8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator theHon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate if his attention has been drawn to the statement that it is the intention of the Commissioner for Taxation to tax totalisator dividends as lottery prizes? Will the Government give that gentleman a holiday to attend several race meetings to obtain some idea of how the totalisator works, so that he may not waste Government money attempting to tax moneys that are so obviously not the prizes of a lottery?
– A great deal of the honorable senator’s question is in the form of assertions, which I feel that the Standing Orders would not permit me to discuss at this time, as I should like to do. I have seen the statement referred to by the honorable senator, and I understand that the Commissioner of Taxation has exercised an authority which the Income Tax Act gives him.
– Will the Minister, before the Senate rises to-day, look up the section of the Income Tax Act and see whether in any sense of the word a totalisator can be called a lottery?
– I have not much knowledge of the subject to which the honorable senator refers, but I assume that Senator Gardiner has. The real point, however, is whether the Act gives the Commissioner for Taxation power to do as be has done.
– No; none whatever.
– That is the whole point involved in this matter, and, as I understand the position, the Commissioner for Taxation has full power to take the action he has decided to take.
– This is a matter of importance, and I ask the Minister whether he realizes that the Government are responsible for the protection of the public funds, and that if the Commissioner for Taxation institutes proceedings for the recovery of taxation upon moneys that are obviously not prizes in a lottery, a glaring mistake will be made.
– I am not able to say whether a mistake is being made or not. It is not my function to decide that. But if by his question the honorable senator wishes to ask whether the Government will consider the matter, my answer to that will be “ Yes.”
– Thank you; that is the question which really I ought to have asked in the first place.
Soldiers’ Memorials - Inscriptions on Soldiers’ Monuments.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The question of the erection of memorials to commemorate the deeds of the Australian Imperial Force is being consideredby the Government, and it is hoped to make a pronouncement at an early date.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the Minister for Defence has issued a circular asking relatives of soldiers killed on active service to subscribe to monuments erected in France to their memory?
– The answer is -
No; the expenditure on war cemeteries and the maintenance of graves with appropriate headstones is being borne by the Government.
It was felt that it was inadvisable to leave the provision of headstones to private initiative, it being the sacred obligation of the Empire to preserve the graves and maintain suitable memorials upon them. At the same time it was difficult to resist the natural desire of many relatives to be personally associated in some way with these memorials of their deceased kinsmen. The most appropriate way of meeting such desire was, in the opinion of the Imperial War Graves Commission, to allow a short inscription to be added on the application of the next of kin, or other person, or organization, and at a slight expense to the applicant.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Sena tor Russell) read a first time.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Senator Russell) read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Newland) agreed to-
That the report from the Printing Committee, presented to the Senate on 22nd April, 1920, be adopted.
The following paper was presented : -
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 25th March (vide page 788), on motion by Senator Russell -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- I intend to speak very briefly on this Bill, which to me is most objectionable. We have gone through a period of five years of war legislation, and under this Bill it is proposed to continue that legislation. Peace has been declared amongst most of the nations of the world, except, apparently, so far as the Australian Government is concerned. This Bill embodies the worst features of the legislation by regulation which was carried on by this Government during war time. There is one clause of the measure under which the Government propose to prohibit the immigration into the Commonwealth of-
Any anarchist or person who advocates the overthrow by force or violence of the established government of the Commonwealth, or of any State, or of any other civilized country.
Let us consider what would have been the effect of the operation of such a provision in other countries in the past. It would have excluded from England a man like Cromwell, who did work for which those who love the liberty of their country bless his name. It would have excluded from America a man like Washington, whose name is blessed the world over, because he persisted in overthrowing a Government by force. It would have excluded from the countries in which they lived all those people who were responsible for the great revolutions which have done so much for the human race. That is sufficient to sum up the opposition with which measures of this kind should be met.
What is an “anarchist”? The man who is called an anarchist to-day is recognised as a statesman to-morrow. I refer honorable senators to the history of New South Wales and the action taken by Sir Henry Parkes, who told the British Government that if they did not cease to send convicts to New South Wales the people would throw them back into the harbor. The newspapers next morning branded him as the “archanarchist Parkes.” Again, when the Chinese Immigration Restriction Act was passed, and the Secretary of State for the
Colonies - I think, Lord Knutsford - wrote to Sir Henry Parkes to say that the Act was not in accordance with British treaties, his reply was one that should be remembered by all. He said, “ Then let the British Government alter their treaties or Australia will make its own.”
