8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Efficiencyof Duntroon Graduates.
– On behalf of Senator Gardiner I ask the Minister for Defence if he is now in a position to supply the reports received by the Defence Department with regard to the efficiency of Duntroon graduates?
SenatorPEARCE.- On the 21st April Senator Gardiner asked if, during the war, reports favorable to the conduct and efficiency of graduates from Duntroon; had been furnished to the Defence Department; and, if so, would I. lay them on the table of the Senate? In reply, I said that some reports had been received, and I would later have them laid on the table. I now lay them on the table of the Senate.
The following papers were presented : -
Duntroon Cadets: Reports relative to conduet and efficiency during the war.
Industrial Troubles on Melbourne Wharfs*-. Report of Royal Commission.
Public Service Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1920, Nos. 64, 65.
War Service Homes Act - Land acquired for war service homes purposes atParramatta, New South Wales.
Deferred Pay of Naval Prisoners.
– I wish, without notice, to ask the Minister representing: the Minister for the Navy if he is aware thatthe men of the Psyche, who were court martialled at Singapore, in February, 1916, and some of whom were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment, have completed their sentences, but on making application for their deferred pay have been refused-
– Order! The honorable senator is making a statement under the guise of asking a question, and that, under the Standing Orders, is not permissible. The purpose of a question is to ask for information, and not to give it.
– In view of the treatment received by these men, and the fact that they have completed their terms of imprisonment-
– That also is a statement.
– Will the Minister for the Navy give direction that the deferred pay, due to these men, prior to their being courtmartialled, shall at once be made available to them?
– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question.
Non-Registration of “ Education
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General if he is aware that the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation have, for many months, published a paper known as Education, which conforms in every way to a newspaper, and that, although all the papers necessary to secure its registration have been filled in and deposited with the proper officer, registration has been refused. If so, will he take the necessary steps to see that this matter is at once reviewed with the object of at once granting the registration asked for?
– I ask the Minister not to reply to that question. The honorable senator has contravened my ruling by making a number of statements instead of asking for information. I should like to point out that while it is permissible by way of explanation to offer some information, in asking a question it is an evasion of the rules, and against the proper conduct of the business of the Senate, that the time for asking questions should be taken up by an honorable senator making innuendoes,or various derogatory and damaging statements about personsand public Departments under cover of asking a question.
Position of Blind Pensioners
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Has any decision been arrived at by the Government concerning an amendment of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, which would allow a blind pensioner to increase his income by labour without incurring a reduction of his pension?
– No. The matter is still under the consideration of the Government.
Free Railway Passes to Returned Soldiers
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Appointment of Additional Judges
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Is it a fact that forty-two claims for adjustment of wages and conditions of labour are awaiting the consideration of the Federal Industrial Arbitration Court? If so, will the Government take immediate action to strengthen the Court by the appointment of more Judges or arbitrators to cope with the work?
– The fact isas stated. The Government propose to take early action to deal with the position.
Pay for Holiday
asked theMinister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers, as supplied by the Minister for the Navy, are as follow: -
Report of Royal Commission on late German New Guinea.
SenatorFOLL asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
When will the report of the Royal Commission on German New Guinea be made available to Parliament?
– It is proposed to make the report available to Parliament at an early date.
Australians Enlisting in Imperial Forces.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Is an Australian who left Australia after the declaration of the war in 1914 to enlist in the Imperial Forces, who served in the fighting forces throughout the war, and who has returned to Australia, entitled to the benefit of the War Gratuity Act, subject to the deduction of any bounty or bonus received from the Imperial Government in respect of such service?
– No; the benefits of the Gratuity Act are for the Australian sailors and soldiers and for Imperial Reservists resident in Australia.
Motion (by Senator Buzacott) agreed to-
That two months’ leave of absence be granted to Senator Lynch on account of urgent private business.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Actto amend the Navigation Act 1912- 1919.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Senator Russell) read a first time.
.- I move-
That standing order 192 be suspended, so as to enable the second reading of this Bill to be moved forthwith.
I might inform honorable senators that I do not intend to carry the consideration of the Bill further than to make my second-reading speech upon it, so that it will be possible for them to look into the provisions of the measure during the week end.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
. - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The great majority of honorable senators will, I think, recognise in this measure an old friend. It has been before this Chamber many times during the past ten or twelve years. In the first place we passed a Bill dealing generally with the navigation laws of Australia. Subsequently, as the result of the wreck of the Titanic in 1912, consequent on a collision with an iceberg, a second Bill was passed through this Parliament, but owing to the outbreak of war it was never put into operation. Like all other countries, we have profited by the delay which has occurred, in thatwe have discovered the need for a number of formal or technical amendments in the Act. I am pleased to say that no great principal is involved in any of them. The main object of this measure is to ‘give effect to the determinations of the various conventions which were held by the nations of the world soon after the wreck of the Titanic. That vessel, it will be remembered, was deemed by its builders to be practically unsinkable. The terrible tragedy which occurred consequent upon her collision with an iceberg effectually shattered that theory, and the world has not yet been able to produce an unsinkable ship. But, as the result of that terrible tragedy various suggestions were made by the different nations, and Great Britain called a conference of the united nations for the purpose of devising the best means of preventing the recurrence of such a catastrophe, and of providing adequate facilities for the saving of human life. It will doubtless be recollected that, although the day was clear and the sea fairly calm when, the Titanic struck the iceberg, some 1,500 of the persons who were on board lost their lives. These lives might have been saved had proper appliances been available at the time. Under this Bill no vessel of that description will be permitted to carry passengers unless she is equipped with life-saving appliances for every one of them. The convention to which I have referred was guided by the best experts available, and their. decisions dealing with bulkheads, wireless communication, and a signalling code to indicate the position of a wreck, have been worked out in detail, arid have been accepted by the nations of the world almost unanimously. Those decisions have been embodied in this Bill, with certain limitations. For example, it will not be necessary to insist upon vessels which only travel down our bay, and which are practically in touch with land all the way, to be equipped upon as lavish a scale as deep-sea boats. But in Great Britain these decisions are to be made applicable to every vessel travelling along its coast. The. Act there has not yet been brought into operation, having been suspended during the war period. I understand, however, that practically a measure the same as that which I am submitting for the consideration of honorable senators will be operative in Great Britain from 1st July next. The Bill provides that boats of a certain carrying capacity shall be equipped with the most uptodate wireless apparatus. Since the Navigation Act was suspended in the Commonwealth I am glad to say that most of our up-to-date vessels have been so equipped.’ But this measure provides that no owner shall be able to escape that obligation.
There is another amendment to the principal Act to which I desire to direct attention. Certain powers are to be vested in the Minister to grant a permit under which ships may be released from the obligation to comply with all the conditions imposed by the Bill. It must not be forgotten that when the principal Act was- passed through this Parliament, shipping facili- ties were normal, and that we were therefore able to deal effectively with vesselstrading in our waters, and to adopt a somewhat independent attitude towardsthem. But that is not the position today, when quite one-third of the shipping, formerly upon our coast has been withdrawn. If the conditions embodied in the Bill are enforced in their entirety certain vessels have decided not to tradeon the Australian coast. Some honorable senators may be disposed to say,. “ Very well, let them go elsewhere.” But it would be fatal for us to adopt that attitude at the present time, when we donot possess the boats with which to replace them. The Government recognises, therefore, that it will be better to allow certain Eastern vessels which do not comply with these conditions to continueto trade in Australian waters during the abnormal period which now confronts us, than to entirely cut off from sea communication many of the distant parts of this continent. Vessels trading with the East have advised that if the Navigation Act in itsentirety be applied to the distant ports of the Commonwealth, they will beobliged to cease calling there, and as these ports are isolated so far as coastal shipping is concerned, it has been considered advisable to give power to the Minister to issue permits exempting from the operation of the Act those vessels trading with the East, and which call at the distant ports referred to. The permits will be for a limited time only. It is expected that as soon as shipping becomes normal the Act will have general application.
– I assume it is intended, in certain circumstances, to give power to exempt shipping companies from installing wireless apparatus and other safeguards.
– Yes ; but this exemption will only apply until such timesas shipping becomes normal again. At present, it is a question of accepting these Eastern boats for our north-west coast and the Northern Territory, or getting no shipping at all. Most of the other provisions of the Bill are of a minor character, and may be dealt with in Committee.
Debate (on motion by Senator GRANT) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Millen) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Millen) read a first time.
Pill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion b,y Senator Millen) read a first time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 30th April, vide page 1674) :
Clause 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Definitions).
