7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister if it is a fact that the Cabinet has decided to submit to Parliament at an early date an amendment of the Electoral Act, to provide for the re-adjustment of the divisional boundaries and for proportional representation for the House of Representatives?
– If the honorable senator will wait to see the Bills that are presented he will, in due course, know all the proposals that the Government intend to submit.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether the Government are aware that under the provisions of the Land Tax Assessment Act land value’s to the amount of £345,000,000 escape the incidence of the tax? If so, will the Government upon an early date submit an amendment of the Act to provide for the imposition of taxation on these values, and simultaneously repeal the Amusement Tax Act?
– I cannot say whether the Government are aware, though I presume they are, in some of their Departments, of the amount of land values which escapes taxation. I will submit to my honorable colleague the Treasurer (Mr. Watt) the suggestion which I imagine is contained in the honorable senator’s question for the removal of the exemption to which he refers. I assume that I shall be at liberty to assure the Treasurer that Senator Grant will support such an amendment of the Act.
– The honorable senator is quite at liberty to do that.
Senator NEEDHAM (for Senator
O’Keefe) asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Did the Leader ofthe ImperialGovernment some time ago promise the Commonwealth Government a sum of £500,000 to encourage the production of electrolytic zinc in Australia?
Ifso, has any money been received and paid away, and to whom?
– The answers are -
applicationof Vacuumoil Company.
asked the Deader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice - 1.Has the attention of the Leader of the Government been drawn to the remarks of Judge Edmunds on the application of the Vacuum Oil Company to the New South Wales Prices Board for an increase in price of benzine and kerosene? 2.Ifso, does the Government intend to take any action in reference to previous applications by the said company to the Commonwealth Prices Commissioners?
– The answers are -
employmentof Returnedsoldiers at Election’s.
When appointments of assistant presiding officers, poll clerks, &c, at Commonwealth elections are being made, will the Government give preference in all cases where available to returned soldiers?
– So far as the conditions permit, full and sympathetic consideration has been, and will continue to be,given to the employment of returned soldiers in such positions.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
What are the approximate totals of revenue received from commencement oftax to end of June, 1919, from -
– The answers are -
The following papers were presented : -
Papua- Ordinances of 1919 -
No. 7. - Criminal Code Amendment.
No. 8. - Land.
Debate resumed from 11th September (vide page 12224), on motion by Senator
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- I understand that speeches on the second reading of a Bill should deal only with its general principles, but as this is such an unprincipled measure I feel that I shall be out of order during the whole of my remarks upon it. There are no general principles in it, If it were characterized as a measure to annoy, disturb, and aggravate the community, that would be only a fair description of it. I realize that my remarks upon it will fall upon deaf ears when addressed to the majority who control the business of the Senate atthe present time. It is customary on the eve of an election - and I take it we are supposed to be approaching very rapidly such an occasion - to say that measures introduced by’ the Government are of a window-dressing character. I congratulate the Government on this occasion upon introducing ameasure which is calculated to cause more annoyance to the people of this country than any measure previously introduced in this Parliament.
What are we asked todo by this Bill? I do not wish to make any personal reflections on the Minister who introduced it; but it appears to me that some subor dinate officer of the Public Service got hold of some war precautionary measure dealing with aliens passed in Great Britain during the war, and for war purposes only, and has embodied it in this Bill, which he expects this Parliament to pass.. I suppose that he knows the temper of this Parliament sufficiently well to feel assured that there will be no criticism of it so far as supporters of the Government are concerned. The only effective criticism of a measure of the kind is to be looked for from those representing the outside community, who hold definite opinions on the- matters which we are called upon to discuss here. When they put forward reasonable objections to Government measures, it is assumed that honorable senators on this side are merely carrying out perfunctorily the formal duties of an Opposition. But, after reading this Bill from beginning to end, I challenge any honorable senator opposite to give one justification for it. The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) failed to do so yesterday in introducing the measure. He said, incidentally; that we must have some means of regulating the introduction of undesirable aliens, but this Bill makes no attempt to provide such means.
– It will let us know, where they are.
– If we cannot find out where they are by some method more effective than that proposed in this Bill, then the ineptitude of the Government is better illustrated by this measure than I have yet known it to be. When the Minister was speaking yesterday, I was giving some attention, to the duties which will fall upon the Government in keeping the- records necessary to enable them to continue in touch with the whole of the aliens visiting this country in order that they may be iu a position to detect the undesirables ‘ amongst them. I take it that what the Minister has iu mind in introducing this Bill is that the Government shall be’ in a position to deal with undesirable immigrants. I asked whether the Commonwealth Police- would be engaged for this purpose, but Senator Russell, in his references to the matter, seemed to convey the idea that that body, had gone out of existence. When I look more closely into the Bill, I find that it is not the: intention of the Government to engage an army of officials to carry out the work of its administration, but that the measure itself makes it an offence on the part of private citizen* not to do this work for the Government. Whenever I speak of shipping matters, I feel- that I may be trespassing upon the preserves pf Senator Guthrie, and, therefore, I ask the honorable senator to direct his attention to tha duties which this Bill will throw upon masters of vessels coming to Australia. I ask him,1 as a seaman’s representative, and one having a knowledge of the duties of masters of vessels, whether he thinks it a fair thing that, under this Bill, ‘we should. make it an offence on the part of the captain of a ship, not to register in triplicate the nationality and all the otherparticulars required to be registered under this measure of every one on board that ship?
– That is done om every ship to-day.
– As a. war precautionary measure, perhaps.
– No. There is tha passenger list, and even the ages, of passengers have to be registered.
– No such provision is in operation to-day as is contained in this Bill.
– Let the honorable senator ask those who travel to and from Tasmania whether their ages are not recorded every time they cross the Straits..
– Let me refer to some of the clauses of the Bill, and. ask Senator Guthrie whether any such provisions are in operation at the- present time. This measure creates quite a list of new offences and new offenders, and imposes new penalties. Sub-clause 2’ of clause 8 provides that-
The master of every oversea vessel other, than a public vessel of any Government, shall,, immediately on arrival at the first- port of call,, furnish to an Aliens Registration Officer, at other officer acting under this Act, a list show* ing the number and names of the crew, and their nationality and race-, and produce- the vessel’s articles.
– That is done- at theshipping office every day, and has been the practice for the last fifty years
– There is nothing in that.
– I can quite understand that Senator Senior thinks so. Suppose the master of the vessel gives a wrong description of any member of his crew. Suppose he has been misled, and it is subsequently discovered that a member of the crew described as a person of a certain nationality has been wrongly described, the Bill provides that the master of the ship shall show cause why he has given wrong information, and he may be arrested without a warrant.
– As he may be today.
– If that is the law of the land to-day, then we have ceased to live in a British community. Even in the case of a murderer, before we can take his liberty from him, no matter how strong the evidence against him may be, a warrant has to be procured for his arrest. The’ master of a ship can be arrested without the production of a warrant for any offence committed under this Bill.
