8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) intimated that he had received a commission from His Excellency the Governor-General appointing him a Commissioner to swear in such members of the Senate as have not already taken and subscribed the oath of allegiance since their election to the Senate.
Commission read by the Clerk.
The following honorable senators made and subscribed the oath of allegiance: -
The PRESIDENT announced the receipt of a message from the House of Representatives acquainting the Senate, in accordance with the provisions of the Committee of Public Accounts Act, that Mr. Charlton, a member of the House of Representatives, had been appointed an additional member of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate if, in view’ of the decision, contrary to the ‘principles of MagnaCharta, given by Mr. Justice ‘Starke in the Jerger case, the Government will submit to both Houses of the Parliament a resolution for his removal from the High Court Bench?
– I am not aware that anything has been done that is contrary to the principles referred to.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Deceased Soldiers’ Estates Act. - Regulations amended- Statutory Rules 1920, No. 109.
Defence Act. - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1920, Nos. 110, 118.
Defence Act. - Regulations amended.- Statutory Rules 1920, Nos. 104, 105, 108, 116.
Income Tax Assessment Act. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1920, No. 107.
Increase of Wealth (War). - Report from Select Committee of House of Commons.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at - Midland Junction, Western Australia - For Defence purposes. Seymour, Victoria. -For Defence purposes.
Northern Territory - Correspondence relating to Report of Royal Commissioner.
Papua.- Ordinances -
No. 10 of 1919 - Deputy Judges (Appointment).
No. 4 of 1920 - Supplementary Appropriation, 1918-19.
No. 5 of 1920 - Supplementary Appropriation (No. 1), 1919-1920.
Public Service Act; - Appointments and Promotions -
Prime Minister’s Department. - F. K. Steedman.
Deportment of Trade and Customs - 6. A. Blumer and J. P. Farrell G. A. Murray and C. J. Middleton.
Department of Works and Railways - H. G. Connell.
Public Service Act. - Promotion of F. W. H. Hay, Prime Minister’s Department.
Public Works Committee Act. - Fifth General Report.
War Precautions Act 1914-1918.- Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1920, No. 113.
War Service Homes Act - Land acquired at Chilwell, Geelong, Victoria.
– I ask the Leader of the Governmentin the Senate: Is it a fact that, in the correspondence between the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and the ex-Treasurer (Mr. Watt),a statement appears to the effect that unless certain moneys were paid to the British Government, Australia was to be posted as a defaulter? If this is true, what is the reason for secrecy in this matter,and will the Government make the whole of the correspondence available to members of the Senate?
– The Government have already statedthat it is not in the public interest that parts of the correspondence referred to, other than those which have been published, should be made public. The honorable senator is aware that the portions of the correspondence deleted were omitted from the correspondence published with the approval of the Leader of his own party (Mr. Tudor) and the Leader of the Country party (Mr. McWilliams).
– Not with the approval of my party in the Senate. I should like to get an answer as to the particular part of the correspondence to which I have referred, as, if the statement made is incorrect, the rumours that are going about should be stopped.
– I have already answered the honorable senator’s question.
Public Departments : Administration.
– I have received an intimation from Senator Gardiner that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, viz. - “ The concentration of the administration in Melbourne to the inconvenience and detriment of the business people and others of Sydney and other capital cities.”
.- I move
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until one o’clock on Wednesday.
Four honorable senators having risen in their places in support of the motion,
– I am obliged to the Senate for giving me an opportunity of bringing this matter forward. Although the questions to which I shall refer are trivial, they are urgent and important. I desire to call the attention of the Senate to the necessity of altering the present system of administering Commonwealth Departments under which the most trivial matters have to be referred to Melbourne for decision, and this question is of importance to every honorable senator irrespective of the State he represents. I shall refer to the experiences in my own State, which, no doubt, are common to all the other States with the exception of Victoria. The Departments in Sydney are robbed of absolute authority in the most trivial matters, and questions of trifling importance have in all cases to be referred to Melbourne for decision, in consequence of which extraordinary delays take place. My reason for taking this extreme step is, that during a brief period of two hours, whenI was present at the parliamentary rooms in Sydney, two cases were brought under my notice in which citizens were inconvenienced by the stupid system in force. I shall briefly relate these two cases, as’ in doing so I shall bring under the notice of the Government the actual position. I have not looked for other than unimportant cases, because, if inconvenience is caused under such circumstances, it is easy to imagine that great inconvenience must arise when important issues are involved.
The first case that came under my notice was a simple one. A returned soldier, a young Sydney business man, was leaving by boat for America, and the law permits such persons to depart with fifteen sovereigns in their possession. This gentleman visited the Commonwealth Bank in an endeavour to obtain fifteen sovereigns in exchange for notes; but he could not get them. He came to me, and as the matter was a trivial one, I thought it could easily be adjusted. I, therefore, sent the following telegram to the Acting Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) who was in Melbourne : -
Returned soldier, Mr. Silver, desires fifteen sovereigns from the Treasury in exchange for notes. Leaving for America Wednesday. Passports all correct. Can you arrange?
That was my telegram to the Acting Treasurer, and I must congratulate him for his prompt reply, which read : -
Your telegram to-day, regret sovereigns in exchange for notes can be given only at the Commonwealth Treasury, Melbourne.
I ask honorable senators to try to realize the position, and consider the inconvenience caused to. persons who may be leaving Sydney by boat, when they have to travel to Melbourne to receive gold in exchange for notes. In this case, Mr. N Silver’s passports were in order, and I thought that this Government - particularly as they are supposed to he the friends of returned soldiers - would use some common sense on the matter. I therefore mentioned in my wire that the person concerned was a returned soldier, and I really expected that the Acting Treasurer would instruct the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney to pay over the required gold. I realize the importance of keeping gold in the country, but there is something more than that to be considered, and that is the question of maintaining our own reputation as reasonable business men. Having been unable to obtain gold in exchange for notes in .Sydney, this young man, when he reaches America, will lose some pounds - I am not sure how much, because I am not a financial expert - owing to the difference in exchange. These notes are. a promise to pay-
– In Melbourne. The Commonwealth Bank promises to pay ; but surely when Parliament was passing the Bill no one thought that citizens in one particular part of Australia would, in special circumstances, be inconvenienced in this way.
– The honorable senator assisted in passing that measure.
– Exactly. But when it was passed it was not a difficult matter to obtain gold in exchange for the notes that were then in circulation. There has been a change since then, .and the “ parrot” cry, “ You assisted in passing the law “ should not he repeated. 1 suppose I did assist as much a3 the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) did. When an Australian citizen is leaving for a brief visit to America, is it commonsense and fair play to compel him to take notes out of this country? I realize there is justice and reason in restricting the amount of gold that goes out of the country, as the position at present is serious, hut special consideration should be given in such a case as that I have mentioned. I remind honorable senators that in Melbourne all one has to do is to present the notes as the Acting -Treasurer suggests. But we have to consider the position in which residents in Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart, Perth, or Fremantle are situated. This may be considered a trivial matter to bring before the Senate, but it is very important. Quite apart from this similar practices are indulged in in other Commonwealth Departments, and I trust the Government will take an early opportunity of altering the system. I am prepared to leave it at that.
Another case was brought under my notice - that of an Australian-born lady who, many years ago, had married an American, and who lost her rights as a British subject when she became an American citizen. Her husband is now deceased, and she is desirous of visiting England. As an Australian-horn person she applied for her passports, and the officers informed her that she could not receive them without a certificate from the American Consul. She approached the Consul, who gave her a letter saying that she was not an American citizen, and that the American law was to the effect that unless she took out naturalization papers she had to be dealt with as a citizen of the country to which she originally belonged.