Under this Bill a man may be dubbed an anarchist because he Las principles and the courage to make them known, and may be prevented from landing in Australia. I say let the Government try to prevent it. Whether the Government try to stop that kind of thing going on or not, Governments will be overturned in Australia before very long. The present Government are sowing the seeds of the force that will overturn Governments as at present constituted. We are within easy distance of a republican form of government in Australia. Honorable senators opposite may not notice the trend of events, and the effect of this repressive legislation to do by force what it should be left to the common sense of the community to do. This kind of legislation, and I am very glad to see it, i3 bringing us within measurable distance of the time when Australia will be governed by Australians elected as the people of this country desire.
I have been continually pointing this out. I am continually warning the Government and raising my voice against the “etty pin-pricking legislation which is irritating every one. I say that we are within easy reach of a republican form of government in Australia. Honorable senators opposite may think that that is an astounding statement to make, but repressive legislation of this kind, and such as the War Precautions Act, has done more than anything else to weaken’ the desire of the Australian people for a system, of government based on law and order. I know that honorable senators opposite will say that I was a member of the Government which introduced the War Precautions Act. That is so, but I never dreamed that that measure would be used as it has been. The power to legislate by regulation was exercised in a way in which it never should have been exercised, and it irritated the whole community. Here is a Bill under which the Government, losing the grip of their power to legislate by regulation, are going to decide who is an anarchist. Imagine some well-known representative of Labour - a man, for instance, like Phillip Snowden - coming to this country. The Government decide that he is an anarchist-
– It would not be sufficient to declare him an anarchist; it would be necessary to prove that he was in favour of using force.
– What would be regarded as proof ? I was one of those who assumed that the War Precautions Act was a piece of emergency legislation to be used to protect Australia against its enemies. I have lived to see it used for the purpose of suppressing Australian sentiment. For six years we have had a Government that, during war, used the War Precautions Act, deliberately passed by this Parliament for the protection of Australian interests against the Empire’s enemies, in a manner calculated to do injury to our people. In fact, they used it to rob the Australian producers, so there can be no concessions to a Government capable of governing Australia on those lines. The brightest pages in the history of the human race have been written by those men, some of them termed revolutionaries, who dared to stand up on behalf of the people against the tyranny of constituted authority. And so it will be always. In every country where progressive thought holds sway, the old forms of government must decay. We are living in. a time of decaying systems of government, some of which are rotten to the core; and an intelligent Democracy, if called upon, will not fail to use force to crumple them up.
– What about the conditions in Russia?
– The people there had to use force to remove the old Russian Government.
– Their second state is worse than their first.-
– Nothing could have been worse than the conditions of the Russian people under Czardom; but a people cannot turn out even the most rotten form of government without force, and doing things which, in normal times, ordinary men and women would shudder at. But, unless I am mistaken in my view, Russia is about to lead the world in making the conditions of life better than they have ever been before. The terrible bloodshed in that country was a result, not of the revolution, but of the counterrevolution in the interests of the old system of government, and with the object of putting the Czar on the throne again. Mr. Bullitt, an American Commissioner, whom I have already quoted in this Senate, has said that in the first two years of the revolution the revolutionary Government were doing all they could to uplift the masses.
– They had a strange way of doing it.
– It may have appeared strange, but drastic action had to be taken to rid the people of the old rotten system of government; but in the first two years the new Government were moving in the right direction, for we have it on the authority of Mr. Bullitt that schools were established in the palaces of the wealthy, and education was being brought to the workers and their children. It cannot be expected, of course, that an ideal nation can be built up in two years, but a very good idea of the future may be gained if we see the builders at work, and know that they are travelling the proper road, taking, as in the case of Russia, the children first. Mr. Bullitt has told us that all the best of the food was being reserved for the Russian children. It must be remembered that the Allied blockade had made food very scarce in Russia, and the American Commissioner stated that a prominent revolutionary had declared he would gladly starve another year for the revolution, because the next generation would benefit. Can honorable senators say that any man would be guilty of a crime in trying to overturn such a system of government as existed in Russia for so many years?
– Did you read the statement made by Colonel Ward, one of the members of the House of Commons, about the conditions in Russia?
