7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Acting Minister for Defence if his attention has been directed to a statement attributed to the Prime Minister in Brisbane in regard to the issue of war bonds to soldiers ? Has the Minister any information to convey to the Senate on the matter referred to?
– I have had an opportunity of hastily perusing the statement mentioned. In general outline the statement attributed to the Prime Minister is correct. The details have yet to be worked out by the Government, probably at their next meeting.
Disturbance atport Dar win.
– I ask the Acting Minister for Defence if he has noticed in to-day’s Age the text of the letter Tead by Senator Ferricks in this chamber yesterday, which is alleged to have been written by Mr. Carey to Dr. Gilruth ? Has the Minister noticed that the letter contains inherent evidence either of being a forgery or of being written by a person unacquainted with, the ordinary rules of the English language? In the circumstances, to clear some one’s character, or determine the matter, will an inquiry be instituted at once?
– By courtesy of Senator Ferricks, I was supplied with a proof of his speeches, which I have submitted to the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Glynn). I prefer not to express any opinion on the matter until an opportunity has been afforded for investigation. The matter is certainly worthy of inquiry.
– I ask the Acting Minister for Defence whether his attention has been drawn to the report of a statement by Mr. King Salter, Manager of the Cockatoo Island Dock, to the effect that he knew nothing of the existence of the Economy Commission until he saw theirreport. Is it a fact that the Commission issued their report upon the Cockatoo Island dock without visiting the island ? Has the report been compiled, as regards other Departments of the Public Service, upon a similar lack of information?
– My attention was not drawn to the matter referred to by the honorable senator, but I should not be surprised if the statement attributed to Mr. King Salter were true, because I had no opportunity of meeting the Economy Commission either.
– I should like to know why the report by Admiral Jelliooe on Naval Bases has been suppressed. I ask whether the Acting Minister for Defence can supply the Senate with a complete statement showing the land speculation that has taken place ‘during the past six months in the vicinity of supposed sites for Naval Bases?
– The honorable senator should make inquiriesbefore loosely talking about suppression. The report to which he refers was laid on the table of the Senate by me yesterday.
– Do I understand the Minister to say that the report of Admiral Jellicoe with regard to . Naval Bases was laid on the table of the Senate yesterday?
– The whole report, I take it.
– Is it not a fact that Admiral Jellicoe has submitted a report dealing with sites for Naval Bases, which has not yet been laid on the tabic of the Senate.
– I understand that Admiral Jellicoe’s report was divided into two parts - one which may be published throughout the Commonwealth, and the other,’ because of its confidential character, for the perusal only of the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Navy. The whole of the Teport which was not of a confidential character was laid on the table of the Senate yesterday.
– Arising out of the Minister’s reply to my question, I ask whether, if it is correct that Admiral Jellicoe has submitted a lengthy report with regard to Naval Bases and sites for Naval Bases, the Minister will make inquiry and furnish the Senate with a statement showing the transactions in land which have taken place in the vicinity of supposed sites for Naval Bases?
– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of his question with a view to the supplying of as full information as possible.
– I ask whether the report of Admiral Jellicoe placed On the table of the Senate yesterday will be printed and circulated amongst honorable senators, and, if so, when?
– The report is already in print. .
Wages Paid at Williamstown.
– I ask the Acting Minister for Defence if he is aware that men engaged at the Williamstown shipbuilding docks are being paid at the rate of £144 per annum? Does he consider that a fair rate of pay? Will he look into the matter, and if the statement is found to be correct, will he see that the men employed at Williamstown receive a living wage?
– My reply to the first part of the honorable senator’s question is, No. In reply , to the second part of the question, if the honorable senator will give me the information in his possession I shall have inquiries made.
Issue of Proclamation.
– Is there any substantial reason for the issue of two proclamations bringing the Navigation Act into force ? Could it not be proclaimed in force as a whole rather than in sections? Is it to be proclaimed in force in sections merely for the purpose of appointing as Director of Navigation a person who is not a nautical man ?
– I hope at a later hour of the day to have an opportunity of dealing with the Navigation Act, when the . honorable senator can again refer to the subject.
– Is the Acting Minister far Defence aware that exporters of rabbits are experiencing much inconvenience because of a lack of refrigerated space in outgoing ships? Will the Government make representations to the Imperial Government to provide the necessary accommodation for the export of rabbits?
– I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Minister in charge of shipping. I know that every effort is made by the Government to secure shipping, for Australia.
asked the Minister in charge of the Wheat Pool, upon notice -
SenatorRUSSELL. - A statement giving this information is attached. It reads -
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice- -
Will the Government introduce a Bill before Parliament adjourns, providing for a scheme of superannuation, particularly in regard to the Defence Department?
SenatorRUSSELL. - The measures proposed to be dealt with this session do not include a Bill for the purpose mentioned, but the question of superannuation is receiving the consideration of the Government.
Separation of Families
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Will the Government take into consideration the question of ceasing from deporting fathers of Australian-born children?
– All circumstances affecting these cases are carefully reviewed by the Internees Release Commission.
Commission Paid to Members of Stock Exchanges
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The answers are -
SenatorFERRICKS asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– It is not possible to give the detailed information desired at present. As previously stated, it is hoped to keep the refinery employed during the year.
Visit of Warships to Darwin
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
What was the cost to the Government for the Sespatch, retention, and return of H.M.A.S. ‘ Una and H.M.A.S. Encounter in connexion with their visits to Port Darwin at the end of last pear and the beginning of this year?
– There was no special cost to the Government, as these ships were commissioned ships of war, and the cost of their cruising and upkeep is provided for in the ordinary Navy Estimates.
With reference to the recall of Lieut.-Colonel Ramsay Smith, O.C. No. 1 Australian General Hospital, Heliopolis, Egypt, in 1915 -
Was he, either before or after, furnished with any reason’s for his recall? If so, when, and what were they?
Was any inquiry made before or after his recall? If so, by whom, and in what manner, and to -what effect?
Did he ask for any inquiry into the circumstances of his recall ? If so, was the request considered, and was he informed of the decision.
Is the Government possessed of any reports or documents of the War Office or other authorities relating to his recall? If so, has he been advised of the nature or contents of these?
Will the Government lay on the table of the Senate all correspondence referring to the subject of his recall?
– The answers are - 1 to 4. The correspondence on the subject of the recall of Lieut.-Colonel Ramsay Smith, Australian’ Army Medical Corps, Australian Imperial Force, to Australia, shows that he was informed by letter on the 15th August, 1915, by the Director of Medical Services, Egypt, that under instructions received from the Minister for Defence, Melbourne, he was to return to Australia at an early date. There appears to be no record indicating whether he was furnished with reasons for his recall before or after his return; but it has been’ explained by the Minister for Defence in Parliament that the decision was taken on the advice of the competent responsible authorities overseas, presumably given after due local investigation of the situation. A Court of Inquiry into the general administration of No. 1 Australian General Hospital and related matters was subsequently held iri Egypt by the local military authority, but, so far as the Department of Defence is concerned, it has -not been proposed to take action thereon.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
It has been the practice for a number of years to submit the Works Estimates some little time in advance of the General Estimates, in order to prevent unemployment by keeping in progress works which are already in course of construction. The total amount included in the Estimates for additions, new works and buildings for the current financial year is £397,144, which is £57,807 less than the amount appropriated for the year 1918-19. When it is remembered that the Estimates submitted for last financial year were £802,666 less than the amount provided for ‘the year 1917-18,it will be recognised that every endeavour is being made to curtail the expenditure wherever possible. The provision made in the measure now under consideration is mainly to continue works which were in progress on the 30th June last, and only in very urgent circumstances have new services been provided for. The principal items of expenditure are as follow: - Quarantine buildings, £12,552; Federal Capital TerritoryPhysical testing plant and incidental works, £4,800; drill halls and ordnance stores for Defence Department, £49,100; other defence works and buildings, £10,944; Post Office buildings £43,974; water boring, dredging, and other works and buildings, Northern Territory, £15,100; telegraphs and telephones and conduits, £165,000. The last is a fairly heavy item, but owing to the shortage of materials during the period of the war, postal works have been largely starved, in some instances very much to the detriment of the public.
– There is plenty of copper here.
– There is now. The other items are: - Warlike stores, including field and machine guns, equip- ment, &c, £20,000; aviation- towards acquisition of sites and construction of hangars, workshops, &c, £40,000 ; other defence provisions £17,192; Naval works, £9,000; vessels for Customs and Quarantins Departments £5,100; and other war works and buildings, £4,382; making a total of £397,144. The list of works provided for in the Bill is not a very large one, but every honorable senator will re-‘ cognise that we must go a little slowly in our public expenditure until such time as an adjustment has been made, so that we may know precisely where we stand. In Committee, I shall be glad to give any information required by honorable senators. I wish it to be distinctly understood that the money proposed to be appropriated under this Bill is to be taken out of revenue, and not out of loan funds.
. -I do not intend to indulge in a lengthy criticism of this measure. But I have here a statement which was. published in the Argus of 22nd inst., and which reads -
” Most Unjust,” says Manager.
Sydney, Tuesday. - In connexion with the re port of the Economy Commission, in which the administration of Cockatoo Island was trenchantly criticised, the general manager of the dock, Mr. King Salter, stated to-day that, like Captain Bromwich, manager of Garden Island, he was unaware of the existence of the Commission until he read its finding on Saturday. “ The decisions of the Commission,” he said, “ are most unjust. The Commission neither took evidence from the administration of the dock nor made any examination.” Mr. King Salter added that he was at a loss to understand how the Commission had arrived at its decisions, but he was absolutely certain that it had not got evidence to support its findings direct from the dock.
When dealing with the management of various Departments, the Government are not justified in allowing reports to be published which purport to be the result of careful investigation . unless there has been a proper inquiry. The manager of the Cockatoo Island Dockyard should not be in a position to say that the investigation of matters concerning his Department reported on by the Commission had never come under his notice !
– It is a. most ridiculous position.
– I do not see why the honorable senator should blame the Government. It is the fault of the Commission.
– Whom am I to blame? Under our present system the Government certainly have to take responsibility for the appointment of the Commission. On previous occasions I have found it necessary to deal at length with the disadvantage of Commissions taking evidence in secret and bringing in reports based on secret evidence.
– It would never do for the Government to control a Royal Commission.
– I realize that a Royal Commission goes over the heads of Ministers. In financial matters, however, it is the duty of the Government to see that the business of a Royal Commission is conducted in a fair way, and that justice is done to all. If the Government are not to be held responsible for the proper conduct of their different services, we had better send to Port Darwin for some suitable administrators.
– Does the honorable senator think that the Government should not table the report of a Royal Commission until they are satisfied with the method of investigation?
– I heard the Minister say that members of the Ministry controlling Departments claim the right to examine such reports before they are published, and I think that is a perfectly legitimate claim. That being bo, how much more should a man responsible for the conduct of an important public concern have the right to know of the inquiries conducted into the undertaking under his management? The Government are responsible, and if they allow a report on the Cockatoo Island Dockyard . to be accepted as correct when the Commission did not make full and proper inquiries, it is very unjust. I hold no brief for Mr.King Salter, but I wish to see fair play given in all directions. If a man in charge of a huge undertaking, in control of a large number of men, and weighted with the responsibility of conducting a huge concern in the interests of the people of this country, is to be held up to criticism by a Commission which conducts its inquiries in this way, it is an underhand and unjust way of dealing with him.
– I quite agree with the honorable senator, but you have placed the blame on the wrong shoulders.
– I hold the Government responsible for everything that occurs in this country, as we are working under a system of responsible government.
– I am afraid the honorable senator would criticise the Government if they refused to publish the report because they considered that the inquiries of the Commission had . not been properly conducted.
– I am- prepared to challenge the honorable senator ‘ to prove that during the whole time he has been a member of the Senate he has ever heard me ask the Government for a report upon anything at all. So far as this matter is concerned, I was not even aware that the Commission was sitting until the report was published.
– We are drifting into a system of government by Commission instead of government by Parliament.
– Exactly. I often wonder if we are not going fullsteam ahead away from parliamentary government, and whether a deliberate attempt is not being made to avoid the responsibility to Parliament. The policy of the Government is announced at public meetings and appears to be arranged by means of secret negotiations.
– Parliament is closed up for half of the year, and government conducted by regulations.
– That may be so, but that phase of the question hardly comes within the scope of this Bill. Mr. King Salter, the manager of the Cockatoo Island Dockyard, is justified in making a complaint. If his statement be true, it is the duty of the Government to return the report to the Commission with a request that Mr. King Salter and the principal officers of the Department shall have an opportunity of putting their case, not before Parliament, but before the Commission. Mr. King Salter has stated that until the Commission submitted its report he knew nothing of the inquiry into his Department, and that he was not examined. The Government could well assume authority to respectfully request the Commission to make careful inquiries into the management of the Department. A similar request should also be made in connexion with other Departments.
– The Minister said, to-day, that the same complaint as that, of Mr. King Salter applied to his own Department.
– No. I said I had not an opportunity of expressing any opinion of the working of the Department of Defence.
– I can quite understand Senator Earle’s sensitiveness in resenting any blame being laid on the Government, beause of his sublime confidence in the Government and his belief in-
– So far you are right.
– I am trying to find a suitable expression.
– Its integrity, justice, and sound policy.
– I- shall accept the last expression, as I fully believe that it is a “ sound “ policy. I wish to know, if the statement of a man such as Mr. King Salter is true, whether the Government intend to take action to see that those responsible for a- huge industrial undertaking of this kind, for which we are now voting money, shall have the opportunity, through their officers, of expressing an opinion upon its working? That is not asking too much. It must be remembered that this report will be circulated and criticised in all parts of the world. If the management of the Cockatoo Island Dockyard is to be at a disadvantage as a result of this report, and those responsible have had no opportunity of giving evidence to induce the Commissioners to come to a different finding - it is the duty of the Government to respectfully request the Commission to interview the management so that both sides of the case may be heard. That is a course that even Senator Earle might suggest as being a proper one.
– A Royal Commission might be conducting an inquiry at Cockatoo Island during all time. Senator McDougall could tell the honorable senator that.-
– I know that all our works will need looking after until we have Australians to control them. But, keen as I am in favour of Australian administrtaion, I am not biased enough to say that imported administration should be treated unfairly. Criticism must be based on justice and fair play.
– The honorable senator put out the Australian who was there to substitute an imported man. Senator McDougall can prove that.
– The honorable senator is dreaming. I have been endeavouring for some time to understand on what Senator Guthrie baseB his wild statements. He appears to interject without a sense of responsibility for the accuracy of his statements, and he is evidently basing them on a defective memory. Many of the public works referred to in the Bill have been completed and paid for. Nearly all the Departments, including the Department of the Treasury, Home and Territories, and Defence, have public works represented in the measure. I find that under the Department of Works and Railways there is a decrease in the proposed appropriation of £25,000, and in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department a decrease of £10,000. These decreases, particularly in the Department of the PostmasterGeneral, may mean serious losses to the people. I know, from information which I get in moving about the country, that many country districts in New South Wales have suffered severely owing to savings made by the discontinuance of certain mail services on branch lines. In nine cases out of ten the inconvenience and loss caused are out of all proportion to the amount saved. As an illustration, I may cite Mr. Webster’s own division. At Werris Creek the railway branches off to Gunnedah and Narrabri. An officer at Gunnedah used to pick up the mail van and go on with it to Narrabri or Moree, sorting letters, and return next day. In the interests of economy that van was taken off, and the people have been very seriously inconvenienced in consequence. Mr. Webster writes that down as economy. I see no economy in it. All I can see is inconvenience and absolute loss to the people concerned.
– And yet, when he was in Western Australia, Mr. Webster did not receive a single complaint.
– I am not surprised at that, but I can assure the honorable’ senator that a large number of complaints have been made of late. I could, if I wished, occupy the attention of the Senate for a considerable time by producing some of the complaints that have been published in the press, and are circulating in Mr. Webster’s own division. Senator Lynch says that when the Postmaster-General was in Western Australia he got no complaints. All I can say is that the people of that State are fortunate indeed in being so far removed from the immediate authority of the Postmaster-General. That is the only reason I can assign for the absence of complaints. I can, of course, quite understand Senator Lynch, who is usually so chivalrous, being prepared to defend the Government, because he stands behind it. In his opinion the Government can do no wrong.
– I was merely stating a fact.
– The honorable senator says that the Postmaster-General heard of no complaint in Western Australia. I am free to admit that I do not know of . any particular grievance in that State, but I do know that complaints have been made in New South Wales through the Minister dispensing with the useful services of postal servants and calling it economy.
– You are a pretty hard crowd to deal with in New South Wales.
– If Senator Lynch cannot realize that increasing charges all round is not the real cause of trouble everywhere, then I am sorry for him. Let me refer particularly to that section of postal employees, the temporary country assistants, whose remuneration is quite farcical when compared with the work they perform. And yet when he dispenses with the services of some of these people, Mr. Webster claims that he is effecting an economy. When a previous Bill was before the Senate I brought under the notice of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General the question of fodder rates as affecting country mail contractors. We all know that during this time of drought speculators have raised the prices of oats and chaff to double the normal rates. What is the Postmaster-General doing to meet the needs of these contractors, who are doing his postal work in the country districts ? A wise Government would see that the people who are doing its work well suffered no personal loss through having entered into a contract and subsequently found that fodder rates had risen against them.
– That matter has been dealt with.
– I am glad to have that assurance from the Minister. Let me turn now to the Home and Territories Department. I find there an item of £4,800 for new services in the Federal Capital Territory. .The vote last year was £6,000. A few days ago the Treasurer (Mr. Watt), in another place, made a statement with regard to the cost of transferring the capital from Melbourne to Canberra. Will the cost be any less two years hence, or ten, or twenty years hence? Is it the policy of the Government that the cost of transferring the Federal Capital shall be given as the reason why the Government intend to break the pledge of the people of Australia to the people of New South Wales? Mr. Watt has made public elaborate details respecting the cost of transference from Melbourne to Canberra. Those figures constitute no argument against the claim for transference. If the removal of this Parliament and all that is attached to it will cost so much to-day, it will cost, at any rate, as much ten years hence, and probably far more.
– We might be able to find the money more easily ten years hence. .