– But the Australian law operates in Australia, not the American law.
– I am explaining why the American Consul could not give her a certificate. The lady visited the American Consul, who informed her that he would not issue a certificate because she was not an- American citizen, inasmuch as she had not taken out a certificate of naturalization after the death of her husband. The matter was referred to Melbourne. Can anything more stupid be imagined? Why is a trivial matter of this character not adjusted at the centre in which it arises? Here was an , Australian born woman, who was prevented from visiting Britain because she had married an American who had died some years ago. If trivial matters of this description cannot be adjusted in the State capitals other than Melbourne, surely the time has arrived when the Government should take action to remedy the evil.
– As one of the representatives of New South Wales, the capital of which now possesses a population of 800,000, I cannot allow this opportunity to pass without supporting the general remarks which have been made by Senator Gardiner in regard to the centralization of Commonwealth activities in Melbourne.
– His complaint would apply equally if the Seat of Government were in any other State.
– To some extent, I admit that it would. It was refreshing to me to hear a prominent exponent of Unification complaining of the evils of centralization. I have always contended that a vast continent cannot be efficiently governed from any one centre, and that what we need in the affairs of the Commonwealth is decentralization rather than centralization. I am sure that Senator Gardiner will appreciate the courtesy which was extended to him by those honorable senators who rose to their feet for the purpose of enabling him to submit his motion, seeing that they had been previously given no notice whatever of his intention in that connexion. I do not altogether complain of the difficulties which the Government are placing in the way of persons taking gold out of the Commonwealth. But I do complain that, until recently, any resident of Melbourne who was about to travel abroad could take out of this country up to fifty sovereigns, whilst the citizens of other State capitals did not occupy a similar position. A resident of Melbourne had only to go to the Treasury, present his passport, and get fifty sovereigns in exchange for Commonwealth notes. My complaint is that similar consideration was not extended to the citizens of any other State than Victoria.
– Doe3 the honorable senator suggest that there is a differentiating limit?
– No. What I say is that up till recently anybody presenting a passport at the Commonwealth Treasury in Melbourne could obtain up to fifty sovereigns in exchange for Commonwealth notes. Up to that amount the policy of the Treasury has been not to limit the number of sovereigns which go out of the country, but rather to make it difficult for a person living in any centre other than Melbourne to enjoy the same advantage. I know of one man who, before going abroad, travelled all the way from Sydney to this city in order to get gold in exchange for notes. Of course, it paid him to make the special trip, because at the present time sovereigns are worth 30s. almost everywhere. But this policy differentiates in favour of the residents of one particular city.
It is common knowledge, too, that in the Customs Department even small matters of administration cannot be settled! in Sydney, although the trade and commerce of that city are considerably more than are the trade and commerce of Melbourne.1 I have always held that officials who are fitted to represent the Commonwealth in a large centre such as Sydney should be vested with more discretionary powers in order that the pinpricks from which the public suffer might not be so numerous. The Minister for Repatriation knows that, to some extent, the same complaint can be urged in regard to his Department.
But I wish to specially emphasize the difficulties which exist in connexion with the administration of the Commonwealth Taxation Department. I have yet to learn that the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation in any of the States has taken upon himself the responsibility with which he is charged under the law. As the result of my own experience, I know that altogether too many matters relating to ‘taxation are referred to Melbourne. Probably I shall be told by way of reply that there must he some standard of administration throughout the continent, and. that these frequent references to Melbourne are necessary in order to insure the preservation of that standard. But I happen to know that these evils occur chiefly because the Deputy Commissioners of Taxation in the State capitals are not encouraged to exercise the discretionary powers which are- properly vested in them.
Time after’ time I have complained in this Chamber of the undue centralization of business in Melbourne. I feel sure that the revenues of tha Railway Departments of both. Now South Wales and Victoria ha.ve been very considerably added to by reason of the numerous journeys which business men have been obliged to make in order that they might personally present their cases to the officials at head-quarters.
– That is a good thing for the revenue.
– But it is a bad thing for the citizen. It is particularly obnoxious to the business community of Sydney in connexion with their daily dealings. Let me refer briefly to what occurred only a few weeks ago. His Majesty’s Australian Navy was polluting the waters of beautiful Sydney harbor with oil.
– Send it to Melbourne.
– When complaints were made, it was found that the Sydney Harbor Trust commissioners had no jurisdiction whatever over His Majesty’s ships, and consequently could not .enforce the penal provisions of the Harbor Trust Act with a view to preventing such pollution. But instead of these complaints being settled in Sydney they had to be referred to Melbourne. I do not regard that as a fair thing. Still another illustration came under my notice the other day, when I found that even the stationery which honorable senators use in connexion with the discharge of their parliamentary duties has now to be obtained from Melbourne. Certainly it cannot be secured in Sydney by the representatives of New South Wales.
I stand here not as .a Unificationist, not as one who believes that the whole of the detailed affairs of the Commonwealth can be satisfactorily administered from one centre, but as one who has always been a believer in decentralization. Now that the war is over, and the urgent necessity for centralization has passed, it should be the policy of the Government to decentralize the powers of administration in the various important centres of the States, and prevent so many references to Melbourne, which are often long de-, laved and finally decided wrongly. _
– I do not know whether it is the change of environment or not, but on coming over to this side, I find myself in complete accord with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner), on the first question that he has brought before the Senate. I refer to the payment of cash to anybody who wants to travel. The law of the country, and it is a very good law, is that the amount of gold that any one make take out of the country shall be limited. Senator Gardiner says that the amount i= £15, and Senator Pratten says it is £50.
– It was £50 until recently.
– Then, I understand, it has now been reduced to £15. Facilities to get that amount of gold ought to be accorded to the people. It is the law of the country, and the people of Sydney, Brisbane, and other cities ought to have exactly the same facilities as the people of Melbourne have. I know it is the case, and has to be the case, that notes on a large scale can be exchanged for gold only in one centre. That was unavoidable. But where the law is that any citizen .travelling to another country may take a certain amount of gold with him, it is only fair that the people in the other capital cities should have the same facilities as those of Melbourne. It would not be hard for the Government to make a provision of that sort by regulation. I think it could te done without the necessity of an amendment of the Act. A trifling matter of that sort should easily be arranged, and it is the small matters that are often’ most irritating. I am sorry that Senator Pratten has found cause to complain of the doings of the Fleet in Sydney Harbor. If he wants a fine bay to float the Fleet on, Port Phillip is always available.
– For the reason, I suppose, that it could not possibly pollute the waters here.
– The waters of Port Phillip are so pure that they would stand any amount of pollution. This is really a lovely harbor, with any amount of room to float the Fleets of the world. Sydney is getting very congested, and I quite appreciate Senator Pratten’s suggestion, that the Fleet might be moved to Melbourne.
– The discussion this afternoon revives the eternal problem of centralization versus decentralization. Everybody in theory, believes in the decentralization of administration, but the trouble always arises when one attempts to carry it out. The instances brought forward to-day to show the foolishness of ‘the present system are most unfortunate from the point of view of the honorable senator who moved this motion. Senator Pratten, who followed, admitted that there must be a standard applicable to all the States. Not one of the cases brought forward to-day could have been determined locally without opening the door to a want of that uniformity.
