8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
central Administration : Alleged Military Clique.
– I ask the Minister for Defence, in view of his reply to a statement quoted by me in asking a question in the Senate, wherein he is reported in Hansard to have said, “This was one of those loose and inaccurate statements,” is it a fact that General Bridges, prior to the outbreak of war, was in Brisbane, on his way to Port Darwin-
– At his own request.
– That Mr. Kelly, a Minister in the Cook Government, wired to Senator Millen, then Minister for Defence, to have General Bridges recalled to Melbourne, and that General Bridges was recalled? If the facts as stated are correct, will the Minister for Defence say what part of Mr. Kelly’s speech can fairly be described as loose or inaccurate?
– That part which referred to a military clique.
– And also that part which suggested that General Bridges had been sent out of the way.
Publication of Report
SenatorFOLL. - I ask the Leader of the Senate if he has seen in this morning’s newspaper a paragraph giving information in connexion with the report of Judge Ewing as a Royal Commission appointed to inquire into affairs in the Northern Territory. I should like to know whether any information concerning the report has been made available to the press by the Government, and, if so, why that information was not given to Parliament before it was given to the press.
– I am in the same position as Senator Poll. I am disposed to ask the same question myself, because, so far as I know, the report of the Royal Commission referred to has not yet reached Ministers.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Bill (on motion by Senator Russell) read a third time.
Bill returned from House of Representatives with an amendment.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That the message be considered in Committee forthwith.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After clause 6 insert the following new clause: - 6a. (1) For the purposes of this Act there shall be for each State an Advisory Committee of not less than three members, one of whom shall be a woman.
Each Advisory Committee shall be appointed by the Minister on the recommendation of the trustees.
The trustees shall nominate one member of each Advisory Committee, and the member so nominated shall be the chairman of that Committee. (4.) An Advisory Committee shall advise the trustees on matters referred to it by the trustees, and shall carry out such duties in relation to the granting of assistance and benefits under this Act as the trustees direct.
.- The new clause inserted by the House of Representatives in this Bill is in accordance with what I told honorable senators on the second reading of the Bill, and subsequently in Committee, was the intention of the trustees of this fund as regards the State machinery to carry out the purposes of the measure. Some honorable senators thought that there should be some specific provision in the Bill to insure that this course would be followed. That did not appear to me to be necessary, because I regarded my statement on the subject as pledging the Government to see that it was given effect. In view of the general expression of opinion in another place, and of honorable senators, the Government have accepted this amendment which makes the obligation to which I pledged the Government a statutory one. The provision made by the amendment for State Advisory Committees to recemmend the action to be subsequently taken by the trustees of the Fund will meet the views of honorable senators who expressed themselves as in favour of State representation on the Trust. This proposal will supply the most effective State representation which could be given. The members of the State Advisory Committees will carry out the actual work of investigation of claims upon the Fund, and the trustees as a central body will coordinate their work. The amendment makes provision for the representation of women on the State Advisory Committees, and it is understood that the women representatives will he selected from those who during the war gave a considerable amount of their time to looking after the dependants of soldiers. As it is believed that the appointment of these Committees will supply valuable machinery for giving effect to the purposes of the Bill, I move -
That the amendment’ be agreed to.
.- I should like to know whether the Minister for Defence would consider the insertion of a further clause laying down the basis for the allocation of theFund. There is nothing in the Bill to show on what basis this money is to be allocated, so far as the States are concerned. I do not know whether I should be in order in submitting an amendment dealing with that matter and providing that the money shall be allocated upon an enlistment basis.
– The Bill generally is not before the Committee, but only the amendment made by the House of Representatives.
– The money will be distributed, not on a State basis, but on an individual basis.
– I should like to know whether an honorable senator would not be in order in moving any further amendment necessitated by the insertion of this new clause by the House of Representatives.
– Only by amending the amendment of the House of Representatives now before the Committee.
– So far as the Bill is concerned, this is an entirely new proposal, and an amendment contingent upon it to deal with the allocation of these funds to the different States may be regarded as necessary.
– I point out to the honorable senator that the only matter referred to the Committee by the Senate is the consideration of the amendment made by the House of Representatives. Only an amendment of it, or relevant to it, can be considered.
– I ask for direction as to whether it is not in the power of the Committee to make suggestions to the House of Representatives contingent upon the amendment made in that House. Honorable members in another place have amended a Bill which was passed by the Senate, and surely we are not now prevented from making further amendments contingent upon that which has been suggested to us.
– It is not competent for the Committee to deal with any matter not relevant to the amendment made by the House of Representatives.
– As a matter of parliamentary privilege I desire to have the position fairly stated. If an amendment comes to us from another place opening up a new subject, surely any further amendment considered necessary by honorable senators to make the amendment made by the House of Representatives really effective must be in order. .
– Yes, if relevant to the amendment referred to the Committee.
– The only course open to honorable senators would be to reject the House of Representatives’ amendment if they had no power to carry contingent amendments which they considered necessary. As an intelligent debating chamber we could not consent merely to accept an amendment made in another place if we believed that it should necessarily be followed by contingent amendments.
.- The amendment made by the House of Representatives brings within the consideration of the Committee all questions affecting the State Advisory Committees provided for in the amendment. I submit that it would be competent for this Committee to amend the House of Representatives’ amendment, or to add to it any matter relevant to the appointment of State Advisory Committees, butthe reference to this Committee of the amendment made by the House of Representatives does not bring the whole Bill before us again for review, and it would not be in order now to submit amendments to other portions of the . Bill not relevant to the amendment made 3>y the House of Representatives.
– Could not the Senate recommit the Bill?
– No. The Bill has been passed by the Senate and the only -question before the Committee is the amendment inserted by the House of Representatives to provide for the appointment of State Advisory Committees. The standing order dealing with the matter provides that -
No amendment shall be proposed to an amendment of the House of Representatives “that is not relevant thereto - not to the Bill but to the amendment - nor can an amendment be moved to the Bill unless the same be relevant to, or consequent upon, either the acceptance, amendment, or the rejection of a House of Representatives amendment.
