during the present war be immediately evacuated, and their future territorial integrity guaranteed; provided that the ownership of disputed territories shall be determined- by a plebiscite of the inhabitants, under the protection of an International Commission. This course would dispose of Alsace-Lorraine, Poland, and similar cases, on the democratic principle that all just Governments must rest on the consent of the governed.
Mr. Lloyd George, on 5th January, 1918, declared -
We feel that government, with the consent of the governed, must be the basis of any territorial settlement after the war.
President Wilson, on 8th January, 1918, declared for -
The evacuation of all Russian territory. Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated. All French territory should be freed. A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations . concerned must’ have equal weight with the equitable claims of the Government ‘whose title is to be determined. An independent Polish State should be enacted, which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should bc guaranteed by international covenant.
The British Labour party, on 17th December, 1917, affirmed -
The British Labour movement has no sympathy with the attempts made, now in this quarter and now in that, to convert this war into a war of conquest, whether what is sought to be acquired by force is territory or wealth; neither should the struggle be prolonged for a single day, once the conditions of a permanant peace can bo secured, merely for the sake of extending the boundaries of any State. But it is impossible to ignore the fact that not only restitution and reparation, but also certain territorial, adjustments are required. These adjustments can be arrived at by com mon agreement on the general principle of allowing all peoples to settle their own destinies.
No. 3 resolution of the Perth Conference says -
That, prior to the process of disbandment of the combatant armies, the soldiers shall be voluntarily utilized, under international control, for the restoration of the devastated territories, at the expense of the invaders.
Mr. Lloyd George, on 5th January, 1918, said-
Separation for the devastation of its (Belgium’s) -towns and provinces.
President Wilson, on 8th January, 1918, said -
Belgium must be evacuated and restored.
The British Labour party, on 17th December, 1917, declared that -
The restoration of the devastated areas of Prance, Belgium, Italy, East Prussia, Poland, and Russia must cover the peasantry.
No. 4 resolution of the Perth Conference reads -
That where an amicable arrangement cannot be reached by the Peace Conference in regard to captured colonies and dependencies, such territories shall be placed provisionally under international control.
Mr. Lloyd George, on 5th January, 1918, said -
The German colonies are held at the disposal of a conference, whose decisions must have primary regard to the wishes and interests of the native inhabitants.
President Wilson, on 8th January, 1918, said -
Free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, with the interests _ of the population concerned, having equal weight with the claims of the Government.
The British Labour party, on 17 th December, 1917, said -
All disputes must be submitted to an international High Court. All States must enter into a solemn agreement to make common cause against any State failing to adhere to this agreement.
There are four or five other resolutions of the Perth Conference in respect to all of which there is a similarity as between the Australian Labour party, Mr. Lloyd George, President Wilson, and the British Labour party. I have quoted those which I have already put upon record for the purpose of showing that the Australian Labour party has always been anxious to see the war fought to a victorious conclusion, and that with that object in view, members of its organizations have given of their blood freely. I say now that the whole social and economic system of the world will have to be revised. The old system has broken down andhas been cast aside, and just as the workers of this young nation played their part in the destruction of the old system, it follows that they should have a voice in the construction of the new. One of the finest” statements made by Mr. Lloyd George during the war was this, descriptive of what the war meant -
It isa cyclonic convulsion of nature, tearing up by the roots all modern forms of society, and scattering to the four winds of Heaven theflimsy trestles of modern civilization.
With that statement, made by the Prime Minister of Great Britain in the House of Commons, I think every one will agree.
– I do not agree with it at all. The object of the war was to establish civilization. We did not fight for the “trestles of modern civilization “ because they were flimsy.
– Whether Mr. Lloyd George put the position accurately or not, we must all admit that a new social and economic order will spring from this carnage. It is because of this that I hold that not only should Australia be represented through its Government, whatever member of the Government may be deputed for the purpose, but the opposite side in politics, who, after all, have a responsibility in the government of the nation, even though they may disagree with the policy of the Government of the day - that is, the Opposition in the shape of the Australian Labour party - should be represented at the Peace Conference also.
It may be objected that we did not favour the conscription of manhood. It is true that we did not. I opposed it myself, and would oppose it again tomorrow. But whilst it is true that the Australian Labour party determinedly and strenuously opposed the conscription of Australian manhood for this great war. they were backed up by the majority of this nation on two occasions within fourteen months. Should not that other portion of this nation, those who are supporters, not of this party, but of the Government sitting opposite, be represented at that Conference? I think they should. No one in his sane senses can claim that all those people who formed the great majority against conscription on the 20th- December, 1917, would have voted in favour of candidates of the party sitting on this side of the Senate.
– You got as much help from the anti-Labour side as you got from your own.
– I am admitting that a good number of the votes cast on that occasion against conscription were cast by supporters of the Government which Senator Lynch follows. Therefore, looking at it from both stand-points, it is only right and reasonable that the other side in politics, represented by the party on this side of the chamber, should be represented at the proposed Peace Conference.
– Do you think the delegates will discuss conscription at the Peace Conference?
– Questions of greater moment than conscription will be discussed there, and it is because of this that I am asking that the Labour party of Australia should be represented at the Peace table.
– That is a peculiar piece of reasoning.
– If my time were not limited I should endeavour to reply to the honorable senator.
– The Peace Conference is not for’ the representation of parties; it is for the representation of nations.
– Surely the members in opposition to the Government represent the thought of a portion of the nation ? I venture to say that when the Peace Conference assembles there will be at the table representatives from other countries who, in their respective Parliaments, are opposed to the Governments, of the day. I have moved in this matter to-day in order to ask the Senate to give consideration to the justice of the claim I am making. I have put the matter forward without heat, and I hope I have refrained from introducing party politics. I have put the matter in its true national sense.
– There was not a word qf party in your speech !
– The only party question was introduced by Senator de Largie in his usual courteous interjections. The Senate should declare that Australia should be represented, and that a Labour representative should be included, not only at the Peace Conference, but also in any League of Nations, or any super-international council that may ultimately be appointed to carry out the decisions arrived at by the Peace Conference.
– Senator Needham’s statement is capable of division into two unequal portions. A very small portion was devoted to showing the desirability of Australia being represented at the Peace Conference, and a very large portion to showing the necessity which appears to exist in the honorable senator’s mind for the representation of the party to which he belongs. The honorable senator claimed that as both sides of political thought were represented on the battle front they should therefore be represented at the Peace table. I would remind him that those workers, to use his term, who took their places on the battle-fields of Europe, did so, not as workers, but as Australians. No evidence is yet forthcoming that, although they may be associated with the honorable senator by means of their Labour organizations, those men have in the slightest degree indorsed the leadership given by the Official party to which the honorable senator belongs. When the honorable senator speaks of that section of political thought, he refers, of course, to the Official Labour party. Has not that Official .Labour party forfeited all right to speak for the workers of this country in this matter?
– Give your reasons.
– The honorable senator himself supplied them when he signed a counter manifesto repudiating the resolutions of the Perth Conference.
– Nothing of the kind. It was to repudiate the ballot on recruiting. The resolutions of the conference on peace and war will stand the test of even the bias of the Ministerial side of this Chamber.
– The honorable senator’s statement, signed in common with many of his associates, was an utter repudiation of the haggling contract submitted to and adopted by the Perth Conference.
– About recruiting.
– The decision of the conference was embodied in a series of resolutions which meant only that that great Labour party, if it was represented by its official leaders - I say it had ceased to be represented by them - that party which went into this war freely and voluntarily, had come down to haggling over the terms on which it would render its assistance. An Official Labour party which takes up that attitude has no right to speak for the great body of loyal workers of Australia.
– You are speaking . without knowledge of what that conference did.
– It is not my fault if I have not a full knowledge of what took place there. All I can do is to take the knowledge which those who controlled that conference permitted to find its way into the press.
– It was your Government’s censorship which prevented it from reaching you and the rest of the people.
– The censorship had nothing to do with it. It was the conference itself that censored the report of its procedure. Speaking for myself, I am not prepared to remit the great interests of this country into the keeping of those who claim to speak for the Official Labour party. v
I now turn to the much more important matter, which was only rather casually alluded to, as a matter of fact, by Senator Needham. That is, in reference to the desirability of Australia being represented at the Peace Conference. It , is surely unnecessary for rae to state that the Government have this matter in hand; that the subject, indeed, has their closest consideration; that they are not indifferent to all that is involved in it; that there is no justification for supposing that upon a matter of such gravity the Government are either indifferent or negligent. I think that the Senate - even allowing for the political differences of opinion within its walls - would never seriously assume that’ the Government have not given that deep thought to the matter which it demands. But I hope that the Senate will understand the full significance of the statement that the Government have the subject in their very closest keeping and consideration. However, with a knowledge of much which it would not (be justifiable at this juncture to make public - with a knowledge, indeed, of all that is involved - the Government feel that, in the intererts of Australia, in common with the interests of the Empire, they cannot allow their hands to be forced by the springing upon them of a motion of this character, in regard to a matter of so grave and delicate a nature’. On behalf of the Government, 1 have already given notice of our intentions, dealing with one very important phase of all these matters, one which it may be assumed will occupy the attention of the plenipotentiaries at the Peace Conference. The Senate may accept my assurance that the Government are equally alert regarding those other matters in which Australia is interested, and which will similarly be the subject of discussion at the Peace Conference. But the” Government are not prepared at this stage to embarrass the situation by any statement with respect to the representation of this Dominion, or of the Dominions generally. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), as the Senate knows, is in London. The Government are in constant and regular communication with that gentleman. The Prime Minister knows what is taking place ; and the Cabinet here is freely communicating with the Prime Minister, as the Prime Minister is with his colleagues in Australia. And - knowing that all steps are being taken which may be regarded as being in the best interests of this country - the Government will reserve to a more fitting time a full pronouncement of what is- taking place and of what is in contem plation. The Government are not unmindful of their duty;- and I am con-, vinced that not even party prejudice will suggest remissness on the part of the Government in regard to these matters. But the Government, conscious of the critical character of this present moment, and of the times ahead of us, feel that they can make no more definite pronouncement at this juncture than has already been made, coupled with the full and frank assurance that . they are alive to the importance of this whole matter, and will take every step that may be deemed necessary and desirable in the best interests of Australia.
– I congratulate the mover of this motion (Senator Needham) upon having brought up for discussion at what is probably the most suitable time, a question which I think the Senate should discuss. I regret that Senator Millen should have endeavoured to make what I will call petty party capital by misrepresenting Labour’s war attitude at the Perth Conference. And, as my time is limited, I shall, from the records of the Perth Conference, briefly place . before the Senate certain facts, so that neither Senator Millen nor Senator de Largie may in future misrepresent what occurred at that conference. The conference divided its war, peace, and recruiting attitude under three heads. It dealt directly and specifically with its war attitude, and I shall read its decisions. They are as follows: -
Attitude to the War.
That is to say, on June of this year the Perth Conference decided that Labour’s attitude then was what it had been at the outbreak of the war.
– I said that you did not haggle about the terms at the beginning of the war.
– And the answer which I have given to that, and which Senator de Largie wilfully tried to misrepresent, regarding what occurred at what he describes as “ a conference of shirkers,” was that it declared and decided
– On a point of order, sir, I do not often take exception to statements which Senator Gardiner makes concerning myself, hut I do object to his saying that I have wilfully misrepresented the attitude of any one; and I ask him to withdraw.
– Senator de Largie has taken exception to a statement of Senator Gardiner, and I ask the honorable senator, therefore, to withdraw.
– If the rules of this Senate compel me to withdraw a truth which must be apparent to every honorable senator, I unhesitatingly withdraw.
– Is that a proper withdrawal, sir?
– If it is not, I make a proper withdrawal. .
– All withdrawals must be made without reservation, and I ask Senator Gardiner to withdraw without reservation.
– I do so, sir.
Several honorable senators inter jectiny,
– Order ! Honorable senators’ time is limited strictly by the Standing Orders, and I therefore ask honorable senators to refrain from such frequent and constant interjections, which are taking up the time of the Senate.
– I have no desire to come into conflict with Senator de Largie, but there has been a tendency on the part of honorable senatorsto misrepresent the attitude of the Labour . party upon the war, at its recent Perth Conference.
I had” already begun to read the text of the resolutions of the conference, which, with respect to its attitude towards the war, reads as follows:-
The attitude of Labour towards the publiclydeclared -objects of the war is what it was at the outbreak of the war -
The aims of Labour in participating in the war purposed -
That was Labour’s declared and defined attitude towards the war at the recent Perth Conference.
– Are you going to stop there?
– Well, I will be quite candid.
– There are two further points ; there are the terms you . propose to require, or demand.
– That was Labour’s decided attitude with respect to the Avar, as defined at the conference. The conference also passed peace proposals, which I intend to read to the Senate. And then, if my timesspermits, I shall deal, next in order, with the attitude of Labour towards recruiting. I wish to be . perfectly candid, seeing that the subject can be so dealt with, and in a way, indeed, that no man need be ashamed of. I propose to refer to the attitude of Labour upon recruiting, as it was presented by Senator McDougall, Senator Grant, and myself, and other members of our party who took exception to the action of the Perth Conference. But I particularly point out that the attitude of Lahpur towards recruiting was not determined at the conference, but that it was there decided . to put the whole posi-‘ tion before members outside, to see what their attitude would be on the subject. We have the fact to fall back upon, that in two of the States the Labour movement refused to deal with the question, and that many of the big unions and nearly all the leagues absolutely repudiated the conference attitude by refusing to participate in the ballot. I am stating our case without party bias or feeling. I have read Labour’s war attitude ; I propose now to read a statement showing Labour’s peace attitude as taken up at the conference - a statement that compares most favorably with the peace utterances of President Wilson. It cannot be denied that the peace utterances of the President of the United States greatly accelerated the peace that we have at last secured.
– The guns of the soldiers of the United States accelerated it.
– The strength of arms certainly accelerated peace, but it must not be forgotten that German arms, solidly backed up by the German people, would have continued the fight much longer if the people had been allowed to remain under the impression that the object of the Allies was to absolutely crush their country. The first intimation that the German people received which was sufficiently strong to justify those opposed to war in withdrawing’ their support from the German army was the wise, statesman-like utterance of President “Wilson that the Allies wished to crush the makers of war rather than the people of Germany.
– If the German army had reached Paris the German people would not have cared twopence for that statement.
– In that case the military party, no doubt, would have been ‘ dominant, but the knowledge that the Allies were out to crush, not the German people, but German militarism, appealed to the German Democracy to such an extent that the whole force of German resistance broke down as from within,
I am not attempting to belittle the great efforts made by the army of the United States in the cause of freedom, but I am anxious to state the facts as to what our peace proposals really were. The resolution passed at the Perth Conference was as follows: -
That this Conference adopts the peace resolution carried by the State Conferences of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and South Australia.
That, as the Governments of Europe, founded on class rule, and adopting the methods of secret diplomacy, have failed utterly to preserve peace or to brins; the present war within measurable distance of a conclusion, and whereas the existing capitalistic system of production for profit compels every nation constantly to seek new markets to exploit, inevitably leading to a periodic clash of rival interests, we contend that only by an organized system of production for use, under democratic control, can a recur rence of such calamities be permanently avoided. The present system, by fostering commercial rivalry, territorial greed, and dynastic ambitions, has created an atmosphere of mutual fear and distrust among the Great Powers, which was the immediate cause of the present colossal struggle.
While the people suffer and die in millions, thousands of the ruling and privileged classes are amassing huge fortunes out of war profits; apparently existing Governments are making no sincere efforts to obtain a speedy peace, but. are devoting their whole endeavours to the continuance of the disastrous struggle. We are,, therefore, convinced that peace can only be accomplished by the united efforts of the workers of all the countries involved.
We, therefore, to quote the Sydney MorningHerald of 18th April, 1917, “ rejoice over the revolution in Russia,” and congratulate thepeople of that country .upon their efforts to abolish despotic power and class privileges, and urge the workers of every land where similar conditions exist to follow their example with the same magnificent courage and determination..
We are of opinion that a complete military victory by the Allies over the Central Powers, if possible, can only he accomplished by the further sacrifice of millions of human lives, the infliction of incalculable misery and suffering upon the survivors, the creation of an intolerable burden of debt, to the further impoverishment of the workers, who must bear such burdens, and the practical destruction of civilization among the white races of the world.
We, therefore, urge that immediate negotiations be initiated for an International Conference, for the purpose of arranging equitable terms of peace, on which Conference the working class organizations shall have adequate representation, and the inclusion of women delegates; and we further urge that the British self-governing Dominions and Ireland shall be granted separate representation thereon.
We submit that, in framing the terms of a lasting peace, the following principles should be observed: -
I have been compelled, by reason of the remarks made by honorable senators opposite, to refer to this matter, although I think that the discussion might -well have been based upon a consideration of, not Labour’s attitude to the war, but the proper representation of Australia at the coming Peace Conference.
If we are to believe the cable messages recently received from England, conveying statements made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in Great Britain, we must view with great concern the fact that he claims to have been ignored in the determination of the peace proposals. Mr. Hughes, as the representative of the Commonwealth, has publicly stated that the first intimation he received as to the character of the peace terms was that given out to the people generally through the press of Great Britain. Now that the war is over, it would be wise for the governing party in Great Britain not only to take care that no offence is given to Australia, but to guard against even a suspicion arising in the minds of the people that a deliberate snub has been offered the Commonwealth-. The Prime Minister’s statements, as published in the press during the last few days, are such as to cause his most ardent supporters - and I am not amongst them - the deepest and most grave concern, since he declares that he was absolutely ignored when the peace terms were being considered. I object, not to the ignoring of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), but to the ignoring of Australia. While Mr. Hughes remains in England as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, the Government of Great Britain should have regard for his official capacity. His public statements, if correctly reported, give us reasonable grounds for asserting, as Senator Needham gives us the opportunity to do today, that Australia should be adequately represented at the coming Peace Conference. There are at stake Great Australian interests - the Leader of ‘the Government in the Senate has this evening referred to one of them - which will have to be considered at the approaching Peace Conference. Senator Bakhap hit the nail on the head when he inter jected, “ This is a national, not a party matter.” I quite agree with him, and regret that in the earlier part of my remarks I was compelled, in defence of my party - and when it is wrongly attacked I shall always defend it - to introduce some party matters.
My desire is to place fairly before the Senate the attitude of the Perth Conference with regard to the war and peace, and also with respect to the question of recruiting. I was absolutely, opposed to the conference’s attitude upon recruiting, and with eight of my colleagues* put before the Labour leagues and unions a printed statement showing our objections to that proposal. The conference, however, left the question of recruiting an open one for the Labour movement to deal with.
– Was that the attitude also in regard to the other part?
– The other part was a’ matter for the decision, of the conference. I regret that I was compelled to touch on party matters in order to defend my party’s attitude. We must face these matters a3 they are brought, before us.
– We were expelled for less than the honorable senator did.
– Then I am, indeed, fortunate. I regret that the time allotted to me does not permit me to finish what I wish to say concerning these resolutions.
– Every one who has watched the position in which honorable senators opposite have found themselves for some time past can quite appreciate the purpose of this motion. Happily, the conclusion of the war has put the country right, whether the Official Labour party are right or not. We . are in a position to-day to say that we may secure a peace quite different from that outlined and apparently desired by those responsible for the resolutions of ‘the Perth Conference. There is no need for us to bother about our representation in London, because there is a very good representative of Australia’s war policy there at the present time. On the subject of the war, Mr. Hughes can represent the public opinion of Australia very well on his own. We may well shake hands with ourselves because Mr. Hughes is in London at the present time. Senator Needham has suggested that there should be representation of both sides of political thought in Australia, but I remind him that there was only one side to political thought in Australia on .the subject of the war when the war broke out, and Mr. Hughes can very well represent Australian opinion on the subject. “We know that, so far as the party opposite is concerned, a very great change has come over the scene since the beginning of the war, and it is really in order that they may escape from an awkward position that this motion, which is only the forerunner of many similar motions likely to b.e submitted in the near future, has been moved to-day. If the party opposite had shown during the last year -or two any earnest desire to strengthen the hands of the gentleman who has the best right to speak for Australia in London to-day, we might have believed that the motion had some honest purpose behind it. But what has been the position ? From time to time honorable senators opposite have been hurling every “kind of insult at the Prime Minister, and have persistently worked to belittle his mission to London. Interjections by members of the party during speeches made in another place have shown their utter hostility to Mr. Hughes. If the Prime Minister had been standing up for Free Trade in the Old Country, we could have understood the hostility of honorable senators opposite to his utterances. He has, on the contrary, been endeavouring to give expression to the Protectionist views held in Australia, in order to prevent a recurrence of. German influence in trade affairs. In the circumstances, the Protectionists on the other side might very well have adopted a non-partisan attitude towards him. But no; everything they could possibly say to weaken his influence has been said, and, in the circumstances, I hold that we have no right to consider the views of men who have taken up that attitude towards the Prime Minister. What else is there to be represented in London or wherever the Peace Conference is to be held? Do honorable senators opposite think that there is to be a discussion at the Conference on the merits or demerits of conscription versus the voluntary system - the great question which divides them’ ‘as a political party from honorable senators on this side? It would be making only a laughing-stock of Australia for us to go to the Peace Conference and parade there our ideas on the voluntary system of enlistment, or parade before the” world the war policy of the Official Labour party?
– No one suggested that that should be done.
– If that is not the object for which a representative of the party opposite should attend the conference, what other view would he go there to represent?
– Surely there are other questions which will be considered.
– What other questions can there be?
– There are a hundred and one other questions.
– I can only say that none of them has been mentioned.
– What about the White Australia policy? That is likely to be tinkered at there, and it is of very great importance to this country.
– The only other matter which, so far as I know, has been the subject of criticism is represented by the Paris Conference resolutions. What attitude do honorable senators opposite take up upon those resolutions? Are they with Mr. Hughes in the view he takes of them, or are they against him? If they are against him, they are opposed to their professed Protectionist ideas. If they are with him, there is no reason why they should be specially represented at the Peace Conference. It would be a mere waste of effort to send a special representative of the other side to deal with the Paris resolutions, if they are in agreement with Mr. Hughes concerning them..
I hold that this motion has been moved for the purpose of covering up a matter about which we are very much interested at the present time, and that is the result of the ballot of the Labour organizations on the subject of recruiting. The country is anxiously watching to learn the result of that ballot, which will reveal the attitude of the Official Labour party on the question of the war. In my opinion, this motion is merely a red herring drawn across the track to distract attention from that ballot, because of the position in which honorable senators find themselves.
– It is camouflage.
– That is a very good word to describe it. I believe that there, is no need for more than one representative of Australia at the Peace Conference. When the war broke out, Mr. Fisher, as leader of the Australian Labour party at the time, pledged the
Unanimous support of the people of this country in every shape and form. . That wa3 in accordance with Australian public opinion, and Mr. Hughes can give expression to that opinion at the Peace Conference. He has been appointed by this country to represent that view. If it is suggested that there is another view, which has been hinted at without being explained, and that a representative of that view should go to the Peace Conference to discuss the anti-recruiting resolutions of the Perth Conference, let me say that it is altogether too late now to refer to that matter, as the war is over, and we do not need to trouble any more about recruiting. We have no need to appoint any other representative to the Peace Conference than the Australian representative who is now in London.
– The motion before the’ Senate has created an opportunity which I had intended to constitute yesterday, to enable the Senate to discuss this matter, not quite in the terms of Senator Needham’s motion, but in terms which I had already drafted. But, recognising that any argumentative note struck yesterday would De discordant in the midst of the chorus of jubilation which was ascending to the skies from the whole of Australia, I refrained from submitting a similar motion. I may say that I had intended to move the adjournment of the Senate, in order that the position and statements of the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth (Mr. Hughes) in connexion with peace negotiations, and Australia’s interests therein, should be discussed.
In regard to representation at the Peace Conference, it has to be understood that, although Australia has performed a most creditable belligerent part in the war, she is not an independent nation, but a Dominion of the British Empire. The representation of Australia at the Peace Conference can only be secured through the courtesy of the nations that have been in alliance with the British Empire in the conflict, or who have acted as co-belligerents. We are within the Empire, and the Empire’s representatives appointed by the Imperial Government are perhaps the only ones to which the allied nations will consent to a status being accorded. But we can secure - indeed, we have secured and are in the possession of- - indirect representation at that Peace Conference. What I wish to urge on the consideration of the Administration was foreshadowed in the question that I put without notice to-day. It is urgently necessary that the people of the Commonwealth should, through their Parliament, make such representations as will establish beyond all doubt the right of the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth to make articulate Australia’s aspirations in regard to peace conditions.
The Prime Minister has made certain complaints; and at this distance it is hard to say whether or not they are well founded. I think it is well understood that I am not one of the fulsome admirers of the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes; but I recognise that .he has in him, at least, some of the qualities of a great man; he has force and a certain individuality of character, which are most valuable in a man who has attained the position of a statesman. I may say that, on the evidence - even on ,the Prime Minister’s own statements - I am personally prepared to accord him full-souled support. The Imperial Government, as Senator Gardiner has said, will make a great mistake if it does not call into close consultation representatives of all the overseas Dominions which have substantially contributed to what has happily proved the Empire’s successful efforts in the war. I suppose that the terms of the armistice were very largely governed by the opinions of the military leaders of all the successful belligerent armies ; but we have an undoubted right to be consulted by our Imperial Mother in regard to peace conditions. I am well aware that peace must be largely conditioned by the fact that it has to be based on President Wilson’s fourteen points, or at least on thirteen of them, one having been very sensibly excluded for consideration at the instance, I suppose, of the representatives of the British Empire. It would have been suicide for us to have consented to a discussion of the maritime supremacy of our Empire - that supremacy which has created the Empire and keeps it in being. Happily, as I say, that matter has been excluded from consideration in the fixing of . peace conditions; but it is well for British statesmen to remember that the Empire is what I may call an exceptional empire: it is sui generis; -there never has been, and probably there never will be, another empire like it. The conditions which bind tha Dominions to the Empire are, in themselves, most remarkable. Because of the mistake in connexion with America more than a century ago, we have been practically enabled to obtain the legislative status of independent peoples, though outside nations only recognise us diplomatically as being within the ambit’ and circle of the British Empire.
The Prime Minister . at the present time is in such a position in London that an important newspaper has most insolently - and I. use the term after great consideration - stated that he does not represent the people of Australia. But on “the statement of Senator Gardiner himself, the Prime Minister does represent the people of Australia. If the Prime Minister of the Gommonwealth does not represent the people of Australia, who does?
– I was referring to his opinions on Protection, and that kind of thing.
– The honorable senator asked - “ If the Prime Minister is not regarded as the representative of the Commonwealth, who should be so regarded?” And the Prime Minister must be supported by the people of Australia. I am no mean judge of public opinion.
For weeks past I have listened intently to expression’s of opinion from responsible men in public places; and since the Prime Minister made his complaint, I have heard dozens and dozens of such men, who are perhaps not very ardent admirers, as they have not been long followers, of the right honorable gentleman, say, “I am with Hughes in this thing.” The Imperial Government had ‘ better remember that, with the full strength of the Empire exerted, it would probably be impossible to destroy it by means of a war, but that it might very easily and almost unconsciously be disintegrated by an unsatisfactory peace in which any of the great overseas Dominions regarded themselves as having been cavalierly treated. The Imperial Government should remember, and I take opportunity to ask the Australian Government to most seriously consider at the earliest possible moment, the position of the Prime Minister and his utterances. It is high time, in my opinion, that it was intimated to the people of Great Britain, and of the world,that the Prime Minister in his present position is supported by the people of the Commonwealth.
There is one other matter with which I desire to deal before I sit down. We must not forget that the terms of the armistice, imposed by military men, and apparently very severe, aro only preliminary to the peace which is to be conditioned by thirteen of President Wilson’s fourteen points. Does the question of reparation exclude Australia from making a claim for a financial indemnity - hot a penal indemnity, but a recouping of the expense that we have incurred in connexion with the war? I am doubtful about the matter, but I hope that President Wilson’s thirteen points do not exclude Australia from consideration. America and the Old Country may repair very quickly the losses they have sustained, because they are fully equipped with most valuable machinery, which can be readily adapted to modern industrial needs. That is not our position. We do not manufacture our machinery here, and we have withdrawn large sums from those financial resources that are necessary to develop this young country of ours; and it is only fair that a claim should be made on” our behalf for financial reparation. I do not say that we should make one penny profit out of the war, out the loser must pay the winner for having successfully defended his national life and his rights. That is not an unjust demand; and I hope it is one which will be added to the catalogue of requests which, I am sure, will, before long, be made and supported by the Government.
We should also be recouped the cost of repatriating our men. Are our children, and our children’s children, to be saddled with this debt simply because we stood up to the German people who menaced our national life? It may be said that the German people are now ashamed of what they have done. Not they ! Had they got to Paris, every German, as I interjected, would have been a supporter of the Kaiser, licked his boots, and exalted him to the highest. Let Deutschdom be anarchistic or socialistic; let Germany be a republic or an empire; let the German people retain or restore the Hohenzollerns, or do what they like - they should be made to pay. On behalf of Australia, the Prime Minister should be empowered by this Government to make such a demand, to see that Australia’s economic independence is respected in every particular, and to - deal satisfactorily with the matter in respect of which the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) lias given notice of motion. The Peace Conference cannot be expected to allow the representation of political parties. It could hardly be expected to allow representation of a Dominion within the Empire. Are the Philippine Islands to be represented in connexion with the American delegation to the Peace Conference? And is Honololu to be so represented ? I do hot ask that, but I do ask that the Imperial authorities be told, and in no measured terms, that the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth does represent the Australian people, and that it is .most urgent for them to take him into their councils, and consider his undoubtedly just requests.
– In accordance with instructions, which were practically issued to me by the Senate yesterday, to present- to-day to the Governor-General the address passed yesterday by the Senate to His Majesty the King, I desire to inform the Senate that His Excellency will be on the steps of Parliament House, to receive the address, soon after half-past 4 o’clock. Therefore, I think this would be a convenient time to suspend the sitting, as, no doubt, honorable senators would like to be present and listen to what might be said. I shall be glad if as many honorable senators as can find it convenient will accompany me to present the address to His Excellency. I shall resume the chair at 8 o’clock.
Sitting suspended from ff-22 to 8 p.m.
.- The question raised by Senator Needham is a very important one, and one upon which the Senate may well spend the whole of the period allowed by our Standing Orders for its discussion. The Government ask somewhat indignantly why Labour has any desire to be represented at the Peace Conference. Apparently they “are content to assume that at that Conference their own representatives will be able to speak for Australia in such a manner as to obviate the possibility of complaints from this side of the world regarding the decisions at which it will arrive. Possibly they are right. But I think they are wrong. They have already sent <to the Old Country two ‘representatives, in the persons of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and Sir Joseph Cook, confident that these gentlemen would be able to speak for Australia upon any question which might arise in regard to bringing the war to a successful termination. But we have recently learned from the’ newspapers - and I do not believe that anybody will question the accuracy of the statements -which they have published - the opinions which are held of Mr. Hughes by responsible persons in Great Britain. When he left our shores we were led to believe that he was to be invited to attend all the Conferences to be held in the Old Country at which the * terms of peace would be discussed. But we have now learned, through the medium of the press, that, though he was in England all the time the proceedings in relation to the armistice were in progress, his presence there was quite ignored. He was not invited to attend the Conference which determined the conditions of the armistice, and at which the Government thought he would have been at liberty to express their views. In other words, he has been treated in England just as any ordinary citizen has been treated. He is thought no more of there than the commonest citizen.
– Was any invitation extended to the representatives of Canada, South Africa, or New Zealand?
– I do not know. But the Government sent Mr. Hughes to the Old Country for the specific purpose of voicing their views in relation to our war aims. Notwithstanding that, his presence there has been completely ignored.
The terms of peace will probably be arranged by a Conference of representatives of the Allied countries, and Australia will have no opportunity of enlightening them as to the real views of this Commonwealth upon many important questions. It has been asked, “Will the Conference discuss conscription?” I do not suppose that that question will come before it. But it will certainly consider many other questions in which Australia is vitally interested, and upon which she has a right to be heard. I venture to say that the Peace Conference will be composed almost entirely of persons who represent the elements that governed Europe prior to the outbreak of the war. We may be quite certain that they will not voice the opinions of the Democracies of the world. As a matter of fact,, the British Ministry was elected before the outbreak of hostilities, on a particularly restricted’ franchise, and, consequently, its members cannot claim that they represent the views, which are entertained by the people of the Old Country.
– Who would the honorable senator substitute for Mr. Lloyd George ?
- Mr. Lloyd George may be all right. I have no desire to de tract from his meritorious services, but I say that to’ insure proper representation at the Peace Conference, ‘even of the heart of our own Empire, delegates to it should be elected from the Imperial Parliament after a general election had been held in Britain. That would afford all the men who will have returned from the Front, the men who have saved the Empire, an opportunity to record their votes - an opportunity which they were denied prior to the outbreak of war. The women ~ of England, too, who have done so much in the Empire’s cause, will, ‘under existing conditions, not be represented at the Peace Conference,, because they have never yet been allowed to exercise the franchise.
– Order! The honorable senator is not now discussing the subjectmatter of. the motion.
– Would the honorable senator delay the meeting of the Peace Conference until after a general election had been held in Britain?
– The President says that the honorable senator is out of order.
In my opinion the importance of this question lies in the fact that Australia is the most democratic country on earth. Its institutions are such that the people can give effect to their views, if they choose to avail themselves of the machinery which is ready to their hands.
l- O’Loghlin. - Not since we have had the War Precautions Act.
– After all, whatever politics we may have in this country reflect the voice of the people, and that is the only thing which, “in my judgment, is entitled to count. It is always pretty safe to trust the majority. But unless Australia is represented at the Peace Conference, not merely by delegates who will express the views of honorable senators opposite, but also by representatives from this side of the chamber, the real opinions of this country will not be voiced. I venture to say that, during the last two or three years, Mr. Hughes has said so many foolish things upon important questions which will be discussed at the Peace
Conference that he is quite incapable of expressing the views that are entertained by those who sit upon this side of the Seriate. In this connexion, it should be recollected that we represent at least onehalf of the people of Australia, and, consequently, our opinions are entitled to be heard at the Conference equally with those of honorable senators opposite. It is not a fair thing that supporters of the Ministry who won the last election on a sort of catch vote on a question, which, I hope, will never crop up again in this country, should be permitted to send Mr. Hughes to that gathering for the purpose of instructing delegates from other parts of the world upon some of the subjects that be has talked loosely about. Need I remind honorable senators that he has advocated the boycott of German commerce rafter the war - a most stupid thing for him to do. He was going to bottle up eighty or ninety millions of people, and to exclude them from participating in the world’s commerce. His statement has been repudiated absolutely by men of much greater eminence in the persons of Mr. Lloyd George and President Wilson, who recognise the impossibility of giving effect to it.
– Do honorable senators opposite reject the Paris economic resolutions?
– I do not know that we have ever discussed them. Most of those on this side have, when opportunity has occurred, voiced the opinion, which I hold myself, that it is impossible to give effect to the views of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in that direction, and no sane man of eminence holds the contrary opinion. I was glad to see that President Wilson and the rest of them repudiated the portion of Mr. Hughes’ remarks which contained those views.
Other matters will come before the Conference in regard to which this party’s opinions might have a big influence. I think that there cannot be a permanent peace unless every country represented at the Conference is prepared to pledge itself to give its people a proper opportunity to express their views. When England entered the war, half her people were without the franchise, Australia being the only country that went into thewar in possession of a proper franchise,, under which every man and woman of twenty-one years of age and upwards can give effect to his or her views through theballotbox. There can be no permanentand satisfactory settlement of national affairs unless every country that becomes a party to a League of Nations pledgesitself to give a franchise to its people, and to educate them up to a certain standard. To do that would be to lay the foundation of a world peace securely and well; because I cannot think that any civilized people would willingly plunge itself, or any other nation, into war.
This war did not come about at the wish of the people of Great Britain, nor did it, notwithstandingwhat has been said to the COntrary. come about at the wish of the people of Germany. It has been complained that the German Socialists did not sufficiently make their views felt within Germany. They did not do that because the war lords of Germany did exactly ‘ the same things as the war lords of this country have done. Liebknecht, one of the leading intellectuals of the country, when he dared to voice his opinions concerning the war, and to say how peace might be brought about, was first sent to the Front, and then committed to gaol, and he has only recently been released. Every man in the country who dared to say that the war was criminal, and ought not to continue a day longer than was unavoidable, was similarly treated. The people had “ not an opportunity to make their voice heard, because of the military despotism, which gaoled them for doing so, as people were gaoled in this country.
– The Majority Socialists of Germany took up an attitude in support of the war.
– They did that when compelled to at the mouth of the guns.
– They did it in the Reichstag.
– There are persons who, in this country, have, done very undemocratic things while professing to be Democrats, and the same thing may havehappened in Germany. The voice of the people of Germany had no chance to be heard. until recently, whan the people were getting tired of the war, and President Wilson, taking his cue, in all probability, from the Democracy of Australia, laid down in his speech of 14th January last the historical fourteen points. When that speech was published to the world, and, in spite of the military autocracy of Germany, no doubt, filtered through into the armed camm of Germany, and reached the soldiers” there, they said, “ If this is all that is in dispute, why not end the war ?” The views enunciated by President Wilson were insisted upon by Labour at sue,cessive conferences during a period of two or three years, and despite the sneers of honorable senators opposite, I assert boldly that the terms set out by President Wilson, and, later, by Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Asquith, are almost identical with those voiced by the Official Labour party of Australia.
– No doubt President Wilson consulted Mr. Ryan about the matter.
– The time allowed to the honorable senator under the Standing Orders has expired.
.- With the purpose of the motion I am in accord, though Senator Needham has submitted it prematurely, because what he asks shall be done will be done, or insisted upon, in any. case by both Chambers of the Legislature. It is superfluous.
To begin with, I wish to set Senator Gardiner and Senator Barnes right iri some matters. Senator Gardiner is in error in supposing that the* German people or the German Government were largely influenced in accepting the armistice by the opinions of the Allied countries concerning Democracy in Germany. President Wilson stated his famous fourteen points in January of this year. But what was the attitude of Germany towards the Allies in the following March and April? Never was there such a superhuman effort as that made by Germany during that fateful period to crush the Allied armies. Senator Gardiner would have us believe that the German people were merely waiting to find out what was in the minds of the Allied peoples before offering peace; but as a matter of fact, Germany made every effort to bring to the dust the might of the Allies , long after she had heard the declaration of President Wilson.
Senator Barnes has suggested that President Wilson was influenced in what he said by the opinions of the Official Labour party of Australia. That statement may be accepted if we credit President Wilson with a magical power of divining the thoughts and intentions of the Official Labour party of Australia months before they were uttered. President Wilson made his speech months before even the present shadowy policy of the Official Labour party of Australia was published.
– Two years ago we put our proposals forward at three or four different conferences.
– No one knows to this day what the attitude of the Official Labour party of Australia is towards the war. The piecing together of a Chinese puzzle would be child’s play compared with .the effort to arrive at an authoritative statement of the party’s war policy. The last opportunity that the Official Labour party had of making its policy known occurred at the Conference in Perth last June, nearly six months after President Wilson’s famous speech.
– The peace proposals adopted by the Perth Conference appeared in the Labour platforms of Victoria, ‘Queensland, New South Wales, and South Australia more than twelve months ago.
– Nearly two years ago.
– Senator Gardiner does not need to be reminded that the State Conferences represent only sections of the Official Labour party of Australia, and that the authoritative body to which he must look for direction is that represented at the Perth Conference in June last.
– The Perth Conference adopted the peace proposals of the State Conferences.
– Perhaps it was the Official Labour party of Australia that suggested to President Wilson theadoption of conscription.
– The Wilson Government and party were beaten at the elections on conscription.
– President Wilson’s speech was made long before the Official Labour party of Australia arrived at its resolutions. This party has spoken with many voices. The diversity of tongues at the building of the Tower of Babel is as nothing compared with the diversity of the utterances of the Official Labour party of Australia in regard to the war.
I detest having to refer to matters that bring us so close to the border line of party politics, but I am driven to do so by Senator Needham’s insistence that the Official Labour party should “ be represented at the Peace Conference. Before we give that party carte blanche to attend the Peace Conference, we want to know what is in their minds in regard to the war, and especially in regard to the peace terms.
– We desire to know what is in the mind of the Government.
– The position of every intelligent elector is that he does not know what is in the mind of the Official Labour party, because they themselves do not know. Delegates assembled at the Perth Conference and formulated a set of resolutions. Neither honorable senators opposite nor the Perth Conference gave a lead to their party. But they lead that party from the rear. In regard to recruiting, the Perish Conference decided to adopt and shape Labour’s attitude to recruiting according to whether or not certain things were done. What were the conditions that were stipulated? The first was that immediate peace by negotiation should be sought, based on a policy of no indemnities .and no annexations.
– N - No penal indemnities.
– I give that qualification in.
– That seemed to satisfy the electors of Swan.
– The Labour party’s success in the Swan electorate was a mere windfall, which I shall not waste time in discussing.
Peace by negotiation was one of the conditions to be fulfilled before the Official Labour party would further participate in recruiting. The thirty-six gentlemen who sat in the Perth Conference earnestly “ recommended “ their followers throughout Australia to vote for the immediate suing for peace by negotiation without annexations and without penal indemnities. Almost like the perfume of attar of roses came the news that eastern States members of this Parliament headed. I am glad to say, by Senator Gardiner, in equally solemn and earnest fashion, asked Labour followers throughout Australia to vote “ No “ on the Conference recruiting resolution. Then, in the central State of Australia, Labour representatives, under the leadership of our old friend, Mr. Frank Lundie, with equal earnestness, urged their supporters to vote neither “Yes” nor “No,” but to leave things as they were - to say nothing at all. This, then, is the attitude of the Official Labour party to the Conference resolutions - “ Yes “ on the western side of the continent, “No” on the eastern side, and nothing at all in the centre. That party has not made up its own mind on the most vital question connected with the war, namely, the peace terms that so vitally affect the people of Australia.