The first case Senator Gardiner instanced was that of a citizen soldier who sought to convert notes into gold in Sydney. A law was passed here. to which Senator’ Gardiner was a party, by which, for obviously good reasons, if one accepts the principle of the Act, it was provided that Commonwealth notes should not be convertible, except at one spot. If every bank everywhere had been made liable to pay gold upon demand, we could never have hoped to carry on our present system with so small a percentage of gold as we do to-day. I do not think any one denies that it was necessary for the purposes of the Australian Notes Act to have redemption only at one point. It is the accident of circumstances that that one point happened to be Melbourne, and Senator Gardiner’s argument would be equally applicable if the Seat of Government were anywhere else. The inconvenience occasioned by the later law prohibiting the export of gold brings forward’ a fresh set of circumstances of which I willingly admit that we ought to take notice ; but it seems to me that Senator Gardiner’s suggested cure would be worse than the evil. He suggested that we could instruct the banks. We cannot do that. If we did, every bank in Sydney - and there must be thirty or forty of them - would have had to be armed with the £15 in gold’ which the soldier wanted, because no one could know to which bank he would present his notes. It is impossible to give such an instruction, even if we had the legal authority to compel the banks to carry it out, seeing that the banks themselves can only redeem in Melbourne. The incident illustrates the possibility, which is evidently in Senator Fairbairn’s mind, that some arrangement , might reasonably be made by which, when a man obtained his passport, he should be able at some central office in each capital city to get the gold he required within the limit allowed. That might be done under the sanction of a Customs officer, or at the Commonwealth Bank, but clearly it can be done only at one bank. I am going as far as I can when I say that the suggestion commends itself to me. and that I shall place it before my colleagues to see if something cannot be done in that direction.
As to the case of the lady who, without a nationality, sought to obtain a passport, had any officer in Sydney, or in any other city, issued it to her in the circumstances, he would have shown himself unfit to hold his position. There was a point of law involved, and, however hard the case May have been, it is not within the province of any official, outside the Crown Law officers, to determine a matter of that kind. .According to the Australian law, that lady was an American. According to the American law, she is a Britisher. But it is the Australian law, and not the American, that prevails here. That lady was legally an American, and she sought the privileges of a. British subject to which she was not entitled. No officer is entitled to tear up the law. The law may be wrong, but it is not within the competency of any officer to interpret it as he likes, or to ignore it if he thinks it inflicts a hardship on an individual. All he can do in that case is to refer the matter to head-quarters. What would happen if what Senator Gardiner suggested had taken place? ‘Supposing six individuals, circumstanced as this lady was, had presented themselves in the capital cities of each of the six States, and the local officer had decided to act as he thought best; three might have acted in one way, ?.nd three in another. They could not all be right. .This is clearly a case involving a legal point of considerable interest as to what is nationality and what is not, and only the Crown Law officers can determine it. Any officer who had ventured to stretch the Act, no matter how great the hardship, and to become his own lawmaker, would not only be exceeding^ his duty, but would exceed also any fair measure of responsibility that we could ask him to carry. I should not like to say whether that woman can, unless she takes out papers of naturalization, recover her citizenship here. We have just passed a law dealing with that subject. Surely we do not pass laws to have them ignored’ or torn up to suit the convenience of individuals ? The lady will be well advised, in her own interests, to take the steps set out in our law to restore her citizenship.
– Will you tell me the steps she has to take ? I should like her to know them.
– The honorable senator oan hardly expect me to recall the Act, but there are provisions by which - if she is not a British subject, and it seems to me that under our law she is not - she can take the steps which any other person could take to apply for Australian citizenship. I have no doubt that this was one of those hard cases which will occur under the best of laws, but the fact that an occasional case of that kind turns up does not justify us in denouncing the whole system or the law itself.
Senator Pratten said that some time ago people could obtain £50 worth of gold at the Commonwealth Treasury in Melbourne, and seemed to me rather to suggest by implication that Melbourne people were in some way or other favoured as against the people in other States-.
– They had to call personally at the Treasury in Melbourne.
– They were favoured, not by the law, but by the circumstances of their residence. It was a law equally applicable everywhere. It said, ‘ ‘ You can get gold only at one place.” This, of course, is an unavoidable differentiation, and there are no possible means by which it may be overcome.
– Could not the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney be instructed to issue gold ?
– I have already dealt with the possibility of making some arrangement by- means of which the people in each State may be able to get some redress, but it is not possible to overcome the disability of residence. If, for instance, we made an arrangement for the payment of gold in Sydney, residents of, say, Bathurst, might claim that they were handicapped as compared with, the residents of Sydney. Therefore, it is impossible to so arrange this matter as Jo confer absolute equality of privilege upon everybody. Senator Pratten said there was nothing in the law to prevent redress being given, and I point out that it is the accident of location, and not the law, that creates this disability.
– And the administration of the law.
– No, because the law states that the notes can be converted only at one place.
– I would like you to quote that law.
– It is clearly set out on the face of the notes themselves. I do not happen to have a note at the moment, but if any honorable senator will produce one and read it, he will find that it is issued on the express condition that it shall be convertible at one place only.
– That law did not prevent the Government from doing what I have said.
– Perhaps not, nor would it prevent a Government or an official from doing fifty other foolish things. I have already said that I recognise, now the war is over, that some convenience might be provided for citizens in the other States by allowing people in each capital city to obtain gold in exchange for notes up to the limit allowed by the Act.
Let me now deal with the third instance referred to by Senator Pratten, viz., the pollution of Sydney Harbor. I . did not know that the pollution was serious, but, at all events, it did- not interfere with festivities in the harbor during the visit of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.
– The pollution resulted in damage to the extent of thousands of pounds along the water frontages.
– I venture to say, however, that if I attempted to buy any of those water frontages to-day I would not find their value reduced in consequence.
– Well, you ask the yacht-owners about the oil in the harbor.
– I have no ‘ doubt that although my friend mentions with great gravity damage to the extent of thousands of pounds^ he is speaking figuratively. Let me point out that this is not a question to be determined by a local officer. It involves the right of the King’s ships as against the municipal law. Is .it suggested that we should allow- an officer to determine an important point like this?
– But could he not prevent oil being discharged into the harbor]
– No doubt, but more than that was involved in the question. As far as I, can gather it was a question whether the King’s ships should be subject to the municipal lav/. Perhaps they ought to be. But I am not arguing that principle at all. I am merely saying that a question of this nature could only be determined by the central authority, as any decision registered by that authority would be applicable to the King’s ships wherever they might be in Australian waters.
-. - I hope you will recommend the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) to settle this matter in favour of the’ municipalities.
– I think I will accept Senator Fairbairn’s suggestion.
I am afraid that it is human nature to regard as bad any law that inflicts hardship upon the individual; but there is an old and a true saying that “ hard cases make bad laws.” This is a shortsighted view, and in regard to the particular case referred to, I think that if the local officers had’ determined it on the spot, they would undoubtedly have piled up trouble for themselves, and possibly for the Government, later on. I believe in decentralization within those reasonable limits which experience has justified^ and I have tried to give effect to that principle in the administration of my own Department. I do not know if honorable senators are aware of the fact or not, but mine is the only Department in which the heads in the various States have authority over their officers, within certain limits. I am trying the experiment and watching it very closely, acting on the principle that the officer who is held responsible for the efficiency of his office should have some control over the men working under him. It is too early yet to say how the experiment will work out,’ but already I am getting complaints which go to show that it is not being received with enthusiasm, either by the officers themselves or the people who visit the office. I mention this to indicate that while I believe in decentralization, it is one thing to have decentralization in administration, and quite another thing to attempt decentralization in regard to matters affecting the Commonwealth law; because the law should be uniform in application from one end of Australia to the other. That being so, I submit that if Senator Gardiner has no better illustration than the cases which he has mentioned, it would be dangerous to allow any officer of the Commonwealth to interpret the law and thus, in effect, become a law unto himself.