The point raised by Senator Poll is irrelevant to the appointment of State Advisory Committees. The allocation of the fund is dealt with in another clause in .the Bill.
.- “When the measure was previously before the Committee no statutory provision had been made for State Advisory Committees, the funds being left to be dealt with by the trustees; but now a new clause has been inserted providing that the money 3h.aU be allocated to the different States.
– It does not do that.
– Well, that is what I would like it to provide. I move -
That the proposed new clause be amended by adding the following proviso: - “Provided that the canteen funds shall be allocated to the State Boards on the basis of enlistments.”
I do not think it necessary for me to explain the amendment, as it speaks for itself. State Advisory Committees have been provided for, and it is only fair to safeguard the interests of beneficiaries living in such distant States as Western Australia, South Australia, and Queensland. This is a means of providing that the money shall be allotted to all the States on an equitable basis, and I trust that the Committee will accept my amend-‘ ment.
– I feel sure the Committee will not be prepared to accept the amendment.
– It would be un just to distribute the funds on the lines in*dicated by Senator Foll, because it must be remembered that the money is not to be paid to all soldiers and their dependants, but only to those who are incapacitated, or to soldiers’ widows and orphans. It may be said that a high percentage of enlistments would necessarily indicate a high percentage of incapacitated soldiers, but that does not necessarily follow. If the percentage of incapacitated soldiers was low in comparison with the number of enlistments, they would receive a larger share than those in a State where the reverse was the case. They should all be treated on an equal basis, and I think Senator Foll, after reviewing the matter in this light, will be prepared to withdraw his amendment.
.- The proposal of Senator Foll is that the money should be distributed in proportion to the number of enlistments; and to argue that the State that has sent the most soldiers will have the lowest number of incapacitated men or dependants is unreasonable. In all probability the casualties will be in proportion to the number of enlistments.
– That does not follow.
– The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) may have some idea -as to the proportion, but I cannot imagine a fairer basis of (distributing the money than that suggested.
– The honorable senator might as well say that the Victoria Cross and other honours obtained would be in proportion to the enlistments.
– I believe they would be.
– Tasmanian soldiers received ten of the sixty awarded.
– We are dealing with a fund created by the soldiers who enlisted and went to the Front, and an amendment has been submitted that alters the whole measure. Had the proposed new clause been embodied in the Bill when it was before this Chamber I would have had very little to say, because it meets with the objections I raised to the fund being distributed in Melbourne without the assistance of State
Advisory Committees. This amendment spreads the administration over all the States, and SenatorFoll has now moved an amendment to provide that the fund shall be disbursed in proportion to the enlistments in the various States. It may be considered a rough-and-ready way of arriving at the proportion, but I think it is a fair basis on which to work. It is unreasonable to assume that one State will have a greater proportion of disabled persons, in comparison with the enlistments, than another.
SenatorFoll. - The profits from the canteens fund were made by the men who enlisted.
– Exactly ; and the question before the Committee opens up the whole Bill for further discussion.. The amendment made by another place met with my approval, and I was prepared to let it pass without discussion, but SenatorFoll’s amendment provides that all the States shall have a fair deal. Unless the Government can submit something better I shall support his amendment.
– I am not prepared to support SenatorFoll’s amendment, although, possibly on the law of averages the money would be fairly evenly distributed. It appears to me, however, to be a haphazard way of distributing the funds, and the proposal should not have the support of the Committee. I ask the Committee to disagree with the proposed new clause. Honorable senators will remember that when the Bill was before this Chamber a few days ago I endeavoured to dispense with the Trust.
– Order! The question before the Chair is that the amendment of the amendment be agreed to.
– I am merely making a passing reference to what was done a few days ago, and I intend connecting my remarks with the question before the Committee.
– The honorable senator will have the opportunity when the amendment is amended or dispensed with of discussing the whole clause.
– The addition of the proposed new clause alters the whole Bill, and it is rather difficult to discuss this phase of the question without giving my reasons.
Question - That the amendment ofthe House of Representatives’ amendment be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the House of Representatives’ amendment negatived.
. - I ask the Committee to disagree with the amendment made by another place. My reasons are largely contained in the arguments put up by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), when the Bill was previously before us. I urged then that the Repatriation Department had all the machinery necessary to deal with the distribution of this money, and another place has made this amendment because its members considered that the arguments put forward in favour of the Bill as it left this Chamber were inadequate. They say, in effect, by their amendment, that the repatriation machinery will not be available for the distribution of the money, and, therefore, they are creating Committees in the various States. It will not be possible for such Committees to be worked without some expense. It was pointed out here that, even if the trustees worked voluntarily, their office expenses would be considerable. Now we are asked to appoint five other Committees-
– Will there be a Committee in this State, in addition to the Trust?
– Oh, yes.
– I thought that possibly the Trust, as it would sit in Mel- bourne, would deal also with Victorian matters. The amendment, therefore, means that six new Committees will be called into existence, with six separate sets of offices and officers, and six sets of expenses. If that kind of thing is to continue, we might as well select twenty-six persons, and allow them to divide the money amongst themselves straightway, without considering the returned soldiers or their dependants. We are simply creating machinery that will be used to fritter the money away, thus keeping it from those who ought to get it, and to whom this Committee has already decided that it should go. If we agree to such a proposal, we shall be doing something that is decidedly wrong, if not wicked, to the returned soldiers -and their dependants. The proposed Committees may last for years, and whether they are paid or not their office expenses, and the salaries for their staffs, and their own expenses, will have to be paid. It is not to be supposed that all those appointed to the Committees in the different States will be in a position to work voluntarily without any remuneration for the time they lose in this business. At least, I hope they will not be.
– They will be expected to do so, anyhow.