– A constable can arrest any one to-day without a warrant.
– I am pleased indeed to hear the Minister make such a statement, because it shows one of two things; either that he does not know what are our rights as citizens, or that he is trying to mislead the people. Does Senator Millen mean to say that a constable could arrest me without a warrant?
– Then he would be able to do the same to the Minister, buthe would have to take the whole responsibility.
– Arrests are being made every day without warrants.
– Not without warrants.
– Yes. When a man is locked up for drunkenness it is done without the production of a warrant.
– A man may be arrested for breaking the law or for disturbing the publicpeace without the production of a warrant, but it is quite a new thing to give an officer the power to arrest practically any man in this community on suspicion that he is an offender against the provisions of an Act of Parliament.
-There is nothing of the kind in the Bill.
– I would like to reply to Senator Senior’s interjection, because he is in the habit of making misstatements utterly incompatible with the truth, and quite contrary to fact, and never, to my knowledge, has he been known to withdraw such misstatements. Senator Senior has said that there is nothing of the kind in the Bill, and for his information I shall quote clause 19 -
An officer may at any time arrest without warrant any person who he has reasonable ground to believe has committed an offence against this Act.
I ask Senator Senior, if there is a spark of manliness in him, to withdraw his statement that there is nothing of the kind in the Bill. When an honorable senator, who has not read the measure, deliberately says there is no such thing in the Bill when the provision is actually there, he should withdraw his statement.
– Do you assert that I have not read it?
– I do not assen that.
– Then withdraw what you have said!
– The honorable senator either misread the clause or stated a deliberate untruth.
– One of you may have read it incorrectly, and that one may have been Senator Gardiner.
– Clause 19 distinctly states that any officer may at any time arrest, without warrant, any person who he has reasonable ground to believe has committed an offence against the Act. I may haveread it wrongly; but it does not say that any officer, on a charge that a person had committed an offence, could arrest him whilst he was coming down the street. Senator Senior has interjected that there is nothing of the kind in the Bill, and then endeavours to twist the clause round and say that what I have said is not there.
– I did not say the clause was not there, but that your deduction is not in the Bill; and I repeat it.
– Then what is it?
– It does not say that any person can be arrested.
– You would not permit me, Mr. President, to quote the clause again and again, but
Senator Senior, rather than take the manly course and withdraw his statement, persists in trying to make out that I am wrong.
– If your conclusion is right, why not support it by argument?
– I am supporting it by quoting clause 19 of the Bill.
– The clause does not say any person, but any person who the officer has reasonable ground to believe has committed an offence against this Act.
– Let any officer, under this clause of the Bill, say that I have committed an act or an offence, take me before a Police Court, and find that I am not guilty, and see what his position would be. There is nothing in our laws that gives the police the right to obstruct a man or to take his rights away. ,
– A policeman does ittoday.
– A policeman does not do it.
– A policeman could arrest an honorable senator when leaving this chamber.
– But if . he does so, he takes the risk. If this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament, there will be no penalty, because it gives an officer the right to arrest if there are reasonable grounds for suspicion. The right to so arrest does not now exist.
– A constable would not be the judge of the propriety of what was done.
– The constable is to be the judge, because the clause gives him power to arrest if he has reasonable grounds.
– If the person arrested can show that there was no reasonable ground, the constable would be liable to punishment.
– I am not at all surprised at the Minister’s statement, because I have realized for a considerable time that this Government have lost all sense of proportion regarding the rights of the outside community and of themselves. They are wholly departing from the beaten track and interfering with the rights and liberties of individuals, instead of endeavouring to preserve them. The difference between the conditions under which we live and those that would exist if this Bill were passed is that now, if I am arrested without sufficient grounds, I have my redress at law, but the law we are enacting here is that, if, in the opinion of the officer arresting, he has reasonable ground for suspicion against n person, he can arrest. Senator Millen will not see the difference, although it must be clear.
But to try to prevent the introduction of legislation of this kind is quite a useless task with a Senate constituted as this is. The Minister did not give us any reasonsfor the introduction of the Bill; and, in my opinion, a measure that was passed in Great Britain for war-time purposes has been slavishly copied here now the war is over.Let us consider the inconvenience that will be caused to the people I represent, and to the people we all represent in the various States, and see what is likely to result. Before putting the community to an immense amount of trouble, reasons should be given for the proposed legislation. The Australian Labour party is sometimes referred to as a party which interferes with everybody’s business; but the Labour party is not responsible in this instance The liberty of the individual should be interfered with as little as possible, consistent with the liberty of every other individual in the community.
Who is to- be the registrar to whom the shipmasters shall report? Are the Government going” to appoint special officers for that particular purpose? If we have an Act of Parliament compelling people to do certain things, we ought to put it on such a basis that the law will easily be carried out.Further, if we are going to compel every shipmaster to register in triplicate the nationality of his crew and passengers, there will have to be an officer to perform the work at every port.
– If the honorable senator had read the Bill, he would see that registration is necessary only at the first port of call.
– I thank the honorable senator for his information ; but if he will study the matter he will see that practically every port in Australia will at some time or another be the first port of call of some ship, and, therefore, registrars will be required there. I fully understand that a shipmaster has to register only at his first port, but for the reasons given it will be necessary to have an officer at every port. Vessels coming from India and the East will probably make Fremantle their first port of call, and most of the registration in that trade will be done there. We have to remember, however, that an incoming vessel may call first at Port Augusta and other such places, and. there would have to be registration officers there. There are also such outlying ports as Thursday Island, Port Moresby, and Rabaul, and we are creating, conditions that will necessitate registration officers being appointed at every port where a vessel is likely to make her first call.
– Are there not Customs officers at those ports?
– If the work is to be done by the Customs officers, we should have been so informed, but the Minister did not give us that information. Senator Guthrie, who has well earned’ a. reputation as an authority on shipping and seamen’s interests, got out of the difficulty in which I placed him by saying that what I considered one of the objectionable features of the Bill was already the law of the land. If it is the law of the land, reasons for its Tetention should be given. Clause 8, sub-clause 4, reads -
The master of a vessel who -
A master of a vessel, who has to register the nationality of the members of his crew at the first port of call, may have engaged them at San Erancisco and have taken the men - we all know how they do take men sometimes - upon their own statements. Indoing so he may have made a mistake, and have involved himself in a penalty of f 100. Is there any reason why the master of a vessel should bother about his crew, other than to see that they are capable of performing the work for which they are. engaged? Is knowledge of the nationality of a crew beneficial or otherwise to Australia.
– Do you apply the same reasoning to our Immigration. Restriction Act, and say that the master should be a law unto himself ?
– I do not; but I do not think they should be liable under an Alien Registration. Bill. It is unreasonable to make the master of a vessel liable for mistakes in the description of his crew.
– We make him liable under the Act referred to.