– I view this matter as a New South Welshman who is convinced that the people of the Commonwealth are ‘being prevented by the Government from honouring their pledge to the people of New South Wales. It was no scrap of paper, it was a solemn agreement, that the Federal Capital would be located in that State. Other engagements were entered into by the people of the Commonwealth with the citizens of other portions of the Commonwealth. With respect to the east-** west railway, my judgment had convinced me that the better and far more serviceable project would -be to link ap Brisbane, through the interior, with Perth; but, because I was party to a pledge, I voted for the line which has now been constructed. I held the view, and still do, that Australia’s pledges must be honoured by Australia’s Parliament. It was my vote, upon one occasion, which decided a matter of considerable importance to Tasmania; I refer to the granting of a large sum of money by way of recompense to the island State for loss of revenue as an outcome of Federation. Taking the broad Australian view, I held that promises made to the smaller States should be faithfully kept; and I claim that the promises made to the people of the larger States must also be honoured.
– You may have my vote for the transference of this Parliament to Canberra at any time.
– I am very glad to hear that Senator de Largie also takes a fair view of this Parliament’s obligations. Not because of any special consideration or favour being desired by New South Wales, but for the reason that a solemn pledge has been given, the Federal Capital should be constructed forthwith at Canberra. If those figures of Mr. Watt are to be taken as a barrier to the transference, I am of opinion that the figures will prove a still greater obstacle ten years hence. If- the cost is to prevent the honouring of our pledge, we should have considered the cost before we gave the promise. But if the Federal Parliament were established at Canberra tomorrow, and if the Federal Departments were transferred there, and. the business of the> Commonwealth generally were conducted from the Federal Capital, there would be advantages gained which would more than compensate for the paltry outlay which Mr. Watt has put forward as a reason for delay. In fairness to Mr. Watt, I should say that he has not introduced those figures as an admitted reason for delay in transfer; but he certainly gave such prominence to his statistics that it became apparent that he considered the cost of transference practically prohibitive to-day. I assure him that there will be repayment tenfold, for the cost of transfer, from one source alone. _Land which is not worth 5s. a foot to-day will be valued in the course of a few weeks at £5, and, within a few months, at £50 a foot. Canberra will very soon have become a profitable concern. *
– But your party will not sell the land.
– ‘Not in view of such enormous increases in value; but we will lease it, and will secure a revenue from that leasing which will pay the cost, of establishing the Capital there. Incidentally, perhaps members of Parliament, who do the country’s work, will then be paid relatively as fair a remuneration as the manager of a tenth-rate company receives at the present time. The establishment of Canberra will not mean the erection of a non-productive city. Canberra, when built, will be recognised as the last word, in modern cities.
– It will be the last word in wasting money.
– The work so far done certainly makes provision for a long way ahead; but is that unstatesmanlike? In Sydney there is a railway station the construction of which cost the Government responsible for it their political life. They were turned out of office by a gang of little men who said the station was altogether too huge and costly for Sydney’s requirements, that it was, in fact, an enormous waste of public money. Mr. O’sullivan, then Minister for Works, was responsible for that’ railway station. His Government had to give place to those who, by belittling his project, secured office. It was not long, however, before that station, huge as it had seemed, was found to be not sufficiently ample. The preparation <f Canberra has been commenced in a very thorough manner. Few people are aware of the nature of its foundations, of the preparations for sewerage, water supply, and the like.
– What about the water supply?
– It is excellent; it is a never-failing water supply. Necessary preparations for the utilities of a great city have been already carried out. I quite understand, of course, the attitude of- people who do not know what work is required for the fabrication of a modern city, and do not appreciate what has consequently been done at Canberra. They regard all money spent there as so much waste of capital. The sooner this Parliament meets at Canberra the better it will be for Australia. It matters not what the Melbourne papers may say about the site, which they describe as a “ Bush Capital “.
– The Melbourne press has not done Canberra half as much harm as the Bulletin.
– Melbourne will be very slightly inconvenienced by the removal of the Federal Parliament and administration to Canberra. Some people think that Melbourne, being the seat of the Commonwealth Government, has earned considerable additional importance. I do not think that matter is worth a red cent. I have no anti-Mel- bourne feelings. The city itself is of sufficient importance, and has sufficient promise, to make its own way after the removal of the Federal Parliament and Departments to Canberra. People who attach an unreasonable amount of importance to a city because it happens to be the Seat of Government miss the real factors which go to make, a great city. Melbourne is a great city, and will be a great city when the Federal Capital is a sister city with its teeming thousands. If the many Federal Departments were established within a reasonable distance of the Federal Capital, all the activities connected with them would bring about the establishment of a great city. We could make that “ the city beautiful “ by the expenditure of large sums of money, because the expenditure would be more than recouped as the city grew and the unearned increment of the land went into the people’s purse, an advantage which does not follow upon the development of any other city. Senator Grant has to-day referred to the fact that no sooner is a report circulated that naval bases will be established at certain places than land speculators get to work, and the value of land in certain areas becomes inflated. The Government has a method of keeping the documents secret, so that the favoured few who have inside information may make the most of their speculations.
– A land tax would catch them.
– I believe it would. I know that around Canberra the same investment for speculation took place, and I am not complaining that the speculators in the vicinity of the Federal Capital have not been able to realize, as> early as they anticipated, an increase in their land values. This Parliament had sufficient foresight to take over a considerable area of land for the Federal Territory, and to insure that the unearned increment due to the establishment of the Federal Capital would be retained by the people of Australia.
The Government will do well to see that the word of the Commonwealth is kept with, the people of New South Wales, unless they favour the adoption of the modern Darwinian system. I venture to say that if the people of Sydney took the same drastic action as was recently taken by the people of Darwin, they would represent a force that it would be very hard to deal with.
– The honorable senator should not urge them to do so.
– Nothing would give me greater pleasure. If tie Government are lost to all sense of reason, decency, and fair play, and deliberately break a sacred contract, the time has arrived for the people of Sydney to give vent to their feelings by force. I do not favour force, because it has only passing . advantages, but there may come times when anything short of force is almost a crime. Such a time will have arrived when people are so indolent and so lost to a sense of justice that they refuse to do their plain duty. It is the clear duty of this Parliament to give effect to the compact with the people of New South Wales, and establish the Federal Capital at Canberra as early as possible.
– The honorable senator thinks that failure to keep the compact would justify a revolution?
– Even though they realized the uselessness of Governments which had ceased to govern according to the laws adapted to the government of reasonable people, and had become so corrupt as to have lost all sense of public decency, I still think the people of New South Wales would be forgiving enough to wait in the hope that better counsels would prevail. I wish to make perfectly clear what I have said, and it is that I personally would like to see the people of Sydney reach a frame of mind which would induce them to decide that such a condition of affairs should be met with force. If they did decide to meet it in that way, we should, have Darwinism multiplied by hundreds of thousands, and that would be a very difficult proposition for this Parliament to deal with.
– The position the honorable senator takes up is that he taunts the people of Sydney to take up an attitude which he will not subscribe to himself.
– Senator Earle need not imagine that I wish to taunt any one. I have been long enough in the public life of the country to know how little I can do.
– The honorable senator would not like to do himself what he suggests should be done, but he would like the people of Sydney to do it.
– Senator Earle knows me well enough to know that if the people of Sydney took drastic action I would take as much risk in the matter as any one else. I am talking to the members of a Parliament pledged to the people of Sydney and to the people of the Commonwealth. I am trying m the most forcible way to show honorable senators the results of indolence. Members of this Parliament would scorn to break a personal promise. They would repudiate any insinuation that they would give their word to-day and break it tomorrow; yet they seem to think that they can with impunity break their word to the people of Australia. I tell them that they cannot do so, and they will learn what is the feeling of the people towards, a Parliament that refuses to give effect to a solemn pledge and indulges in smiles, gibes, or sneers when the matter is mentioned. I say that the modern Darwinism would be an excellent remedy for that kind of thing, and I should welcome it if the people of Sydney were to take action to secure the carrying out of the compact and give effect to the expressed will of the people.
– What form would it take? Would they deport the Government from Australia ?
– I gave expression to one method of dealing with the Government for their deportations without trial. It was the most drastic method of dealing with a Minister a week with a rope and a lamp post. The Government have sown the seeds of deportation without trial, and they are already reaping a small crop at Darwin. There will be bigger crops yet if they go. on setting the example of law-breaking. If the Government and the Parliament show themselves to be incapable of fulfilling their honest contracts, then, as surely as the sun rises, they will meet with their just reward.
– One thing is certain, and that is, they will go out sooner or later.
– Going out is altogether too mild a punishment for men who, while they remain in, do nothing. I recollect that the head of the present Government was at one time, when he left the office of Attorney-General, described by the late Mr. Alfred Deakin’ as being like a little boy dragged screaming from a tart shop. The members of the present Government to-day appear to me to be determined to stop in the tart shop, no matter if the price of tarts is raised to an exorbitant amount, so long as the people can be induced to pay for them.
– What about the honorable senator’s complaint about the Government going to the country six months before it is necessary to do so?
– That is a just complaint against the Government.
– Order ! I ask the honorable senator not to wander from the question in answering interjections.
– I understand that the Bill provides for some expenditure at the Federal Capital. If it does not, the Government should take an early opportunity of providing a sufficient sum to build a temporary Parliament House and temporary accommodation for members of this Parliament at Canberra. I should like it to be clearly understood that, so far as the members of this Parliament are concerned, they pay for their own accommodation.
– Military tents would do for honorable senators.
– Members of this Parliament who believe in keeping their word would not object to live in military tents for a session rather than have Australia pointed at as a place where Parliaments do not keep their pledges. If the next session of this Parliament were held at the Federal Capital it would be a distinct advantage to its members, because they would be able to discuss various measures free from the pull and influence of the big business concerns of the different cities.
– The honorable senator does not find that influence bearing heavily upon him?
– I feel it as much as does any other member of this Parliament. If I find one city trying to secure a trade advantage over the place I represent, I put my weight at the end of the rope in the effort to stop it. I think that it is my duty to do so. Every member of this Parliament must feel the influence exerted by trade interests.
– That is absolute nonsense. I have heard the same thing, hundreds of times before in the State, and with just as little foundation, in fact.
– I can quite understand that Senator Mulcahy should consider it nonsense, because no one would bother to secure his assistance in any matter.
– I know from personal knowledge that what the honorable senator is saying is incorrect.
– Will Senator Mulcahy say that it is incorrect, so far as he himself is concerned ? What is the reason for the circulars which are addressed to members of this Parliament? I mention one which occurs to my mind at once, and that is a circular dealing with Cooper’s sheep dip. That was an instance of a business concern trying to influence members of this Parliament.
– That is quite legitimate.
– What about rabbits?
– That is another instance. We have seen those representing the hatters’ trade using their influence to demand that rabbit-skins shall not be exported until they have obtained what they require for their industry, whilst the exporters of rabbits are demanding additional refrigerated space to enable them to enlarge their export. Men may go through life like Senator Mulcahy without noting these things, but that is not enough for me.
– Would it not be the same at Canberra?
– No. Because there, instead of being representatives of Sydney, or of Melbourne, or Adelaide, we should be representatives of Australia, meeting, not in a borrowed house, but in our own Parliament House in Australia’s chosen Federal City. The delay in our removal to the Federal Capital is itself an illustration of the way in which the trade interests of the different cities pull one way and another. What led to the selection of a Bush Capital? Sydney said one thing and Melbourne said another, and as a compromise between the two it was decided that neither Sydney nor Melbourne should be the Capital, and that it should not be even within a hundred miles of Sydney.
The Seat of Government has been retained in Melbourne in an underground and unmanly way never contemplated by the people of New South Wales, and about which they feel very strongly. They may not express their feelings in modern Darwinism, but I can assure honorable senators that the name of a member of the Federal Parliament is uttered in New South Wales with a good deal of contempt, because this Parliament has not kept its pledged word in this matter. I hope that before the present Parliament comes to an end, the Government will make a statement to the effect that the next Parliament will be opened at Australia’s Federal Capital,. Canberra. That could be done quite easily. The construction of a magnificent building like that in which we meet is not necessary. Temporary accommodation for the Parliament would be sufficient, and it would be an excellent thing if the members of the Parliament were temporarily housed while the permanent Parliament House was being built, because no one could give better advice as to the conveniences to be provided than could members of the Parliament itself. The erection of a temporary building for the housing of Par- /liament at Canberra would possess many advantages. It would mean that the eyes of the representatives of Australia would be constantly upon the permanent building that would have to be constructed there, with the result that extravagance would be prevented. Members of Parliament would probably fill in their mornings by walking around the streets of the great city which is to be, and would thus have an opportunity of seeing the various Government buildings, actually in progress, and all waste would, therefore, come under our immediate notice.
– What about the principle of one man one job?
– It is very unfortunate that the Acting Minister for Defence should make such an interjection, because I am told that at the present time there are in his _ Department about .ten officers to every private.
– ‘That statement is quite wrong. But I do not think that the honorable senator would seriously expect a man to undertake the building of Parliament House at Canberra whilst 100 parliamentarians were looking on at him.
– Why not? It would be better for the people of Australia. ,
– I can go one better than that.
– The honorable senator will have his opportunity to “ go one better “ before the Bill gets into Committee. I do not hesitate to say that within the period of one month a suitable building in which to conduct the business of this Parliament could be erected at Canberra. If that course were followed, we should at least have kept our pledged word to the people of Australia. I know that, to the representatives of Victoria, such an act would be unpalatable.
– Not at all. I have never voted against the establishment of the Capital at Canberra.
– I ask the Minister to seriously consider that we are pledged to establish the Seat of Government there. An effort was made to secure the best model for the future city, as well as the best .model for the future buildings there. The war now being over, I do hope that we shall not be fooled by the statement that it will cost us money to keep our pledged word.
– It would be more criminal to keep that promise than to fail to observe it.
– It would be a great deal more creditable for us to respect our promise than to get away from it. I cannot imagine anybody save a Victorian doing other than respecting his promise. Yet the people of Victoria need have no fear of their capacity to keep their city in the very forefront of Australian capitals. They need not think that the location of the temporary Seat of Government in Melbourne gives an. added importance to their city. I make that statement quite seriously. I believe that the people of this State, even if there were no Parliaments assembling in Melbourne, would still be in the vanguard of progress. The question at issue is merely whether the representatives of all the States should respect the pledge which was given prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth. We must either respect it or make excuses for our failure to do so. But the time for making excuses has long since passed. The bill has been presented, and has not been honoured. It now remains for us to see that, irrespective of the consequences, Australia shall no longer be pointed to as a land in which the people promised to do a certain thing’ mm failed .to keep their promise.
– During the debate which took place upon the last Supply Bill, a great deal was said regarding the desirableness of removing the Naval College from Jervis Bay, and various honorable senators stressed the claims of eligible sites for that institution in their respective States. In view of the report which has been submitted by Lord Jellicoe, I desire to direct attention to, the very fine facilities possessed by Port Maryborough and the city of Maryborough for the establishment of a Naval Base and of the Naval College. At Port Maryborough is to be found one of the best harbors in Australia. But what is of more importance is the fact that only a short distance from the site which could be utilized for naval purposes’ is the city of Maryborough itself. There we have such firms a3 Walkers Limited, .which recently completed the construction of a number of locomotives to the order of the South Australian Government - a firm which was held in such high repute by the Commonwealth Government that the Government secured the services of its manager to take control of the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow. Before any works are undertaken elsewhere, I trust that the Government will see that ports of this description along the Queensland coast have their merits investigated from the standpoint of their suitability for the establishment of the Naval College or for one of the Naval Bases. Quite recently a portion of the Australian Navy, consisting of the Australia, Brisbane, Swan, Huon, and Torrens was manoeuvring in Port Maryborough, and the opinion was then expressed that its deep water facilities made it an ideal spot for a Naval Base. In this connexion, I may also recall the fact that it was whilst in this port that the first wireless message was received by the Australian Navy that war had been declared against Germany, and it Was from there that the vessels steamed out to take part in the capture of certain German Possessions. Should the Government see fit to transfer the Naval College to Maryborough, the cadets of the Naval College would have an opportunity of visiting Walkers Limited, and of obtaining experience in engineering work there. In addition, there are up-to-date sawmills and other industries carried on in the city, all of which would prove of great educational value to them. I trust that the Government will give this matter their earnest consideration.
– Some time ago I brought under the notice of honorable senators what appears to be an unreasonable and unncessary delay in the printing of our electoral rolls.
-Order! The’ honorable senator cannot discuss that matter under this Bill.
– I was under the impression that I was’ at liberty to do so in view of the fact that there is an item in the Bill dealing with the Electoral Office.
– The printing of the electoral rolls has nothing whatever to do with works and buildings.
– Then I shall have to refer to the matter at a later stage. I would like the Minister to tell me whether the statement which has frequently appeared in the press to the effect that since four months after the outbreak of the war no rifles manufactured by the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow have been sent abroad is correct ? If it is not, will the honorable gentleman see that it is officially contradicted? It appears to me that if the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow cannot turn out efficient rifles after the long experience it has had, the matter should come under review. So far, I have seen no official contradiction of the statement which has been broadcasted by the press.
– It has been contradicted by official reports on every occasion.
– I have never seen any such report.
– I have sent out reports to the newspapers which printed the statement.
– I find in this Bill an item of £3,000 relating to the Institute of Science and Industry. From reports which come under my notice I gather that the prickly pear in Queensland is rightly regarded as one of the greatest menaces with which we are confronted in Australia. The pest is fairly prevalent in parts of northern New South Wales, and it is making an advance in the two States I have mentioned of nearly 1,000,000 acres annually. If it be not checked, it will unquestionably produce most damaging results. It has not yet become acclimatized in the southern States, but it will become so before very long.
– It is only a matter of time. .
– Very likely. If we >are to spend £3,000 upon a Bureau of Science and Industry, that Bureau ought to get to work quickly and see whether it is not possible to check the progress of this alarming pest. If the Department is unable to suggest a suitable remedy, other steps should be taken to handle the pest in a practical manner.
– Order ! The honorable senator cannot deal at length with the pricklypear question on a Works and Buildings Bill.
– Am I not in order in suggesting an alternative scheme?
– The question the honorable senator is discussing has nothing to do with works and buildings, and he cannot deal with the prickly-pear question at any length on this Bill, as the matter is irrelevant.
– An amount of £3,000 is included in the Bill in connexion with the establishment of an Institute of Science and Industry, and I would like to know what the £3,000 is for?”