– I take this opportunity of thanking those honorable senators who rose in their places when I submitted the motion, and thus gave me an opportunity of placing this matter before the Senate. With the exception of one honorable senator who waa ‘ present when this grievance was brought under my notice, no other member of this Chamber was aware of the matter to which I desired to refer. I relied on the fact that no honorable senator should submit a motion of this nature unless it concerns a matter of urgent public importance. If justification were wanted for my motion, it is to bo found in the Minister’s reply. Let me take first the case of the Australianborn woman, who had never been out of Australia. Under the law as it is administered it is impossible for her to leave for Great Britain, and now Senator Millen assures us that it is likely she will have to remain here for all time.
– No. I said she could get away if she adopted a certain course of action.
– She will remain here for all time unless she can find some one acquainted with the method by which she may become naturalized again. The officer who issues passports did not inform her of her proper course of action.
– He is not supposed to do that. He is not a lawyer.
– Of course, he is not. This woman, who was born near Melbourne, was informed that she could not leave for Great Britain unless she obtained a certain letter from the American Consul, who could not give it because she waa not then an American citizen.
Referring to the other question which I raised. Senator Millen now tries to make out that I suggested- that the banks in all the capital cities should have authority to exchange notes for gold.
– You said we should instruct the banks to give gold for notes.
– But I had in mind the Commonwealth Bank, and I repeat that if branches of the Commonwealth Bank in each capital city had instructions to issue gold for notes up to the amount allowed, on the presentation of a passport, all difficulties could be settled in ten minutes. I do not pretend to remember the provisions of the law, but I know how they work. I think it was passed in 1911, and from that time until the outbreak of the war notes could be exchanged for gold in any bank of the Commonwealth. There is nothing in the law to prevent the Government permitting gold to be exchanged for notes by any bank. There is a wise provision of the law which may prevent the indiscriminate cashing of notes, as persons might desire to smuggle gold out of the country at a time when it is of so much importance that we should retain our gold. In my view Governments are instituted to look after the interests of the people, and not merely the interests of public Departments. The public Departments are very rapidly making it as inconvenient as possible for persons to carry cm their business.
– The Treasury Department does not forbid a bank giving gold for notes, but if a bank does cash notes it must do so at its own risk.
– I believe that if the Government intimated to the banks that it would be an advantage in the transaction of business if they would exchange gold for notes tendered by people who have secured passports and are ready to leave the country, the manager of any bank would be prepared to do it. The law does not prevent them doing it. It merely provides that people may demand gold for their notes only in Melbourne.
Senator Millen has said that I have quoted hard cases, and that such cases make bad laws. I say that the matter to which I have referred is a case of a bad law making a hard case. It can scarcely appeal to the common sense of the people of this country, who up till recent years have been free and have enjoyed their liberty, to learn that the Government have determined that a woman born in Aus tralia cannot leave this country, although there is nothing against her. I suppose that Senator Millen will be charging me with inconsistency if to-morrow I attack the Government because they are compelling some one to leave the country. In their stupidity they are forcing people out of the country illegally and wickedly, and on the other hand they prevent reputable people leaving the country on ordinary business or for a pleasure trip. That kind of thing brings government into disrepute. Governments have no right to put obstacles and difficulties in the way of the people. It is rather their business to make their paths smooth. Senator E. D. Millen has given me a little information, but I am sorry that he did not give more. I would have been pleased if he had informed me how the lady to whom I referred is to be restored her citizenship, if she has lost it. I think that the honorable senator might have supplied that information in the interests, of thepublic. If one of these cases has been brought under my notice there is no saying how many such cases have occurred.
– There must be very few in which the circumstances are similar to those mentioned.
– There may have been a dozen such cases. . We might have been given the information for which I have asked, and there is no reason why the Passports Office should not be in a position to supply it. I have no doubt that the officers of that Department could find the necessary time to supply such information. There should be printed instructions to meet the various cases that may be brought under their notice. I am aware that we recently passed a measure dealing with passports, for which I accept no responsibility. The case to which I have referred shows that under that law a citizen of Australia, situated as this lady was, and desiring to travel overseas, may not do so without first making an application for naturalization. In this case there is no charge and no suspicion, and nothing to warrant any interference by the Government”. It is an indication of the stupidity, not of the officials, but of the Government in conducting public business in such a way that everything has to filter through the head offices in Melbourne. Although I have not concrete cases to submit, I am aware from conversations with people that there is hardly a person who has to deal with a Commonwealth Department in Sydney who does not complain of the inconvenience, or worse, due to the system adopted by Ministers of transacting the whole of the business of the Commonwealth from Melbourne. I ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion, by leave withdrawn.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer is - 1 and 2. A despatch has been received from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, forwarding a petition from the Rev. J. B. Ronald to His Majesty the King. , As, however, the matter is purely a State one, the petition has been referred to the Government of Victoria.
Exemption from PublicWorks Committee Act.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Standing Committee on Public Works before committing the Commonwealth to further expenditure in connexion with arsenal matters?
– The answers are - 1, 2, and 3. Yes.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) laid on the table, pursuant to standing order 38, his warrant appointing Senators Fairbairn, Gardiner, Sir Thomas Glasgow, and Lynch to be members of the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications.
– The next Order of the Day necessitates the Senate going into Committee, and that being so, I direct attention to the fact that no Chairman of Committees has been appointed, and it. is necessary that that should be done.
– Are there not Temporary Chairmen of Committees?
– Yes, there are.
.- I move-
That Senator Bakhap be appointed Chairman of Committees of the Senate.
It is unnecessary that I should enumerate Senator Bakhap’s qualifications. We know that he has abundance of courtesy and tact and the necessary firmness and impartiality to uniquely fit him to fill this honorable position. I am perfectly certain that my motion will commend itself to honorable senators.
– Having known Senator Bakhap since he has been a member of the Federal Parliament, I am aware that he is eminently fitted to perform the duties of Chairman of Committees of the Senate. I have, therefore, much pleasure in seconding the motion. We have had experience of Senator Bakhap as a Temporary Chairman of Committees, and, in view of that experience, we may rest satisfied that at all times he will hold the scales of justice evenly and will preserve to honorable senators the rights and privileges they possess under the Constitution, and also such as are given them by the Standing Orders. Honorable senators may amend the Standing Orders at any time if they find they are unsuitable, but I am sure that Senator Bakhap will so interpret the Standing Orders as to preserve their rights and privileges to honorable senators. I can assure Senator Bakhap that he will receive from all the members of the Senate sympathetic assistance in carrying out his very important duties.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– If in order, may I be permitted to thank honorable senators for having unanimously elected me to the position of Chairman of Committees of this honorable Chamber. I thank the mover and seconder of the motion which has insured my appointment, for their eulogistic remarks. All I can say in return is that I will do my best to carry out the duties pertaining to the position, and that I feel sure that in making the endeavour I shall be wholeheartedly supported by honorable senators, individually and collectively.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 20th May, vide page 2326) :
Clause 3. (Audit Department.)