– I do not think they will do it, nor is it fair to ask people to give up their time, because, if they are going to be truly representative of the class from which the soldiers have come, they will not be able to afford the time to devote to this work voluntarily. I foresee the possibility of a large proportion of this money being frittered away in salaries and expenses. The Repatriation Department has the whole of the machinery for the distribution of the money. There is the Commission in Victoria with head-quarters here; there are in every State a Deputy Commissioner and his staff, with offices in which to work, and this central organization has the control of country Committees throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. What more is required for the purpose of this Bill than the machinery already at the disposal of Parliament? I am confident that the Committee made a mistake in agreeing to the appointment of a Trust, as pro posed by the Government in the Bill as it first came to us. I hope they will not accentuate that mistake by increasing the staff required to distribute the money. I trust that the amendment will be rejected, and that the Committee will allow the Repatriation Department to deal with the fund, as it is most capable of doing.
– After advocating State rights in a State House, and being defeated, I think the next best thing I can do is to support the course advocated’ by Senator Newland, as being the most practicable way of dealing with the fund. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) during the secondreading debate, and in the early, stages of the Committee discussion, stressed the point that the soldiers had written to the Government to ask whether the money that had been left in trust was to be used in lieu of Government money for repatriation purposes.
– The honorable senator is getting wide of the question before the Committee.
– I wish to give reasons why the amendment should not be accepted, if you will give me an opportunity of dealing with the matter in my own way.
– I shall give the honorable senator every opportunity that the Standing Orders allow.
– I am not aware that I have yet broken any of the Standing Orders.
– The honorable senator must confine himself to the amendment from another place.
– I was trying to point out that the amendment should be rejected in order that the whole matter might be re-opened, and the Repatriation Department allowed to administer the fund. The returned soldiers have not said that they have any objection to the Repatriation Department dealing with the fund. What they did object to was to trust money being used in lieu of Government money for repatriation purposes. The Minister rightly replied to their letters to the effect that trust money was not being so used, and that there was no intention of so using it. The Committee will do the right thing if it rejects the amendment, in order to open the way for Senator Newland’s amendment.
- Senator Newland has no amendment -before the Chair. The Committee must either agree to or reject the amendment from another place.
– Then I sincerely hope the Committee will reject it.
– I cannot understand those honorable senators who hold that the fund ought to be administered by the established Repatriation Department raising that question at this stage. Senator Newland takes altogether an exaggerated view of the situation. The Committee, when dealing with the Rill, decided by an overwhelming majority that the fund must be administered by an independent tribunal, and not associated with a Government Department. “We having decided that, what does it matter whether the proposed State Committees have statutory authority, or merely the authority of the Minister?
– The Committee did not decide anything of the kind.
– It was decided’ od division by a majority of, I think, 12 to 3 that the fund should ‘be kept altogether separate from the Repatriation Department.
– It was decided that the Repatriation Department should do the necessary work in the various States.
– No. The Minister assured the Committee that it would be the policy of the trustees to appoint a Local Committee in each State to investigate cases, and advise as to the distribution of the fund. I understood all along that when the Bill was passed, and the trustees were appointed, the first thing they would do would be to bring into existence a sub-committee in each State, through, the Red Cross or some other organization, to investigate applications for assistance, and that the recommendations of the sub-committees would come back to the central Trust, who would pay the amount recommended if they thought that proper inquiries had been made, and a reasonable case made out.
– That is not a clear view of what we decided.
– The honorable senator belongs to the little opposition, and I cannot expect him to see the situation asI see it, or understand it as I understand it. “We view the Bill and its purposes from different aspects. I have stated how I understand it, and as I happen for once in my life to be on the side of the majority, there must be a majority in this Committee who agree with me.
– Your view is only ai hemisphere of it.
– Then I am satisfied! with a hemisphere at present. I am not particular whether the amendment of another place is accepted or not, becauseI am convinced that the trustees will appoint competent and responsible State Committees. I assume that the trustees are absolutely capable and honest persons. Their integrity has not been disputed or doubted in the least. I take it that even, if the amendment is not carried they will appoint a Committee in each State.
– Cannot you see that we are trying to save expense in administration?
– I do not think that the honorable senator and those who support him are saving any expense. The amendment merely gives the Local Committees statutory authority. I am sure that every honorable senator has devoted days and nights of his time gratuitously to the welfare of different sections of the community. I worked for years on honorary committees. It has been my dutynight after night to attend honorary committees dealing with different affairs affecting the people in my district, and togive services for which I never received a sixpence. Are there not men and womenin every State who are imbued with thesame patriotic spirit? I venture to say that there are plenty of persons who will only be too glad to assist in the administration of this fund by offering their services in an honorary capacity. I do not fear the effect of the amendment; and, asthe other branch of the Legislature has seen fit to insert it, I shall support it.
Question - That the House of Representatives’ amendment he agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
The following papers were presented : -
Australian Institute of Tropical Medicine, Townsville, Queensland - YearlyReport, 1st January to 31st December, 1919.
Papua.- AnnualReport for the year 1918-19.
Motion (by Senator Russell) pro posed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
– In the absence of an alteration in our Standing Orders which will permit of a single honorable senator upon this side of the chamber calling for a division - an alteration which I hope will be effected - there will be no means in the near future by which I can emphasize my opposition to any measure.
– That condition of affairs will not obtain until the end of June.
– And I am preparing for the end of June. I wish to enter my protest against this most objectionable Bill. It provides for a method of dealing with late enemy subjects with which I entirely disagree. The war is over, and peace has been not merely signed, but ratified. Yet we find the Go vernment exhibiting so much hostility to late enemy subjects that even a youth who may be desirous of leaving Germany during the next five years will be denied admission to the Commonwealth. Whilst the war was in progress, there were a very large number of enemy subjects in this country, and I challenge the Government to point to any acts by these people which caused them very much uneasiness. It would be wise for us to enter wholeheartedly into the peace which is now with us. I take it that the German soldier who fought for his country occupies precisely the same position as does the soldlier who fought with the Allies. There is nothing discreditable about the action of a man who joins the colours and fights for his country. On the contrary, there is something exceedingly creditable to him. Under this Bill, late enemy subjects are to be penalized by being refused admission to the Commonwealth for a period of five years. Yet I know of whole towns in Australia which have been established by German colonists. If we possessed only a little scrap of territory in which there was only room for ourselves, there might be some reason for wishing to exclude desirable settlers from abroad. We all know that Britain and Germany were ancient allies, and that on many a battlefield their soldiers have fought together. In the late war, the position was otherwise. That, however, was not due to the will of the people of Germany, but to that of a dominant military caste there. The record of Australia during the war is such that it ought not to be marred by petty legislation of this character. The measure appeals to the lowest passions of humanity. The war being over, the sooner we get back to normal conditions the better. To seek to impose such a prohibition upon the admission to the Commonwealth of late enemy subjects is altogether derogatory to our national dignity. I quite recognise that it will be futile for me to call for a division on this matter, because only a few minutes ago we witnessed the humiliating spectacle of a majority of the Nationalist party supporting an amendment made by another place which they were not prepared to accept when the measure to which it related was under consideration in this Chamber.