– It is a re-vote.
– That does “not alter the position.
– If the honorable senator persists in discussing the question he will have to dissent from my ruling. He is entitled to make a passing reference to the Institute of Science and Industry as a means of combating the prickly-pear menace, but he will not be in order in going fully into the question.
– I made only a brief reference to the matter, and thought I was quite in order, seeing that the Bill includes a vote of £3,000 for carrying on the work of the Institute. Approximately 1,000,000 acres are swallowed up every year in consequence of the spread of this pest, and the question is one of great importance to Australia. Are we to revote £3,000 to allow certain officials to hang . about the principal cities of the Commonwealth, and for accommodating them in well-equipped offices, when they are not doing anything to effectively eradicate such a noxious plant? It Is the duty of the Government to bring forward a practical scheme, and in my attempt to make suggestions I have been debarred - : -
– The question is not the importance of eradicating the prickly-pear pest. There are many opportunities for dealing with that question. During the last day or so three Bills have been considered, and on the first reading of two of those measures the honorable senator could have discussed the question at length. A general discussion on the prickly-pear question at this stage is irrelevant, and I rule it cut of order.
– In view of your ruling, Mr. President, I shall not discuss the question further, but will refer to the Government Woollen and Cloth Factory. Under this measure we are asked to vote £2,000 fox additional machinery and plant, but the amount is altogether insufficient. Under the Constitution I understand that the Commonwealth Woollen Factory is debarred from selling its output to the public, and ‘it is the duty of the Government to find ways and means of overcoming the difficulty. There is no reason why the plant at Geelong should not be duplicated, and the output considerably increased. We are informed that the mill can manufacture cloth for 4s. 5d. per yard, when material of ho better quality - and in some cases of inferior quality - is being supplied from other sources at fabulous prices. It is problematical what is being charged by outside manufacturers, but I understand that the prices range from 15s. to 25s. a yard. The Government should duplicate, or triplicate, the- plant at Geelong, and handle the industry in a business-like way.
– The Government have done that, and are now turning out material for the public.
– I would like the vote to be increased, as it is altogether inadequate. The cost of cloth in Australia is excessive, and if the Government increased the production from their own mill, profiteering in this class of goods would be checked. The Government could purchase the raw material, and after making allowance for interest and a contribution to a sinking fund, could manufacture material at 4s. to 5s. per yard. This is an opportunity which the Government should embrace, and by extending the work they would enable the people of the Commonwealth to obtain excellent material at a reasonable rate.
May I also refer to the delay which has taken place in connexion with the removal of the Seat of Government to Canberra ? It has frequently been stated that the supply of water at Canberra is inadequate, but honorable senators who have made such statements have never troubled to investigate the true position. At present there is an excellent supply of water available from the Cotter River, sufficient to meet the requirements of 250,000 to 500,000 people, and I do not suppose there will be such a population for some years to come. If the supply from the Cotter River fails, the Murrumbidgee could be drawn upon, and that river is capable of supplying an unlimited quantity. Any one who knows the watershed and the catchment area must admit that the supply available is ample for a large city.
-A mistake was made in the system of supplying water.
– It is quite possible that a more satisfactory arrangement could have been made by carrying the water by gravitation. The cost of erection of public buildings at Canberra suitable for accommodating Parliament, together with the necessary offices, has been over-estimated. I have been assured by a well-known Sydney architect that such works could be completed within nine months at a cost not exceeding £250,000. The estimate given by the Treasurer (Mr. Watt) is erroneous, and does not carry much weight. The delay in removing the Capital to Canberra is not creditable, and although I do not expect this Parliament or Government to agree to the removal of the Seat of Government, I intend to move an amendment which will give honorable senators an opportunity of recording a vote on the question of increasing the Federal Capital vote. I do not wish the vote to be regarded as one of censure or of lack of confidence, in the Government, but merely as an expression of opinion as to whether the Government are prepared to incur the necessary expense associated with the early removal of the Seat of Government to Canberra. It is particularly fortunate that the previous Parliament absolutely refused to sell any land in the Federal Territory, where there is an area exceeding 1,000 square miles, as well as a right of access to Jervis Bay.. The Territory is eminently suitable for the establishment of the Federal Capital, and there is, in addition to other advantages, a magnificent site for a racecourse. I suppose before very long we shall hear of the Canberra Cup, and such an event will doubtless eclinse the Melbourne Cup. A railway was proposed from Yass Junction to Canberra, and although the distance isi only a short one, nothing has been done. I doubt very much whether the railway from Queanbeyan has been extended to meet the proposed line from Yass Junction, and if it has not, I hope the Government will proceed with the work. I now give notice that I shall move -
– Order ! The honorable senator will not be in order in giving notice of his intention to. move an amendment, but he can indicate an amendment.
– I wish to indicate that I intend moving an amendment to the vote in the following form: -
That in the opinion of this Senate the item set down for buildings at Canberra is insufficient, and that the item be referred back to the Government for consideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Issue and application of £397,144).
– I ask the Minister how this total compares with the amount voted last year?
– It is £57,000 less, and as the vote of the previous year showed a reduction of £802,000, the total reduction is approximately £900,000 for two years.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Divisions 1 to 8 (Department of Works and Railways), £140,852
– I should like some information with reference to the item £15,000 for new services in the Northern Territory.
– In that amount are included £8,000 for water boring and £3,900 for dredging at Darwin wharf.
– I invite the attention of the Committee to the item £1,700, incidental work in the Federal Capital Territory, and I move -
That, in the opinion of the Committee, the item £.1,700, incidental works, Federal Capital,, is insufficient, and that the House of Representatives be requested to increase the amount to £250,000.
My object is to give honorable senators an opportunity of placing on record their votes, and making a pronouncement that there shall be no further delay in removing the Federal Parliament to its own home. I take it that it is possible to increase the amount, so that a sufficient sum may be. made available to proceed with the erection of temporary premises for Parliament and the officers whose services will be required in the Federal Capital. The time is opportune for the removal of the Seat of Government. If we are to continue in Melbourne year after year, we shall be much in the same position as the people of the Argentine, where, I understand, a .proposal for the removal of the capital to its proper site has been under consideration for more than fifty years. The proposal to have the Federal Capital at Canberra was specifically placed in the Constitution, and this, I am sure, had a considerable effect upon the people of New South Wales and Queensland when they were asked to enter the Federation. The removal of the Federal Parliament to Canberra will not mean very much to Sydney or New South Wales, but it might represent a slight loss to Melbourne. But an agreement like this ought to be respected. The people of South Australia are asking for the construction of a railway from Oodnadatta to the Katherine River because it was understood that that line would be built by the Federal Government. Another costly railway, from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta has been con structed, and some time ago the Commonwealth Government agreed to recompense Tasmania to the extent of £90,000 a year for her loss of Customs revenue. There is an impression in the minds of many people in New South Wales that there is a provision in the Constitution fixing a time limit of ten years on the location of the Federal ‘Capital in Melbourne; but, of course, there is no such undertaking in the Constitution at all, though there was an understanding that the Federal Parliament would meet at Canberra at the earliest possible moment. If it is going to remain in Melbourne for an indefinite number of years it would be just as well to remove from .the Constituion the provision fixing Canberra as the Federal Capital. I am satisfied that it would be a very good thing for Australia if Parliament were removed to its own home, and my abject is to give honorable senators an opportunity of proving whether they are favorable to this course or not.
– I can speak without bias on this subject. I voted against the selection of Dalgety and Yass-Canberra, because I wanted to see the Capital City established away from the influence of any other town. I believe the people of Australia desire the Federal Parliament to be in its own home at an early date, but during the period of the war our national responsibilities were so heavy that it was impossible for the Government to proceed with public works of this nature. The vote now asked for is merely to preserve existing works. If the war were really over I would be inclined to take a broader outlook, but, so far as our expenditure is concerned, the war is not over, as we have very heavy obligations yet to meet. I am quite satisfied, therefore, that Senator Grant will not get a test vote on this matter. Certainly in my case it will not be a test vote, and I have no doubt other honorable senators are in the same position. As a member of the Government I do not know where we would get the money even if we were .prepared to go on with Federal Capital works at present. A vote on the request therefore will only place honorable senators in a false position.
I hope to see the Federal Parliament removed to the Capital City as soon as our national obligations, arising out of the wai-, make this course possible. I admit that the New South Wales members have been patient during the war period, and I ask them to be patient just a little longer. When we have disposed of some of our war responsibilities I shall be prepared to help them get the Federal Parliament removed to Canberra at the earliest possible moment.
has remarked that the Government are at their wits’ end to know where to find money. I know where to find it for them. Cables from London in our daily papers tell us of the awful waste of money in the pleasures of life by the wealthy’ classes of England to an extent far greater than that before the war. The same thing is going on in Australia. We had evidence in a Court lately that a lady had given £80 for a coat and had worn it twice and thrown it aside; while another poor unfortunate devil gave evidence that she had worn the same coat for five years and could not throw it away till it fell to pieces.
When we speak of the difficulties of finding money we should consider this awful waste, and meet it with a wealth tax that could be devoted to useful purposes..
The transfer of the Federal Capital to Canberra involves the carrying out of an obligation, the honouring of a treaty which we cannot look upon as a scrap of paper to be torn and dishonoured; but if the Government intend doing anything at all it is due to New South Wales and to the Commonwealth, in fact, to state what they propose. If the Government have no intention of carrying out this national obligation, then they must be made to realize that that involves the breaking of a solemn promise. I do not say that because I come from New South Wales. Certain obligations were entered into upon the establishment of Federation. All those obligations, with the exception of the building of the Federal Capital, have been honoured. Western Australia has got its railway; South Australia has got rid of its territorial burden : Tasmania has been financially recompensed, and in a very liberal manner; Queensland has got rid of its black labour; but New South Wales has not got its Federal Capital.
– A great many members of the Federal Parliament have taken a broad and federal view in respect to these obligations.
– They looked upon them as solemn obligations, and they assisted to carry them out. I look forward to the time, by the way, when the Government of Australia shall have become a purely Australian Government, and will no longer be hampered by purely State considerations. I think that that day is not far distant, if the present temper of the people may be accurately judged.
– These Estimates indicate increasing care on the part of the Government in connexion with Commonwealth expenditure.. It is highly satisfactory to learn that, as compared with last year, the Estimates are more than £50,000 less in connexion with one relatively small item; and that, compared with the Estimates of the year before, there is a reduction of more than threequarters of a million sterling. But there are certain items which still appear to be large. No doubt there will be still further scrutiny of various matters.
– Most of the items refer to works which are still going on. We must finish our jobs.
– I understand that; and I realize that some of the money has been expended. Even if the Government thoroughly agreed with the recommendations of the Economies Commission, certain outlay has already been partially made, and economies with regard to those particular items could not be effected, at any rate, this year.
I desire to say a few words in support of the case put forward by my fellow senators from New South Wales. Whatever personal sympathy I have with Senator Grant’s proposed amendment, I would suggest that a test division should not be sought at this stage. Probably nearly half of the members of the Senate are away engaged upon activities in’ connexion with the forthcoming election. A division taken at this stage, therefore, would not be in any sense a test of the feeling ‘of the Senate with respect to the establishment of the Federal Capital at Canberra. No one in this Parliament can claim a greater measure of credit than Senator Grant in respect to the case for the establishment of Canberra. The honorable senator has acted as Parliamentary Secretary to the movement, and has at all times been very earnest and genuine in his efforts. The war interfered with the Capital project. Probably but for the war the matter might have been forced to an issue before now. I would like to see the question of the early erection of the Federal Capital at Canberra placed upon the programme of both the parties which are now about to appeal to the electors. This question has been largely the sport of parties in the past.
– That has not been so in the Senate.
– I mean that in no unkindly way. But it has not been a plank in the platform of either party hitherto. No party has, so far, pledged itself that, if returned to power, it would carry out the transference to Canberra forthwith. If neither party makes the transfer a plank in its platform, no party will be under obligation, to proceed with the work. That being so, I fear that the presentsituation will be indefinitely prolonged. I suggest to Senator Grant that instead of forcing the issue at this stage, all those honorable senators who believe that Canberra should be swiftly made the home of the Federal Parliament should endeavour to have the question placed upon the platforms of both parties. Then, whatever may be the result of the forthcoming elections, the obligation to New South “Wales will be the more quickly honoured. I believe that parliamentary life at Canberra will afford a freer and fuller expression of the views and desires of the people of Australia.
SenatorDE LARGIE (Western Australia) [5.0]. - Whenever the question of the transference of the Federal Capital to Canberra has come before this Chamber, the debate has been conducted in a broad and generous manner. The only legislators who have adopted the parochial view have been certain Victorian senators. Senator Grant would have been better advised if he had introduced a motion at an earlier stage, and had inaugurated a clear and straight-out debate. To bring forward the matter now, in the dying hours of this Parliament, when the Senate is not fully attended, and when practically nothing can be done, appears to me to be rather unwise. Senator Grant would have been better advised had he first consulted his colleagues. In the interests of New South Wales I suggest that he withdraw his amendment rather than force a division which could not possibly be favorable at the present juncture.
– You sympathize with the honorable senator?
– Undoubtedly ! I have always beenprepared to carry out the obligations entered into by the people of Australia. The Federal Capital should be established at Canberra at the earliest opportunity; but to take a vote upon the subject now would merely have the effect of recording an inadequate expression of honorable senators’ views.
.- During my connexion with the Senate I have never hesitated to express definite opinions with respect to Canberra. I look upon the subject in the light of a solemn bargain made between the people of Australia and the citizens of New South Wales. The latter have good cause for complaint. They should not have been kept . waiting for nearly twenty years in the expectation of witnessing the fulfilment of a very definite obligation. The Federal Capital should have been established at Canberra long ago. Personally, its establishment in the Federal Territory would be inconvenient to myself; but that is not a question for one moment’s consideration. The figures presented by Mr. Watt with regard to the transference amount to a rather miserable excuse for the inaction of the Government. If the matter of cost is to be regarded as an effective bar to-day it will as effectively hinder the establishment of the Federal Capital at Canberra for all time. I will not now enter into a discussion of the advantages to be derived from the transfer, except to remark that it has always appealed to me that the sooner the Capital is established at Canberra the sooner will the time arrive when the Commonwealth will receive a larger and ever larger amount of ground rent from the land which cannot be alienated in the Federal Territory. For that reason, if for no other, I would urge the establishment of the Federal Capital at the earliest possible moment. The principal consideration with me is that we have entered into a solemn pledge to establish the Capital in New South Wales territory, and have failed to Tedeem that pledge for nearly twenty years. We should have something better than the poor excuse that is set up now to prevent us going ahead with the Federal Capital scheme. For various reasons, I have been unable to visit Canberra. I have heard reports of the disadvantages of the site, and other reports which favour its selection very strongly. I do not know, which are right, but I have some confidence that those who are in charge of the work know what they are doing. There may have been a good many mistakes made in connexion with the building of the Capital, but I am inclined to think that they would not be more numerous than could be attributed to any other Department in Australia.
Whatever the cost of the building of the Capital might he, it would be repaid possibly a hundredfold within a few years. The sooner it is established, the sooner we shall be receiving income from the ground rents of land there. There occurs to my mind a very fine example, which was brought under my notice in Western Australia, of the advantage of the non -alienation of land in a city. I happened . to be passing through Kalgoorlie, and learned that, owing to the foresight of a few miners who formed the first municipal council, a block of land was purchased in the main street, and it was decided that it should not be alienated by the council. It was leased on a twentyone years’ lease. The mayor of Kalgoorlie explained the matteT to me when I was there. Buildings were erected on the land, and the council was receiving £2,000 a year ground rent. Either last year or this year, the whole of the buildings erected on the land came into the possession of the council, and for these they will probably get now £20,000 a year in rents. The mayor told me that they had £80,000 worth of assets in Kalgoorlie, and that the city did not owe one penny. When so much could be done in such a small place as Kalgoorlie, what might not be done in a city such as we hope to build at Canberra? We hold the land in the Federal Territory for the use of the people, and we can secure the communitycreated value due to the establishment of the Capital there for their benefit. This issue having ibeen set before us, I determined to express my views upon it, because I do not care to Tecord a silent vote on so important a matter. I shall be compelled to vote for the establishment of the Federal Capital, no matter when the proposal is brought before the Senate while I am a member of it, because we have entered into a serious and solemn obligation under the Constitution, and we should not delay the fulfilment of that obligation any longer.
Question - That the request (Senator Grant’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Division 9(Postmaster-General’s Department), £165,000; divisions 10 and 11 (Department of Defence), £77,192; divisions 12 and 13 (Department of the Navy), £14,100, agreed to.
Title and preamble agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment, and passed through its remaining stages.
– I move -
That this Billbe now read a second time.
The principles of this Bill were approved hy the Senate when it ratified the Treaty of Peace, including the economic clauses of Part X. of the Treaty. The purpose of the Bill is to make adjustments under certain provisions of the Treaty. Honorable senators may have heard of what is called the “ clean-slate “ policy. The different Governments have decided to organize central agencies for the handling of the debts of private individuals in each country, owing to those in other countries. It is the intention to establish a central collecting agency. Debts owing to Germans by private firms here will he held by a trustee as a credit against .any claim which Germany collectively may make against Australia. On the other hand, debts owing in Germany to Australians will be collected by an agency there, and the two agencies will deal -one with the other. -This practice will be followed in all countries. It is recognised that it is essential that collective action shall be taken in this matter. It would clearly be impossible for individuals, no matter how hard they had been hit, to collect, except ‘at enormous expense, debts owing to them in the countries with which we have been at war. The principal purpose of the Bill is to establish what will be practically a debtcollecting and debt-adjustment agency.
– A clearing house.