Senator GRANT (New South Wales) £3.27]. - I should like some indication of the nature of the Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 176, 216, 232, and 281; Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 7, 97, 107, 125, 156, and 260; and Statutory Rules 1918, Nos. 25 and 270. If honorable senators knew what these rules meant, they would be in- a better position to understand the purpose of the Bill. As one who has paid a great deal of attention to the Statutory Rules made under the War Precautions Act, and who treasures carefully the five or six volumes in which they were published, I may say it is most difficult to ascertain the nature of the various amendments.
– They are practically a renewal of regulations made under the War Precautions Act with regard to aliens. We no longer desire to register aliens under that Act, and therefore the regulations relating to aliens are included in. this Bill, in order to retain some control over the 72,000 persons who were registered under the War Precautions Act., We are carrying their registration forward as a matter of form, and in future they will be recorded under the provisions of this measure. The other regulations were all in operation previously, but in a few cases there has been a slight modification. The regulations are very lengthy, but if honorable senators desire any particular one to be quoted I shall be pleased to read it. It. must be remembered, however, that they have all been before the Senate previously.
– Unfortunately I was not present when this measure was introduced, and I am not quite conversant with the reasons which animated the Government in bringing in a measure of this nature. Evidently it is part of the legacy we have received from the war, and it is legislation which happily has not been very freely in operation in our great Empire. I am speaking more particularly of the definition of “ alien.” I have no intention, of making a second-reading speech at this stage, as the Chamber seems to have accepted the principle of the measure, and it has doubtless been guided by the able arguments adduced by the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) in moving the second reading. I think, however, that there should be some discrimination in regard to legislation affecting aliens of different races and nations, particularly in view of the fact that certain aliens were favorable to our Empire during the great struggle through which we have passed. It does not seem right that such persons should be restricted in the same way as subjects of nations who were markedly hostile to us. I certainly see nothing in this measure that makes for any co-operation between the nations which were banded together in the recent titanic conflict, or which will relieve aliens who cannot be accused of hostility from registering. I do not know if the Peace Treaty affects the situation, but we should make some discrimination between aliens favorable to the Empire and those who are hostile. To group them in a measure of this character is not an acknowledgment of the friendly offices which we experienced at their hands during the war, and which were vital to the safety of the Empire.
– There is to be a reciprocal arrangement between countries whereby the restrictions can be dispensed with on both sides, but that will not apply to belligerent nations.
– If there is power to discriminate, it should not be discretionary, and there should be a definition of some kind in the measure. Before the war an Englishman visiting the Continent of Europe often ‘ expressed strong disapproval of the extensive passport system that was employed, and notwithstanding the fact that we have conquered, we are now adopting the practice which in times of peace we regarded as objectionable. Some discrimination should be made between aliens who collectively proved their friendliness and aliens who were the subjects of Powers opposing us. I would like the Minister in charge of the Bill to give us some further information in regard to this matter. I do not like to moye an amendment in this Chamber, constituted largely as it is of Government supporters, as it may not be particularly favorably received. But I urge upon honorable senators the necessity of considering the desirableness of making some discrimination in the direction I have indicated.
– Perhaps I may be excused for intervening at this juncture on this question, but I desire to make some comments in consequence of our experiences during the recent war. It is quite true that Great Britain had fewer regulations of this character than possibly any other civilized country, hut any one visiting Great Britain to-day would learn that public opinion has changed. Britons now realize that they can never ‘go back to the haphazard system previously in operation. One great difficulty experienced in Great Britain - and we had the same difficulty to some degree in Australia - was that they had no record of the aliens in their midst, whereas other countries knew exactly where they were. We had to proceed by a laborious, costly, and somewhat inefficient method of ascertaining where our aliens were located. It must be understood that this measure is not directed against the subjects of any particular country, but the war has demonstrated that every nation must endeavour to protect itself. Our Allies of today may be our enemies to-morrow. No country could be cited as more easy-going, in a sense, than the United States of America, and not only during the war; but before the United States of America entered the conflict, that country went to the extreme in this regard, and outdistanced anything that any other country had dene in regard to control of its alien population. Was it for the mere desire to interfere with the liberties of others 1 No. It was a matter of self-preservation. Notwithstanding the enormous alien population the United States of America had within her borders before she entered the war, she knew exactly where they were located, and took all the necessary measures to have them watched.
– An overwhelming majority was favorable to the ideals of the United States.
– Yes ; but a large number were not only willing to injure her, but did attempt to do so. Owing to her perfect organization when a neutral, which was put into operation before she declared war, the aliens in! that country were helpless, because when they made a hostile move they were swept into internment camps in thousands.
– There were very few overt cases of hostility.
– I attribute that to the fact that in the first “ bag “ they had all the heads of the German organizations, and that was, to a large extent, our experience in Australia, as the records of the Defence Department will prove.
– But we had no measure of this description.
– But we had the regulations under the War Precautions Act. Surely we have to recognise that, under the present disturbed state of the world, no country can afford to go back to that free and easy style that existed before. When the world has settled down and become peaceful, we may be able to relax and throw away all these safeguards. One has only to look round the world to-day to see that, apart from the question of war and force of that kind, there is another element at work in every civilized country for the overthrow of organized society as we know it, and that this movement is largely engineered and carried on in every country by aliens. One of the weapons by which we can keep control of them, or keep an eye on them, will be the registration of aliens. Is it not the announced intention of the great Bolshevik power of Russia, by force or other means, to overthrow the other nations of the world, or their organized forms of government? Is it not a fact that that power is spending huge sums of money to send its agents all over the world? The registration of aliens is one means by which a nation can keep am eye on those people. So long as they are peaceable, and prepared to become good citizens, it is no reflection upon them, and does no harm to them to call upon them to register; but if they show themselves to be enemies, that registration! then becomes our means of defence and of preventing them from bringing about loss of life and loss of wealth to our country.
– That is precisely my . point - that there should be discrimination in favour of those who not only show themselves not hostile to this country, but markedly friendly to it and its Allies.
– We cannot presuppose that a man is innocent or hostile. We must not discriminate until we are sure. We must require aliens when they come here to register; but when they have proved, by long residence and loyal conduct, that they are prepared to become peaceable and law-abiding citizens, and that they had no ulterior motive in coming here, the Minister has power to exempt them. I tell the Committee, as the result of what I saw during the war, and from personal experience of what is going on in this and every country around us, that if we do not “arm ourselves with these powers, we shall be placing our country at a disadvantage, and depriving it of one of the best means of preventing war and disturbance.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Aliens Registration Officers).
– Is ‘it the intention of the Government to constitute a police force to do the work of registration, or will the task be assigned to officers of the Electoral Department, or will special officers be appointed? There is a possibility that by this clause we may be introducing an entirely new Department, with great powers. Certainly it will have a good deal of work to do for a considerable time. Although a large number of aliens were registered under the War Precautions Act, more will be coming here for a number of years, and the more people come to this country, the greater will be the activity demanded from the officers whose task it will be to keep a complete record. If there is to be an entirely new Department, it will involve considerable expense.
Government to create a new Department. The work is already going on, and as I indicated previously, 72,000 aliens have already been-‘ registered. We do not purpose asking those people to re-register. We shall simply transfer their names from the registers made under the War Precautions Act to those created under this so-called civil law. It is intended neither to create a new Department nor to employ a new outside staff. Most of the work will be done aboard the ships, where registration will be effected by the Customs officers, who are doing the work now. After aliens have ‘been registered on a ship, if they settle down in Australia and become naturalized, they will become ordinary citizens, but if they take up their permanent abode here and do not become naturalized, then they will be compelled to register. Probably it is not . every foreigner that will be compelled to come under that registration, while the tourist, the commercial man, and others who wish to go through the country temporarily, will be free to do so. We have, however, a right to know what the foreigner who takes up his permanent abode here without becoming naturalized is doing. We should be able to put our hands on him. The Minister has the right under this Bill to grant exemptions, and it fs possible that America, or other countries, will make a friendly international arrangement for exemption on both sides. ‘Still, I do not know that even that would be good policy to apply indiscriminately, because some of the worst characters that have ever come to this country have been the off-scourings of other nations, kicked out of America. Although they are not a, very large section in Australia yet, we ought to take every precaution that they do not increase here without our knowing all about them. The work of registration, instead of increasing, ought to decrease, as only those foreigners who arrive here in the future will have to be registered.
.- The Minister has just said that tourists will not come under the provisions of this Bill.
– I did not say so. They will be registered on the ship. Then they will get a permit .to go where they like.
– That is all I wanted to find out.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 and 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 -
.- I move-
That after the word “ person “, line 1, the words “ (not being the agent for the vessel or a person employed by him,)” be inserted.
It has been pointed outto us by the shipping companies that the clause as it stands may delay them in their business. The amendment will permit anybody who has official duties to perform for the owners or agent to go on board before the registration officer.