– With a good deal of what Senator Gardiner has said I am in entire agreement. He has pointed out that the war was largely caused by an autocratic military caste in Germany. Whilst I quite recognise that, it cannot be denied that the people of any country must collectively accept full responsibility for the particular form of government which obtains there. There was a time in England when that country was ruled by a despotic class. But Britons altered those conditions long ago. Though the entire responsibility for the late war does not rest upon every individual in Germany, it must be acknowledged that all German citizens humbly acquiesced in the action of their ruling military caste. People may not be guilty of an offence by direct action, but if by acquiescence in a policy that enables a certain class to take possession and direct the policy of the Government, then they cannot be altogether excused. It has been contended that there has been a revolution in Germany in favour of constitutional government. I hope this is true, and I feel quite satisfied that as soon as Germany furnishes proof that she has abandoned for ever a desire for military authority, and has embraced the principles of Democracy, she will receive the privileges of citizenship in the Commonwealth. Nobody would then be more willing than I to lift the embargo which this Bill places upon the introduction to Australia of people of that country. But I remind honorable senators that there have been rumours of revolutions and counterrevolutions in Germany, and that an outstanding feature of this upheaval is the fact that the military party appears to be again making an attempt to secure control. In view of what the Empire has gone through, we have every right now to be careful. During my administration of the Defence Department I had no occasion to intern any person, but I investigated, I should say, very nearly 1,000 cases which came before me, and though sometimes I had wondered whether we were not a little bit panicky in regard to these people, my investigation of hundreds of cases showed that the evidence was very much stronger than I believed it to be. Possibly this may have been due to the German system of education, but, at all events, it appears that they have not yet reached that stage of civilization which justifies our lifting the embargo. I admire the fight which certain sections of
Germany are putting up for constitutional government, but, after all, this fight is only being waged by a certain section of the people. An equally strong section appears to be fighting for the retention of military domination. But, as I have already said, when Germany gives evidence that she is under a democratic and constitutional government responsible to the people, there will be no further objection to receiving them whole-heartedly as citizens of the Commonwealth. I trust, therefore, that the Bill will not be further delayed. It is essential that it should be on our statute-book temporarily if not permanently.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 28th April (vide page 1519), on motion by Senator Russell -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– It is strange that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) who is always so ready to oppose Bills which, in the opinion of honorable senators on this side are essential to the welfare of the State, should be acquiescent concerning this measure, the passage of which, I think, should be opposed. It is undoubtedly the outcome of our experiences during the five or six black years of war, when, no doubt, it would have been convenient for the Government to exercise such drastic power in order to ascertain the movements of every non-British citizen in the Commonwealth. But now that the time of stress has ended, we ought to avoid passing legislation which might, in a very serous degree, harass those who may wish to come to Australia, and who, in all probability, would develop into very good citizens. The definition clause states that every person who is not of British nationality is an alien. And so Americans, Frenchmen, Belgians, Danes, Swedes, or Norwegians, all of whom would make excellent citizens, will be regarded as aliens, and subject to all the disabilities sought to be imposed’ upon aliens by this measure. The definition clause also states that an officer means -
A member of the police force, or an officer of Customs, or an officer of the Department administering this Act, or a prescribed officer, or any person authorized by the Minister to exercise the powers conferred on officers by this Act.
This means practically that any officer of the Public Service may be authorized to exercise the powers referred to.
In clause 6 there is provision for a penalty of £100 or imprisonment for six months - the maximum penalty, of course - on aliens who land before registration, although the alien concerned may be arrested while seeking a registrar so that he may comply with the Act.
– No; the registrar will go on board the vessel.
– But suppose the registrar does not go on a boat on its arrival at an Australian port, and an alien who may be on board sets out to find him ? If by any chance an officious policeman or an ambitious officer from some Department meets that man he will have power to arrest him, and the alien will be liable to the penalties I have mentioned. I admit, of course, that this is rather an extravagant view of the possibilities, but the fact that any officer of the Commonwealth may have power to arrest a man in these circumstances is sufficient reason for objecting .to this class of legislation.
In clause 9, there is provision for an officer to require the signature and thumb prints of an alien, who will, therefore, be treated as a criminal, and if he refuses to submit to this indignity, a maximum penalty of £100 or six months’ imprisonment may be “ shovelled “ out to him.
The measure is altogether too drastic, though I can quite understand the need for its introduction during war time. The one thing we need in Australia is more population. We ought to have at least 10,000,000 of people here, and so we should give every encouragement to the peoples of other nationalities who are likely to uphold the standard of our race and become good citizens. We cannot have a better class than those I have already named.
– The provision- with regard to thumb prints has been inserted to meet the case of Chinese and other Asiatics, who in the past have been exchanging their passports. It is impossible to identify them otherwise.
– I could understand the need for the clause if it referred specifically to Asiatics, but it includes everybody. There can be no justification for taking the power by statutory law to harass any person desiring to enter the Commonwealth, but who does not happen to be of British nationality.
– A man may be a suspected felon.
– Of course; but the clause would apply to the average alien, and, in my judgment, it is quite unnecessary.