– I should like to remind the Committee of the stage at which we left this Bill when it was previously before us. We had reached clause 3, under which it was proposed to transfer to the Auditor-General certain powers now exercised by the Public Service Commissioner. Differences of opinion were expressed in the Cominittee as to the soundness of the new proposal, ‘ and I have asked the Departments concerned to review the position in the light of what was then said. I anticipate bringing down a recast of that amendment.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I desire to inform the Senate of the proposals of the Government concerning the business to be brought before the Senate this week. Notice has been given to-day of leave to introduce certain Bills tomorrow. In the ordinary course those measures can only be brought forward and read a first time, which means that the Senate will have to wait until the following day before the second reading - the main stage - is reached. To-morrow I propose to ask the Senate to suspend so much of our Standing Orders as would prevent the second reading of some of the Bills being taken, and then to grant such an adjournment as may be considered necessary. By adopting this method we shall save at least a day, and will, I submit, avoid any inconvenience to honorable senators, seeing that after the second-reading speecheshave been de- livered an adjournment will be sought and granted.
– I am indebted to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) for intimating the intention of the Government; but I ask him to seriously consider ‘whether the business of the Senate should be expedited by suspending our Standing Orders. It appears that during the last six years the Standing Orders have been suspended to consider ninety out of every hundred Bills that have been introduced. If our Standing Orders are such that we cannot proceed without suspending them, why not alter them?
– Why not follow the House of Lords and have no Standing Orders at all?
– I am sure that Senator Thomas is in favour of conducting the business of this Chamber in a “ lordly “ manner. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) has stated that by suspending the Standing Orders we shall be saving time and enabling the businessof the. Senate to proceed more expeditiously. If there is occasion to expedite matters, why was not the Senate called together on Monday or Tuesday? It would appear from the notice-paper of another place that there is no occasion for the Senate to endeavour to hurry Bills through by suspending our Standing Orders, which have been framed for the proper conduct of business and should be adhered to or amended.
– They are like redtape - niade to cut.
– And some try to cut them now and again.
– Exactly. In an august assembly such as this I do not see why we should not be able to conduct our business satisfactorily without any Standing Orders, as Senator Thomas suggests.
– Did not the honorable senator notice the smile that accompanied Senator Thomas’ suggestion?
– The honorable senator may have smiled, but I believe he was in earnest. If such a proposition were adopted, the party which I represent would certainly get the worst of the deal : butI havesuch absolute confident in ‘honorable senators opposite that I would be pleased to fall in with the suggestion. So far as the Government are concerned, there are no standing orders, as whenever they desire to pass Bills they immediately move for their suspension, and there is never any opposition from the Government supporters. When I am personally concerned I always find the Standing Orders very rigid, as I am not allowed to speak one minute longer than the allotted time.
Before the Senate adjourns I wish to deal with certain recent actions of the Government. I desire to refer - to use a mild term - totheir brutal conduct in the Jerger case. Father Jerger was arrested in Sydney, and, according to a statement in the press, no one was to be allowed to see him. As a public man, I looked upon that as an unheard-of outrage. We have not been at war with Germany - even officially - since the 10th January last, but this particular individual was suddenly arrested, put into prison, and not allowed to see even his legal adviser. I saw that statement in the newspapers.
– Does the honorable senator believe everything he sees in the newspapers?
– I do not. When I saw the announcement that Father Jerger had been imprisoned I visited the Darlinghurst Gaol to ascertain if visitors were admitted, andI was informed by a courteous officer that I could be admitted if I obtained an order from the Victoria Barracks. I went to the Victoria Barracks, and was referred to a Captain Lloyd, who said he would have pleasure in giving me an order, but Father Jerger had been sent to Melbourne. As I came along one of the passages in company with Captain Lloyd, a pathetic incident occurred. I met two ladies- Father Jerger’s sisters- one of whom said she was glad to meet me, as she was anxious to obtain a pass to see her brother. I informed her that her brother had been removed to Melbourne.. We are supposed to be a civilized people, living in a British community; but, although the Government were aware that this man had two sisters in Sydney, they deliberately removed him to Melbourne in a brutal -way without giving them anop portunity of visiting him for probably the last time. That is surely going beyond whatcommon decency would inspire in the minds of men. I am speaking of what I have heard and on the information I have gathered myself. Much has been said concerning Hun brutalities, and as far as we axe concerned I do not want any one to have an opportunity of referring to the brutal actions of an Australian Government. I want this country to be free, and if we are to err at all let it be on the side of generosity.
We have also to consider the military aspect of this question, and it is one which we must not overlook. The military authorities are being used in this business, and as I belong to a party bitterly opposed to militarism, I desire to take this opportunity of expressing my strong disapproval of the manner in which the Government have acted in this matter. I notice that in this illegal act the military authorities are very prominent.
– It is not illegal.
– The honorable senator is as much entitled to his opinion as I am to mine, but ever since 15 th June, 1215, when King John signed Magna Charta, it has been illegal to secretly arrest or imprison a man.
– The honorable senator made it legal by assisting to pass the Act.
– The Minister for , Repatriation always endeavours to place the blame on my shoulders, by stating that I assisted in passing the legislation. It never has been ‘legal, during the past 800 years, to secretly imprison a man. The Minister for Repatriation says that I must take my share of the responsibility for what has occurred, and I do so with shame. I regret that an Act that was passed for war purposes was, used in the manner that this Government have used it. I challenge the Minister for Repatriation to point to an occasion during the time I held office when I ever permitted a man to be punished without a trial. Internment, for war necessities, was not punishment. Internment for the protection of one’s country was not punishment. A man can be deported without a trial only when he has been convicted of being a member of an, illegal association. Now that the war has terminated, and we are endeavouring to remove all the grievances and remedy all the evils that existed, what justification is there for deporting a man without a trial ? What reason is there for sending the military authorites to grasp and im prison a man, and, at the’ same time, to refuse him access to his legal advisers ? Father Jerger has been refused an opportunity of being heard, and, even when an appeal was lodged in Court, the Government persisted in their determination to spirit him out of the country. If there is one thing more than another that is calculated to make us proud of being members of the British race, it is that, to our people, justice shall neither be delayed nor sold - that it cannot be bought. I do not consider my personal feelings in this matter; but it will redound to the everlasting discredit of Australia if we allow the Government to deport Father Jerger without a trial. I firmly believe that, although the military authorities have been compelled’ to do the work, they are not responsible for the action that has been taken. Why did not the Government utilize the Common wealth police to effect this brutal arrest ? Why has this man been handed over to the military authorities ? If this particular offender has done anything wrong, why was he not brought before the Courts in the ordinary way ? I appeal to the Minister for an explanation. If wrong has been done by him, let him be brought before the Court and punished. Then nobody will have cause for complaint. But if wrong has not been done by him, punishment will yet overtake those who are responsible for the arrest, the imprisonment, and the attempt to deport an innocent man. I know that there are many persons who have prejudged this case. I have had an opportunity of hearing some of the statements which have been made against the accused. If he has committed any offence, why not set the law in motion against him, and extend to him what we extend to the vilest criminal - to the murderer,’ the burglar, the thief, or the highwayman - an open and fair trial ? Is there really any need for all the secrecy which has surrounded this particular case, or is it merely an attempt on the part of the Government and their supporters to stir up a very bitter sectarian feeling in this country ? I venture to say that this man’s deportation was deliberately resolved upon for the purpose of creatine; a bitter sectarian feeling in the hope that in some way or other Ministers would thereby make good.