– How is a person meeting a vessel onarrival at a wharf to know that there are aliens on board whohave not been registered? A quite innocent person may render himself liable to a very severe penalty by boarding a vessel . on her arrival because there may happen to be an alien on board, though he may know nothing about it. The onus should, I think, be on the shipping people not to allow any one to go on board a ship bringing aliens to this country until they have been registered.
. - The honorable senator has raised an interesting point. In practice it will be found that the onus will -be thrown on the shipping people. It is a f airly common, thing when a vessel arrives, and the gangways are let down, for people to go on board, and, should the vessel have aliens on board, such persons would not be at all likely to be penalized, whilst the master of the ship certainly would be. The usual practice is for the officer carrying out this work to board a vessel prior to any facilities being afforded to the general public to. board her. If an individual jumped into the water and swam to a vessel to board her, his action, would immediately suggest a motive to evade the law. In practice, the ordinary citizen will probably not be able to get on board a vessel until the registration of any aliens on board has been completed, probablyby an officer who will have boarded the vessel long before she has reached the wharf. This class of work has been carried out under the “War Precautions Act, and I have not heard of a single case of inconvenience to innocent persons as a result. We must have complete power to deal with persons who would board a vessel for the purpose of evading the law, or enabling some other person to evade it.
– Is the registration to take place when some Commonwealth officer is on board the vessel before any landing is actually effected?
– Yes, the ship’s officers will help in this matter. They will produce a list of aliens, if any, who are on board, and in many cases the work of the officer under this Bill will be merely to copy the ship’s record into his book.
– The master of a vessel is not supposed to land and proceed to a Government office to register aliens on board his vessel ?
– No; a Commonwealth officer, under this Bill, will go on board a vessel upon her arrival, or perhaps just prior to her arrival, and the master of the vessel will not be allowed to land a single passenger until the registration of aliens on board is completed. This work is going on to-day without complaint from any one, and ‘at the same time we are securing a valuable record of aliens arriving in this country, which it is necessary that we should have.
Amendment agreed to.
– In view of the Minister’s explanation, I cannot see what purpose this clause serves. It provides for the punishment of persons who go on board a vessel before certain things are done, and the Minister tells us that no one is allowed to go on board a vessel until they have been done. I agree with Senator Rowell that noone can know whether there are aliens on board a vessel or not, nor will a person desiring to board a vessel at once on her arrival know whether he has been preceded by an officer under this Bill, and that that officer has secured the . registration of any aliens who may be on board. It seems to me that the clause is quite unnecessary.
– Supposing a person forces his way up the gangway on the arrival of a vessel.
– That would be wilfully boarding the vessel
– I see the point which Senator Crawford makes, and though it is quite clear to my mind that it is not intended under this clause to penalize such innocent persons as the honorable senator refers to, I would have no objection to the insertion of the word “ wilfully.” I point out, however, that it would be very difficult to prove that a person “wilfully” boarded a vessel because it is a question of intention. The police and Customs officers of Australia have a reputation all over the world for courtesy and politeness in the performance of duties of this kind, and they are not likely, upon being invested with this power, to abuse it in dealing with ordinary citizens.
– Ibelieve that the onus in this matter should be thrown on the master or agent of the ship, who will be in a position to know whether the provisions of the law in respect of the registration of aliens brought to Australia have been complied with, to prevent any one coming on board until the Commonwealth officer has completed the registration of any aliens who may be on board.
– Unquestionably the man who forces himself on board a vessel upon her arrival, or who gets into a small boat in order to board a vessel, will not be acting innocently, and should be dealt with under this clause. It is quite a common thing’ for men to force themselves on board vessels at Fremantle, and ships often carry more passengers leaving that port than they had when arriving at it. This clause will not in any way affect law-abiding citizens who board vessels on their arrival without intention to do any wrong. Senator Crawford believes that the onus of preventing persons boarding a vessel until the registration of aliens on board has been completed should be thrown on the ship’s master, or shipping company. I may tell him that the regulations will probably provide that the ship’s master shall have a list of aliens on board the vessel prepared for the Commonwealth officer acting under this Bill. If any person is anxious to get an alien quickly off a boat before he is registered, and because he may have some criminal record in another country, that person should certainly be liable to punishment for breaking the law. I have said I have no objection to the use of the word “wilfully,” but it is a very difficult matter to prove wilful intention to do wrong, and I feel sure that in actual operation it will be found that the clause will do no injury to innocent persons.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 9 -
An aliens registration officer or other officer acting under this Act may require an alien (if he can write) to write his usual signature on any form or other document, and to allow a print of his fingers and thumbs or any of them to be taken on any form or other document; and any alien who refuses to write his signature, or writes a signature which is not his usual signature, or who refuses to allow a complete and legible print of any of his fingers and thumbs to be taken, shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty: £100 or imprisonment for six months.
– I think that the provision for the taking of thumb prints might very well be omitted from this clause. There is a nasty suspicion of criminality in demanding the thumb print of any person.
– It is intended to apply the provision only to persons suspected of being criminals.’
– That may be so, but under this clause any one apparently may be suspected of being a criminal, and asked to allow a print of his fingers and thumbs to be taken. I would like the Minister to say whether a similar provision is in operation in any other part of the world. I have not heard of this being done in any civilized country. The alien will have to write his or her signature, and will have passports examined in other parts of the world, and I therefore do not think that this drastic provision is necessary. If the Minister is able to give reasons to show that such a provision is necessary to keep out criminals, I shall have to withdraw my objection, but I do not know of any good reason for it, and I should like especially to know whether what is proposed is done, in any other part of the world?
– I need not emphasize the value of finger prints in the detection of criminals.
– They are not accepted as absolute evidence.
– That may be, but it is very helpful in dealing with criminals to be able to exchange with the authorities in other parts of the world copies of the thumb prints of notorious criminals. If we get the information, for instance, that a man on board a certain vessel coming to Australia is suspected of being a notorious criminal, it is not an unreasonable thing for us to take his thumb print when he arrives here. This provision will not apply to the ordinary citizen- Another phase of the question is that, to Europeans, all Chinese and people of other Eastern races appear to be very much alike, and this would be a convenient means of distinguishing between them. It has been known for many years that Chinese have returned to China and other Chinamen have come to Australia on their passports. We should have a perfect record of aliens landing in this country if their thumb prints were taken. This provision is not at all likely to be abused, though, of course, I know that any law may be abused.
– The Minister probably is aware that the taking of thumb prints has been the cause of a great deal of feeling between some Indian-British subjects and ourselves.
– That may have been so, but I can inform the honorable senator that quite satisfactory arrangements have been made between the Commonwealth and th« Indian Government in connexion with the matter, and there is no dissatisfaction about it at the present time.
– Indians who are British subjects are dissatisfied,1 whatever the Indian Government may say.
– One of the defects of our legislation for the detection of criminals is that it is not complete enough. I feel sure that no abuse is likely to take place under this provision, and it is necessary for the protection of the community against some of the wolves of society who are raging round the world to-day.
– It is all very well for the Minister to say that this particular clause will not be abused, and that it will protect us from the “ wolves “ who are roaming round the world, and contemplating coming to Australia. We have had no information given to justify the. passing of such a very drastic provision, and I therefore think that the words and to allow a print of hi3 fingers and thumb, or any of them, to be taken on any form or other document should be left out. During the war a great deal of drastic legislation was necessary, but I do not believe that it is wise to continue the operation of the War Precautions Act in this form. We have no information that any considerable number of criminals are likely to come to this country.
– They will not advise us that they are coming; you may depend upon that.
– We have not been advised that they are likely to come here, or that many have come to Australia during recent years. It is exceedingly offensive to many people to have a policeman demand from them a print of their thumbs. The war is over, and the necessity for much of this legislation ceased with the war. Probably the measure will never be utilized, except for the purpose of securing records. Only a very limited number of people coming to Australia are likely to be dangerous to this community. In view of the objection which will be raised to it by persons who may desire to enter Australia and remain here as citizens, it will be wise for us to strike out the latter portion of this clause. I therefore move -
That the words “ and to allow a print of his fingers and thumbs or any of them to be taken on any form or other document” be left out.
– I would like the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) to tell us whether legislation in regard to finger prints has been enacted in any other part of the world.
– Yes, in the United States of America.
– I take it. that there is no question that this provision will not be applied to the general public, but only to suspicious cases.
– - The note which I have upon the subject reads : “ It is not the practice to obtain thumb or finger prints except in the case of suspected criminals, or where it would be a useful means of tracing coloured immigrants who have entered the Commonwealth illegally.”