– Thatrefers to people who are being landed.
– And the crew, too.
– It is no business of. the master apart from the working of the ship.
– It is his business now to concern himself as to the nationality of his crew. Every skipper who has Asiatics serving aboard his vessel is responsible for them.
– The Government are going to make it a most arduoustask. I will now leave that aspect of the question,not because of the Minister’s interjections, but because I. have said all I wished on the subject. Icome now toclause 9. I do not propose to discussthe various provisions of the measure in detail, because that would occupy too much time.
– I notice that the honorable senator is hopping about a good deal, anyhow.
– Doubtless, I am. But I attribute that to the hasty manner in which these proposals are being dealt with. Seeing that the second readr ihg of the Bill was only moved at 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon, and; remembering what has since occupied the attention of members of both branches of thisParliament, I may be pardoned for presenting my views in a somewhat undigested manner, and, perhaps, for chewing over some of the proposals twice. Let menow direct attention to the effect which this measure will have upon our own people. Clause 13 provides -
It shall be the duty of the keeper of every hotel, inn,, boarding-house; and lodging-house inAustralia to provide himself with a register for the purposes of. this section,, and to ascertain and enter therein the following particulars of all aliens staying at the hotel, inn, boardinghouse, or lodging-house.
It will be interesting, perhaps, to honorable senators to note the definition of “ boardinghouse-keeper.” Sub-clause 5 of that clause sets out -
For the purposes of this section, the expression “ keeper of a lodginghouse “ shall include amy person who for reward receives any other person to lodge with him or, in his house; and where any hotel, inn, boardinghouse, or lodginghouse is under the management of a manager, the expression “ keeper “ shall, in relation thereto, include the manager.
Under this Bill the Government propose to impose on the lessees of all furnished or unfurnished rooms the obligation of keeping a register. Let us see what is to ibe recorded in that register. Hitherto it has been the practice in the closing days of a session precedingan election, for the Opposition to accuse the Government of “ dressing the window.” I do not intend to copy that example, but nothing will give megreater pleasure than to show the hotelkeepers of this country the obligations which the Ministry desire to impose upon them. Under the Bill it will be necessary for the proprietors of all large hotels to keep massive ledgers, which will involve extra clerical work.
– They do that now. The honorable senator knows that.
– They will be obliged to report in triplicate to the registrar in regard to all visitors to their hotels. It is utterlyabsurd that in time of peace the military authorities should be thus permitted to harass our hotelkeepers and boardinghouse-keepers, and practically to suggest that every person who comes to their establishments is a suspect. Yet Senator Senior and other honorable senators opposite support the Government in nonsensical proposals of this kind.
– Not every person who goes to an hotel or a boardinghouse will have to register, but only the aliens.
– Everybody knows that I am now dealing with an Alien Registration Bill. What constitutes an alien? A visitor from any other country.
SenatorFerricks. - Thehotelkeepers and boardinghouse-keepers will have to supervise every entrant to their establishments in order to ascertain where he came from.
– Exactly! The registrar must be correctly informed of the nationality of every man who stays at an hotel. If we make it an offencefor an hotelkeeper to allow any American to stay at his hotel without registering his name, nationality, &c; and if there are thousands of visitors to that hotel, we shall compel the hotelkeeper to inquire into the nationality of every one of them. Then there is a penalty for false reports. Look at the inconvenience to which a visitor from abroad will be subjected under this Bill?
– His passport will show where he came from.
– And the hotelkeeper will see it?
– Yes; he will naturally show it to him.
-Let me suppose that, after this Bill becomes law, Senator Reid visits the Hotel Australia, in Sydney. What will probably happen? The manager will immediately say, “ Here is a French gentleman. I know that from his appearance.” The French gentleman will thereupon explain that he is of Irish descent. Then the registrar will probably be summoned, and the hotel manager will say to him, “ Here is a suspicious case of a man who looks like a Frenchman, but claims to be an Irishman, and talks like a Scotchman.” Senator Reid will then be asked for his passport. But he will not have one. He will say that he has onlycome from Brisbane. In such circumstances the hotel manager will occupy a most embarrassing position. Yet that is the position in which every hotelkeeper will be placed in relation to every visitor. In my opinion we have not yet reached the time when legislation of this character is warranted. The Minister in charge of the Bill has shown no necessity for its introduction. He has merely affirmed in a vagueway that it is necessary to deal with undesirable aliens. I admit that it is. But merely because , an occasional undesirable alien comes to this country it is not necessary to make the lives of business people here almost intolerable by means of a foolish, petty, and unwarrantable interference with them.Under the Bill, what will be the position occupied by the boardinghousekeeper?
– I am interested to know whether or not the honorable senator is opposed to the principle of the Bill.
– I said at the outset of my remarks that this was an unprincipled Bill. So far, I have been unable to discover any principle in it.
– Is the honorable senator opposed to the registration of aliens? That is the principle underlying the measure.
– If the Government are anxious to compel aliens to register, let them bring down a simple measure dealing with the matter. But it is absurd to put hotelkeepers and lodginghousekeepers to a considerable amount of trouble by making it an offence for them to fail to keep an accurate register of all aliens staying at their establishments.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of the registration of aliens, or not?
– I can see nothing objectionable in our saying to every visitor from a foreign country, “ You shall register your birthplace as soon as you enter the Commonwealth,” if that course be deemed to be necessary. But I am strongly opposed to a Bill which seeks unwarrantably to interfere with business people in the Commonwealth, and which will accomplish nothing.
– What businesses? The crimping business at Newcastle? The honorable senator talks about boardinghousekeepers, but he’ tries to knock those persons down as much as he can.
– I do not know why Senator Guthrie has selected the second city , of the State which I represent to cast aspersions upon it. Newcastle is one ofthe greatest shipping ports in Australia. I do not know that his interjection is quite justified merely because in the bad old days crimping went on there.
– And it is going on there to-day.
– When Senator Guthrie knew the worst parts of Newcastle - and no man knew them better than he did - there was a good deal of crimping practised there. He says’ that the evil is still in existence. But I have my doubts as to the accuracy ofhis statement.
– The honorable senator ought to know. He represents Newcastle.
– Yes. But the Newcastle which I represent is one of the best-conducted ports in the world.
– And there is more foreign crimping there than is to be found in any other port in the world. That is a big statement to make.
– The honorable senator has always been remarkable for the size of his statements and the daring with which he makes them, irrespective of whether he can or cannot support them with facts.From the standpoint of the way in which they are conducted, the hotels of Newcastle will compare favorably with those of any other part of the world. But, even if there used to exist lodginghouses in which effect was given to the will of shipping masters by pouring into men an undue measure of the beverage which steals away their brains, I am of opinion that those days have past.
– No ; they have not. The honorable senator does not keep himself in touch with Newcastle.