I have said that, wherever the British flag flies, the liberty which we enjoy has been our chief pride for centuries. Upon what is that liberty based? It is based upon the fact that every man is free from interference even by those who occupy positions of authority. In the old days it was the persons in high places who generally interfered with the liberty of others. In the Old Country it was the King or the baron. What brought into existence the Statute which is the charter of our freedom ? King John, following the pernicious practice which had been adopted by his predecessors, was in the habit of imprisoning people, and of extorting money from them for their release, or, alternatively, of ordering their execution. This system aroused such an intense feeling throughout England that an organization was called into existence which drafted quite an exemplary Charter of liberty. This organization was so powerful that it was able to force the King to sign that Charter. One of its clauses - I shall not weary honorable senators by reciting the whole of them - reads -
No freeman shall be arrested, or detained in prison, or deprived of his freehold, or outlawed, or banished, or in any way molested; and we will not set forth against him, nor send against him. unless. by the lawful judgment of Iris peers and by the law of the land.
– I see no cover in that for disloyalists to range throughout the country just as they please.
– Anybody committing an offence may be punished, but any Government which constitutes itself the judge of disloyalty will discover that it is creating a condition of things in this country which cannot be controlled. Liberty cannot be controlled by tyrants of that stamp. I value constituted authority, and I respect law and order more than anything else; but the Government which says that it will punish any citizen without a trial is leading this country to certain ruin. The principle laid down in the clause from Magna Charta, which 1 have quoted, is that the judgment of one’s own peers is obviously the right of every free man. I have emphasized that clause, because it appears that there is occasion for me to do so even in a country which claims a greater degree of liberty than is claimed in England to-day.
I invite honorable senators to observe the secrecy of Father Jerger’s arrest, the shutting out of his legal advisers, the way in which he was rushed down in a motor car at the last moment to catch the Melbourne express from Sydney, and the manner in which he was spirited away to Adelaide. what occasion was there lor all these things ? Surely he is not being treated in this way because he is a priest of the Roman Catholic Church ? Surely we dc not wish to inflict injustice upon anybody?
– Is the honorable senator raising this case on th< ground that the man is being unjustly deported ?
– Then why does he not deal with Doctor Hirschfield’s case ?
– When the Government were deporting another man - I refer to Paul Freeman - i risked my liberty by stating in a public place thai if Ministers persisted in governing without recourse to law, and by means of force, we should give them a taste of it: and to bring them to their senses we would hang one of them every week te the nearest lamp-post.
– And the honorable senator believes in liberty ?
– Yes. The Government who seek to govern without liberty are traitors to this country.
– As soon as th Freeman agitation started to peter ou1 the honorable senator dropped away from it. There were no more votes to be obtained then.
– The Minister for Repatriation may put any construction that he chooses upon my action. But if honorable senators will look at tha records of this Chamber they will see that I repeatedly asked questions in regard te the deportations which were being made from this country. I know now that th, answer given to me by one Minister some time ago, when he said that there had only been seventeen deportations, waruntrue. The subject of deportation without trial is not a new one to me.
– Were not such de portations carried out under the Wai Precautions Act?
– 1 am quite aware of that. I was a member of th< Government which introduced and passed that measure through this Parliament If I thought that my country was ir danger, and that the detention of certain individuals in an internment camp would be a protection to it, they would go there.
SenatorRowell. - Does not the ho nor - able senator think that the country was in danger?
– Most certainly. There were some individuals in the internment camps of this country who would not have been there had it not been for my voice. If we believe that an enemy is going to attack us we do notusually wait until that attack has been delivered. But when we have returned to peace conditions and there is no danger to the constituted authority of this country, surely it becomes us as lovers of liberty to say that any accused man shall be indicted ‘ and shall be faced with his accusers. Has that been done in this case? We may be told that there has been a secret trial conducted by Sir Robert Garran. I have heard some whisperings connected with that secret trial. I am told that one of the chief charges against Father Jerger was that he advised a man named Woodford not to enlist for service abroad, telling him that the war was no business ofhis. When th is secret inquiry was held not only was this particular man produced, but he swore most positively that he had never before met Father Jerger, and that he had never spoken to him. Yet it was on the strength of this allegation that the military authorities arrested Father Jerger in the first instance. If that be so, what will be the position of honorable senators who say that, we are going out of our way to vindictively punish an innocent man?
– Does the honorable senator really believe that he is innocent?
– I do, because if he had not been innocent he would not be where be is to-day. It is only because he would not bend in the slightest degree from the position which he originally took up, that he is being subjected to further injustice. He might very readily have taken the easy way. out by backing down. Months ago he would have been released but for the fact that his stern -sense of the injustice which had been inflicted upon him prevented him from yielding. He preferred to suffer. I repeat that we ought to have the courage to confront this man with his accusers in open Court. If he has done any wrong which is punishable by law, by all means let him -be punished, but, if he has not, unquestionably he should be released. That is the only sound position which any honorable senator can take up. If Father Jerger has done wronglet him be punished, and let the sentence be pronounced upon him in open Court. After all, that procedure forms the very basis of the freedom which we enjoy. Any accused person should be confronted by his accusers, and should be indicted and tried by his peers. Of course, I recognise that I may be deported to-morrow for having spoken in this way. The Governmentmay say “ Yes, we are putting Gardiner aboard the Nestor. We have sent him to Adelaide- “
– The fact that we have not done so shows how moderate we are in the exercise of our powers.
– I quite realize that. Personally I have no complaint to make regarding any infringement of my right to speak anywhere in Australia except in the Senate. Here a standing order was passed limiting my right to speak beyond a certain point. So that if the Ministry said, “We can see much of a seditious nature in that speech of Gardiner’s; it was delivered with the deliberate intention of stirring the people up against us; we will deport him, and put him where he ought to be, on the Nestor, and send him away with Father Jerger,” what protection would I have? What protection would my friends have?
– As much as you would deserve.
– Senator de Largie’s answer shows that the Ministry and their supporters have prejudged this man, as they would prejudgo me. They say we would have as much protection as we deserved. Why, then, go out of our way, when a man is charged with a most brutal murder, to say that it is the tradition and law of this country to hold him innocent until he is found guilty? It would be quite easy, and save a great deal of money, if the Government hanged him straightway, and did not bother about barristers’ fees and trials. Where will it all end when Governments act without recourse to law? The Government have adopted the method of direct action, be- . cause, when all is said and done, the party opposite are the direct action party. They cannot wait for trial by jury; or is it a fact that they cannot produce evidence to justify themselves?
I challenge the Minister for Repatriation, who, in this Senate, is protected against the law of libel, to point to any act that Father Jerger has committed, or anything he has said, that will warrant his deportation. I do not want any vague statements that the Ministry “know something,” or that Father Jerger “may have done this, or may have done that.” I challenge the Minister, here in his place in Parliament, to put before Parliament and the people the reason for this man’s deportation six months after peace has been proclaimed. « Senator E. D. Millen reminded me that we passed the “War Precautions Act. I think it is the second section of that Act which says, “ This Act shall remain in force until the termination of the war, and no longer.” That is an emphatic declaration. The words “ and no longer “ leave no doubt about what we meant. That was the position when we passed the Act. The words “and no longer”’ show that it was purely a war measure passed at the time of all the rumours, all the whispers, and all the dangers, real or imaginary, that came to our minds during that anxious period. Senator E. D. Millen will realize what I mean by that, because he had one of the first anxious months or six weeks of the war. I know that, although not in office, he was as much concerned for the safety of this country as was any one else who was in office. When he thinks he meets the charge by saying to us, “You helped to pass the Act,” I reply that, if there was a war tomorrow, and I was in office again, I would help to pass an Act that would give the Government power to deal immediately and directly with any o.uo threatening Australia’s existence. But that is not a departure from the rights of Magna Charta. That is a question of dealing with the nationals of other countries who may he in our own country waging war against us.