– Under clause 6, every child of an alien resident in the Commonwealth will be required, upon attaining the age of sixteen years, to register as an alien, and there is nothing in the measure to show that such a child’s finger prints shall not be taken. The Bill covers all persons entering the Commonwealth who are not of British origin, and also their children when they attain the age of sixteen years. It must not be forgotten, too, that the same officer will not always administer the Act. Yet it is proposed that thumb prints shall be regarded as conclusive evidence of the identity of an alien, even although such prints in relation to -a criminal are not so regarded by a Court of law. I fear that the clause will be productive of much irritation, without furnishing the conclusive proof of identity which is necessary. For example, a criminal desirous of entering the Commonwealth, could, shortly before his arrival in Australia, use a piece of pumicestone on his thumbs, so that the imprint would not be a good one. We have not yet reached the stage when such a provision as is embodied in this clause is needed. Under the criminal law we deal with individuals not because they are foreigners, but because they are criminals. A man who comes from Norway is an alien; but, because of that, ought we to treat him as a criminal?
– The suggestion only comes from the honorable senator himself.
– If a man came here with a criminal record, his passport ought to show something of what he is.
– But that type of man would have a forged passport.
– If he comes here with a forged passport we should probably know, and the police could then act. I object to the clause because of the irritation which it will cause to decent persons entering the Commonwealth.
– Judging by the remarks of Senator -Senior, one would imagine that under this Bill we intend that officers shall board a boat upon her arrival in Australia and say, “ I think that this man or that man is a criminal, and that his finger prints should, therefore, be taken.” That is not the way in which the measure will be administered. As a rule, officers do not- take action without definite evidence upon which to base their suspicion. ‘ To imagine a Customs officer going down to a vessel and saying to an ordinary, well-behaved American or Norwegian, “ Come on, I suspect you to be a criminal, and therefore I intend to take your finger prints,” is simply ridiculous. It imposes too big a tax upon one’s credulity. But where a man is fleeing from justice upon a forged passport, obviously we ought to have the power to arrest him. Otherwise, it would be better to have no law at all upon the subject. We wish to have the power to deal with spies and criminals who desire to come here. At the present time, there are not many of that class in Australia, and thank God for it. We do not want them. But to-day every country in the world is legislating to exclude this type of immigrant. The Industrial Workers of the World men, for example, who are being pushed out of America and Canada-, are naturally looking round for the best country to which they may go. These men have actually tried to enter Australia in limited numbers. Are we to welcome them ? If a man is a criminal, it ought to be an obligation on the part of his own country to keep him there. Yet Senator Senior wishes to offer him asylum here. I had hoped that the world had advanced beyond the stage when legislation of this kind would be required. But from the experience through which we have passed, we know that if Australia is not protected during the next ten years, she will be faced with serious peril because of the influx of undesirable aliens. Senator Senior has referred to the necessity, under this Bill, for a child of an alien resident in the Commonwealth to register upon attaining the age of sixteen years. A lad of alien parents who enters the Commonwealth at fourteen years of age is not required to register; but the moment he reaches sixteen years of age he is obliged to register. Why? Because he is a man. We all know that boys of sixteen years of age were heroes during the late war. If the son of an alien resident in the Commonwealth registers at sixteen years of age, there will be no trouble whatever, because he will have obeyed the law; . but if he refuses to register, we must have power to compel him to do so. I ask honorable senators to remember that we are living in a British country, and that Australian and British officers will administer this measure at most of our ports. As a matter of fact, more consideration has been extended by those officers to persons whose cases were on- the border-line than would be extended to them by any other country in the world. From the standpoint of the courtesy which they exhibit to persons entering the Commonwealth, our officers are almost perfection. They are well-behaved, tactful, and resourceful. They perform many acts of kindness to the travelling public, and may safely be trusted to exercise these powers in a reasonable way.
– I would point out that under the definition clause an alien is denned as a person who is not of British nationality. Whilst the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell’) was speaking a little while ago. I made one or two interjections regarding our Indian fellowsubjects, and I now ask him whether under this Bill a British Indian will be an alien 1
– He will not.
Clause agreed to.
Upon the registration of an alien in accordance with this Act. n certificate of registration in accordance with such of the prescribed forms ns is applicable to the case shall ‘be issued to him.
Senator SENIOR (South Australia) [4.201. - There is nothing, in this clause to prevent an alien who has been registered from transferring his registration certificate to another individual. It is his property, but he should be prohibited from parting with it.
– An alien upon registration will receive a certificate, but bond fide tourists will be permitted to travel without restric tions. These certificates! will, in fact, be an assistance rather than a hindrance to any man who wishes to travel through this country.
– The Minister appears to have missed my point. I was referring to the possibility of an alien parting with his registration certificate to some other alien, in much the same manner as voters’ certificates have in the past been transferred from one voter to another.
– If we catch any alien doing that we will give him six months. That is one of the penalties.
– But the clause does not state definitely that the transfer of a registration certificate shall be an unlawful act.
– I think clause 12 covers the position completely.
Clause agreed tp
Clause 11 (Aliens to report change of place of abode).
– When the Bill was in its second-reading stage I referred to the position of tourists, and I should like now to know if tourists having passports will be called upon to notify changes of address.
– Tourists properly credentialled - I have in mind business men and visitors - will experience no difficulty at all. After registering on board, the incoming vessel prior to disembarkation, they will be able to travel without restrictions. But if an alien makes Australia his .permanent place of abode, and does not become naturalized, he must register, and if he wishes to change his permanent address he must re-register in much the same manner as electors are required to re-register on our electoral rolls when they change their permanent address. This procedure is necessary in order to have a complete record of aliens in Australia.
– But is it not possible that objectionable aliens might come in under ‘the guise of tourists?
– The departmental officials will be guided by their papers. If aliens are properly credentialled they will enjoy a good deal of freedom.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 12 (Change of name).
– This clause penalizes an alien who uses a false name, but not an alien who may have transferred his certificate.
– An alien whose name may be “ Schlinck,” and who without permission calls himself “ O’Reilly,” will be penalized under this clause. During the war quite a number of aliens were convicted for having changed their . names without authority, but I. understand that Australian-born Germans, for instance, may do so without any notification. The purpose of the clause is to retain control over aliens.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 13 (Register of aliens to be kept by hotelkeepers, &c).
– I have no hesitation in expressing my disapproval of this clause, which, in my opinion, is wholly unnecessary. While a case may be made out for the introduction of such a measure as this, I look at it askance, for the simple reason that the British Empire deservedly enjoys a very high reputation for having dispensed with legislation of this kind and the passport system, and has come through her recent difficulties quite as satisfactorily as any of those other nations which set such great value upon this system of registration. My concern in regard to one feature of the measure was for those who may be termed friendly aliens - the people of those countries that were allied with us during the recent war ; but as the Senate was not with me, I did not pursue my effort to discriminate between them and enemy aliens. My concern now is for a very deserving class of Australians. I refer to those who cater for the entertainment and refreshment of the general public. I want to know why hotelkeepers and lodging-house keepers should be put to all the trouble of ascertaining the nationality of every man who seeks accommodation. The clause is quite superfluous, and, I think, unworkable.
– An hotelkeeper will be called upon to register everybody.
– Who stays on’ his premises.
– What does that mean? I might take a meal or two on hotel premises, and I would be “ staying “ there.
– Sub-clause 3* refers to .” every person.” It does not specify “ alien “ at all.
– That is so. Subclause 3 reads -
It shall be the duty of every person who stays at an hotel, inn, boardinghouse, or lodginghouse, to furnish to the keeper thereof, and sign, a statement containing such information as the keeper requires for the purpose of compiling the register provided for the purpose of this section, and if any person fails to do so, or gives any false information, he shall be guilty of an offence.
It appears, therefore, that it will be the duty of everybody who stays at an hotel or lodging-house to give certain information and apprise the landlord of the fact that he is not an alien. It may be said that most of the aliens in Australia aTe Eastern Asiatics or of the Caucasian race. And the real trouble is not likely to be with aliens who are not of the Caucasian race, but probably with aliens of that race who are highly educated and able to speak our language without any trace of a foreign accent. If these men come to Australia and run the gauntlet of our Customs and registration officers they will not go to the hotels and public establishments, but to certain private boarding-houses, where they will be in collusion with friends of their own nationality, who will always be .prepared to give them all the shelter that is necessary. The first thing that happens in framing our Australian enactments seems to -be the placing of an onerous duty on keepers of hotels ‘ or boarding and lodginghouses. Happily we are in a position of ‘being an insular Dominion, and, extensive though it is, it is encompassed with what I hope will always be an inviolate sea. If we can keep these people out of our ports as the result of an examination by Customs House and registration officers, well and good. But if incoming aliens on board a vessel are closely examined and run the gauntlet, it is too much to expect an unfortunate hotelkeeper to be the discriminating factor.
– It would take an army of officials to see that hotelkeepers observed the law.