– If they still exist, I shall have to pose as the leader of the seamen in this Chamber, and relegate Senator Guthrie to hisproper place, seeing that after thirty years of work in their interests he has admitted his failure to stamp out this evil of shanghai-ing. If this practice still obtains in Newcastle, and if Senator Guthrie has failed to wipe it out after thirty years of constant endeavour, I will undertake to wipe it out, if he will give me definite information on the matter, within thirty days.
– If the. honorable senator went to Newcastle, he might be shanghaied.
– In view of the approaching general election, I shall not go there. But I shall keep my eye on Senator Guthrie wherever I may be. However, I refuse to be drawn away from the point I wish to make, which is that, under the Bill, every boardinghousekeeper will be obliged’ to keep a register. What will be the form of that register, and what are the records which will require to be kept? These are set out in clause 13, and include the following particulars of all aliens : -
Name; nationality; date of arrival; previous place of abode; if arrived by vessel, name of vessel; date of departure; destination on departure; if departing by vessel, name of vessel.
Senator Millen lias pointed out that there will be no. necessity for boardinghousekeepers to interview visitors to their establishments who are not aliens. But let me picture what might happen in the case of Senator Shannon ever visiting Western” Australia. The boardinghousekeeper would probably say, “From his appearance, I judge that he is a Norwegian, one of the descendants of the old Norse Kings, a real Viking.” Senator Shannon, with some surprise, would probably protest that he was Chairman of Committees of the Senate. Thereupon his interrogator would probably say, “ What the devil is the Senate? “ Senator Shannon would then explain that he is a well-known figure in the public life of Australia. But the boardinghousekeeper would say, “ That kind of - bluff won’t do here. We paid a fine of £100 on account of a man who looked just as respectable as you do.” Or, conceivably, he might say, “We narrowly escaped paying a fine only because the magistrate took a lenient view of our case, and said that we were justified in regarding the visitor to whom exception was taken in the light that we did.”
– I would rather enjoy an experience of that kind.
– Perhaps so, but I doubt it, particularly if it brought the honorable senator to a court-house some hundreds of miles distant at a time when he knew that business in the Senate was claiming his attention. Let us see, also, what might happen to Senator Foll if, instead of entering his marne and nationality in the register, he merely gave the name “Foll.” “A (German, I presume?” one of the smart attendants would say. “Oh, not at all!” Senator Foll would probably reply, and no doubt he would display his returned soldier’s badge: “ Oh, that’s no good,” the attendant would perhaps reply, “you can purchase those badges for a drink at any time.” Of course, I am not suggesting that Senator Foll is -wearing his badge unworthily. I am merely suggesting the possibilities under this Bill. Are we going to subject the travelling public of Australia to the indignity of being interviewed by officials at every hotel and boarding-house, with the object of ascertaining their nationality? The thing is unheard of in Australia. The Parliament of the
Mother Country has power to enact any legislation that may be deemed necessary for the protection of the Realm, and possibly some official has dragged this piece of legislation from the Imperial records for application in Australia, It is not at all necessary here. Honorable senators who move from place to place must remember how inconvenient was the custom before Federation, of searching baggage at Albury when a person was travelling from New South Wales to Victoria. I can well remember how awkward this experience was when some polite Customs official came along and required me to turn out my bag to see if I was trying to smuggle something into Victoria.’ That system was an unnecessary interference with the rights of people who moved from place to place, and the same objectionable principle is embodied in the Bill under notice. It is an attempt to introduce into Australia the continental system, under which a man may not move from one town to another without a passport, which somebody else might pilfer from him.
– When you visited London were you not required to empty out your bag ?
– Yes, at the Customs office, in Tilbury Docks, the officials naturally inspected my bag, but the inconvenience in such circumstances is not to be compared with the experience of travellers in pre-Federal days crossing frequently from New South Wales to Victoria. Under this Bill every boardinghousekeeper . and every hotelkeeper will be required to keep a register for the inspection of every officious policeman who cares to come along. A boardinghousekeeper, perfectly reputable in every respect, might have lodgers who entertained a foreigner unawares, and if this came under the notice of an am-, bitious constable seeking promotion, he would immediately have the case before the Court. The magistrate might agree that there were mitigating circumstances so far as the boardinghouse-keeper wa3 concerned, but he would.be guided by the intention of Parliament, and ask the lady of the house if she kept a register. She would probably reply that she did not know that the law required her to do so, and the .magistrate, recognising that ignorance of the law is no excuse, would be obliged to impose a penalty upon her.
Why should the people be called upon to suffer from legislation of this kind.? Let us do away with military authorities and constables moving about seeking to know what hotelkeepers and boardinghousekeepers are doing. Why should we, without some special remuneration, require these people to keep special records? What would be the position if there were a provision in the Bill holding every employer of labour responsible for the nationality of his employees? I am not concerned about aliens coming into this country. So far as their nationality is concerned, Americans are alien, and surely we can meet them as men and brothers ?
– The Minister may exempt them under the Bill.
– I know what the Minister can do, but judging from recent experiences, it takes Ministers a long time to do little things, so. that instead of loading them with more responsibility and power, we should consider whether this measure is really necessary. Senator Millen tried to base an argument on the question of registration of aliens. I claim that we should not create offences and make offenders of a section of the community, allowing every other section to be unmolested. That is what this Bill will do. From the day that this Bill passes it will be extremely difficult for any traveller to obtain hotel accommodation without a prior crossexamination on the’ part of an hotelkeener, and that should be unnecessary in a freedom-loving country like Australia.
– Some people have that experience now.
– I can quite understand that Senator Thomas and I might find it difficult to get accommodation in some places in Australia.
– There are some decent hotels in this country.
– Yes; but there are some hotelkeepers who think that the opinions of Senator Thomas and myself on the liquor question are indecent. Quite a number of excellent hotelkeepers view with disfavour all people who hold pronounced views on temperance questions. In this case, I think I am the only individual representative of total abstinence who is speaking on behalf of hotelkeepers ; but I am not thinking of their interests only. I am thinking of the interests of the whole community. The war lasted for over four years, and although we have many thousands of enemy aliens in Australia, I do not think any honorable senator can say that, during all. those years, they caused any unnecessary trouble.
– Yes, they did; and we interned many of them.
– I am aware of that; but I venture to say that if Senator Reid had been in an enemy country, he would have been not only expensive, but exceedingly troublesome if allowed his liberty; and I feel that I can associate myself with him in that respect. I claim, however, that during the worst period in our history, we were not subjected to any great dangers or difficulties by the interference of enemy aliens in our midst.
– I believe we were, for we had to intern them.
– Out of 30,0.00 or 40,000 enemy aliens in Australia, it was necessary only to intern 6,00.0 or 7,000.
– Probably they were the most dangerous element in the alien population.
– But, if I leave out the interned section of the enemy aliens, I can still point to about35,000 who were not interned, and of them I think it can be said that they conducted themselves in such a way as to cause notrouble to the Government.
– They were closely watched, though.