– No, but I shall be pleased if the honorable senator will put that evidence on record. I am putting the side which I have read, and quoting what I regard as an impartial authority. If any other honorable senator has a more impartial authority, then I shall be glad to have the evidence. My point is that under this Bill any Russian who participated in the overthrow of the old
Russian form of government will be prevented from entering the Commonwealth, and among those who took part in that revolution are numbered some of the most brilliant students of the Russian universities. We have to give this matter very serious thought in Australia, for we have Ministers in power who imagine that ‘ they can go on flouting the people, faking elections, and calling it government. Australia has got tired of it. I warn the Government that restrictive legislation of this nature leads to disaster. I tell them this plainly. We have had in this country many distinguished men with their own ideas as to the true form of an Australian government. John Dunmore Lang, for instance, had no hesitation in expressing his appreciation of the republican system. No level-headed, fairminded man can come to any other conclusion.
– This Bill will not prevent the entry of any man who favours a republican form of government.
– It will prevent the entry of men who took part in the overthrow of the Russian Government.
– By force. But surely the honorable senator is not comparing the conditions in Australia with those of Russia.
– I am endeavouring to show that the Government areintroducing Russian conditions here, and I tell the Minister that all legislation that interferes with the liberty of the people will have my strongest opposition.
– The people of Australia, in the franchise, possess a more effective weapon than is in the hands ot the Russian people, even after the use of force there.
– But when that weapon has been taken away from them by fraud, they may be driven to force. Personally, I never favour force, not because it is not necessary at times, but because I realize that any case resting exclusively on force is doomed. Force can only be employed effectively when behind it is the moral support of the majority of the nation. This Bill to restrict the liberty of the people is repugnant to their sense of justice. The Prime Minister of Great Britain (Mr. Lloyd George) has admitted that since the war thought in England has at times been in the direction of revolution.
– Do you not think that the kind of speech you are now making will encourage it?
– I hope it will, because, so far as I am concerned, I have nothing to fear. Measures like that now under consideration do not make for freedom ; they breed revolution. The possession of liberty does not turn people’s thoughts towards revolution, but when their liberties are being restricted, when they are harassed and annoyed, it is inevitable that their thoughts should turn in that direction. The Government want revenue. And what are they doing? They tax the working classes in the name of Protection. They pass an Income Tax Bill, and say that a married man shall be exempt from certain payments in proportion to the number of children he has to maintain’; but in their Protective Tariff they say to the married man that his tax shall be high in proportion to the number of members in his family.
– ‘Order! The honorable senator is not entitled to discuss the Tariff on this measure.
– I am merely using the Tariff as an illustration. Surely I am allowed to do that ? You always manage to interfere with me.
– I did allow the honorable senator to use the Tariff as an illustration ; but he must not debate the Tariff.
– If I cannot use the Tariff as an illustration in my own way, I shall not continue.
.- I am sorry Senator Gardiner has seen fit to leave the chamber, because I wanted to draw his attention to one or two points which he appears to have overlooked. The Bill under consideration seeks to prohibit the entry into Australia of-
Any anarchist or person who advocates the overthrow by force or violence of the established Government of the Commonwealth, or of any State, or of any other civilized country, or of all forms of law, or who is opposed to organized government, or who advocates the assassination of public officials, or who advocates or teaches the unlawful destruction of property, or who is a member of. or affiliated with, any organization which entertains and teaches any of the doctrines and practices specified in this paragraph.
It is entirely reasonable to exclude such disturbing elements from our community. The honorable senator who has retired from the chamber is always saying that he deplores the use of force, but I think his speeches are usually calculated to encourage force, and, if he were here now, I would not mind telling him so. He has endeavoured to show that men like Washington would, under this Bill, be prevented from entering the Commonwealth, because he headed a revolution which, it is now admitted on all sides, was perfectly justified. But what are the descendants of Washington, and men like him, doing to-day in their fight for freedom in the United States of America? What are they doing but sending these disturbing elements out of their country into Mexico ? I could quite understand that there would be a danger of revolution in times of peace if we attempted to govern this country under the War Precautions Act; but we have now returned to a proper constitutional form of government, in which every single man and woman in the Commonwealth above the age of twenty-one years has an equal share. That, in my opinion, is the only possible way of governing any civilized country. It is imbecile and childish to suggest that people who hold extreme doctrines, which Senator Gardiner says he so much deplores, should be allowed to enter the Commonwealth and interfere with our splendid system of government. If, as he has been endeavouring to show, the Russian system of government is so splendid, then there can be no hardship in requiring those people, who may have taken part in the upheaval there, to return to Russia. I hope the Senate will pass the Bill. People who come to Australia know that they have to obey the laws of the land and abide by majority rule, and in the interests of good government some such measure as this is necessary.