– Of course it would. The keeper of such an establishment as I have mentioned has not time, in a rush of business, to make full inquiries into the nationality of his customers, and if he did so, his action would be resented by 99 per cent. of Australian travellers. Is he going to make such personal inquiries as those embodied in the Bill and demand their nationality, date of arrival, date of departure, and their destination after leaving his premises? I feel sure in regard to this clause that in opposing it I will have the support of honorable senators.
– As has been pointed out by Senator Bakhap, this clause, is entirely unnecessary. The class of aliens whose movements we desire to record are not likely togo to an hotel or a lodging-house. The Minister in charge of the Bill (Senator Russell) has already stated that undesirable aliens are clever individuals, and are difficult to catch, and if this provision becomes law it will be found that such persons will not seek accommodation at public boarding establishments, but will secure accommodation with their friends. The proposed legislation would cause a tremendous lot of inconvenience to the travelling public, but it would not have the desired effect. If an undesirable alien were to temporarily reside at an hotel, I do not think there would be the slightest chance of him recording his proper name.
SenatorFoll. - How could an hotelkeeper discover that he was an alien?
– It is only natural that in many cases he would give a false name. I do not think the clause is of any use, and if it becomes law it will be abused. I have no objection to obeying the laws of the land at the request of Government officers, but I take strong exception to ordinary citizens having governmental powers delegated to them. There are good, bad, and indifferent hotelkeepers, and some might make it particularly objectionable to travellers if they were in possession of such extensive authority. I hope the Minister will not endeavour to pass this clause, because it would not be of any use, seeing that the class of people whom the Government desire to register would have every opportunity of evading its provisions.
– I, too, hope the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) will see the wisdom of abandoning this clause absolutely. I can only think it has been adopted from legislation in force elsewhere, or framed by some draftsman who knows nothing of the experiences in other countries under similar legislation. If such is not the case, the Government are adopting cumbersome machinery which will achieve very little good. The number of aliens in Australia must be very small.
– Seventy-four thousand.
– We do not assume that they are all undesirable aliens. The percentage who are of that class must be very small. The percentage of incoming aliens who could be classed as undesirable must also be small. Those who are undesirable - those whom it would be necessary to keep some record of - would elude’ the provisions of this clause,, and would conceal their identity as much as possible. It is not to be supposed for a moment that they would give true and full information when demanded by an hotelkeeper, as it would be an easy matter for them to give a wrong name, or incorrect information as to the date of arrival and departure and probable destination. Whilst the war was in progress some such provision as this was in force in the United Kingdom.
– And it still is.
– By regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act. And those of us who were in Great Britain during the war know that, in going from an hotel in one place to an hotel in another, the keepers of such establishments were compelled to provide some such particulars as are required under this provision. The position was that as soon as a person desired to register, he was handed a slip which he had to fill in, but how it was filled in the proprietor of an hotel did not care in the least. In some instances, a boarder would be supplied with a printed slip when he desired to register, and, in some cases, it would be awaiting him when his room had been allotted. Whether the slips left in boarders’ rooms were returned, I do not know, but, at any rate, the proprietors of such establishments did not care what they contained. Under such circumstances, what is to be expected ? The whole procedure is valueless. What does this clause provide? It does not confine the obligation to the hotelkeeper, but also includes boardinghouse-keepers and lodginghouse-keepers. Sub-clauses 5 and 6 provide -
Penalty: One hundred pounds or imprisonment . for six months.
In Melbourne, Sydney, and elsewhere, there is a great tendency for people to live in flats, and such persons either rent furnished or unfurnished rooms in a building. It is proposed to ask the owners of these buildings to keep a register of the name, nationality, date of arrival, previous place of abode, if arrived by vessel the name of the vessel, date of departure, &c, of persons desiring to secure accommodation. Whatever facilities may be provided in an . hotel in the way of an office for attending to the location of rooms, and for arranging for the disposition of a vacated room, we know that, in practice, boarding and lodginghousekeepers, and the owners of flats, have no facilities of that character. We know from practical experience that the owners of hotels with the facilities they have for carrying out a provision of this kind faithfully and honestly endeavour to comply with the law. But what could we expect from others ? This would be a burdensome provision, and it would impose the obligation on such persons to act as detectives when there is reason to suspect that incoming aliens are undesirable, when, after all, the percentage that may be so regarded is exceptionally small. We cannot “ track “ down such people by a provision of this nature, as the persons we desire to have registered will take good care that their movements are not followed. They will be too elusive to come under such a provision, and it will merely be a matter of beating the air, and imposing a great burden upon hotelkeepers, and those conducting boarding and lodginghouses and flats.
– I am opposed to the whole-clause, and particularly sub-clause 3, because its provisions will apply not only to aliens, but to “ every person “ who may stay at the places mentioned. I do not think it should be made to apply to all persons.
– But it does.
– I do not think it will be applied in that way, but it certainly will affect every person who has a name which hotelkeepers and others suspect as being foreign. The VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) has stated that there are 74,000 aliens in the Commonwealth, but he must remember that there is a much larger number than that who bear foreign names, or names which may reasonably be suspected of being foreign. The clause in its present form would impose an indignity upon a great many loyal citizens of the Commonwealth, many of whom played their part in the recent war. There are many names which Appear foreign, but which we know have been British for centuries, and hundreds of thousands of loyal citizens to whom this clause would apply would very naturally resent the action of hotelkeepers in this regard. The clause will serve no good purpose. In fact, it will not serve any purpose at all, unless a considerable staff is maintained at some central office, to which all the lists will have to be sent at stated intervals by hotelkeepers and others. It will then be necessary for the lists to be analyzed and recorded.
– Weeks after the event.
– Yes. I shall vote against the clause.
– Although the criticism of the clause has been very severe, I do not think it will cause so much trouble as has been predicted. One would think that honorable senators shared the popular impression that officers carrying out public duties went round Australia with a hammer, with the intention of hitting people on the head with it. There is a basic principle behind this Bill. Either we want to register aliens or we do not. If we do, they must be followed irrespective of where they lodge. The tourist and commercial man will be given permits, and these provisions will apply only to that class of foreigner who wants to live here but not to become a naturalized Australian citizen. There is reasonable ground for suspecting the bona fides of such a person. If a man has a big business, and, for some special reason which is acceptable to the Minister, does not desire to become naturalized, he gets an exemption.
– You will not permit many foreigners to become naturalized.
– I do “not think there is any objection to a Norwegian or an American becoming naturalized, but there are other aliens who apparently, no matter how long they live here, never wish to become citizens of Australia, and only do so for specific reasons connected with the transfer of property, or, in some cases, in order to draw old-age pensions. It is stretching the meaning of sub-clause 3 to say that “ every person, “ WilD stays at an hotel must furnish these particulars. - It simply means that a publican, may put certain questions to any person who, he thinks, is an alien. A man may come to a publican, and in a gutteral voice assert that bis name is Charles Brown, although there is no doubt about hia being a German,. No publican who keeps a decent place will insult a traveller who is evidently of British extraction by asking him these questions. I candidly admit that if hotelkeepers are not sensible business people, they will be able to do the things which have been insinuated, but if we want a correct record of aliens in Australia, it is necessary to have some such provision. I am not enthusiastic about this class of legislation, but we must consider the position of Australiaduring the next few years. Senator Bakhap claimed that ‘Great Britain did not tolerate such restrictive laws. Undoubtedly before the war it was our boast that Great Britain was an asylum of peace and industry which welcomed every political revolutionary and reformer from other parts of the world, but experience during the war proved that those people had another job in hand when they went to Great Britain. I am not sure that many thousands of such foreigners were not privately subsidized by Governments that desired to bleed the very heart of the Empire. I have here a copy of what is the law in Great Britain to-day, and our Bill is practically an exact replica of it in all particulars. I can show it to Senator Bakhap, so that he may estimate the “ freedom “ which the Old Country is now conferring on foreigners. It is headed “Aliens Order 1919,” and is dated 18th August, 1919. It was, therefore, passed after the armistice, and not during any war panic.
– It is not a Statute passed by Parliament. It was made under “ Dora “ - :the Defence of the Realm Act.
– It was made under the Aliens Act.
– It provides, in one part, that it shall be the duty of the keeper of any premises specified to keep a register of all persons staying on the premises who are aliens and not under the age of sixteen years. The same particulars are demanded there as we ask for.
– According to this clause, it is an offence for any person, not necessarily an alien, not to supply the information asked for by the hotelkeeper.
– To how many people will these questions be put? Does any honorable senator imagine that a member of this Chamber would be regarded with suspicion by an hotelkeeper? No sensible business man would insult his customers in that way.
– One of General Pau’s mission was named Siegfried. He was an Alsatian. Is not that name Gormanenough for you?