– Does the honorable senator say they were closely watched?
– Yes; and you know they were. What was our Intelligence Department doing?
– The interjection is one which I would expect from Senator Guthrie. He suggests that there was an army of officials watching that widespread section of enemy aliens that, in his particular State is such a large part of the population. .
-But we want to hear something from you on the Bill. We have not heard anything yet.
– I call your attention, Mr. President, to the fact that I have been speaking to the Bill for some considerable time, but interjections have teen so frequent that Senator Thomas now complains he has heard nothing from me with respect to the measure.
– I did not mean I had heard nothing from you about the Bill; I meant nothing in the way of criticism.
– Then I am afraid the honorable senator must attribute that to his defective hearing.
– No; you have been talking about matters not in the Bill.
– I read one clause three times, and risked being pulled up by the President for tedious repetition. If Senator Mdllen will point to one statement of mine that was not directly dealing with the Bill, then, when we reach the Committee stage, I shall prove relevance by quoting the clause to which I was referring. The interjection has weight as it comes from the Minister, and it carries weight, also, when it remains in the press uncontradicted. But the cause which rests upon falsehood alone is doomed. One may carry on for a while by means of misrepresentation,but not for ever. The Minister did not attempt to justify the Bill when he introduced it. His action is merely tantamount to taking a. British war measure and implanting it within thestatute-books of the Commonwealth.Its application in this country will provean unnecessary, unwise, and unjust interference with the rights of the people of Australia. Does the Constitution make provision for the Commonwealth ‘Government to interfere with the business conduct of a private person within any State? We have no more right to legislate with respect to what a hotelkeeper or a boardinghouse proprietor shall do within any one State than we have to coerce a ship-owner. The Commonwealth Legislature passed a law to grant compensation to men who became injured while working on board ships. In a certain instance compensation was granted, whereupon there was an appeal ; and theCourts held that the Commonwealth authorities had no right to interfere in a matter solely concerning shipping within the waters of one particular State. ‘The Commonwealth Parliament may legislate as it likes in regard to aliens entering this country;but we cannot compel private citizens to become our agents, to constitute themselves the keepers of records and the furnishers of information. The Commonwealth authorities must provide their own staffs for such services, otherwise they will be exercising the same degree of tyranny as is wielded in some of the older countries of the world.
– The authorities are evidently endeavouring to create a society of informers.
– This Government will not be called upon to go to any additional expense in bringing about such an organization as that. Is it wise to strain our constitutional powers? What are our constitutional powers in relation to business conducted within any one State? The Minister may say that this measure represents only a small infringement of our constitutional powers. He may affirm that it only goes a little way in trespassing upon the Tights of private individuals and business people within the States; and that, for that reason, we should pass the Bill. The Minister adopts the attitude that no one will take much notice of this infringement. Section 51 of the Constitution Act states -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to: -
Trade and commerce with other countries and among the States: (ii)taxation, but so as not to discriminate between States or parts of States:
bounties on the productionor export of goods, but so that such bounties shallbe uniformthroughout the Commonwealth : (iv)borrowing money on the public credit of the Commonwealth-:
postal, telegraphic, telephonic, and. other like services:
the naval andmilitary defence of the Commonwealth and. of the several States, and thecontrol of the Forces to execute and maintain the laws of the Commonwealth :
lighthouses, lightships, beacons, and buoys:
astronomical and meteorological observations:
fisheries in Australian waters beyond territorial limits:
census and statistics:
currency, coinage, and legal tender:
banking, other than State banking; also State banking extending beyond the limits of the State concerned, the incorporation of banks, and the issue of paper money:
insurance, other than State insurance; also State insurance extending beyond the limits of the State concerned :
) weights and measures:
bills of exchange and promissory notes :
bankruptcy and insolvency:
copyrights, patents of inventions and Resigns, and trade marks:
naturalization and aliens:
Is this measure based upon that paragraph? Nothing is said in the Bill about the naturalization of aliens. The section continues -
Thislast is the paragraph, Isuppose, upon which the Government has taken action in. framing this Bill. I concede that the Government have the power laid down in paragraph xxvi, but itdoes not grant authority to make a hotelkeeper or a boardinghouse proprietor part and parcel of the Commonwealth Public Service machinery.
– The Commonwealth authorities make those persons part and parcel of their machinery with respect to the taking of the . census.
– The procedure, there, is quite different. An officer is appointed by the Census Department, and is given a district in which he is to work. He takesa formto a hotelkeeper and instructs him how the paper should be filled in. After the day upon which the census has been taken that officer calls upon the hotel proprietor and takes delivery of the paper as it has been filled in.
– There is the same responsibility upon the hotelkeeper in that case as in the present instance.
– The responsibility is in no sense similar.
– There is responsibility if a party fails to fill in a census-paper as is required.
– But in taking the census the Government authorities appoint officers, who present the necessary forms to householders, and afterwards receive them back. Those officials acquaint hotelkeepers and boardinghouse proprietors with the details of their duties; they give what instructions are necessary for. filling the census forms. Such procedure is necessary, and justified in the interests of the compilation of accurate statistics; but where is the necessity for this Bill?
– It is necessary to secure statistics regarding the aliens in our midst.
– The Commonwealth authorities say that aliens shall be registered, and they call into service an army of private persons to assist in that registration. I object to the system. These private individuals are to receive no remuneration. If the Government announced that the people concerned were to receive payment for their services, some measure of justice would be done.
– There is not much labour attached to these duties.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– That being so, sir, I shall refrain from discussing the constitutional aspect of this measure.