– Yes, a clearinghouse to give effect to the “ clean-slate “ policy. It is necessary to make provision also with regard to property rights, and in this connexion Germany is not allowed under the Peace Treaty to legislate- in any way which would impose a penalty upon any property held by citizens of the Allied countries. In turn, there is a guarantee that property held by Germans in Allied countries shall be liquidated and the money held in trust, .eventually to be devoted’ to the part payment of any indemnity imposed upon Germany as the result of the war. Honorable senators will recognise that these matters could not be dealt with by individuals, and that their adjustment must be a collective and Government responsibility. The same thing applies to contracts, prescriptions, and judgments which had to be suspended during the war. Adjustments will require to be made in regard to many of these matters. Judgments given by competent Allied Courts must be recognised and enforced in Germany. Subjects of the Allies who have suffered in consequence of judgments given: by German Courts without a proper hearing of their- cases may apply to the Mixed Arbitral Tribunal for compensation. That is to say, where injustice has been done by Germany during the period of the war, when it was impossible for a representative of ;the Allies to go into that country, that injustice will be dealt with in a collective way through this agency, and the power to make regulations to enable them to be effectively dealt with is contained in this Bill. Subject to the stipulations contained in the Treaty, rights of industrial, artistic, and literary property will be reestablished or restored upon the coming into force of the Treaty. The stipulations referred to relate to certain reservations in regard to the exploitation of inventions and to other matters, in cases in which it- may be necessary for an Allied Government to exercise certain control in the interests of national defence, or for assuring fair treatment by Germany of the rights of the nationals.
– “Will that revive any patent rights which Germany may have in Allied countries?
– Generally, yes; but in certain cases, particularly in cases affecting defence matters, it will not.
– Will the term of the war be considered as an interim period and added to the duration of a patent ?
– That will be dealt with under the Peace Treaty. Provision for it is made in Part X. of that Treaty, which the Senate has already indorsed. These are the most important sections of Part X. which are likely to affect Australia, though there are other provisions, such as those relating to postal arrangements, which also affect us. It will be seen that that Part deals mainly with the business and trading relations between the nationals of the countries which have been at war. The matters to be provided for are of so varied a nature that it is practically impossible at present to foresee what legislation will be required, and they will probably involve the consideration of details to such an extent that this Parliament would not have time to deal with them directly. In the main, they will be matters of a subsidiary character which can best be dealt with by regulation. It is therefore proposed to follow the example of the Imperial Parliament, and to authorize the Governor-General in Council to pass regulations to deal with these matters as they arise. The Bill itself relates purely to Part X., which contains the economic clauses of the Peace Treaty. We have already indorsed that Treaty, and the object of the Bill is to empower the Government to frame regulations for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions contained in Part X. of it.
– Will not Australia require to act in concert with the rest of the Allies in this matter?
– Yes, and probably because of our distance from Europe we shall be largely represented by Great Britain. At the same time, we shall have specific functions to perform here.
– Our regulations will not conflict with those of Great Britain ?
– No. They will automatically conform to them, because Great Britain will have to do most’ of the work for us in Europe. But we shall have to do what lies ready to our hands here. In regard to patents, we may have to take distinctive action–
– Have we the power to do so?
– We ha,ve _the power to do so by means of regulations under the economic clauses of the Peace Treaty. Of “course, nobody can forecast the amount of detailed work which will require to be done. But the regulations will be limited to the creation of administrative .machinery to enable such clauses of Part X. of the Peace Treaty as are applicable to Australia, to be carried out. Of course, many of those provisions affect Europe alone. As we have already indorsed the Treaty, I ask the Senate to do in a business-like way that which we have already determined to do. I know that there will be strong objection urged to the doing of it by means of regulations; but this Chamber will exercise control over’ those regulations, and it is impossible, at this stage, to fore see precisely what form such legislation may take.
– ‘How will the manufacturers stand who have been supplying material to take the place of that which was previously manufactured in Germany under patent rights?
– There are many matters which will have to be determined ; but I cannot enter into a discussion of the question of patent rights here. Part X. of the Peace Treaty deals with this matter in a general way, and, of course, we shall be largely guided by the determination of the Mother Country. I ask honorable senators to accept the provisions of the Bill, because we can offer no other at the present stage.
– This is the most impudent attempt ever made to take the government of this country out of the control’ of Parliament. Had the Bill been presented to us in the form of an extension of the War Precautions Act, there would have been an outcry against it. Yet it is practically a continuance of that Act in respect to matters of business. I am not disposed to empower the Government to alter the whole trading conditions of the country. As a matter of fact, the present Ministry may never meet Parliament again. Yet they are asking to be permitted to do by means of regulations all those things which they may wish to do.
– But we shall be limited by the provisions of Part X. of the Peace Treaty.
– Let us have a look at those provisions of the Treaty. They open up the possibility of enormous trading interests being controlled by the Government by means of regulations. For example, section 1 of Part X., containing the economic clauses of the Treaty, deals with “ Customs regulations, duties, and restrictions.” What enormous powers the Government would have in dealing merely with Customs matters!
– All those powers are contained in the Customs Act now. One can do almost anything under that Act.
– I am aware of that. The powers conferred under the Customs Act were used by the Government with which I was associated, and by succeeding Governments, in a way in which I hope they will never be used again. But, the war having ceased, I trust that every business firm is now going to be placed in a position of absolute equality. Let me point to Article 264 of Part X. of the Peace Treaty. It reads -
Germany undertakes that goods the produce or manufacture of any one of the Allied or Associated States imported into German territory, from whatsoever place arriving, shall not be subjected to other or higher duties or charges (including internal charges) than those to which the like goods the produce or manufacture of any other such State or of any other foreign country are subject.
Germany will not maintain or impose any prohibition or restriction on the importation into German territory of any goods the produce or manufacture of the territories of any one of the Allied or Associated States, from whatsoever place arriving, which shall not equally extend to the importation of the like goods the produce or manufacture of any other such State or of any other foreign country.
Article 265 reads -
Germany further undertakes that, in the matter of the regime applicable on importation, no discrimination against the commerce of any of the Allied and Associated States as compared with any other of the said States or any other foreign country shall be made, even by indirect means, such as Customs regulations or procedure, methods of verification or analysis, conditions of payment of duties, Tariff classification or interpretation, or the operation of monopolies.
Article 266 provides -
In all that concerns exportation Germany undertakes that goods, natural products or manufactured articles, exported from German territory to the territories of any one of the Allied pr Associated States, shall not be subjected to other or higher duties or charges (including internal charges) than those paid on the like goods exported to any other such State or to any other foreign country.
Germany will not maintain or impose any prohibition or restriction on the exportation of any goods sent from her territory to any one of the Allied or Associated States which shall not equally extend to the exportation of ‘ the like goods, natural products or manufactured articles, sent to any other such State or to any other foreign country.
Article 267 sets out -
Every favour, immunity, or privilege in regard to the importation, exportation, or transit of goods granted by Germany to any Allied or Associated State or to any other foreign country whatever shall simultaneously and unconditionally, without request and without compensation, be extended to all the Allied and Associated States.
Article 268 says -
The provisions of Articles 264 to 267 inclusive of this chapter, and of Article 323 of Part
(Ports, Waterways, and Railways) of the present Treaty are subject to the following exceptions: -
I shall not read further. Honorable senators must see that crowded amongst a lot of other measures is this Bill in which the Government ask for power to control the whole of our trading operations - the importation, for example, of goods from Germany or other countries - by means of regulations. If we once give them that power, from the very day the regulations are proclaimed until Parliament disallows them, they will be the law under which we shall be governed.
– How can affairs of this description be administered without regulations ?
– I believe that all that is necessary can be done under the existing law. As the Vice-President of the Executive Council has already admitted, the Government possess very great powers under our Customs Act. I fear this measure because in it Ministers are asking for exceptional powers. Hitherto whenever we have authorized the Government to frame regulations in regard to any matter, those regulations have been applicable to measures every clause of which has been exhaustively discussed by Parliament. But the Peace Treaty ‘deals in a vague way with the whole question of trade and commerce.
– The Bill is almost an exact copy of the British Act.
– That is all the more reason why we should be suspicious of it.
– For this particular business is it not a good Act ?
– I am not going to follow the example of Britain blindfold. Australian business is the very opposite in character of British business. Australia is a producing country, whereas Britain is a manufacturing country. Britain is a manufacturing country, and her interest in trade matters are not identical with ours. We are competitors one with another. If we support this measure we shall be doing something that has not been done in any other country. The Minister will have an opportunity of explaining the position when he replies. I challenge him to prove that a Bill has ever been passed giving the Government power to frame regulations that have not been authorized to give effect to some Act of Parliament. If such a measure has been passed I am not aware of it. I challenge the Minister to show that any Government have ever been given power to make regulations unless such regulations were framed to carry out the intentions of Parliament.
– Are not these?
– No. This Bill is to confer upon the Government the power to make regulations.
– Concerning a certain matter.
– It is to give the Government power to make regulations, as the honorable senator suggests. It is not to frame regulations to give effect to any Act.
– That is exactly as I read it. The constitutional method of making effective regulations is to issue them in conformity with an Act of Parliament. But here is a Bill to give the Government power to issue re’gulations, but not to give effect to any Act.
– But under the Treaty.
– Under the Treaty ! The idea of seeking power to issue regulations without regard to the intentions of Parliament. It is a tyrannical act of the Government to take power from Parliament and to retain it in their own hands. The Government are re-enacting the War Precautions Act under another name. That Act could be justified only because it was, necessary to deal with a great emergency. To pass a Bill to confer upon the Government the power, by regulations, to deal with trade is an outrageous step, and has never been attempted by any Parliament. If the Government, by their actions under the War Precautions Act, had obtained our confidence, and had the Act been used for the purposes for which it was passed, our opposition, perhaps, would not be so great. The facts are fresh in the minds of honorable senators, and they do not need to be reminded that their power was abused by the present Government. The Government are asking for power to make regulations which ultimately become the law of the land, without an Act under which such’ regulations would be framed being discussed by Parliament. The Minister has said that the regulations will be in conformity with the economic clauses of the Peace Treaty; but they cover the whole of the trade between Australia and foreign countries. It is well known that the present Government used their powers under the War Precautions Act to the benefit of certain German traders.
– What authority has the honorable senator for saying that?
– The knowledge that I possess. My authority is based on facts in my possession.
– Then it is the honorable senator’s duty to make that information public. -
– The Senate can have it if it likes; but I do not wish to give the information on the eve of an election.
– It is your duty to do so.
– If the honorable senator asks for it I shall give it.
– Let us have it.
– I am charging the Prime Minister with reference to his actions concerning a German firm or individual named Blau, engaged in the perfumery business. There are other facts-
– We want them all.
– There is not time between now and the 13th December to give them all, but I have directly charged the Prime Minister with giving concessions to a German trading firm, and I challenge the Government to dispute my statement.
– It is a pity the Prime Minister is not here.
– Yes, it is a pity he is not in his proper place - in Parliament.
– This is nothing new, as we have heard of it before.
– Yes; in the conscription campaign.
– There may be aspects of it that may be new to honorable senators. The case I have quoted brings home the danger of conferring, particularly upon this Government, the powers for which they are asking. As such a procedure gives members of the Government the opportunity to make personal profits, the question arises whether we are justified in giving them authority to make regulations that are not framed under any Act.
– The honorable senator ought to have explained what he meant by “ personal profits.”
– I have named a member of the Government-
SenatorFoll. - Why not say it outside of Parliament?
– There are a lot of fine things that could be said outside, but I am saying this under the protection of Parliament.
– Why did you, as a Minister, prevent certain papers being tabled?
– I suppose I did it as a member of the Ministry, and because I did not know as much as I do now.
– You were a Minister when I asked that certain papers be tabled, and you and your colleagues blocked me.
– The Ministry had not the full facts then.
– I could not get the departmental files.
– I did not know the facts until Monday last. I am not prepared to accept blame for what I did in ignorance, but am prepared to accept the responsibility for what I did with the full facts before me.
– What are the facts?
– I have never heard of this before.
– The Minister will hear more of it later. The Bill empowers the Government to issue any regulations they wish relating to the trade of this country, and it is a very serious matter to place such power in the hands of any Ministry. Regulations may be framed that would enable one business to make a fortune and would ruin others. That is the power that honorable senators support-, ing the Government wish to confer upon Ministers. I refuse to assist in giving any Government such power. It has always been the practice that regulations issued shall be in conformity with an Act of Parliament . that the representatives of the people have had an opportunity of discussing. Here we are asked to make regulations that will not be framed under any Act of Parliament.
– But in conformity ‘ with the Peace Treaty.
– I have endeavoured to read the Peace Treaty. Its terms are so broad that it affects everything likely to be exported from Australia to Germany, or imported from Germany into Australia. When the Peace Treaty has been ratified, there may be firms exporting surplus products to Germany. I know that at least one Australian ship has already brought German products into this country. Here is the position^ Supposing the Government should allow one firm to trade with Germany and prevent another. It is well known that trading firms frequently impose unheard-of conditions on their customers, and, when it is too late, surprise will be expressed because the Government possess such powers. The Government must intend acting in this way, or they would not ask for such authority. I have known Customs regulations, issued under the authority of a Customs official or the Minister, that operated most unfairly towards certain individuals over a period of years. The Government now have the impudence to ask to be clothed with power . to make such, regulations as they desire. The war is over, but Parliament has nine months to run; and, if it is necessary to effectively provide for dealing with after-war trade, let Parliament continue in session until such work is completed, instead of creating artificial agencies and powers in this manner. This is a War Precautions law in another form.
– The honorable senator has said that repeatedly. We may begin to think it is so.
– It would take a lot of repetition before Senator Senior realized its importance. I can understand his temperament, and, with his implicit confidence in the Government he lias nothing to say against their administration. Here is a Government asking for power to frame regulations not governed by any Act of Parliament giving them unlimited power.
– But covered by the Peace Treaty.
– Yes, but framed in a way to cover the whole trade relations between Germany and Australia. Will the Minister deny that?
– The terms of the Treaty are very definite.
– The Minister has said the terms of the Treaty are very definite. I shall continue reading from the economic clauses in the Treaty: -
– That is fairly definite.
– Yes, in regard to France and Germany. The clause continues -
Further, during the period above mentionedthe German Government shall allow the free export from Germany, and the free reimportation into Germany, exempt from all Customs duties and other charges (including internal charges), of yarns, tissues, and other textile materials or textile products of any kind and in any condition, sent from Germany into the territories of Alsace or Lorraine, to be subjected there to any finishing process, such as bleaching, dyeing, printing, mercerization, gassing, twisting or dressing.
– On a point of order, Mr. Deputy President, I draw attention to the fact that the honorable senator is reading extracts from the Peace Treaty dealing with the importation into German Customs territory of products or manufactured articles from the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg, a matter that is not touched by the Bill at all.
– During the many years that I have been a member of the Senate I never heard a point of order stated on such flimsy grounds. Senator Gardiner was dealing with clause 2 of the Bill, which states -
The Governor-General may make such regulations and orders and do such things as appear to him to be necessary for carrying out antl giving effect to the provisions of Part X (economic clauses) of the said Treaty.
Senator Gardiner was reading from Part X. of the Treaty.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Shannon). - The honorable senator was quite in order in reading the extracts referred to.
– I am not surprised that Senator Senior should be under the impression that I was out of order, because he never attempts to make himself acquainted with the business of the Senate. The only justification there is for the introduction of this Bill is that regulations which may be made under it will be limited by the clauses of the Peace Treaty to which I am referring. I realize, of course, that Senator Senior does not know anything about Part X of the Treaty, and apparently does not want to know anything about it. Article 269 of the Treaty states -
During the first six months after the coming into force of the present Treaty, the duties imposed by Germany on imports from Allied and Associated States shall not be higher than the most favorable duties which were applied to imports into Germany on 31st July, 1914. During a further period of thirty months after the expiration of the first six months, this provision shall continue to be applied exclusively with regard to products which, being comprised in section A of the first category of the German Customs Tariff of 25th December, 1902, enjoyed at the above-mentioned date (31st July, 1914), rates conventionalized by treaties with the Allied and Associated Powers, with the addition of all kinds of wine and vegetable oils, of artificial silk, and of washed or scoured wool, whether or not they were the subject of special conventions before 31st July, 1914.
Article 270 provides -
The Allied and Associated Powers reserve the right to apply to German territory occupied by their troops a special Customs rdgime as regards imports and exports, in the event of such a measure being necessary in their opinion in order to safeguard the economic interests of the population of these territories.
There is a possibility that regulations may be made affecting the export to Germany of wool tops, regulations that might vitally concern those factories that were called into existence in New South Wales during the war period. What would happen if those interested in the manufacture of wool tops there desired to export the product to Germany and regulations were made limiting their right to export only a . certain percentage, in proportion to the machinery or the number of hands employed ? What answer would I have for the people of New South Wales, who sent me to represent them, if I confessed that when the Bill was before the Senate I had such confidence in the Government that I did not deem it necessary to look after their trading interests? I’ have no such confidence in this Government. I am not satisfied to leave business and trading matters at the mercy of influences that may be brought to bear upon Ministers.
– Did you find that out when you were in the Ministry ?
– I found out a good many things when I was a Minister. One thing I learned was how very annoying opposition may be to a Government.
– You were a stormy petrel before you got into the Government.
– But I was fairly tame when I was in the Ministry. I think honorable senators will give me credit, during that trying time, for endeavouring not to make matters worse.
– But there were only five in opposition then and thirtyone supporters.
– Yes, though my honorable friend will no doubt remember that the greatest opposition came, not from the five who were our traditional opponents, but from the thirty-one supporters. But let me get back to the regulations that may be made under this Bill. Under this clause it is proposed to give the Governor-General power to make regulations that might have the effect of ruining one set of traders, while making the fortunes of other traders. The Government, by a regulation, will have the power to refuse to allow trade with Germany. But what is likely to happen. Suppose one enterprising firm, following the practice which, no ‘ doubt, many indulge in, side-step the regulation by opening up trade with Sweden or Switzerland. If that firm could get the ear of the Government, they would be able to go ahead, while other firms, not being in such a favorable position, would be unable to trade, owing to a regulation preventing any trading without the permission of the Government.
– How would a firm get into Switzerland? They would need an aeroplane.
– I used Switzerland as an illustration because it is one of the countries adjacent to Germany; and I venture to say it would be the simplest thing in the world to enter ostensibly upon trading relations with Switzerland, and arrange for the delivery of the specified goods to a German, port. The Government, by means of such regulations, would really have power to control the whole of our import and export trade, and without the restraints of an Act of Parliament, just as they controlled Australia during the wax period by means of the War Precautions Act regulations. The Government should get no extension of power without the approval of Parliament as representing the people of this country. If the power hitherto vested in the Government has been sufficient, surely they can ‘carry on until after the general elections. It is improper, to my. mind, for a Government to ask for these additional powers when their responsibility to Parliament ends next week, because it is quite probable that many of them will not be returned.