– You do not offend a man by asking his name. The publican is not expected to get every detail correct. His duty is honestly to endeavour to get the information. We in this country, although part of the British Empire, have not had the same trouble as has been experienced in Britain; but, as part of the Empire, we have accepted equal responsibilities with the British Government in dealing with aliens, and we should carry out our part. The policy of the British Government is not total exclusion of aliens for all time, but the taking of precautions dictated by experience. We should take similar care, until the world becomes normal. This sort of legislation will probably die in a few years, but we do not know what may happen in the near future, and we should follow the example of Britain, which has passed this legislation, probably more as a war measure than as a civil measure, not for the purpose of stimulating war, but rather to prevent it. I know the sentiment we in Australia have always had about these things, but the war has made us bow to the inevitable, and during the war period many of us have had to do things which we would not care to do in times of peace. We should consider carefully before we reject this provision; but I am prepared to take the voice of the Committee, and if the majority is against it, I shall have no objection to letting it go.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) pointed out earlier that merchants, distinguished travellers, and other tourists would have to register only at the port of entry, but this clause makes it necessary for them to register at every hotel they go to. That will cause irritation and bad feeling among people whom we are anxious to encourage to come here from allied countries to start industries. The Minister instanced what had been done in Britain, but the conditions there are very different. It takes three weeks for a person to reach here from America, and, in fact, travellers from any other country have to be a long time on the trip. Any suspected alien would become known, and it would be very difficult for him to escape registration. In the case of the Old Country, aliens who cross the Channel in thousands are only a couple of hours on the boat, and there may be an advantage there in insisting on. registration at hotels and boarding houses. I see no good object in providing for it here. As the Minister says he will be content to take the sense of the Committee, I shall vote against the clause, which will not help us to do what we desire, that is, to exclude the undesirable foreign element from our midst.
– It is. provided by a clause already passed that no alien can change his abode without giving notice in triplicate of his intention to do so. We are, therefore, by this clause imposing on a large number of people a quite unnecessary duty, and inflicting on many fellow citizens an indignity which they will very properly resent.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council, in the course of his able reply, conveyed the impression that the arguments of Senator Keating, Senator Bakhap, and others against the clause were directed against the entire Bill, but those senators said not one word against the general principles of the Bill. They simply described this clause as unworkable, and likely to create irritation. In view of the fact that by negativing the clause we are not surrendering any of our powers to keep control of aliens in our midst and exclude undesirables, I shall vote against it.
Clause 14 agreed to.
Clause 15 (Register of aliens to be kept by employers).
– We have had a very fair debate on tie general principles of the Bill, and as the Committee was fairly unanimous in its opposition to clause 13, I bow to the decision of the majority, and agree to the negativing of this clause.
Clauses 16 to 22, and title, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens)announced the receipt of a message from the House of Representatives acquainting the Senate of the appointment, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Accounts Committee Act of 1913, of the following members of the House of Representatives to be members of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts : - Messrs. Bayley, Fenton, Fleming, Fowler, Prowse, and West.
– I move -
I make no apology for submitting this motion for the consideration of the Senate, but I recognise that I have undertaken a very considerable task ; and as I am not gifted with the powers of oratory of the Leader of the Government in this Chamber (Senator Millen), I ask honorable senators to overlook any shortcomings of mine in recommending its approval. I have no desire to obtain notoriety, but I believe that if the burden of taxation that is weighing so heavily upon the people of Australia at the present time is to be lightened, and our war debt paid off at a reasonably early date, this can only be done by the increase of our export trade.
I have obtained from that invaluable source of information, the Commonwealth Statistician’s office, a number of figures giving particulars of our exports to various countries of the world. It will be necessary for me, in supporting my motion, to quote these at some length; but I need only quote the figures relating to exports similar to those which are exported from Australia at the present time, but which I hope will in the future be exported in far greater volume than at present.
If Australia is to reach that position in the commercial world which we all so much desire to see her achieve, our main objective should be to secure that her export trade shall be unhampered, and that her exports shall be sent to the markets of the world in which they are likely to secure the best prices.
It is unnecesary for me to refer to the fact that Australia received a wonderful advertisement during the last four or five years of war in countries where the Commonwealth was previously practically unknown. I refer particularly to those countries which were the scene of war operations during that period. If we take the ease of our wonderful ally, France, whilst Australia was practically unknown in that country previous to those four or five years, I venture to say that there is not a township or a hamlet in France to-day in which the name of Australia is not revered. As a result of the wide attention which has been drawn to Australia in other parts of the world, the way has been paved for the establishment of commercial relations between the Commonwealth and those other countries. I have no doubt that people who were witnesses of what the soldiers of Australia did during the war period will be anxious to enter into cordial commercial relations with us.
In addition to the wonderful resources of our own country we are shortly to receive mandates for new territories which, if properly administered, and their resources fully exploited, should prove valuable assets to Australia, and greatly assist us in liquidating our war debt.
I sincerely hope that in carrying on our export trade in the future we shall adopt a different ^principle from that adopted in the past. I hope that we shall not to so large an extent as in the past send our raw material to London, to be transferred from there to other centres, to the profit of London merchants, but that our raw material and manufactured articles will be sent direct to the various world’s markets, so that the profits may go into the pockets of Australian producers. I shall not refer, as I might do in discussing this motion, to the wool agreement, but I may point out that, in connexion with wool, it is in the interests of Australian producers that they should have the best markets of the world at their disposal, and should not be under any obligation to send their wool to one particular centre.
To give some idea of the extent to which the Australian export trade has increased, I may say, taking the yearly average for a quinquennial period, that during the period 1894-1898 our exports to the United Kingdom were valued at £23,610,267. In the period 1909-1913 the yearly average value had increased to £34,028,258, and in 1917-18, a war year, when shipping was scarce, the value of our exports . to the United Kingdom amounted to £37,637,844.
I do not think that it will be necessary to appoint a Trade Commissioner for the United Kingdom, but I do think that it is necessary that greater attention should be paid by the Australian Office in London to the commercial interests of the Commonwealth. I understand that the Treasurer (Mr. Watt) is on his way to London at the present time, and that one of the objects of his mission is to reorganize the High Commissioner’s office. I hope that the commercial side of the work which may be performed by that office will be taken into consideration by the Treasurer when putting it upon a sounder business basis.
In the case of British Possessions outside the United Kingdom, the yearly average value of our exports for the period between 1894 and 1898 was £3,000,964; for the period 1909 to 1913 it was increased to £11,943,654, and for the year 1917-18 it amounted to £16,381,584, an increase of nearly £14,000,000 since 1898. In making a slight review of the distribution of these exports, I may inform honorable senators that our exports to India amounted in value to more than our exports to any other British Possession outside the United Kingdom. I venture to say that India is a country which offers great opportunities for the development of our export trade, especially in view of the fact that the chief exports from Australia to India have been in the nature of manufactured articles - a class of exports that we should do our best to encourage. In the period 1894-98 our annual exports to India amounted only to £440,062; between 1909-13 their annual value increased to £2,231,306; whilst in 1917-18 they amounted to £4,507,156. Taking the year 1917-18 as a basis, let us analyze the character of these exports to India. If we do this, and keep steadily in mind the possibility of our future large trade relations with that country, the statistics which I am about to quote will prove very interesting indeed. During the year I have indicated we exported to that country commodities of the following value :- Biscuits, £204,953 ; coal, £16,043 ; copper ingots, £595,877 ; preserved fruits, £214,134; horses, £479,520; hay and chaff, £7,472; wheat, £54,346; oatmeal, £37,319; jams and jellies, £250,711; leather, £49,794; meats, £1,242,912; piece goods, flannel, £55,068 ; piece goods, other, £67,S08; sandalwood, £1,275; silver bullion, £864,536 ; and wool, £66,780. The items in that list to which I desire to direct special attention are those of preserved fruits, and jams and jellies. We are all familiar with the position which obtained recently in certain parts of Australia, so far as fruit-growing is concerned. We know that, consequent upon the glut of fruit on the local market, certain action was taken by the Victorian Government. It was pointed out on that occasion that, on account of the limited nature of that market, the growing of fruit was not always a profitable occupation, as the demand did not equal the supply. In India we have an opportunity to increase our export of preserved fruit very considerably. I believe that there are very big possibilities of commercial intercourse between Australia and India, with its teeming millions. The latter is a country in which Australia should most- certainly be represented by a Trade Commissioner.
New Zealand, during the year 1917-18, imported slightly more than £4,000,000 worth of commodities from the Commonwealth. But, in view of the proximity of that Dominion, and of the fact that it is developing upon similar lines to those we are following, I do not think it is necessary for us to have a Trade Commissioner there.