In regard to- the condition of no annexation and no penal indemnities, I ask Senator Gardiner whether he desires that the German flag shall be hoisted once again in New Guinea and Samoa and the other islands which are at Australia’s front door? I would ask Senator O’Loghlin to say whether he would have the British flag hauled down and the German standard hoisted instead.
– All silent.
– No; but I would rather they were possessed by the Germans than by the Japanese.
– I .ask Senator O’Loghlin to say whether, if he had a vineyard in northern France which had been converted by the Germans into a blackened waste and a ruined home, and he were a member of the French Parliament instead of this Parliament, he would sue for peace by negotiation and without penal indemnities?
-Colonel O’Loghlin. - We are getting peace by negotiation now.
– (The attitude of honorable senators opposite shows the pass to which Official Labour has come through unworthy men -taking charge of a worthy movement - a movement that will live in spite of the unworthiness of its present leaders and their disregard for the true interests of this country, to use no stronger term. Peace by negotiation based on no annexa-‘ tions and no penal indemnities ! How can we concede those conditions unless we allow the German flag to float at Australia’s front door, and the Australian flag to be hauled down ? Is that what honorable senators opposite desire? If not, what do they want? They ask to be allowed to send delegates to the Peace Conference to obey the behests of their masters at the Perth Conference, which means that the German flag shall. again float over every island which Germany dominated before the peace of the world was disturbed. They will not admit that that is the logical meaning of the conference resolution, and therein lies the blatant hypocrisy of their attitude. I defy any man in this country to stand up and boldly proclaim that they desire the German flag to again float right at Australia’s door.
As to the plea for no indemnities which comes from men safe in their seats in this Senate, I remind the Senate that after the failure of the mighty German offensive against the Allied line on the Western Front, the only two parties in the world who wanted peace by negotiation were the Official Labour party in Australia and the Kaiser and his military autocracy in Germany. I am led to contrast the attitude of these so-called leaders of the Labour party in Australia with the attitude of Labour in the United States of America and Canada, and will these “ Johnny-come-latelies, these socalled Labour leaders in Australia, deny that the men in the forefront of the movement in America and Canada are just as intensely and vitallv concerned about the true interests of Labour as they themselves are? The pronouncements of the American leaders ring with the true note of Labour, not the false note that has rung of late and rung for over long in this country. According to the daily press of the 10th October last -
The American Federation of Labour announces that its attitude is one of complete opposition to any peace overtures at the present time, and that the enemy’s lines should be battered until the terms of peace are dictated in Berlin.
Had the Labour- leaders in Australia said that, had they kept in tune with Labour sentiment throughout the world, I should be amongst them still. On the same date the press reported that -
Mr. Moore, President of the Labour Congress in Canada, says that it is impossible for the Canadian Labour party to accept a peace which would betray the dead, and leave the possibility of new generations being engulfed in a new world catastrophe. Such a peace it would be if entered into with the military caste of Germany, with the praise of militarism still upon their lips.
In that message we distinguish the true spirit of Labour, reconciling the vital interests of the workers with the best welfare of their country. Had Labour in this country only spoken with the same patriotic intensity and earnestness, I should still be sitting in this Senate as a member of the parliamentary Labour party, which, instead of being the political outcasts of the Commonwealth, as they are now, would be still in charge of the Treasury bench to-day. Will any man dare to tell me that the two Labour authorities whom I have quoted are not as good Labour men as any who ever walked -in shoe leather, aye, and better than the so-called leaders of the Labour party in Australia?
Another fallacy that is being exploited to its utmost is that the Official Labour party’s war policy is identical with President Wilson’s fourteen points, and his attitude generally. That I flatly contradict; the two policies bear no resemblance. A cardinal feature of President Wilson’s conditions was expressed in the press of 25th October by his Secretary of State, Mr. Robert Lansing -
Feeling that the whole peace of the world depends now on plain speaking and straightforward action-
That is the point. What we lack in Australia is plain speaking and straightforward action - the President deems it his duty to say, without any attempt to soften what may seem harsh words, that the nations of the worlddo not, and cannot, trust the word of those who have hitherto been the masters of German policy, and to point out once more that in concluding peace, and attempting to undo the infinite injuries and injustices of this war, the Government of the United States cannot deal with any but veritable representatives of the German people who have been assured of a genuine constitutional standing as the real rulers of Germany.
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I have shown that President Wilson was not prepared to deal with or recognise the Kaiser, and the Official Labour party were. That is the vital point of difference between them.
– - In his intensely ‘ excited speech Senator Lynch made a number of strong misstatements. It might, therefore, be just as well to state a fact or two. The honorable senator had a good deal to say about the attitude of Labour on the question of “no indemnities and no annexations,” and carefully omitted the word “ penal “ before “ annexations,” until an interjection by Senator O’Loghlin compelled him to include it. He tried to make the Senate and the country - through so much of the reports of the Senate’s proceedings as get into the columns of the newspapers - believe something that actually did not take place. He tried to put into the mouth of the Official Labour party, as he calls it, or the Australian Labour party, as it really is, words that it did not use.
– The name was of your own choosing, by resolution; you are ashamed of your own name.
– It It was not of our choosing. These are old tricks of the honorable senator. Those who know him well do’ not take much notice of him when he gets into the intensely excited frame of mind that he displayed to-night.
The resolution finally adopted at the Perth Conference with regard to the ‘captured German Possessions, as shown in the official report of the conference, a document which anybody can purchase for a few pence, is as follows: -
That this Conference, representing the whole of the Australian Labour party, expresses its earnest hope that, in negotiating for peace, Britain will not be delayed or embarrassed by the statement that Australia insists on the retention of the captured Pacific Possessions.
Any one who understands English can differentiate that language from the language used by Senator Lynch.
– What is the meaning of it?
– I - Its meaning now, as it was in June, when things looked very different - perhaps Senator Lynch would not have been crowing so much in June as he is to-day - is that if there was a chance of a just and honorable peace, to which the Allies could agree, being brought about-
– By negotiation.
– Exa Exactly. Great Britain should not be delayed or embarrassed in the negotiations by the statement that Australia insisted on the retention of the captured Pacific Possessions. Do honorable senators opposite mean to say that if things had not turned out as they have, with such splendid victories as we have had of late, and that question had been the only bar to a just and honorable peace, a howl would not have gone .up from Australia in absolute indorsement of that policy ?
– Never !
– O - Of course it would.
The mover of the motion asks that the representatives of more than half the Australian people should have a voice at the Peace table.
– They do not represent half the Australian people to-day.
– On On the two occasions on which the most vital . question ever put before the people of this country for indorsement or rejection was decided, the present Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) was defeated, and defeated on the second occasion by a far bigger majority than on the first. We say to-day, as _ representing half, and more than half, of the people, that the present Prime Minister has no mandate from Australia to speak on behalf of Australia as a whole. That is the view, not only of the people on our side, but of some of the important newspapers in London. The London Daily News - a paper of some importance - said on 29th June-
Mr. Hughes’ speech to the London Chamber of Commerce has been greeted with acclamation by the Times and the Morning Post. That is entirely natural. But their praise makes the more necessary an explanation of Mr. Hughes’ own position. In what character did he make this speech, and in whose name was be speaking? Mr. Hughes has three claims tobe heard in this country. Though the war policy with which he is identified has been twice decisively defeated, he is still Prime Minister of Australia.
Honourble Senators. - Hear, hear!
– I - I am glad of those cheers, because . they enable me to point out that Mr. Hughes is still Prime Minister only because he valued his place and his pay above his word of honour as a public man; only because he put political power before his publicly pledged word to the people of Australia as a public man. On the second occasion, on the most vital issue that the people were ever asked to decide, he said to them,- “ Without this power the Government cannot continue to govern this country, and will not attempt to do so.” Within twentyfour hours of finding that he was defeated he resigned, but he walked out of one door and came in the next. He resigned, and had himself reinstated. It is only because of the most flagrant violation of the public word of a public man ever made by any prominent statesman in the world’s history that Mr. Hughes is Prime Minister to-day, and that his present colleagues are sitting on the Ministerial bench with him. That is well known to the people, and is well known to .the gentlemen sitting behind him in both branches of the Parliament, and they do not like it. Not one of his own supporters was found “ so poor to do him reverence.” Not one of them dared to attempt any reasonable justification for the attitude which he and his Government adopted, and which made him Prime Minister again, enabling him to go to London as the so-called mouthpiece of the
Australian people. He is no more the real mouthpiece of the people of Australia to-day than any other man in it. It cannot be too often repeated that he was twice decisively defeated on the greatest question ever put to the Australian people, the second time by a far bigger majority than the first. On the second campaign he told the people, “ Defeat me on this question, and I resign,” and their votes showed that they wanted him to resign. He tried to make it appear that he was keeping his word, by crawling out of one door as Prime Minister and crawling in at another, and then got himself sent to London as the mouthpiece of the Australian people.
– Mr. Fisher was defeated at a referendum.
– T - The honorable senator can rise in his place afterwards and defend Mr. Hughes and his Queensland police.
Another quotation showing the estimation in which Mr. .Hughes is held in London may be * interesting. He is not truly representative of the people of Australia, and he certainly does not represent the people of Great Britain. Yet this is the man who, according to the Ministerial party, represents the whole of the Australian people. The following paragraph appeared in the London Daily Chronicle of the 30th July last: -
Mr. LeesSmith, M.P., moved, and Mr. Chancellor, M.P.j seconded, the following resolution: “ The committee wish to draw the attention of Radicals throughout the country to the speeches of Mr. Hughes, Prime Minister of Australia, who has become the spokesman of the party of a fanatical Tariff war, which would be a death-blow to a league of nations. Mr. Hughes does not speak for the Democracy of Australia, where he is now discredited, and his interference in British party politics is a gross breach of the hospitality of this country.”
This journal knew the position; it knew that the Democracy of Australia had turned down Mr. Hughes.
– That is one of the free-trade “ rags “ of Great Britain.
– If If I were ‘ in Great Britain I probably would be a free trader, but in Australia, because of the difference in the environments, I am not. However, Mr. Hughes cannot claim to represent the Democracy of Australia, seeing that, when he took a vote of the people in December last on the biggest question that could be put to them, the majority voted against him. He certainly does not represent the views of the people of Great Britain, as I could show by quotations from half-a-dozen British papers.
– They are all freetrade “ rags “
– T - They do not forget the fact, which Senator Reid apparently would like to forget, that Mr. Hughes does not represent the people of A ustralia.
In the fifteen minutes allotted, to me on a motion of this kind I cannot deal with this question in all its phases. I would like to have had a little more time in order to show that the other extravagant statements to which Senator Lynch ha3 just given utterance are equally wrong. I can say, in conclusion, that if the people of Australia to-morrow had the chance they would declare by an overwhelming majority that, although they might leave Mr. Hughes in Europe to represent one portion of the people of this country, some other man should also go overseas in order to represent another portion of the people of the Commonwealth, which we claim to be the bigger portion. Mr. Hughes is only in Great Britain because he broke his word . as a pledge had never been broken before so flagrantly by any public man. He could not have got to Great Britain if he had kept his word. If he had not been guilty of a greater violation of political morality and public honour than is to be found on record in the history of the world’s politics, he would not have found himself in Great Britain to-day, where he is not representing even half of the people of Australia.
– The discussion we have had today in regard to the terms of peace has been anything but illuminating from many stand-points. It has occurred to me that the time is rapidly coming when we shall have in Australia a good many “ Bill Adams V” who will claim the credit for having won the war.
– Your party has done that long ago.
– The National party has done its best to win the war, and as a consequence of that best has added to the sum total of the might of the Allies in bringing about the present satisfactory position. In recalling the various public pronouncements made from time to time in connexion with what the Allies had been fighting for, one commences with a statement made by Mr. Asquith very early in the conflict concerning Great Britain’s main object in entering into the great struggle. Speaking from memory, I think his pronouncement was that Great Britain had been loath to unsheath the sword, but that she would not sheath it again until German militarism had been destroyed for ever, that there could be no compromise by meeting Germany on terms of equality at the conference table, that there could be no peace by negotiation, and that the world had to choose between the doctrines of “ might is right “ or “ right is might.” Following this pronouncement, we had a statement by Mr. Lloyd George on his accession to office, and which was made practically on behalf of Great Britain and France, that the rights of the small nations had to be protected, that Turkey in Europe had to disappear, and that various other international adjustments had to be made. We next had pronouncements by the British Labour party and the President of the United States of America, and ‘ultimately we had the Perth Labour Conference resolutions, which, in my opinion, were but a plagiarism or a hotchpotch of the various public pronouncements that had been made from time to time since the beginning of the war, added to by a good slice of wind pudding in order to tickle the ears of the electors of Australia. This was done at a time when the position was most depressing. When the Labour party met; in conference in June last the world was trembling, not knowing where the next blow of Germany would fall, and it did seem that the “bitter-enders” and those who would make no compromise with the enemy would possibly have to give way, and it may have been in the minds of some of the delegates at that celebrated conference that they might have to hedge a bit and make some sort of prophecy of policy that might turn out true, so that in some future election they might say to the Win-the-war party, “ If you had taken our advice you would have saved thousands of lives and millions of pounds.” In any case, no matter what might .have been in the minds of the delegates, there was no mistaking what they meant, for, as reported in the columns of the Age of 22nd June last, Mr. Arthur Hae - I do not suppose my friends opposite will say that he is not representative of the Official Australian Labour party - speaking immediately after the conference, said -
The highest duty of Australia is now to bring strong united pressure on the Imperial Government in the direction of peace. He did not propose to accept peace on German terms; but he proposed to talk over matters with her representatives on a basis of equality.
In view of the victorious ending which has how been achieved, that statement will never be forgotten by the electors of Australia. And had that advice been accepted, the result of peace by negotiation - as we know the Gorman temperament and character - would merely have postponed the termination of this struggle to the bitter end, and we would have been heaping up trouble for ourselves and our children again.
In my strong opinion, there can be no better representative of the Australian Democracy at the other end of the world to-day than the present Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). Indeed, in the whole of his public pronouncements, not only during his visit to England iti 1916, but in the course of his present visit also, he has led the thoughts of tlie people, and, perhaps, of many qf the statesmen of England, in the direction of a victory such as we have just accomplished. He has led the thoughts of Australia with regard to the retention by Australia, or by Allied control, of German Possessions in tlie Pacific. He has led the thoughts of
Australia in the direction that we should insist upon our own economic independence. And the Prime Minister represents to-day 95 per cent, of the thought of the whole of the electors of Australia. What better representative, consequently, can we have than the present Prime Minister, who has shown throughout the whole of his public speeches that he is, first and last, a patriotic Briton, that he believes thoroughly in the Empire, and that he has seen clearly the end.
– That is not what the honorable senator used to say about him.
– I have been honest in regard to my opinions of the actions of the Prime Minister in England. I witnessed much of the impression which he made upon that stolid, solid race in 1916. I had the honour of being attached, as a volunteer, by Mr. Lloyd George, to the Parliamentary Munitions Committee; and I was sent ,to many of the munitions factories throughout the Midlands, Lancashire, and Yorkshire, and I spent much time among the miners of South Wales, in order to help stimulate the workers in the great munitions campaign then being conducted. Portion of my duties also was to assist as best I could in the settlement of small disputes as they might arise. I was present to hear addresses delivered by the Australian Prime Minister before the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, and before the London Chamber of Commerce. I heard what he then had to say, and saw much of the stimulation which our Prime Minister had upon the British community in what were then very depressing times. We had but recently evacuated Gallipoli. Bulgaria had come in against the Allies. Greece was treacherous; and, altogether, the fortunes of the Allies were at a low ebb. When William Morris Hughes came among the British community, and, by directing the thoughts of the people along the proper channels, by enunciating the “ bitter end “ policy, and by insisting that we could not end the war until Germany had been defeated, he did a great deal to help forward the proper spirit of England. Many of us in England at that time thought that, whatever could be said with regard to the use made of Mr. Hughes by the Northcliffe press, our Prime Minister did more than any other individual to pave the way for the displacement of the Asquith Government and the incoming of Mr. Lloyd George, who has brought us now to -this glorious end. No man, knowing the conditions of England in 1915-16, could well have conceived that this great change could have been brought about, and that the British public could have been held to the grip of victory all the time, despite the many other influences at work. And, if we are to give the man his due, and take the proper perspective of the whole situation, “William Morris Hughes has done more than any other individual outside of England to win the war. I speak with some personal experience of what was going on in the Old Country at that dark time; and I repeat that the Prime Minister of Australia, by now insisting upon a Monroe doctrine for the South Pacific, and by claiming that we shall have economic independence in Australia in order that we may give preference to whom we like, and how we like, is voicing the opinions of 95 per cent, of the electors. And those opinions will carry weight, if pronounced at the Peace Conference, by the voice of William Morris Hughes, who has been consistent right through. It was he who was responsible for the Paris Conference economic resolutions; and I ask honorable senators opposite, do they agree that Australia must have economic independence? Do they agree that the German flag shall not again fly in the Pacific? Do they agree that Germany shall have no further jumping-off place from which to threaten our national safety ? If they agree with all that, then they must realize that the principle of the freedom of the seas has been already achieved under the present armistice terms. If ever there was a man who could voice our sentiments, by the strength of his grip on the British public, and by the strength of his personality and his clear sight, it is William Morris Hughes. He, I hope, will be the representative of Australia ; and he will represent Australia well.
-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [8.57]. - I would not have risen to speak but for the direct challenge of Senator Lynch as to my views upon two questions. First, however, I desire to indorse entirely the peace and war proposals of the Perth Labour Conference. Honorable senators who twit the Labour party for its advocacy of peace by negotiation forget to mention that the Labour party also laid down the conditions on which that peace should be entered into. Those conditions were the evacuation of invaded territories, the freedom of small nations, and reparation for injuries done. Those are practically the conditions upon which the terms of the armistice are now established, and I am not ashamed to stand upon any public platform in Australia and advocate them. The honorable senator also quoted Canada. Australia has no need to be ashamed in comparison with Canada or any other of the British Dominions as to what she has done towards the attainment of the termination of the war.
– Would the honorable senator agree to the evacuation of German New Guinea?
– W - With regard to German New Guinea, and to the Pacific Islands generally, I favour the dictum pronounced by the Prime Minister of England, Mr. Lloyd George, and indorsed, practically, by President Wilson, namely, that those Possessions should be placed under the control of an International Commission. And when I remember the number of interests in the Pacific, and the number of nations having Possessions there - France, Japan, Holland, America - it appears to me to be rather a large order to say that our little island should claim a dominant position in the disposal of those Possessions. Concerning Canada, I point out that that Dominion, with 70 per cent, more population than Australia, has sent only about 25 per cent, more troops. Canada has lost only 50,000 men - and that, after all, is the great test, because casualties are based upon different methods of calculation in different Armies. Canada has lost by death in action, and from wounds. 50,000 men.
– Order! I scarcely think that that comes under the heading of the motion at present under discussion.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN I am replying to a statement made by Senator Lynch, who challenged me on this question.
– Order ! It is true that Senator Lynch put forward the contention that the Labour party had not, as they claimed, any inherent right to separate representation at the Peace Conference. He pointed out the difference between the expressed opinions of the Canadian Labour party and those of the Australian Labour party, but he went no further. He did not attempt to compare the war efforts of the two countries, which have nothing to do with the representation of Labour at the Peace Conference.
– I - I do not know that the question of Canada’s position has anything to do with the question which we are discussing, and I should not have referred to it if Senator Lynch, who preceded me, had not directly challenged me with regard to it. We are assured that the British Labour party will be represented at the Peace Conference shortly to be held.
– If they remain, in the Government.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.What authority has the Minister for that statement?
– The authority of Mr. Lloyd George. In to-day’s press he is reported to have said that if the representatives of Labour remain in the Government, the question of their representation at the Peace Conference will be considered.
– T - There are only four members of the British Labour pa.ty in the British Coalition Government, and they have been requested to withdraw from it. They do not represent the great Labour party in Great Britain, and on the eve of a general election it remains to be seen whether the British Labour party will not insist upon being represented at the Peace Conference. If they are, surely the Labour movement in Australia, which has done so much to bring this war to a successful termination, is also entitled to some representation. I do not claim that it is entitled to the same representation that the great British Labour party, which is so far more numerous, should have, but it certainly should be represented. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), in respect of great issues that he has put before the country on two occasions, has been turned down by the majority of the people, and I do not think he is entitled to claim that he represents Australia, since he represents only a section of the people.
– I do not propose to discuss the general question, since it has already been ably dealt with by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Millen), but I shall “deal with certain phases of it arising out of the claims put forward, in the course of this debate, for the representation of the Official Labour party at the Peace Conference. I use the word “ Official “ deliberately, and with that distinction I assert that Labour will be represented at the Peace Conference, and represented by one of the greatest men that the Labour movement in Australia has ever produced. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) is still a Labour man in a broader sense than any of those who now masquerade under the guise of Official Labourites, and he carries with him, moreover, the support not only of the Liberal electors of this country, but of thousands of sterling Labour voters who never vote but for Labour, and who followed the lead of Mr. Hughes and others of us because we were true to our country.
Let us examine some of the contentions that have been advanced as to why the Official Labour party should have special representation at the Peace Conference. Dealing, first of all, with the last honorable senator to advance that claim, I would point out that Senator O’Loghlin, in defending the various conditions laid down by the Perth Official Labour Conference as to the terms upon which peace negotiations should proceed, put forward the singular argument that one of those terms was the evacuation of invaded territory and that that had been secured as a condition of the armistice. It is true that it has been laid down as one of the conditions of the armistice in the sense that the Allies have said to Germany, to Turkey, and to Austria, “You shall evacuate within fourteen days all invaded territory.” But the Allies have gone further, and have said, “ We claim the right to invade and hold your territory until the peace terms are adopted.” Will Senator O’Loghlin have the temerity to tell me that that ig what the Perth Official Labour Conference urged as a basis for peace negotiations. What that Conference urged was that the British troops must withdraw from Palestine and hand back Palestine to Turkey; that we should withdraw from German New Guinea, and also from the German colonies in Africa.
– T - That is only the Minister’s version.
– In what respect am 1 wrong ? Are we again in the fog to which Senator Lynch referred? Does not the Official Labour party know what the Perth Conference really meant? Did it mean that Germany only was to evacuate invaded territory? If it did, why did it not say so? T rely upon Senator O’Loghlin as an authority upon the question, and he has told us that under the terms of that resolution all invaded territory was to be evacuated. I take it that he meant that to include territory invaded, not only by the Germans, but by the Allies. The difference between that condition and the condition as to evacuation, which forms .part of the terms of the armistice, is as different as day is from night.
– B - Both Mr. Lloyd George and President Wilson said that they did not want an inch of any other country’s territory.
– And through Marshal Foch they have said to Ger: many, “We shall hold your territory on the Rhine.” At the present moment the Allied troops are marching to the Rhine.
– They are not. There is to be a strip of neutral territory 30 miles wide.
– Senator Long should refresh his geographical knowledge. If he examines the map he will see that both banks of the Rhine are in German territory, and that Cologne, Coblenz, and Mayence, which are to be held by the Allied troops, are all in German territory.
It was also said by Senator O’Loghlin that the British Labour party was to be represented at the Peace Conference. It is to be represented in exactly the same way that Labour in Australia will be represented - it will be represented by Labour men who, putting their country before their party, stood behind the British Government in its determination to see the war through to victory. If any Labour representatives are at the Peace Conference it will be those who are to-day in the British Cabinet. I make that statement on the authority of a speech made by Mr. Lloyd George, and reported in to-day’s newspapers. British Labour representation will consist, not of Mr. Henderson, who left the British Cabinet, but of Labour men who remained in that Cabinet, who are in it to-day, and who were determined to see the war brought to a victorious close.
When Senator Lynch used the term, “ indemnities,” he was corrected and told that the Official Labour party were not opposed to indemnities, but were against penal indemnities. I would advise honorable senators opposite to make themselves familiar with the meaning of the words they use before they commit themselves to such statements. If honorable senators desire to have the technical meaning of the word “ indemnity,” then, according to Webster’s International Dictionary, it means, “Protection or exemption from loss or damage past or to” come; compensation or remuneration for loss, damage, or injury sustained; penal punishment or pertaining to punishment; designed to impose punishment.” That being so, the Official Labour party are against an indemnity which is compensation for injury- or damage done and is in the nature of a punishment. That, [ take it, is their meaning.
– Certainly not. . ‘
– Then what is it? I have given the Senate the plain English meaning of the word, as supplied in Webster’s International Dictionary, and if that is wrong they cannot blame us if we misunderstand them. Before using words in this loose fashion they should publish a dictionary of their own.
– A - A penal indemnity is such .an indemnity as Germany imposed upon France in 1871.
– The plain English meaning of indemnity is, “ Compensation in the nature of punishment.” Let us examine this matter. Australia did not commence this war, or seek it, but she went into it, and there is not an honorable senator on the other side who will say that she was not justified in doing so. They all say that they believe that Australia was justified in taking up the sword in this war. We have in this country, as a result of our participation in the war, involved the taxpayers in a debt that will amount to from £300,000,000 to £400,000,000 before we are through.
– Now we are getting to business.
– Who is to pay that debt?
– Hear, hear! That is what we want to know.
– The Government have made the workers pay it up to now.
– If honorable senators opposite are against indemnities in the nature of compensation the people who will have to pay that debt are, to use Senator Barnes’ own language, the workers of this country.
– I am aware of that, if the present Government continue to run the country.
– The party opposite who pretend to represent the workerssay that the workers of Germany shall not be called upon to pay this debt, but the workers of Australia shall be called upon to pay it.
– The Government, by their amusements tax, say that the kiddies of Australia shall pay it.
– I have stated the true position which the party pretending to represent the workers of this country are taking up by committing themselves to the principle that there shall be no penal indemnities.
I come now to Senator Barnes’ contention that the terms put forward by the Official Labour party at State Conferences - I will not trouble about the Inter-State Conference if the honorable senator does not wish me to do so - bear a very close resemblance to’ President Wilson’s fourteen points. For the sake of my argument, 1 will assume that they are identical. That ought to suit Senator Barnes. Now let us examine the difference between the attitude of President Wilson towards the war, and that of the Official Labour party in Australia. President Wilson put forward his fourteen points, and said, “ These are the principles for which America is fighting in this war.” And when the March offensive failed, and Germany saw disaster coming, she said, “ We are prepared to negotiate on the basis of your fourteen points. We are prepared to accept them.” The Official Labour party of Australia put forward their fourteen, or forty or fifty points, as the basis for negotiations for peace. Now let us see the vital difference between their attitude and that of President Wilson. When Germany said to President Wilson, “ We are prepared to negotiate with you on the basis of your fourteen points,” he said, “ I refer you to Marshal Foch “ ; and when they went to Marshal Foch, he replied to them in the terms of the armistice, “ Unconditional surrender.”
– He ne - He never used the words.
– What do the terms of the armistice mean ? It is possible to include the whole of them, in those two words. The difference between President Wilson’s attitude and that of the Official Labour party in Australia is that when the latter’s terms were put forward Germany was advancing and winning. Germany was getting near to the heart of France; her armies were close to Paris, and had the Allies then said to Germany, “ We are prepared to negotiate on the basis of President Wilson’s points, or on the fourteen points of the Official Labour party of Australia,” what would have been the reply of the German Government? It would have been exactly similar to the reply which President Wilson gave to them. Germany would have said, “ If you want to negotiate, we refer you to Field Marshal Hindenburg.” That would have been their reply. If the Australian Official Labour party’s attitude had been adopted by the Allies, to-day instead of an unconditional surrender by Germany, we should have had an unconditional surrender by the Allies, ‘and Germany dictating terms to the world. That shows the difference between the two positions.
The fatal error, blunder, or insanity which the Official Labour party of Australia committed on that occasion was that by proclaiming their willingness to negotiate with the German Army that was victorious at that juncture they showed that they were prepared to place themselves under the heel of the militarist class in Germany. Honorable senators opposite denounce militarism, and yet by their own action the party to which they belong was prepared to hand over the world to the power of militarism for ever. They said that there should be peace by negotiation. Germany said that there should be peace by negotiation. She has it. Is that the sort of peace that we wanted for this country ? Russia said that she wanted peace by negotiation, and she obtained it. If we had negotiated with Germany, is there any doubt as to what the terms would have been ? We have been told by German statesmen what the terms would have been. They have told us in unmistakable terms that were flashed throughout the length andbreadth of the world what their terms were - Belgium must never again be allowed to be a threat to Germany; the Channel ports must be held; a considerable portion of Eastern France must be attached to Germany; Palestine must be restored to Turkey; the German colonies must be restored to Germany, and the most important British Naval stations throughout the world were to be handed over to Germany. Those were the terms that were announced by a responsible German Minister at the time.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I wish to remind honorable senators on the other side who endeavour to ignore the Labour party in Australia that only a few days ago the Kaiser arrogated to himself the right to speak for the people of Germany, and to-day the people of that country are speaking for themselves in an unmistakable manner. If the party opposite proceed in the way they are doing it is very doubtful what may take place in some British communities that we know of. If they think that the workers of this country will tamely submit year after year to their kind of legislation they will be as much deceived as the Kaiser is to-day. Only a few days ago kings, dukes, and other persons of that description were plentiful in Germany. I think there were twentytwo of them, but where are they to-day ? You can buy them for a few pence each. If honorable senators opposite think that the workers of this country can be ignored in the way they suggest, they will find themselves very much deceived, possibly in the near future.
The men who left Australia, not to talk, but to fight, were mainly drawn from the workers. We all know as a fact that the union element which is the basis of the Labour movement here has been the most largely represented element in the Australian Imperial Force. One union alone - the Australian Workers Union - has sent more than 30,000 members to the Front; and yet honorable senators opposite propose that Labour shall have no representation whatever at the Peace table. If the figures can be obtained, as I dare say they will in the near future, it will be found that the members of the Australian Imperial Force included possibly 250,000 members of Australian trade unions; and yet we are told that after all their sacrifices they are to have no representation. I trust that the Government will see the folly of attempting to put a proposal of this kind into effect, quite regardless of what the British Government or any other Government may do.
Some question has been raised here as to the attitude of honorable senators on this side on the question of disputed territories.
– We should all like to know that attitude.
– I can tell the honorable senator that if he imagines that the workers of the country will tolerate the taxation of children’s amusement tickets, while large land-owners of his type, are let off scot-free, he is very much mistaken; and as soon as the Labour party comes into power-
– Order !
– It is just as’ well to remind some honorable senators of the true position. As I say, honorable senators opposite are anxious to know our attitude in regard to New Guinea, the Pacific Islands, and the German Possessions in Africa. So far as I am concerned, I believe in getting all I can, and holding on to all I have got; and that, I think, is the policy of Great Britain. Shortly after the war broke out. Great Britain annexed Egypt for good - 1,000,000 square miles of country - and I think that, when the war terminates, although we cannot say what the Allies may agree to, we shall find Great Britain holding fast to New Guinea, nearly all l.he Pacific Islands, German East Africa, and South- West Africa, together with a few other places. Personally, I- hope that Alsace-Lorraine will be restored to France, and I should not mind if Luxemberg were also attached to that country. Further, it might be well if the Allies held on to the neutral zone on the right side of the Rhine; but later on, when the workers in that part of the world develop the same opinion as I hold, they will compel the land-owners there-
– Order !
– Much objection has been raised to the attitude of the Labour party towards recruiting and war in general. So far as I can ascertain, the attitude of the party outside Parliament towards the resolutions of the Perth Conference is somewhat of a hostile character. I cannot speak with authority for Victoria. but in South Australia the Labour party outside Parliament carried this resolution -
That we stand by the voluntary system, and that it be left solely to the individual as to whether he shall enlist or assist on the recruiting platform.
That was a definite expression of opinion by the South Australian Labour party at their annual conference this year, and according to a newspaper report of the proceedings -
It was decided not to accept the recommendation of the Perth Labour Conference regarding a ballot of members of affiliated organizations, and, as far as South Australia is concerned, no further action will bc taken in this matter. The consensus of opinion here is that the taking of the ballot cannot produce any tangible result, and members generally were opposed to the idea of voting on a ballot slip which contains a recommendation as to how the individual should vote.
That decision, I think, crystallizes the position in South Australia. I have seen reports in the press, and I think, also, in a circular issued by Senator Guy, as secretary of the Tasmanian Labour party, to the effect that no action would be taken in that State with reference to the ballot. It will be seen that in South Australia and Tasmania the Labour movement has taken no part in the ballot. We must remember that Tasmania has all along sent a very fair proportion of Labourites into this Chamber and the other branch of the Legislature, and the same may be said of South Australia.
In the case of New South Wales, returns of the ballot which has been in progress for some time past have not been published, and, therefore, I cannot give final figures. I am inclined to think, however, that on occasions the facts in regard to the ballot have been wrongly reported. I was present at a meeting of the Annandale branch of the Labour League when a vote was taken, and I know the figures. In the Sunday Times report of that proceeding, it was stated that there were 222 on the “ Yes “ side and 1 on the “ No “ side ; and I have no hesitation in saying that that report was absolutely incorrect, inasmuch as the figures given did not represent the actual figures in the slightest degree.
There is a vigorous Labour League in Rozelle, New South Wales, which carried the following resolution : -
That the executive be informed, with all due respect, that in the opinion of the Rozelle branch of the Australian Labour party, the taking of the ballot recommended by the Perth Labour Conference is detrimental to the best interests of Labour, being indiscreet, injudicious, and ‘inexpedient, and whether resolved in the affirmative or the negative is calculated to bring the Australian Labour movement into contempt, contumely, and disrepute.
That branch of the Labour League has always returned Labour men to the State Parliament, and nearly always to the other branch of this Legislature, while they have given a substantial majority of votes to the Labour senatorial candidates. The Sydney Labour Council, representing the whole of the unions in that State, carried the following resolution : -
That we recommend the Australian Labour party to withdraw their war ballot, owing to the Government interfering with the ballot by instructing Mr. D. K. Picken, Director of War Propaganda, to issue leaflet1! to all unions and leagues.
The Dalley and Cook Federal Council carried the following motion: -
That this council protests, through the State Executive, to the Federal Executive against the form in which the resolution on recruiting has been placed before the people . of this State, as iE does not express the workingclass attitude towards the war.
– What is all this intended to prove ?
– It is intended to prove that the attitude of Labour has not been correctly interpreted by the action of the delegates at the Perth Conference. The Sydney Sun, of 9th October, referring to the attitude of the Bricklayers Union, stated -
The Bricklayers Union will discuss the Australian Labour party’s war ballot on Monday evening next. The ‘subject was discussed on 30th September last, and referred to a” special meeting in conjunction with the One Big Union scheme. At that meeting, however, the Australian Labour party’s ballot was not considered, and was again deferred until Monday evening next.
I am not sin e what became of the subject so far as that union is concerned, but I know that the Locomotive and Enginedrivers and Firemen’s Union turned the war ballot down, a communication from the Australian Labour party executive on the subject being simply received.
– Order ! The honorable sena- tor has exhausted his time.
.- 1 have listened attentively to the arguments of honorable senators opposite, and I must confess that they have not been at all definite. The Peace Conference will settle great international principles, but, so far as I can see, no principles of either the Nationalist or. the Labour parties are at stake. It seems to me, therefore, that a demand for the representation of party views at the Peace table is asking a great deal too much. But I think honorable senators opposite are not very much in earnest when they suggest that the interests of Australia cannot be adequately represented by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). As a matter of fact, with the exception of Senator Barnes’ references to the economic resolutions of the Paris Conference, they have not attempted to show that the attitude of the Prime Minister is inconsistent with the interests of Australia, I suppose, however, thai the motion before the Senate will serve its purpose; but I should like to say that it would have been a great calamity if the resolutions of the Perth Conference had been given effect to, because those resolutions were passed at the very time when our national life seemed to be hanging by a thread; when everything seemed- to be going against the Allied Powers, and. German propaganda for peace by negotiation was being distributed through the Allied countries. Happily, character is discovered when th« severest strain is placed upon a people, and, in my judgment, the Official Labour party of Australia evinced a lamentable weakness at that particular time by their “ No-yes “ attitude on such a vital question. Personally, I have always been totally opposed to any negotiation with Germany-
– Then you would not go to the Peace Conference at all ?
– Not until they had been totally defeated. T should like to remind Senator Gardiner that to-day we did not hear anything about the “ Winthewar party ‘ ‘ - a phrase which he has been using so frequently of late. No doubt, he recognises that but for this Win-the-war party, not only in Australia, but throughout the Empire, the Democracies of the world would, before now, have been annihilated.
– Surely you do not claim all this credit for what your miserable party have done during the last eighteen months?
– It stopped negotiations with Germany, anyhow.
– The attitude of the Government has been all that could have been expected of them. Senator Gardiner has not been able to bring forward one argument against them, though he has so often sneered at the Government as the “ Win-the-war party.”
– That is because, although you believe in a certain policy, you had not the courage to give effect to it, even with a majority in both Houses.
– Senator Gardiner knows that, so far as conscription was concerned, we had to obey the will of the people. If we had entered into negotiations with the German military authorities we would have sacrificed all that Australia had been fighting for. Possibly we would have surrendered the islands of the Pacific, and territory taken from Germany in Africa.
– Stick to the lot. Then, perhaps, you will be satisfied.
– While the resolutions of the Perth Conference might speak for the Official Labour party of Australia, they do not speak for the Labour parties in Africa, Canada, or New Zealand. The retention of Samoa is necessary for the safety of New Zealand, and likewise our occupation of New Guinea is necessary for the safety of Australia, and I am strongly in favour of this course. As a Democracy we endeavour to pass just laws for our own people, and I am satisfied that whatever Government may be in power, they can be trusted to do justice to the natives of New Guinea. It is a burden that we should willingly shoulder, not only for -the benefit of the native inhabitants of the island, but for the welfare of Australia.
I come now to the representation of the Commonwealth in London by Mr. Hughes. Personally, I am exceedingly pleased that he is there. I am a very strong Imperialist, because I believe that the British race possesses a genius for colonization. In this respect, her position amongst the nations of the world is a unique one. Mr. Hughes possesses an Imperial outlook, and I venture to say that his utterances represent the views which are entertained by 90 per cent, of the people of Australia.
– He has said that the British Government is not the Imperial Government.
– I am speaking of his presence in London. He is vigorous enough and courageous enough to speak on behalf of Australia in the centre of the Empire when he. believes that our interests are being overlooked. I agree with the views which he has expressed on Imperial matters, and I think that his presence in London will make, not merely for the benefit of Australia, but for the benefit of the Empire. Australia has no better friend than he is. However much honorable senators opposite may disagree with him on matters of domestic policy, they cannot question his Imperial outlook.
– I am rather sorry to see him harassing the British Government when they are engaged in such delicate negotiations.
– I do not think that he has interfered with the Imperial authorities in any of their negotiations. We have to bear in mind that there is always a disposition on the part of British statesmen to adopt an insular view. Many of the members of the present Government are unfortunately afflicted in that way. In my judgment we ought to experience a feeling of pleasure in the knowledge that the Empire will be so strongly represented at the Peace Conference. It has earned that right, and it has paid for it. Consequently the Empire will be in a position to speak in the name of freedom on behalf of the races which, I hope, will be brought under its protection. I trust that not only Palestine, Syria., and Mesopotamia, but all that Eastern country, will be brought under the protection of the Union Jack. My honorable friends opposite are loyal enough, but they view, this matter from a wrong angle.’ If the countries to which I have referred are brought under the British Crown, they will have more chance of working out their own destinies than will otherwise be the case.
– W - Why not under their own Governments ?
– My honorable friends opposite may take Australia as a magnificent example of self-government. Or they may select Canada, or Egypt which proved one of the saviours of the Empire by providing bases for us in this terrible crisis. The British race is the only race which is capable of establishing selfgovernment amongst the people of Palestine, Syria, and Arabia.
– The British authorities have not granted Ireland selfgovernment.
– That is entirely her own fault. However, I have no desire to be led into a discussion of the domestic policy of the United Kingdom. It is becauseI am a Democrat, and because I believe the people of the countries I have mentioned are looking for selfgovernment, that I hope to see them brought under the protection of the British flag. The Imperial authorities at the Peace Conference, and Mr. Hughes, with his broad. Imperial outlook, as the representative of Australia, will see that these countries obtain self-government.
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Our Standing Orders will not permit me, in the limited time at my disposal, to reply to all the criticisms which have been directed against this motion. I shall, therefore, content myself with a brief reference to one or two of those criticisms. If this discussion has accomplished nothing else, it has placed a few honorable senators opposite on their defence. It has caused them to urge excuses for having left the Australian Labour party, and associated themselves with a party which, if it had its way, would have prevented the Government accomplishing half as much in the prosecution of this war as it has accomplished. In his speech this afternoon the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) very adroitly attempted to compare the conditions laid down in the armistice which has been con- ‘ eluded with Germany with the fourteen points affirmed by President Wilson in regard to peace terms. In that way he sought to cloud the issue. My motion refers specifically to the representation of Australia at the Peace Conference. Australia was not represented at the Conference which took place at Versailles to determine the armistice conditions, and there is no man who knows better than does Senator Pearce that, at the Peace Conference, the whole of the points determined by the armistice will have to be worked out in detail. Why, then, did the honorable gentleman seek to confuse the issue in the way that he did? Senator Lynch, too, who has . left the Australian Labour party, and who arrived here to-day, addressed himself to this question. We were all glad to again hear his sonorous, if not mellow, voice. He has just come from a campaign in Western Australia, in which the resolutions of the Perth Conference were a vital issue, yet the electors of Swan returned the Official Labour candidate.