– Do you deny that this man is a national of another country ?
– That brings up quite a debatable point. So far as my information goes, he was born in Germany, and left Germany for England at the age of four years. He has been thirty-four years in this colin try, and he does not speak the German language. He may not be legally a citizen of this country by naturalization; but, whether he is a German or a member of any other community, I contend that, if this Empire of ours is worth fighting about, our proudest boast should be that under our flag no injustice can be done to any man. If there is anything to be proud of in being a member of this Empire, it is the freedom it gives us, the fact that the humblest citizen of this country has just the same rights as the greatest tyrant of a Minister, and that the Minister cannot take a citizen and imprison him. During the war - and I know what little influence I had during the time I was in the Government - the one thing I was concerned about regarding our internees was that they should be treated so well during their internment that we should never have to reproach ourselves with anything in the nature of ill-treatment, and that, if we erred at all, it should be on theside of trying to put ourselves in Germany’s place, and to do unto them as’ we would they should do unto us. Honorable senators may ask me, “ Did the Germans treat our men in their camps vol that way ?” If they did not, it is to their discredit. The war is over, and here is- a clear case where no injury can happen to any one by a fair trial in open Court, but where much grave injury can happen to one person if that trial is not conceded.
Do honorable senators realize the infernal wickedness of sending a man without a trial out of a country in which he has resided for thirty-four years? He says he is innocent. Senator Pearce says he is guilty. Why not let the matter be decided ? If the man has done anything to warrant deportation, Senator Pearce, before he signs an order for that deportation, should have enough evidence to convict him in any Court of law. If the man has not done this thing, then Senator Pearce, the other members of the Government, all the members of this Parliament, and all those who compose the Australian community, should not only pause and hesitate, but should think very deeply, before they depart from those grand principles of British justice which, so far as we are concerned, comprise all that isgood, and worth living and fighting for. Take them from us, and I ask you, What is left? What is life worth if one mancan be seized and kept in prison, at the will of another man 1 Honorable senators know that that went on time after time throughout that long period which witnessed the growth of all those constitutional liberties which are our safeguards. Some one has warned us, “Never to permit irregularities to take place, lest they as sume the force of precedents.” We cannot, without horrors from which the imagination recoils, think of using physical force in an attack upon this Government. Therefore, we have to keep intact all those constitutional principles which guarantee not only to us, but to those who come after us, our liberties. When we have to deal . with men whose minds are so inflamed that they say, “ This man is outside the pale of manhood; he is not entitled to enjoy those liberties,” we reply, “ This man has lived under our flag in Australia for thirty-four years. He has been engaged in his pursuits as a priest.” I care not what religion he ‘belongs to; any man who gives his life for the spiritual instruction of others will always have my respect. He is entitled to it.
The war with Germany has now been over since the 10th January, according to the British Government. It is now the 21 st July. I say to the Government in all seriousness and earnestness, as an Australian, who puts the reputation of Australia before anything else, “ You can give full rein to your own vindictive spirit, and insist on completing what you have started tocarry out; but, if you do this thing, you will never wipe away the stain from Australia’s honour.” The Government may justify themselves by saying, “ We have done it in hundreds of cases, and you have made no protest.” We reply, “ Every case in which you have violated the principles of British justice will redound to your discredit. You cannot stop your brains from thinking; you cannot stop your best impulses from coming to the top.” I say to all who are listening to my voice,, perhaps with anger against the side which I am taking : ‘ ‘ Every time you read the glowing pages of the story of men who have fought for British liberty, the thought will come back to you that you yourselves did not have even the courage to speak for British liberty, or the manhood to stand up against a Government which trampled underfoot all that is worth having, all that ‘is worth fighting for, and all that we point to with pride as brightening the annals of the race to which we belong.”
– There is a lot of licence going on in the sacred name of liberty !
– And there always has been.
– Did not some of your party say that Australia had no liberty worth fighting for, and that men should not go to the other side to fight for it?
– A lot of things were said by men on each side. Would the honorable senator like to be held responsible for everything said on his side? The members of my party are exactly the same as the members of other parties. We have as bad members in our party as other parties have, but we also have as good. Even if Senator Duncan has left our party, and even if he says he was driven out of it, I maintain that our party has always been moved by the one principle of extending, and not curtailing, the liberties of our people. It is pleasant to realize how grand a thing freedom is, when reading some glowing account of the lives of men who fought and died to secure it for us. But when you are up against it yourself, and your personal passions are stirred, then it is just as easy to do as they did centuries ago - just toss those liberties aside. I do not move about with my eyes or ears shut, and I say we have reached in Australia a stage where a Ministry, the war being over, persists in governing this country under military law, when there is no occasion for it. Our people are the most law-loving and law-abiding people in the world ; slow to anger, and patient beyond imagination in their endurance : yet the Government are trying to stir them up by the most glaring disregard of the principles of the British Constitution ever perpetrated by any Government in Australia. Never has anything so degrading as this been done before. Never has there been less excuse for it. I realize that there is a very strong feeling in this community at the present time, andpossibly it is a desire to get up against a strong feeling when I hear it expressed that has made me speak here to-day.
A meeting was called for Monday night last in the city of Sydney in connexion with the “ Loyalty to the Empire “ movement. Sir Granville Ryrie, a member of the Ministry, said in a public theatre that night, in effect, that we were “fed up” with the disloyalty rampant in this country, and that the disloyalists would have toget out. Mr. Oakes, a prominent parliamentarian on the Nationalist side in New South Wales, stated at another meeting on the same night that the man who was disloyal should not be allowed twenty-four hours in this country, but that his passport should be prepared and he should be sent away to his own country. Mr. John Stinson - I think he is the same Mr. Stinson that was a prominent member of the old National Association which fought Labour so vigorously - said, in effect, that there was no room in this country for a disloyal cause. His words were: “ The man who wants to preach sedition or disloyalty must do so in some foreign country.”- I hold that a free country has room for all manner of thinking, and should have room for all manner of speaking.
– Do you not believe in loyalty to the Crown ?
– I have to sign an oath of loyalty to the Crown before I take my seat here. My record for loyalty will compare with that of the honorable senator, however good it may be. To me, the love of liberty is above loyalty. I shall protest always when a Government, acting in the name of the Crown, degrades the name of the Crown by trampling underfoot the laws of this country.
– Are you contending that liberty requires that a community should see open disloyalists marching through its ranks as they like?
– My contention must not be twisted by the Minister in that way.
– I merely want to know what it is that you mean.
– If the Minister will be patient he will find out what I intend to say.
– What you are saying is outrageous.
– I am giving’ expression to views which I have always held, and which I am always prepared to fight for,
– You are advocating licence, not liberty.
– I say this is liberty. Where would our liberty of today be but for those men who have fought for it in the past?
– Hear, hear.
– And so I ‘ am protesting against the tyranny of this Government. When Charles I. first imprisoned Hampden, because he refused to obey the Government, he was regarded as a disloyalist.
– In a good cause.
– What liberty did the honorable senator’s party allow to conscriptionists ? There was neither liberty of speech nor action then.
– We do not interfere with your liberty. That was a party arrangement.
– Oh, no. If I went into a Protectionist party and advocated Free Trade, they would put me out at once. And they would be quite right. I say that the noblest names in the pages of our history are the names of those who have dared, despite the prescriptive rights of Governments, to think and act against authority. This Government, in regard to Father Jerger, is acting upon an authority ‘of its own.