The next British Possession I propose to deal with is South Africa. During the period 1894-1S98 our exports to that country amounted only to £217,047. In the year before the war that increased to £1,799,435, consisting principally of sheep, butter, dried fruits, glycerine, wheat, flour, jama and jellies, leather, machinery and manufactures of metal, preserved meats, milk and cream, soap, tallow and timber.
Coming to Canada, the position is that for the period 1894-98 our exports to it amounted only to a yearly average of £32,362. In 1909-1913 they increased to an annual average of £125,942, and in 19,17-18 they amounted to £785,130.
– And Canada has a Trade Commissioner here.
– Yes. I feel that the Dominion of Canada is also a country to which we may look for reciprocal trade relations, and in which we should have a trade representative.
I come now to Fiji. During the period 1894-98 our exports to that country amounted only to £124,453; in 1909-13 they had increased to £402,877, whilst in 1917-18 they totalled £579,710. In view of our geographical position, the bulk of the trade done with Fiji should be Australian trade.
For the period 1894-98 we exported to Hong Kong goods to the value of £414,326; for the years 1909-13 our exports were valued at £741,365, and in the year 1917-18 they totalled £391,525. Practically the whole of our exports to this part of the world consisted of manufactured articles - the very class of export trade that we should do most to encourage.
Having given all the large figures relating to inter-Empire trade, I shall now direct attention to our trade with foreign countries. In this connexion I wish specially to refer to two countries which were our Allies throughout the late war, and which consume considerable quantities of Australian commodities. I allude to France and Italy.
For the period 1894-98 our average annual exports to France amounted only to £8,725,257; between 1909-13 they had increased to £29,410,508 - an increase of £21,000,000. Of course during the war years our trade with that country suffered a serious decline. The visit of the French mission to Australia is still fresh in our memories, and if there is one thing above all others which that grand old Frenchman, General Pau, impressed upon us, it was the need for fostering future trade relations with France. He stressed the great opportunity there was for this country and France to do business with each other. I have already pointed out that there is probably no country in the world which is more respected in France to-day than is Australia. ‘ I think, therefore, that it is absolutely essential that we should at the earliest possible moment appoint an Australian trade representative in Paris. I have no desire to appear tedious by quoting all the figures which I have obtained from the Commonwealth Statistician, but it is necessary that some of them should be placed upon record in order to show the magnitude and importance of the interests involved in the case I am submitting for the consideration of the Government.
– The honorable senator has a good case, and the figures are very valuable.
– During the year 1913 the value of goods imported into France of a similar nature to goods exported from Australia, are shown in the following table: -
During 1913 the actual value of Australia’s share of that £97,135,701 worth of imports into France was only £S,250,000. As we have an abundance of these commodities, there would be every likelihood of our trade increasing if we were represented there by a live Trade Commissioner. Not long ago Parliament adopted a motion, submitted by Senator Bakhap, on lines similar to the one now under consideration, for the appointment of an Australian Trade Commissioner at “Washington, and the Government appointed an able Australian, who, I doubt not, has done excellent work, find the facts I have given show that a trade representative is very badly needed in France.
I turn now to Italy. Our exports to that country in 1913, totalled £1,399,167, principally raw materials. It is inter ns]- 2 esting to note that in the year 1913 the principal imports ‘of commodities into Italy of a nature similar to those exported from Australia were - Wool, greasy, washed, and combed, over £3,000,000; hides (cattle and sheep), £2,600,000; leather, £1,800,000; wheat, £16,000,000; horses, £13,600,000; .meat (fresh), £400,000; meat (salted, including bacon and hams), £310,000; butter, £47,000; cheese, £90,000; honey, £6,000; lard, £246,000; tallow, £800,000; pearl shell, £23,000; boots and shoes of leather, £696,000; biscuits, £7,600. I have not quoted a number of smaller items. The total imports into Italy for that year amounted to £63,916,S20, and the total exports from Australia into Italy were - Raw material for industry, £450,328; semi-manufactured material for industry, £106,552; foodstuffs and living animals, £841,497; manufactured products, £790; or a total of £1,399.167.
It may be argued that our cost of production precludes us from competing ic these markets, but during the past few years the whole of the industrial life of Europe has undergone a very radical change, and as ths policy of the Government is to provide every facility for the establishment of new and the encouragement to existing industries, there should bc abundant opportunity for trade expansion in Italy as well as other countries. If the introduction of the new Tariff in another place merely insures the home market for our manufactures, we shall not have done very much. I hope the new Tariff will make it worth while for manufacturers to start new industries, and on such a scale, too, that they will be able to provide not only for local needs, but to cater for overseas trade, with the assistance of efficient Trade Commissioners in the various countries referred to.
I desire now to turn to another part of the world, the Near East, in which there is every prospect of considerable trade development. Java offers exceptional opportunities. I have had this fact brought under my notice on several occasions recently by business men who make periodical visits to that part of the world. They have asked me frequently why we are unrepresented there, and I understand that not very long ago one of the local papers commented on this fact. It appears that owing to the absence of important information in regard to packing requirements, a large contract was recently lost to Australia. An able representative there would have been in a position to advise Australian manufacturers of the. particular requirements of the local market. The increase in . our trade with that part of the world has been so phenomenal of late that it is essential we should be represented there by a Trade Commissioner.
A great deal of information has been prepared by the Commonwealth Statistician concerning our exports to Japan and China, but it is not my intention to weary the Senate by reading it. I shall have much pleasure in placing it at the disposal of the Government should they be prepared to consider my proposal favorably.- Although we cannot hope to secure the whole of the markets in the countries I have mentioned for our products, we can, at all events, through the medium of live trade representatives, reasonably expect a substantial increase in business.
One industry, among others, that appears destined for development in this part of the world is our wine trade. Prior to the war the principal business in this product was done by European countries, but owing to shipping difficulties a considerable amount has of late been diverted to Australia, though up to the present we have not secured anything like the amount we might reasonably expect to get in view of our opportunities. An expansion of business in this particular industry will substantially benefit our schemes for soldier settlement and primary producers at present engaged in viticulture.
I will not further detain the Senate. I thank the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) for his -attention, and submit the motion with confidence that it will be acceptable to honorable senators. If Trade Commissioners are appointed, as I have suggested, we may, I am sure, look for a material increase in our export trade, and thus lighten the heavy burden of taxation at present resting on’ our people, and enable the Commonwealth the better to meet its war obligations. It is futile for the Government to have, as a slogan at election time, the cry for more production unless some steps are taken, as I have indicated, to insure the profitable sale of our products in the best markets of the world.
– I second the motion, and as Senator. Foll has covered the ground so ably it will not be necessary for me to speak at length in support of what is, in my opinion, a judiciously worded proposal. It will be remembered, as Senator Foll has said, that the Government appointed, as a variation of a motion which I submitted, a Trade Commissioner to the United States of America. The first Commissioner has returned, and he has been succeeded by a gentleman who, I believe, has very many characteristics to recommend him for the position. Therefore, this motion is an endeavour to secure an amplification of policy which has been adopted already. Quite recently Australia stepped on to the world’s stage in the most unexpected manner. Through the generosity, and, I may say, the wise discernment, of the Mother Country, Australia was made one of the signatories to the Peace Treaty, being invested thereby with a kind of independence within the Empire, the proud boast of which is that the Dominions, while of their own free will attaching themselves to the Mother Country, remain self-governing but constituent parts of the Empire. It is to be regretted that we are diplomatically precluded from doing what the smallest of the independent Powers of Europe is doing. We are prevented from appointing consular agents throughout the world, and the fact that we are in the Empire and yet out of it precludes us from appointing representatives, as is done by such countries as Holland, Portugal; and the South American Republics. Such countries as those I have mentioned have representation throughout the civilized world, but we are without it. But there is open to us, in conformity with our status in the Empire, the opportunity of doing what Senator Foll has so ably suggested. It is possible for us to have trade agents, or commissioners - if they . may be so characterized - in every important country in the world where there is a possibility of increased consumption, or a market which did not previously exist, for our Australian products. I hope the point will be noted very carefully by honorable senators that Australia is a country equally important in the eyes of the world as the Republic of Portugal, Holland, and Denmark, and one which does not suffer in comparison with Scandinavian countries; but we cannot secure for its trade such representation as is available to the other European countries I have mentioned, owing to their independence. It is not my intention to endeavour to set up an argument in support of Australian independence; but I am strongly in favour of submitting arguments in support of a policy to enable money to be made available for the Commonwealth to secure the ablest and most intelligent commercial representation in other countries of the world.
It is not my intention to indulge in a discussion on the respective merits of Protection and Free Trade. I am a Protectionist.
– There will be an opportunity for that.