– By one-third of the votes cast !
– If . Senator Pearce reckons up the votes cast, for Mr. Basil Murray and Mr. Hedges, he will find that the Government candidate was defeated by two to one. Another senator who has left the Labour party waxed very wrath when speaking to this motion. Senator de Largie, as well as Senators Lynch and Pearce, asked what was the attitude of the Official Labour party in regard to German colonies. Let me read again resolution No. 4 of the Perth Conference. It is this -
That where an amicable arrangement cannot be reached by the Peace Conference in regard to captured colonies and dependencies, such territories shall toe placed provisionally under international control.
Mr. Lloyd George has said that ;
The German colonies are held at the disposal of a Conference whose decisions must have primary regard to the wishes and interests of the native inhabitants.
President Wilson has demanded -
Free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, with the interests of the population concerned having equal weight with the claims of the Government.
The British Labour party has declared that-
All disputes must be submitted to an inter national High Court. All States must enter into a solemn agreement to make common cause against any State failing to adhere to this agreement.
Senator- Pratten made the statement that the resolutions of the Perth Conference savoured of plagiarism; ‘but over two years ago the New South Wales Labour Conference drafted practically the same proposals as were indorsed by the InterState Labour Conference at Perth. Senators de Largie, Pearce, and Lynch referred to the State Conferences as representing only sections of the Labour movement; but it is not much more than two years since those senators would have regarded the State Conferences differently, and would have bowed to the will of the Inter-State Conference. I have merely to add that, on moving the motion, I was careful not to introduce party feeling, and I am sorry that acrimony was shown by some of my ex-colleagues. I hold that when the Peace Conference assembles, representatives of Australian Labour in this Parliament, elected by the people of Australia, should have a voice in its decisions.
Question resolved in the negative.
Armistice with Germany : Address to His Majesty the King.
– Accompanied by honorable senators, I this afternoon, on the steps of . Parliament House, presented to His Excellency the Governor-General, for presentation to His Majesty the King, the address agreed to by the Senate yesterday. His Excellency was pleased to reply in the following terms: -
It is with feelings of deep emotion that on this the greatest day in the history of our Empire I receive the addresses in which both Houses of the Australian Parliament express their sentiments of loyalty to His Majesty the King, and tender their congratulations on the great victory which, after four and a quarter years of desperate fighting, has crowned the arms of the Allies.
Australia remembers with pride the part played by her sons in the mighty struggle, and, having borne her share of the heat and burden of the day, she rejoices _ with proud thankfulness in the overwhelming success achieved, under God’s Providence, by the relentless pressure of the Navy, the heroic valour of the soldiers, and by the patient tenacity of the peoples of the British Empire and of the Allies.
I shall have the honour, Mr. President, of forthwith transmitting to His Majesty the King the loyal message which von have tendered to me on behalf of the Senate.
Service on Queensland Coast.
asked the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are -
District Allowance - Increments
asked the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The Department of the Treasury has furnished the following information : -
Marconi Coy. Ltd. v. The Commonwealth.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
If he will lay upon the table of the Senate all papers and reports in connexion with the High Court case of Marconi Coy. Ltd. against the Commonwealth Government, settled in 1914?
– This is a responsibility of the Acting Minister for the Navy, who has charge of all matters relating to wireless telegraphy in the Commonwealth.
asked the Minister for
Defence, upon notice -
If the Government will instruct the Royal Commission on Naval and Defence Administration now inquiring into matters relating to the purchase of the Shaw wireless works at Randwick, New South Wales, to extend their investigation so as to include all the circumstances governing the settlement of the lawsuit between the Commonwealth Government and Marconi Wireless Company in respect to alleged patent infringement in 1914?
– The matter referred to in the concluding portion of the honorable member’s question was dealt with in the Postmaster-General’s Department, and therefore would not properly come within the scope of the investigations of the Royal Commission on, Navy and Defence administration. It was completed about eighteen months before the purchase of the Shaw wireless works.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the Government have taken any action to regulate the importation of certain classes of goods; and, if so, why?
-Owing to the shortage of shipping and necessity for conserving national resources, the importation of certain classes of goods has been regulated.
Fruit and Vegetable Fund for Fighters’ Families
asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice- -
– The following replies have been supplied by the Minister for Repatriation: -
– I lay on the table a statement of the exports of Australian goods to Ja,pan, asked for on the 1st instant by Senator Keating.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
– I move -
That so much of tho Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its remaining stages without delay.
The Government propose that if this motion is assented to, the first reading, which is a purely formal stage, shall be taken to-night. and that then the Minister shall make his speech in moving the second reading, after which the debate shall be adjourned until to-morrow. There is justification for this course in the fact that the Bill contains no principles that are new to the community. All its principles are well understood, and many of them are in operation in various States of the Commonwealth. Honorable senators are, in fact, thoroughly familiar with the provisions of the Bill, and the debate on the second reading may therefore very well proceed to-morrow.
Senator GARDINER (New South
Wales) [10.3]. - I ask the Minister not to adopt this unreasonable attitude in regard to such an important measure as a Bill providing for the representation of the people. After 10 o’clock at night we are asked to suspend the Standing Orders in order to allow of the Bill being passed through all its stages with the rapidity desired by the Government. The Minister, in moving this motion, gave no information which would justify such a drastic action. The existing system of conducting elections has stood the test of sixteen years’ experience, and surely at 10 o’clock at night the Government can well afford to deal with an alteration of the system in the ordinary course of parliamentary business without resorting to the extraordinary procedure of suspending the Standing Orders. The Minister said that the Bill introduces no new principle. I venture to say that the explanation of the Government’s desire for expedition in dealing with the Bill is that it contains a new principle which they wish to hurry into adoption in time for a coming by-election. That is the very great principle of securing the representa’tion of majorities, a principle with which I am in accord, in so far as it aims at insuring that in future members of the Commonwealth Parliament shall not sit as the representatives of a minority of the electors in their constituencies. Has the CSMinister overlooked the fact that it is because he desires this new principle to operate in an election that will take place in a few weeks he has moved for the suspension of the Standing Orders ? Is it not beneath the dignity of the National party and of Australia’s Parliament that the Standing Orders should be suspended at this hour of night in order that for party purposes a split vote at the coming election may be avoided 1
– The honorable senator seems to assume that the supporters of the National party are in the majority in the Corangamite electorate.
– I do not assume anything of the kind.
– Then would not a system of preferential voting insure the success of the Labour party’s candidate if the Labour supporters are in a majority ?
– I believe that the Labour candidate will succeed no matter under what system the election is conducted.
– Then there can be no objection to the new principle.
– The objection is to Parliament altering the system of election after the issue of the writ. I think that common-sense supporters of the Government will admit that, but for the result of the Swan by-election, there would have been no motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders in order that an Electoral Bill might be dealt with in a hurry. The Government are very much concerned, because the gentleman who will enter another place to represent the Swan constituency was elected on a minority vote; but is there any reason to believe that even had this Bill been in operation, the National party would have won the seat?
– There is no doubt about that.
– On the election figures it is clear that the result of the election under a system of preferential voting would have been the return of either the Labour candidate or the Country party’s candidate, who came second at the poll. But assume that a minority of the electors is represented, and although there have been minorities represented in every Parliament since Federation, the Government now propose to suspend the Standing Orders in order to avoid a repetition of such happenings, and in the hope of preventing the tide of victory turning against them at the Corangamite by-election.
The Bill contains more than 200 clauses; many of its provisions are new to the people of the Commonwealth, and there are many proposed amendments of existing law that every honorable senator should have an opportunity of reading before even the motion for the second reading is made. Many of us have availed ourselves of the opportunity of getting copies of the Bill from another place, but we have had no opportunity of considering the measure as it has reached us, and surely the Senate does not intend to surrender its position as a deliberative assembly bv suspending the Standing Orders after 10 o’clock at night in order that the Government may place the Bill before us immediately. If the Minister, in moving the second reading, puts all the provisions of the Bill before us to-night, those that are new, those that are old, and those that revert to old conditions, shall I be in a position to speak on the second reading to-morrow after a sitting that has already been protracted? Is there any reason for the suspension of the Standing Orders? If the Senate cannot do its business in the ordinary sitting days, let the Government add to the number of sitting days.
– You suspended the Standing Orders yourself to-day.
– To prevent this Bill being introduced.
– I have done nothing to-day for which the Standing Orders do not provide. I ask the Government and Parliament to keep to their Standing Orders.
– The Standing Orders provide for this motion.
– Sena’tor Gardiner rose to-day to suspend the Standing Orders to enable Senator Needham’s motion to be debated.
– 1 may- have supported Senator Needham in complying with the Standing Orders, in asking for a discussion on a most important and urgent question. No analogy can be drawn between the two cases. The Standing Orders provide that the discussion on a motion such as that tabled by Senator Needham can last only for three hours. Therefore it cannot interrupt the business of the Senate for a longer period, but Senator Pearce is now asking the Senate within five minutes of receiving a Bill of 220 clauses to suspend the Standing Orders hurriedly in order that it may be passed through all its stages without interruption. He proposes to make one concession to honorable senators on that side as well as on this, bec’ause, after all, this is no party measure. I venture to say that on the question of securing the effective representation of majorities, as many proportionately on this side as on that support it. If the Bill stopped at that, we could well settle it at a sitting, but it goes infinitely further. It deals with the most difficult questions affecting the representation of the people. Behind all that is a point that we must not lose sight of. I understand that a writ has been issued to-day to conduct a certain election. Is the Senate going to suspend its Standing Orders in order to pass a Bill that will enable one party to win that election? If the Government secure the suspension of the Standing Orders, we do not know what amendments they may introduce, not to enfranchise, but to disfranchise the people. Even if. the suspension of the Standing Orders would give us a model Electoral Act, the principle is altogether bad.
– What is this - a “ stone-wall “?
– I have not been speaking seven minutes on the most important and serious question that we have yet had to deal with in this Parliament, and I meet with that almost insulting remark. When the honorable senator knows me better he will realize that there are times when my duty calls on me to debate questions most seriously, and those times generally come when I see an attempt made to effect an inroad on the liberties of the people. If ever an attack was made for infamous purposes on the law dealing with the election of members to this Parliament, that attack is being made now by a Government which, after the issue of the writ, deliberately moves to suspend the Standing Orders in order to alter the conditions under which the pending election is to be held. We may yet have a Government which, following the bad example of the present Government, in suspending the Standing Orders and preventing a discussion to which we are entitled-
– This motion will not prevent any discussion, and you know it.
– If that is so, let us deal with the Bill in the ordinary course of business. If the Government’s experience of this side of the Senate has been such that they have been subjected to unreasonable opposition, if we have ever interfered with the proper conduct of business, if we have not met the Go- ‘ vern ment more than half-way in all their business proposals, if the Government have found it necessary to take this step because they cannot get their business through, I say to them, “ Continue what you are doing/’ but the records will show that the Government have never reasonably asked on any occasion for the suspension of the Standing Orders during the life-time of this Parliament without having it granted by us without a word of complaint. Possibly the Government, sure of the subservient following of their own party, are absolutely certain that they can reckon on every member behind them voting as a piece of machinery when they press the button.
– How do you know that?
– The Government would not have moved a motion of this kind at 10 o’clock at night unless they knew.
– We have not seen the Bill yet.
– Within five minutes of tlie Bill being put before us, this infamous proposal is sprung on us.
It is because of the existence of a subservient following behind the Government that such an impudent motion is moved. I say. this because I cannot imagine any Government taking such a course if they had a party of independent thinkers behind them prepared to protect, as it should be the duty of every member of Parliament to protect, the purity of the Act by which men are elected to Parliament. Nothing can be more important. The very basis of our representative institutions is that the electoral law shall not be manipulated for party purposes. This is the first time in the history of the Federal Parliament that I have ever heard of an attempt to alter the whole machinery by which members are elected to Parliament, merely to meet the case of a by-election. Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that the Government lost the Swan election on a minority vote. I am not conceding that point; but in order to meet their argument, let me assume that the Government may lose the Corangamite seat under the same conditions. Even if they do, the Government party is big and strong enough to suffer a loss of that kind under an unsatisfactory Electoral Act, and when the general election comes they will prevent anything of the kind taking place. The fact is that the Government feel they have the power and are going to use it. They propose to suspend the Standing Orders within a few minutes after the Senate has received a Bill, which it is entitled to consider for at least a week before being asked to dis- cuss it, unless parliamentary business has become the art of rushing legislation through without due consideration. If that is what Parliament meets for, the Government are justified in suspending the Standing Orders.
The Government are in the happy position of having considered the Bill time after time. The Minister in charge of it has had it before the Cabinet more than once, and the Government have had the advantage of a good deal of discussion upon it. When it comes to a question of Parliament being asked to consider it - and it is the duty of the Government to protect the liberties of Parliament and the rights of its members - instead of asking Parliament to devote to it their best energies, brains, and thought, they say, “ We will give you no time to develop your ideas on the measure, and not even the opportunity to read it. You must vote on it before you have had time to read its provisions.” I say that advisedly, because there will be no time to read it before this motion is dealt with,, because if this motion is carried, we shall only have the time between the Minister’s speech and whenwe meet to-morrow in which to peruse the most important Bill that has been submitted to us during this Parliament.
– Why does not the honorable senator utilize the time he is wasting now in studying the Bill ?
– It is a waste, of time, and a waste of words-, dealing with a Government so secure in their majority that they will not accept a reasonable request to refrain, even in their own interests, from the action they propose to take.
– And for decency’s sake.
– Yes, for decency’s sake, and in order to preserve any shadow of reputation they may still possess, they should grant this request, instead of endeavouring to lessen it by letting the people know that after a writ for an election has been issued they are anxious to close the mouths of honorable Benators.
– I - In any case it would be only a fair thing to allow honor able senators to read the Bill first so that they could follow the Minister’s speech.
– Does the honorable senator think that I am so simple as to believe that he has not read the Bill already, seeing that it was distributed a fortnight ago?
– None of the Government supporters could quote the short title.
– Its title should be “ A Bill to improve the chances of the National party at the Corangamite election.”
If the best brains of this Parliament were directed for two months to this measure, which contains 22© clauses, there would still be room for further consideration, yet immediately Mr. President announces the receipt of a message from another House stating that the Bill has been passed there, Senator Pearce rises and asks us to suspend the Standing Orders. I am not inclined to agree to the suspension of our Standing Orders upon the explanation which he has given us. I challenge any one to look up the records of this Parliament for the last eighteen months that it has been in existence, and find where I have ever raised my voice against the manner in which the Government have conducted the business of the Senate. I have always allowed Ministers to suspend Standing Orders at will without any protest. I have left the transaction of business in the hands of the Government, but the proposal we have now before us has a more important bearing upon the rights of the people than any of the other Bills we have dealt with have had. Furthermore, it is an important precedent that the Government propose to establish. One constitutional writer has said that as we cannot without horrors from which the imagination recoils use physical force as a check upon misgovernment, it is our duty to maintain in their integrity all the principles of constitutional government as they exist. The suspension of the Standing Orders upon a Bill of this kind is a direct inroad upon all that we consider worth maintaining in regard to the purity of elections. This Government ought to be the Simon Pure ; it ought to be above suspicion. Though it may be considered by its followers as a Govern- ment that cannot possibly do any wrong thing, or any mean thing, or anything that ought not to be done, nevertheless, it is not justified in upsetting principles which should be observed by every Government. Its proposal to alter the electoral law while an election is proceeding and after a writ has been issued is a most serious attack upon those principles. If it be accepted as a sound principle that after a writ for an election has been issued the electoral law can be altered in order to improve the representation of the people, or make it wide enough to secure the return of the successful candidate on an absolute majority, the opposite principle may hold equally good, and a Government with evil intentions may, after a writ has been issued, pass .1 Bill in. order to narrow the represent! don of the people. It is only a matt’, r of difference of intention. Here the Government are blazing the track that future elections may be manipulated after writs have been issued. To them the winning or losing of a Victorian seat in the House of Representatives is a most serious business. I know that they have the numbers to secure a majority for the suspension of the Standing Orders, but even if the Standing Orders be not suspended the passage of the Bill will not be delayed beyond the time which they propose to allow for its discussion, for there is certain machinery in our Standing Orders which can be used. In the hands of a Government backed by a brutal majority, backed by stupidity, and backed by thoughtless numbers, that machinery will be employed.
For the sake of the present advantage Ministers are apparently willing to commit a crime on the electoral system of this country.
– Why does the honorable senator talk about crime?
– It is a crime to alter the Electoral Act after the writ for an election has been issued.
– Not if it increases the facilities of the electors. That sort of argument does* not cut much ice.
– The most wickedly intentional tyrant will always have defenders saying that the intention is to make things better. I could picture- Senator Bakhap defending the Kaiser, and saying, “ This awful war has been brought upon us because God’sown partner wished to makethings better for the human race, wished to bring kultur upon the earth, and establish system everywhere.” Everything that any one is doing is supposed to be for the benefit of the community. My advice is to let the people alone and not to rush sudden benefits on the community without which they, have endured uncomplainingly for seventeen years.
– Is the honorable senator afraid that the community cannot stand these benefits ?
– I am afraid that the benefits will be rushed upon the people by the suspension of standing orders and by foul means.
– The honorable senator’s principle is, “Do not inflict an injury, but if there is one in existence let it remain.”
– That which the honorable senator claims is being done as a benefit may conceivably be used for a dastardly purpose.
We are asked to suspend the Standing Orders to hasten the passage of a Bill which we have not yet seen. If this were a measure which we could grasp by merely listening to the Minister’s” speech it would be a different matter. If it were some such Bill as comes before Parliament frequently - for instance, having to do with the payment of civil servants, and in regard to which it might be claimed that any delay in its passage would cause serious inconvenience - honorable senators generally would not object to the suspension of the Standing Orders. When we are faced with a measure, however, which strikes at the taproot of all our electoral principles, we should at least demand that we be given every opportunity for its study, consideration, and debate. Some honorable senators may insist that this is a good Bill, and to that I can only reply that we should be given time to examine it. If honorable senators on this side were given that time which they have a right to ask, it would pass, no doubt, without undue debate or criticism. Standing Orders are provided for the protection of minorities in just such circumstances as these. Parliament has devised a means by which minorities may be protected from the actions of strong and unscrupulous Governments. What is the urgency of this Bill? The Government claim that its urgency is that under the old system they lost a byelection.
– We have had no explanation from the Government, as yet.
– The reason why the rights of the minority in this Chamber are to be taken away is that the Government lost the Swan by-election under a principle which has been in existence for the past seventeen years, and has given reasonable satisfaction to the people throughout. Personally, I take no exception to the system under which we have been working. But for that system I should not have been here; and I must say that it has worked well for the people of Australia, owing to the fact that I am here, and that all of us are here. But, with the awful example of the past few days before us, will not honorable senators take warning, and leave well alone’* We learn that the “All-Highest,” who would have been in a secure position still had he been wise enough to let wellenough alone, is now flying from his country. He was not satisfied ; he wanted to alter things, and he used a brutal majority to bring about his purposes until he came up against a liberty-loving people; wherefore he is now a fugitive without a crown. The Government should take warning by the example of that distinguished deserter from his own country, and should leave well-enough alone.
Our Electoral Act at present has afforded honest and straight representation to the people; but th* trouble is that it did not give the National party a majority in the electorate of Swan, and that party is now so nervous and panicstricken in the face of another by-election that it is going to alter things.
– Does the honorable senator object to a majority of the people ruling?
– I do not know whether that principle is in the Bill. ] do not know whether the Bill is intended to take the votes away from Labour supporters. I do not know, from all that the Minister has yet said, whether the Bill is not intended to introduce a system of postal voting, which system - placed upon the statute-books by the Labour party - was so misused that it had to be abandoned.
– The strongest argument for the new principle contained in the Bill comes from men who were formerly with your party. The ex-editor of The Worker, Mr. Hector Lamond, is a great supporter of that principle.
– I am glad to learn something about the Bill from the honorable senator. Evidently, the measure has been . discussed in his party caucus. I have not had the advantage of attending it, however, and I dc not know’, therefore, what Mr. Hector Lamond ‘s views may be
– They were expressed in Parliament.
– I am not permitted to refer directly to the House of Representatives, but I may say that the honorable gentleman who has been referred to, when this same measure was before another pla.ae, .desired to move an amendment. He afterwards asked me, in a very sorrowful voice, whether, if the rights of the representatives of the people were not treated in the same way in the Senate as they had been elsewhere, I would move his amendment for him; and I promised that I would do so. The Government, in their haste to pass this Bill, would not even give their own supporters an opportunity of moving amendments. Under some new standing order which was introduced, the debate had to -close at a given signal. All criticism, all consideration, was guillotined The rights of the representatives of the people in another place were taken from them. Pull, free, and fair discussion of how the people should choose their representatives, not only in the coming byelection, but in the Federal elections which are to follow, was not permitted.
During the war period extending over the last four years domestic politics have been set aside. The question of war was the only one with regard to which the people could think or act. The elections that have taken place since the outbreak of war have been to decide, not the representation of the people so as to insure the passing of legislation which they desired, but who should conduct and manage the business of war. Instead of the Government displaying such frantic anxiety to rush this Bill through in order that it may apply to an approaching by-election, it would do better to consult its dignity and show its regard for the trust which the people have reposed in it. If they would pass a Bill providing that on 1st July next there should be a general election for the House of Representatives and for the Senate in respect of senators who will shortly have to retire they would do well. By July next war conditions will have ended, let us hope, and our soldiers will have returned-
– Let us hope.
– We ho.pe so. We trust also that by that time they will have been repatriated in such a way that they will not have grievances such as to cause on their part a desire to be directly represented by returned soldiers.
– On what issue does the honorable senator suggest we should go to the country?
– The last general election was to provide for the return of a purely war party. Now that the war is over, the sooner the domestic requirements of the people are attended to in this Parliament by men who are in actual touch with them, the better it will be. A Parliament elected under the conditions which prevailed on the occasion of the last appeal to the country cannot pretend to represent Australia when it becomes once more an industrious peaceloving country such as it was before the outbreak of hostilities. Instead of asking now for the suspension of the Standing Orders so that this Bill may be rushed through in a few hours, the Government would be acting with some regard for its dignity and the best traditions of the public life of Australia if it brought down such a measure as I have suggested, and gave the Opposition ample opportunity for its consideration.
This Bill did not officially come before the Senate until after 10 o’clock this evening, and although I shall not say I had not seen it before, the fact remains that I then had it officially brought before me for the first time. The Minister now proposes that the Standing Orders shall be suspended in order that we may proceed with the first and second reading stages to-night. I am not disposed to impute wrong motives either to an Administration or to individuals, but when one finds the Government departing from its usual practice or trying to cover upsomething, one is inclined to grow suspicious. We have transacted a considerable amount of business to-day, and it was not until after 10 p.m. that this Bill was received from another place. In the circumstances, the Government should not have done more than ask for the first reading, leaving the motion for the second reading to be moved to-morrow. A wise Government would have said that the debate on the motion for the second reading of this Bill, dealing, as it does, in a broad way with the representation of the people, should be delayed for at least one month, in order that it might be properly considered. It will be urged that that would be hastening slowly; but my reply is that we can well afford to hasten slowly in dealing with a measure of this kind, consolidating, as it does, the whole of our electoral laws. Some one has inquired why there should be a general election before the war is over. One reason why we should have a general election is that, although there was no definite statement on the subject in the National party’s manifesto, the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in practically every speech that he made during the last campaign said that if his party were returned to power not one stone in Labour’s edifice would be interfered with. Labour won its way into this Parliament under the present electoral law, and now it is proposed that the very corner-stone of Labour’s edifice shall bc tampered with.
– The honorable senator knows that that is not so.
– I do not. I am opposing the suspension of the Stand- ing Orders in order that I may go through the Bill.
– The honorable senator has read it. He has had it for fully three weeks.
– It only passed the House of Representatives last Friday afternoon, and was placed in the hands of the President this evening.
– The amendments made in another place were unimportant.
– But the Bill did not pass through all stages in another place until after 4 p.m. last Friday. Since then I have been more interested in peace rejoicings than in the reading of Bills. If the honorable senator were honest he would admit that he, too, has been busy in the same way. .
– I read the Bill long before the signing of the armistice.
– Then the honorable senator must have the capacity, not only to understand the actual contents of the Bill as introduced in another place, but to know what was in the minds of Ministers. Does he know what amendments have been made in the Bill since its introduction in another place?
– Hansard will show the honorable senator what amendments were made there.
– As’ I said in my opening remarks, if the chief object of the Bill is to secure the proper representation of minorities I shall support the carrying of that principle into effect, provided that it is embodied in strong and reasonable clauses. My complaint is, however, that the Bill only passed through another place last Friday, and that I have seen no report of the proceedings on that day.
– I - It was “gagged” through another place.
– That is so.
– “Will the honorable senator obtain a copy of Hansard and read the report of the debate ?
– If the honorable senator would obtain me a copy, I should be glad to quote largely from it.
The Government may suspend the Standing Orders, but they will not prevent me from reading the Bill.
Honorable senators opposite may think they will make haste hurriedly by rushing this measure through, but fortunately my privileges afford me the opportunity to read the Bill word for word, and I shall read it, because I intend to let it be known what we are asked to suspend the Standing Orders for. I am going to make a request which possibly was never made in the Senate before. Owing to increasing years and growing infirmity, I ask you, sir, to permit me to continue my speech sitting down. I make that request earnestly.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Shannon) . - Is it the pleasure of the Senate that the honorable senator should continue his speech sitting down?
– I have made my request because I feel that if it were not granted I should be too long standing on my feet while reading the Bill in my present condition of health. Although one- may appear robust in appearance one may feel a little shaky on occasions, and that is how I feel. I find that this measure is -
To Consolidate and Amend the Law relating to Parliamentary Elections and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, the Senate, and the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, as follows: -
– The Bill proceeds -
– I rise to a point of order. Is Senator Gardiner in order in reading the Bill word by word, line by line, and clause by clause? I rise to ask that question on a point of order, and also to appeal to the Government, if possible, to end this farce.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. Order ! The honorable senator may raise a point of order, but he cannot discuss the matter.
– On the point of order, I should like to say that I am reading the Bill because we are asked to suspend so much of the Standing Orders as would prevent it passing through all its stages at one sitting, if need be, or without delay. As the Bill was officially before the Senate only about five minutes before the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders was moved, I think I am- perfectly in order in reading the measure for honorable senators, that they may know exactly what they are being asked to suspend the. Standing Orders to do. I hope that there is no standing order that will prevent me from making clear what the Senate is being asked to do.
– On the point of order, it appears to me that Senator Gardiner is hurriedly running through this measure without giving it the consideration it deserves. He has told us that it proposes to repeal the Commonwealth Electoral Act of 1902, and I think that he ought to quote the whole of that measure.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! On the point of order raised by Senator Pratten, I rule that Senator Gardiner is in order in reading the Bill.
– “Would I be in order in appealing to the Government to consider the position that has arisen?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- No.
– The Bill proceeds -
Nothing in this Act shall affect the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral (War-time) Act of 1917.
Part II. - Administration.
Part III. - Electoral Divisions.
Part IV. - Subdivisions and Polling Places.
Part VI. - Qualifications and Disqualifications for Enrolment and for Voting.
Part VII.- Enrolment.
Part VIII.- Objections.
Part IX. - Appeals.
Part XI. - The. Nominations.
Part XII.- Voting by Post.
Part XIII.- The Polling.
Part XIV.- The Scrutiny.’
Part XV.- The Return of the Writs.
Part XVI. - Limitation of Electoral Expenses.
Part XVII.- Electoral Offences.
Part XVIII.- Court of Disputed Returns. Division 1. - Disputed Elections and Returns.
Part XIX. - Miscellaneous. Interpretation.
– Clause 5 continues - “Officer” includes the Chief Electoral Officer for the Commonwealth, and any Commonwealth Electoral Officer for a State, Divisional Returning Officer, Assistant Returning Officer, Registrar, Presiding Officer, Substitute Presiding Officer, Assistant Presiding Officer, Poll Clerk, and Doorkeeper: “ Registrar “ means an Electoral Registrar under this Act and includes a Divisional Returning Officer acting as Registrar : “ Registrar-General “ means the RegistrarGeneral or other Principal Officer of a State who is charged with the duty of registering deaths occurring and marriages celebrated in the State: “ Returning Officer “ includes Divisional Returning Officer and Assistant Returning Officer: “ Roll “ means an Electoral Roll under this Act: “ Subdivision ‘” means a subdivision of a Division.
Part II. - Administration.
Commonwealth Electoral Officers for the States.
Assistant Returning Officers. 9. (1) Assistant Returning Officers may be appointed to exercise within or for any portion of a Division, subject to the control of the Divisional Returning Officer, all the power? of the Divisional Returning Officer except those relating to postal voting, but no Assistant Returning Officer shall bo appointed in or for any portion of a Division for which less than one hundred electors are enrolled.
Appointment in cases of emergency. 11. (1) In the event of any vacancy occurring in the office of Divisional Returning Officer, Assistant Returning Officer or Registrar, or in the absence from duty of any such officer, the Chief Electoral Officer may appoint some person to perform the duties of the office during the period of the vacancy or absence.
Date from which appointments are . to take effect.
Keeping of forms.
Part III. - Electoral Divisions.
( 1 ) For the purpose of the distribution of a State into Divisions in accordance with this Act the Governor-General may appoint three Distribution Commissioners, of whom one shall be the Chief Electoral Officer or an officer having similar qualifications, and, if his services are obtainable, one shall be the Surveyor-General of the State or an officer having similar qualifications.
Proceedings at meetings. .
The whole number of electors in each State, as nearly as can be ascertained, shall be divided by the number of Members of the House of Representatives to be chosen for the State.
Matters to be considered in distribution of a State.
In making any proposed distribution of a State into Divisions the Distribution Commissioners shall give due consideration to -
Notice of proposed distribution.
Report to be laid before Parliament.
Proclamation of Divisions. 24. (1) If both Houses of the Parliament pass a resolution approving of . any proposed distribution the Governor-General may by proclamation declare the names and boundaries of the Divisions, and such Divisions shall until altered be the Electoral Divisions for the State in which they are situated:
Providedthat, until the next ensuing dissolution or ‘expiration of the House of Repretatives. the redistribution shall not affect the election of a new member to fill a vacancy happening in the House of Representatives; but for the purposes of any such election the Electoral Divisions as theretofore existing, and the Rolls in respect of those Divisions, shall continue to have full force and effect, notwithstanding that new Rolls for the new Divisions have been prepared.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Shannon). - Standing order No. 200 applies to the consideration of a Bill in Committee. There is nothing in the Standing Orders to prevent the honorable senator reading the Bill clause by clause.
Re-distribution. 25. (1) A re-distribution of any State into Divisions shall be made in the manner hereinbefore provided whenever directed by the Governor-General by proclamation.
Such proclamation may be made -
whenever an alteration is made in the number of Members of the House of Representatives to be elected for the State ; and
whenever in one-fourth of the Divisions of the State the number of the electors differs from a quota ascer- tained in the manner provided in this Part to a greater extent than one-fifth more or one-fifth less; and
at such other times as the GovernorGeneral thinks fit.
Part IV. - Subdivisions and Polling Places.
Each Division shall be divided into Subdivisions and the boundaries of each Subdivision shall be as specified by proclamation. Polling Places. 27. (1) The Minister may. by notice in the Gazette -
appoint a chief polling place for each Division ;
appoint such other polling places for each Division as he thinks necessary;
declare polling places to be the polling places for any specified Subdivision; and
abolish any polling place.
No polling place shall be abolished after the issue of the writ and before the time appointed for its return.
Change of Electors from one Roll to another.
When a Division is divided into Subdivisions, or the boundaries of a Division or Subdivision are altered, or a new Subdivision is proclaimed, such changes as are thereby rendered necessary for the transfer of the names of electors from one Roll to another Roll shall be made in the prescribed manner.
Part V. - Electoral Rolls.
( 1 ) There shall be a Roll of the electors for each State.
Until new Rolls are prepared, the Rolls in existence at the commencement of this Act shall, as altered from time to time, be the Rolls of electors.
Subdivision Rolls, Division Rolls, and State Rolls. 30. (1) There shall be a Roll for each Division.
There shall be a separate Roll for each Subdivision.
All the Subdivision Rolls for a Division shall together form the Boll for the Division.
All the Division Rolls for a State shall together form the Roll for the State.
Form of Rolls.
The Rolls may be in the prescribed form, and shall set out the surname, Christian names, place of living, occupation (or other prescribed particulars) and sex of each elector, and may contain such further particulars as are prescribed.
Arrangement with States.
( 1 ) The Governor-General may arrange with the Governor of a State for the preparation, alteration, and revision of the Rolls, in any manner consistent with the provisions of this Act, jointly by the Commonwealth and the State, to the intent that the Rolls may be used as Electoral Rolls for State elections as well as for Commonwealth elections.
– I - I think we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
When any such arrangement has been made, the Rolls may contain, for the purposes of such State elections -
– I - I call attention to the state of the Senate. [Quorum formed.]
New Rolls. 33. (1) New Rolls for any Subdivisions, Divisions, or States shall be prepared whenever directed by proclamation.
The Rolls shall be . prepared under a systern of compulsory enrolment.
The proclamation may specify the manner in which the Rolls shall be prepared; and may require every person entitled to enrolment on any new Roll to sign and send to the proper officer in accordance with the regulations a form of claim for enrolment and otherwise to comply with the regulations relating to compulsory enrolment:
Provided that -where an elector is enrolled for the Subdivision in which he lives, in pursuance of a claim signed by him, he shall not be required to sign and send in any further claim for enrolment in connexion with the preparation of a new Roll.
Additions, &c, to new Rolls.
Upon the receipt by the Registrar of a new Roll for a Subdivision, the Registrar shall -
make additions, alterations, and corrections therein; and
remove names therefrom, pursuant to claims or notifications received by him between the date of the proclamation directing the preparation of new Rolls and the date of the notification that the Rolls have been prepared, where the additions, alterations or corrections have not already been made in, or the removals have not been made from, the Rolls.
Objections and notices to have effect in relation to new Rolls.
Printing ofRolls. 30. (1) Rolls shall be printed whenever the Minister so directs.
( 1 ) Copies of the latest print of the Division Roll and of all supplemental prints shall be open for public inspection at the office of the Divisional Returning Officer for the Division without fee, and shallbe obtainable thereat and at such post offices in the Division as the Divisional Returning Officer appoints, on payment of the price prescribed.
Officers and others to furnish information.
Part VI. - Qualifications and Disqualifications for Enrolment and forvoting.
Persons entitled to enrolment and to vote. 39. (1) Subject to the disqualification setout in this Part, all persons not under twentyone years of age whether male or female married or unmarried - (a.) who have lived in Australia for six months continuously, and
every member of the forces, according to the definition of such in the Commonwealth Electoral (War-time) Act 1917. shall be entitled to enrolment subject to the provisions of Part VII. of this Act.
Members of the House of Representatives for the Division, but no person shall be entitled to vote more than once at any Senate election or any House of Representatives election, or at more than one election for the Senate or for the House of Representatives held on the same day.
Right of electors of States.
Part VII. - Enrolment.
Addition of names to Rolls. 40. (1) Names may be added to Rolls pursuant to claims for enrolment or transfer of enrolment.
Claims for enrolment or transfer of enrolment. 41. (1) Any person qualified for enrolment, who lives in a Subdivision, and has so lived for a period of one month last past, shall be entitled to have his name placed on the Roll for that Subdivision.
Penalty: For the first offence, Ten shillings; and for any subsequent offence, Two pounds.
Penalty: For a first offence, Ten shillings; and for every subsequent offence, Two pounds. Registration of claim. 43. (1) Upon receipt of a claim for enrolment or transfer of enrolment, the Registrar shall-
if the claim is in order and he is satisfied that the claimant is entitled to be enrolled, forthwith -
Reference of claims to Divisional Returning Officer. 44. (1) The Registrar, on receipt of a claim,, shall, if he is not satisfied that the claimant is entitled to be enrolled in pursuance of the claim, forthwith -
refer the claim, with such observations as he thinks proper, to the Divisional Returning Officer for his decision, and
send to the claimant a notification in the prescribed form that the claim has been so referred.
After the Divisional Returning Officer has made such inquiry as may be necessary to enable him to decide the claim, he shall forthwith return the claim to the Registrar, and notify the Registrar of his decision, and, if he decides to reject the claim, the reason for such decision.
If the Divisional Returning Officer decides that the claimant is entitled to enrolment pursuant to the claim, the Registrar shall forthwith enroll the claimant, and send to him a notification in the prescribed form that he has been so enrolled.
If the Divisional Returning Officer decides that the claimant is not entitled to enrolment pursuant to the claim, the Registrar shall forthwith send to the claimant a notification in the prescribed form that his claim has been rejected, specify the reason for the rejection, and advise the claimant that he is entitled, at any time within one calendar month after the receipt of the notification, to appeal to a court of summary jurisdiction for an order directing that his name be added to the Roll.
Time for altering Rolls.
Notwithstanding anything contained in either of the last two preceding sections -
claims for enrolment or transfer of enrolment which are received by the Registrar after six o’clock in the afternoon of the day of the issue of the writ for an election shall not be registered until after the close of the polling at the election; and
except by direction of the Divisional Returning Officer no name shall be removed from a Roll pursuant to a notification of transfer of enrolment received by the Registrar after six o’clock in the afternoon of the day of the issue of the writ for an election and before the close of the polling at the election.
Penalty on officer neglecting to enrol claimants.
Any officer who receives a claim for enrolment or transfer of enrolment and who without just excuse fails to do everything necessary on his part to be done to secure the enrolment of the claimant in pursuance of the claim shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty: Ten pounds.
Alteration of Rolls. 47. (1) In addition to other powers of alteration conferred by this Act, a Registrar may alter any Roll kept by him by - (a.) correcting any mistake or omission in the particulars of the enrolment of an elector ;
altering, on the written application of an elector, the original name, address, or occupation of the elector on the same Subdivision Roll;
removing the name of any deceased elector;
striking out the superfluous entry where the name of the same elector appears more than once on the same Subdivision Roll;
reinstating any name removed by mistake as the name of a deceased elector;
reinstating, by direction of the Divisional Returning Officer any name removed as the result of an objection : Provided that the Divisional Returning Officer shall not direct the reinstatement of any such name unless he is satisfied that the objection was based on a mistake as to fact and that the person objected to still retains and has continuously retained his right to the enrolment in respect of which the objection was made;
reinstating by direction of the Divisional Returning Officer any other name removed by mistake; and (h) removing a name from the Roll by direction of the Divisional Returning Officer upon the certificate of the Commonwealth Electoral Officer:
Provided that the Commonwealth Electoral Officer shall not issue such a certificate unless he is satisfied that the elector has ceased to be qualified for enrolment on that Roll and has secured enrolment on another Roll:
Provided further that where a Registrar removes any such name he shall send by post to the elector whose name is so removed notice of the fact.
Where the name of an elector has, pursuant to a claim, been incorrectly placed on the Roll for a Subdivision other than the Subdivision in which he was living at the date of the claim, and the elector was entitled on that date to have his name placed on the Roll for the Subdivision in which he was living, the
Divisional Returning Officer may, where the two Subdivisions are in the same Division -
direct the Registrar keeping the Roll on which the elector is entitled to be enrolled to place the name on that Roll and to notify the elector of the change of enrolment; and
direct the Registrar keeping the Roll on which the elector is not entitled to be enrolled to remove the name from that Roll.
No alteration pursuant to this section shall without the authority of the Divisional Returning Officer be made at any time after six o’clock in the afternoon of the day of the issue of the writ for an election and before the close of the polling at the election.
Alterations to be initialed.
Every alteration of a Roll shall be made in such a manner that the original entry shall not be obliterated, and the reason for each alteration and the date thereof shall be set against the alteration, together with the initials of the Registrar.
Lists of deaths and marriage to be forwarded.
The Registrar-General shall as soon as practicable after the beginning of each month or at such other times as are arranged with ‘ the Chief Electoral Officer -
forward to each Divisional Returning Officer in the State (either direct or through the Commonwealth Electoral Officer as may be arranged) a list of the names, addresses, occupations, ages, and sexes and dates of death of all persons of the age of twentyone years or upwards whose deaths have been registered during the preceding month in respect of the Division for which the Divisional Returning Officer has been appointed;
Sitting suspended from 12 o’clock (midnight) to 12.45 a.m. (Thursday).
– Clause 49 continues -
– On a point of order, Mr. President, I draw your attention to the fact that the honorable senator is seated while reading the Bill. I understand that before the suspension of the sitting he asked the indulgence of the Senate to remain seated while he continued his speech. Since that indulgence was granted, some considerable time haselapsed, and the honorable senator has” had an opportunity to refresh himself. If he assures the Senate that he is ill, I shall not object to his remaining seated, but otherwise I think he should stand in the usual way.
– I do not know what occurred while . I was being temporarily relieved by my deputy, but it is well known that under the Standing Orders an honorable senator while speaking may remain seated only with the indulgence of the Senate. I assume that the honorable senator secured that indulgence.
– I did.
– The Minister for Defence submits that the indulgence should not be continued now that we have resumed after the adjournment for refreshments. It is a question really for the Senate to decide, but if the honorable senator states that he is not in his usual health, I have no doubt the desired indulgence will be granted. Is it the pleasure of the Senate that Senator Gardiner
– I would draw your attention, sir, to the standing order which provides that; -
By the special indulgence of the Senate, a senator unable conveniently to “ stand “ by reason of sickness or infirmity, will be permitted to speak sitting and uncovered.
Before the question is submitted to the Senate I submit that we should have from Senator Gardiner a request for this indulgence, based on the claim that he is either sick or infirm.