SenatorFoll. - If they do not come back, then there can be no harm in the regulations.
– Now, there is an intelligent interjection! The greatest harm might be done by means of these regulations, because, owing to the system that has been adopted for counting the votes cast at the election, it might take weeks or months to decide if members of the Government have been displaced; and while this issue was being determined anything might happen with regulations administered by men who may have no further responsibility to Parliament. This is the first time such power has been asked for on the eve of an election.
– Why not say it is the first time that any Government has asked for power to make regulations?
– No ; but heretofore it has been necessary to get the approval of both Houses to a Bill authorizing the issue of regulations; and there has been the additional safeguard that no regulation made shall be inconsistent with the Act.
– There are 243 sections in the Navigation Act providing for regulations “ as may be prescribed,” and you were in the Government that passed the Bill.
– But the regulations to be made under that measure must not be inconsistent with the provisions of the Act.
– I do not think we can make any regulations under this. Bill inconsistent with the Treaty.
– But the Peace Treaty is an agreement drawn up, not by this Parliament, but by certain gentlemen representing other nationalities; and- 1 do not believe in giving the Government power to make regulations with respect to those matters.
– It was the Treaty which this Parliament approved of.
– It is true we agreed to the Peace Treaty, but I take it that we did not propose then to make it part of our Statute law. Under the Peace Treaty the warring nations agreed to return to normal conditions; but it is now proposed by this Government to make regulations for the purpose of controlling certain trade relationships. That is the part I am complaining of. The framers of the Treaty never dreamed that it would be the basis of an Australian law, or that the Commonwealth Government would make regulations with respect to it. I hold distinct views upon the Peace Treaty. I say that it really represents an endeavour to constitute an agreement just to all people concerned; that one party should not have a distinct advantage over another, as may be possible under the regulations which may be framed under this Bill.
The Minister (Senator Russell) said yesterday that negotiations were proceeding with the returned soldiers regarding certain business in which they were deeply interested, but that those negotiations had not been finalized. In this morning’s papers, however, we are informed thai; the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has made an announcement in Brisbane that that business has been finalized. Parliament is sitting; but, apparently, neither the Government nor Parliament has even been consulted.
– That is not so; but the fact is that those matters have not yet been finalized.
– The Prime Minister said much more in Brisbane than Senator Russell was able to tell this Chamber yesterday.
– All the Minister could tell us was that finality had not been reached with respect to soldiers’ gratuities.
Honorable senators opposite always appear to be unduly irritated when criticism is launched from this side of the Chamber. Why should they be upset by my endeavour to analyze, in discussing this Bill, the powers sought for the making of regulations ? I confess that it was only when Senator Russell addressed the Senate that I began to realize the importance of this measure, the significance of what the Government are seeking to do, and of what we are failing to prevent them from doing. Parliament has never before been asked to confer on the Government powers for making regulations in this way.
– Has there ever before been such a Bill before the Senate?
– Never, except the Wai* Precautions Act. That measure conferred on the Government these very same powers. I do not think there is one honorable senator who will agree with the manner in which the powers conferred on the Government by the War Precautions Act were exercised. During my term as a Minister, I confess that I learned much; but I was never a party to any effort to interfere with the powers vested in Parliament. I early learned the principle of responsible government. I learned that a Government must be responsible to Parliament, just as Parliament is responsible to the people. The powers sought to be secured under this Bill indicate an effort to undermine responsible government. What is the Government of a country but a Committee of Parliament deputed to conduct the affairs of the country, supported in office by a majority of the members of Parliament? The present Government exercised huge war powers, and then, when they found that those powers could no longer be retained, they framed this Bill. What is the Executive? It consists, perhaps, of three Ministers and a representative of His Majesty. The latter does not take part in the meetings of Cabinet. He has no power or influence over the will of Parliament; but he is an important factor at the meetings of the Executive. By conferring upon the Executive the power to make regulations, we would be taking the recognised powers of Parliament from the representatives of the people, and handing them back virtually to the King’s representative^ - a distinctly retrograde step along the path of freedom. Certainly I shall not permit such a step without strong protest. It amounts to an effort to revert to the bad old days from which parliamentary government has slowly developed. I do not accuse the Government of any deliberate intention of doing wrong; but I do blame them for thoughtlessness; they have apparently failed to recognise and realize the direction in which they are tending. They are virtually seeking to end responsible government, and to place the power of government in the hands of an executive authority in which the King’s representative plays a very large part. The Executive may not even comprise a majority of the Cabinet. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) is quite openly moving towards a dictatorship.
– Hear, hear! And you helped him !
– I ask honorable senators not to curtail the powers of Parliament by conferring upon the executive authority to issue regulations which may not meet with the approval of the people’s representatives in Parliament. Whenever an effort has been made to filch the rights of the people, that effort has not been made in the light of day, but by the slow undermining of principles upon which the liberties of the people have been based. In my opinion this measure is nothing more or less than an attempt to encroach upon the rights and liberties of the people, and I am endeavouring, with the highest possible motive, _ to bring the Senate to a sense of its responsibilities. I shall . oppose this measure at every stage.
– If the Government possess any reasons for introducing this Bill the Minister (Senator Russell) has failed to indicate’ them. If he had been able to relate any circumstances in which the powers nought to be conferred by_this Bill are likely to be required, now that the war is ended, my objections would not be so strong. Why should not the Government frankly make known their reasons? They propose to take to themselves unlimited and unknown powers - powers even more drastic than those conferred under the War Precautions Act. They are asking us to agree to regulations which may provide for the punishment of offences against those regulations by the imposition of certain penalties. If the offence is prosecuted summarily there may be a fine not exceeding £500, or imprisonment for any term not exceeding twelve .months - or both. And if the offence is prosecuted upon, indictment a fine of any amount may be imposed, or imprisonment may be inflicted for not more than seven years - or both. If the Government expect to be confronted with circumstances such as would justify the imposition of these penalties, why should they not give Parliament some indication of the character of those circumstances ? Why should we not be made aware of the serious possibilities? Why should the Government seek to clothe themselves with wide and drastic powers practically behind the backs of the people’s representatives? I am not prepared, to give the Government the powers for which they ask. I am prepared to consider any measure which the Government may bring forward clearly defining the powers they desire. In view of the use which the Government made of the powers given to them under the Crimes Act and the War Precautions Act, I doubt very much whether any Opposition will again consent to any Government in this country being given the plenary powers which the present Government possessed under the measures I have mentioned. This Bill, if passed into law, will vest in the Government powers of a very farreaching character. It will place in their hands the absolute control of all commerce, internal and external, in this country, without any reference to Parliament. Such a measure should not receive the support of honorable senators. Let the Government introduce a Bill defining exactly the powers they require,, and the Senate will give it favorable consideration, but I do not think that the powers asked for in this measure will be conceded to’ the Government by any honorable senator on this side of the Chamber.
– The Bill before us is probably the most far-reaching -piece of legislation ever submitted to .this Parliament. It is a blank cheque in the fullest sense of the term. So far as I can remember, no Statute previously passed by the Federal Parliament has ever been confined to merely authorizing the Government of the day to legislate by regulation. We have had many Bills dealing with different subjects which have contained provisions enabling the Government to effect their purpose by regulations. In all these Bills there has been a general provision to the effect that for the purpose of the Act and withinits scope the Government should have power to make regulations. These regulations were in all cases to be made for a defined and indicated purpose within, the four corners of each particular measure and within its scope. If the Government, in the supposed exercise of the power to legislate so conferred by this Parliament, went outside the indicated purpose or made regulations not consistent with the Act or beyond its scope, those regulations would inevitably be held to be ultra vires. Parliament, when it gives the Government power to legislate by regulation, invariably indicates the scope for the exercise of that legislative authority. That scope is broadly, fully, and in as much detail as possible indicated by the provisions of the particular Statute conferring the power.
I am aware that it is said that the legislative authority proposed to be conferred upon the Government of the day under this Bill is limited in its scope to the provisions of Part X., covering the economic clauses of the Treaty of Peace, to which reference is made in the measure. That may be so, but I wonder if any member of the Senate, or if the Acting Minister for Defence (Senator Russell) has contemplated the extent of Part X. of the Peace Treaty. Senator Gardiner, in addressing himself to the motion, has made a reference to some of its provisions, but even his references, though they might be considered extended, dealt only with matters of exports from Australia to Germany. Part X. of the Peace Treaty covers a very wide range of activities not merely in relation to export and import, but in relation to invention and the exercise of the ordinary faculties of mankind. If honorable senators will look at the table of contents in the document setting out the Treaty of Peace, they will find that Part X., covering the economic clauses of the Treaty, is divided into a number of sections. Section 1 deals with “ Commercial relations “, and is divided into -
Chapter I. Customs regulations, duties, and restrictions. (Art. 264-267).
I think it was only in regard to that that Senator Gardiner made any quotation. The section also covers the following chapters: -
Chapter II. Shipping (Art. 271-273).
Chapter III. Unfair competition (Art. 274 and 275).
Chapter IV: Treatment of nationals of Allied and Associated Powers (Art. 276 and 279).
Chapter V. General articles (Art. 2S0 and 281).
Then there come -
Section II. Treaties (Art. 2S2-295).
Section III. Debts (Art. 296).
The Minister made some slight reference to the matter of debts when moving the second reading of the Bill. He pointed out that it was proposed to establish something in the nature of clearinghouses as between the Allied Powers and Germany. As a matter of fact, there is a whole Annexe to the Treaty, covering more than a page or two, and in smaller print than the ordinary text of the Treaty dealing with the establishment and operation of these clearing-houses. “We have also -
Section IV. Property rights and interests.
Section V. Contracts, prescriptions, and judgments.
To that section there are three Annexes, each printed in smaller type than the ordinary text of the Treaty. There is an Annexe covering general provisions, another covering provisions relating to certain classes of contract, and a third covering special contracts of insurance. Then we come to section VI., “ Mixed Arbitral Tribunal.” The Minister referred to that section, to which there is another Annexe, in small type. Then there is section VII., dealing with “ Industrial Property,” upon which the Minister touched very lightly indeed. We all know that the rights of persons in different countries with regard to industrial property and the recognition of those rights in other countries is preserved by various conventions entered into between the great Powers before the war. We know that with regard to patents, trade marks, copyrights, and matters of such concern there are conventions existing between different European countries, and even countries outside Europe, such as Japan, are parties to these conventions. This subject alone is of enormous ambit, and, so faT as the possibilities of the future are concerned, it is absolutely unbounded. In it and connected with it are all the possibilities of invention, of enterprise, and of commercial ambition.
Upon all these subjects it is proposed to invest the Government of the day with full legislative power in a way in which power has never been conferred upon any Government before in .relation to any other matter. Then under Part X., covering the economic clauses of the Treaty, we have a further section VIII., dealing with “ Social and State insurance in ceded territory.” That may not concern us very much, but I have read enough in quoting the heads of the sections of Part X. to show the wide field of possibilities covered by that part of the Treaty of Peace. Over all that field - existing, future, present, and possible - we are to give to the Government permanently, if we pass this measure, unlimited authority to legislate by regulation. I, for one, am not going to do that. I have more than once objected to legislation by regulation, even when the Government of the day were tied down to legislate within the compass of the measure in which the provision enabling them to legislate by regulation was contained. To pass a Bill which authorizes any Government, I do not care what, to legislate by regulation over the illimitable field of possibilities disclosed by Part X. of the Peace Treaty to which this measure refers is something that I am not prepared to do.
Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 8 p.m.
– I ask honorable senators to reflect for a moment upon the present powers and responsibilities of this Parliament. Last week we dealt in this Chamber with a Bill relating to elections for the Senate. Let” us suppose that a Government came down to this branch of the Legislature and submitted for our consideration a Bill which read as follows : -
There is one feature of the Bill to which I take strong exception, namely, the inclusion of the word “ orders “ in clause 2. That clause provides that -
The Governor-General may make such regulations and orders, and do such things as appear to him to be necessary for carrying out and giving effect to the provisions of Part X. (economic clauses) of the said Treaty.
Now, if effect is to he given to the provisions of Part X. of the Peace Treaty by means of regulations, our Statute law requires a certain procedure to be followed. Under that law, the regulations have legal effect unless within fourteen days after they have been placed upon the table of both branches of the Legislature either House sees fit to annul them. But that does not apply to any “ Orders “ made by the Governor-General. Of recent years, it has been the practice to get the regulations made under our various Statutes put together in something like alphabetical form in annual volumes, so that any honorable senator may consult them. Indeed, if he chose to keep the copies which were sent to him periodically through the post, he would have on hand at any period of the year a complete record of these regulations. But what access have honorable senators to “Orders”? What access will the general public have to them? “Where does an “Order” of the Governor-General find publicity? In the columns of the Government Gazette. About twelve months ago, in a spasm of economy, the Government cut off our copies of the Gazette. I do not know how many members of the general public read that publication; but, quite recently, I came into contact with a man who claimed, whether rightly or wrongly, that he was not being dealt with legally, and in a constitutional way, by the Government. In endeavouring to advise his legal representatives on the matter, I was obliged to consider the possibility of the Government action finding justification under an “ Order “ issued in conformity with a particular Act. But I could not find any such “ Order “ ; and, as a matter of fact, I had to depend on the Department itself to inform me Whether any such “ Order “ was in existence. These “ Orders “ are not published in the books .^supplied to honorable senators containing the regulations framed under our Commonwealth Statutes. Nor are they published in the volumes of the Statutes themselves. They appear only in the Commonwealth Gazette, the circulation of which has recently been considerably curtailed. Therefore, I strongly object to giving the Government power to legislate y means of “ Orders.” There is too much privacy about it. I do not suggest that secrecy is sought for sinister purposes, but there is a very old legal maxim to the effect that everybody is supposed to know the law. When once an “ Order “ has been published, it has the force of law, and ignorance of its existence will afford no excuse for its infringement. Whatever may be the fate of the Bill, I do hope that if the Government are to be endowed with this power of legislation, it will be strictly limited to the framing of regulations, because this Chamber, and the other branch of the Legislature, have some jurisdiction in regard to them, although our power is of a purely negative character. At least we have power to annul regulations within a prescribed .period. Of course, when that time,has elapsed we are powerless. It is true that representations may be made to the Government, who may, if they choose, withdraw any objectionable regulation, and replace it by another regulation. In that respect, the course which we are now asked to follow possesses one advantage, in that it enables any matter to be dealt with expeditiously. But it has many disadvantages, one .of which has already been stressed by Senator Gardiner I hold, therefore, that we shall be committing an error if we consent to the passing of this Bill in this form.
During the course of his secondreading speech, the Vice-President of the Executive Council referred briefly to matters involving industrial, artistic, and literary rights. At various periods prior to the war, there have been Conventions, Conferences, and treaties be-‘ tween the different great Powers. To some of those Conventions, .Germany was a full contracting party. Take, for example, the subject of copyright. So far as international recognition is concerned, that was. governed by the provisions of aConvention held at Berne in 1886. That Convention was afterwards modified by the Additional Act of Paris of 1896. It was still more recently modified and brought up-to-date by a Conference held in Berlin in 1908. The arrangement made at these gatherings practically provides that each of the countries which is a party to the Convention, or to the Additional Act of Paris, or to the Berne Conference, agrees to recognise within its own borders certain rights which have been acquired outside those borders. Thus, if an Australian has obtained a copyright here, that copyright would avail him in Germany, Norway, Prance, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Japan, and other countries. Austria-Hungary had a separate arrangement. I suppose we all recognise that our recent foes are now out to capture their previous position in the world, and that consequently a great many interests are involved. Copyright is only one subject which may be said to affect certain limited classes in the community. But, even in relation to that subject, which affects only a limited class in the community, there will probably be such a clash of interests that, by means, of regulations, legislation will be rapidly enacted which will fail to recognise the rights and demands of important sections of citizens in Australia. On the other hand, if the subject be dealt with by Parliament in open debate, those who have claims to assert will be able to voice them through their representatives. But there are far larger subjects than that. There are matters which will interest a far larger number of our citizens than are interested in questions of copyright, patents, or trade marks. These are referred to in Part X. of the Peace Treaty, or in one of the annexes to that Treaty. The provisions of Part X. cover a vast field within which legislation* may be enacted; and I contend, therefore, that the Government are asking too much from us in this Bill.
I recognise the difficulties of this Parliament, and remember that it is quite possible that, in fulfilling the conditions of the Treaty of Peace, it may be necessary to approach some of these problems, and deal with and dispose of them before another Parliament meets next year. The only way I can see out of the difficulty is that the Government, in asking for these powers, should not, in a Bill of this character, seek them for an indefinite time. They should ask to be empowered to act in this way for, say, twelve months, or until the end of October or December of next year. Under such circumstances, anything that arose could be dealt with in this way before the Act expired, and the new Parliament could then, if necessary, re-enact this or a similar Bill for a longer period. Perhaps, as the result of experience in the interim, the Government would disclose to Parliament the concrete matters required to be dealt with,, and ask for the legislative authority that they desired to enable’ them to deal with those concrete problems.
– How can we deal with the copyright question?
– It was dealt with by other countries before the war.
– The Sentimental Bloke is being printed in America to-day without the payment of royalty.
– For the simple reason that the United States of America and Russia are the only two countries of importance that are not parties to the Convention I have referred to. The United States of America and Russia have deliberately kept out of- it. But the countries I previously mentioned, as well as others, are parties to the Convention. Honorable senators know my views upon this subject, particularly in regard to the attitude of the United States of America. . For some considerable time Australians have been asking the Commonwealth Government to make representations to the authorities in the United States of America to prevent the pirating in ‘that country of the works of Australian writers, authors, publishers, and others. “What has been done? President Wilson has been at the capital of the British Empire, and representations have been made from here - I understand through the Prime Minister, while he was in Great Britain - to the British Government. What have our Government been able to do in that regard? A great deal more has been mutually done between the countries which are parties to the Convention by legislative authority than by acts of administration. It is, perhaps, too late for this Parliament to introduce a measure other than in skeleton form.
– Does the honorable senator contend that the measure is much too general in its powers?