Clause 11 contains further harassing provisions. It requires any alien who changes his place of abode to notify the registrar, so that a tourist coming from, say, America to Melbourne, and putting up at Menzies’ Hotel, would have to register, and then, if he went to the Hotel Australia, in Sydney, he would have to re-register, otherwise he would be liable to a penalty.
Clause 13 sets out that every hotelkeeper must question strangers who seek accommodation. In the langauge of the clause, the hotelkeeper would be called upon to ask a stranger his name, nationality, date of arrival, previous place of abode, if arrived by a vessel, the name of vessel, date of departure, destination on departure, and, if departing by a vessel, the name of the vessel. Fancy every hotelkeeper having to put these questions to strangers who apply for accommodation, and entering the replies in a register for the information of the authorities? I am afraid some will get into serious trouble if they have not got it all ready for an officer, who, as I have already shown, may be almost any member of the Public Service.
– No; men will be definitely appointed.
– The definition clause is too wide altogether. Almost any member of the Public Service might be an “officer” under thi,s Bill.
– Did not the honorable senator support this Bill when we had it before us last year?
– I am prepared to give any Government absolute control of people during war time.
– We had this Bill under consideration before - ‘after the war was over.
– I believe, that the measure to which the honorable senator refers was discussed in the Senate while the war was continuing. I had to do many things which I did not like whilst the nation was at war. I do not like war, but I admit that stringent and drastic action may be necessary to preserve the country in such a crisis. Therefore, to say that I supported such a measure during war time is no argument against my opposition to this Bill at the present time.
Under clause 17 any officer may at any time require a person believed by him to be an alien to answer any question as to his name, birthplace, nationality, place of residence, ‘ movements, business, and so forth. One of the many “ officers “ who might be appointed under this Bill would be in a position under this clause to demand all this information from a man who desired to peacefully settle in Australia.
Clause 19 provides that an officer may arrest an alien without warrant. In the circumstances in which the Common wealth is now placed, we desire men from many nations to come to this country and become citizens. We have ample power under existing legislation to safeguard the Commonwealth against undesirable immigrants. If the Government desire immigration, I think they will be well advised if they withdraw this Bill.
– I understand that the object of the Bill is to prevent in the future what the Germans proved themselves so successful at in the past, namely, the “ peaceful penetration “ of Australia by German citizens. Germany used to send out so-called immigrants who were really emissaries of the German Government to settle in the Commonwealth, in order that they might gradually undermine our institutions. We know, as a matter of fact, that many of these persons were actually spies while in this country.
– Many of the German immigrant’s were good settlers. It would be impossible under this Bill to discriminate between them and the persons to whom the honorable senator refers.
– A great many Germans who came to this country were anything but good settlers, though I am prepared to agree with Senator Earle that some German immigrants were amongst our best settlers. They were splendid men, and they haveto suffer for the iniquity of their fellow countrymen.
– Would the honorable senator make no difference between an enemy alien and a friendly alien ?
– I do not see how that can be done.
– The class of settlers to whom the honorable senator refers - immigrants desiring to settle here and make homes for themselves and their families - should becomenaturalized, and. then the provisions of this Bill would not. apply to them.
– They would apply to them during the period between their entry into the Commonwealth and their naturalization.
- Senator Earle mentioned with abhorrence the possibility of the provisions of this Bill applying to immigrants from France, Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, and other countries with which we have friendly relations. Up to a certain point there is force in the honorable senator’s objection ; but he should remember that the districts of Alsace and Lorraine are now parts of France, and there are many people in those districts who have strong German sympathies. How could we differentiate between the splendid Frenchmen whom we should be glad to welcome here, and people who might really be sent by the German Government from the districts to which I have referred to carry out their former policy of peaceful penetration in Australia ?
If we consider the Belgians, who suffered so much and fought so gallantly on. the side of the Allies during the war, honorable senators who have spoken to our returned soldiers must know that there were a very great many Belgian spies who were men of no principle, and prepared to serve any side for their own advantage. How could we differentiate between men who might be sent here by our late enemies, and who would bea positive danger to the country in the event of another war, and immigrants intending to peacefully settle in Australia, and become citizens of this country?
With regard to the immigration of Danes, we should remember that Denmark recently had a considerable accession to her territory, and we saw by the voting at the plebiscite which took place, that a considerable number of the people of the districts concerned were persons of strong German sympathies. With respect to Norwegians and Swedes, we know that during the wai1 the people of Sweden were hand in glove with the Germans, and we do not want as immigrants to this country people of Sweden who have strong German sympathies. If they were admitted to this country, they would probably be prepared to carry on the iniquitous campaign of peaceful penetration with which we have been made so familiar.
We want population in Australia, and we should be glad, I think, to welcome even the right sort of Germans if we could get them, and they could be relied upon to behave themselves after their arrival here. From the experience we have had, I am afraid that many of them would not be found to be of our way of thinking.
I think that the provisions of this Bill should not apply to travellers touring this country.
– They will not.
– I am glad to hear the Minister say that. We should encourage the ordinary tourist from America desiring to take a look round the country to see whether it would be advisable for him to start in business here, or to buy our wool and other products.
As the war is now over, and as there is a certain amount of disgrace attached to the- taking of finger prints, which is nearly always associated with a (‘suspicion pf crime, the provision dealing with that matter might be modified when we get into Committee. I think that a measure of this sort is absolutely necessary. We want to know who are Australians and who are aliens, and the Government must be given every facility to obtain that information, so that we may not run the risk of admitting enemy spies to the country. I knew one or two of them, but, fortunately for themselves, they knew when war was to be declared, and they left Australia before it was declared. We must be in a position to have such people under control. We should remember further that, gallant as the French proved themselves to be, there are bad Frenchmen. We know that men who were in high places in France have actually been shot as traitors to their country.
We need immigrants badly, but we must have the right sort. We want men who fought for the Empire, and we should be glad to welcome that class of Germans who, in the past, came to settle in Australia in order to escape the restrictions upon their liberties to which they were subjected in their own country. In Committee, some amendments might be considered to meet Senator Earle’s objections.