– If the honorable senator assures the Senate that he is suffering from either of the disabilities mentioned in the standing order the Senate, no doubt, will grant him a continuance of the indulgence which he secured before the suspension of the sitting.
– When the concession was granted to me the condition set out in the standing order actually existed. I am not going to repeat now, in order to please Senator Pearce, what I said when I claimed this indulgence, and if the Senate chooses to withdraw it it is at liberty to do so.
– T - The concession was unanimously agreed to.
– But surely it is not to last for all time?
– I shall continue the practice of leaving the Senate itself to decide the question.
– Unless Senator Gardiner assures us that he is unwell I shall object to his “remaining seated.
– If Senator Gardiner says he is sick or infirm I shall vote to allow him to remain seated.
– Is it the pleasure of the Senate that Senator Gardiner have leave to continue his speech seated in accordance with the provision in the Standing Orders?
– The indulgence is withdrawn.
– Now that the permission which I obtained to remain seated while speaking has been withdrawn I shall make a brief explanation. Nothing is more disagreeable to me than to parade in public any infirmity from which I might happen to suffer, but in justice to myself I must- mention that about a fortnight ago, just as I was leaving my bath, a sudden rush of blood to the head caused me to become faint and to fall. A day 01’ two later I had a similar experience, and on the following day, while hurrying upstairs, it occurred once more. While I was standing on the second step in the Senate to-night a somewhat similar feeling came over me, and I therefore asked the indulgence of the Senate. It was graciously extended to me. It has now been ungraciously withdrawn, and I shall not ask for it. I feel physically as fit as ever, but I do not regard as a laughing matter an affliction -which might possibly overtake me at any moment. I asked for this indulgence, not for the purpose of gaining any unfair advantage, but because of a feeling that momentarily came upon me.
– Had the honorable senator given us that explanation the indulgence would have been continued.
– When the honorable senator intervened I could not truthfully say that I felt at that moment as I did when I asked for the indulgence of the Senate. I told the Deputy President during the interval for refreshments what I have just told honorable senators.
– That is so.
– The Bill further provides -
Officer to act on receipt of information.
The Commonwealth Electoral Officer, or the Divisional Returning Officer, as the case requires, shall, upon receipt of information pursuant to the last two preceding sections, take action under this Act to effect such alterations of the Rolls as are necessary.
– I rise to a point of order. I base my point of order on several of our Standing Orders. In the first place, I direct attention to standing order 406, which provides that no honorable senator shall read his speech. I was present in the chamber for at least halfanhour before the suspension of the sitting, and have been present since its resumption, and during the whole of that time the honorable senator continued to read the Bill. We know that quotations are allowable, but they should have some relevancy. The motion before the Senate is for the suspension of the Standing Orders.
– For what purpose?
– To enable the Bill to be passed through all its remaining stages without delay. I contend that the honorable senator in debating the motion by reading the whole of the Bill is, in fact, reading his speech. No one can contend that his quotation has any relevancy to the motion. If that could be contended, the honorable senator might proceed to read every electoral Bill on earth.
– I intend to.
– That strengthens my point that the honorable senator is reading the Bill, not as a quotation in favour or against the motion, but in abuse of the right of quotation in a way never intended to be permitted by the Standing Orders.
I direct attention also to standing order 419, which provides that -
No senator shall digress from the subjectmatter of any question under discussion: nor anticipate the discussion of any subject which appears on the notice-paper.
I do not know that this Bill appears on the notice-paper; but since the receipt of the message from the House of Representatives it has come within the purview of the Senate, and its consideration has become a part of the business of the Senate. Senator Gardiner is entitled to give reasons for or against the suspension of the Standing Orders, but it would be straining his right to do so to suggest that in reading the Electoral Bill the honorable senator is giving such reasons.
I direct attention also to standing order 421, which provides -
The President or the Chairman of Committees may call the attention of the Senate or the Committee, as the case may be, to continued irrelevance or tedious repetition, and may direct a senator to discontinue his speech.
And, in order that the senator may have the protection of the Senate, and that the standing order may not be interpreted to the detriment of fair debate, there is added the following proviso : -
Provided that such senator shall have the right to require that the question whether he be further heard be put, and thereupon such question shall be put without debate.
I submit with all due deference that the Standing Orders to which I have referred should be read together, because the practice now being adopted by Senator Gardiner is unparalleled in my experience of parliamentary procedure, which goes back to the time of the commencement of this Parliament. I have never previously known of an attempt being made to read the whole of a Bill as debate. I say that the Standing Orders to’ which I have referred should be read together, because they all deal with the order of debate.
I come now to the question of infringement of order and privilege, and direct attention to standing order 438, which provides that -
If any senator -
persistently and wilfully obstructs the business of the Senate; he may be reported as having committed an offence. I contend that Senator Gardiner has clearly shown that he is reading the Bill, not for the purpose of elucidating any point in connexion with the motion before the Senate, but for the deliberate purpose of obstructing the business of the Senate. I assume that in interpreting the Standing Orders, you, sir, are entitled to take into consideration the attitude and assurances of honorable senators, and Senator Gardiner has assured the Senate, through you, that he proposes to read the whole of the Electoral Acts of the world. I contend that that constitutes a threat of persistent and wilful obstruction of the business of the Senate. Obviously the course the honorable senator is following is not intended in any way to facilitate the business of the Senate, or to assist in the discussion of the motion before the Chair. The Standing Orders I have quoted seem to me to have a direct bearing upon the practice adopted by Senator Gardiner, and in view of the fact that this is the first time such a practice has been attempted in the Senate, I ask for your ruling as to whether the honorable senator is in order in proceeding to read without interspersing any comments thereon, the whole of the clauses of a Bill which honorable senators will shortly have an opportunity of considering in Committee.
– T - The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) bases his claim that the practice adopted by Senator Gardiner is a breach of the Standing Orders on several different points. He says that the procedure is new, and that in eighteen years’ experience of this Parliament he has never seen it attempted before. The honorable senator may be learning something. The fact that the honorable senator has never known the practice to have been’ attempted before does not make it a breach of the Standing Orders. I admit that it is a very unusual method that is being indulged in by Senator Gardiner, but it arises from a most unusual procedure. In fourteen or fifteen years’ experience in this Chamber I cannot remember an instance of a Government considering it necessary to move the suspension of the Standing’ Orders after 10 o’clock at night in connexion with a Bill of the volume and importance of the Electoral Bill.
On the question of relevancy, I ask whether anything could be more relevant to the motion under discussion than the quotations which Senator Gardiner has been making from the Bill. We are asked to suspend the Standing Orders to allow the Bill to pass through all its stages without delay, and Senator Gardiner is entitled in every way that is not incon sistent with the Standing Orders to show why the Standing Orders should not be suspended. He is attempting to show that in the most relevant and effective way he could possibly adopt. The Bill is so important that the Standing Orders should not be suspended to hurry its passage until such time as every member of the Senate has made himself fully conversant with every clause in it, so that he may be able to follow the Minister in charge of it during his second-reading speech. The Minister for Defence must, in the circumstances, admit that his objection on the score of irrelevancy falls to the ground.
The Standing Orders were framed for the protection .of every member of the Senate, and the rights and privileges of honorable senators are being absolutely overridden by the adoption of such a procedure as we have been confronted with to-night, when, after 10 p.m., we find the Minister taking the unusual course of moving the suspension of the Standing Orders to try to rush through a Bill like this.
– .Order! The honorable senator is not entitled to say that any action taken under the Standing Orders is overriding the rights of the Senate. No Minister and no individual senator can override the rights of the Senate. The Senate can protect its own rights, and while I occupy my position, I shall not tolerate any attempt to override the rights of the Senate. I cannot permit the honorable senator to make such a. statement.
– I - I stand corrected, and withdraw the statement; but I felt that the Minister had taken that course. I know that you, sir, have only one thought in your mind, as the occupant of the highest position which is in the gift of the Senate, and that is to conserve to the utmost the rights and privileges of every member of the Senate. I am sure that you will give this matter very full consideration before deciding that Senator Gardiner is out of order in reading the clauses of the Bill. How could the honorable senator otherwise stress his objection to the suspension of the Standing
Orders? He desires to show that the procedure followed by the Government should not have been adopted, and there are 220 good reasons contained in the clauses of the Bill why the Standing Orders should not be suspended in the way proposed. I hope that you will decide that it would be an improper curtailment of the rights of Senator Gardiner if. he were not permitted to continue reading the clauses of the Bill. His quotations have been very, instructive to honorable senators who have not had an opportunity so far of reading the Bill. They are being given an opportunity of listening carefully to its provisions in the measured tones adopted by the honorable senator. I hope that you will rule that Senator Gardiner is entirely in order in the course he has adopted. I agree that he would probably not be in order in reading the clauses- of any other Electoral Bill but that with which the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders deals.
– There are one or two aspects of the point of order to which . I should like to direct attention. One is that the point has already been submitted to the Chair, -and it was ruled by the Deputy President in your absence from the chamber, that I was in order in reading the clauses of the Bill. I am not suggesting that if the Deputy President was wrong you should buttress his ruling by another wrong ruling, but it will be admitted that it is difficult to conduct a debate when one is subjected twice in the course of his speech to an interruption by the raising of the same point of order.
With regard to Senator Pearce’s objection, on the ground that I said I would read the Electoral Acts passed in other parts of the world, I may say that I can read them in my own room and have no intention of reading them to the Senate. Myremark was merely a flippant reply to a statement made by the honor’ able senator. The motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders was submitted within five minutes after the time that the Bill came into the possession of honorable senators, and I contend that I am in order in letting honorable senators know what they are asked to vote for. I venture to say that if the motion had been put without debate - and, so far, I- am the only honorable senator who has spoken against it - the Senate would have agreed to the suspension of so much of the Standing Orders as would have prevented the passing without delay of a Bill which had been in its possession only five minutes, and the contents of which honorable senators did not know. Senator Pearce has spoken of my reading the Bill clause by clause without comment. If that is an objection, I ask, what comment is necessary on a measure of this kind? None; and I am reading the Bill because I am sure that when honorable senators realize its importance as a measure which goes to the basis of our representation, they will refuse to suspend the . Standing Orders. The honorable senator also described my action as unparalleled; but so is his own action. I challenge him to find one case in all the Parliaments of Australia since constitutional government where a measure of first-class importance dealing with the franchise has been made the subject of the suspension of Standing Orders within five minutes of its introduction.
– Is there any reason why you should read the Bill?
– I feel that I am quite justified in reading the Bill so that honorable senators may have full knowledge of it, and not, by accepting this motion, deprive the minority of their rights. If this motion be passed, we shall be asked to vote on the measure blindfold. If we were asked to pass a simple motion of, say, one or two lines, would I not be in order in reading it? The motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders affects this Bill, and makes the Bill part of the motion; and for that reason I read it. I do not see that my action is in any way inconsistent with the Standing Orders.
– You are stretching the Standing Orders.
– If honorable senators regard as serious my flippant remark about reading other Bills, I withdraw it, because I have no intention, nor desire, to prolong discussion. I am prepared to close the debate if Senator Pearce will give us a reasonable opportunity to discuss the Bill when we have had time to read it. I do not remind you, sir, of the ruling previously given by your deputy in order to influence your judgment, but that ruling is certainly an answer to Senator Pearce’s statement that I am taking unprecedented action. I am merely exercising rights which I believe I have, and which the Deputy President believes I have, and Senator. Pearce might well withdraw his remarks on that point.
– The spirit as well as the strict letter of the Standing Orders has to” he taken into consideration when we are asked to decide whether an honorable senator is obeying those Standing Orders or attempting to obstruct the business of the Senate by some subterfuge or misreading.
– Y - You have no right to say that the action of Senator Gardiner is a “ subterfuge.”
– I choose my own words to suit the occasion.
– A - As a further point of order, I ask whether Senator de Largie is correct in designating as a “ subterfuge “ some action that Senator-Gardiner has taken ?
– I did not mention Senator Gardiner or any one else.
– - - -Your remarks referred to Senator Gardiner.
– If Senator de Largie applied that word to any action of another senator, it must be .regarded as improper, and I ask him to withdraw it. I did not catch the word at the time it was used.
– I did not apply the word to Senator Gardiner, but was merely pointing out that when we are considering a matter of this kind, we have to consider the spirit of the Standing Orders, so that we may not allow a subterfuge to influence our decision in dealing with any alleged breach of them. I did not apply the word to any particular person. I wish to direct attention to the latest edition of May, which is considered the highest authority on the rules of debate. On page 277, under “Rules of Debate,” chapter 12, it is laid down -
A member is not permitted to read his speech, but may refresh his memory bv a re- ference to notes. The reading of written speeches, which has been allowed in other deliberative assemblies, has never been recognised in either House of Parliament. A member may read extracts from documents; but his own language must be delivered bond fide, in the form of an unwritten composition. Any other rule would bc at once inconvenient and repugnant to the true theory of debate
I hold that the practice followed to-night by Senator Gardiner is undoubtedly “ repugnant to the true theory of debate.” Indeed, it is not debate at all, but simply the reading of a Bill for a very apparent purpose. The honorable senator is not reading extracts, but deliberately reading a Bill through for the purpose, as must be quite evident to the blindest, of hanging up the business of the Chamber.
– A most unfair insinuation !
– An honorable senator is not entitled to attribute motives to another.
– I am quoting the actual words of an authority on the true theory of debate, and I say that, according to that authority, Senator Gardiner has violated that true theory from the moment he started reading the Bill. I a3k you, Mr. President, to take that into consideration in giving your decision.
– I have been in the chamber during most of the debate on the motion to suspend the Standing Orders, and it is most remarkable that if the honorable senator who is your deputy, Mr. President, could, by the permission of the Senate, allow Senator Gardiner to take his seat-
– That question does not arise now. You must confine your remarks to the point of order.
– I am leading up to the question, if you will allow me a moment. Senator Pearce has described Senator Gardiner’s procedure as “ tedious repetition.”
– Not “ tedious repetition,” but obstruction.
– Senator de Largie has quoted from May on the reading of speeches. I do not know, Mr. President, whether you were in the chair at the time, but I remember that during a session Senator Earle read a speech from the table, and when he was asked whose words he was quoting he replied, “I am quoting my own.” The honorable senator for two hours read a typewritten document, from which he did not lift his eyes, and neither Senator Pearce nor Senator de Largie raised a point of order. Now, however, because Senator Gardiner is taking what perhaps might be termed an unusual course, honorable senators opposite try to have him “ gagged.” It is remarkable that, although you, Mr. President, will be the adjudicator on the point of order, Senator de Largie has taken upon himself other duties in addition to those of Government Whip, and, constituting himself both judge and jury, has declared Senator Gardiner guilty. As to the procedure adopted by Senator Gardiner, there is a very old saying that desperate cases require desperate remedies; and I believe that we have now a desperate case that requires a desperate remedy. I dare say it is because of the nearness of the date of a certain election that the Government have determined to ask the Senate to suspend the Standing Orders to allow this Bill to go through all its stages without delay. This is not the first time the Government have asked for the suspension of the Standing Orders for such a purpose.
– !Th at has nothing to do with the point of order, which is whether Senator Gardiner is in order or not in reading the Electoral Bill.
– I am trying, so far as the interjections will permit, to connect my remarks with the point of order. Senator Pearce, when he was Leader of the Opposition in this chamber, as, perhaps, he may be again in the very near future, objected to the suspension of. the Standing Orders pretty often. However, even in view of the standing order quoted by Senator Pearce, I fail to see wherein Senator Gardiner has committed any breach of our rules. It has been said by Senator Pearce, and I think by Senator de Largie and others, that we have knowledge of the Bill, but I remind honorable senators that, so far as this chamber is concerned, we officially know nothing about it.
– You have just heard it read.
– Only a portion of it. I was listening to it so that, as a senator, I might gain some knowledge of what it contains, and I am surprised that a point of order should be raised to prevent me becoming more informed in that regard. It is quite true that, in our correspondence, and in other ways, this Bill may have been circulated, but that is in the individual sense; in any case, that was the Bill as it went to the House of Representatives, and not the Bill as it left that House. Before the motion to suspend the Standing Orders was submitted, every senator should have been supplied with a copy of the Bill as amended in the House of Representatives, and on that ground I regard Senator Gardiner as quite correct in the course he has taken. I wonder why, under all the circumstances, there is so much turbulence on the other side. I venture to say, sir, that when you have heard the case from both points of view, you will, with your judicial knowledge, give a verdict in favour of Senator Gardiner.
– Senator Pearce, in taking the point of order, quoted one standing order in reference to “ tedious repetition.” I fail to see, however, where there can be any “ tedious repetition “ when the Bill is being read to us for the first time. The honorable senator also spoke of obstruction, but he cannot base that objection on the standing order he quoted, unless he knows what Senator Gardiner is going to say. Senator Gardiner was proceeding to do what the Clerk ought to do, namely, read the Bill a first time. The Bill has not been read a first time, and Senator Gardiner contends that it should be, and I submit that under the Standing Orders he is at perfect liberty to read it. Senator de Largie, on the telegraphic signal of Senator Pearce, has quoted from May in reference to the reading of speeches. When I first entered this Parliament I was stopped reading my speeches, though since then we have repeatedly seen- Ministers reading typewritten documents on the introduction of Bills without being called to order; and, therefore, I submit that Senator Gardiner is perfectly right in his contention that he may read this Bill.
– I am not concerned with many of the ingenious contentions put forward by both sides in this matter, but only with the plain reading of the Standing Orders and the usual practice of the Senate.
– Is the President in order in using the phrase “ ingenious contentions “ ?
– Order ! No honorable senator may interject while the President is giving a ruling. It is quite true that the Standing Orders are emphatic and mandatory that no senator may read his speech. There is nothing in the Standing Orders to prevent any honorable senator making lengthy quotations to illustrate his speech, or buttress his argument; that is quite permissible, and has been done over and over again. It is only permissible to an honorable senator to refresh his memory by referring to an extended note. The point taken by Senator Pearce was that Senator Gardiner was reading his speech. Of course I cannot decide that, not having heard .Senator Gardiner during the time I was being relieved by my deputy; but since I resumed the chair I have been waiting to hear Senator Gardiner connect the extracts from the Bill with the motion, and I intended to ask him to explain to me and to the Senate why he was making these extended quotations. I hope that before he proceeds much further in this direction he will do so. I rule that, so far, he has been in order; but I shall expect him .to show the relevance of his quotations to his argument that the Standing Orders should not be suspended. Again, I want to point out, with regard to the question of tedious repetition, that in one respect Senator Gardiner has been guilty, because to each ‘clause there is a marginal note giving a precis of the clause. This is intended for reference by the Chairman of Committees, and to obviate reading the whole clause. I shall ask Senator Gardiner to refrain from reading the marginal notes, because it is somewhat needless repetition ; otherwise I rule that the honorable senator is quite in order.
– I shall certainly connect my remarks as desired. I have no intention of unnecessarily prolonging the debate. I might easily have been accused of this if I read a clause of the Bill ,and then commented upon it; but I wish to expedite the business of the Senate. I merely want honorable senators to know what Bill it is in respect of which they have been asked to suspend the iS banding Orders. Therefore I have not been making comments on clauses that are .quite clear. I think honorable senators have appreciated this fact. My one desire is that, before honorable senators .give their Vote, they may know what it is they have been asked to vote for. Clause 51 reads -
The Commonwealth Electoral Officer or the Divisional Returning Officer, as the case requires, shall, upon receipt of information pursuant -to the last two preceding sections, take action under this Act to effect such alterations of the Rolls as are necessary.
You, sir, have asked me to connect my reading of the clause with my objection to the suspension of the Standing Orders: I think that honorable senators should be aware of the provisions of this Bill before they consent to the motion, and so enable the Bill to be carried through all its stages in the extraordinary manner proposed by the Minister.
I would be out of order, at this stage, in disclaiming at any length the imputations made by Senator de Largie and the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), who have charged me with attempting to unduly delay the business of the Senate. Our Standing Orders provide for the manner in which the business is to be conducted, and you, sir, as the guardian of the Senate, need not even be appealed to to deal with any honorable senator who deliberately lays himself out to do this by any subterfuge. All my efforts are in the : direction of observing the Standing’ Orders.” My desire is to accelerate the business of the Senate, and to see that our Standing Orders, which are made for our guidance,, and, shall I say, the protection of minorities against the impatience of the Minister or a Ministerial follower, are not misused. It is the duty of any member of this Senate to take all reasonable and legitimate means provided by the Standing Orders to let the public know how business is being conducted here. At 10 o’clock last night this Bill was introduced, and I challenge any honorable senator to say that he was aware of its provisions. I have read the measure as it was introduced in the other House, because it was my duty to do so; but I am not aware whether or not the other House made any alterations in it.
– You will find all that out in Committee.
– But when we reach that stage we may find that by the suspension of the Standing Orders we have been committed to principles that are repugnant to the Senate. When the Committee stage is reached I suppose that the honorable senator, with the same logic and reasoning, will tell me that we shall have time on the third reading or the report stage to make any objections we may have to the measure.
I have been reading the provisions of this Bill with the deliberate intention of informing honorable senators what it contains. Part VIII. deals with objections, and clauses 52 and 53 read as follows : -
PART VIII. - Objections.
Any name on a Roll may be objected to by objection in writing lodged with or made by the Divisional Returning Officer:
Provided that a sum of Five shillings shall be deposited in respect of each objection lodged by any person other than an officer, to be forfeited to the King if the objection is held by the Divisional Returning Officer to be frivolous.
The objection may be in the prescribed form, and shall be signed by an elector enrolled on the same Subdivision Roll as the person objected to, or by the Divisional Returning Officer or Registrar, or other prescribed officer.
– Is not that provision in the existing law?
– If it is in the existing law, and if any honorable senator can show that the principle is bad, there can be no objection to drawing attention to it before the Standing Orders are suspended. Let us imagine the case of a miner working, say, 10 or 12 miles from his subdivision. It is possible, under this clause, for any person to lodge an objection against his name being <on the roll on the payment of a deposit of 5s., and if the person who lodged the objection fails to substantiate it the deposit money is forfeited to the King, and not to the individual who may have been put to all the expense of defending his position. It is possible that some .organizer of a party may, under this provision, harass and inconvenience voters, and rob them of their right to vote. This will apply to all parties, and yet we are asked to suspend the Standing Orders, to alter the normal procedure of the Senate, in order to expedite the passage of this Bill.
– Yon will then have a chance to pick out those clauses.
– Will the Minister give me a promise that in Committee I shall be permitted to move any amendments which I may think necessary to any of the clauses ? If he does, I shall not prolong my objection to the suspension of the Standing Orders or to the second reading. But one must view with suspicion the action of the Government in connexion with this matter.
– Who can prevent the honorable senator from moving amendments ?
– If the Minister will give me a promise that I shall’ have an opportunity of presenting amendments to the clauses I shall not take up the time of the Senate.
– I cannot prevent you.
– But will you give me a promise that I shall have this opportunity ?
– That is secured to you under the Standing Orders.
– The Minister’s qualified reply justifies my suspicion. If the Standing Orders were not suspended I would have an opportunity to move amendments, but no doubt once the Standing Orders are suspended this right may be denied to me. I can, however, give the Minister an assurance that I shall not move amendments which I do not think are necessary, and shall not submit amendments of an obstructive nature. If the Minister will give me a simple promise that he will preserve to me my rights I shallnot continue in my objection.
– The honorable senator knows that I have no power to take away any of his privileges.
– If I submit any amendments will the Minister give me an opportunity for their consideration ?
– I cannot interfere with the honorable senator. He will have opportunity if the President or Chairman of Committees allows him under the Standing Orders.
– All I want is a promise that if I have any amendments to submit for the purpose of improving the Bill I shall have opportunities for their consideration.
Clause 54 is as follows: -
Clause 55 reads - 55. (1) When an objection is made by or lodged with a Divisional Returning Officer, the Divisional Returning Officer shall forthwith give notice of the objection to the person objected to.
I call attention to the last phrase. If half-a-dozen different magistrates were asked to give a decision on it, the chances are that we would get four or five different interpretations. One might say it meant the last four weeks, another that it meant a calendar month. If I went into an electorate on the 20th July, and lived there until the 28th August, and then applied to enroll, the electoral officer might say, “You cannot be enrolled, because the month last past was July. You must wait until the end of August.” Under ordinary conditions that would be no hardship, but what if the writ was issued on the 29th July ? I have a strong objection to putting into a Bill phrases which are not the ordinary coin of the realm so far as language is concerned. We have seen too many quibbling strawsplitting appeals made because of legislation passed in this way. I have noticed this peculiar phrase several times while reading the Bill, but have discovered no definition of it. If there is none, the Minister should certainly bring one down, especially if he intends to persist with his motion to suspend the Standing Orders, instead of allowing us to deal deliberatively with the measure as men trying to do their duty by putting the electoral law beyond the possibility of litigious disputes.
The next clause is -
That clause shows me that I was wrong a little while back in saying that a person objected to would have to go into Court to prove his case. I made that mistake because I did not know what the Bill contained. That is an illustration of the danger of passing Acts of Parliament in panic fashion. The country has managed to struggle along under the old Act for seventeen years. That old Act has sent to this Parliament the honorable senators whom; I see taking such an intelligent interestin the debate, particularly Senators Reid, Fairbairn, Lynch, Bakhap, and Russell. When I see their present recumbent attitude, and know that they are determined to force this new law through by suspending the Standing Orders,- I ask if any one thinks the new law will send into this Chamber men more fitted for their legislative duties than tkey are? Do tbev think the system which they are going to alter has failed because* it sent them- here ? Do they think it will send a better type of men here?
I doubt it, because past experience shows that whenever a Reform Bill has passed through Parliament the result, in nine cases out of ten, has been tlie very opposite to that expected by the governing party which passed it.
After the few minutes which I have been speaking,- and the little longer time I have been reading, the Bill, I find honorable senators opposite tired aud anxious to suppress me by putting me to the physical strain of reading whilst standing on my feet, and by taking points of order. Contrast this impatient Senate, anxious to get the Bill through, with the Parliament that passed the Reform Bill of 1830, 1831, and 1832. Think of the tremendous struggles of that great Democracy from which our forefathers came ! Yet that Reform Bill nearly brought disaster to the people of Great Britain. I knew one venerable old man who, then a boy of fifteen, pinned the badge of reform in his coat, and swore that it should remain there until the rotten boroughs were wiped out of existence. Thousands of others pinned that badge to their coats also. Remember the tremendous convulsions which occurred at the birth of that young Democracy in those days. Up to that time the Government of Great Britain had been the Government of the powerholding classes. The voice not only of the masses, but of the great middle classes, had not been articulate until these resolute, brave-hearted men determined that Democracy should at least be heard in the Parliament of the country. In this Parliament we now have the spectacle of a Government so eager to rush their legislation through that they will not listen to the voice of reason, or harken to any appeal for time to deliberate on a measure of this magnitude. They want the measure, as settled in Caucus by the National party, passed without debate in either House. They want us bound, gagged, and tied, and will not permit us even to voice our opposition to any parts of the Bill that we consider objectionable. In the days of the Reform Bill of 1830, men were determined to fight for a better franchise. We know what they dared, and what they did, and we know the great benefits the nation derived from their action. There was a Russell in those days whose name will live in history. He was not sleeping on the cushioned benches when reform was in the air. He defied his class, and fought for the Democracy against the Aristocracy of Great Britain. He was not a. soft, smooth, ease-loving, cushionhaunting Russell, who, when an attempt is made to take from the .people and from Parliament those liberties to which a Democracy is entitled, snugly snores on cushioned seats while a Government, lost to all sense of responsibility to the people, a Government without any capacity to measure the work they are doing, endeavours in a high-handed manner to stifle the voice of Parliament by suspending the very Standing Orders which give us the right to speak here.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable senator’s speech deserves a quorum.
– He has driven all his own supporters out.
– I ask that the honorable senator be called on to withdraw those words.1 He said I have driven all .my supporters out.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Shannon). - If the honorable senator made any remark which another honorable senator regards as offensive, I ask him to withdraw it.
– I will alter it, and say, “ All his supporters but one.”
– I consider the honorable senator’s remark offensive’ to me.
– I said that Senator Gardiner had driven out all his supporters except one.
– I take exception to the statement that I have driven all my supporters out.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- I ask the honorable senator to withdraw the remark if Senator Needham regards it as offensive to him.
– I did not make any such remark, and will not withdraw it.
– The honorable senator must obey the direction of the Chair.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - If Senator Needham takes exception to the remark I again ask the honorable senator to withdraw it.
– I did not make it. If the honorable senator insists, I will put it this way, that I withdraw a remark I did not make.
– The honorable senator did make it.
– If the honorable senator said that I had driven all my supporters out, I ask that that remark be withdrawn.
– I withdraw it as regards Senator Gardiner.
– It is the custom of the Senate for a remark which is objected to to be withdrawn without qualification. So far as I am concerned, the honorable senator has not withdrawn without qualification.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- The honorable senator’s good sense will show him that he should withdraw any remark which another honorable senator regards as offensive.
– I made no offensive remark with reference to the honorable senator.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Will the honorable senator withdraw it?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - I again appeal to the honorable senator. I trust that he will not force me to carry the matter further.
– I cannot and will not withdraw what I did not say.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Senator Needham has taken exception to a remark by the honorable senator as offensive, and I ask the honorable senator to withdraw it.
– With all deference to the Chair, I leave it to the Senate to say what my remark was. -It had no reference whatever to Senator Needham.
– Hear, hear!
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- If the honorable senator gives me the assurance that his remark had no reference to Senator Needham, that ends the matter.
– That is an easy way out. If I had made the same statement I would not have been let off.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order ! There is a quorum present.
– Clauses 57 and 58 read -
Provided that no name shall be removed from a Roll in pursuance of this section after the issue of the writ for an election and before the close of the polling at the election.
Part IX. - Appeals. 58. (1) Any person -
whose name has been removed from a Roll by direction of the Divisional Returning Officer pursuant to an objection, may, at any time within one calendar month after the receipt of the notice of the rejection of the claim or of notice of the determination of the objection, as the case may be, in the prescribed manner make application to a court of summary jurisdiction, constituted by a Police, Stipendiary, or Special Magistrate, or by two or more Justices of . the Peace authorized by the Governor-General to hear and determine electoral appeals, for an order directing that his name be enrolled or reinstated on the Roll, as the case requires.
Have honorable senators considered the enormous powers which it is proposed to place in the hands of an officer or a clerk? If we had ample time to consider this measure we might discover ,that there were just grounds for the proposed change from ordinary Courts of justice to special Courts to be created on the mere whim of a Minister. Ministers, after all, are only human, and in this case they display a remarkable anxiety to rush the measure through. Is it to be said that their object is to apply it to an approaching by-election for the House of Representatives? If the Standing Orders be suspended we shall not have the intervals that usually take place between the consideration of a Bill in its several stages. The motion for the first reading is formal; and not open to discussion. As a rule, between the first and second reading of a Bill we are given time to read it and to grasp its effect; but if we suspend the Standing Orders the several stages of this Bill may be dealt with in the one sitting. No serious objection is taken to the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable a Supply Bill or any measure of urgency to be passed through all its stages without delay. This measure, however, demands our deliberate judgment, and we should devote to it our best intellectual efforts, since it is a codification of all our electoral legislation. In these circumstances, surely it is reasonable to ask the Ministry not to use its majority to compel us to relinquish our right to claim that we are members of a deliberative assembly.
This measure transcends all others in importance. Our electoral law is the bedrock upon which our Democracy must rest. If the foundation be not well and truly laid we cannot expect the Democracy of Australia, through its elected representatives to erect an edifice in which their liberties will be preserved in a way worthy of the rights we have inherited. That is one reason why I object to the attempt of the Ministry to compel us to deal with the measure as if it were of uo importance. If the Standing Orders be not suspended, we shall have time to carefully study it, and so to avoid the making of any mistake. The Senate makes few mistakes; but an error in a Bill providing the basis of election to this Parliament would be far more material than a mistake made in any ordinary piece of legislation.
I propose later on to point to a remarkable provision in this Bill, but at the moment I cannot lay my hands on it. If it be carried at it stands, then an elector, on entering a polling booth, may be called upon to vote for six candidates for a House of Representatives division by marking the ballot-paper “ 1,” ‘2,” “3,” “4,” “5,” and “ 6” in the order of his preference, while in the event of six candidates standing for the representation of any one State in the Senate, he will merely have to put a cross opposite the names of three candidates. In the excitement attaching to an election^ a voter might confuse his ballot-papers, and put a cross opposite three names on the ballot-paper for the House of Representatives division, while in the case of the Senate ballot-paper he might proceed to 3et out the order of his preference. If he discovered his mistake before he had deposited his ballot-papers in the ballot-box, and attempted to correct it by substituting crosses for the figures .in the ca3e of the Senate ballot-paper, that ballot-paper would be declared informal under this provision, since it would have more than one mark upon it. Should we not adopt a system which is not likely to cause any confusion in the minds of the electors? Why should we rush this Bill through? Owing to the rushing tactics adopted by the Government, .1 have not had time to carefully go through it, and I am therefore compelled to read it almost line by line in order to prove the statement 1 have just made.
Since the inception of this Parliament the electors of Corangamite, at every Federal election, have had to place a cross opposite the name of the candidate for whom they wished to vote, but on this occasion, if this Bill is applied to the by-election for that constituency, their ballot-papers will be informal if they mark them in that way. They will not have had an opportunity to read this measure, and so to make themselves familiar with the rigid and drastic changes for which it provides in the method of voting, and the suspension of the Standing Orders so as to permit the Bill to be rushed through will not give us time to acquaint them of those changes.
As the result of the disaster which befell the National party in the recent byelection for Swan, where their candidate was ‘only third on the list, the Government are anxious to bring this measure into operation at once, so that they may not have the same bitter experience at Corangamite. They wish to save their party from a repetition of the humiliating experience which befell them in connexion with the Swan by-election. Western Australia has always been held up as the State which stood out from all others in its anxiety to win the war. Senator Lynch will bear me out in that statement.
– Hear, hear!
– I am glad to have the honorable senator’s approval. After being in office for eighteen months, this Government, which was returned to power to help to win the war, has met with a humiliating experience in a Western Australian constituency, the electors of which never swerved in their loyalty to the late Lord Forrest, who was a member of the Nationalist party. At the first opportunity given to the people in the premier win-the. war State in Australia their verdict was that, amongst the candidates offering, the candidate of the Labour party had their first preference, the candidate of the Country party their second preference, and Ihe candidate of the Win-the-war party their third preference.
– He go* a place.
– Only because there was also a prohibitionist candidate, and one may well admire the courage of the man who almost at ih» close of the war stood as a prohibitionist candidate in Western Australia. He got reasonably close to the win-the-war candidate.
– He did not get 1,000 votes.
– The Nationalist candidate did not get 6”,000 votes, and if he had secured all the votes not recorded at the election he would still have been in the position he occupied at the close of the poll. As over 19,000 votes were recorded at the election, there could not have been many left to be recorded, and the Nationalist candidate would have required a good many thousand votes more than he polled before he could claim to be a representative of the majority of the electors of Swan. That electorate since the establishment of Federation had proved loyal to the Conservative and reactionary for(ms. Time after time it returned a member in whom the electors had trust and confidence, and for whom they voted possibly because of his personal qualities, and notwithstanding his political principles. But now, because the Government have wakened up to find that in that premier Conservative constituency of the premier win-the-war State, their candidate was only third on the poll, a new Electoral Act is to be brought into existence to make conditions better for the Nationalist candidate in Corangamite. If the prohibitionist candidate had not stood for the electorate of Swan, the Nationalist candidate would have occupied the unenviable position of last on the poll in the premier National constituency of the premier win-the-war State of Australia. That is a serious thing for honorable senators opposite to contemplate, and I can quite understand that the Government and their followers should be very much concerned about it. The Government have been suddenly awakened by a peremptory order from the Argus office to get a move on, and not to permit the same thing to happen in Victoria that happened in Western Australia. I am not surprised at the defeat of the Government in Western Australia, because a discredited Government must sooner or later experience the just anger of the electors.
– The Government are not much afraid of meeting the electors.
– Senator Reid is not very afraid, because it will be some time before he has to meet them, unless both Houses have to go before the country, as they did in 1914. The honorable senator may find that the very measure which he will not allow Parliament an opportunity to discuss may cause him to lose the position which he holds with so much distinction and credit to the Win-the-war party. The honorable senator has the distinction of securing his present position by the sacrifice of every principle he ever had. He has the distinction of holding that position by becoming the most bitter opponent of the old comrades with whom he was associated for years. He has the distinction of using his position in such a way as to try to discredit his opponents, with the result that he only discredits himself. He may live to regret his action in endeavouring to hurry on to the statute-book a measure which will give a majority the opportunity of deciding whether he has been right or wrong.
The honorable senator may contend that this Bill does not affect the Senate. If it is necessary that the Standing Orders should be suspended to secure the passing of this measure because the representation of minorities in another place is wrong, is the representation of minorities right in this chamber?
– It is right in this chamber, and the representation of majorities is right also.
– Senator Gardiner represents a minority.
– I do not see how the honorable senator can say that.
– The honorable senator would be on this side if he represented the majority.
– I recognise that honorable senators on this side have not a majority in this chamber, but Senators McDougall, Grant, and myself were elected by an absolute majority of the votes of the people of New South Wales.
– There has been an election since the honorable senator’s return.
– That is so, and it is fortunate for honorable senators on the other side that we had not to go before our constituents at that election, as we certainly would have turned the tide, and the majority would still have been with us.
– I do not think that there is a member of the Senate who was elected by a minority vote.
– I am glad to hear that. If we should provide that no member of another place shall be elected by a minority vote, and the principle is so essential that the Standing Orders must be ‘suspended to secure it, surely it is equally applicable to the Senate. I oan see no reason why two different principles should apply to the respective Houses of this Parliament.
– Two different principles apply to the constitution of the two Houses of this Parliament.
– And rightly so. The Senate is elected by the States, and fitly represents the States. The framers of the Constitution, decided that the smaller States should have equal representation with the larger State.3, and the people of Australia indorsed that principle. The people of the larger States were sufficiently generous to say, “ We will give the smaller States equal representation with us in the Senate, in order that they may not be afraid that the majorities in the more populous Stales will do any injustice to the people of the less populous States.
– There would have been no Federation without the adoption of that principle.
– I thoroughly agree with the honorable senator. I know the suspicion, distrust, and fear of consequences in the minds of the people of the smaller States would have made Federation absolutely impossible if that concession to them had not been made. But I venture to say that seventeen years of Federation have removed such feeling from the minds of all thinking people in all the States. There was suspicion in the minds of the people of the larger States, as well as of the smaller States. I can remember that I frequently voiced the objection to New South Wales, with five or six times the voting power of Tasmania, having only an equal vote in the Senate. Seventeen years of Federation have removed those doubts and suspicions from the minds of all classes of electors in all the States. During the last seventeen years Federation has justified itself, and the people are to-day willing to be governed by Australians, no matter in what part of the Commonwealth they may live. They do not now contend that State boundaries and geographical lines should necessarily be taken into consideration in detennining the representation of the people in this Parliament. This Bill may not make any alteration in this respect; but I have not yet had time to read it, and I am, therefore, anxious that the Standing Orders should not ibe suspended to hurry it through.
I find that the Bill further provides -
Part X. -Writs for Elections. 59. (I) Writs for the election of Senators or Members of the House of Representatives may be in the Form A or Form B respectively in the Schedule, and shall fix the dates for - (a.) The nomination,
The polling, and
The return of the writ.
For the purposes of this Act a writ shall be deemed to have been issued at the hour of six o’clock in the afternoon of the day on which the writ was issued.
Writs for the election of Senators shall be addressed to the respective Commonwealth Electoral Officers for the States for which the elections are to bc held.
I have not had time to compare that provision with the existing Act, to see whe ther there is not a departure proposed from the principle of the representation of the States; but I am inclined to think that, under the existing law, the issue of the writs and the return thereof is a matter purely for the State Governors. If a sudden change in this respect is introduced, we are entitled to some explanation from the Minister in charge of the Bill. The suspension of the Standing Orders will prevent honorable senators having the opportunity to circumspectly and microscopically consider the provisions of this measure which affects the representation of the people in the Senate and in another place. I wish I could fan into a blaze some spark of independence prevailing in the minds of honorable senators opposite, which has been wet-blanketed by their slavish adherence to party. They were not elected upon any principle of reform of the electoral laws, or to change the whole basis of representation in this country, but for the one purpose of winning the war. It was not political principles which gave honorable senators opposite their majority at the last election. It was by the very sacrifice of political principles that they secured their present position. It was by such a huge sacrifice as we witnessed whena Tory . and Conservative like Senator Bolton, without one democratic idea in his mind, ran in conjunction with such a democratic candidate of the days gone by as Senator Plain. In South Australia we had a most Conservative and aristocratic candidate like Senator Rowell-
– I call attention to the state of the . Senate. There is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed.’]
– This should be the last of all Governments to rush through a Bill which has nothing to do with winning the war, but is to be used with the idea of winning a by-election. We have had the peculiar experience of seeing Senator Rowell, a- natural Tory and aristocrat by instinct, running side by side with Senator Guthrie, the champion of unionism.
– I object to that description of myself.
– I am sorry, because the honorable senator’s aristocratic utterances and demeanour have always caused me to think what a curious combination he and his colleague are. As I say, Senator Guthrie is the champion of unionism.
– And the Labour party threw him out.
– Senator Guthrie became so much-
– To what clause is the honorable senator referring?
– I am referring to the clauses intended to bring about an alteration in our system of voting, which, amongst other things, the Government were pledged not to alter. In Victoria, there was an extraordinary position. Senator Fairbairn, the leader of the wealthy forces of this country, and one of the most prominent and distinguished of the power-holding classes, who never “ had any time “ for the people as we understand them-
– Nonsense !