– Yes, it is. By passing this Bill, we are again giving evidence of what seems to me the fact that Parliament is gradually abdicating its responsibilities and shirking its duties. We are delegating our power to the GovernorGeneral in Council. It is an abdication of responsibilities, and it is only paralleled by the tendency, which I referred to this afternoon, to drift into commission government instead of government by Parliament. Parliament is taking a back seat, and Commissions and Cabinet, by means of regulations, are fulfilling the duties that should be performed by Parliament. As a member of this Parliament, I view with apprehension this tendency. It is not my intention to support the Bill unless the Minister will give his assurance that he will insert in it a provision to terminate its powers at a reasonably early date, say, at the end of next year. If anything should arise after Parliament is dissolved, the Government could deal with it under an Act giving them limited power. This measure should not be of a permanent character when it deals with questions of such great importance. In the exercise of power during a limited period, circumstances may be revealed which could be guarded against. Part X. is an important part of the Treaty.
– Would the honorable senator favour orders terminating at the same time?
– They should have to. We would be justified in giving the Government limited power, and they could come down next year and say that they required the Peace Treaty Act of 1919, which was about to expire, to be extended for another period. If necessary, it could also be urged that it be extended in relation to certain specific matters mentioned in it, which experience had shown should be dealt with and disposed of at the earliest possible moment. I admit that the Government, to a certain extent, are working in the dark, and they do not know what matters are likely to assume concrete form. Something like twelve months’ experience in the work of reconstruction may give them the opportunity of indicating to Parliament what particular matters need to be dealt with.
Senator PRATTEN (New South and innocuous Bill is one of the many evidences we have of how changed conditions are becoming as the result of the war. We realize how much more complicated and complex the duties of Parliament and of Cabinet are now when compared with the halcyon days of peace of long ago. This is a another indication that Australia has an enlarged interest in the world and its affairs, and, as a result, we are called upon to discuss an apparently simple Bill, but the ramifications of which are numerous and varied in character. I listened very attentively to the remarks of Senator Gardiner and of Senator Keating. I am not in agreement with the attitude they adopted in criticising this Bill and referring to it as a means of delegating the responsibilities of Parliament to government by regulation. In the Peace Treaty, Part X., we have seventeen pages of closely printed matter relating to all sorts of things in connexion with the trade of Germany. I draw the attention of honorable senators to the fact that this is not a Bill for establishing relationships in connexion with international copyrights, patent laws, or trade, but exclusively for the purpose of regulating our connexion or communication with our late enemy - Germany.
– I said with our recent foes.
– It is for regulating administration .
– Yes; and it seems to me that in the seventeen closely-printed pages, we are dealing, as Senator Keating pointed out, with hundreds of individual things. This is to be done when trade relations have not been officially Tesumed, when the Peace Treaty has not even been ratified, and it is a problem likely to tax the wits of any Government which endeavour to include in the four corners of any Act of Parliament the clauses embodied in the Treaty.
– Was that not decided at Versailles on the 20th June?
– I thank the honorable senator for his interjection, because the argument has been raised here that this Bill is in skeleton form, and is only to give power to the Government to make regulations, and it ought to be an Act under which regulations could be framed. What is it for? Specifically, the Bill lays down that the
Government of the Commonwealth shall have power to do all such things as are necessaryand expedient. What for? For giving effect to the Treaty on the part of the Commonwealth. The Treaty, as it has been stated, was signed by our representatives at Versailles, and has been ratified by this Parliament. Further, it could be argued that Part X. of the Treaty, containing the whole of the economic clauses, is practically the Act of Parliament under which we are asked to give the Government power to make regulations. They only seek the power to make regulations for giving effect to the Treaty. They only have the power under ordinary Acts of Parliament for giving effect to regulations framed under such Acts. Therefore, as I see the position, the power of the Government would be confined to the four corners of Part X. of the Treaty, which comprises the economic clauses of the Treaty signed at Versailles. Beyond that the Government cannot go. I think honorable senators will admit that I have taken as firm a stand as others in support of government by Parliament as against government by administration or regulation. I know that trade licences often mean favoritism, and that the restrictions placed upon trade and commerce of this country in consequence of the war have given almost uniform dissatisfaction. Seeing that the Peace Treaty has not yet been proclaimed, that the War Precautions Act will not expire until three months after it has been proclaimed, and that we are on the eve of a dissolution of Parliament, I think this Chamber can well pass the Bill. No one can. anticipate what will be required under the terms of the Treaty until the position develops. What do we find in England to-day ? The lifting of the blockade has given British commerce practically -a free hand. I take it that the Government of Australia - whatever Government may be in power - will be guided very largely by what is taking place in connexion with similar matters in the Old World. There are veiy few restrictions in England to-day in regard to German trade, excepting; in relation to transactions that do not involve the payment of money arising out of pre-war transactions, delivering or dealing with property held in the country for persons in Germany since the outbreak of the war, and the transfer of securities by or on behalf of persons in Ger many, and other similar provisions’. These economic clauses, as pointed out by Senator Keating, cover an immensity of ground. What honorable senator here tonight, including Senator Keating, is able to tell us what is likely to crop up in Australia within the next twelve months in connexion with enemy patents? What honorable senator can tell us what will be the ultimate balance as between the amount of money owing by Germany to Australian subjects, and the amount owing by Australians to German subjects ? It is beyond the wit of man to prophesy, and therefore, it is impossible to draft a Bill that would provide for all the circumstances. In my opinion, the Government have done the only thing they could do, namely, to arm themselves with power to deal with any situation that might arise. E realize, and I believe honorable senators will realize also, the many obligations that must be provided for until every matter is cleaned up as between us and our late enemies. I shall not, with any degree of pleasure, vote for the Bill giving further power to the bureaucracy in Melbourne; but I cannot see any other way in which the situation can be met. Honorable senators who have criticised the Bill have not offered any alternative suggestion, except in the case of Senator Keating, who made what I think was a very excellent proposal, namely, that there should be some time limit for the operation of the Bill, so that, during its administration, the Government may, as a result of experience, be able to provide legislation to cover -the various matters that may crop up. The Bill has been introduced for the purpose of arming the Government with power to make regulations dealing with the subjects specifically referred to in Part X. of the Peace Treaty, dealing only with our late enemy and their trade marks, commerce, assets, liabilities, and so forth. I cannot see how it is possible, at this stage, to provide for all the possibilities, and, therefore, I shall support the Bill; but I would like the Minister to take into consideration the suggestion made by Senator Keating to limit the operation of’ the Act, so that we may revert to parliamentary authority as soon as possible.
– Part X. of the Peace Treaty which is specifically referred to by this Bill, and which the Bill is designed to deal with, seems to me to constitute a series of obligations on the part of Germany. I have counted the phrase “ Germany undertakes,” or similar phrases, “ Germany agrees,” and “ Germany contracts,” about twelve or thirteen times in Part X. It deals almost solely with obligations imposed upon Germany or accepted by our late enemy, and anything that we may be called upon to do in connexion with this part of the Treaty will simply be sequential upon Germany’s obligations or undertakings. That being so, and recognising that our jurisdiction, so far as it relates to punishment, exists only in connexion with our own people, I should like some further explanation from the Minister. Clause 2 provides -
The Governor-General may make such regulations and orders, and do such things, as appear to him to be necessary for carrying out and giving effect to the provisions of Part X.
That means that the Governor-General may make regulations giving effect to the provisions of that part of the Treaty that affects us only in a sequential -way respecting German obligations. The Bill further states that the regulations may provide for the punishment of offences by the imposition of certain penalties. That is to say, if an offence is prosecuted summarily, by a fine not exceeding £500, or imprisonment for any term not exceeding twelve months, or both; and if an offence is prosecuted upon indictment, there may be a fine of any amount, or imprisonment for any term up to seven years.
– If the honorable senator looks at page 63 of the Treaty, paragraph 3 and the annexe, he will find that those penalties are part of the contract.
– Paragraph 3 of the annexe states -
The high contracting parties will subject contraventions of paragraph (a) of Article 296 to the same penalties as are at present provided by their legislation for trading with the enemy.
Where is the penalty specified?
– They are the penalties specified in connexion with trading with the enemy.
– Then there should be specific mention of any offences to which these penalties apply. The reference is very much too vague and shadowy.
We should, I think, indicate any offences which, if prosecuted upon indictment, may involve imprisonment for a period of seven years, because that penalty should be imposed only for very serious offences. I certainly think that the offences should be set out specifically. It is a serious thing for this Parliament to give to the Government the right by regulation to say what constitutes an offence that might mean the deprivation for seven years of liberty toone of our citizens I should like to know if it is only anticipated that offences like that of trading with the enemy are to be dealt with.
– As part of the contract we pledge ourselves to impose those penalties that would have been imposed on persons convicted of trading with the enemy.
– What kind of offence is it anticipated an Australian subject will commit in contravention of the economic clauses of the Treaty, which deals almost solely with the obligations of Germany to the other signatories of the Treaty?
– An Australian subject owing money to Germany might attempt to pay direct instead of through a clearing-house.
– That, practically, would be an offence known as trading with the enemy. I repeat that all such offences should be specifically set out in the Bill. It is unwise to allow any Government to say by regulation what constitutes an offence, and also provide the punishment.
– We may have an unnaturalized German posing as a Britisher, and endeavouring to transfer property.
– That proves my argument that for such drastic penalties the offences should be enumerated in the Bill. The measure to my mind is altogether too vague and comprehensive.
– I think it is the miost definite document that I have ever read.
– What does “ a fine of any amount” mean?
– That will be fixed at the discretion of a Judge.
– That is very indefinite.
– I do not like the measure at all, and, while I understand that it is a machinery Bill to carry out the provisions of the Peace Treaty, it surely was not necessary to leave everything in such a vague condition. I do not think I can vote for the Bill in its present form.
– The people of Australia are indebted to Senator Gardiner for his criticism of the Bill, which was placed in our hands only a few moments before we were asked to consider it. The haste with which the measure has been proceeded with is only another illustration of the absurd manner in which members of this Chamber are expected to legislate in the closing hours of the session. Any one listening to the Minister’s explanation of the Bill would have been persuaded that it was an innocuous measure.
– It is strange, then, that I was complimented by your leader for my candour in pointing to its dangers.
– I am confident my leader would have been more satisfied if the Minister had explained what was likely to happen with the measure in operation. It remained for Senator GaTdiner to enlighten the Senate on that point. Senator Keating also pointed to many of the dangers that are likely to arise if such enormous power as is asked for under this Bill is given to the Government. I suppose the Minister, in his reply, will say that it is absolutely necessary for the Government to have this power in order to give effect to the Treaty of Peace. There would not be so much objection to that proposition if there were a likelihood of Parliament meeting for the transaction of business during the next five or six months. If this Bill becomes law, however, the Government will have been given power to legislate by regulation and by order upon any matter arising from the Treaty. When we examine Part X. of the Treaty we notice its enormous scope. The document itself is concerned, from page 57 to page 74, with ‘ the subject-matter of Part X. This Bill is small in volume, but enormous in the extent of power which it seeks to impose upon the Government. The serious factor is that the Government will have a free hand to legislate by regulation during the months in which Parliament will not be sitting. There will be an absolutely free hand. The Govern ment will not be in danger of having their regulations disallowed. We have been given to understand that Supply is to be sought this week to enable the Government to carry on until the middle of next year. While .-the new Parliament may assemble in January or February next for the conduct of a little formal business, it may not be called together for the serious duties of legislation until the middle of 1920. Meanwhile the Government will have been given entire freedom to issue as many and as varied regulations - within the scope of Part X. - as they may wish. There will be no danger of disallowance. This year the doors of Parliament were closed for six or seven months; Actually the Federal Legislature has been in businesslike session only since the return of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). During the whole of the early months of this year Australia was governed by regulations. It may be necessary that the Government should exercise the right of regulation in regard to this Treaty. It may be requisite for the Government to be able to exercise independent power to carry out the terms of the Treaty of Peace. But the responsibility rests with the Government to indicate just what powers they may require and why they are likely to need them.
– There should be a schedule of offences attached to the Bill.
– Reference has been made to the manner in which the Government have used their powers to the detriment of many citizens of Australia under the War Precautions Act. ‘The public have seen how far the Government can exceed the intentions of Parliament, after having been clothed with authority such as the War Precautions Act conferred upon them. In the light of that experience the people of Australia will not be anxious once more to place in the hands of the Government such wide and drastic powers. “ Give us a blank cheque,” said the Government. We did so, when we agreed to the War Precautions Act. I supported that measure because I realized that when the country was at war the Government required extensive .powers. But those powers were intended to operate only so long as the country remained at war. In this measure we are asked to confer upon the Go- vernment powers whose scope we have scarcely begun to realize. “We have not yet grasped the enormous possibilities of this measure, small and seemingly innocent as it is. I intend to oppose the second reading. Upon the Government rests the responsibility for setting out the position clearly. It is not for them to say again, “ Give us another blank cheque.”
– .Senator O’Keefe has referred to the War Precautions Act. Had that measure not been passed its critics would have been hard put to it to find a useful political bugbear. The opponents of the War Precautions Act are those .very people who would not be prepared to concede the liberty to express even the mildest thoughts if they did not conform to their own beliefs. We have heard a lot of hot-air about the severity of the War Precautions Regulations; but the very party which has been thundering against them comprises those people who would not allow any of their adherents to express an independent thought. They ave the people who have clamoured for freedom of speech, and who have come down with remorseless severity upon those of their adherents who have dared to express opinions contrary to their own. If any measure among those introduced for a long time back has justified the terms in which it was framed, it is this Bill. Senator Keating has criticised it on the ground that it involves the over-riding of parliamentary powers. I remind the honorable senator that the Government of which he was a member indulged time after time in the very sort of thing he is now condemning; I refer to the practice of devolving the powers of Parliament upon the Government. Every Administration has reverted to government by regulation; it is nothing new. This measure, does not propose to give the Government the right to proceed outside the scope of the Peace Treaty. If it had to do with any common aspect of the welfare of the people, upon which there might be two opinions, it would be a different matter altogether. But the Peace Treaty has been signed by the associated Powers on the one hand, and by Germany on the other. The Articles of that Treaty must be honoured. This Bill proposes to provide powers in order that the Government may carry out their responsibilities ; and, if the Articles of the Peace Treaty are not abided by there will be reference to a Court of appeal. What will be that Court of appeal ? The only Court in which an appeal can be lodged, in the case of the Government of this . country failing to render a just exposition of the Articles of the Treaty of Peace, is the League of Nations. So that there is no option for this Parliament or any contracting party to the Treaty of Peace to do otherwise than carry out its terms to the letter.
– That is no reason why the Government should not specify offences in this Bill.
– The honorable senator and others who are opposing the Bill sail all round the point. Let me come to it.
– The honorable) senator is the only man who ever gets to the point.
– I can go straight to a point. I do not circumnavigate it as Senator O’Keefe does. Here we have the Peace Treaty signed by the chosen representatives of the Allied Powers on the one hand and “by the representatives of Germany on the other.
– And accepted by the Senate.
– And accepted by resolution of the Senate. The Government have introduced a Bill to enable us to execute the agreement we have made in the Treaty of Peace, and the only alternative we have is to repudiate it. There is no middle course between repudiation of the Peace Treaty and the passage of this Bill. The only distinction is a finnicking one raised by Senators Keating and Gardiner that Parliament should do what is needed, and should not delegate its power to the Government.
– Hear, hear!
– If Senator Gardiner could point out any middle course that could be taken I could understand his “ Hear, hear.” If we depart a hair’s breadth from the terms of the Treaty of Peace we shall expose ourselves to a charge of repudiation.
– No one is talking about repudiating the Peace Treaty.
– If we were being asked to give these powers to the Government to carry on the ordinary affairs of the country the position would be entirely different. Germany is a party to the Treaty, and so may Austria be, and if we deviate a hair’s breadth from giving effect to the terms of the Treaty it matters not whether that is done by the Government or by Parliament.
– It does matter.
– There can be no two opinions upon the matter. Having approved the ratification of the Treaty, its terms must be carried into effect, and the only one way in which that can be done is in accordance with those terms. It matters not whether the Government, as the mouthpiece of Parliament, does this, or whether it is done by Parliament itself. This Parliament, the British Parliament, the Chamber of Deputies in Prance, and the Congress of the United States of America have no option in this matter but to execute the terms of the Treaty of Peace to the letter. I do not know what people are sent to school for if they canhot understand what is written in - plain English. Here we have a provision in plain English which reads -
The Governor-General may make such, regulations and orders, and do such things as appear to him to be necessary for carrying out and giving effect to the provisions of Part X. (Economic clauses) of the said Treaty.
It matters not whether the Government, as the mouthpiece of Parliament, or Parliament itself, takes action under that provision, we have no option but to give effect exactly to the terms of the Treaty. I do not want to waste further time upon a matter which should not be beyond the intelligence of a school girl.
With respect to regulations, let me say that they are only a convenient means of saving the time of Parliament. The give the Government an opportunity to interpret the intention of Parliament and !by lessening its work to expedite the business of the country. When regulations under this Bill are brought down Senators Gardiner and Keating can table a motion that they should he disallowed, but I point out that they can do so only on the ground that they contravene the terms of the Peace Treaty, and in that case Germany will be in a position to appeal to the League of Nations.
– The honorable senator knows very well that we did not consider the Peace Treaty in detail.
– The Peace Treaty does not embody a peace by negotiation in accordance with the programme of the party to which Senator Gardiner belongs.We are dealing with a Peace Treaty which was won, first of all, by the armed might of the Allied Powers, ana in connexion with which there was negotiation afterwards. I am pointing out that thi? Parliament has the unchallengeable right to veto any regulations passed under an Act of Parliament.
– There can be no legislation until next July, because some members of the Senate will be def eated, and will not be able to take their seats.
– The honorable senator may be an authority on political questions, but he is a bit “ rocky “ on constitutional points. So far as its legislative powers are concerned, it is difficult to fix the bounds within which they may be exercised by this Parliament.
– Surely if the Western Australian people say that they do not want the honorable senator he will not have the “ front “ to come here and carry on legislation.
– Let me deal with the suggested wickedness of this Parliament delegating its authority to the Government in the way proposed in this Bill. This Parliament can disallow any regulation under the Bill which is not Li conformity with the terms of the Peace Treaty. It would have no option to do otherwise, or it would be charged before the world with not keeping its pledged word. Our Standing Orders specially provide that Parliament shall be supreme in all these matters. If Senator Gardiner sees that a regulation such as that which is the phantom of his mind, has been passed in pursuance of the powers conferred on the Government by this Bill, the first thing he will do - and I hope he will do it - will be to table a. motion here, and by force of the argument which he is able to bring to bear on every subject he tackles, he will induce this Parliament to disallow it, and the Government will then occupy a most ignominious position. What more does the honorable senator want?