– If we agree to die second reading of the Bill, we might as well pass it. I, personally, do not think there is any need for such a Bill.
– I agree that some of the clauses are very drastic. The Minister might be willing to modify them, but it is, in my view, absolutely necessary to give the Government power to deal drastically with the class of immigrants who, in the past, proved such a danger to Australia.
.- I should like to know what is our position in relation to the people of other countries who have adopted legislation similar to the Passports Bill, with which we were dealing yesterday. Some very drastic provisions have been included in the Passports Bill which might be applied to persons visiting this country, possibly with the intention to settle here. I realize that it is necessary to have some power of supervision of people coming to Australia, but this Bill carries the precautions a little too far. A case was brought under my notice recently of a gentleman who came here from America. He came to Australia with his wife on what was practically a pleasure trip, but while here he was considering the advisability of investing in a certain primary industry in Australia. When this gentleman arrived in Sydney by one of the American boats, it was necessary for him to undergo the cross-examination provided for under this Bill, and at present provided for under the War Precautions Act. He had to carry about with him in his pocket a certificate with his finger-prints on it describing him as an alien. And, as Senator Earle pointed out in his able speech, thi3 man could not leave one hotel or one place to go to another without first notifying the local police station as to where he was going.
– Surely the honorable senator is making a mistake!
– I am not. I am prepared to give Senator de Largie the name of the gentleman to whom I refer, and he can make inquiries from him himself. Senator Reid also met this gentleman, and knows the man to whom I refer. If we are to adopt in its entirety the system in operation in the countries of Europe prior to the war, we shall unnecessarily restrict the liberties of visitors to Australia who may be intending to settle here.
– I should not have troubled the Senate with any remarks on this Bill but for the extraordinary statement just made by Senator Foll.
– I can substantiate it. I do not make loose statements.
– I hope the honorable senator will be able to substantiate it, because such a statement as he has made should not be allowed to go without challenge. He says that an American citizen, on arrival in Australia, after he has gone through the ordinary passport examination, must, if leaving one town to go to another, notify the authorities of his intention.
– This Bill provides for the same thing.
– I am not talking of the Bill just now, but of the practice which Senator Foll asserts is followed at the present time.
– Let the honorable senator read the War Precautions regulations dealing with the matter.
– The War Precautions regulations are not in vogue at the present time.
– The regulation to which I refer is in operation now.
– As far as passports were concerned, it was necessary for every traveller to possess one-
– Certain regulations under the War Precautions Act are practically the same as the provisions in this Bill.
– It is merely extending the War Precautions Act by legislation.
– I certainly thought that an American citizen visiting the Commonwealth required a passport to admit him, but I do not think he is under any further obligation.
– He would be absolutely free.
– I cannot understand an American tourist visiting Australia beingcompelled to report to the authorities at every centre, as that is quite contrary to the practice, and also, I believe, to the provisions in this Bill.
– I am prepared to submit the name to the Minister to enable inquiries to be made. I think that is fair.
- Senator Foll has made the statement, and further inquiries should be made, as the position is most extraordinary. During the war period I have known of American citizens visiting this country, but I have never heard of one having to submit to the restrictions mentioned. There must be something more than Senator Foll has stated, because surely an individual would not have to report his arrival and departure at every place he visited unless he was a criminal or a suspect? We should not have cases of that kind submitted without the fullest possible particulars being given, because I do not think an average tourist has to report in the manner suggested.
– I was very much surprised at Senator Earle complaining because it was not my intention to speak on the second reading of this Bill. The honorable senator must remember that in June or July of last year a similar measure was before the Senate, and on that occasion I discussed its provisions at some length, and Senator Earle opposed every suggestion I brought forward. I am glad to see that his mind is now working, as he has not used one argument against this Bill that I did not bring forward nine months ago. I am so disgusted with its provisions that I did not intend discussing it, as it seems futile to be continually putting my objections to legislation of this character before the Senate, when, sitting alone, I am unable to get a division. If I had opposed the Bill, Senator Earle’s loyalty to the Government would have been such, that notwithstanding the arguments I brought forward, he would have supported his col- leagues. That is my experience of the honorable senator since he has been a member of the Chamber.
– He is supporting the honorable senator now, and there is a possibility of a division being obtained.
– If I called for a division I suppose he would walk out of the Chamber rather than “vote against the Government. The Bill that was bef ore the Senate last year contained all the objectionable clauses embodied in the present measure, and I remember holding up the Senate and drawing attention to the inconvenience and expense that would be caused by compelling hotelkeepers and boardinghouse proprietors to register the names of their boarders. This is the most ridiculous piece of legislation ever introduced into any Parliament-
– It was all right during the war.
– In order to keep a record of one or two who may be regarded by some as undesirable, the whole travelling community is to be inconvenienced. Senator Russell assured the Senate that the provisions of this Bill do not apply to tourists, but such is not the case, because a person entering the Commonwealth has to register his or her name, under a penalty of £100.
– All oversea travellers, on leaving a vessel, have to register.
– Of course they have, even law-abiding tourists visiting the country.
– A tourist does not have to report after he has landed, neither has a person who has taken up his abode here.