– The honorable senator, so far as the working classes are concerned - although no doubt, in his own “genial way, he thinks he represents them-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Shannon). - I think the honorable senator is getting a little wide of the question of the suspension of the Standing Orders.
-! should like to complete the sentence in justice to Senator Fairbairn ; and I must say that, to me, it was extraordinary to see that gentleman and Senator Plain, another champion of Labour, seeking the suffrages of the people as members of the same party. I do not know whether the honorable senators I have mentioned repudiate my description of them as Conservatives, with no time for democratic changes, but under the principal Act there were means by which even these extremes in polities-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- I must ask the honorable senator to connect his remarks with the motion.
– I am contending that the Standing Orders should not be suspended, because, if they were kept in force, there would be an interval of twenty-four hours before the Government could proceed with the succeeding stages of the Bill. No doubt, the people have the right to send these political extremes together into this Parliament.
– Then why find fault with the electors for doing so?
– We do not know what the Bill provides in this respect, and for that reason I am going through the clauses as carefully as possible, in order to see that the rights of the people aru not infringed. I was pointing out that the system of voting for the House of Representatives will be different from that for the Senate; and, if this Bill passes without that full and free discussion which the Standing Orders are designed to insure, we may find Senators Bolton, Fairbairn, and Plain going out again for election, not to win the war, but to win seats or something else. I take it that when an elector enters the booth under the provisions of this Bill he will be given a Senate ballot-paper on which he will have to place a cross opposite the names of the candidates he favours, and in the same booth, perhaps with the same number of candidates as for the Senate, he will be asked to place preferential numbers against the names of the candidates for the House of Representatives. I dare say that under the proposed new system there may be more candidates for the House of Representatives than for the Senate, because every one will feel assured that if he does not get the first preference he will have a good chance of getting the second. The power of the party machines in the selection of candidates will be very much interfered with, if not gone altogether.
– Would that. not be a good thing?
– It is questionable ; the machine sent both the honorable senator and myself here, and I dare say we are both satisfied with the result”. I am not sure whether the dangers that I am anticipating are in the Bill, and, therefore, I am compelled to read the measure in order to find out. I have not had time to compare the Bill with the principal Act so as to ascertain what are the provisions in regard to the issue of the writ for the selection of senators. I am of opinion that the issue of the writ should be a matter for the Governor of a State, and if it is to be one for the Returning Officer, it is a great inroad on State powers.
– The writ is still to be issued by the State Governor.
– I do not think there is a quorum present. [Quorum formed.’]
– I am pleased to find that Senator Russell is correct, and that the writs for the Senate are still to be issued by the State Governors. That is explained in a footnote to clause 59, which, of course, I have not observed before; and it is in the following terms : -
See sections 12, 32, and 33 of the Constitution : -
TheGovernor of any State may cause writs to be issued for elections of senators for the State. In case of the dissolution of the Senate, the writs shall be issued within ten days from the proclamation of such dissolution.
The Governor-General in Council may cause writs to be issued for general elections of members of the House of Representatives.
After the first general election, the writ shall be issued within ten days of the expiry of a House of Representatives or from the proclamation of a dissolution thereof.
Whenever a vacancy happens in the House of Representatives, the Speaker shall issue his writ for the election of a new member, or if there is no Speaker, or if he is absent from the Commonwealth the GovernorGeneral in Council may issue the writ.
We now come to clauses 60, 61, 62, and 63, as follows: -
Writs for the election of Senators shall be addressed to the respective Commonwealth Electoral Officers for the States for which the elections are to be held. 61. (1) Writs for the election of Members of the House of Representatives shall be addressed to the respective Divisional Returning Officers for the Divisions for which the elections are to be held, and may be issued through the Chief Electoral Officer.
I do not know whether clause 62 is the same as the provision in the principal Act, but if so a great injustice is going to be perpetrated on the electors of Corangamite. For seventeen years those electors have voted by marking a cross, and yet, with the writ issued to-day, the nomination on the 28th November, and polling on Saturday, 14th December, they are to be asked to make this great change in the system, although thousands will never hear of this discussion in the Senate.
– There is no change in the number of days between the issue of the writ and the election.
– I think the Minister is making a mistake to the extent of some ten days. However, I do not so much complain of that as of the fact that in this one particular electorate a system of voting is to be forced on the people of which they have heard nothing and know nothing. It may be asked what these remarks have to do with the motion to suspend the Standing Orders, but if the Standing Orders are suspended, the Bill may be rushed through all its stages without those intervals which are a safeguard and an assurance of proper discussion. Just imagine going through the second reading and the Committee stage of a Bill of this size and importance at one sitting!
– To give the people more and not less power.
– If that be so, why not apply the system to the Senate as well as to the House of Representatives.
– One thing at a time.
– Exactly ; and I must get back to this question of the Corangamite election and the wickedness of the Government in endeavouring to change the system upon which the candidate will be elected. If the Government will give me an assurance that they will put in the Bill a special clause to say that where, as in the case of Corangamite, only one candidate is required, a voter’s ballot-paper will not be declared informal if the intention of the voter is clear, I will offer no further objection to the suspension of the Standing Orders.
– That provision is in the existing Act. It has not been taken away. Where the intention of the elector, is clear the vote is accepted.
– Hard luck, senator!
– Not at all. This only emphasizes the danger of passing a measure without careful consideration, for the simple reason that the Bill provides only for preferential voting for the House of Representatives, and if there were seven candidates, as there may be for Corangamite, and one voter marked his paper with first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth preferences, but omitted the seventh, his ballot-paper would be declared informal.
Another reason why we should object to the suspension of the Standing Orders is that the Minister himself may have an opportunity of reading the Bill. In the original copy presented to the other House there was provision that if the full preference was not exhausted a ballot-paper would be declared informal. This is a serious matter, and from the statement made by the Minister it is obvious that it should be discussed at considerable length. Even if the press will not report these changes in our electoral system, we might, perhaps, be able to circulate the records of Hansard among the electors, so that they may know how far-reaching and drastic have been the alterations under which electors must return members to Parliament, and how an unscrupulous and reckless Government have shown an utter disregard for the electors themselves by determining to get this Bill through Parliament in this way after the issue of the writ. The Minister, when I asked that provision should, be made against declaring a ballot-paper informal where the intention of the voter was clear, said, in his innocent way, that the provision was already in the Act. But it is not there.
– In the event of only two candidates it is not necessary to mark the preference.
– In the case of one vacancy an elector who marks his ballot-paper once makes it clear that the candidate against whom he has placed his mark is the man he wants to be returned to Parliament. But there is a doubt about the marking of the ballotpaper under the preferential system, and, therefore, the Bill should be dealt with carefully, so that these things may be made plain.
I find that the Minister, in his reply to me just now, was quite correct, and that the Government have adhered to the original Act. But when I .spoke I was in honest doubt; and I say that in important legislation like this there should be no room for doubt. Time should be given to honorable senators to become well acquainted with the provisions of the measure. We have not ‘ been given that chance yet. I find that by a hurried perusal of the Bill I confounded the dates.
Clause 64 reads -
Tlie day fixed for polling shall be a Saturday.
That is in accordance with the- existing law, and I am pleased to (know it has not been changed. But among a large number of reputable citizens there is a distinct, and, to my mind, a well-placed, objection to that day. I refer to the Hebrew section of the community. Saturday is their Sabbath, and if I had my way I would give members of that race an opportunity of voting on the previous Friday.
– I think the Jewish Sabbath ends at 6 o’clock, and the poll is open until 8 o’clock.
– That provision was wisely inserted to meet any such objections; but if we consider that we are entitled to twelve or fourteen hours within which to vote, why should we cut down the privileges of the Jewish race because of their .religious beliefs?
– Did the honorable senator never address a political meeting on a Sunday?
– Yes, and I could justify ray action by quotations from the Scriptures.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Shannon) . - Order ! I trust the honorable senator will be able to connect his remarks with the motion.
– Yes, Mr. Deputy President, and I am about to make an excellent illustration. The Master, when faced with the question of breaking the Sabbath, asked, if an animal should fall into a bog, would not those who criticised Him assist to get it out? So. whenever I address meetings on a Sunday, I am really assisting the asses out of the bog - really dragging them out of the bog into which they have fallen, simply because they have followed the old Tory leaders who are now supported by such men as Senator Lynch and Senator Earle. However, it is usually only on urgent matters that I address Sunday meetings, though I must confess that, in my old age, I am breaking away somewhat from the strict Sabbatarian views which I held some years ago. But I shall leave that aspect of the question and return to the Bill -
Clauses 66 and 67 read -
On the receipt of a writ the officer to whom it is directed shall indorse thereon the date of its receipt; and shall -
I think we might insert an amendment in clause 67, providing that the newspapers bo not paid for advertisements, or, if they are paid, that the price be fixed. A general election, now that peace is at hand, will probably occur only once in three years, and this suggestion would impose no hardship on newspaper proprietors. If I may quote the Argus and the Age as an illustration, I presume that if an election occurred for the South Melbourne division, advertisements, perhaps 3 inches in length, would be inserted in both papers, and the charge probably would be £1 or £2 per inch for notices which not one elector in ten would ever read.
– Not one in a hundred.
– Why should we tie ourselves down in this hard and fast manner and really subsidize the newspapers? It appears that for years we have simply been following, step by step, the draftsmanship of the first Act, and have been inventing nothing for ourselves. This is a big Bill. It furnishes to men like myself, who have had long experience in parliamentary life, an opportunity of giving other members of the Senate the benefit of some of the knowledge collected during all those years. Yet, when the time comes, we find the Minister wishes to suspend the Standing Orders in order to rush the Bill through without delay.
– You are having the time of your life.
– I can assure the honorable senator that I would be having the time of my life if I had an opportunity of going into all these innocent-looking clauses to see if I could not -effect improvements. We now have a splendid opportunity. We could devote practically months to the consideration of this Bill, and the country would profit by our deliberations. Instead of that, this measure, which is supposed to be non-party, is to be rushed through the Senate by the will of one party. What has been happening in the last eighteen months that we did not have an opportunity of dealing with this Bill then? If it is urgent, then by their failure to introduce it earlier the Government stand convicted of being negligent of the interests of the country. But even without the suspension of the Standing Orders the passage of the Bill could be expedited, if any honorable senator on the other side cared to move “ That the question be now put.” I have no hesitation in saying that no member of the Senate has read the Bill from cover to cover since it has passed the other House. I believe that during the last few hours I have read more of the measure than has any other honorable senator.
Part XI. - The Nominations.
Section 16. The qualification of a senator shall be the same as those of a member of the House of Representatives.
Section 34. Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the qualifications of a member of the House of Representatives shall be as follows: - (i.) He must be of the full age of twentyone years, and must be an elector entitled to vote at the election of members of the House of Representatives, or a person qualified to become such elector, and must have been for three years at least a resident within the limits of the Commonwealth as existing at the time when he is chosen : (ii.) He must be a subject of the Queen, either natural-born or for at least five years naturalized under a law of the United Kingdom, or of a Colony which has become or becomes a State, or of the Commonwealth, or of a State.
Section 43. A member of either House of the Parliament shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a member of the other House.
Section 44. Any person who - (i.) Is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power: or (ii.) Is attainted of treason, or ‘has been convicted and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer: or (iii.) Is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent : or (iv.) Holds any office under the Crown, or any pension payable during the pleasure of the Crown out of any of. the, revenues of the Commonwealth: or (v.) Has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth otherwise than as a member and in - common with the other members of “an incorporated company consisting of more than twenty-five persons: shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.
But sub-section (iv.) does not apply to the. office of any of the Queen’s Ministers of State for the Commonwealth, or of any of the Queen’s Ministers for ta State, or to the receipt of pay, half-pay, or a pension by any person as an officer or member of the Queen’s Navy or Army; or to the receipt of pay as an officer or member of the Naval or Military Forces of the Commonwealth by any person whose services are not wholly employed by the Commonwealth.
Instead of rushing the Bill through, it might be better for the Government to consider whether alterations could not be made in the whole Constitution. I am not sure whether the War Precautions. Act ceases to operate immediately peace is signed, or six months after it, but even when the war is over the powers conferred by that Act may be very much needed by the Government. Instead of suspending the Standing Orders to pass a Bill with the evident intention of dealing with the Corangamite election, the Government would be much better advised to bring in a measure to amend the Constitution to confer on the Commonwealth those powers which are necessary to enable them to do all the business of repatriation in connexion with which they will find themselves very much hampered when the War Precautions Act ceases to exist.
Clause 70 provides -
There is no good reason for a hard and fast proposal of that kind. If the Minister will promise that on twenty clauses I shall pick, where I think legitimate improvements can be made, he will afford me the right to move amendments, half my objection to this motion will disappear at once. At present we have no assurance that the Bill will not be pushed through in one day after the Standing Orders are suspended, because if the Government have the majority to do one thing they have it to do the other. The intention of the Standing Orders in providing certain stages for Bills is to secure to every member the right of discussion at certain periods. Unless the Standing Orders are suspended, all those stages cannot be passed in one day. The first reading is not debatable, but the interval before the second reading is meant to give members the opportunity to read the Bill. That is our just right. With the suspension of the Standing Orders that interval disappears. As the Bill only passed another place on Friday, the Minister’s remark that the Bill has been in our boxes for days is quite beside the point. I undertake to say that not even the Minister has read the Bill in the form in which it has just come from another place.
The nextclauses are -
A nomination may be in Form C or Form D in the Schedule applicable to the case and shall -
No nomination shall be valid unless -
The consent of the person nominated to act if elected and the declaration of qualification shall be sufficient if he signs the form of consent and declaration at the foot’ of the nomination paper, but the Commonwealth Electoral Officer or Divisional Returning Officer receiving the nomination may accept any other form of consent and declaration whether accompanying^thc nomination paper or not that he deems satisfactory, and such acceptance shall be final.
We should distinctly define all the conditions, instead of leaving it to the Returning Officers to say what is satisfactory and what is not; but the motion leaves the Government open to the suspicion that they do not care what happens so long as they get the Bill through. There may be a number of different decisions by different Returning Officers, and, instead of having a uniform electoral law, we may have a mongrel system. Ordinarily, any honorable senator has the right at different periods of a Bill to point out its defects. Surely we are entitled to that opportunity on this measure. The Government are forgetting their dignity and what is due to the Senate by moving that the Standing Orders, which represent the wisdom of Committee after Committee of the Senate, shall not apply to so all-importantt a measure. The system of preferential voting ought not to be suddenly forced on the electors of Corangamite. If it is applied, there are sure to be five or six candidates, and party lines and party pre-selections will, to some extent, pass away. The electors who have always marked their ballotpapers with a cross will be called upon, on the 14th December, to mark their preferences by means of numbers. If a man marks his preference against the names of five candidates, and fails to mark the sixth, his vote will be declared informal, although his intention is perfectly clear. If is scarcely a month to the election, and it will be impossible to fully inform the people of Corangamite as to the new law under which they are to vote. One of the purposes of the debate which the Standing Orders provide for is to let the electors know what is taking place. There is no provision to accept as formal a ballot-paper where the intention of the elector is made clear by the preference he has marked in . regard to the first threecandidates. If, without the suspension of the Standing Orders, the
Minister will give me the right of reasonable ‘and moderate discussion of .those provisions which I think mark exceptional changes in the electoral law, he will get his Bill through much more quickly than by the other method. After the first reading was passed, the Minister might well have agreed to move the second reading on the following day. An intelligent debate on the principles of the measure could have followed, as we would then, have been given an opportunity to read the measure through, and digest it. We should not be asked on a Bill of this magnitude to follow the procedure adopted in regard to Supply Bills, which practically are no more than measures to provide for the payment of the members of the Public Service -
This measure entirely alters our system of voting and departs from the electoral principles that have long been in existence in all the States, with the exception perhaps of Tasmania. In Tasmania, proportional representation, or some system approximating to it, is in vogue. Having worked under that system, Tasmanians are perfectly familiar with it, and there is no just reason why the Senate should not have the benefit of the experience of Tasmania’s representatives with regard to it. If the discussion is continued under the Standing Orders, we shall obtain it; but if the Standing Orders be suspended there will be devoted to the consideration of this Bill only such scanty time as Ministers may be prepared to allow. I shall be able, at all events, to point out later on that I made an effort to prevent the Bill being carried through the Senate without honorable senators being afforded a reasonable opportunity to gain some knowledge of its provisions. Those who are supporting the Government should join with me in trying to prevent the Standing Orders being suspended in a way that has neve* happened before.
Clause 76 of the Bill provides -
Is there any reason why that clause should not be fully discussed? I shall not say that the experience of the National party at the recent by-election for Swan is responsible for the introduction of this Bill, but it certainly is responsible for the anxiety of Ministers to get it through as quickly as possible. Probably the most public-spirited man amongst those who submitted themselves at the Swan by-election - the man who stood, perhaps, for the greatest moral principle - was the prohibition candidate. He had as much right as any other candidate to submit himself, but because he espoused an unpopular cause - a cause in respect of which the people have ,not yet been educated - he secured something like 1,000 votes, whereas the successful candidate polled about 7,000 votes. The result is that he will forfeit hi3 deposit. In other words, we are going to fine him £25. Surely such a provision needs to be” reasonably discussed. It is iniquitous to impose such a penalty upon a man merely because he espouses an unpopular cause. What the majority rejects to-day is often granted with acclamation tomorrow. That is the history of development, and the prohibitionist candidate for Swan, unless he is a very old man, may live to see the principle for which he f ought accepted by the people of Australia. I should like an opportunity to make a vigorous protest against the continuance of this iniquitous provision. There is ample time before the 14th December, the date of the by-election for Corangamite, to discuss the Bill without suspending the ‘Standing Orders. I should be prepared, if necessary, to sit every day in the week if the Minister in charge of the Bill .would agree to deal with it in easy stages. Clause 76 involves a big question of principle, it practically applies a property qualification, since it provides that a man who cannot lodge a deposit of £25 shall not be allowed to become a candidate. Some people will say that a man who has not behind him a party that is prepared to supply him .with such a deposit should not be a candidate. But why should a man be dependent upon any party? If we had ample time I am sure we should be able to adduce good arguments in opposition to this clause, which goes on further to provide as follows : -
Here we have conflicting principles applying to elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives. This demand for a deposit is an outrage upon justice.
– I draw your attention, sir, to the fact that there is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– Would I be in order in asking for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage?
– I object; I do not want a repetition of this.
– I made the request in the interests of honorable senators opposite, but the Minister remains inexorable. He insists upon the Standing Orders being suspended so that the Bill may be rushed through. I would point out to him that this clause does not apply equally to both Houses, a3 it should do. Later on there will be cause to complain if we neglect our present opportunity to provide for a uniform system of election to both Houses. With the preferential system of voting we are likely to have more than one candidate standing in the interests of each party. The old system of one candidate for each party will pass away, because with preferential voting it would be impossible to accuse a man of splitting the vote of his party by submitting himself for election. Very often the approved candidate of a party machine will ,not secure a majority of the votes polled. I fail to understand why we should provide for a penalty of £25 being paid by a candidate who does not secure one-fifth of the number of the first preference votes polled by the successful candidate. If the Government are anxious to collect £25 from a man seeking election, they should look to the successful candidate as being best able to pay it. The proposal to inflict this penalty upon unsuccessful candidates is certainly most harsh.
Further provisions of the Bill are as follow : -
( 1 ) In elections for the Senate the place of nomination shall be stated in the writ.
The hour of nomination- shall be twelve o’clock noon on the day of nomination. 79. (1) In the case of a Senate election, the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State for which the election is being held shall, at the hour of nomination, attend at the place of nomination, and shall there publicly produce all nomination papers received by him, and declare the names and residences of all candidates nominated.
In the case of the death of any candidate before the date of election the deposit lodged by him shall be returned to his personal representatives. 82. (1) -In the case of a Senate election, if the number of candidates nominated is not greater than the number of candidates required to be elected, the Commonwealth Electoral Officer shall declare the candidates nominated duly elected.
S4. (1) Whenever an election wholly or partially fails a new writ shall forthwith be issued for a supplementary election.
Suppose there are three vacancies for the Senate and four candidates are nominated. If after their nomination two of the candidates die, that would be a partial return, and the two candidates who had fulfilled every provision necessary for their legal nomination, and who might have expended the full limit of expenditure allowed by the law to secure their election, would have to go through the whole business again. I venture to say that, in such a case, to penalize candidates who were legally nominated would be un-‘ fair. It may be said that I am suggesting an exceptional case; but it is not very improbable, and we should make provision for it.
I shall now leave that part of the Bill and refer honorable senators to Part XII., dealing with voting by post. The Labour party can take credit for having first introduced the system of voting by post. Our idea was to make voting as convenient as practicable; but we were driven by the corrupt methods adopted in using the postal vote to repeal it, so far as its general application was concerned. I have not had time to see the extent of its application under this Bill, but if I may judge from some comments on the subject in another place, there were two complaints made concerning it by different sets of individuals. One complained that the postal vote provided for by the Bill does not go far enough, and the other that it goes too far. Although the law was carefully administered by our electoral officers, my experience of the postal vote was most unsatisfactory. I was in hearty accord with it and yet found myself, after some years of experience of its operation, reluctantly compelled to vote for its repeal. This Bill proposes to reinstate a system which Parliament, after practical experience of it, decided to wipe out. “We should not hurry it through now by suspending the Standing Orders when the advocates of the system have been thoroughly satisfied that its manipulation led to such corrupt practices that it was -necessary to repeal it. I agree that Parliament has a perfect right to change its mind, but when a grave change of this nature is proposed, it should be fully debated, and the Standing Orders should not be suspended to give effect to it hastily.
This is a Bill which should be discussed,, not only for day?, but for weeks. It contains over 200 clauses and about fifty distinct principles, and yet the Minister desires that it should be put through this week. Honorable senators have in the different States had experience of varying electoral provisions, and have accumulated information on the details of voting. Queensland has a system of compulsory voting in force which has not yet been tried in any other State, whilst the electors of that State have had experience of several elections under the system. I am quite in doubt as to the benefits or effects of it. I have a natural objection to compulsion, and I have still grave doubts as to whether even compulsory enrolment is wise.
I have no doubt at all that the provision under which an elector who changes his address from one subdivision of an electorate to another is liable to a fine unless he notifies the change of address to the Returning Officer is often the cause of very grave injustice. There might be some justification for penalizing an elector who removes from one division to another without notifying the Returning Officer, but there is no justification for fining an elector who moves from one subdivision to another of the same division. Some electoral officers administer this provision in accordance with the strict letter of the law, whilst in some divisions there is scarcely ever a ease in which a penalty is inflicted under it. I think that we should have an opportunity of saying all that we desire to say about such a provision at every stage of this Bill, but once the Standing Orders are suspended we are subject to the caprice of the Minister in charge of the measure. I recognise the responsibility of party men, and I know that it is only upon matters of very considerable importance that members of Parliament will vote against their party leaders, especially when the Government are anxious that their business should be hurried through. Oan any claim be honestly put forward for the urgent passing of this Bill?
– The Corangamite election.
– No, because the Corangamite election will not take place until the 14th December. There is no reason why the Minister should not make his second-reading speech on the Bill now, and grant an adjournment of the debate until next Monday. If he is willing to give time to honorable senators to read the Bill and reasonable time for its discussion, there will be no attempt by ‘ honorable senators on this side to unduly prolong debate upon it. As the date fixed for the Corangamite election is the 14th December, why should this Bill be hurried through before the 20th or 30th November? There is no reason why a second-reading speech on this Bill should be attempted by the Minister at this hour of the morning. I venture to say that he could not do justice to the provisions of this Bill in a speech of less than three or four hours. If he commenced the second-reading speech at half-past 4, he might conclude at half-past 8 a.m. He might allow an adjournment then until 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and we might continue the discussion of the measure until the time agreed upon for adjourning in the evening. My fear is that unless the Minister intended to rush the Bill through he would not bother about suspending the Standing Orders. He cannot say that he expected any undue opposition from this side or any undue delay in the passing of the measure. With the hopeless minority of the party on this side it would be absurd to suggest that we might delay the passing of the measure until 14th December. The reason why I have made a somewhat prolonged address on the motion now before the Chair is that I desire to emphasize my strong opposition to the suspension of the Standing Orders after the first reading in order to expedite the passage of a measure of this character. It is only the urgency of a measure that can justify the Government in asking for a suspension of the Standing Orders in dealing with it or can justify their supporters in voting for such a motion.
There is not one honorable senator opposite who is not in his heart at variance with the Minister on this question, but I expect that honorable senators will give a party vote upon the motion. I do not think I have ever complained of that, because I realize that loyalty to party is essential under the highly organized system of ‘ party government we have at the present time. I have never wittingly done anything to make political capital out of that loyalty. As a member of a Government for a time, I found that nothing made the government of the country so difficult as the free-lance who could not be depended on whenever the Government required his services. Whilst I recognise that party loyalty is essential for the successful conduct of party government, I realize at the same time that Governments owe a duty to their supporters. Surely it is one of the chief responsibilities of a Government that they shall not put their supporters into the unenviable position of having, for party reasons, to do unnecessary things, to their own discredit, to the discredit of the party to which they belong, and of the Senate.
I have discussed this Bill, and I hope that senators opposite will discuss it at equal length, realizing, as they must, that this is an opportunity to show the Government that their supporters should not be expected to do unreasonable things. It ought to be made quite clear by the Government that there is real urgency and real need for the exceptional steps now proposed in regard to what is the most important measure we have had to consider.
Clause 86 is as follows : -
Subject to sub-section (2) of this section the following persons are authorized witnesses within the meaning of this Act: -
No person who is a candidate at any election shall be an authorized witness at that election.
I am not able to show the difference between this clause and the provision in the principal Act, and it is quite possible that there is no difference or change. I can only repeat the complaint that the motion before us will, if carried, deprive us of that interval of rest and quiet in which we could make ourselves familiar with the measure, and thus really save time in the discussion. It is quite clear that candidates should not be authorized witnesses, but when we find it provided that all justices of the peace are eligible, we might as well include all those who are not justices of the pence.
– The honorable senator is now discussing, the Bill rather than the reasons why the Standing Orders should not be suspended.
– I thank you, Mr. President, and will get back to the reasons, one of the chief of which is that the Bill is very far-reaching, and that the suspension of the Standing Orders, if agreed to, would deprive us of the opportunity of learning what is . really in it. If the suspension of the Standing Orders meant that. the rights which those Standing Orders give us would be in charge of the President, I should not have made any protest, certainly not at what may seem undue length; but if the Standing Orders are suspended, it means that we shall have to appeal to the Minister, and not to the President. It may be said that even if the Standing Orders are suspended, the Government majority may be trusted not to force the measure through with undue speed ; but if there is that good intention, why do honorable senators opposite publicly advertise the fact that they wish to force the measure through? Why should they exhibit the Senate in the light of factious scheming for some petty advantage? There is no need for the motion, and if it be not carried, I venture to say that the Bill will be put through at whatever minute the Minister desires. The Standing Orders give the Minister all the powers that are necessary to have the Bill passed when he chooses. If there were any doubt as to this, there might be some justification for the novel procedure on the part of the Government in regard to so important a Bill. I defy the Minister, when replying, to cite one instance in the history of the Commonwealth Parliament when the suspension of the Standing Orders has been moved immediately on the introduction of a measure of the kind. To me it seems unthinkable that the Government should attempt such a thing, and have sufficient supporters behind them to see it accomplished.
I now come to clause 87 and following clauses : - 87. (1) An authorized witness shall not witness the signature of any elector to an application for a postal vote certificate and postal ballot-paper unless -
Penalty t Fifty pounds, or imprisonment for one month.
Penalty: Fifty pounds, or imprisonment for one month. 88. (1) The Divisional Returning Officer who receives the application if he is satisfied that it is properly signed by the applicant elector and is properly witnessed, shall deliver or post to the elector a postal vote certificate printed on an envelope addressed to the Divisional Returning Officer for the Division for which the applicant declares that he is enrolled, and one postal ballot-paper for a Senate election, and one postal ballot-paper for a House of Representatives election, or either as the case requires.
An elector to whom a postal vote certificate has been issued shall not be entitled to vote at any polling booth unless he first delivers to the presiding officer for cancellation his postal vote certificate and postal ballotpaper.
Returning Officer, fasten the envelope, and hand it to the voter, who shall forthwith post or deliver it, or cause ii to be posted or delivered, to the Divisional Returning Officer; (g) The authorized witness shall not, un less the electors sight is so impaired that he cannot vote without assistance, look at or make himself acquainted with the vote given by the elector, and, except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, shall not suffer or permit any person (other than the elector) to see or become acquainted with the elector’s vote, or to assist the elector -to vote, or to interfere in any way with the elector in relation to ‘his vote.
Every authorized witness shall -
Penalty: One hundred pounds, or imprisonment for three months.
Penalty: Fifty pounds, or imprisonment for one -month.
Any” person present when an elector is before an authorized witness for the purpose of voting by post shall -
Penalty: One hundred pounds, or imprisonment for three months.
At the scrutiny the Divisional Returning Officer shall produce all applications for postal vote certificates, and postal ballot-papers, and shall produce unopened all envelopes containing postal votes received up to the close of the poll, and shall: -
all unopened envelopes containing postal ballot-papers disallowed ; and
A postal vote shall not be rejected because in the case of any candidate his surname only has been written thereon if no other candidate has the same surname, or by reason of any mistake in spelling where the elector’s intention is clear.
This disposes of that part of the Bill. I am not sure whether there is any new provision, but, if not, perhaps no danger need be anticipated even if it were hurried through without discussion.
Clause 98 and the following clauses read -
Part XIII.- The Polling. 98. (1) If the proceedings on the day of nomination stand adjourned to polling day, the Returning Officer shall immediately make all necessary . arrangements for taking the poll, and in particular shall -
appoint a presiding officer to preside at each polling placee, and all necessary assistant presiding officers, poll clerks, and” doorkeepers ;
provide and furnish proper polling booths and ballot-boxes; and
provide ballot-papers and all necessary certified lists of voters.
In any emergency on polling day due . to the absence of any assistant presiding officer, poll clerk, or doorkeeper, or to an; unforeseen and continued pressure at the polling which cannot be met by the duly appointed officers, the presiding officer may appoint any person to act as assistant presiding officer, poll clerk, or doorkeeper, and the person so appointed or acting shall be deemed to have been duly appointed if the Divisional Returning Officer afterwards ratifies the appointment by appointing that person to be assistant presiding officer, poll clerk, or doorkeeper, as the case may be.
No person under the age of twenty -one years shall be appointed to be a presiding officer or assistant presiding officer.
Any assistant presiding officer may, subject to the direction of the presiding officer, exercise all or any of the powers of the presiding officer, and shall, in respect of the exercise of those powers, be deemed to be the presiding officer.
Any presiding officer may appoint a substitute to perform his duties during his temporary absence, and such substitute may, while so acting, exercise all the powers of the presiding officer, and shall, in the exercise of those powers, be deemed to be the presiding officer. 100. No part of any premises licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquorshall be used for the purpose of any polling booth. 101. Polling booths shall have separate voting compartments, constructed so as to screen the voters from observation while they are marking their ballot-papers, and each voting compartment shall be furnished with a pencil for the use of voters. 102. Each polling booth shall be provided with the necessary ballot-boxes, constructed and fitted as prescribed. 103. The certified list of voters to . be used by a presiding officer at a polling place shall be the list of the electors on the roll enrolled for the Subdivision for which the polling place is prescribed certified by the Divisional Returning Officer, and shall before the hour of commencing the poll be delivered to the Presiding Officer for his guidance during the polling. 104. Ballot-papers to be used in a Senate election may be in theForm Ein the Schedule. 105. Ballot-papers to be used in . a House of Representatives election may be in the Form F in the Schedule.
As these are new provisions I should like to refer honorable senators to the schedule which sets out a sample of ballot-paper for the Senate and the House of Representatives -
State of[here insert name of State’].
Election of [here insert number] Senators. Directions. - The elector should mark his vote on this ballot-paper by making a cross in the square opposite the name of each candidate for whom he votes. He must vote for the full number of candidates to be elected.
State of [here insert name of State].
Electoral Division of [here insert name of Division] .
Election of one Member of the House of Representatives.
Directions.. - The elector should mark his vote on this ballot-paper by placing the number 1 in the square opposite the name of the candidate for whom he votes as his first preference; and must give contingent votes for all the remaining candidates by placing the numbers 2, 3, 4 (and so on, as the case requires), im the squares opposite their names, so as to indicate the order of his preference for them.
the names of all candidates duly nominated shall be printed in alphabetical order according to their surnames;
except as otherwise provided by the regulations, a square shall be printed opposite the name of each candidate. 107. (1) No ballot-paper shall be delivered to any voter without being first initialed by the proper officer, and an exact account shall be kept of all initialed ballot-papers.
Penalty: Five pounds.
A scrutineer who commits any breach of this section, or who misconducts himself, or who fails to obey the lawful directions of the presiding officer, may be removed from the polling booth by any constable or person authorized by the presiding officer to remove him. 110. No candidate shall in any way take part in the conduct of an election, and no person, other than the presiding officer, assistant presiding officers, poll clerks, doorkeepers, and scrutineers, and the electors voting and about to vote, shall be permitted to enter or remain in the polling booth during the polling except by permission of the presiding officer. 111. The polling shall be conducted as follows: -
The regulations relating to absent voting may prescribe all matters (not inconsistent with this Act) necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying this section into effect, and in particular may provide for -
– Does the honorable senator think that the reading of all these details in the Bill is relevant to the motion before the Senate?
– Yes ; I think it is relevant, for this reason : The motion gives power to the majority, if they so wish, to pass the whole Bill through at the present sitting. That being so, no other opportunity will.be given. to me to know what is in the Bill.
– The honorable senator is mistaken, because the Bill mustbe considered clause by clause in Committee.
– A Government that will take from me the rights I have under the Standing Orders to discuss a Bill of this kind can move in Committee that I be no longer heard.
– Our Standing Orders do not permit such a motion. Will the honorable senator allow me to explain? There is no standing order which, in Committee or at any other stage, will allow a motion to be made by a Minister, or any one else, that a senator be no longer heard. With one or two exceptions, there are no motions which may be moved to interrupt an honorable senator who is speaking. Standing order 422 provides -
No senator shall interrupt another senator whilst speaking, unless (1) to request that his words be taken down; (2) to call attention to a point of order or privilege suddenly arising; or (3) to call attention to the want of a quorum.
So that the honorable senator will see that he could not be interrupted in the way he suggests. As the Bill must go through Committee, every honorable senator must have the opportunity to discuss it clause by clause, as it can be put in no other way. The honorable senator has, therefore, given no good reason for reading the whole Bill on the motion now before the Chair, to which he cannot hold that his remarks are entirely relevant. The Standing Orders which will not be suspended will provide ample opportunity for the honorable senator to bring each clause under notice.
– With other honorable senators, I must on all occasions submit to your interpretation of the rules of debate.
– I wish to be perfectly fair to every honorable senator.
– If you rule that I must not read the Bill through before the Standing Orders are suspended, I shall make no complaint.
– The honorable senator must admit that he has had a great deal of latitude.
– I have had no more and no less latitude than the Standing Orders provide for me. I should be reflecting on you, sir, if I claimed otherwise. The length at which I have read the clauses line by line must not only be wearying to yourself and other honorable senators, but it is still more wearying to me. Accepting the hint, you have so kindly thrown out, I wish to make it quite clear why I have deliberately made such a lengthened protest against this procedure. My protest is called for by the fact that the Government have introduced absolutely a new procedure. It is novel, and contrary to the spirit of the Standing Orders to ask for their suspension, unless urgency can be proved. The Corangamite election cannot be claimed as a matter of urgency, and the Government have not attempted to show where the urgency lies. The Minister who introduced this novel, extreme, far-reaching, and unparalleled innovation upon bur customs and procedure did not condescend to explain the reason for such extreme haste. If only the advantage that the Government think they will get at the Corangamite election was involved, I should never have put on honorable senators the strain of keeping them up all night ; but I have always seen more in the Standing Orders than mere party advantage. I have never, in this House or in the New South Wales Parliament, heard it suggested that the Standing Orders should °be suspended unless there were good and sufficient reasons for that course. We must not allow practices to creep in unchecked that will take from us those rights which we have held for so long, and the time to protest is when the attempt is made. It is absolutely a new procedure to ask for the suspension of the Standing Orders without showing urgency.
– This is an argument perfectly relevant to the motion, but the honorable senator has repeated it many times.
– If you rule that I have repeated any argument, I shall < bow at once to your ruling; but the art of debating, as I understand it, is to repeat arguments so frequently in different words that they will reach the understanding of all my hearers.
What are the Standing Orders which will be suspended if the motion is carried? No. 192 is as follows: -
After the first reading, a future day shall be appointed for the second reading of the Bill; and the Bill shall, in the meantime, be printed.
There is no good reason why a future day should not be appointed for the second reading, and that would give us an interval of a day to consider the Bill. The Government supporters, as well as members of the Opposition, should take fine care that, on measures of first importance that are not urgent, standing order 192 is not suspended. The next are as follows: -
On the Order of the Day being read for the second reading of a Bill, the question shall be proposed, “ That this Bill be now read a second time.”
Amendments may be moved to such question by leaving out “ now “ and adding “ this day six months,” which, if carried, shall finally dispose of the Bill; or by referring the Bill to a Select Committee; or- the previous question may be moved.
– That standing “ order will not be suspended by the motion. The next standing order affected will be 196.
– No. 196 reads -
When a Bill has been reported on by a Select Committee, a future day may be fixed for the second reading.
That does not seem to affect this Bill, although, possibly, on the second reading, I may move for the appointment of a Select Committee. Standing order 212 provides -
On the motion for the adoption of the report, the Bill may, on motion, be recommitted, either in whole or in part; in which case, if amendments be made and the Bill be reported, a subsequent day shall be fixed for taking the report into consideration and moving its adoption, and the Bill, as reported with the amendments, shall in the meantime be printed; but if no amendments have been made, the report may be . at once adopted.
There will be nothing gained by the Government in suspending that standing order, because I am sure no amendment will be made in tha Bill by the Senate except what the Minister chooses to ac- cept. Standing order 213 is as follows : -
When report is finally adopted, a future day shall he fixed, on motion, for the third reacting.
If the Minister had been reasonable, the only extra time that would have been given for the consideration of this Bill would be two days - one between the first and second readings, and the other between the report stage and mo 1hird reading. I suppose it is of no use to ask the Minister to allow us those two extra days. Evidently he will not agree to it. His attitude with regard to the Bill has been altogether unreasonable, and has driven me to the extreme measures that I have taken. Through my action in reading so many of the clauses, honorable senators have now a much greater knowledge of the far-reaching importance of the Bill than they had when the Minister moved this motion, so that they will be able to vote with a clear understanding against the suspension of the Standing Orders. No reasonable member of the Senate will support the Government in this innovation. I have at least enabled honorable senators to realize the importance of this measure, and since I do not desire to prolong the debate one moment longer than is necessary, I shall make way for others who desire to exercise their rights. Before doing so, I wish again to ask the Minister in charge of the Bill to give us his assurance that between the first reading and the second reading of the Bill we shall have the opportunity which the Standing Orders provides for its consideration, and that between the report stage and the third reading >of the Bill we shall also have the usual interval. If he will give me that assurance, I shall promise that the debate on the motion for the second reading, and also in Committee, will not be unduly prolonged. The Minister makes no response to my request. He is content to wield his strength in his own peculiar obstinate way. He is intolerant of the comfort, convenience, and rights of those who are opposed to him, and has no regard for the contempt into which the Senate may be dragged by reason of his action. If he were in Opposition he would forcibly protest against the very procedure that he asks u3 this morning to adopt. The whole of the Ministerial supporters are at heart opposed to this proposition, but he is forcing a reluctant following to support him in this outrage upon the Standing Orders.
This Bill is divided into eighteen parts, and it is reasonable to assume that the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders has been submitted to enable it to be applied to the coming by-election for Corangamite. The result will be that we shall have one member of the Parliament returned under an Act entirely different from that under which the remaining members were elected. That alone should be sufficient to induce the Minister to stay his hand. It may be said that the people are tired of a system under which it is possible for a man to be returned on a minority vote. It may be said that the successful candidate at the by-election for Swan represents only a minority of the voters, and that it is undesirable that we should have a recurrence of that experience in connexion with the forthcoming by-election for Corangamite. The application of this Bill to the byelection for Corangamite will mean that the successful candidate will be returned under conditions entirely different from those which operated in connexion with the recent by-election in Western Australia. For the last thirty years it has been the practice of the British Parliament to appeal to the new constituencies as soon as possible after the passing of a new Electoral Bill, so that the whole Parliament should be elected on the basis of uniform legislation. That is a very wise provision. We should hasten slowly in changing from one system to another. Bound as it is by a rigid and written Constitution, this Parliament occupies a position entirely different from that of the United Kingdom. We find it difficult to try to give effect to many desirable principles which we should like to have embodied in a measure of this kind. The Government would be well advised in withholding the passing of this legislation until the Constitution is so amended as to give us fuller and ampler powers to deal with the matters covered by the Bill. The Minister, however, makes no response to my appeal. T am not at liberty to refer to what’ happened recently in another place, but the experience of the supporters of the Government in the House of Representatives - an experience quite fresh in our minds - offers the best reason I can give in support of my plea that the Standing Orders should not be suspended.
I have occupied a good deal of time-
– T - The honorable senator has not been too long. His speech will open the eyes of the people as to what is being done by the Government.