– I am a Protectionist for reasons which I shall submit to the Senate in due course. I am firmly convinced, however, that, although a policy of Free Trade may be satisfactory in scone countries, Protection is desirable in Australia. With a comparatively small population of only 5,000,000 such as we have in the Commonwealth, Protection is desirable, but because of the paucity of our population and the smallness of our home market in comparison with the markets of the world, outlets abroad must be found. Production on an economical scale nowadays has to be extensive; and if we have a Protective Tariff to encourage the establishment of industries, those industries must be economically conducted, and manufacturing industries, particularly, must te established on such a basis that Protection will result in a very large proportion of our manufactures being exported beyond Australia. Otherwise, limited production must be expensive. Some of the disadvantages - if disadvantages they be - of combating in a commercial sense our advanced Labour conditions, will be counteracted by the fact that action is being taken in other countries of the world to obtain similar conditions to those prevailing in Australia, so we will not have that cheap labour, which we at one time feared, to compete with. It is possible that Australia may have to indulge in the policy of “dumping “; but whatever merits or demerits such a policy may possess, I never fail to state the fact that perhaps we shall have to sell our surplus production of manufactured goods abroad at a price very much below that which Australian consumers will be called upon to pay. Our surplus production must be marketed elsewhere ; and we may perhaps have to reduce the price if we can show that, as a result of commercial activities, we may be induced or compelled to adopt the policy of offering Australian manufactured goods and primary products in the markets of the world at rates below those at which they are offered to Australian consumers. It may appear an anomalous position, but it is the inevitable consequence of the adoption of a policy of Protection.
A gentleman from an Asiatic country, when visiting the Commonwealth recently, requested the Government of the State of Tasmania to appoint him their agent in the East, as he evidently saw great possibilities in regard to the development of a particular trade between Australia and Eastern countries. If we take such a country as America, we find that the number of its consular agents - who’ are really commercial agents - throughout the world is legion. British consular agents in different countries of the world are actually trade agents, and it must be admitted that, before the war, the consuls of such countries as Germany were commercial representatives. Australian representatives abroad have not been called’ upon to exercise such functions, but let us at once acknowledge the fact that preparations are now being made by other countries to capture trade where valuable markets exist for such products as can be exported from Australia. German agents at the present moment are endeavouring to secure markets for the products of their country. Similar action is being taken by other countries, notably America, and a tremendous effort is being made to secure markets in countries where profitable sales can be effected. With all due respect to the Mother Country, and to the generosity 6he has shown her Dominions, we cannot’ expect her representatives to be active in extending our export trade. If it costs £100,000 a year to effectively represent Australian commercial interests abroad, what will it matter? The expenditure of such a sum would be more than justified if, as indicated by the mover of the motion, our export trade would be increased. The way is being prepared, and it is well for us to awake. I do not intend dealing with the products likely to be consumed in overseas market, as that has already been dealt with by Senator Foll with care and ability.
When I was in China about six years ago, I noticed that in the southern provinces there was an increasing consumption of flour. The staple food in southern China has always been rice, with the exception of a little wheaten flour used for pastry ; but there is now an increased consumption of wheaten flour of a particular kind, which, I ascertained, was received from two or three firms in Vancouver and Canada. I mentioned this fact in certain quarters, as it occurred to me that, as Australia was exporting flour to Manila, there was no reason why consignments should not be shipped to China to meet the increasing demand in competition with two or three firms beyond the Pacific. Quite recently, Chinese merchants in Australia, in conjunction with some of their compatriots in the East, established a Hue of steamers to trade between Australia and certain ports in the Chinese Republic. I was invited to a luncheon when the first vessel of the line was in port, and I noticed that the products being shipped from Melbourne to the East consisted largely of flour packed in a way that made it particularly suitable for the southern Chinese markets. That trade has developed extensively, and, at present, there is a large and increasing export of flour to the East. That was the first vessel of many owned by the company to leave Melbourne, and it is gratifying to know that there is every possibility of the trade developing. In such countries as China, we find American, German, French, and British trade represented, not by one consular agent, but by dozens. Every important centre in southern China has a consul, and there is an ambassador at Pekin. If we could speedily arrive at the number of foreign consular representatives in the East, it would be found that they run into hundreds, and therefore Australian people must not be alarmed if it is suggested that one or two Trade Commissioners should be appointed in countries where our manufactured goods or primary products could be profitably marketed. In such a country as China, there should be a Commissioner for the north and one for the south. The superficies of the Chinese Republic are not less than Australia or
Canada, and are equal to that of the United States. There are trade openings in many directions, and all we need is satisfactory representation.
Quite recently, Mr. Bishop, a representative of Australian commercial interests in the East, returned to the Commonwealth, and, when visiting- Hobart, stated that one Chinese railway alone was anxious to place an order in Australia for, I think, 160,000 railway sleepers. At a railway station in southern China, I noticed some sleepers which I recognised as of Australian production, but which were regarded as too costly. The price of the timber, however, in other countries which have been sources of supply is no longer as cheap as formerly, and Australian timber is now in a position to compete. It is absolutely essential that we should be represented in countries where these tremendous opportunities exist, so that advantage could be taken of them to increase our exports by men alive to the commercial interests and activities of Australia.
I could debate this important question at some length, but it is unnecessary to do so, as the virtue of the policy outlined by Senator Foll is self-evident. It is not going to be expensive if it costs Australia £250,000 to establish Trade Commissioners or commercial agents in the various important consuming countries of the world where our manufactured or primary products could be profitably disposed of. It may be said by some that we could notshow a return for a year or two, but I am convinced that we could expect immediate benefits from the amplification of a policy which we have already embarked upon. Let me relate the names of two or three of the countries where ample opportunities exist for the development of Australian trade. I have done away to some extent with the belief that Australian-manufactured products may be too dear to compete in those markets, for the products of other manufacturing countries will become increasingly dear because of the increasing demands for better pay and better labour conditions made bv the proletariats of those countries. Look at the Malay Archipelago, only two or three days’ sail from Australia. The opportunity of supplying commodities such as European residents there require will be increasingly great. The development of the countries in the Archipelago, even at the hands of a small colonizing power like Holland, is also going to be increasingly great. The importance of Dutch development in the Malay Archipelago increases with every hour, every day, every fortnight, and every month, and alongside that development there is an increasingly great opportunity for Australian trade. There are also the great native populations of those countries. It is contemplated, I understand, in the Tariff to put a heavy duty on cotton textiles, for the purpose of developing cotton textile manufacture in Australia. If we develop that industry, and go in for cotton producing, there is a market right at our doors. Every man and woman of Malay extraction, except, perhaps, those who are wealthy and wear silk, wears a cotton garment or several of them, right through the year. If Australia is going to establish the textile industry on a scale which will provide her with a surplus production - and she must establish it on that scale if she establishes it at all - she must find a market for that surplus in the near East, for that is the market most easily available to us. We shall be able there, I hope, to compete with Manchester, -and with the many other spinning and weaving populations which depend on textile industries in other parts of the world.
The main point of the argument which I advance in support of Senator Foil’s motion is that there is a fair trade between Australia and many of the countries he has named. There are ample opportunities for increasing that trade. The objection that might be raised in regard to Australian secondary products, that they will be manufactured at too high a price, will not hold good in the future, and although we cannot be represented, in a consular sense, by agents who are semi-diplomatic and semi-mercantile, Tight through the world, it is nevertheless open to us, and, in fact, an absolute necessity for us, to be represented in the trading world at the ports of every country where opportunity exists for the development of that trade in which Australia, if she is going to maintain her status as a civilized country, must have a share. Judging from the enthusiasm with which the present Australian Trade Commissioner was welcomed in America, as well as the kindness shown to his predecessor, the step taken by the Commonwealth Government was hailed by the American commercial community with great delight. They evidently anticipate that the efforts of Australia and America, followed by reciprocal trade of an everincreasing volume, will be profitable not only to us, but to themselves, as trade in its best sense’ should be, for trade, to be satisfactory, must be satisfactory to both the buyer and the seller. I hope that honorable senators and the Ministry will give consideration to the motion so ably submitted by Senator Foll. A great deal can be done, and a great deal must be done. Australian commercial men will, I know, show initiative in these matters, but let us remember that Germany, the Greatest trade rival” that ever existed to the British Empire, did not content herself with the efforts of her private manufacturers alone. Her Government, through scientific agencies, through banking agencies, and through shipping agencies, aided the expansion of German trade, so that it became what it undoubtedly was - the remarkable development of only a few decades. Let Australia remember that although she owes much to the initiative of her commercial community and will owe a great deal more, nevertheless the efforts of that community can be intelligently directed and pioneered by a wise Government appointment of Commissioners who will exercise the functions of those trading and consular agents who represent every European country of importance in the markets of the world.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 6.12 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 May 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1920/19200506_senate_8_92/>.