– However much one may admire the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber (Senator Gardiner) for the manner in which he carries out his duties with regard to the supervision and criticism of all measures coming beforethe Senate, I am bound to say that were he placed in a position of responsibility in connexion with immigration to-day he would be compelled to approve of the principle of registering those aliens who may in future enter Australia. Senator Gardiner, in his ingenious and often thorough manner, has thrown into relief some of the weaknesses of various measures debated in this chamber; but in this instance he and ‘his colleagues must surely agree with the principle that for the future Australia should have more complete control over the introduction of aliens. The Minister (Senator Russell), in his second-reading speech, remarked that similar legislation had been adopted in, or was being introduced into, the Parliaments, not only of the Mother Country, but of the United States of America, and of Canada, and of other British Dominions as well. I have had the privilege of seeing some of the methods employed with regard to alien immigration in the New World. I was in the United States of America when immigration to that great country was practically at its maximum.’ That was during i907 and 1908. Those who “ boosted “ the country which some cynics occasionally describe as “ The land of the wooden ham,” were proud of the fact that they were receiving a net immigration, at that period, of nearly 1,000,000 persons per annum. They were proud, too, that their land was looked upon as the land of freedom. In conversation with certain . responsible leaders of thought in that great country, however, I heard grave doubts expressed whether this .wholesale policy of immigration should be permitted to continue. Already the. United States of America has one racial problem in its coloured population; and, by its policy of unrestricted immigration, it would seem, at any rate in the opinion of many thoughtful people, that America has gone dangerously close to inflicting upon itself another racial problem; I refer to that of the unassimilable peoples of Eastern Europe. We are apt to speak of the United States of America as an Anglo-Saxon community; but, roughly, that aggregation of about 100,000,000 people includes 10,000,000 negroes. About- one-third of the remaining population consists of citizens of Anglo-Saxon descent or birth; about one-third are of Teutonic and Scandinavian descent ; and nearly one-third - or 30,000,000 people - are of Magyar, Polish, Russian, or other Eastern European blood. The problems of the alien are extremely difficult. We do not read much , nowadays in the newspapers concerning the in ternal happenings of the United States of America; but even in that free land, and actually before the war, alien im-migration restrictions had been consider: ably tightened up. I spent a day at Ellis Island, New York, the great immigra-tion depot, and I noted that, but for the fact that immigrants were examined, regarding their worldly possessions and in relation to their physical health, there did not appear to be any disability, placed upon those - from no matter what corner of the world they came - who sought to enter the United States of’ America. I must add, however, that even respectable travellers from Australia were still subjected in the United States of America to a poll tax of $5 per head. I believe that tax is still” collected. If the United States authorities so carefully examine immigrants in regard to their physical fitness, it is reasonable to assume that, in view of our experience with aliens during the war, Australia should institute some form of examination with respect to the temperamental fitness of newcomers to live, amongst us. However slack the restrictions may have been- concerning immigration into Canada and the United States . of America during the .war, it must be. remembered that, owing to there being no restrictions whatever in the Mother Country, a huge problem of unassimilable alien population has arisen, particularly with regard to the population of the city of London. Before the war, an agitation against the so-called free trade in immigration iri the United Kingdom was assuming very large proportions, and, even had the war not come, some restriction would have been placed upon the entry into and residence of foreigners in Great Britain. I will go so far as to say that had the United Kingdom, Australia. Canada, and the United States of America provided before the war for some such restriction as was brought before this Parliament and the Parliaments of some of the Allies during the war we should have been saved a considerable amount of espionage and trouble that was built up for us by our then potential enemies, and which cost us probably thousands of live? and millions of money, if it did not bring the war very much closer to us than would otherwise have been the case. I therefore support this Bill most heartily. Honorable senators may consider some of its details redundant, and may not agree with all of them, but I heartily support the principle of the measure for the further restriction of aliens in Australia.
– Will the honorable senator mention one of its restrictive provisions ?
– The registration of aliens throughout Australia.
– In what way will that restrict them ?
– During the war, this matter has necessarily been controlled by the military authorities. I think- that in some cases the military authorities, as they often are, were guilty of stretching the law to an extreme point I am glad to learn from the Minister who introduced the measure that its administration in peace time will be in the hands of civilian authorities. I have personal knowledge of the fact that disloyalty, if not an attempt against the safety of Australia, was chargeable against aliens in our midst during war (time which could not have been’ checked tot kept within reasonable bounds but for the arbitrary, and autocratic control of these matters by the military authorities. Even some aliens who had married Australian women, and had had Aus-‘ tralian children born to them, during the war time trained those children to salute the Kaiser every day. That is not the kind of spirit I propose to stand for in this free land. Honorable senators opposite should remember that when peace is ratified, and the War Precautions Act expires by effluxion of time, this Bill will be administered by the civilian .authorities, and presumably by the Customs- authorities. I stand here for the principle of protection ;to <our people and the products of their industry. I will no more stand for the dumping of the people of foreign countries into this land than I will stand for the dumping of foreign goods.
– Does the honorable .senator think that the imposition of a very high duty on imported men will increase the local production?
– I think it is extremely necessary, in the interests of Australia, in view . of the number of extremely undesirable persons who may be regarded as the flotsam and jetsam of the war who are floating about the world at the present time,’ that the Government of the day, to whichever party they may belong, should possess stringent powers to enable them to keep such people out of Australia. America has undertaken restrictive immigration legislation ; Canada will do so; and the United Kingdom, for its own safety, cannot continue to permit the unrestricted immigration of aliens, which was proved to be such a weakness before the war. For these reasons, I heartily support the second reading of the Bill. It may be that in. Committee honorable senators will find that some- of the clauses are unnecessary. I am not here to impose unnecessary restrictions. I do not stand for’ unnecessary interference with those who are carrying on legitimate business in Australia, but I do stand to prevent the dumping of aliens as well as the dumping of alien goods into Australia.
– One would imagine from Senator Pratten’s remarks that this is a Bill to prevent the importation of foreignmade men or foreign-made goods. The honorable senator has assured us that he is against the dumping of foreign-made goods or men into Australia, but that happens to be a matter which is not dealt with in this measure. To put up a skittle and then knock it down to his own satisfaction may be a pleasing pastime £ot the honorable senator, but it has no bearing upon the question now before the Senate. Senator Pratten, as a Protectionist, to be logical, would oppose the importation of any foreign-made goods into this country, but neither the honorable senator nor any other supporter of that policy has ever advocated the adoption of that course. They want the foreign-made goods imported that they may be taxed to provide necessary revenue, and so avoid the necessity of a straight-out land, value tax. That is their objective, and it is easily understood by men like Senator Millen and others, and accounts for the position they occupy in this Parliament.
This is not a measure designed to prevent the entry into Australia of foreigners of any nationality. It is designed merely to register them after they get here.
– Is it not designed to keep control of them also?
– No. Ifan undesirable foreigner makes his appearance in Australia, and finds a home with some person who is not an hotelkeeper, an innkeeper, or a boardinghouse-keeper, there is no provision under this Bill for the keeping of any record whatever of his residence in this country. There is nothing in this Bill to prevent al most undesirable foreigner from making his home in Australia with a private citizen, and thereby escaping the necessity of registration, and the taking of his finger prints, and so on. The Bill is absolutely valueless to prevent the introduction of foreigners.