– I am glad to have that expression of approval from the honorable senator, who has held office as Chairman of Committees, and so is familiar with the Standing Orders. I am glad to hear that he considers I have taken up a right attitude. The Government are simply obeying the direction of the Argus that this Bill should be pushed through. It was not until the Argus had spoken, a little more than a week ago, that the Government began to realize that it was necessary to treat this as an urgent measure. They recognised then that the master’s lash was being applied to them, and, as with highly trained horses that are prepared, without the use of the whip, to maintain an even swinging pace along good roads, the sudden application of the undeserved whip caused them to fly off at a tangent. I venture to say I am inclined to resent the readiness of the Government to go on their knees and to say, “ Yes, Mr. Leader Writer of the Argus; you are right, and we shall hurry along with the Bill, in order that what happened in Western Australia shall not occur in Victoria.” But for the Argus article the Senate would not have been asked to rush this Bill through. The struggle for position and power is always going on in politics, and the press is pleased to have in office a Government which will show” absolute readiness to obey its dictates. That is the position of the present Administration and of its supporters. The Argus said, “This Bill must be pushed through,” but gave no reason why it should be regarded as urgent. Scared at the figures of the Swan election, and finding that the policy it has dictated to the Government for months past has met with the disapproval of the electors in a quarter in which that disapproval was least expected, the Argus now advises the Government that it is necessary to pass a new Electoral Act, in the hope that, by a sudden change from one system of voting to another, which the electors are not to be given time to understand, it will be possible to stave off another defeat.
I have dealt at considerable length with the provisions of this measure. I think I have exhausted almost every reasonable argument that could be submitted against the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders. If I spoke for five or six hours more, I could not make it more clear than I have done already that there is no occasion for this motion. For eighteen months since the Government were elected, honorable senators on this side have the record that they have not been responsible for one hour of unnecessary delay in the passing of any measure submitted by the Government. We have permitted the policy of the Government to be given effect as they willed; but, in spite of the generous treatment they have received at our hands, now, when a measure of vital importance to the whole of the electors of the Commonwealth is submitted, we are met with such treatment as the Senate has never previously permitted any Government to inflict upon those opposed to it. I am afraid that a Government so unreasonable as to desire to suspend the Standing Orders in connexion with a measure of this kind must intend to prevent its discussion at other stages. If it were only for the fact that this Bill provides for one system of voting for the House of Representatives, and an entirely different system for the Senate, it should receive the fullest consideration. I am not prepared to give the Government the power they ask for under this motion. I am not sure that I ought not to say that I am not prepared to give Senator Pearce this power, because I cannot believe that it is the proposal of the Government as a whole to rush, this measure through all its stages in one day. The Leader of the Government in the Senate is absent, and Senator Pearce, intoxicated with the power he is exercising for a brief period, probably desires to show how. splendidly he can keep the team opposite up to their work. He is going to do wonders, and will do in a day what any other leader of the party would take a month to do. I have no doubt that he will accomplish what he desires, but we shall all suffer as a result. I feel sure that honorable senators opposite, against their better judgment and common sense, and the excellent arguments I have submitted, will support the Ministry. I am prepared to sit down now if any of them will undertake to answer the arguments I have brought forward.
– The honorable senator wishes us to assist in “ stone-walling.”
– If Senator Bakhap will undertake to answer my arguments, I will resume my seat at once.
– I will do so on the second reading.
– I am sorry that the honorable senator is not prepared to express his opinion on the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders. When we reach the second-reading stage, we shall have before us for consideration only the principles of the Bill, and the honorable senator may not then have the opportunity which he thinks he will have. We are asked now to consider, not the principles of the Bill, but the unprincipled conduct of the Government, who do not desire to be governed by the Standing Orders. If the Standing Orders are not sufficiently elastic to permit of the reasonable despatch of business, that might be a fair reason for proposing their alteration; but it is not a good reason for their suspension to secure the passing of such a measure . as this in one day. We have a Standing Orders Committee, who could meet to-morrow and propose any amendment of the Standing Orders considered necessary to reasonably expedite the passage of this or any other measure which could not be passed with reasonable despatch under the Standing Orders as they exist at present. That would be the proper procedure to follow if the present Standing Orders are not considered satisfactory. We might abolish all Standing Orders, since that would be quite as reasonable as to suspend the operation of those we have without a just cause. If our existing Standing Orders are not to apply in dealing with a. measure of this kind, to what class of measures should they be applied? Our Standing Orders are the result of the experience of the best intellects of the Senate, and those best qualified to decide the procedure under which institutions of this character should be governed.
– A - And they are based on the experience of other and older Parliaments.
– They are based on the experience of the best brains of other Parliaments. They have been adopted after ample deliberation, and should be amended only when practice and experience show amendments to be necessary, and, yet, without a word of justification advantage is being taken of a contingent notice of motion on the business paper, in these terms -
The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) to move, contingent on any Bill being reported from a Committee of the Whole, that so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as will prevent the Bill being passed through its remaining stages without delay.
I should like to ask you, sir, whether Senator Pearce was in order in moving this motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders when it is not in his name?
– The honorable senator is not entitled to raise that point of order now.- The Standing Orders are explicit that a point of order must be taken at the time when the proceedings objected to arise.
– No other speaker has referred to the matter, and I am referring . to it on the first occasion on which I have risen to speak on the motion. The contingent notice of motion is -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as will prevent the Bill being passed through its remaining stages without delay.
Honorable senators are asked to carry that motion, and I ask honorable senators opposite if they mean to give it effect when it is carried, because, if they do, there will not necessarily be the delay of one interval between the different stages. “When honorable senators who desire to address themselves to this motion have spoken the Minister in charge of the measure will move the second reading of the Bill ; then will follow the Committee stage, then the report stage, and then the third reading, and thus, I suppose, without the .Senate having “risen, the Bill will be passed through all its stages. It may be that what is intended is to have the measure in a satisfactory position for its application to the election which is to take place on the 14th December. Senator Millen, as Leader of the Government in the Senate, put this contingent notice of motion on the business paper, and now another Minister - I take it without instructions -from Senator Millen, and without his authority - moves the motion. I recognise that I cannot discuss the ruling on that point, which, I think, is absolutely correct,” but I am of the opinion that had Senator Millen been in charge of the business, if we had asked him to give us two days for its full consideration - one at the beginning of the discussion on the Bill and one at the report stage - he’ would have been prepared to do so. I do not believe that when he put this contingent motion on the business paper he ever imagined that it would be used by his eoi– league in the way it is being used on this occasion. I hope that other honorable senators will take my view of the matter, and will keep the discussion going until Senator Millen appears in his place, and is made aware of what his first lieutenant is doing on this occasion. Since he has been Leader of the Senate Senator Millen has on very many occasions moved motions similar to that we are now discussing, but he has never moved such a motion in connexion with a Bill similar to this. I have a very good memory for the legislation’ we have been asked to consider, and I do not remember one occasion upon which Senator Millen has so abused the power which his majority has given him as Leader of the Government in the Senate. However, Senator Pearce, taking advantage of the contingent motion, notice of which was given by Senator Millen, has moved it. I do not know what the motive of the honorable gentleman may have been; perhaps he thought to save time and trouble in considering the measure. If the Standing Orders are suspended, thus leaving no way of securing the rights of the minority, Senator Pearce will be in such a position that he will not ‘be called upon to give any explanation, and the public in turn will be without knowledge of the provisions of the Bill. Once the motion is carried Senator Pearce may well claim that he has properly interpreted the feeling of the Senate, and that the desire is to pass the measure through all its stages in one day. I have no doubt that in his hurry the honorable gentleman may deem it quite unnecessary to make a second-reading speech of any length; he will simply tell us that it is an Electoral Bill, -though I do not think he will be candid enough to say that it is a Bill to enable the National party to get a better result at Corangamite than they got at Swan.
– I think the honorable senator has repeated that often enough to make it emphatic, and I ask him not to repeat the statement.
– I quite see, sir. that you remember that at some earlier stage of my ‘address I made a reference tq an analogy between Swan and Corangamite.
– A little while ago the honorable member called attention to the fact that he was about to recapitulate his points, and I am bound to take notice when the honorable member himself tells the Senate of his intention.
– I do not think, sir, that you would rule me out of order, especially after such a protracted address, if I endeavoured to refresh honorable senators’ minds on the different points I have raised. On an occasion of thi3 kind, when I have been called on to deliver an impromptu address on a most important matter, I do not think it would ‘be deemed out of order to attempt to concisely recapitulate the points. However, if that be ruled as repetition, I must bow to the ruling.
– J - Judging from the sleeping senators opposite they do not desire to have any instruction.
– Perhaps those sleeping senators are quite innocent of the injury of the vote they would be called upon to give if I happened to sit down now. However, we have this motion submitted by a tyrannical Minister dressed in a little brief authority; and the responsibility is that of the Ministry and not mine. I feel that in taking the course I have to-night I may have run some physical risk, but I should like to continue, and raise my voice, if only to awaken the sleeping senators opposite to some shred of decency, and some spark of a. desire, even if they are a powerful majority, to respect the rights of an alert minority. I venture to say that many of those who will support Senator Pearce on this occasion will regret it only once, and that is for the term of their natural lives. From habit or indolence - from the habit of letting the Government think, act, and work for them, and of unquestioning obedience to the will of those charged with the business of the House - those honorable senators, who are now sleeping, seem, to my mind, to lose all sense of the importance of the question we have been discussing for a few- hours. I do not know why, for the first time, there should be this proposed infringement of the rights of minorities; and perhaps the Minister will give the reason he failed to give in submitting the motion. It may be that he concluded he had only to move a motion of the kind to have it passed unquestioned by his own side. But now it must be seen by honorable senators opposite that the Government are not wisely meeting the House - that they cannot be trusted without the Standing Orders, and that they are notreally expediting business by their procedure. Senator Pearce himself must admit that he is no further ahead with the business than he would have been had he decided to stand by the Standing Orders. I know that the honorable gentleman would be reluctant to see honorable senators on this side forced into a position of prolonged opposition to this measure, with many of the provisions of which we are in accord, but some of which we think should have adequate discussion at the various stages, as the Standing Orders provide. But the Minister’s tactics would lead us to suppose that, in bis opinion, he alone knows what the measure contains, and is satisfied that it is a good thing for the Government, and, I will be charitable enough to say, for the country, and that, therefore, the rest of us should accept his opinion. “We are asked to be satisfied with one stage only for the measure; in other words, we are asked to pass all the stages in one hurried sitting. If his idea were not. such as I have suggested, he would not have insisted on a motion of the kind before us.
Look at Senator Lynch, who is reclining opposite; when I first entered this chamber I formed a high opinion of his intelligence and earnestness.
– That is hardly relevant to the question.
– Should I be in order in saying that my experience of the honorable senator during the last four or five years has altered that opinion?
– Neither remark is relevant to the question of the suspension of the Standing Orders.
– The last reference 1 made to the Bill was on clause 114. There are about another 100 clauses, but, judging from the hint that you, sir, gave me, I should not be allowed to read them. I am also aware, without instructions from you, that I shall not be allowed to discuss the principles of the Bill, or the effect of the clauses, until we reach the second-reading and Committee stages. I am quite sure, however, that between where I left off reading and the end of the measure, there are quite a numberof provisions full of interest to honorable senators; and I ask them, in any leisure hour they may have between this and the future stages of the Bill, to give particular attention to the more important provisions. There are clauses dealing with bribery and undue influence, electoral offences, Courts of Disputed Returns, illega.1 practices, qualifications and vacancies, and the schedules, and some of those are of such importance us to demand consideration of this Bill one stage at a time, even if they formed the whole of the measure. I shall not deal in much detail with them now, because I believe that the President is right, and the Government will find it difficult to prevent my discussing them at the Committee stage. We can, at this hour of the morning, transact our business in daylight, and this symbolizes the fact that the same conditions which obtained when I commenced my address do not obtain now, inasmuch as there is not absolute want of knowledge on the part of honorable senators of what is contained in the Bill.
– What do your sleeping colleagues know about it?
– I know that my colleagues have unselfishly maintained a quorum for the Government during the whole of the night, and in doing so have reaped the advantage to which I have referred. I had a clear idea of what the Bill contained when it was introduced in another place a week ago, but whether the one we have received is identical with that measure is quite a different question.
– The Bill has been on our files.
– But Senator Guthrie seems to miss the point that, between the 8th November, when the Bill was introduced into another place, and the 13th November, when we received it, the measure was subject to amendment. Of course, it is quite reasonable to suppose that no very great alterations would be made in a Bill of this character, consisting, as it does largely, of machinery clauses; but that is quite apart from the point I raise. I have been trying to make honorable senators understand that the Senate should have ample time to deal with a measure of this kind, and, until we are assured that that opportunity will be given, we should not be asked to agree to a suspension of the Standing Orders. Let me take as an illustration the question of proportional representation. I know that the Bill of 8th November, as it was introduced in another place, contained no reference to this subject, but I am equally well informed that a very strong party in the other House are favorable to this principle, but up to the present I have had no means of ascertaining whether they were sufficiently strong to incorporate the provisions in this measure. If, when the Minister introduced the Bill, he had stated that, the first reading having been accepted and the Bill printed, he would next day expect honorable senators to. agree to the suspension of the Standing Orders in order to expedite the passage of the Bill, my grounds for complaint would have been removed. But that is not the position. Within five minutes of the receipt of this measure, the Minister in charge of the Senate moved the suspension of the Standing Orders. The motion has not been agreed to yet. The attitude adopted by the Government, so far from accelerating their business,- has merely added to the discomfort of honorable senators, and has really unfitted them for the work they should do, namely, concentrate their clearest intellects upon this measure, so as to insure that it will be the very best that this Parliament can devise. The Minister has missed this opportunity. And opportunities like this do not come often in the life of honorable senators, so they should not be missed. I suppose the average parliamentary life of an honorable senator does not exceed ten years. That means that once in our parliamentary life we have an opportunity of dealing with really big questions, free of the atmosphere and prejudice of party, measures upon which broad-minded men can come together in the discussion of important principles.
This is the only chance that I have had of dealing in a really comprehensive manner with our electoral laws, and I am reluctant to let it pass without endeavouring to secure for honorable senators the fullest opportunity of a free discussion. Honorable senators represent huge constituencies. Senator Earle, as the representative of 40,000 or 45,000 voters, may have gained richer experience than any other honorable senator on this important question of securing representation for the views of minorities. I am told that very much may be said for the experiments that have been carried out in Tasmania, and I believe it would be a distinct advantage to the Senate if, instead of adopting the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders, we approached the discussion of this measure by the ordinary stages of debate. Apart from being able to give consideration to all their Bills, the Government have scarcely time for the business of Cabinet, and I am confident that the drafting of a measure of this character will . have been left largely to officers of the Electoral Department. I am not suggesting that the Government have surrendered their responsibility, but I do say that neither the House nor the Government have had sufficient leisure to give sufficient attention to this Bill. The action I have taken has been rendered necessary by the relentless attitude of the Government, by the callous indifference of the Minister in charge to the reasonable request I have submitted, and by the evident determination that the Bill instead of being the act of Parliament, should be the measure of the Government. If the Government who are responsible for the business of this Parliament are satisfied with it, perhaps there is no reason why I should complain. If there is such complete accord amongst Ministers that they are prepared to take the word of one member of the Cabinet, content to allow him to be the judge of the manner in which the measure shall be carried through Parliament - a manner different from that adopted in regard to any similar Bill - then all 1 can say is that that is a further reason why honorable senators should give the whole subject very grave consideration. It is a scandal, and a most serious reflection upon Parliament, that the Government should attempt bo get a Bill of this magnitude through at one sitting. That is what it amounts to.
– The honorable senator has repeated that .statement very many times during the last few hours, and I must ask him to refrain from further repetition.
– I thank you, sir, for your suggestion. I was wondering whether the Standing Orders should not be administered by you, sir, somewhat in accordance with the conditions under which the debate is proceeding. If by making a statement to an alert member of the Senate, I succeed in persuading him to alter his opinion upon the motion, I may, perhaps, by repeating it, be able also to influence some other honorable senators who .had not .previously been so attentive.
– Unfortunately for the honorable senator, the Standing Orders do not regard that possibility as a sufficient justification for ignoring them.
– Possibly what I was saying so closely resembled what I said earlier that it was your duty to remind me that I was getting within the region of repetition. My intention since I rose has been to persist deliberately in discussing the Bill until the slowest understanding in the Senate realized that the suspension of the Standing Orders to deal with such a measure was unwarranted and unprecedented. The first Electoral Bill, in the discussion of which I participated in 1891, abolished the old bad system of plural voting. At the election at which I was first returned, a man so wealthy as to own property in all the 141 electorates of New” South Wales could, if it had been physically possible, record 141 votes at the one election. .When .we, as a parity, advocated one man one vote and one vote one value-
– Order! The honorable senator is now discussing a matter that is not relevant even to the Bill, to say nothing of the motion before the Senate. He is entitled to draw an analogy, but not to discuss the electoral rolls of previous times at considerable length on this motion.
– The analogy I proposed to draw was that the reform we advocated was so drastic and far-reaching that the power-holding classes firmly believed it would absolutely ruin the country, but there was no attempt to suspend the Standing Orders. The Government of the day were Conservative almost beyond imagination, but they had such a proper estimation of the position of Parliament that they never tried with their majority to take advantage of the minority, although that minority was new to parliamentary procedure. Rather, they gave the fullest and freest opportunities for the most ample discussion at every stage of the Bill. Now, when most of us had begun to think that the days of parliamentary tyranny had passed for ever, and fondly hoped that w’e would never again see a Government trying to rob the people of their just rights, this proposal is sprung upon us. I use the word “ rob “ advisedly, because the Government cannot, without robbing the people of their rights, have two stages of a Bill of this nature taken on one day, and so forcibly deprive other honorable senators of the right to speak on each stage of the Bill, at the same time refusing them an opportunity to make themselves acquainted with the provisions of the- Bill itself. This procedure is unreasonable and undreamt of. “We imagined that in 1918 we were more advanced than were the people of 1818, but I am beginning to think we are advancing backwards. Instead of Parliament becoming more liberal and more tolerant, growing, broadening, and widening, we have a Parliament which is not- prepared to concede to the minority the ordinary rights of parliamentary discussion. A cause that rests on force alone is doomed, and a Government that resorts to methods of conducting business which depend on continuous sittings to sap the physical strength and endurance of its opponents, will meet a day of reckoning. This Government, attempting to force the Senate to deal with all the stages of this Bill at one sitting, is doomed to hear the Bill threshed out at just as great length as if it were dealt with in the ordinary course of business as laid down by the Standing Orders. Force will always fail if resorted to in an unintelligent manner, but it must be resisted. I shall certainly feel the effects of this strenuous use of my strength to prevent this glaring innovation upon our procedure.
I do not think you have ruled, sir, that I cannot call attention to, without discussing in detail, some provisions in the Bill with which honorable senators are not acquainted. I trust I shall be in order if I quote a provision, and ask honorable senators not to take any action which will prevent its full consideration. I have read the schedules relating to the two systems of voting, and showed that if the desire of. the Government was to obtain an intelligent expression of the wishes of the people, it was quite inconsistent to have two distinct systems of voting in the same polling booth on the same day.
– The honorable senator will not be in order in repeating what he has already said. I hope he will not oblige me to take action in accordance with the powers conferred upon me by the Standing Orders.
– I propose to draw attention to some of the other schedules. Form A, which I shall not be in order in discussing, I shall read to bring it under the notice of honorable senators -
Writ for the ELECTION of Senators.
To the Commonwealth
Electoral Officer for the State of [here insert name of State].
We command you to cause election to be made according to law of [here insert number] Senators for our State of [here insert name of State] to serve in the Senate of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia from and after [here insert “ the date of their election * or “ the day of 19 “as the case may be]. And we appoint the day of 19 , at twelve o’clock noon to be the day and time before which nominations of Senators at and for the said election’ are to be made. And we appoint the day of 19 , to be the day on which the poll is to be taken in the event of the said election being contested. And we appoint the office of the Commonwealth Electoral Officer at [here insert name of town] to be the place of nomination at the said election. And we command you to indorse on this our writ the names of the Senators elected and to return it so indorsed to our Governor in and over our said State on or before the day of 19 .
I have a particular purpose in drawing attention to that schedule, because I hope honorable senators will not do me the injustice of rushing the Bill through in such a way as to prevent me from discussing that part of it at another stage. Form B provides -
Writ for the Election of a Member of the House of Representatives.
To Returning Officer for the Electoral Division of [here insert name of Division] in the State of [here insert name of State].
We command you that you cause election to be made according to law of one member of the House of Representatives for the Electoral Division of [here insert name of Division], in the State of [here insert name of State], to serve in the Parliament of our Commonwealth of Australia, and we appoint the following dates for the purposes of the said election: -
I should not have read these provisions if the Government had permitted the usual interval between the first and second readings. Clauses 218 and 219 are as follow: - 218. (1) Strict compliance with the forms in the Schedule shall not be required, and substantial compliance therewith shall suffice for the purposes of this Act.
In the last preceding sub-section “repealed form” includes -
Provided that such ballot-papers, certified lists of voters, and declarations shall be preserved for a period of at least six months from the date of the declaration of the poll.
I do not find there the particular provision to which I wished to direct attention, with a request that honorable senators would, at a later stage, show sufficient tolerance to enable it to be discussed as its importance deserves. The by-election for Corangamite will take place within a month, so that the electors will not have much opportunity to ascertain what are offences vender this measure, and the extent to which they differ from those provided for under the old law. The placing of this clause on record in Hansard will serve a useful purpose, inasmuch as it will let the public outside know for what offences the new law will provide.
– Order! On the motion before the Chair the honorable senator is not entitled to do that in order to give the electors an opportunity to know what is proposed in this measure. He must confine his attention to the giving of reasons why the Standing Orders should or should not be suspended.
– I recognise, sir, that it was absurd for me to try to convey information on the subject to the outside public, but I shall read this clause in order that honorable senators generally may learn the penalties for which it provides, and in the hope that they will determine that the Standing Orders should not he suspended, since it is one that ought to be adequately discussed. 171. The matters mentioned in the first column of the table at the foot of this section are electoral offences punishable as provided in the second column of the table opposite the statement of the offence.
I realize that I should not he in order in discussing in detail the provisions of this clause, but I ask the Minister now in charge of the Bill (Senator Russell) to agree to the adjournment of the debate so that the Government and their supporters may have an opportunity to consider whether it would be fair to suspend the Standing Orders to enable a Bill providing for such penalties as these to be passed through all its stages without delay. The Minister is sensible of the drastic character of these penalties.
– I appreciate them, because the honorable senator himself has already voted for the whole of them. This is a consolidating measure consolidating Acts which the honorable senator himself helped to pass.
– I think the clause provides for a number of new penalties. If the Standing Orders were suspended honorable senators would not have an opportunity to read this Bill carefully. They might fall into the error of voting for this motion to enable the passing of this Bill through all its stages “without delay, notwithstanding that it provides for the most drastic penalties. Those who err, often from sheer ignor- ance, or because -of over zeal in the cause they have at heart, will find . themselves under, this Bill responsible for penalties for which the existing legislation does not provide. The Vice-President of the Executive Council (SenatorRussell) assures us that all these penalties are to be found in legislation in the passing of which I have assisted. I am sure he would not try to mislead the Senate, but I would remind him that if this motion be agreed . to 1 shall not have an opportunity to examine the Bill, and to compare it with the existing electoral law so as to determine the correctness or otherwise of his statement. The honorable senator, I am sure, believes his statement to be absolutely correct, but in all these matters we must shoulder our “ own responsibilities. If I were accused later on of having allowed drastic penalties to be provided for without offering any objection I could not shelter myself behind the statement of the Minister that they were taken from the existing law. I am expected to exercise my own individual responsibility and to compare this Bill with the electoral legislation which it is supposed to codify. Honorable senators opposite, who are in a majority today, may be in a minority to-morrow. I would say to them, “Even if you are strong, be merciful.” I ask for no further consideration than that there should be no suspension of the Standing Orders which were framed for our guidance.
Senator Millen, who was not present when the Bill was introduced, might return this morning anticipating- that the motion for the second reading of the Bill would be the first business to be called on.
– The honorable senator has shot his bolt. He is beginning to run round in a circle.
– I ain surprised that the honorable senator should imagine that physical endurance can go on for all time. I am aware that Senator Millen is absent from the chamber on important business, . and I have referred to his absence only by way of illustration. When he returns, expecting that under the Standing Orders, the second-reading stage will have been reached, and that he will be able to give the Senate the benefit of his accumulated knowledge on the subject will he not be astonished if he discovers that the Bill has passed through all its stages?
– Senator Millen is absent because of illness. He does not intend to take any part in the discussion of this Bill.
– I know that Sena-tor Millen, as Leader of the Government in the Senate, is most attentive to his duties. This, however, is a Bill on which parliamentarians are experts. They know from bitter experience how Acts of Parliament have been manipulated with the result that many of them have lost their seats. ‘ Men who have suffered in that way may be trusted to suggest legislation which will prevent the adoption of such practices in the future. If Senator Reid, with his long knowledge of Parliament and parliamentary elections, . had gone home at 10 o’clock last night before this Bill was received, assuming that under the Standing Orders there would be an interval between the first and second reading of the measure, another interval between the second reading and the Committee 3tage, and another interval between the Committee stage and the report stage-
– The honorable senator has repeated that many times, and I ask him not to repeat it again.
– If you, sir, had permitted me to complete what I desire to say, though I have to thank you for the patience you have exhibited, you would have learned that, although I made use of the same figure of speech, I intended to apply it to a new argument. I was intending to suggest that an honorable senator, who left the Senate last night in the belief that under the Standing Orders this Bill if presented would reach only one stage, would be disgusted to find that the Standing Orders having been suspended, not merely one, but all stages of the measure had been passed, by the time he arrived next day. I can imagine his feelings towards his colleagues if that kind of thing took place in his absence. A few years ago, we had the
Navigation Bill under consideration in this House. We know that Senator Guthrie gave very great attention to that measure, and, with his intimate knowledge of navigation in all parts of the world, was in a position to enlighten the Senate as to its provisions. I ask what would have been the feelings of the honorable senator if, before that Bill came from another place, he had gone home assuming that, under the Standing Orders he would have ample opportunity to discuss its provisions, and had, on returning to the Senate, found that a complacent majority had assented to the suspension of the Standing Orders, and rushed the measure through in one sitting?
– That would have been impossible, because that was too big a Bill to rush through at one sitting.
– If it is possible to rush through the 200 clauses of this Bill at one sitting, I do not see why it should not be possible to rush through a Bill of 1,000 clauses.
– There is nothing in the honorable senator’s argument.
– That is the first occasion on which I have found Senator Guthrie insensible to a just claim made upon him. I should have thought that he would support me in the attitude that I have taken up.
– I can see no justice in the injustice which the honorable senator is doing other members of the Senate.
– That is a charge which I think honorable senators should not make against me. I am speaking of the principles on which the business of Parliament is conducted. No one expects that every member of the Senate will remain in this chamber during every minute of every sitting like boys at school. My idea of a deliberative assembly is that members of it who specialize on any subject should give their fellow members the benefit of their special information when a measure dealing with that subject is under consideration. When a great measure comes before the Senate on which almost every honorable senator is an expert, as honorable senators are on questions affecting the representation of the people-
– Order! The honorable senator will ultimately compel me to take the severe course which the Standing Orders empower me to take. He has, several times within the last hour, repeated the argument which he is now using.
– I hope that I shall not compel you, sir, to take any very drastic measures with me.
– I do not desire to do so.
– I am quite sure, sir, that you do not, and I am quite sure, also, that I shall give you no cause to do so. It may be that, because of the rapidity with which one’s brains work on an occasion like this, I have gone right round the subject and come back to matters with which I dealt before; but I am sure that you will not put any indignity on me because of a slip of that kind, especially in view of the fact that I have shown myself anxious and willing to conform to every ruling you have given.
– In the new era of peace, does the honorable senator not think he is setting a very bad example?
– That is a matter of opinion, and I am satisfied that, in the not far distant future, the honorable senator, reviewing what has taken place to-night, will not condemn my action. He may condemn it now, but time will justify me. I am afraid that honorable senators are not aware of the provisions in this Bill dealing with petitions, and I think it well to read them. They are as follow : - 186. Every petition disputing an election or return in this part of this Act called the petition shall -
be filed in the Principal Registry of the High Court or in the District Registry of that Court in the capital city of the State in which the election was held within forty days after the return of the writ; or (if the facts relied on in support of the petition are breaches by a candidate of the provisions of Part XVI. of this Act) within forty days after the filing by the candidate of the return of his electoral expenses. 187. At the time of filing the petition the petitioner shall deposit with the Principal Registrar or District Registrar (as the case may be) of the High Court the sum of Fifty pounds as security for costs. 188. No proceedings shall be had on the petition unless the requirements of the preceding sections are complied with. 189. The Chief Electoral Officer shall be entitled by leave of the Court of Disputed Returns to enter an appearance in any proceedings in which the validity of any election or return is disputed, and to he represented and heard thereon, and in such case shall be deemed to be a part)’ respondent to the petition. 190. (1) The Court of Disputed Returns shall sit as an open Court and its powers shall include the following: -
on the ground of any illegal practice other than bribery or corruption or attempted bribery or corruption, unless the Court is satisfied that the result of the election was likely to be affected, and that it is just that the candidate should be declared not to be duly elected or that the election should be declared void.. 193. When the Court of Disputed Returns finds that any person has committed an illegal practice, the Principal Registrar or District Registrar of the High Court shall forthwith report the finding to the Minister. 194. The Court shall be guided by the substantial merits and good conscience of each case without regard to legal forms or technicalities, or whether the evidence before it is in accordance with the law of evidence or not. 195. No election shall be avoided on account of any delay in the declaration of nominations, the polling, or the return of the writ, or on account of the absence or error of any officer which shall not be proved to have affected the result of the election. 196. All decisions of the Court shall be final and conclusive and without appeal, and shall not be questioned in any way. 197. The Principal Registrar or District Registrar of the High Court shall forthwith after the filing of the petition forward to the Clerk of the House of the Parliament affected by the petition a copy of the petition, and after the trial of the petition shall forthwith forward to such Clerk a copy of the order of the Court. 108. (1) No party to the petition shall, except by consent of all parties, or by leave of the Court, be represented by counsel or solicitor.
– I should like the honorable senator to connect what he is reading with the motion.
– The provisions I have read comprise one of the most important parts of this measure. I hope to induce the Minister to give honorable senators, in common with myself, the opportunity to make ourselves acquainted with this aspect of the Bill. The Minister is very anxious that the Standing Orders should be suspended, and if his object is that the Bill should be passed through all its stages forthwith, I cannot comment upon the clauses of the Bill at this stage; although the mere reading of them may induce honorable senators not to commit the injustice of hurrying this measure through Parliament.
– Could the honorable senator not read the clauses in his private room downstairs?
– I am willing to do so if the Minister will agree to adjourn to give me the opportunity. The reason I do not wish the Standing Orders to be suspended is that I may have the opportunity of reading this Bill at my leisure. If I left off speaking now, not only would the Standing Orders be suspended, but the Electoral Bill would” be put through Parliament before I got back from breakfast. But with the Standing Orders unsuspended it is impossible for the Government to put that outrage upon us.
– Or to have the Bill read.
– The Standing Orders, which protect the majority as well as the minority, prevent the Government getting a Bill through at one sitting; but suspended they will in this instance leave the minority and a good many members of the National party at the mercy of the Government. I do not propose to take any risks, and so, perhaps, enable Senator Pearce to become so much the master of the Senate that his will will prevail over that of all other honorable senators.
– You are not proving much by reading the clauses without comment.
– I do so because at this stage I should not be in order in commenting on them. I think, however, that I am in order in reading the clauses, so that honorable senators may know their grave responsibility in preventing other honorable senators having time to read them. I recognise that my attitude is quite an unusual one for me, but the attitude of the Government and their supporters is just as unusual.
– Is there not too much distraction in the chamber for you to read and digest the clauses?
– Certainly; and if the Minister will give me a promise that we shall have the opportunity for which, the Standing Orders provide, I shall accept it.
– You had the promise and would not accept it. You had the promise of a day’s interval before the second-reading debate.
– I do not wish to contradict the honorable senator, but the whole of my effort to-night has been because I had no such promise. I understood that the Minister intended, as soon as the motion was carried, to move the second reading and to make his speech upon it.
– And to adjourn the debate until the following day, when you could arrange with Senator Needham to waste the day by prolonging the discussion.
– There must not be interjections of that kind.
– I withdraw.
– As Senator Pearce has withdrawn his suggestion, I shall say nothing further regarding it. If the honorable gentleman will assure me that between the first and second readings we shall have an. opportunity to make ourselves acquainted with the Bill I shall resume my seat.
– After talking all night !
– I -was prepared to do so at the beginning if I had an opportunity before the second reading was reached. I have been perfectly well within my rights in fighting for that. If this resolves itself into a contest of endurance the Minister must see he cannot help matters by the brute-force policy he is following.
– Did you not understand that, after the Minister had made his speech, the debate would be adjourned ?
– Quite clearly.
– Then what is the point of difference?
– It had to be done in his particular way!
– I did not want it done in my “particular way.” The point of difference is that this most important measure came before us after 10 o’clock at night.
– The most important point is that you do not want the Bill to pass.
– On the contrary, my honorable friend will find me in accord with quite a number of the clauses. This Bill reached us after 10 o’clock, and the Standing Orders provide that a measure in such circumstances shall not be taken beyond one stage.
– This is new ground!
– It has been the ground from the very beginning.
– The Bill did not reach here at 10 o’clock, but at 3 o’clock, and would have been read a first time then but for the motion of adjournment by Senator Needham.
– Why the Minister should quibble in that way I do not know.
– It was the motion for the adjournment that kept the Bill back until 10 o’clock. .
– This will not prevent my making my position perfectly clear, in view of the statement of Senator Lynch. The first intimation I had of the Bill was when it reached this Chamber after 10 o’clock.
– It reached here at 3 o’clock.
– The first intimation I had of it was after 10 o’clock, and I was then prepared that the first reading should go without debate. What I desired as my right was that, before the Minister made his second-reading speech, I should have an opportunity to’ read the Bill. Is that an unreasonable request? Had my desire been carried out, with an interval between the first and second- reading, the Minister could have made his speech, and I could have asked for an adjournment of the debate until next week. If that were refused, there might have been an adjournment after the Committee stage; but the Minister would give no concession; he would not conduct the business in accordance with the Standing Orders, but preferred the unusual course he took. The usual breakfast hour having been reached, may I appeal to you, Mr. President, for the ordinary suspension of the sitting?
– I object.
– I am appealing, not to Senator Pearce, but to the President.
– I have no desire to do anything but meet the wishes of the Senate. I may point out, however, that if we suspend the sitting now, it must be a long suspension, because the all-night sitting was not quite expected, and the steward will not have breakfast ready for another hour. However, I shall put the question to the Senate, and take the unusual course of asking for a show of hands.
The question having been put,
– I am afraid the honorable senator must continue his remarks, in view of the result of the show of hands.
– This is another unparalleled procedure; not only are the Standing Orders to be suspended, but the ordinary breakfast adjournment is denied to honorable senators. I am not asking for an adjournment in. order that I may breakfast in the House, because I can get my meals elsewhere ; but this show of hands is a most extraordinary procedure. However, I appreciate the generosity of honorable senators opposite who have given me an opportunity to call attention- to other clauses in the Electoral Bill. I hope I shall not be deemed out of order when I say that if I hear honorable senators opposite - either on the platform or in this Chamber - discussing the brutality of the Germans, I shall suggest that they cut the mote out of their own eye.
– Most of your troubles are so conflicting!.
– I have no troubles, but I have had a glorious opportunity to estimate the brutality of honorable senators^ opposite when they have a little brief authority. No other word would be sufficiently strong.
– Are we not all’ suffering?
– If honorable senators opposite are suffering, they can end it by requesting their leaders to say that the ordinary adjournment hours shall be observed, and not left to the whim of ill-tempered senators, who have had their nerves wrought on by listening to me throughout the night. However, I shall go down to Corangamite during the election, if this Bill gets through.
– You will “go down “ if it does not get through, I think.
– I do not think so. If I do go to the electorate I shall let the people know exactly the anxiety which’ honorable senators opposite displayed in trying to fix the election in view of the crushing defeat of the National party in the Swan constituency.
– Crushing defeat ! Your people had a lower percentage than ever before.
– How much lower than that of the National party ?
– The National percentage was higher than ever before, with the three candidates combined.
– The honorable fen a tor has the audacity, when 19,000 votes were polled, and our candidate was on top, to say that our party polled a lower percentage. If he thinks such a statement will be accepted his own colleagues know differently.
– Nevertheless, it is an absolute fact.
– Here is another senator backing up the misstatement.
– It is not misstatement, but absolutely correct.
– To say that the National party, beaten by at least 7.2,000 votes-
– I must ask Senator Gardiner and other honorable senators not to discuss that matter.
– I am arguing that the reason for the .suspension of the Standing Orders is to be found in the result of the recent Swan election.
– ‘I have .checked the honorable senator at least three or four times for repeating that argument, and I must ask him not to further evade my ruling.
– I shall certainly not evade your ruling, but I am sure you will not nile me out of order before I have an opportunity to make a statement, and ask for a consideration of it.
– The honorable senator will not get anything but just treatment. I cannot allow the honorable senator in defiance of my ruling to repeat over and over again statements for which I have checked him.
– I have here the figures of the Swan election, and I submit that they have a bearing on the desire to get this Electoral Bill passed. The candidate Mr. Corboy polled 6,540 votes.
– “Which is 2.000 below the votes ‘polled for any Labour man that has stood for the same constituency.
– I ask Senator Henderson to refrain from interjecting.
– The candidate Murray, polled 5,795 votes ; Hedges, 5,635 ; and Watson, 884, showing, with 179 informal votes, a total poll of 19,033. T am not going to evade the ruling of the President. I leave these figures with.hon- orable senators, and ask them to say whether the reason for the haste of the Government is not due to the fact that their representative did not poll a third of the votes at the Swan election. My point is that there may be a good party reason for the proposal to suspend the Standing Orders; but no reason why this Parliament should lose all sense of its own dignity, and, because the Government have suffered a crushing party defeat, make a frantic effort to alter the whole of our electoral machinery. The Government, with their majority, can get this Bill through if they wish to exercise their power, and prevent me from making any appeal to the Senate to prevent the business being conducted along the lines now being taken. It looks as if the party opposite are willing to set aside the procedure of this Senate in regard to the ordinary time for adjournment, and that it would be useless for me to appeal to honorable senators in their present frame of mind. I have exhausted any hope of appealing with success to the Minister to come down from the high pedestal upon which he has placed himself, but I remind the Government that the smooth working of the parliamentary machine depends upon their attitude towards opponents. I have no desire to unduly prolong the debate. So far as I can see, no human being would be foolish enough to expect that this course would affect the position of the Government, but it may happen that the people will learn how business is being conducted by the Government in this Parliament, and, if so, they can be depended upon to revise their estimate of the present Ministry. But perhaps I should say that the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) is solely responsible for this state of affairs, though I do not know what purpose he has in persisting in his present attitude. I take it, however, that most honorable senators will exercise their right to speak upon the motion.
– D - Do you think honorable senators opposite will speak on this Bill?
– I will sit down at once if some other honorable senator will take up the debate until breakfast time, but, so far as I am concerned, I can do without breakfast.
– Order ! The discussion of breakfast is not relevant to the subject before the Chair.
– I realize that, if the motion be agreed to, the second reading will be taken before honorable senators have had an opportunity of reading the Bill, and I direct attention to the following clauses - 138. (1) At any time before the declaration of the result of a Senate election the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State may, if he thinks fit, on the written request of any candidate setting forth the reasons for the request, or of his own motion, direct a re-count of the ballot-papers from any Division or portion of a Division, or of the ballot-papers contained in any parcel.
Each assistant returning officer shall, in the presence of an assistant presiding officer or a poll clerk, and of such authorized scrutineers as may attend -
At thisstage I ask the indulgence of the Senate to continue what few remarks I may have to make sitting. I make the request because I feel indisposed, and, perhaps, will not be able to continue other* wise.
– Senator Gardiner, having intimated that he feels somewhat indisposed, asks the indulgence of the Senate to continue his speech sitting.Is it the pleasure of the Senate that he have that permission?
– The consent of the Senate must be unanimous.
– I - It is a fair thing to adjourn for breakfast now.
– I am sorry that Senator Pearce objected. I do not think that even Senator Earle would care to associate himself with the call against me.
– I do, most emphatically.
SenatorFairbairn. - We called “ No “ because of the inordinate length of the honorable senator’s remarks. He can class me with my leader in this matter.
– The remaining sub-paragraphs of clause 137 state - (/) transmit the following information by telegram or in some other expeditious manner to the Divisional Returning Officer: -
the total number of ballotpapers rejected as informal ;
All ballot-papers used for voting in pursuance of -
– The honorable senator is entitled to make extracts, but I shall expect him to connect his remarks with the motion before the Chair.
– I thought the explanation I gave on a former occasion would suffice. It is my desire to make honorable senators aware of the importance of the clause by reading it, because, at the present stage, I am not allowed to discuss it in detail. I just want to read now one more sub-paragraph, as follows : -
In this huge Bill there are quite a number of other important provisions.
– I - It is a consolidating measure.