– If a tourist visits Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide or Perth he has to register, and one can easily imagine the consternation that will be caused at our leading residential establishments when an oversea vessel arrives with a full passenger list. The hotelkeepers or persons in charge of boarding establishments of any kind are under a penalty of £100 if they fail to record the particulars outlined in this Bill. Senator Earle stated that he was in favour of legislation of this kind during the war period, but when we were discussing a similar measure last year the war was over. I am glad, however, that he now realizes that the Bill contains many objectionable features. Perhaps the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell), in reply, will give some reasons for submitting such a proposal. The Bill provides in clause 13 that -
It shall be the duty of the keeper of every hotel, inn, boardinghouse, and lodginghouse in Australia, to provide himself with a register for the purpose of this section, and to ascertain and enter therein the following particulars of all aliens staying at the hotel, inn, boardinghouse, or lodginghouse : - Name, nationality, date of arrival, previous place of abode, if arrived by vessel, name of vessel, date of departure, destination on departure, if departing by vessel, name of vessel -
Imagine Senator de Largie, for instance, endeavouring to secure accommodation at an hotel. The proprietor would probably say, “Hullo! here is a foreigner.” Although the honorable senator possesses a distinctly French name, it is more than probable his ancestors were taken across to Scotland by some worthy immigrants. Senator de Largie, under such circumstances, would have to submit to a severe cross-examination, lasting, perhaps, twenty minutes, at a time when he might be anxious to proceed with urgent business. Imagine the annoyance and inconvenience to which travellers will be put when they have to submit to a severe cross-examination by an inquisitive hotelkeeper. The clause continues - and if the keeper of an hotel, inn, boardinghouse, or lodging-house fails to provide himself with a register, or to ascertain, or enter therein the foregoing particulars in respect of any alien staying at his premises,
I wish to direct honorable senators’ attention particularly to the concluding portion of the clause - or if he makes any entry in any register which he knows, or could by the exercise of reasonable diligence have ascertained, to be false, shall be guilty of an offence.
It is not merely a matter of putting questions to a traveller, but the hotelkeeper has to ascertain by the exercise of reasonable diligence whether the statements submitted are accurate or otherwise. ‘ A woman of foreign birth may be the wife of an Australian citizen, and because she desires to temporarily reside at an hotel full particulars will have to be recorded. It will mean that a staff of clerks will be required to perform the necessary work. In many of our leading residential establishments it is difficult enough at present for the proprietors to conduct their businesses, without being compelled to undertake work on behalf of the Government. This legislation is absolutely unnecessary now the war is over, and I hope the Senate will defeat the second reading. Under the pretence of doing something in the interests of the community, the Government are re-enacting certain of the War Precautions Regulations. Some of the regulations are mentioned, but I do not know whether they are incorporated in the Bill.
– This will .be the only Act dealing with this matter.
– Covering tho* regulations ?
– Those that are embodied in the Bill. Tully 70,000 aliens are already registered, and we are not asking them to re-register.
– Possibly not; but what of the annoyance and inconvenience to be caused to the travelling public, to say nothing of the trouble that will be given to the proprietors of- residential establishments. Consider the position of tourists visiting Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, or Brisbane, and realize the expense and inconvenience to which they will be put.
– And what of Hobart?
– I should have placed Hobart first, because the hotelkeepers there will be the worst sufferers. During the summer months thousands of people who can afford to do so visit that desirable resort.
I can easily imagine Senator Plain, for instance, registering at an hotel, and, although he may look like a Scotchman, the proprietor may think he is a German; and in that assumption he may be right, as Carlyle claimed that the Scotch consisted chiefly of the descendants of, Germans, and he is an authority. Let us consider the position that would arise if Senators de Largie and Plain were travelling together. Would not an hotelkeeper be justified in believing that he was dealing with a combination of foreign individuals? If Senator Shannon happened to be with them, he would probably say, “Hulloa! Here is Ludendorff.”
– Do you think an hotelkeeper would admit them?
– If Senator Foll was with them, he would say, “ Here is a crowd of spies intent on stirring up strife in Australia.”
Apart from the humorous aspect which this measure presents, we have to realize the position in which a traveller will find himself. Senator Russell may smile; but it is not going to be an easy matter for an hotelkeeper, nor is the. Bill likely to prove of any benefit to the community. I will not further delay its passage, but it is the most useless piece of legislation that
Ave have ever been called upon to discuss. Notwithstanding what Senator Fairbairn has said concerning undesirables, I consider that all nationalities are really on the one footing. There are some Americans as good as some Australians, and there are some Australians as bad as some Americans. There is some equality in civilization, and we cannot discriminate.
– The Immigration Bill recently passed deals with undesirable immigrants.
– Yes ; but this is additional, and altogether unnecessary. Legislation of this kind does nothing effective, and will not bring us any nearer having reliable records. What it really means is that a piece of war-time legislation that was deemed to be necessary during the war ig to be continued now that peace has returned. This Bill, prepared during the war, now comes to the Senate, which, I suppose, will pass it, or it may be left, as on the last occasion, partly considered, and then we shall wait another nine months for it. I hope the Minister, in reply, will be able to tell us if there is any real reason why the whole of the community should be put to all this trouble by provisions which, even if they are carried out, will be of very little importance so far as the people of Australia are concerned.
.- Senator Earle and Senator Gardiner overlook one phase of this matter. While in theory their arguments might be very good if the people they have in their minds were to come here, at the present time Australia has every right to protect the citizens she already has and to safeguard their liberties in every possible way. During the present unrest, and the moving about of individuals, the Bill is very necessary. Senator de Largie has handed rae a card which he, although an Australian senator, had to sign when -entering Canada. He had to report himself, although he was practically the guest of the Canadian Government. Every one who enters Canada has to sign such a card and produce it for three years after he lands there. The regulations of the United States of America, are even more strict. Necessity and experience have evidently taught the United States of America and Canada, which in the past were open to immigrants, that they must enforce restrictions. The United States of America is one of the most glaring examples of the misuse of the liberty which that great country offered to European immigrants. One of the most serious troubles that the American people have to face now is to pick out a number of these immigrants and send them away again. Registration helps in that way. No doubt it is an inconvenience to some visitors, .and will b& some trouble to hotelkeepers and others, but it is a very necessary precaution, and will be of great use if carried out properly. I am sure that no one in Australia is desirous of having a class of immigrants entering this country who are likely to become a danger to the liberties we enjoy under our present free Constitution. We have had very little experience, except our war experience, in this matter, and the bestguide for us is the example of the United States of America and Canada, which, are going, not by their war experience, but. by their ordinary civil experience cf those undesirables who have entered their countries and become a nuisance to them. The card which Senator de Largie has shown me is not merely a war precaution. It. is a precaution dictated by experience in dealing with those undesirable persons whom the Canadian authorities find it necessary to keep under supervision for three years. Any one acquainted with affairs in the United States at present must know the very serious conditions obtaining there. In some of the districts they ..practically amount to civil war. Class consciousness is carried to such an extent as to create a war between those who wish to preserve the rights of the citizens and those who wish to destroy all organized government. Therefore, although I am personally in favour of allowing every one to come to Australia and enjoy its liberties, I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that it is our duty to protect those liberties, not only for our own sake, but for the sake of those who are growing up around us. I have no hesitation in supporting the Bill, which is a very necessary precaution.