– If that happened after Parliament were called together, the honorable senator might be defeated for Western Australia and yet might come here to prevent the will of the elected members of the Senate from being given effect.
– Senator Gardiner puts half-a-dozen “ if s “ into his arguments, and so the possibilities are very hard to conjecture. Some Parliament will be here, and whether Senator Gardiner and I are here or not will not matter. There may be better men than either of us here. If Senators Gardiner and Keating are here they will be in a position to challenge the right of the Government to pass regulations which will not carry out the intentions of this Parliament. Our Standing Orders provide for this matter. Standing order 119 reads -
A motion disallowing a regulation shall take precedence of Government and private business.
Everything must give way to such a motion. Government business must stand aside if one member of the Senate thinks that a regulation passed by the Government in accordance with the provisions of this measure does not carry out the intention of the majority in this Parliament. Of what use has been all the talk that has been indulged in this afternoon about this Bill ? I again repeatthat we have no option but to carry into effect the terms of the Treaty of Peace which the representatives of ‘this country have signed in our name. If we do not do so we shall repudiate the bargain made with Germany, and Germany will have its court of appeal in the League of Nations. This BUI merely provides handymachinery for carrying into effect the terms of the Peace Treaty.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [9.10]. - No doubt powers are necessary to deal with the economic clauses of the Peace Treaty; but I do not think that the Minister has satisfied honorable senators that the Government have not the power already to deal with trade matters, including those embraced by Part X. of the Treaty of Peace. We have not all the same confidence and child-like belief in the Government that the last speaker has. Prom our experience of .their abuse during the last few years of Executive powers given to them, we are not prepared to intrust them with additional powers without the proper supervision of Parliament.
– Does the- honorable senator not realize that an abuse of. this power would be an abrogation of the Peace Treaty?
– Senator Lynch referred to the power of Parliament to veto regulations, but his Bill would enable the Government to pass orders, and I should like Senator Lynch to show me that Parliament has any power to deal with Orders in Council made ‘ by any Government. Senator Keating pointed out that difficulty, and it has not so far been met. Orders in Council are not laid before Parliament, but merely published in the Commonwealth Gazette. The Bill gives the Government certain powers to deal with trade relations with Germany. So far as trade with Germany is concerned, the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has emphatically told us that he will be no party to trading with Germany at all. Possibly, one of the regulations which, will be passed if the Prime Minister stands to his word, as he very seldom does, will be one to prohibit trading with Germany altogether, and that can be passed without the consent of Parliament. I hope that Senator Lynch can see the force of that point. As I am satisfied that the Government have sufficient powers already to deal ‘ with matters of trade and commerce, including those referred to in the Peace Treaty with Germany, I am not prepared to support Ellis Bill. T think there was a great deal in the point raised by Senator Keating, that it is not necessary to make this a permanent enactment, and its operation should be limited to a definite period. I hope that the Minister will be prepared to agree to the insertion of a proviso to the effect that the powers which may be exercised under this Bill shall cease to operate on the 31st October next.
– It does not appear to me that there is a very great difference between the attitude taken up by Senator Keating on this Bill and that assumed by Senator Lynch. As a matter of fact, in nearly every Bill power is given to the Government to make regulations, and we know that those regulations must be submitted to Parliament. I think that the Senate is indebted to Senator Keating, and, to a great extent, to Senator Gardiner, for pointing out the serious nature of the powers we are asked to confer upon the Government under this Bill-. We are asked to permit them to pass regulations under which a person may be fined an- unlimited amount or be imprisoned for seven years. All that Senator Keating proposes is that a limit shall be placed upon the operation of this Bill. On the one hand, we know that such a measure must be dealt with here and now-
– In our domestic legislation we have already abolished imprisonment for debt. Yet in this Bill it is proposed to imprison a man for seven years for an offence of that description.
– What harm can result from limiting the operation of the Bill to a prescribed period, I cannot understand. Of course, I do not believe that it would be fair to limit its operation to one year.
– Why not? If it were found necessary to do so, we could re-enact the measure next year.
– But a political crisis might arise, or many other things might happen to prevent us re-enacting it. It would be fair to provide that the Bill shall continue in force for a period of two years. At the end of that time it can be reviewed in the light of the experience which we shall have gained.
– This debate seems to have developed into a wail that Parliament has lost its control over legislation.
– There has been a growing tendency for the Government to legislate by means of regulations.
– There has been a growing tendency in that direction, but I do not know that many unnecessary regulations were promulgated during the war. Those regulations were subjected to a good deal of criticism; but I never found anybody who was able to get right home in his condemnation of any particular regulation. We all know that during the war life was much more complex from all view-points than it is during a time of peace. The Government were, therefore, asked to accept responsibility for governing Australia under extremely difficult conditions. I have a strong objection to war regulations - just as strong an objection as I have to war; but Australia had to bow to inevitable conditions.
I never think of war without feeling inclined to curse those who were responsible for creating it. But we had to accept the conditions with which we were faced. There was not a fraction of the people of this country who desired war, though, when once it had been thrust upon them, they behaved as well as did the people of any other part of the world. In reply to the wail that Parliament has lost its control over legislation, let me point out that this Parliament is elected upon the votes of the people, and its members can, therefore, lose no power which they themselves are not prepared to sacrifice. If they have allowed their powers to slip from them, and to be appropriated by Ministers, the responsibility belongs to themselves alone.
– How can we prevent that evil, seeing that Parliament is in recess for six months at a time?
– If the honorable senator has a majority of the electors behind him, he will have the control of Parliament. The measure which we are now considering is not an Act of Parliament, though, from .one stand-point, it is on a higher plane, because it relates to an agreement to which we subscribed when we attached our signature to the Peace Treaty. A comparison has been instituted between the War Precautions Act and this Bill. Under the War Precautions Act the Government possessed power -to legislate in regard to any matter upon which they deemed it necessary to legislate for the successful prosecution of the war. Upon that point the High Court decided that the collective opinion of the Executive of the day determined the limits of our constitutional powers during a period of war. The Government, therefore, had power to initiate legislation of any description, provided that the Executive determined that the powers contained in that legislation were necessary for the prosecution of the war. But this Bill will not confer upon us unlimited powers in that respect. It will not have the force of law.
– The regulations made under it will have the force of law.
– We have no power to alter Part X. of the Peace Treaty. All that honorable senators are now asked to do is to permit the Government to create machinery for the purpose of administering the provisions of Part X. of that Treaty. If they are not prepared to clothe Ministers with that power, it would have ‘been more honorable for them to have rejected the Treaty. We cannot, by any regulation which may hereafter be framed, add a single dot or a solitary cross to the Peace Treaty, which is binding upon us. It has been said that the power sought in this Bill has never been previously claimed by any Government. May I point out that the measure is an exact copy of the British Act. There are about four provisions in Part X. of the Peace Treaty which affect us. But that Treaty embodies at least 26 clauses dealing with various matters and covering a very wide range. Our powers in this connexion will be limited to dealing with enemy countries. If the Government cannot be trusted to deal effectively with our late enemies, we have reached a very bad state in Australia. During the progress of the war, Ministers were never accused of a desire to pander to our enemies, and we are not likely to pander to them now. I am hopeful that the League of Nations will prove a success. If it is not a practical machine at the present moment, it is certainly the greatest hope the world has ever had. I trust that the time has arrived when the nations recognise that it is necessary for them to consider the need for living in peace and harmony with each other. It is quite possible that if a triumphant Democracy be established in Germany, where I believe the people are on the high road to success, that power may be admitted to the League of Nations much earlier than most of us anticipate. But until Germany shows that she has abandoned her militaristic ideas, we need to be particularly careful in a young country like Australia. I admit that the conditions which obtain in Britain are very different from those which prevail in Australia. This is a producing country, whereas it is the ambition of England to become the commercial and trading centre of the world. If we attempted to live upon commerce, half our population would starve. We must delve and produce, and, consequently, our viewpoint must be different from that of the people in the Old Country. In this Bill we merely ask for authority, not to initiate law-
– Many of the clauses of the Bill will confer a very wide discretion upon the Government.
– I suppose that almost anything may be abused. My point is that, under this Bill, we cannot make regulations in the way that we did under the War Precautions Act. So far, the attempt to deal with the matters embodied in Part X. of the Peace Treaty by means of legislation has baffled the wit of man. There is nobody who can, within a reasonable period, deal legislatively with the future.
– That is where the advantage of regulations is to be found.
– Quite so. If the Government were introducing some new principle in this Bill, we might reasonably be asked to limit its operation with a view to seeing how it worked. But under the agreement into which we have entered, we are compelled, within three months, to establish a clearing-house to facilitate adjustments being made between Germany and Australia. This Bill will merely give us the power to frame regulations to enable us to administer the provisions of Part X. of the Peace Treaty.
– Look at section 4 of that portion of the Treaty which relates to “ properties, rights and interests.”
– Exactly. But who can anticipate, by legislation, the situation which will arise to-morrow or twelve months hence?
– Offences could be specified clearly.
– Anything that is a contravention of the Treaty is an offence. The payment of debts by an individual otherwise than through the clearing house will constitute an offence. If we allow people to deal with Germany direct in regard to debts, the whole clearing-house system will go to the wall.
– We have abolished imprisonment for debt, and yet under this Bill we provide a penalty of seven years’ imprisonment for it.
– When once we recognise that collective action must be taken in this regard, we must admit that the individual who acts upon his own initiative is guilty of a criminal offence. There can be no payment of debts, nor any communications in regard thereto, other than through the clearing house. Such transactions must collectively go through a clearing house established by the Government. If a person endeavour to evade his responsibility, he shall be guilty of an offence, and the offences are indicated in the Treaty. It is impossible to state all the offences until the regulations have been made, but these regulations will merely enable us to carry out the rules laid down in the Treaty. Therefore, any offence will be an attempt to commit an act inconsistent with the provisions of the Treaty, and Parliament has indorsed that Treaty. In common with other honorable senators, I favoured the War Precautions Act, and, although probably errors were committed under it, and there may have been an abuse of power, it must be remembered that it enabled commercial men during the war period to conduct their businesses on satisfactory lines. In times of peace, I am not prepared to give to any Ministry power to carry on legislation, and if I thought that this Bill were framed for that purpose, I would not ask the Senate to support it. But it is merely to give the Government power to create administrative machinery, and nothing more. I ask honorable senators who supported the Treaty to loyally stand by this measure, and allow its provisions to be put into operation to enable the Government to determine what shall be done in regard to our trade with Germany.
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
The Governor-General may make such regulations and orders and do such things as ap pear to him to be necessary for carrying out and giving effect to the provisions of Part X. (Economic Clauses) of tie said Treaty.
– I move -
That the words “ and orders,” line 2, be left out.
I am moving in this direction because I strongly object to legislation by orders. Whatever arguments may be adduced, against legislation by regulation may , be multiplied a hundredfold against legislation by orders. In regard to legislation by regulation, our Statutes require certain conditions to be fulfilled. Early experience in the Commonwealth Parliament revealed that the conditions then existing were unsatisfactory, and it was provided that the regulations passed by the Governor-General in Council, and in pursuance of any Act should be tabled in Parliament within fourteen or fifteen days of being passed. Within a like period it was open for either House of Parliament by a simple majority to annul any obnoxious regulations. When orders, however, become the law of the land, they are unchallengeable and unalterable by Parliament. Regulations are recorded in a volume of regulations, issued annually, and are available to members of Parliament and to others who” may be interested in them. But that is not the position in regard to Orders in Council, as they need not be tabled in Parliament. Orders of the Governor-General in Council cannot be annulled by Parliament, and are not recorded in volumes issued by the Commonwealth. Such orders receive publicity only through that very interesting and engrossing weekly production, the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette.
– Are such orders numerous, and are they issued frequently ?
– It is very hard to say. I referred this evening to the case of a gentleman whom I was advising, and it was necessary for me to ascertain whether there were any orders in existence that were likely to affect his case? I had to depend upon the officers of the Department to inform me, and I could only consult a copy of a book that is kept by the Department for its information. Those of us who used to peruse with a great deal of interest the columns of the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette have .been deprived of that pleasure for over twelve months. I think it is desirable ito omit the words “and orders,” because if the Government have power to legislate by regulation, that should be sufficient. The Senate and the other Chamber have the authority to annul objectionable regulations when they are brought under our notice. I ask the Minister to consent to the elimination of the words I have mentioned.
– I repeat that there is no justification whatever for the clause. The Government are not so pressed for time or so short of expert assistance that they cannot bring down a Bill containing the proposals which they desire to give effect to. Orders passed by the GovernorGeneral in Council will have as much effect as a Bill passed by both Houses of Parliament. And what is Parliament for except legislation? Parliament should not be allowed to go into recess for an indefinite period and allow the Government to control the affairs of the country. For reasons best known to themselves, but, no doubt, as they say, in the interests of economy, they have cut off the supply of the Commonwealth Gazette from members of this Parliament, so that the publicity which Orders in Council receive per medium of that publication is considerably reduced. I intend to oppose the Bill at every stage, and I think this particular clause is one of its most objectionable features.
– Is it necessary again to remind honorable senators that this Chamber has no option whatever in regard to this matter. The Peace Treaty has been made between the associated Powers on the one hand, and Germany on the other; and peace treaties to follow will be dealt with by this Parliament. As mentioned by the Minister, we are simply seeking by this Bill to create the machinery necessary to give effect to the provision of the Treaty agreed upon. No more, and no less. It must be remembered, also, that we are dealing with a matter that is vastly different from any other subject that has ever come before this Parliament. The Peace Treaty governs our actions, as does the Consti tution in regard to the laws that may be enacted under it. “Unless we want to go outside the terms of the Peace Treaty, “it is all the same whether the Government give effect to the Treaty by Orders in Council or by regulation, for. the sole reason that we have no choice in. the matter. Of course, if honorable senators choose to’ believe that the Government will make regulations, or orders prejudicial to the best interests of this country, they are welcome to that view. I do not think any Government would do that. The terms of the Peace Treaty have to be obeyed. They have been passed by this Parliament, and unless we are to be guilty of repudiation, it does not matter whether we proceed by this road or that road, 60 long as the terms of the Peace Treaty are properly executed by the governing power of this country. I hope no more time will be wasted. It is just as well that we should proceed with this business, and be satisfied that we have no choice in the matter.
– I agree with Senator Lynch that it is a waste of time, after he has stated his views, for any other senator to offer any criticism of the measure. For years he sheltered himself, behind the fact that we were at war, and affirmed that everything done by the present ‘ Government during that period was in the nation’s welfare. Now he is using the Peace Treaty as a justification for granting these extraordinary powers to the Government. I think the amend ment should be adopted, and the words “or orders” struck out, because I am under the impression - the Minister will correct me if I am wrong - that there is a great deal of difference between an Order in Council and a regulation made under any Act. An order is not laid on the table of the Senate, whereas a regulation must be tabled, and if Parliament is sitting, it may be disallowed by a vote of either branch of the Legislature.
– That is so.
– There is a vast difference between regulations that may be made under this Bill and regulations under other Acts. This Parliament did not consider the Peace Treaty. It considered a resolution ratifying the Treaty which had been drawn up by representa- tives of the nations gathered together merely for the purpose -
– Merely !
– Yes. I use the term advisedly. I say it was agreed to by the representatives of nations gathered together merely for the purpose of drafting a measure that would conciliate the conflicting interests of the various countries then at war. In that momentous document concessions were made by all sections, so we should not now be asked to agree to a clause empowering the Government to make regulations or orders concerning matters in which Parliament has had no say. I ask the Minister to favorably consider the amendment moved by Senator Keating. I am not very keen about the limitation of time, because that is merely an expedient to whitewash our consciences. If a thing is bad, it is bad. I believe the Bill to be bad, and therefore I voted against the second reading, and, likewise, I shall vote against this clause. I intend to vote for the amendment, because I think it an improvement, but if the amendment fails, I shall oppose the clause itself. The making of orders by His Majesty’s representative, sitting as Chairman of the Executive Council, was never thought of by those who understood our parliamentary institutions. It may have been thought of with regard to an executive Government doing some executive act by regulation, but such executive acts will be in the nature of legislation. I do not know that Parliament has any control over orders.
– I do not think Parment has any control over orders.
– I thank Senator Keating for his confirmation of my opinion’.
– I -will accept the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Question - That the clause, as amended, be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the afnrinative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 3 -
The regulations may provide for the punishment of offences against the regulations, by the impositions of the following penalties: -
If the offence is prosecuted summarily - a fine not exceeding Five hundred pounds or imprisonment for any term not exceeding twelve months, or both;
If the offence is prosecuted upon indictment - a fine of any amount or imprisonment for not more than seven years, or both.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [10.0]. - This clause is most extraordinary. Honorable senators must seriously consider the powers which the Government are desirous of -taking to themselves. If an offence is prosecuted summarily a fine not exceeding £500 may be inflicted; or there may be imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months. If the offence is prosecuted upon indictment, a fine may be inflicted “ of any amount,” or there may be imprisonment for not more than seven years, or both. Those are astonishing words. I have never heard of the employment of the term “ any amount “ in any other measure. The Government are seeking power to make regulations which will imperil the liberty of every individual in Australia. Any person may be fined to an unheard of extent, and may receive seven yeaTs’ imprisonment. It is a monstrous proposal, and I am astonished that the Government should endeavour to enact it. I move -
That the word “Five,” line 5, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ One “.
– The penalties set out are maximum. There is nothing to prevent the infliction of a fine of ls., if the offence is deemed to be of a minor character. There may be some offences which would not be regarded as very serious ; while there may be others considered very serious at a time when the world is endeavouring to shake off war conditions. I point out that the conditions imposed in this Bill are part and parcel of the Peace Treaty itself. On page 63, paragraph 3 of the Annexe, are the following words : -
The High Contracting Parties will subject contraventions of paragraph a of Article 296 to the same penalties as are at present provided by their legislation for trading with the enemy. They will similarly prohibit within their territory all legal process relating to payment of enemy debts, except in accordance with the provisions of this Annexe.