– I indorse all that Senator Fairbairn has said, and I regret that Senator Gardiner has not remained in the chamber to take his gruelling as any other sporting man taking part in a debate would have done. I think that Senator Fairbairn struck the right note when he compared the conditions in Australia with those of other countries, particularly Russia. During recent years there have been quite a number of people in Australia who have endeavoured to turn the freedom they have been permitted to enjoy into licence, and the Government are therefore fully justified in. introducing this Bill. In commenting on Cromwell and Washington, Senator Gardiner 10ses sight of the fact that we are now living in an age where every adult has a voice in the government of the country; and his comparison with Russia was a most unfortunate one. Quite apart from the fact that every man or woman in the Commonwealth over twenty-one years of age has a vote, they also have the opportunity, if they have sufficient support, of taking part in the framing of the laws under which they live. From time to time it has been the practice for Senator Gardiner to sneer at those who were not privileged to be born in Australia, and he has at times referred to those who came from Great Britain as imported immigrants. According to ‘the honorable senator, Phillip Snowden and other Labour leaders would not have the opportunity of entering Australia if this Bill became law ; but he should remember that when the two French Labour delegates visited Australia the people of Australia, and a National Government, welcomed them with open arms. The only opposition with, which they met came from the trade unionists at the Trades Hall in Sydney, where they were howled down by these so-called Democrats whom Senator Gardiner represents.
– They came from a revolutionized people.
– Exactly . The Government are to be congratulated on tha stand they have taken. When we consider the liberties we enjoy under a popular system of government, it is ridiculous for Senator Gardiner to compare the conditions in Russia with those prevailing in Australia.
.- Glancing through the Bill, I fail to see any basis for the remarks. of Senator Gardiner. When he compares Australia with Russia and says that the Government of Australia is rotten, he is inferring that the people of Australia, who elected the Government, are devoid of brains, and he. as an elector, must be included. The honorable senator, who i’S a believer in majority rule, now accuses the majority of not knowing its own business, and he has not thought where his reasoning would lead him. He must remember that the people of Russia are uneducated, whereas in Australia the children have better opportunities of learning than men of to-day possessed fifty years ago. There is an idea in the minds of some people that evils can be remedied only by drastic means ; but if the world is to move forward and the people are to progress, it must be by the law of evolution, and not by revolutionary methods. History has not shown a single instances where progress has been made by leaps and bounds. Every opportunity should be given for the expression of thought, and so long as individuals are governed by reason and good judgment, legislation of this character cannot be regarded as repressive. If we are to give way to passion, and disregard the rights of others, and what is best for the world, force must necessarily be employed. That would not be in the interests of Australia and the world generally. The proposed legislation has been found necessary in consequence of our experience during the war period, and the Bil] has my support.
Senator RUSSELL (Victoria - VicePresident of the Executive Council) [11.40]. - I am naturally surprised at the statements made by Senator Gardiner, because he gave the impression that the Bill would prevent mcn from holding certain beliefs or supporting certain principles. The measure is not designed for that purpose, and if a hot-headed Tory favoured the suppression of the working class by military force it would affect him just as much at any one else. I remember the time in Australia when the workers were fearful of the fact that military force might be employed to suppress the rights of Democracy, and I, for one, would at all times strongly oppose anything of that nature. Supposing, for instance, we had a Government establishing Labour principles, and that the chairman of a Chamber of Commerce advocated the breaking up of industrial unions, the provisions’ of this measure would apply. Reference has been made to Cromwell and Washington, but Washington did not use force in the interests of democratic control until others had first done so. The fact that a Russian was opposed to the late Czar and bis form of government would not prevent him coming to Australia; but there are possibilities of abuses om both sides. If, however, such men were to come to Australia, and as a result of their efforts the community was likely to suffer, tho law would have effect. This Bill does not in any way interfere with the right of any man to express his beliefs, but such a person must not endeavour to secure
Control by force.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Prohibited immigrants).
– As honorable senators have not had an opportunity of comparing the provisions of the Bil] with the original Act, I shall be glad if the Minister will report progress.
Senate adjourned at 11.47 a.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 April 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1920/19200423_senate_8_91/>.