I quite realize that in America, through the greed of some of the big land-owners there in years gone by, in importing cheap black labour, they are now faced with a. problem which it will require a very great many years to satisfactorily dispose of if it is ever definitely solved. The Americans are not going to get rid of the 10,000,000 of black people in that country for a great many years to come. I realize also that America is faced with another very knotty problem, due to the wholesale importation of people from South-eastern Europe, who have no knowledge whatever of the English language, and who live in communities by themselves, and will continue to do so for many years to come. This Bill does not propose to prevent a repetition of that kind of thing in Australia. All’ that it proposes is to throw a very great deal of unnecessary, useless, and costly work upon the whole of the hotelkeepers, innkeepers, and boardinghouse-keepers of this country. Every one of these will require to provide himself with a specially designed book, in which to record all the particulars concerning foreigners staying in his house which are required to be supplied under this measure. That will be, in my opinion, of no value whatever. If the Government are anxious to do what this Bill professes to do, the proper course for them to adopt is to introduce a measure to exclude entirely from Australia the kind of people with whom this Bill is intended to deal. But when they are afraid even to mention the names of certain nations, it is not possible to hope that the Government will do anything: at. that kind. I saw from the press the other day that a man wassuddenly precipitated? from the upper part of a. fashionable; hotel, where, apparently, he had beentakihg snapshots of the surrounding locality Apparently he missed his footin fell to the floor, and was killed. Very little was said about the matter in the press, but this man was a foreigner, and it was, of course, highly undesirable that he should be free to do what he was doing: Under this Bill provision would be made only for the registration of his name and nationality and other personal particulars to be made available for the police; but there would be.no provision for theexclusion of such a person. I can see now useful purpose to be served by this measure. If the Government desire to exselude undesirable foreigners from Australia, there is a straightforward and honest course for them to adopt, and it isto bring down a measure to prevent their entrance into Australia. Once they are here, if they desire to remain as. citizens, to require their continuous registration.in hotels and similar establishments will be only to subject the people conducting such places to a great deal of unnecessary trouble and annoyance. The Bill does not provide that the authorities shall have power to follow undesirables into private residences, which leaves them the best possible loophole of escape. If they are allowed to occupy private residences, they will be able to do more damage than if they remain in hotels or other publie establishments. Under these circumstances the Bill seems to be quite valueless as a measure to prevent undesirables from doing mischief. I understand there is- a proposal to exempt certain people-.
SenatorFerricks. - Yes; tourists and commercial men.
– All Consuls representing foreign countries and their staffs, in so far as the staffs comprise persons who have been sent by the Government of a foreign country for employment upon the staff of the consulate, and their wives, are to be exempt. Why should they be exempt? What are. they here for but to spy and inform the Government they represent of the actual position in this country? These are people concerning whom we should be particularly careful if we are going to be careful about anybody. Quite an army is to be exempt, including all aliens exempted by or under the authority of the Minister, and the master and crew of any public vessel of any Government. If it is intended to deal effectively with these people, why should there be any exemption at all? There appears to be no justification for the exemption clause.
Had the Bill been submitted to us in the early stages of the war, I dare say it would have gone through without much opposition as did other similar war measures. The Government have failed completely, in submitting the Bill to the Senate, to show any legitimate reason for its introduction, and they would bewise if they withdrew the measure. It is the intention to exclude people from south-east Europe, including India, and also those from Japan. In fact, everybody excepting members of the British community are to be excluded, because the Bill will apply to all Americans, both north and south, excepting those of British nationality. If the Government intend to reservethis country exclusively for Britons they should bring in a Bill solely for that purpose. If this measure becomes law it will not prevent undesirables coming here, but it will throw upon hotel proprietors, boardinghouse-keepers, and others in similar businesses, a lot of unnecessary, vexatious, and useless work. I oppose the Bill.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [12.35]. - I do not think sufficient causehas been shown for the introduction of this measure. In Australia we are, fortunately the most British community of any in the world; more British, in fact, than the United Kingdom. The members of our small alien population are well-behaved, law-abiding citizens, and, in many cases, are a valuable addition to the body politic. This is a registration, and not a restriction, Bill. As Senator Pratten pointed out - although he sunported the Bill - in America, Canada, and, to a lesser degree, in the United’ Kingdom, there is a large influx of aliens from all parts of Europe and from Asia. It may be necessary, particularly in America, which is a cosmopolitan community, to have legislation to enable the authorities to follow up undesirable persons who arrive there. As mentioned by Senator Pratten, the American community is in no sense an Angle-Sa xon one, as the Anglo-Saxon section in America is one of the smallest in the country.
– The population of Great Britain is more Celtic than AngloSaxon.
– I was just about to remark that the British population consists of Irish, Welsh; Scotch, and Cornish.
– The Welsh, Irish, and Scotch are mostly Celtic.
– Yes. If there is a necessity in the United Statesof America or in Canada, where there is a large foreign population, to have a Bill of this nature, I do not think there is any justification for the introduction of such a measure here. During the last 100 years we have not found it necessary to have legislation of this nature, and it should not be necessary now. I have not much objection to providing for the registration of aliens. Clause 6, which provides for the registration of aliens already in the Commonwealth, and of those who come to the Commonwealth in the future, appears all that is necessary, apart from the ordinary machinery provisions relating to the appointment of officers for carrying out the work. As already pointed out by Senators Gardiner . and Grant, the Bill will harass, hotel and boardinghouse keepers, and will also necessitate the appointment of unnecessary officers, without serving any good purpose.
– I am surprised that any opposition should have been raised to this Bill. Senator O’Loghlin favours the registration of aliens, but I cannot see why there should be any objection to any of the provisions, because every child born in the Commonwealth has to be registered.
It has been said that the measure will harass shipmasters in connexion with passengers coming to Australia. Under the Navigation Act, every master of a ship has to fill in a form, which includes these headings : “ Port of Embarkation,” “Name of Passenger,” “Profession, Occupation, or Calling of Passenger.” That form is divided into columns, wherein it has to be stated whether the passengers are English, Scotch, Irish, or foreign. It has also to be recorded whether they are married or single, and particulars must also be given regarding children between the ages of one and twelve. Every ship bringing passengers to Australia has to complete that form in triplicate, and lodge it at the Customs House. What more are we asking for? Aliens who come to Australia should register, and, after they have registered, we should be able to follow them from place to place.
Reference has been made to seamen, and it may not be generally known that when a seaman signs on a ship’s articles, he has to supply his name, town and ‘ country of birth, age, colour of hair and eyes, and height. These particulars are entered on the ship’s articles, and when he completes his period of service, they are shown on his certificate of discharge. There is nothing new in registration. .
– There is more than registration in this Bill.
– Of course there is. -Not only on the discharges of seamen, but on the discharges of masters, mates, and engineers, the particulars I have given have to-be shown, so that a person may be identified if he deserts his ship. If we do that to men of British origin, why should we not do it to foreigners,? It has been suggested by the. British Board of Trade that the finger prints of seamen should also be shown on the discharge, so that they may be identified should, they desert. All those restrictions are provided in the Navigation Act, and were supported by every member of the Labour party, without any objection. Are they objecting now because they have crossed the chamber?
– Then what do you want a new Bill for?
– The provisions in the Navigation Act refer only to seamen, and the extension has become necessary owing to the increasing number of passengers between America and 1 Australia. During recent years many undesirable persons have come from America to the Commonwealth, and in the interests of peace and good order there is every justification for passing the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Aliens registration officers).