It stands to reason that no person would be fined the maximum amount or sent to prison for the maximum period unless his offence were regarded as very serious. It would be just as serious for a person to attempt to destroy the peace to-day as though he had endeavoured to prolong and aggravate the condition of war last year.
– 1 do not think Senator O’loghlin was present when I addressed myself to the very feature which has forcibly struck him. It does appear that these penalties automatically apply, because it is specifically stated in the Annexe to the Peace Treaty-
The High Contracting Parties will subject contraventions of paragraph a of Article 296 to the same penalties as are at present provided by their legislation for trading with the enemy.
Thus these drastic penalties become applicable really to payment of debts, or to debt collection, for the reason that the preceding paragraph of the Annexe describes pecuniary obligations as those mentioned as debts in the first paragraph of Article 296. I suppose the Government cannot avoid the automatic incorporation in this Bill of that particular provision, which is obligatory upon us by virtue of the Peace Treaty. But we have arrived at a very peculiar position. A murderer in this country, if he escapes the extreme penalty of the law, is not likely to be imprisoned for longer than seven or eight years. If he pleads the unwritten law, the chances are that he will escape scot free. Yet here are the most drastic penalties for unknown offences. There must be degrees of offence.
Those set out are the maximum, I admit ; but we have no power of jurisdiction or punishment in regard to Germans, who are the principal people concerned with respect to the economic section of the Peace Treaty. Our powers of punishment, therefore, will concern only our own people ; and I am watchful ,of the interests of our people. I am not now concerned very much with the Germans; we have beaten them. I am anxious to see that we do not inflict injustice upon Australians. More care should have been exercised by the Government in seeing that a measure was drafted scheduling those offences which are offences by virtue of the enactment of the Peace Treaty.
– We might at least have had a memorandum, such as has accompanied other Bills.
– Quite so. Offences will be set out by regulation ; .and, in respect ‘to all offences under the economic section of the Peace Treaty, the maximum penalty provided for the drastic offence of trading with the enemy in time of war will be applicable. Yet these penalties are to apply to such things as the mere evasion of payment of debts. In our domestic legislation we have abolished the penalty of imprisonment for debt; yet there is scope here, in connexion with debt paying, or debt evasion, for the imposition of seven years’ imprisonment and the infliction of a fine without limit. My sole objection to this measure is that the Government have not scheduled the offences. “We need to observe some sense of proportion. The position is anomalous and incongruous. More care should have been exercised, and the offences should have been carefully scheduled and described..
– I support the amendment, and I agree with the criticism of Senator Bakhap. There exists in. the minds of some people, to quote the sarcastic reference of a high Australian official, a peculiar .view with respect to the infliction of punishment. The official in question has remarked that it requires a great deal of influence in Australia to keep even a dangerous criminal in gaol. The Worst feature of the imposition of the penalties set forth in clause 3 is that the Government have furnished no idea of the nature of the offences which may be so severely punished. I do not know that that tremendously wide phrase “ any amount “ has been imported into any other Act. To place in the hands of a magistrate power to inflict a huge fine is altogether unreasonable. There should at least be provision for appeal.
– A prosecution upon indictment would be before a jury.
– But a magistrate, in the case of a summary prosecution, may inflict a fine not exceeding £500. Any man brought before any Court in Australia should have the right to submit himself to a jury. Nobody’s liberty should be at the mercy of a magistrate.
– Order! The honorable senator’s remarks are wide of the amendment.
– I do not desire to dispute your ruling, sir, but I am dealing with the question of penalties, and the amendment specifically deals with that matter. I was about to remark upon tha penalties inflicted by magistrates during the war. In discussing the proposed reduction of the maximum fine, I presume that I shall .be in order in incidentally referring to the extreme penalties inflicted under regulations by magistrates during the war period. One of the worst blots upon Australia during the war was the extreme penalties inflicted for quite trivial and minor offences by magistrates to whom the power was given by regulations. We are being asked here to give powers which may be exercised vindictively in the imposition of penalties for offences concerning which we have not been given very full information. In providing the penalty for an offence, great care should be taken that the punishment is commensurate with the offence. If a penalty inflicted is altogether out of proportion to the offence, there is a tendency; even in official circles, to shut the eyes and let offences go on, rather than bring some one to justice, and have him punished too severely. As I have no direct information as to what will be the nature of the offences for which the penalties provided by this Bill may be inflicted, I shall vote against the clause, and throw the responsibility for passing it upon the Government and their supporters.
– The amendment moved by Senator O’Loghlin would certainly improve the clause. I think the Government would do the right thing if they reviewed the Trading with the Enemy Act before asking the Senate to pass a measure of this sort.
-The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing the whole Bill. He must confine his remarks to the amendment.
– It is pointed out in Annexe 3, at page 63 of the Peace Treaty, that -
The High Contracting Parties will subject contraventions of paragraph a of Article 296 to the same penalties as are at present provided by their legislation for trading with, the enemy. They will similarly prohibit within their territory all legal process relating to payment of enemy debts, except in accordance with the provisions of this Annexe.
Now let us see what paragraph a of Article 296 says.
– The honorable senator is not obeying my order. He is still discussing the whole Bill, when the amendment before the Committee is the omission of the word “ Five.” He should connect his remarks with that amendment.
– I will show you, in two minutes, sir, how I do so. Paragraph a of Article 296 reads -
Each of the High Contracting Parties shall prohibit, as from the coming into force of the present Treaty, both the payment and the acceptance of payment of such debts, and also all communications between the interested parties with regard to the settlement of the said debts otherwise than through the clearing offices.
The Government are asking us to agree to impose a fine of £500, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months, or both, and if the offence is prosecuted by indictment, to impose a fine of any amount, and imprisonment for seven years, or both.
– Order ! That is not before the Committee.
– I wish to point out the kind of offences which under the Trading with the Enemy Act have these penalties provided for them.
– The honorable senator will be in order, after ‘the amendment is out of -the way, in discussing the rest of the clause, hut he is not in order in discussing that part of the Bill while the amendment is before the Committee.
– Am I not in order in saying that offences committed under this Bill should not be punished in such a drastic manner as are offences specified in the Trading with the Enemy Act? I say that the Government should withdraw this measure until they have (reviewed the Trading with the Enemy Act, so that whilst we would conform to the terms of the Treaty of Peace by agreeing to impose the same penalties as those provided by our legislation for trading with the enemy, they would not be so severe as those now provided by that legislation.
– That would be a breach of the Treaty of Peace.
– It’ would not, if in the meantime we amended the Trading with the Enemy Act.
– The honorable senator is again discussing the Bill, and I ask him to confine himself to the amendment.
– I have endeavoured to make myself clear ; but, as your ruling is against me, I shall content myself, by voting for the reduction of the maximum penalty from £500 to £100.
– Am I to understand that the penal provisions of this clause are exactly similar to the penal provisions provided in connexion with trading with the enemy during the war?
– Yes, that is so.
– Then I am going to give reasons why these penal provisions Should be altered.
– The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing that at this stage. I have already ruled that the only question before the Committee is the omission of the word “ five.”
– That is to say, the alteration of the penal provisions set out in clause 3?
– Only portion of them.
– I am going to give some reasons why they should be altered. The Minister has referred the Committee to Annexe 3, set out at page 63 of the Peace Treaty. Senator Grant has read that Annexe, and also paragraph a of Article 296, to which it refers, so I need not read them again. I wish to point out to the Minister that apparently these extreme general penal provisions have been put in, though they refer only to the collection and payment of debts due to Germans in connexion with’ trade.
– If the amount is small the offence would be a minor offence.
– The point I want to .make is that these very drastic penal provisions are only obligatory, so far as the Government, as a signatory to the Peace Treaty, are concerned, where the offence has reference to debts. There is no obligation on the part of the Government to apply .penal provisions of this kind to offences in connexion with Customs regulations, duties, and restrictions, shipping, general articles, the treatment of nationals, and all the hundred and one things which are also included in Part X. of the Peace Treaty. Apparently, some one in drafting this Bill has applied the maximum penalties which may be imposed in connexion with two or three trading matters to all general matters also covered by Part X. I cannot stand for that. I can quite visualize that special licences at some future date may be granted to special people for the exportation from Australia to Germany of special articles, and if regulations were made in connexion with those special exports to Germany, and a merchant, perhaps innocently, violated one of those regulations in some technical way, he would be absolutely in the hands of the Attorney-General’s office in respect of the penalty which the Government might attempt to extract from him. I cannot stand for penalties which apply only to particular things mentioned in Annexe 3 of the Peace Treaty, and covered by paragraph a of Article 296, being applied to the whole of the multifarious matters contained in seventeen closely printed pages that comprise Part X. of the Treaty, with which we axe now dealing. I think that these extremely drastic penalties should be applied only where we have agreed to apply them, and more moderate and reasonable penalties should be provided in the Bill for the many minor offences which from time to time we may have to deal with under this Bill. I therefore suggest to the Minister that he should meet the view that a penalty of a fine to any amount and imprisonment for seven years-
– Order! That is not now before the ‘Committee.
– I submit that I am dealing with the question of penalties, and on the amendment I am justified in doing so. I” shall certainly dispute your ruling, sir, if you rule that I can only talk about the omission of the word “ five.”
– I rule that the honorable senator will not be in order in discussing anything but the amendment before the Committee.
– The amendment ‘before the Committee is to alter the penalties.
– ‘Only one of the penalties. The amendment is to omit the word “ five.”
– I am in favour of some variation of Hie penalty, because I cannot support a loosely-drafted Bill which will impose disabilities upon possibly innocent members of the commercial community in connexion with their future trading operations with Germany. England is already trading with Germany, and so is America. I, therefore, ask the Minister whether he intends to insist upon the retention of such a drastic provision as that which we are now considering? If he will not accept the amendment which has been submitted, can he suggest some palliative in regard to the matter which can be agreed to by honorable senators ?
– The original proposal to impose a penalty of £500 for an offence under this Bill was very much more comprehensive than are the provisions of the Trading with the Enemy Act 1914, to which reference has been made. Honorable senators must recollect that to-day we are living in a time of peace. But the legislation to which I have referred was hurriedly enacted ,in 1914 under very different circumstances. Moreover, the offences for which penalties can be imposed are clearly defined in that Act, so that honorable senators knew exactly what they were doing when they consented to it. But to-night we are asked to give Ministers unlimited power-
– Order ! The honorable senator will not be in order in following that line of argument. Has remarks are rather wide of the matter which is before the Committee.
– Am I not in order in pointing out-
– The honorable senator will only be in order in discussing the proposal to strike out the word “ five.”
– I am in favour of striking out that word with a view to the insertion of the word “one” in lieu thereof , because the conditions which exist to-day are different from those which prevailed in 1914. Let the Government bring down a Bill-
– Order! The amendment only is before the Committee,
– I have no desire to dispute your ruling, and shall, therefore, content myself with opposing the clause and supporting the amendment.
– I think that Senator Grant has forgotten the existence of the words.” contained in paragraph 3 of the annexe to be found on page 63 of the Peace Treaty. I am of the opinion that automatically the penalties existing at the time the Peace Treaty was propounded - penalties against trading with the enemy - become part and parcel of the machinery of this measure. Something in the nature of what was done in connexion with our Electoral Act should have been done here.
– Order ! The honorable senator is also getting very wide of the amendment.
– May I not use an illustration to indicate what I think should be done in respect to penalties and offences ?
– Penalties and offences are not before the Committee, but merely an amendment to strike out the word “ five.”
– Is not the word “ five” part of a clause which deals with penalties ?
– Then it is impossible to tie honorable senators down to a discussion of the word “ five/’
– The honorable senator will be quite in order in discussing penalties when the clause is before the Committee; but at the present time his remarks must be limited to the amendment.
– I shall not dispute your ruling, sir, hut shall resume my seat.
Question - That the word “Five,” proposed to be left out, be left out (Senator O’loghlin’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be added : - “ (4) This Act and the regulations made under the authority of this Act shall continue in operation until the 31st day of December, 1920, and no longer.”
– Make it 1919, and I will vote with the honorable senator.
– I do not intend to occupy the time of the Committee at any length in discussing this proposal, because the arguments in support of it have already been adduced. In reply to Senator Gardiner’s interjection, I would point out that it is quite possible that the Peace Treaty covers matters which will require to be disposed of very soon. It is necessary, therefore, that we should have the requisite machinery for administering the provisions of Part X. of that Treaty. Consequently, the necessary powers should be vested in the Government. But, inasmuch as Parliament ought to participate as far as possible in giving effect to the Treaty, I am of the opinion that if Ministers are endowed with unlimited authority to legislate by means of regulations in respect of the matters covered by Part X. of the Treaty until the end of nest year, they will be in a position to deal with anything which is of an extremely urgent character. They will, by that time, have acquired some knowledge of the particular matters that will have to be dealt with, and in respect of which they may be disposed to invite the co-operation and assistance of honorable senators. If they are not in a position to do that before the end of next year, they will at least be aware of the fact some time before the close of that year, and consequently they will be able to come down to Parliament and ask for an extension of the Act for a further period. Parliament, upon the merits of their application, will then be in a position to determine whether or not an extension shall be granted. In other words, I think that this measure should be a temporary one, in view of the unlimited powers which it will confer upon the Government in respect of the provisions contained in Part X. of the Peace Treaty. I have already indicated the extensive field that is covered by those provisions, but I recognise that at this stage it is impossible for the Government to bring down specific proposals. This debate, I hope, will serve to indicate our desire that Parliament shall be consulted before anything is finalized in regard to these matters. In the meantime, the Government will not be embarrassed in the slightest degree in connexion with matters of urgency, as in dealing with such questions they will have the benefit of time and experience, and will be able to come to Parliament and express the true position. By this means the Government will be able to invite the co-operation and assistance of Parliament in performing their obligations under the Treaty of Peace, to which we have already assented.
– I desire to second the amendment moved by Senator Keating, and to indorse all he has said in favour of the view that these regulations should have some finality. If no limitation is placed upon the regulations, they may be in force for from one to ten years, and if action is not taken by Parliament within fourteen or fifteen days after they are tabled, they will ‘be unalterable by Parliament. The regulations will be framed in the Attorney-General’s Department, and they must necessarily, for the present at all events, be similar to many regulations made in connexion with trade and commerce under the War Precautions Act. Under these regulations, all direct export to Germany may be prohibited, with the result that Australian wool, for instance, will be shipped to London into the hands, perhaps, of some favoured persons who will sell to German buyers. The net result to Australia will be that the growers will receive reduced returns, while the middlemen will be enriched.
The export of metal and ores to Germany may also be prohibited; and, again, middlemen in England may be benefited, while the metals and ores may ultimately go to Germany. It would be better for the Government and for Australia if a definite time limit were inserted in the Bill. It would give the Ministry all the freedom they may require to meet matters as they arise, and would enable the new Parliament to exercise revision in view of experience gained. If the regulations framed under this Bill are allowed to continue in force indefinitely, our continental trade will be subject to the sweet will of the Ministry or of those persons who advise Ministers. We shall be creating in some European centres a position whereby middlemen will be able to “scale” our producers of portion of the return from their products. I have had some experience of regulations governing trade, and of the restrictions placed upon the Empire’s commerce as the result of war. In connexion with the sale of tin oxide, the so-called inter-Allied tin control, which set out with high ideals to conserve metals produced in the Empire foT the use of the Empire, operated in such a manner that the producers were robbed - owing to the activities of middlemen in England and America - to the extent of £15 per. ton upon every ton of oxide produced. I do not believe that any regulations should he promulgated which may compel the producer to pay more than a fair commission. Such regulations in connexion with the trade of Europe may merely make Great Britain the middle party between Australia and the country to which our products ultimately reach. We cannot tell what regulations may be required, or what the development of the future is likely to be. The Minister has said that before long Germany may be admitted to the League of Nations, and, by giving away our right to limit regulations made under this Bill, we will be giving away our right to revise this necessary legislation from time to time. I can visualize such a position as that; and, seeing that Ministers as well as honorable senators are likely to be for some time before the electors fighting for their political existence, there is the risk of this important work being controlled by officials sometimes swayed by misguided advice. For that reason, I support the amendment.
Question - ‘That the new clause proposed to be added (Senator Heating’s amendment) be added - put. The Committee divided..
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 11 a.m. to-morrow.
Motion (by Senator Russell) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I invite the attention of the Senate to the fact that much unnecessary delay has occurred in providing rolls to be used at the coming election. I have been informed, on very good authority, that 61 per cent, of the names in some of the country rolls in New SouthWales are ineffective. Some rolls, I believe, are more than two years old, so that it is impossible for electors to know whether, they are enrolled or not. I suggest that the Government, even at this late stage, should issue instructions for the reprinting of the rolls at once. I am informed that in the divisions of Cook, Dalley, East Sydney, North Sydney, and South Sydney it is proposed to reprint the rolls after the writs ‘have been issued, so that there will ‘he no supplemental rolls in those divisions. I understand that the rolls for the divisions of Lang, Parkes, Wentworth, Cowper, Gwydir, Macquarie, and Newcastle are five months old, and it is not proposed to reprint them.. “We were informed that the roll for the Barrier Division would be reprinted almost immediately, but this has not been done yet. Then with regard to the divisions of alare, Darling, Eden-Monaro, iHunter
– I direct attention to the state of the Senate. [Quorum formed.]
– I have no desire to delay the ‘Senate, and, in conclusion, I will say -that it is understood that the writs will be issued on the 3rd November, and I presume the rolls will be closed on the 2nd of that month, so there is only the very brief period of eleven days within which people may become enrolled.
Another matter to which I desire to direct attention is the distribution of funds in connexion with the canteen managed by the guards at the . Holdsworthy Camp. I am informed that there is a Bum of £2,500 to the credit of that fund, but that, instead of distributing it among the members, as was done in the case of the amount to credit of the can teen managed by the Germans themselves, it is proposed to distribute the money among . war widows and orphans. I should like to know why different treatment is being meted out to the guards, as compared with the Germans, who have since left these shores?
SenatorRUSSELL (Victoria- VicePresident of the Executive Council and Acting Minister for Defence) [11.6].- I am not in a position to give the honor able senator definite information with regard to the rolls; but I shall endeavour to furnish a statement to-morrow. Concerning the funds of the Holdsworthy Camp canteen, I may say that the matter is to be dealt with by legislation at a later stage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.6 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 October 1919, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1919/19191022_SENATE_7_90/>.