– It will be better to deal with the points raised in Committee, because most of them seem to consist of misunderstandings regarding the probable operation of various provisions. Senator Gardiner said the Bill would not add anything new to our records, or improve them. The very object of the Bill is to add to and improve our records. There are over 71,000 aliens registered in Australia today under the War Precautions Act. - It is not the intention of the Government to continue that Act, and if this Bill is not put through all those records will be lost. If they are kept, all that will be necessary is to keep them up to date. It is very desirable to know as much as possible about the alien population of Australia. Senator Gardiner said the Bill would necessitate the employment of a new clerk in every hotel. If so many foreigners are coming to this country, it is a fair thing for us to ask who they are and what they are doing here. The honorable senator argued that hotelkeepers would be subjected to all sorts of regulations and restrictions. If I go to Sydney, the first thing the hotelkeeper does is to ask me my name, address, and occupation. Under this Bill, as soon as a man gives a foreign name, the hotelkeeper will ask him a few simple questions. When I asked the honorable senator if he could tell me of any case where a new clerk had to be specially put on to this work in any hotel in Australia, he could not name one. Registration went on under the War Precautions Act during the war.
– The hotelkeeper is not responsible under the War Precautions Act for the visitors to his hotel, but under this Bill he will have to exercise due diligence to see that his records are correct.
– The necessary forms will he prescribed, including certain lists of questions, and all the hotelkeeper will have to do will be to keep them. A registration officer will board every vessel at its first port of call in Australia. The passengers will be mustered, and the officer will register them. One honorable senator expressed the fear that a passenger might miss the officer. If the officer was not there, the passenger could not be convicted for not finding him when he was wanted. Tourists will not have to register again, except that at the hotel the publican will register their names and other ordinary particulars. If publicans ask half-a-dozen intelligent questions as prescribed, they will be no more responsible than any other man in Australia. There is another class of person, not a tourist, who lands in Australia, establishes an abode, but does not become’ naturalized. We have a right to say, “ Here is a German coming into our midst who shows no desire to become a citizen of Australia.”
– You will not let a German become naturalized now.
– The honorable senator is speaking of a temporary war period, but take any alien other than an enemy alien, and suppose that he does not become naturalized. If a man enters our country and wants to live in it and to exploit it commercially or otherwise, and shows no desire to become a naturalized citizen, it is at least fair that we should know who and what he is. Had we taken that precaution prior to, the war we should have had better information during wartime about aliens. This Bill has one weakness, and that is that the man we really want to get hold of - and especially the woman, because that has been our experience - is clever enough to beat the lot of us, and can get over or through all the Acts we like to pass. Whatever may be the permanent fate of legislation of this character, the Government feel that it is necessary to have it until the world settles down to normal conditions once more.
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.80 p.m.
– This morning I asked a question of the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) regarding a reply that he gave to a quotation which I had made from a speech by Mr. Kelly. I made that quotation without any consultation with Mr. Kelly, who seems to think that the reply of Senator Pearce somehow misrepresents the position. In justice, therefore, to Mr. Kelly, I take this opportunity of placing upon record a copy of a letter I have received from him. I would not make use of this communicationif it were of a confidential character, but in it Mr. Kelly says -
You are at liberty to use this letter in any way you think fit.
That being so, I propose to make use of it by placing it upon record in Hansard. It reads -
Senator the Honorable Albert Gardiner,
My attention has been drawn to Senator Pearce’s reply toyour question of the 16th inst. I do not mind the Minister’s reflection upon my motives, for one is accustomed to small things from that gentleman. But I am concerned with his misstatement of fact as to General Bridges.
That officer, who, as Inspector-General, was marked out for command in time of war, told me in Lennan’s Hotel, Brisbane, on the Saturday before the outbreak of war, that he was under orders to proceed to Port Darwin to report upon the militia detentions of that port. His ship was to sail that morning. Suspecting a trick to side-tracking, I then asked him if he would accept an order from me (I was not a Minister in his Department) to return to Melbourne. He agreed to do so, and 1 immediately wired to senator Millen informing him of my action. My colleague replied asking me to ask the General to remain in Brisbane pending instructions. My colleague then recalled him to Melbourne.
I do not think Senator Millen will deny these facts, but should his memory not he as clear as mine, the wires (unless placed upon his private file) should be onrecord. At any rate his wire recalling the Generalshould certainly be on record, and that was despatched after the vessel which the General was instructed to catch had left Brisbane. If evidence were required of Senator Pearce’s subservience to-day to a military clique (shall I call it the seniority brigade?) which is determined to prevent the utilization of the best brains brought out by the war, you will find it in the studied insult to General Monash in the Governor-General’s speech opening Parliament, and in the fact that no citizen officer, however brilliant, has been deemed worthy of permanent military employment as are permanent officers whose war records were far from successful.
Senator Gardiner reading.
– Order! Attention having been called to the state of the House, business cannot be proceeded with until the bells have been rung and a quorum formed.
Senator Gardiner still reading,
– Order ! I direct the Hansard reporter to take no notice of the matter Toad after the call for a quorum.
Senator Foll having left the chamber,
– I direct the Usher of the Black Rod to bring Senator Foll back to the Chamber.
Senator Foll having returned,
– I would point out to the honorablesenator that he should not have left the chamber while the bells were ringing for a quorum.
– I beg your pardon, sir, I was not aware of any standing order which forbids that.
– The bells having been rung for two minutes, and there being no quorum present, the Senate stands adjourned until 3 o’clock on Wednesday next.
Senate adjourned at 2.37 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 April 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1920/19200430_senate_8_91/>.