– The Minister should give ‘us some information as to the number of registration officers likely to be appointed, and the probable cost. Discontent and dissatisfaction exist, not only in Australia, but throughout the civilized world, owing to unnecessary officers being appointed by various Governments from time to time. They are being highly paid, and they occupy secure positions year after year for the purpose of performing what is regarded as unnecessary work. . If the Government intend to appoint a large number of alien registration, officers the business is going to be a very costly one. If this clause be agreed to an enormous number of officers will require to be ap- pointed throughout the Commonwealth. Not only will officers need to be appointed at every port of entrance’ to Australia, but, in order that the Bill may be made effective, an officer will be necessary in every municipality, and if there are two or more large centres in a municipality, an officer will require to be appointed in each of them. It is evident, therefore, that many thousands of officers will need to be appointed throughout the Commonwealth. This opens up a vista of enormous expenditure. But perhaps the Government intend to throw the work of registration upon existing officers, a>nd if so, I should like to know upon whom. I “am informed by postal officials that they do quite sufficient work for the remuneration which they receive. The police, too, intimate that their hands are pretty full, owing to the many and varied duties which they are called upon to discharge. If, under this Bill, the services of existing officers are to be utilized, do the Government intend to pay those officers for the increased duties which will be thrust upon them? Some days ago I inquired why the pay of the naval police was less than that of the Commonwealth police. Whereas the naval police are paid only 9s. or 10s. per day, the Commonwealth police receive about 12s. per day. If it is the intention of the Government to throw the work of registration under this Bill upon either the naval police or the ordinary police, the Commonwealth should undoubtedly pay them for the additional service thus rendered.
Progress reported. .
Answers to Questions - Remount Service - Boilermakers in Navy Department.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- I desire to call attention to the unsatisfactory nature of the answers supplied by Ministers to questions put by honorable senators. I have a list of four questions which I have asked during the past month, and which have been answered, I will not say untruthfully, though the answers given are not in accordance with facts. Possibly I ought not to, speak of one of these, because Itook the answer to the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator Russell), who kindly supplied me with the official facts in regard to the number of men who have been deported. He ascertained that the reply which had been furnished to my question was not correct. That answer still remains in Hansard, although everybody who is interested in the matter of deportation knows it to be untrue. My next question had reference to a departmental report in regard to the remount service; The reply of the Minister was that General Ramaciotti had informed him that there” was no such report in existence. Now, I. will stake my reputation, which I do not value lightly, that such a report was furnished to General Ramaciotti - a report in which it is stated that 1,800 horses are missing.
– In Australia.
– Everybody knows that. The same horses were sold over and over again.
– When General Ramaciotti supplies the Minister with an answer of that character, it requires investigation. Let me assure honorable senators that there is no ill-will between General Ramaciotti and myself. I say that men were engaged to make a report in regard to the remount service, and that they made it. They having made it, I am not satisfied with the answer furnished by General Ramaciotti to the Minister thatno such report was made.
– I suggest that the honorable senator should look again at the answer to his question. There is a difference between a report made to General Ramaciotti and a report made by General Ramaciotti to the Minister.
– I admit that questions can be answered in such a way as to obscure the object for which they are asked. But if there is in the Defence Department a report furnished by officers of that Department which discloses such a serious loss of horses as I have indicated, the matter should be investigated. Nothing is to be gained by a Minister supplying an answer that is calculated to lead honorable senators and the public to believe that there is no such report in existence. Unless I have been grossly misled, I will stake my reputation upon the statement that there is such a report in existence. At any rate, I have received a signed letter dealing with the answerwhich was furnished to my question. That being the case, it is the duty of the Minister to make further and full inquiry into the matter instead of remaining satisfied with an. answer which, though it may be technically accurate, is not correct. The essence of my question was that officers, upon investigating the remount section of the Defence Department, discovered that there were 1,800 horses unaccounted for, representing probably a value of £50,000.
– Is the honorable senator sure that that shortage refers to Australia, or is he referring to a shortage of horses overseas?
– The answer supplied to my question would lead the public to believe that no such shortage was discovered. I cannot say positively that I have not been misinformed, but I am so satisfied with my information that I demand an inquiry into the matter, which I ask the Minister to make.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy to ascertain whether it is a fact that a tribunal appointed by the Government, has awarded boilermakers a wage of ls. Hid. per hour, and that the Navy Department refuses to pay it? I do not know whether the statement is correct, ‘hut I do know that private employers arc paying ls. 11½d. per hour to the boilermakers employed by them. W!c hoar a lot of talk nowadays as to why men who are dissatisfied with their industrial conditions do not go to the Arbitration Court for redress. But these men have gone there and have obtained an award which the Government refuse to recognise. I ask that inquires be made into this matter.
– In regard to the statement made ‘by Sena tor Gardiner as to the number of men deported, I wish to say that I directed his attention to the error which was made in reply to his question, end it was my intention, upon the motion for adjournment, to give the correct answer, in order that it might be embodied in Hansard. However, I promise to look up the papers relating to the matter, with a view to seeing that the position is made perfectly clear. Concerning his allegation regarding the remount section of the Defence Department, I have merely to say that if there is in existence ‘a report such as he has referred to, I am not aware of it. I have inquired for it personally from General Ramaciotti, who denies the existence of any such report in the Department. Certainly, it has never reached me. FeaTing that there might be some .mistake in the matter, I sent for Mr. Swinburne, who was chairman of the ‘Business Board’ which investigated the affairs of the Defence Department, and through him requested the Board to make a full inquiry into the remount service, ‘ including the dep6t at Maribyrnong. I have taken particular steps to gain the- information desired by Senator Gardiner. But in order that there may be no doubt on the matter, I will make further inquiries regarding it, and ascertain whether such a report is in the Department. Certainly I have never seen it. In regard to the matter mentioned by Senator McDougall, I shall bring it under the notice of the Minister for the Navy, with a view to seeing what can be done.
– There is just one matter to which I wish to direct attention, because I consider that it is of a serious character. It arises out of the statement of Senator Gardiner that there has been a loss of 1,800 horses in the remount branch of the Defence Department. When the honorable senator made that statement, Senator McDougall interjected that the same horses had been sold over and over again.
– That is well known.
– When a statement of that kind is made by a gentleman who says it is well known that these horses were sold over and over again, I am entitled to ask him to place before Ministers the facts and the information which, I presume, are in his possession, to enable the Government to probe the matter to the bottom.
– You will find all the facts embodied in Hansard of two years ago.
– I -am not concerned with what occurred two years ago. I am looking to Senator McDougall today to give the Government an opportunity of finding out whether they have been swindled.
– I gave the Government the information. They already have it.
– If the honorable senator says that we already have it, I am not aware of it. But a great responsibility rests upon public men who make accusations of gross corruption, and they should accept it as part of their duty to help Ministers to sheet their charges home. This is the first time that I have heard of any such accusation; but, haying heard it, I shall place it before my colleagues, and also make myself familiar with the information which Senator McDougall says he has already supplied, with a view to ascertaining whether it has any foundation in fact. If it has, I shall look to ‘Senator McDougall to stand up to the very brave words which he has uttered.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 September 1919, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1919/19190912_senate_7_89/>.