– Yes, it consolidates the existing law, -and also does what I feel sure honorable senators are not aware of, namely, it repeals certain sections of the following Acts: - The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902, the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1905, the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1906, the Disputed Elections and Qualifications Act 1907, the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1909, the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1911, the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902, and the Electoral Divisions Act 1903. All the Electoral Acts are thus brought into one comprehensive measure, yet the Minister desires the second reading of a Bill of that importance to be taken without an interval after the first reading, and without giving honorable senators an opportunity to consult the Acts that are to be consolidated. I believe, now that honorable senators are aware of what the Bill does, that they will insist on being given time to study them before the Minister delivers his secondreading speech. That can be arranged as soon as the Minister becomes aware of honorable senators’ wishes in the matter. I shall be very much mistaken in my estimate of honorable senators opposite if they agree to suspend the Standing Orders in the circumstances. The important Electoral Act of 1902, or such of its provisions as the Government and the departmental officers consider necessary, will hereafter be embodied in the Act of 1918. This Bill may deprive that Act of some of its best provisions, and I demand the opportunity to compare the two. The first Electoral Act of this Parliament incorporated the best features of the existing State Acts. It was prepared and passed by many of those great intellects which drafted our Constitution. They were masters of the art of drafting, and masters also of the broad outlook that enabled them, from their wide experience, to bring into existence what they considered a perfect piece of machinery for conducting elections. Now, sixteen years afterwards, without any reference to their work, and without time to refer to it, we are called upon to pass at one sitting a measure which may repeal the best provisions their wise statesmanship left us.
– The honorable senator can rest assured that no provisions of that Act are knocked out. Only the provision relating to the soldiers’ vote is put in.
– I accept the Minister’s assurance, but he cannot expect me to rest my responsibility to the people who sent me here upon his statement. I have still the right to ask whether the best of that Act has been left out of, or incorporated in, this Bill. The Minister is in close touch with the Electoral Officers, but if this motion is carried, I shall have no opportunity of knowing the fate of the Act of 1902, except by what he tells me. I did not come to the Senate to believe that things were all right. I came to assure myself beyond reasonable doubt that the measures I helped to pass were in accord with my best judgment. The Minister forgot to mention a far-reaching provision which does not relate to the soldiers’ vote, ana which did not appear in the Act of 1902, but is incorporated in this Act. It is part of an amending Electoral Act passed in war time, and its effect is to disfranchise a large number of Australian-born.
– My reference was only to the Act of 1902.
– The honorable senator said that only the provision regarding the soldiers’ vote has been added. He forgot the provision relating to people of enemy descent. No one expects a Bill passed in time of war, for party purposes, with a view to disfranchise people who, the . Government thought, would vote against them, to find support in these times, with the possibility of a prolonged peace before us. I do not suppose Senator Shannon wants to disfranchise any large section of the Australian-born. That Bill was passed in time of war by a Government anxious to secure a majority for itself, and the actual effect of its working was to disfranchise those who, in the opinion of the Government, would vote against it.
– Those who would not go and fight for us.
– The honorable senator may put it that way, but the Bill prevented quite a number of people from voting, whose only reason for not fighting for us was that the Government would not accept them, either because of unfitness or because they had German names, and our suspicions ran so high at the time that we would not. allow a man with a German name to go with the troops.
– May I ask a question at this stage?
– The honorable senator may interrupt only on a point of order.
– I do not wish to raise a point of order. Can you, sir, exercise your discretion by suspending the sitting for a reasonable time for the sake of your own health and the health of others ?You have that power, which you have exercised on previous occasions:
– My only desire is to consult the convenience of the Senate. I have taken that view on every occasion since Senator Gardiner took me severely to task for taking action, on my own motion, in the direction Senator Needham suggests.
-We -We are not all waiting for breakfast to be prepared upstairs; a number of us can go elsewhere for our meals.
– I did not take the decision in this matter on myself. I left it to the majority of honorable senators to decide. I took no notice which party any honorable senator belonged to, but simply counted hands. My duty in matters of this kind is to consult the wishes of the Senate in order to facilitate the conduct of business. The Senate, having come to a decision at my request, I do not feel at liberty to depart from it. The long sitting is quite as much an inconvenience to me as it is to every other honorable senator.
-Wh -Who is responsible for it?
– The responsibility for this prolonged debate rests with Senator Pearce, and not with me. I am sure honorable senators will not suspend the Standing Orders when they learn that many Australians born of British mothers will be disfranchised if the Bill passes in its present form. If Australians are to be disfranchised because of their names and descent, what country are they to claim as their own? Are we to tell them that the land that gave them birth, and to which they have been loyal - the only land they can call home - will not recognise them as electors? The only land they have lived in, the only land they know, denies them, through its Government, a right which it will give to an alien from any other part of the world once he has become a naturalized British subject. I see opposite me Senators Henderson, Plain, and Lynch, who for years have been a distinct ornament to the Senate. Not one of them is Australian born, and yet they will deny to Australian-born citizens the right to vote. That is an extraordinary attitude for them to assume. I do not believe that Senator Reid is Australian born. All those senators have come to this country and have been placed by the Australian people on the highest pinnacle of preferment. “What will Australians think of them when they see these foreigners - these men who left their own country-
– This is part of the British Empire.
– I think I must include Senator Guthrie in that distinguished body of men who found Australia a better country than their own to live in. After receiving all those advantages they have the audacity to disfranchise the Australian born.
– How do you know ?
– Because I judge the future by the past, and already I have seen Senator Henderson voting to disfranchise them.
– You do not know who is going to vote for or against.it. It has never been before the Senate before.
– The honorable senator does not know what is in the Bill. If he does, I do not know how he got the information. All I know is that this Bill incorporates the Act that disfranchises Australian born.
– Australian born, or the enemy within the gates?
– The honorable senator probably thinks that all who do not agree with him are enemies within the gates, but I know quite a number of people who, animated by- the wildest and most unreasoning prejudices, consider every man of the honorable senator’s nationality an enemy within the gates.
– And seven of them were interned without Judge or jury, but Senator Lynch never raised his voice.
– The honorable senator would not raise bis.
– I moved in the Senate on their behalf, but the honorable senator was absent.
- Senator Lynch knows that what I say about the attitude of certain people towards his nationality is true. Senator Henderson will remember that when he moved a motion in the Senate in connexion with Home Rule, which the Senate passed almost unanimously, one of the large Melbourne newspapers referred to him as “ the wild-eyed Irishman from the West.” I can well appeal at this juncture to Senators Lynch, Henderson, and others, who have found themselves the objects of ridicule and racial prejudice, not to inflict upon others the injustice that a thoughtless section of the community has inflicted upon them. There are in this -community men who would vote to-morrow to deprive all of Senator Lynch’s nationality of the right to vote in this country.
– T - They are publicly making that statement.
– The honorable senator supports my assertion. What a wretched, miserable proposal it is - to deprive a man of his vote-
– What particular record is the honorable senator out to break? I should like to assist him. He has already passed the “Neild,” “Webster,” and “ Story “ records.
– I am not out to break records, but if the honorable senator will give me the adjournment for which I ask, I will promise him that the Webster record will be easily eclipsed.
– One of the spots on the sun, so far as that record is concerned, is that there were several adjournments during the delivery of the speech.
– I am rather nonplussed by Senator Pearce’s interruption, which came at a time when I was appealing to Senator Lynch, and men of his class, not to agree to the hurried passing of a measure in which are incorporated the provisions of an Act that is a standing disgrace to all who assisted in passing it Why should we disfranchise an Australian-born because of his name and descent?
– If the honorable senator found an Australian-born false to his country, what would he do with him?
– If the Act to which I have just referred dealing with the disfranchisement of certain persons is to be incorporated in this Bill-
– This Bill does not incorporate that Act.
– Apparently, Senator Russell has had an opportunity to read this Bill.
– I am in charge of it, and am anxious to move the second reading.
– And I want the honorable senator to secure his opportunity. If the Government will accept my offer, I am prepared to agree to the first reading of the Bill being taken now, and to the second-reading stage being taken as far as the Minister pleases when we resume at 3 p.m. They can then suspend the Standing Orders, if they are prepared to accept my offer. I merely put forward this proposal because I can see that the obstinacy of the Government in persisting in a course which will deprive us of the intervals, between the various stages of the Bill, for its careful examination and consideration, will be productive of no good. The Government will gain nothing by their present attitude. Senator Russell says that the provisions of the Act under which certain Australian-born citizens were disfranchised at the last general election will not appear in this Bill
– That is so. That is a special Act, which, with two other special Acts, will remain outside this measure altogether.
– It is impossible for any one outside the Department to know to what extent this is a consolidating measure.
– If the honorable senator will conclude his speech, I will at once deal with the whole of the details of the Bill.
– I may wish to move an amendment on the second reading, to give an opportunity for the consideration in Committee of amendments repealing or dealing otherwise with the three war-time electoral measures which are not dealt with in the Bill. The war is over, and the injustices which were perpetrated on Australian-born citizens while it lasted should now be removed as quickly as possible by the repeal of the measures to which I allude.
– Had we not better wait until the war is over ?
– For all practical purposes, the war is over. It is unlikely that, within any measurable distance of time, Germany can obtain outside assistance, and, although there may be within her borders those who would like to continue the war, the armistice has imposed such conditions on the country that the resumption of hostilities is practically impossible.
– Assuming that the conditions are complied with.
– In any case, Germany, by signing the armistice, has put herself in a worse position in her anxiety to save herself from a further beating, and the Allies are unquestionably able to enforce their wishes. The three Acts to which I have referred, being passed in war time, were passed at a timewhen the community was not in a normal state of mind, when weight was given to suspicions which, in ordinary times, would not be seriously considered by a Parliament. Men were disfranchised, not because of their nationality, but because of that of their fathers. We have now an opportunity to repeal this - shall I call it panic? - . legislation. One of these Acts was passed deliberately to secure for the governing political party a majority of votes on its referendum proposal. The in justice that, for party purposes, an unscrupulous Government inflicted in war time on good Australians should be removed immediately. I have met Australianborn men, whose mothers were English but whose fathers were German, who have been disfranchised and humiliated by the legislation of which I speak, although they were as patriotic Australians as ever breathed the free atmosphere of this country. Hundreds and thousands of such men, instead of being judged on their personal merits, were unjustly disfranchised by a brutal and unscrupulous Government and its servile following. There is not a man in this chamber who has not in his mind persons upon whom this injustice has been inflicted.
– Neither the motion before the House nor the Electoral Bill makes any provision for the disfranchisement of Germans, or the contrary.
– I am aware of that. My point is that, without an interval being allowed between the first and second reading stages of the Bill, to enable me to prepare an amendment to the motion for the second reading, I shall not have an opportunity of moving in Committee for the enfranchisement of those who have been unjustly disfranchised.
– Had the honorable senator applied the same energy to the framing of amendments that he has shown in the conduct of this “ stone-wall,” we should not have known the Bill.
– The honorable senator is not in order in discussing something for which the Bill makes no provision. .
– Let me, by way of illustration, remind Senator Pearce of what was done in this chamber in regard to a certain Defence Bill.
– The honorable senator now proposes to discuss defence legislation. If he is permitted to do that, he will be at liberty to discuss anything under the sun, whereas the motion is merely one for the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable the Electoral Bill to be passed through its remaining stages. I submit that the debate must be relevant to that motion.
– Although the three Acts to which I have referred are not dealt with in the Electoral Bill, I hold that I am in order in putting forward as a reason why the Standing Orders should not he suspended the desirability of giving an opportunity for the amend;ment of the motion for the second reading of the Electoral Bill, so that in Committee on the Bill we may move to repeal those Acts. On the occasion to which I have referred, Senator Stewart moved an amendment to the motion for the second reading of the Defence Bill, to enable something to be included within that measure for which no provision was made in it. The Senate very properly carried his motion, with the result that the Committee discussion on the Bill was widened.
– The honorable senator, instead of discussing the point of order, is now dealing with the main question.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Shannon). - I think that the honorable senator is discussing the point of order.
– If the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders be carried, and the Electoral Bills rushed through all its stages, I shall not have an opportunity to move an amendment to the motion for the second reading which will enable me to do what I have indicated as desirable.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- The honorable senator was not out of order in the line of argument that he was pursuing. References to our defence legislation, however, would be irrelevant.
– “We have now under consideration a Consolidating Electoral Bill. Is it not reasonable to suggest that we should deal in this measure with the three war-time Acts to which I have referred, and thus bring all our electoral legislation within the compass of one measure? I was not aware, until the Minister spoke, that they were not included in it. I make no excuse for my ignorance, because the Bill had been circulated only five minutes prior to my rising to speak upon it. One of the three Acts to which I have referred inflicts an injustice upon quite a number of bighearted and loyal Australians which is a disgrace to the Parliament of this coun try. If, in this Bill, we were afforded an opportunity of repealing those Acts-
– We could not do that, and the honorable senator knows it. We could not get an instruction in connexion with this Bill to amend the other Act. The Act to which the honorable senator refers is a separate Act.
– Of course it is.
– We might amend the parent Act. But the Act in question iS not the principal Act - it is a separate Act.
– I venture to say that the Act of 1902 is the principal Act upon which all subsequent amending legislation was based. Let us see what the Commonwealth Electoral (War Time) Act 1917 says. It is-
An Act to make certain further provision, for the duration of the war and six months thereafter, in relation to parliamentary elections.
It was assented to oh 19th March, 1917, and its preamble reads -
Be it enacted by the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, the Senate, and the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, as follows: -
Part 1. - Preliminary.
Yet Senator Pearce affirms that the Act is not part and parcel of our principal Electoral Act.
– I say that the Commonwealth Electoral (War Time) Act is not a part of the . Bill which is now before us.
– The honorable gentleman also said it was. not part of our Electoral Act of 1902. But section 3 of the Commonwealth Electoral (War Time) Act distinctly affirms that it is. In my judgment, the last-mentioned Statute ought properly to be described as an Act to fake the elections. That Act continues -
This Act is divided into parts, as follows: -
Part I. - Preliminary.
Part II. - Voting by members of the Forces.
Part III. - Disqualification of certain persons.
Part IV. - Supplementary.
Now for the definitions.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable senator is now commencing to read an Act of Parliament. Do I understand that, under the guise of making quotations, he is entitled to read the provisions of an entire Act? I would direct attention to the fact that when this question was discussed last night, the President pointed out that it has been laid down by May that , “ extracts” mean “extracts,” and not whole documents, and that the quotation of lengthy extracts is not in order. The honorable senator is apparently intent upon reading whole Acts of Parliament which this Bill does not propose to amend.
– I am surprised at the Minister raising such a point of order. Senator Gardiner has distinctly stated his desire to read the. Bill in order that he may understand its provisions before its first and second readings are moved. If he is to understand this measure it is necessary for him to make himself familiar with the Acts which he has been quoting.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Shannon). - I rule that the honorable senator is quite in order in making an incidental reference to those Acts, but he will not be in order in reading them.
– I merely wish to make my position clear. We are now dealing with a Bill to consolidate and amend the law relating to parliamentary elections. We are asked to consider it, without first being afforded an opportunity of reading its provisions. Within five minutes of the measure reaching this chamber, and after 10 o’clock last evening, the Minister moved the suspension of our Standing Orders to enable the second reading of the Bill to be moved. After a long discussion the honorable gentleman has assured me that the Bill does not pretend to consolidate the existing electoral law, and does not seek to repeal certain Acts of Parliament that are a disgrace to Australia. If the Bill does not seek to consolidate those Acts it becomes my duty to do everything in my power to see that they are consolidated. No voice can be raised in this chamber to affirm that there exists any good ground for disfranchising an honest Australian because of his name.
– The honorable senator is begging the question entirely. He does not attempt to prove his statement.
– I shall make a quotation from the Commonwealth Electoral (War-time) Act for the purpose of showing that my statement is perfectly true. I repeat that this Bill - unless its scope be widened - will not wipe out the iniquitous provision in the existing, law under which honest and loyal Australians are robbed of the right to vote. Part III. of that Act provides -
Then sub-section 2 of section 10 reads -
A person shall be deemed to have been born in an enemy country, within the meaning of this Act, if he was born in a country which forms part of the territory of any country with which the British Empire is now at war:
Provided that a person claiming to vote who was a natural-born citizen or subject of France, Italy, or Denmark, and who arrived in Australia before the date upon which the territory in which he was born became part of Germany or Austria (as the case may be) shall not be deemed to have been born in an enemy country, if he produces to the Presiding Officer a certificate in the prescribed form, which has not beenrevoked.
– I rise to a point of order. I desire to know whether the honorable senator is in order in discussing war-time legislation upon a motion for the suspension of our Standing Orders in order that we may deal with the Electoral Bill?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- I have already ruled that, upon this motion, the honorable senator is in order in making an incidental reference to the Commonwealth Electoral (War-time) Act.
– I was driven to read that portion of the Act which I was quoting by reason of Senator Senior’s challenge. But with a fairness that i3 characteristic of him, immediately I started to prove that we had disfranchised Australian-born citizens, he sought to prevent me accomplishing my purpose.
– I do not say that Australian-born citizens had not been disfranchised, but I do say that, upon this motion,, we cannot consider the provisions of our Commonwealth Electoral (“War-time) Act.
– For all practical purposes the war has now ended, and we ought to take care that the injustice of which I complain is removed as speedily as possible. It ought not to be permitted to remain for a single day, while an honest, loyal Australian is disfranchised under it. If the Electoral Bill which the Government desire to introduce will not remove that injustice, the Senate should refuse to suspend our Standing Orders to facilitate its introduction.
– Anybody familiar with parliamentary procedure knows that the honorable senator i3 acting foolishly.
– But Senator Senior cannot come within that category. The honorable senator must recollect that I have been speaking for some few minutes upon this Bill, and that although numerous points of order have been raised with a view to suppressing me, not one of them has proved fatal to me.
– “What about the honorable senator’s attempt to read the Electoral Act?
– I desired only to read extracts from the Act, and that is what I have been doing. Now that the Leader of the Senate is present, I prefer to Senator Millen a request that, in view of the fact that for the first time in the eight years that I have had the honour to be a member of the Senate, the Government have not asked for the usual adjournment for breakfast-
– It is of no use to appeal to me. I have had mine.
– That is rather a good reason why you should permit the rest of us to have ours. This Bill is not a big enough thing to justify the Government in acting in such an unreasonable way as to attempt to get it through by force, and to win out by .wearing down the endurance of their opponents.
– The honorable senator made a new record last night so far as the procedure of this Chamber is concerned.
– Everything I did was absolutely in accord with the Standing Orders. I appeal to Senator Millen, as the Leader of the Senate, to say whether my request for an adjournment is unreasonable.
– The whole attitude of the honorable senator is unreasonable.
– The honorable senator will be showing a consideration worthy of himself and of the Senate if he does not try to gain a petty advantage by instituting a blockade against members of the Opposition,, and cutting off our supplies, and by declaring that, if we wish to perform the functions which we were sent here to perform, we must do so under conditions which have never been imposed upon an Opposition at any previous time since the Senate was instituted.
– The honorable senator is willing to commit suicide, and at the same time starve his colleagues.
– My personal convenience would not be worth asking for; but, as Senator Millen was not here when Senator Pearce adopted the most unusual attitude of refusing to adjourn for breakfast, I appeal to the real Leader of the Senate- to grant the usual breakfast adjournment, even if it be for only ten minutes.’
– The honorable senator can go for the rest of the day, so far as I am concerned.
– “When Senator Pearce refused an adjournment for breakfast, the President said that one hour and a half must elapse before breakfast would be ready. He gave that as a reason for not adjourning at that time. The period he specified is already exceeded.
– There is nothing to prevent every honorable senator going upstairs to have breakfast.
– There is this to prevent us: that, in order to have breakfast, we must neglect the business of the Senate.
– Then go ahead with the business of the Senate.
– Apart from any feeling I may have against the Government, and apart from the intolerance of Senator Pearce in trying to force the Bill through, and using his influence to take from me a concession which honorable senators had generously given me, I do think that the issue is too small to justify the adoption of a procedure different from what has always been adopted in the past.
I was referring . to the disqualification of Australian-born citizens. There are three Acts in force which are not affected by the Bill now before us, and if I do not have an opportunity of including those Acts in the Bill at the second-reading stage, proposals to amend them will not be permissible when the Bill is in Committee. Then there are. also the naturalized Britishers, men who came to this country in boyhood and qualified to become citizens of Australia; men who, in Queensland, for instance, went into the jungle and made habitable a part of that State which, but for their efforts, . would never have been habitable, and who have given a lasting and enduring value to huge areas.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders.
– I link up my remarks with the motion in this way : that the Act which disfranchises those men cannot be repealed by this Bill unless ‘at the second-reading stage. I can move an amendment to that effect. Therefore, as the motion before us is for the suspension of the Standing Orders, to allow the Bill to pass without delay, I am referring to these honest and loyal citizens of German nationality, who have been naturalized and who have never been disloyal or untrue, but have rendered great serviceto the country-
– I - I rise to a point of order. I ask you, sir, whether you do not intend to follow the usual custom of adjourning for breakfast?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- That is not a point of order.
– I am by no means disconcerted, so far as my personal convenience is concerned; but I feel resentment of the fact that this is not the first time that I have been made the victim of a brutal and unreasoning opposition.
– The honorable senator is rightly describing his party.
– The unreasoning opposition of Senator Pearce, Senator Millen, and Senator Russell seems . to . select me particularly for special treatment. Perhaps, in their judgment, I deserve it.
– We are not compelling the honorable senator to continue.
– My point is that this is not the first time that the Standing Orders and customs of the Senate have been used for the special purpose of dealing with me, and I resent that treatment. Surely, if we do not adjourn for breakfast, we shall adjourn for lunch.
– We shall adjourn when we get through the business.
– How far do the Government propose to go ?
– Pass this motion and I shall tell the honorable senator.
– I am not altogether shut out from requesting reasonable consideration, and I ask to be permitted to continue my remarks in a quarter of an hour.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- The objection is fatal.
– I was referring to my desire during the secondreading stage to bring under this Bill all the existing Acts regarding voting. If they are not included in this Bill the Electoral (War-time) Bill will expire by effluxion of time six months after the final signature of peace. There are not likely to be more than a couple of elections during that period, and we now have ample grounds for believing that the Government desire, this measure to be passed at a lightning speed unprovided for by the Standing Orders, in order that the Electoral (War- time) Act, with, all its iniquities and injustices, may prevent a few Australians from voting at the elections. They cannot afford to take chances. If it is the Government’s intention to take the good parts out of measures that will expire by effluxion of time in a few months, and include them in this consolidating measure, while wiping out the bad sections of that legislation, let them do it in an open and manly way. Then they, can go down to the Corangamite electorate, and reply to the charge that they have been mani>pulating the electoral law for the purpose of a by-election. Otherwise they will have to face the enraged electors, and meet the charge of having been the first Government in Australia which, for its own purposes, has altered the Electoral Act after the issue of -a writ. Ministers could give no denial to that charge. To-day, because they fear disaster to the National party,- they propose to retain the worst provisions of these measures to which I have just referred, so that possibly a few good Australians who might vote against them may be disfranchised. One cannot foresee all the machinations of a Government which is engaged in manipulating the Statutes, one cannot tell where its manipulations begin or end, but I cannot imagine the electors of any part of Victoria giving any advantage to a Government which, for its own miserable mean party purposes, would use its majority to suspend the Standing Orders of the Senate. I cannot imagine any standard of intelligence in Australia that would concede a single advantage to a Government in such circumstances, as we shall make known on every platform. Not only do they manipulate the franchise of the people, but Ministers are not satisfied to do it in the ordinary course of the conduct of parliamentary business. They have introduced a new system of conducting business in another place. Deprived of that added power in this Chamber, they use their majority in order to suspend those Standing Orders which protect the rights of honorable senators. They have the numbers to do it, and they will do it, and the moment they suspend the Standing Orders they will use those same numbers in order to force the Bill through. But there will be an echo from the -bills of Corangamite. Every decent man in that electorate will repudiate a Government which is so lost to a sense of its own importance and the dignity of the position it occupies, and which is so lost to a sense of justice and fair play that it will seek to get measures through not only by suspending the Standing Orders, but also by denying to honorable senators the ordinary adjournment for refreshments.
– That is done in order to punish the honorable senator.
– I have no desire to make it a personal matter. Like most men guiltily conscious that they are doing something nefarious, they are anxious to get through with a business which is so distasteful to them, not only by suspending the Standing Orders, but also by depriving honorable senators of the ordinary custom which has always, been observed in this Parliament, namely, reasonable adjournments, so that the business of the Senate may be conducted without danger to the health of any honorable senator. The Corangamite electors will understand all this. I shall have great pleasure in going into the electorate with Senator Plain when he goes there to defend this action which now, by his silence, he is not only condoning, but also supporting. I shall be there when he is endeavouring to explain to his constituents how a man of his standing and reputation in the community ever became such a mean, miserable party tool that he would seek to alter the whole proceedings of the Senate simply because he happens to be sitting with the majority. It is well to be possessed of giant strength, but it is ill that that strength should be used.
– No doubt the honorable senator is a “giant.”
– I feel a bit crushed by the indignities which are being put upon me, and by reason of the fact that for the first time the Senate has gone out of its way to give me different treatment from that which is accorded to other honorable senators.
– The honorable senator has given the Senate different treatment from that to which it is accustomed .
– The generous offer which I made for the reasonable consideration of the measure was refused, and no course has been left to me but to attempt to preserve unaltered the rights that are given to honorable senators under the Standing Orders. I accept none of the responsibility for the delay. I appealed to the Minister for Defence, who was in charge of the Senate, not to break the harmony that has existed in the Chamber for the last eighteen months by attempting to rush a Bill of this magnitude through the House by suspending the Standing Orders.
– We have heard all this before.
– I made that appeal to the Minister for Defence before the Senate met. Even at the supper table I approached him and said that, a? an advocate of peace by negotiation, I desired to have fair and equitable terms from him.
– We do not want peace by negotiation.
– Had the honorable senator been in the Chamber all night he would have discovered that all the harsh and ill things we say about the brutality of the Germans could easily have been exceeded by the inhuman treatment that- has been meted out to the Opposition during the last ten hours.
– Will the honorable senator shake hands with lis when the Bill is through, as he wishes to shake hands with the Germans?
– The honorable senator has been enjoying the comforts of home while others have been attending to their duties in the Chamber, and, having had an excellent rest, he now asks us to shake hands with him. I promise that I shall do so. That is the spirit in which we should deal with this matter - the spirit of manly consideration despite the attitude which our opponents may take up. Let me remind the Government that six months hence they may be in Opposition. Their distinguished leader (Mr. Hughes) may be so offended at his treatment by the British Government that he may come back to Australia a red-hot, rampant republican, and he may get behind us and bring some honorable senators across with him. With such a leader honorable senators supporting the Government cannot see a month ahead. If it should so happen that they may find themselves in a minority how keenly would they feel the injustice of altering the procedure of the Chamber, and how affected would they be if the unfair practices initiated by them and served out to us were applied to themselves. However, I promise them that if ever we become the majority we shall restore to the Senate that fair and reasonable consideration for the Opposition that will give to all honorable senators the opportunitv to conduct the business of the Chamber without having to submit to unusual conditions specially applied to particular occasions. I do not complain now on the ground of personal convenience or inconvenience, because the measure we are discussing is of such importance that honorable senators would be willing to submit to a good deal of inconvenience if in doing so they could improve the Bill. We could improve it by amendments if we had the opportunity of preparing them, but if this motion is carried no such opportunity will be afforded to us. When my colleagues finish speaking somewhere about this time to-morrow morning the motion may be carried. I do not suppose that the Senate will try to cut the privileges of other honorable senators any shorter than mine. If, by some time to-morrow morning, the Senate has passed the motion, what will happen? Will the Government be any further forward because of endeavouring to force the measure through at the one sitting?
I had begun, some little time ago, to quote the Commonwealth Electoral (Wartime) Act, but I was not at the moment able to find the particular section to which I desired to draw the attention of honorable senators. The rules of debate will not now permit me to read the whole of that Act It appears that. the Electoral Bill now about to come before the Senate does not propose to suspend the operations of the war-time Statute, which provides for the taking of the votes of soldiers at the Front. I take it, therefore, that, at the Corangamite by-election, the Government will make provision for soldiers from that electorate to exercise their franchise. It is apparent that the Government, not having considered the repeal of the War-time Act, will certainly not refuse to grant to the Corangamite soldiers their full rights. The section covering the soldiers’ votes reads as follows : - . . . in the case of a general election for the House of Representatives, a vote for a party shall be counted as a vote for the candidate who has been recognised in the manner hereinafter prescribed as the candidate representing that party in the Division in respect of which the member is entitled under this Act to vote. . . .
Then there is this provision, that -
Such recognition shall be made …. in the case of the Ministerial party, by the Prime Minister; and …. in the case of the Opposition party, by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives;
If a member of the Forces votes for a party and there is no candidate recognised as aforesaid as representing that party the vote shall not be counted;
Within five days after the day of nomination the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition shall severally notify the Chief Electoral Officer of the names of the candidates recognised by them, and such notifications shall forthwith be pub- lished in the Gazette;
The Chief Electoral Officer shall so far as military or naval considerations will permit cause each member of the Forces who is entitled to vote under this Act to be supplied with a ballot-paper;
A member of the Forces shall not be entitled to vote more than once under this Act, nor shall he be entitled to vote under this Act and also under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902-1911.
Then follows section 9 : -
The Chief Electoral Officer may appoint within or beyond the Commonwealth such officers as are necessary for giving effect to the provisions of this Part.
I am pleased that that part of the Act, apparently, is not intended to be repealed, and that the Government will take steps in order that every soldier who is an elector of Corangamite shall be given full opportunity to exercise his vote. The Government can do no less. No one desires to deny the soldiers their full and perfect rights. That being the case, the Bill should make it perfectly clear that the soldiers shall have their rights maintained. It should be made not only optional but compulsory for the Government to take such action as may be necessary in that direction. All that may be required could be easily brought about if the provisions of the war time measure were incorporated in the present Bill. There may be as many as 4,000 or 5,000 soldiers from that electorate at present at the Front or elsewhere beyond the boundaries of Corangamite - quite enough electors to weigh down the balance one way or the other at the polling. I am not sure, indeed, but that it will be compulsory for the Government to give the Corangamite soldiers their votes at the by-election. As to what occurred in connexion with the Swan by-election, I am not clear ; but I am under the impression that the soldiers from that electorate were not given their rights. Apparently they were not entitled to vote.
– What has all this to do with the suspension of the Standing Orders ?
– It has this to do with it: that if the Standing Orders are suspended, my opportunities of endeavouring to force the Government to grant the Corangamite soldiers the right to vote at the by-election will have gone, seeing that the second reading of the Bill will then be proceeded with. And, thereafter, I would undoubtedly be ruled out of order if I endeavoured to adopt the course I have just indicated. If the Government will now say that I shall be given an opportunity to move an amendment upon the lines I have laid down, I shall be content.
– Can the honorable senator not move for an instruction at the proper stage?
– I can do so, but if the Standing Orders are suspended, the second reading will be moved, and it appears that I shall then be too late to ask for an instruction.
– All the Standing Orders will not be suspended.
– So much of them will be as would prevent the Bill from being passed without delay. Certainly, there has been some, slight delay so far, but I feel sure that it has been time “well spent. No honorable senator who has sat here all through the night should be in a position to say that he still knows nothing about the Bill. He must certainly be more familiar with it than would have been the case had the Government been permitted to follow their proposed course uninterruptedly.
I am pleased to note, Mr. President, that you are again in occupation of the chair. I would remind you, sir, that, at 8 o’clock you informed me that the reason why an adjournment could not then be granted was that breakfast was not ready. One and a half hours having passed, and, seeing that I have had. no opportunity as yet of examining that breakfast, I again ask if you will grant an adjournment, if only for ten minutes.
– I vacated the chair, which was then occupied by my deputy, at 10 minutes to 9, in order to. ascertain if breakfast was ready or not - making sure of the position on my own account. Upon leaving the chair, I told the Deputy President that he would be free to act at his own discretion. I do not know what has occurred meanwhile. I may say that I have had my own breakfast. I do not know what discretion the Deputy President permitted during that period. I again point out, however, that, so far as granting an adjournment is concerned, I have only the right to suspend the sitting for the convenience of the Senate, and at its direction.
– You exercised your discretion at midnight, without consulting the Senate. Can you not exercise that discretion now?
-.- I was informed at that stage that supper was ready.
– And now breakfast is ready.
– On a point of order, sir, in view of the opposition offered by the Ministerialists to an adjournment, and remembering that this side of the Senate is in a minority, is it not your duty to say that a ten-hour continuous sitting is a little too long?
– I appeal to your humanity to exercise your discretion.
– My humanity, or the humanity of the Senate, is not in question at all. It is Senator Gardiner himself who is entirely responsible.
– I object to your insinuating that regarding myself, sir, and I ask you, just as you would ask me if the position were reversed, to withdraw that insinuation. You are not going to hold me responsible.
– Order ! I am not insinuating anything, but am merely stating a fact, seeing that Senator Gardiner, by his own protracted actions, has continued when he could have ended his remarks long ago if he so desired. I do not say that he ought to have done so or should not have done so. That is a matter entirely within his own discretion. But I am bound to remark that if I had exercised my duty to the full I think I would have ended the honorable senator’s speech before now. 1 have given great latitude throughout. I am mindful of the fact that upon a certain occasion I suspended a sitting of the Senate without being requested so to do by the Senate, and for which I was taken seriously, to task by Senator Gardiner. The honorable senator said that he objected then to my action and would always do so in future.
– Are you vindictive ? You would never be so vindictive as all that surely, sir?
– Order ! I am not vindictive, and I have not treated any honorable senator vindictively.
– Then why refer to that other matter now?
– Order! The honorable senator has no right to reflect upon the Chair. He has no right to complain of vindictiveness on my part, when I am, as a matter of fact, carrying out the dictum which the honorable senator himself laid down, although I ‘ have never stated that he was right in doing so.
– But you do so now.
– I have the right to still exercise my discretion; and the right to suspend a sitting of the Senate is given to me under the Standing Orders. At an earlier stage of the present proceedings I left it to the Senate as to whether the sitting should be suspended or not; and I leave it to the Senate now. If the Senate intimates that it is the desire of the majority to permit an adjournment, 1 will act immediately.
– I would not like even this honorable Senate to give a decision which would remove you, sir, from that most just and upright frame of mind in which, you are prompted to say that it is the right of the Senate to indicate whether or not an adjournment should be granted. I prefer to endure the little ill of continuing with my remarks, and of putting up with such inconvenience as that will involve rather than that the Senate should be responsible for a wrung practice. The incident of your reminding me, sir, that it was I who made a complaint against the adjournment of the Senate by the President without first consulting honorable senators, recalls to my mind that well-known quotation -
Bold is the task, when subjects, grown too wise,
Instruct a monarch where his error lies.
For, though we deem the short-lived fury past,-
Be sure the mighty will avenge at last.
I bow to your ruling. I shall exercise considerable care whenever I may place you or any other President upon the right track in respect to the administration of the Standing Orders. It is most inconvenient at the moment that I. should be reminded that I was a stickler for correct procedure. However, I am glad, Mr. President, that throughout this debate you have exercised a wise discretion. Never once have you allowed the liberty which I enjoy under the Standing Orders to become licence. Never have you called me to order without being justly entitled to do so.
– The honorable senator may not discuss my rulings unless he takes exception to them at the time.
– If you, sir. are not prepared to accept my complimentary remarks, I shall not continue them. I have not at my fingers’ ends the exact provisions of the War-time Electoral Act which I should like to incorporate in the Electoral Bill, but they include those which provide for thevoting of our soldiers who are abroad.Every one of our soldiers who went from the division of Corangamite has the right to vote at the coming by-election, and there is no reason why provision should not be made for their doing so.
– The honorable senator was not so anxious to send them help a little while ago.
-It would be disorderly to reply to that impertinent and untrue interjection. If the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders be carried, I shall be precluded from moving to give these men -the opportunity to vote.
– That is not so.
– If the honorable senator will consent to an adjournment sufficiently long to enable me to do what I think necessary, I shall immediately sit down.
– I shall not give a second’s adjournment, seeing that the honorable senator has wasted a whole night.
– Not having been here, Senator Millen does not know that the night’s debate was not one of the most, entertaining, instructive, and enjoyable that the Senate has ever known, though, according to Senator Foil, the guns of the war vessels at Gallipoli were not more nerve wracking. It cannot be urged as a reason why our absent soldiers should not be permitted to vote at the Corangamite by-election, that it would be too costly to make the necessary arrangements. Nor can it be objected that they were not given that opportunity in connexion with the recent Swan election; because at the Swan election the Labour party’s candidate was a returned soldier, and it would not have suited the Government to risk getting him a bigger support in the votes of his fellow soldiers abroad. I know that Senator Lynch is as desirous as I am that our absent soldiers may be permitted to exercise the franchise, and that he will be annoyed with the Government that he supports if they are denied the exercise of the franchise at the Corangamite election. I know that he felt keenly their denial of the exercise of the franchise at the Swan election. I ask now for an opportunity to provide for the voting of our soldiers at all future elections. Although an armistice has been signed, it may ‘be three, or even six, months before ‘peace is declared, and as the presence of big battalions on the enemy’s borders is a good argument for peace, we shall have to keep our forces there for a considerable length of time. In any case, our men cannot be brought to Australia within a month or two. The world’s shipping has been greatly reduced, and must be used largely now to feed the starving populations of Europe, including our defeated enemies.
– The honorable senator has been told several times that it will be competent for him to move in the direction in which he wishes to move.
– The suspension of the Standing Orders will not in any way restrict the honorable senator’s rights. When this motion is carried, he will be in a position to do anything that he might otherwise have done.
– If the motion be carried, my opportunity to do what I wish to do will be restricted. How can I prepare an amendment to the motion for the second reading of a Bill which I have never. seen?
– The honorable senator was quoting from the Bill all through the night.
– I have not had an opportunity to study it carefully. It came to us only after 10 o’clock last night, when the proposal was made that the Standing Orders be suspended to enable it to pass through all its stages without delay.
– And the Senate was then told that all that the- Government asked was that the Minister in charge should be permitted to move the second reading of the measure.
– I was told by Senator Pearce that when he had moved the second reading I could get the adjournment of the debate until the next day; but a motion should not have been moved for the suspension of the Standing Orders until I had had an opportunity to study the Bill. I was reasonably acquainted with the provisions of the measure introduced into the other House, but I have had no opportunity to study the amendments made in it there, and it was not until -daylight this morning that I learned from Senator Russell that the Bill does not consolidate all our electoral legislation. The provision of our electoral law relating to the voting of soldiers is not covered by the Bill, and the Bill does not repeal that wicked provision under which honest, straightforward, Australians were disfranchised merely because of their German descent.
– Was not the honorable senator a member of the Government which introduced the War Precautions Act, and was he not a party to the legislation to which he now refers?
– A number of things in my lengthy political record can be laid to my charge, but I never shirk responsibility, and if I made a mistake yesterday I am man enough to acknowledge it to-day, and to remedy it as soon as I can. For the War-time Electoral Act of 1917 I have no responsibility. That measure contains most wicked and iniquitous provisions disfranchising sons of British mothers and German fathers, who are true Australians in every sense of the word. The Government which Senator Senior supports put that iniquitous Act on the statute-book. I ask that opportunity be given to move for its repeal. I do not think that the Act should be allowed merely to become inoperative six months after the termination of the war, and to remain on the statute-book as a record of the wicked intentions of a wicked Government.
– The honorable senator is referring to an Act for which the Government of which he was a member is responsible.
– I am referring to the Commonwealth Electoral (Wartime) Act of 1-917, the wicked provisions of which, if not repealed, as I now advocate, will be given effect to in connexion with the election which is to take place in Victoria within the next few weeks. Nobody knows better than does Senator Senior how harshly the provisions of that ‘ Act will operate in some cases. He comes closely into touch with so many electors in the State in which more people have been disfranchised than have been dis- franchised in any other State, that he must have heard of the injustice which is inflicted, upon Australians who are the sons of British mothers and German fathers.
– I know to the contrary.
– If what I have said does not. apply to South Australia, it certainly applies to the other States which I visited. I know of a mos’t reputable citizen who was not only disfranchised on the occasion of the last referendum, but who, for party purposes, has been interned. He is a man who, for two years, did his best to influence the German section of the community to remain loyal, and yet he was interned on the reports of partisan Nationalists. He is still interned, and if he were resident in the electorate of Corangamite, he would not be allowed to vote at the approaching election. As a good soldier in the party to which I belong, I take my orders from it, just as does anybody else, and I am sorry that it has decided that I must not continue this debate any longer. I am very pleased to have had an opportunity of making honorable senators aware of the responsibility which they will shoulder by agreeing to suspend our Standing Orders. It will be the first time in the history of the Commonwealth Parliament that those Orders have been suspended in connexion with a measure of this character. The object of their suspension is to enable the Government to apply the Electoral Bill to the approaching election in Corangamite. They are welcome to their victory. Theirs will be a victory of the force of numbers in this Chamber, but ours will be a victory upon election day at Corangamite.
Motion (by Senator de Largie) proposed -
That the Senate do now divide.
– German, Prussian ! So that is the game !
– Prussian, German!
– I ask Senator Needham to obey the call of the Chair, otherwise action will have to be taken.
– Why do you not give us a chance?
– The honorable senator must obey our Standing Orders.
-i am obeying both the Standing Orders and you.
– The question is “ that the Senate do now” divide.”
– Prussianism !
– I have already called the honorable senator to order. I must ask him, therefore, to withdraw his interjection, and to apologize for having made it.
– I withdraw and apologize.
– The question is “ that the Senate do now divide.” I appoint Senator de Largie teller for the “ Ayes,’’ and Senator Needham teller for the « Noes.”
– I refuse to “ tell.”
– The honorable senator ought not to do that. It is a rule of the Senate that he is disobeying.
– You cannot compel him to tell.
– I am not so sure of that. However, I have no desire to take any action which will cause friction. But I think that Senator Needham ought to respect a rule of the Senate sufficiently to carry out the duties which may be imposed upon him.
– Sir, I refuse to “ tell.”
– Then I appoint Senator Grant teller for the “ Noes.”
Question - That the Senate do now divide - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 9
Motion (by Senator Russell) put -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time. second reading.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is largely a consolidating measure, grouping in one Bill all the electoral laws except those special Acts which stand apart, such as, for instance, the Electoral (War-time) Act and the Act which extended the life of the Senate for a few months. Those Acts are not included in the Bill because they were passed for special purposes, and some of them have ceased to operate. The Franchise Act has been embodied as a whole. The Bill makes only one addition to the Franchise Act, and that is for the purpose of enabling members of the Australian Imperial Force to vote at elections irrespective -of their age. I do not think that that concession will be greatly contested. Except for two main principles the Bill is really a reenactment and a co-ordination of existing legislation which has been scattered through many Acts. Those two principles are preferential voting for the House of Representatives, and the reintroduction of postal voting in a modified or more restricted form. The Bill as a whole is one of which the Senate may reasonably be proud. It is submitted at a time when autocracy throughout the world is falling, and I believe that, despite small differences of opinion upon some of the principles involved, honorable senators will agree that no better or freer electoral law has ever been introduced in any Parliament in the world. I again affirm that the Bill, apart from co-ordinating existing laws, embraces only two new principles, namely, a genuine attempt to secure majority rule, at any rate so far as the House of Representatives is concerned, and an honest endeavour through the postal vote to extend the franchise to people who can vote by no other discovered means.
In regard to preferential voting, Senator Gardiner asked what will happen in the event of only two candidates contesting a seat. In that case all that will be required of the elector will be to mark the numeral or a simple cross against the preferred candidate; any other indication of preference will not be necessary. But when more than two candidates offer themselves the usual and! well understood! conditions of preferential voting will operate. The candidate who receives the smallest number of first preference votes will drop out and the second preferences on the ballot-papers marked in his favour will be distributed amongst the other candidates. This operation will continue until one candidate secures an absolute majority. Any candidate who secures an absolute majority on the first count will be declared elected. In the event of two candidates at the bottom of the poll tieing for last position in respect of first preference votes the chief returning officer will give a casting vote in the same way as he does when a tie takes place in an election to-day. No Democratcan seriously oppose the right of the majority to rule. Upon that principle all Democracy is based, and although the majority may at times make mistakes they cannot do injury to the country without injuring themselves. Therefore, a system which insnrres -majority rule is justified if only as a protective measure. I do not wish to associate the machinery of Democracy with liberty. It is quite possible for the two to be distinct and divergent at times. There are occasions when even Democracy can be tyrannical towards itself and towards the common people, but, nevertheless majority rule is the greatest popular safeguard that has been discovered. The Bill represents a genuine attempt to make that principle effective. I make no apology for the introduction of the preferential voting system, because all Democratic bodies have accepted the principle of majority rule. I do not say that it is a perfect, system ; like every human device, it is subject to abuses. I have known cases in which the preferential system, instead of voting men up has voted them down, ‘but at the same time it is not capable of as grave abuses as take place under the present system. Therefore, this method should be accepted as a means to insure majority rule until a better method is devised.
In regard to postal voting, I am not unmindful of the fact that there has been a good deal of criticism in regard to its operation in the past. I ask honorable senators to dissociate the provisions in this Bill from the previous system under which a person had only to believe that he would be five miles away from a booth on polling day to become entitled to a postal vote. In the case’ of others it was necessary for them only to affirm that they would be sick on polling day. Abuses resulted, especially in connexion with women electors. Another doubtful provision in the old system of postal voting was that the elector had to hand over his vote to an authorized witness, and, although I am not prepared to mention instances, it has been said that on occasions the authorized witness had a convenient memory and forgot to post the vote. The Bill now before the Senate provides that an elector must be definitely more than fifteen miles from a polling booth on election day before he shall be permitted to vote by post. At a later stage I intend to move an amendment to reduce that distance to ten miles. The postal vote is given also to infirm persons, those who are physically incapable of going to polling booths, those who are sick, and those who are inmates of hospitals, and there is a special provision to meet the circumstances of females in connexion with approaching maternity. All persons voting under this provision must be genuinely ill or physically incapable of going to the polling booth. The list of authorized witnesses is as wide as we can safely make it, but power is given to extend by regulation the list throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. Always there have been risks in connexion with postal voting, and I am not prepared to say that there will be none under the system now proposed, but I believe that it has been so effectively safeguarded that the danger is reduced to a minimum.
– Senator Pearce said it was impossible to guard against risk.
-I am not prepared to sav that.
– The honorable senator voted to repeal the old postal voting provisions.
– I voted against their repeal. I agree that plenty of abuses took place under that system, but, knowing the convenience it was to women and invalids and to those who were living in remote parts from which it was impossible for them to reach a booth, I believed that democracy should extend the franchise so that it would be possible for every individual in the community to vote, and I refused then, as I refuse now, to believe that it is. not possible for Parliament to devise an effective, safe, and honest system of postal voting.
Under the most perfect system of electoral enrolment there are always clerical errors when a Department is dealing with hundreds of thousands of names, and I know of nothing more annoying to a man who has taken the necessary steps to secure enrolment than to find, when he presents himself at the polling booth, that his name is not on the roll. The percentage of such cases is not great, but these omissions are a real grievance to men who, through no fault of their own, are disfranchised. The Bill provides that any man who has taken the necessary steps to secure enrolment, no matter what subsequent mistake is made by the electoral officers, or the printer, or anybody else, shall, on making a declaration that he has filled in his enrolment card and lived in the electorate for one month, be allowed to vote in the same way as an absent voter does now. This provision will prevent people being deprived of their vote simply because their names have been omitted from the roll through inadvertence or through a rush of work in the Electoral Office. No principle is involved in the other provisions of the Bill. The measure is a good clean Democratic one, which could not be improved from any knowledge ‘ we possess of electoral systems in force in other parts of the world.
– What do the Government intend to do with the different marking of the Senate and House of Representatives ballot-papers?
– That matter is now being considered by the Government, and will probably be dealt with in a separate Bill. If possible, an effort will be made to avoid the different marking of the ballot-papers, but at the present stage I cannot make a more definite statement.
Motion (by Senator McDougall) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
– There is only one question of keener interest than is the amendment of our electoral law, and that other is the matter of land values taxation. The amendment of our electoral laws has engaged the attention of the Commonwealth Parliament on eleven occasions. This latest effort on the part of the Government contains one exceptionally objectionable feature, namely, the restoration of the postal vote, which, so far as I know, is not in operation in any single State.
– That is not correct.
– It is not even in operation in local government elections.
– Yes, it is.
– Then it must be in operation in Tasmania only, where every visitor to the State who passes over the Launceston wharf has to pay «a tax of 2s. The provision restoring the postal vote is clause 85, which reads as follows : - 85. (1) An elector who-
is seriously ill or infirm, and by reason of such illness or infirmity will be precluded from attending at any polling booth to vote, or, in the case of a woman, will by approaching maternity be precluded from attending at any polling booth to vote, may make application for a postal vote certificate and postal ballot-paper.
Penalty: Fifty pounds, or imprisonment for one month.
Sub-clause 2 is particularly objectionable, and it will be impossible in thousands of cases for prospective voters to take the steps necessary to secure noi only ballotpapers, but also authorized witnesses, and they will be very much handicapped compared with others, who, because of their financial position, and by means of the conveniences at their disposal, may get to polling booths. The Act of 1911 contains a provision for voting by post, but after a trial it was found to be so unsatisfactory that the Commonwealth Parliament, I believe almost unanimously, repealed it. The present Government, in trying to restore this discredited system of voting, are acting very wrongly, because at the time the system was in operation the disclosures which were made were of no credit to any one. I have not copies of the evidence which was taken, and which resulted in this Parliament deliberately omitting the provision dealing with postal voting, but I know that it was such that the condemnation of this method of voting was almost universal. I am disappointed at the present- Government’s proposal to enforce this objectionable system once more upon the people. In individual cases it may be a hardship to be deprived of the right to vote, and if I were so unwell as to be unable to go to the polling booth I would be considerably annoyed if I were robbed of my vote; but, as a general rule, the person who is ill is not very much concerned about election matters. When people are at death’s door it is no time to worry them with the relative merits of political parties; but if the Government are determined that voting facilities should be provided for the inmates of hospitals, I would not oppose any effort which would attain that object without the risk of fraud. If Returning Officers were appointed to visit hospitals accompanied by scrutineers from both sides, possibly a considerable number of votes could be secured, but it is quite unfair to worry people who are ill with matters appertaining to elections. I feel quite certain that in the near future we shall have a repetition of the disgraceful disclosures we have had in the past in regard to this method of voting, and that we shall take the first opportunity of repealing this clause. The Minister has given notice of an amendment to reduce the mileage to 10 miles, which will render the provision even more objectionable. Any system of voting which permits of ballot-papers leaving the polling booth lends itself to unfair practices, and it is to be regretted the Government have decided to insert such a provision in the Bill. At present men who are going to sea are entitled to vote after the issue of a writ and before polling day. That enables nearly all seafaring men to exercise the franchise; but that method of voting, while it permits the vote to be cast before election day, has this great advantage, namely, that each individual voter must present himself in person in order to exercise his franchise. Thus the objectionable practices which in the past have disgraced postal ‘voting are absent.
Another clause, which, I understand, is a new one, has to do with fixing the age of persons qualified to vote. I have held the opinion for years that the age of twenty-one is altogether too old in this respect. In Australia almost every boy is earning his own living before he is eighteen. Frequently he is doing the work of a man by that time. Thousands of our troops enlisted before they were eighteen, or during their nineteenth year. But this Bill does not provide for the enfranchisement of any person under twenty -one.
– The honorable senator is not correct. There is such a provision in the Bill, and I have also, an amendment which will make the provision more complete. It will include all soldiers of all ages.
– Even of seventeen?
– That is so.
– . But that is intended to apply only for a limited period.
– For three years after the war, by which time all members of the Forces who were under twentyone will have become entitled to vote in the ordinary course.
– But there are many thousands of others who should also be given the right to vote. In Committee I shall endeavour to extend the privilege so that all persons of eighteen years and over may exercise the franchise.
Hitherto considerable trouble has occurred in respect to objections taken to names on the roll. Clause 52, as I have it before me in the reprint showing the proposed amendments, reads as follows: -
Any name on a roll may he objected to by objection in writing lodged with or made by the Divisional Returning Officer:
Provided that a sum of 5s. shall be deposited in respect of each objection lodged . by any person other than an officer, to be forfeited to the King if the objection is held by the Divisional Returning Officer to be frivolous.
– If names are improperly struck off the roll, persons can vote upon election day by means of a declaration.
– But that is a further provision. Great trouble has always been experienced by electors when they have found that their names are not on the rolls. So far as clause 52 is concerned my objection is that it is not necessary for the Electoral Officer to deposit 5s., and, consequently, he may enter an objection against any name without running financial risk. I understand that postmen are entitled to a nominal fee in’ respect to the removal of names from the roll, but that they are not entitled to be paid when they secure the enrolment of any person. I see no provision in relation to that within this measure, although, possibly, it is covered, by the numerous regulations governing our electoral laws.
I invite attention to a clause which leaves the printing of the rolls to the discretion of the Minister. Recently I made inquiries respecting new rolls for New South Wales, and was informed that their printing was left to the Minister’s discretion. I do not infer that the Minister does not perform his duty as he should do, but it would be much more “satisfactory if the officials were instructed under the Act to periodically reprint existing, rolls. In our large cities, during the course of three years, between the time of the publication of one roll and the publication of another, at least one-third, and sometimes a half, of the electors will have removed into other districts. The printing of the rolls should be governed specifically under the Act.
– Seeing that the Government are in charge of this Bill, I think there should be a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– The watch-dog of the Senate.
– Some one is needed to watch you dogs - to watch some dirty dogs!
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Shannon). - Order! The honorable senator is not in order in alluding to the honorable senator as a dirty dog.
– I did not say that the honorable senator was a dirty dog.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- I distinctly heard the honorable senator use the expression, and I call upon him to withdraw it.
– I refuse to permit you, sir, to put words into my mouth which I did not use. I did not say that the honorable senator was a dirty dog, and I will not have you impute that to me. And I call upon you to withdraw it.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.Order ! I again call upon Senator Needham to withdraw.
– I will not.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Then I name the honorable senator for disobedience to the Chair.
– I did not call any honorable senators dirty dogs.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- The honorable senator distinctly said “to watch you dogs,” and I did not see fit to take notice of that; but he then said “ you dirty dogs.”
– I did not say “you. dirty dogs”, to the honorable senator.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - As the honorable senator will not withdraw his expression I name him for disobedience to the Chair.
– For disobedience to the Chair, I withdraw.
– I protest against the action of the Government in seeking to force through the Senate a new Electoral Act, when so many of Australia’s adults - our fighting men - are still abroad. This is a measure in regard to which, in the main, very little objection need be urged. The objections which might well be raised at this stage are chiefly on account of the inopportune time at which the Bill is submitted. But I regret that no provision appears to have been made for our men abroad to exercise their franchise. I trust that steps will be taken during the Committee stage to remedy that defect.
In this measure the Government propose to introduce a new system of voting for the House of Representatives. It is not quite clear from the Ministerial statements so far. made in the Senate what will constitute an informal vote. I wish to be informed whether, in the event of a person exercising only his or her first preference, that vote will be regarded as formal. I would like to know, also, whether a vote .will be deemed informal if a person places a cross by the side of the name of a candidate under the preferential system. Altogether, for the reasons I have given, I shall vote against the measure.
– I ask Senator Russell, the Minister now in charge of the Senate, if he will agree to an adjournment of the debate until 3 o’clock this afternoon?
– The honorable senator was not here all night.
– I am glad that I was not. I saw no reason for remaining. My request is made in the interest of those who were here, in the interest of the Hansard staff, and in the interest of the officials of the Senate. If the Minister accedes to my request, it may relieve the present tension, which should not exist in a deliberative assembly.
– I cannot do anything in the matter. Though desirous of getting to bed, I do not wish for a broken rest.
– Then I must address myself directly to the Bill, which is, perhaps, the most important measure that has been submitted to the Senate during this Parliament. I do this after the refreshment of a night’s sleep. With the occurrences of the past twelve hours, I have no sympathy. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner), a little after 10 o’clock last night, made to the Government what I considered a fair offer. He promised that if the moving of the second reading of the Electoral Bill were postponed until to-day, the consideration of the measure should proceed with reasonable expedition, and that the time lost by the postponement would be thereby made up. That offer the Government declined, and, as a consequence, there has been an exhibition which is not creditable to the Senate.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Shannon). - The honorable senator may not reflect on the proceedings of the Senate.
– Whoever may have been at fault, I have no sympathy with what has occurred. The members of the Hansard staff have been at work for over twenty-four hours continuously, and so have the officials of the Senate; and honorable senators, who have not been in bed for nearly thirty hours, are not in a fit and proper condition to discuss the measure now before the Senate. Primitive passions have been aroused. The irresistible has met the immovable, and an atmosphere has been created in which the discussion should not be continued. Yet, as this is the only opportunity which honorable senators will have for speaking to the measure generally, I must perforce avail myself of it. All interest in the Bill seems to have evaporated. No one seems to care what may happen, so long as he may get to sleep at the earliest moment.
As Senator Millen is now present, 1 ask him if he will consent to an adjournment of the debate until this afternoon?
– Does the honorable senator think that it was fair that the whole night should be wasted as it was?
– I do not.
– Are we to allow the business of the country to be paralyzed’ in that way?
– I believe that a little give and take on both sides would have prevented the situation that has arisen.
– The honorable senator was too comfortable in his bed to know exactly what took place.
– 1 went home after I had made up my mind that, under all the circumstances, I should not remain to help to keep a House for the Government. I. say that publicly and deliberately.
– I thought that the honorable senator was elected as a Government supporter.
– I was elected to form one of a body prepared to drop all party considerations to secure united action for the winning of the war, and I’ have done nothing since to falsify my election pledges. During my last candidature for the Senate, and during my previous candidature, I pledged myself also to support electoral reform, and I intend to carry out my pledges so far as I may be able to do so. I extremely regret that on the morning of a victorious peace there should have been exhibited in this Chamber a spirit of party altogether contrary to the best interests of Australia, because this has prevented the calm consideration of a measure of grave importance. When I became a member of the Senate I was gratified to find that .the partv r rancour which I had been led to believe was extreme in previous Parliaments no longer existed, having been repressed by the war, and I regret the more that it has again broken out.
All electoral reform affects the basis on which Democracy is founded. Electoral legislation is the root from which Democracies must grow. Our representative system came to us from the traditions of the Mother Country, modified and extended by the complex requirements of modern society, but at its best it is yet a very Crude system. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) has, rightly or wrongly, accused’ the Government of endeavouring to force through this Bill in order that some of its provisions may be applied to the election that is to be held in the Corangamite Division for the choosing of a member to replace the late lamented Mr. Manifold, and to save the seat for the Nationalist party. That charge contains the admission that on a straight-out vote a majority of the electors of Corangamite would return a Nationalist candidate. - In the present state of political parties in the other House, it matters not greatly whether the candidate returned is a Nationalist or a Labour member, but the temper in which honorable senators discuss proposals striking at the root of our representative system matters very much indeed. What will be the result of the occurrences of the past twelve hours, of which the outstanding feature was the marvellous physical endurance of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) ? The general public will not be fully informed of the circumstances. Throughout the length and breadth of Australia the newspapers will dwell on Senator Gardiner’s feat, and the people will think that he would not have shown so much tenacity of purpose had he not on some matter of principle been engaged in protecting the rights of Australian Democracy. When I entered the chamber this morning, the first remark that I heard concerned the marvellous endurance of the honorable senator. That is what will be blazoned all over Australia to-day and to-morrow, and the public will neither care for, nor remember, the importance of the occasion. I do not think that this Bill is of sufficient importance to warrant the Government in endeavouring to get a twenty-four hours’ lead upon it, in view of the physical and mental tension which have been exhibited in this chamber, and which have practically placed a majority of honorable senators horn de combat.
– Does the honorable senator know that the Government have an evil motive in seeking to expedite the passing of this Bill?
– No. I am merely repeating the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition. But when the suspension of the Standing Orders was moved after 10 o’clock last night by the Minister for Defence, he assigned no reason whatever for his action. Upon several occasions during the present session, Ministers have moved the suspension of our Standing Orders to expedite the passing of some Bill of an admittedly urgent character. I do not think that any’ exception can be taken to the adoption of that course in such circumstances. Nobody- will seriously object to expediting;, for example, the passing of a Supply Bill when payments are about to fall due to members of our Public Service. But I do not think the Government are paying that respect to honorable senators to which they are entitled.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the Government are capable of determining the urgency or otherwise of their own measures? We are now within about five weeks of Christmas.
– I thank the Vice-President of the Executive Council for his interjection, because it recalls to my mind at least one occasion in this Chamber upon which a Bill was declared to be of an urgent character and yet the following week the Senate was obliged to adjourn because it had no business to transact. I do not think that the leaders of the Government here are paying that respect to honorable senators to which the latter are entitled when they so frequently interfere with the arrangement of the Business Paper. As a matter of fact, it very often happens that honorable senators do not know what business is to claim their attention until a Minister rises and makes an announcement. In this connexion I would remind Ministers that there is a limit to our patience, and that some respect should be paid to the generally loyal support which they are receiving.
Upon the question of electoral reform, I am very pleased that the Ministry have brought forward a Bill which is designed to improve the present position. I believe that preferential voting is a reform in the right direction, but I do not think it is a reform which, in the years to come, a Democracy will regard as complete. Nevertheless, it will constitute a great improvement upon our existing methods of voting. To some extent it will weaken the power of the party machine, prevent the election of an unpopular candidate, and confer an enlarged freedom of choice in connexion with the election of representatives for single-member constituencies. Preferential voting provides for safeguarding the rights of majorities, but in my judgment no electoral system will be complete which does not also safeguard the rights of large minorities. I believe that there is a considerable section of the people of Australia who regard the question of electoral reform as being of a more pressing character - after war problems have been settled - than is any other question. In New South Wales there is a large body of much respected opinion upon both sides of politics, which believes that the time for electoral reform has now come. The question of proportional representation is making great headway. Not only is it moving in Australia, but it is moving in more conservative England, and I believe that, if not during the life of the present Parliament, certainly in the not distant future, the electors of Australia will demand that a complete reform shall be made of our electoral laws so as to provide, as far as possible, for that mathematical representation which they desire.
– Is the honorable senator quite sure that it will produce a mathematical representation ?
– A little later, I shall endeavour to prove that so far as the system has been tested in one of the States and in other countries, a mathematical representation has been achieved under the proportional system of voting.
– At the last State election in Tasmania the party whose candidates polled the lowest number of votes secured the majority of the representatives.
– I shall endeavour to show the honorable senator another side of the picture in due course.
– What I have stated is a fact.
– Unfortunately for the statement, it is not a fact.
– I think that the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Glynn) admirably summarized the provisions of the Bill, and, in passing, I wish also to congratulate the Vice-President of the Executive Council upon his clear enunciation and summary of the principles of this voluminous measure. The Minister for Home and Territories said -
In effect, this Bill is to provide a standard of uniformity with the States, to restore with modifications of its scope greater safeguards for postal voting, to establish preferential voting for the House of Representatives, to retain absent voting on polling day throughout the (Commonwealth and before polling day with extensions, voting before registrars, to facilit?te and make more effective registration, to provide certain powers to correct the rolls after the issue of the writ by the removal or reinstatement of names, and to protect electors against errors by officers, to give statutory sanction to some points of present procedure such as in telegraphing the issue and contents of writs, and to reduce the penalties in some cases - such as offences in relation to advertisements - and so forth.
I think that is a fair and reasonable summary of the objects of the Bill, and I do not see that any reasonable opposition can be urged to the provisions which are contained in the amendments that have been made to the measure in its original form. I am glad that the Government have introduced the Bill, and I am specially pleased that it will provide for a standard of uniformity with the States in that it will unify at least one of the duplications which now take place as between the States and the Commonwealth.
I need not say again how much I approve of the principle of preferential voting. There is no method of voting which will insure majority rule in single member constituencies, save the numerical preference which is provided in this mea sure. I do not think it can be argued with any semblance of reason that the Government should be expected to immediately redistribute the constituencies constituting the other branch of the Legislature so as to permit of proportional representation being adopted, in view of the very many urgent war problems which lie ahead of usr and in view also of the pressing matters claiming attention by reason of the advent of peace. Proportional representation cannot, be applied to singlemember constituencies, and consequently the Government, in bringing forward a Bill to provide for preferential voting, have done the next best thing possible. At all events, the measure will safeguard the rights of a majority of the electors in single-member constituencies, and the country will be spared the possibility of representatives being elected upon a minority vote.
– What is to prevent our having five-barrelled constituencies?
– I do not think that the honorable senator can have closely followed my argument. I have already said that there can be no proportional representation in the case of singlemember constituencies. Consequently, the next best system to apply to such constituencies is that of the preferential vote. I have remarked that the Government cannot be expected at present, even if they favour the application of proportional representation to elections for the other branch of the Legislature, to raise the big problems of the re-adjustment and rearrangement of treble-barrelled or five- barrelled constituencies for that House. Consequently, I am fully in accord with what the Government propose to do in connexion with elections for the present single-member constituencies for the House of Representatives. I favour preferential voting as the best method which can be adopted for such constituencies, and I believe that the Bill will be passed by the Senate without very much discussion.
– In view of what has already taken place, that is a great hope to express.
– I am speaking of the principle of preferential voting. I am endeavouring to get down to the hones of the Bill and to divert its discussion from that tense, personal atmosphere which has hitherto characterized this debate, to a consideration of what the Government propose in connexion with it. The preferential system has been favoured by the Labour leagues themselves. I believe that, generally speaking, elections in connexion with trade union and Labour league positions are conducted by means of the preferential vote. It is also in operation in other directions, and the Government have met the enlarged view of the Democracy of Australia in regard to elections for single member constituencies by introducing a measure of this sort. Although nothing but approval can be given to the terms of the Bill wit]* regard to the present single member constituencies for the House of Representatives, the Bill itself further complicates and renders more unsatisfactory the position so far as elections for the Senate are concerned. I think it is unquestioned that the Senate in certain circumstances would not be a fair representation of the will of the people. In fact, the Government have admitted that when this Bill passes into law and the next election takes place, if no further amendments of the electoral law are made in the interim, the position of the elector will be greatly complicated if he has to go into a polling booth and receive an electoral slip for the House of Representatives to be marked in a certain way, and another for the Senate to be marked in a different way. There is bound to be endless confusion. It is the duty of Parliament to make voting as simple as possible. The fewer the informal votes recorded the better for the people, and the more accurate will be the reflection of the opinion of trie majority. I do not think honorable senators have realized how complicated the next election will be if the electoral system remains as this Bill will leave it, and I am glad to have read the assurance of the Acting Prime Minister in another place that the Government will take into serious consideration the anomaly that will arise under this Bill. It is my intention to move in Committee a couple of short amendments that will bring voting for the Senate into line with the voting for the House of Representatives, and also provide that the counting for the Senate shall be done in . accordance with the principle of the single transferable vote. That will make the procedure consistent, and in consonance with the latest features of electoral reform that have been so exhaustively dealt with in both England and Australia.
I regret that the Government have not seen fit to complete their scheme of electoral reform by providing for proportional representation for the Senate.
– Does the honorable senator’s suggested amendment mean proportional representation ?
– Yes. For many years I have had the honour of being a member of the Proportional Representation Society of New South Wales. There are many such societies all over the world, and the object of all of them can be summarized under a few headings -
– Does the honorable senator think . that a system is perfect which allows 80,000 men in one State to return a senator, but requires 450,000 electors in another State to do that?
– I am arguing on the basis of the present Constitution, and am asking for reform in the method of electing the senators. The honorable senator has raised another point in regard to the unequal representation of the States on a population basis. I am assuming that no amendment in that respect will be made for some time.
– Because there are so many more pressing problems to be dealt with. Various electoral systems throughout the world have evolved, and are not even yet considered perfect. Therefore, it cannot be argued that we have a system that cannot be further improved so far as the election of the Senate is concerned. In Great Britain before 1872 voting was public. The Ballot Act of that year introduced the secret ballot system, which is now in force. Successful candidates are determined by relative and not absolute majorities. For a candidate to win an election it is only necessary for him to secure more votes than any other candidate does. The single member system dates only from 1885. The twenty-four two-member constituencies seem to have been retained solely because Mr. Gladstone, from personal sentiment, did not wish to wipe out the last vestige of the historical type of constituencies. ACommittee has re cently been sitting in Great Britain in connexion with further electoral reform. For some time this has been found to be urgently needed in view of the rearrangements and re-adjustments rendered necessary by an increasing and peregrinating population. This Committee has strongly recommended that under certain circumstances proportional representation should be introduced in connexion with elections for the British House of Commons.
– Has not the House of Commons rejected the recommendation ?
– A more conservative institution than the British House of Commons in regard to some matters could not exist. By a very narrow majority it did reject the recommendation of the Committee in this respect. I can quite understand members of Parliament rejecting a system under which they may perhaps run some risk of losing their seats, but personal matters should not be introduced when dealing with important matters of State. We should endeavour to discuss this matter dispassionately and from the stand-point of what is best for. Australia. There are many systems of election in force all over the world. The relative majority system is in operation in the United States,’ in the United Kingdom, and in Denmark for the Lower House. The second ballot system exists in Austria, France, and Germany. There is a limited voting system in Portugal and in several of the smaller countries ‘of Europe. The proportional system was in operation in Belgium before the war. It is practically the French Republican system whereby representatives are elected in France. It is also in operation in Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, and, coming closer home, in our small bub in some respects more progressive State of Tasmania. The party system has been the growth of hundreds of years, from the days of the Roundheads and Cavaliers through generations of Whigs and Tories and Liberals and Conservatives, down to these days of Unionism and Radicalism, and itseems to be almost as sacrosanct as is the British Constitution itself. I am not an extreme party man. . In my opinion the Senate is not a party Chamber. The Federal Constitution intended that it should particularly represent the States and not parties. By the establishment of proportional representation for the Senate elections we should be able to get closer to what the Constitution originally intended.
The reform of the Senate is a question altogether apart from the method of voting for it. A good deal of thought has been given even to this point. Senator Thomas by an interjection has indicated what is running through his mind, that the State of New South Wales, with a population of nearly 2,000,000, has no greater representation in this Chamber than the State of Tasmania.
– I ask the honorable senator not to pursue that line of argument. It is not relevant to the Bill.
– 1 do not wish to enlarge upon the point. I am merely dealing with it in relation to the establishment of proportional voting for the Senate. Under the present method of electing senators it is quite possible that at the next election for this Chamber there may be a continuing Nationalist wave. The whole eighteen senators returned may represent the National party. Thus there would be thirty-six Nationalists in the Senate and no representatives of the Official Labour party. That is the risk we run under the present method of election, and if such a situation arose this Chamber would be the laughing-stock of the community.
– Is it not a situation devoutly to be wished for by the honorable senator?
– Certainly not. That is the reason why I dissociate myself from extremely party measures in this Chamber. It was never intended by the Constitution that there should be thirty-six senators representing one party only, with no representation in the Chamber for any other party. Honorable senators will remember that for some years the Senate contained twenty-nine Labour senators and seven Liberals, and, later on, thirty-one Labour senators and five Liberals. I do not think that any honorable senator would be prepared to argue that those numbers were a fair representation of the votes that had been cast. In 1910 the total votes recorded for the Labour party for the Senate numbered 2,106,521, the total votes cast in the Liberal interest being 1,913,789, or in the proportion of 8.1 to 9.9; yet eighteen members of the Labour party were returned and not one Liberal, notwithstanding the huge number of votes which had been cast in favour of Liberal candidates. In 1913 the votes recorded for Labour candidates for the Senate numbered 2,895,043 as against 2,857,152 cast for Liberal candidates, the proportion of
Liberal votes to Labour votes being 8.88 to 9.10. Eleven Labour senators and seven Liberals were elected. In 1914, at the double dissolution, the Labour votes totalled 6,234,878, and the Liberal votes 5,499,231, the proportion of Liberal to Labour votes being 16.89 to 19.16. Thirty-one Labour candidates were elected to represent the 6,234,878 votes cast by supporters of the Labour party, while only five Liberals were returned representing the 5,499,231 votes cast for Liberal candidates.
– A more accurate way of stating the case would be to say that the six States voted Labour.
– I wish to refer to the last election for the Senate.
– On that occasion the six States voted for the National party.
– Is it a good thing that the Senate should consist exclusively of any one party ? “When Senator Millen was leading an Opposition of five against thirty-one Labour senators, did he think it fair that he should have only that amount of representation in the Senate fe>r all the Liberal votes polled ?
– I did. I have never varied in my attitude. I took up the position that the States had allotted the Liberals a minority.
– I differ from my colleague in regard to the method of voting for the Senate, and I will point out to the electors on every possible occasion the anomalies of that method, with the view of having the only perfect system incorporated in a Bill iu the not far distant future. I shall have that as my objective, so as to got a proportionate representation for . the Senate which will do a great deal to safeguard the rights of the Australian Democracy.
At the last elections, there were 3,515,968 votes recorded for the Nationalist candidates. There were 2,776,613 votes recorded for the Labour candidates. That is to say, 55.47 per cent, of the total votes polled were cast for the Nationalist candidates; and 43.81 per cent, of the votes polled were given to the Labour candidates. Yet, under this so-called democratic system, the
Nationalists returned eighteen members to the Senate, and the 43 per cent, of Labour votes had no representation at all, so far as that election was concerned.
– The people did not want them.
– But there were 43 per cent, of the people who voted for Labour; and, surely, under any Democracy, the fairer we can make the ultimate representation in proportion to the votes polled, the more democratic and perfect is that system.
– It is not democratic to give the minority power.
– There is no suggestion under the system of proportional representation that av minority can te given the power of a majority. All that proportional representation sets out to achieve, and will achieve with mathematical accuracy, is that minorities shall be represented as well as majorities in the proportion of the votes polled. The figures I have quoted show that the existing electoral system for the Senate is hideously unfair. Reference has been made to Tasmania. We have among the members of the Senate an ex-Premier of that State, who has had considerable experience in connexion with the proportional system. I shall quote briefly what has actually occurred in Tasmania since proportional representation was adopted in that progressive and intelligent State. In 1909, the Labour votes polled amounted to 19,067; the Liberal votes totalled 29,893. The approximate proportion of the votes polled, Liberal to Labour, was as 18.31 is to 11.69 ; and tlie seats actually obtained were, Liberal to Labour, as 18 is to 12 - the nearest exact proportion that could have been secured te the aggregate of the votes polled. In the 1912 election, Labour polled 33,634; the Liberals polled 40,252. The proportion of each side to votes polled was, as Liberal to Labour, in the ratio of 16.34 to 13.66, and the numbers ultimately elected were as 16 to 14 - again, in almost the exact ratio to the votes polled by both sides. In 1913, Labour polled 31,633; the Liberals polled 36,157 votes. The Independents polled 977 - a negligible quantity. The ratio of votes polled, as Liberal to Labour, was as 15.78 is to 13.77; and the members actually elected,’ again, were as nearly as possible in the exact ratio of the votes cast by both sides. Labour elected 14, and the Liberals elected 16.
– Is not the proportional system designed to administer party aims primarily, rather than State interests ?
– No ; the proportional system will reflect mathematically as nearly as” possible the opinions of the electors. We have no right, in a Chamber of this character, to dictate to the electors who shall and shall not be candidates for the Senate. The only objection that can reasonably be lodged against this system is as to the matter of the somewhat, complicated method of counting. But I am informed on unimpeachable authority that 100,000 votes per day can easily be counted. Seeing that under present circumstances the final returns for the Senatorial elections throughout Australia are not usually published within three weeks of polling day, there will be ample time to count the votes under the proportional system, if they are to be counted at the rate of 100,000 per day; and no delay will occur in announcing the final returns.
– How many men would be involved in such a count?
– I assume that those officers who are already engaged for the conduct of an election need not be added to. It is considered reasonable to suppose that even under the preferential system of counting a total of 100,000 per day will be counted by the staff at present engaged upon election work.
– It takes them three weeks now to count 200,000 votes in Victoria straight out.
– I disagree with the honorable senator. If he will refer to the newspaper reports he will see that the last elections were held upon a Saturday, and that on the Tuesday or Wednesday following the bulk of the votes were counted, and the people knew which candidates were successful.
– But the poll was not then declared.
– And that was only in cases where the majorities were very great.
– I remind Senator Millen and my other colleague from New South “Wales who were elected with me that we polled a little more than 400,000 votes for the Senate, and that within three days of taking the poll more than 300,000 of the votes recorded for each of us had been counted.’ There need be, and there can be, no delay in connexion with counting under the proportional system as compared even with the present system in relation to the ultimate declaration of the poll.
– How many hundreds of counts would there be before you secured finality?
– Even supposing that there are hundreds of counts, this is the only system which will actually reflect the opinions of the majority and of the minority of electors ; and, no matter what trouble we go to, the obligation lies with us, and with the Government, to endeavour to secure as accurately as possible a reflection of the opinions of the electors at all future elections.
– Then you think that this system might be applicable to the Senate?
– More so even than to the House of Representatives, because proportional representation cannot be applied to single-member constituencies, and no alteration is necessary in senatorial constituencies to apply the principle of proportional representation forthwith. I hope that the Government, even at this late stage, will favorably consider the question of voting at the next elections for the Senate.- No senatorial election can take place for nearly two years, unless there be a dissolution. The Constitution provides that, should there be any unexpected vacancy, it is to be filled by the State Parliament concerned. But, regarding the next elections, which, perhaps, will be the most important in the history of Australia, I suggest to the Government that if this Bill is now carried without an amendment of the system of voting for the Senate, needless confusion will be caused at the poll, and a state of things brought about- with which the Government will not be pleased. “We can now, by a slight amendment of the Bill, bring the method of voting for Senate candidates into line with that of voting for candidates for the House of Representatives, and by another small amendment we can make the count of the Senate voting in accordance with the principle of the single transferable vote, a necessary reform, which would be acceptable, I think, to the majority of the electors. These amendments will make it impossible that the representation of the people in this Chamber shall be anything but reasonable.
– Mr,. Chamberlain, when this was suggested in England, said that minorities had been ruling there long enough, and that it was time that majorities -had something to say.
– My _ honorable’ friend misconceives the position. Proportional representation will not allow minorities to rule; it will provide for the representation of majorities and for the representation of large minorities as well. With proportional representation, if the electors were divided as they were at the last election, it would be impossible to have less than twelve senators of one party and more than twenty-four of the opposing party. The present state of affairs is undesirable, and we should not risk the return of eighteen more Nationalist candidates at the next election ,
– Would the honorable senator regard that as a calamity?
– I say deliberately that it Would be a calamity if the party which secured a majority of, perhaps, not more than 5 per cent, of the votes cast were to win all the seats in the Senate, leaving the minority totally unrepresented.
– If our electoral system remains unchanged, will the honorable senator, when he again presents himself for election, urge the electors to vote for only’ two of the names on the ticket of the party to which he belongs, and to cast their third vote for one of his political opponents?
– It is not to be assumed that I shall urge the voting of a ticket at the next election.
– “What did the honorable senator do at the last election?
– I urged the electors to vote the ticket of my party. Under the circumstances, there was nothing else to do.
– It was open to the honorable senator to advise them to give two votes to his party and one to the opposite party.
– My honorable friend is not going to get me. into a cornet. At the last election there was a straight-out fight between Nationalists and Labourites, and every man was bound to be loyal to the ticket of his party. But the anomalies of the past should not continue. It would be better for the country if our electoral law were amended so as to give a fairer representation in the Senate of the political views of the electors. Surely it will be conceded that it would be better to have in this Chamber twentyfour members of one party and twelve of another than to have the whole thirty-six members of one political party, and have the opposing political party totally excluded from representation.
SenatorFoll. - Not after last night’s exhibition.
– I have said what I think of what occurred last night, and I hope that I have not added fuel to the flame. I have endeavoured to bring back the minds of honorable senators to the Bill. I have urged, to the best of my ability, the adoption by the Senate of the principle of proportional representation. I have shown how that long-needed reform can be obtained by two small amendments. At every election I have pledged myself to secure proportional representation, and some of the members of this Government are similarly pledged. I see no objection to that system of voting, and I urge the Government, if it is not prepared to allow this Bill to be amended, to promise to give careful consideration to the reform before the next election, so that in the future there may not be a danger of the Senate being in the ill-balanced condition of the past, and that the method of voting may be fairer.
.- I ask the Leader of the House if he will allow the debate to be adjourned over the luncheon hour.
– I urge the honorable senator to make the most of the few minutes between now and the usual hour for the luncheon adjournment.
– Will the honorable senator give me permission to resume after the adjournment?
– That does not rest in my hands. If it did, I might be disposed to refuse the request.
– Then I move-
That the debate be adjourned.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
– The honorable senator’s remarks seem to me not to be pertinent or relevant to the Bill.
– A writ having been issued for the election on the 14th December of a member to serve for the
Division of Corangamite, I see no reason why senators should be subjected to a test of endurance in order to pass this Bill so that the method of preferential voting may apply at that election. No doubt, our electoral laws are in need of amendment and consolidation, but I do not think that this is the time to amend and consolidate them. At the present time there are more than 100,000 of our citizens who are absent from Australia who cannot vote upon the question of whether or not this Rill should become law.
– May I interpose to point out that no provision is made in our Sessional Orders for a suspension of the sitting of the Senate for luncheon purposes, except on Friday? In the absence of a standing . order specifically dealing with the matter, I suggest to you, sir, that it will probably meet the convenience of honorable senators if you will suspend the present sitting until half past two o’clock. 1
– The Minister for Repatriation is quite right in saying that there is no sessional order bearing upon the suspension of a sitting of the Senate for luncheon, except on Fridays. In the circumstances, if there be no objection on the part of honorable senators, I shall suspend the present sitting until 2.30 o’clock.
Sitting suspended from 1.2 till 2.80 p.m. (Thursday).
– When the sitting was suspended I was referring to the fact that at the present time more than 100,000. of our citizens are absent from this country. It is not right that we should amend the electoral law during their absence. Before any drastic alterations are made in existing electoral methods, the opinion of the electors themselves upon those alterations should be obtained. Had the Government made electoral reform a plank of their platform at the next election, by that time the men who have boon fighting our battles overseas would have returned, and would have been afforded an opportunity of voting upon this question.’ That is my reply to those who urge that, even if these men were in Australia, they would not be permitted a chance of voting upon it. It cannot be claimed by any reasonable person that this Bill has received that amount of consideration to which it is entitled. In another branch of the Legislature I know that a certain procedure has been adopted to secure the limitation of debate. Hitherto it has been tho boast of the Senate that our debates here cannot be guillotined. I have discovered, however, during the past twenty-four hours, that there is another method by which discussion may be shortened, namely, by physical exhaustion, and I candidly acknowledge that I have just about reached that stage. I have also learned that we have a standing order which sanctions the application of the “gag.” I refer to the standing order which allows an honorable senator to move, “ That the Senate do now divide,” immediately any honorable senator has concluded his speech.
Had this Bill embodied the policy enunciated by the Government when they sought the suffrages of the electors some time ago, we should not have had this attempt to rush it through Parliament. Upon that occasion a statement was made by responsible Ministers that proportional representation would be adopted.
– Two or three years before the last election.
– I refer my honorable friend to the press reports of only a few months ago, when he and his colleagues were seeking re-election.
– No promise was made in regard to proportional representation.
– The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) made the statement to which I refer.
– The Cook Government brought down the proposal.
– I am speaking of the Hughes-Cook Government, of which Senator Guthrie was a supporter. I understand that it will be convenient to the Leader of the Government in this Chamber if I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 2.37 p.m. (Thursday) .
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 November 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1918/19181113_senate_7_86/>.