– You did not talk like this when we were fighting for this principle in regard to conscription.
– Because an organization working on fixed principles has a right to exclude members who do not conform to those principles.
– But conscription was not a plank of the party platform.
– I am aware of that; but what would happen to me if I went to the church which the honorable senator attends and preached the doctrine that Father Jerger preaches from its pulpit? How long would I be allowed to stay there? Of course, I would be “ outed.”
– And may not a nation do the same as a church?
– The Labour party is national. I might say of almost international importance.
– Well, if you had allowed the right of free speech during the conscription campaign, some, peoplemight have taken a different stand.
– I would remind the honorable senator that statements regarded as loyal to-day may tomorrow mean the halter. Things change; but. wise statesmen endeavour to maintain government according to the law, and my charge against this Government is that they have a simple way of doing right and punishing a wrong -doer, but will not take it. They insist upon adopting this extraordinary course of issuing secret orders to imprison and deport, and they refuse the right of the accused person to a consultation with his friends or legal advisers.
– They are sending this man to mix with his peers in Austria.
– I do not know where they are sending him. The Government may think they are right, but I hold the reverse view.
As far as the law, and liberty of the individual, are concerned, this is an occasion when they are worth fighting for.- In normal times any man can expect to get justice. It is only when the passions are aroused that men lose their balance. Their normal sense of justice then disappears, and with that contemptible feeling of vindictiveness,’ so well expressed in the language of the Australian “ push,” there is a strong desire to “ put the boot in “ whenever the opportunity occurs. There is nothing manly about the whole position. We need not go very far back in our history to find its parallel. Not long ago I was reading correspondence that passed between one of our early Governors and the Home authorities less than 100 years ago. It appears that one of the officials sent out happened to be a Methodist, and the Governor of the day actually wrote to the British Minister telling him that this man had come to the colony without a licence, and asking the Minister not to send any more of these reprehensible persons out. I think Senator Thomas knows the man’s name.
– The Reverend Leigh. But as the honorable senator has appealed to me, I must say that the British Minister did not reply that he would not send any more out.
– What did the British Minister say, then?
– He replied that he would be very careful in future.
– Well, I shall take an early opportunity of looking up the historical records in order to put this particular incident on record, because lt indicates that the Ministerial intention of the time was to keep this country for members of the Church of England. I am an Anglican myself, but I have a keen sense of the ridiculous, and feel contempt for those big men - because many of them were big men - for descending to such littlenesses; and I am endeavouring to make this Government realize the littleness of their action and the contemptible position they occupy. The ordinary Courts are open to them. Surely this is not too* much to ask? Indeed, one would have thought it unnecessary to ask for an open trial in Australia. A Government that departs from the lawful course must stand condemned ; and unless the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), in his reply, can make out a good case for the deportation of this man, the position will be so much the worse.
– Give him a chance to do that.
– He will have his chance just the same as I have, of talking for an hour and a half, thanks to you and your party. Every other honorable senator will also have every opportunity, under our Standing Orders, to debate this motion. I am setting them a good example.
If the Government have good ground for the arrest of this man, let them declare it. If, however, they do not offer some reason for their action we must assume that they have none. If they have not the courage to allow this case to go before the Court3 we must assume they have no case; that this man is being deported at the will of the Minister for Defence, and that the law which should protect individual liberty is being set aside.
– The honorable senator has no right to throw the onus on a particular Minister.
– I agree with the Minister, and thank him for the interjection. I now say that the whole of the Government are responsible, but Senator Pearce is the head of his Department, and if he had any love for liberty or the traditions of British liberty he would cease to be a member of the Government rather than sign an order for the deportation of this man. Never did I approach any subject more seriously than this. I protest with all the powers I possess against this gross inroad upon the principles of British justice; this most flagrant abuse of the power of Government; this gross interference with individual liberty.
– A short time ago you were suggesting the gallows, without trial, for a Minister.
– I was then referring to the danger of governing byforce, because force breeds force. Personally, I will never be found appealing to force, for the simple reason that, any position that rests upon force is insecure. In a country like this there must be an appeal to reason, and so we are making a demand for a fair trial.
– A trial by his peers.
– In Austria.
– The . man is a German, but he left that country at a very early age. If, after trial by his peers in Germany, would the honorable senator allow him to come back?
– No fear.
– That is the spirit expressed. We have been at war, and have had our passions aroused.
– And have lost a great many fine Australians.
– No one regrets their loss more than I do. Our passions have been aroused, and we will not permit them to settle down, and so will commit injustices which do not injure those to whom we are unjust as much as they injure ourselves. The injury inflicted upon this gentleman is insignificant compared with the injury inflicted upon our country by his deportation. It is merely a passing injury to the man, but it will be a permanent stain upon our reputation, and nothing can wipe it out once we have done it. Honorable senators opposite, may glory in doing this and gloat over it, but there might come a time in this country when the very men who are supporting this action may themselves be deported from the country.
I remind honorable senators that we have passed an Unlawful Associations Act. There are many things more unlikely than that I should again become a member of the Commonwealth Government, since we know that it is only by the will of the Country party that the members of the present Government retain their position. What if I were a Minister, and when members of the Senate did not do what I considered the right thing I became annoyed and said, “ This crowd is disloyal. The members of it will not allow the Government to be properly carried on.” Suppose I then submitted a minute to the Executive recommending that the Government should declare the members of the Nationalist party to be a disloyal organization. As soon as the proclamation was issued declaring the party to be a disloyal organization, the members of it could be deported. I do not desire that honorable senators opposite should set bad examples, because we know thai ill weeds grow apace. I am not using this as a threat against honorable senators opposite, but to- show them hoiw this kind of government might be applied. Under the Unlawful Associations Act the members . of any organization declared to be illegal may be deported to their own countries. This power might be exercised very drastically, and perhaps in more than a vindictive spirit if I were charged with its exercise. Suppose that the members of the Freemasons lodg.es were declared to be unlawful associations, the members could be deported without a trial.
– The Act provides that members of unlawful associations may be deported to their own country, but for the people to whom Senator Gardiner refers Australia is their own country.
– What would happen to those to whom Australia is not their own country? I remind the honorable senator also that those to whom Australia is their own country could be imprisoned if they were declared to be members of illegal associations. I am pointing out that honorable senators opposite, because ill weeds grow apace, should be very careful to guard the young plants of liberty that have grown up since this country came into existence. They are wiping out all the traditions which we have valued so much. They are doing so for the reason that they have not yet got over their angry passions, aroused by thewar,
– One of the traditions we most value is loyalty.
– Who is to be judge of loyalty?
– Every one. The honorable senator knows disloyalty as well as I do, though he may pretend to disguise his knowledge.
– I know many things that the honorable senator does not know. I say that I am as closely in touch with all sections of the community of Sydney as is any other man in the Commonwealth, and I know of no section there that can be described as disloyal.
– That is due to the honorable senator’s capacity to be all things to all men.
– The honorable senator is a very keen man, and if, after ten years’ association ‘with me in this Chamber, he has formed that opinion of me I thank him for giving public utterance to it. I repeat that, from my association with the community of Sydney, I know of no disloyal section there.
– Does the honorable senator not know that a small section, when dealing with this very matter, tried to pull down the Union Jack in the Domain in Sydney?
– The honorable senator speaks of an occurrence upon which I can speak with more authority than he can. I was standing on a platform in the Domain when the occurrence to which he refers took place. There were three platforms from which meetings were being addressed, and there was one small meeting of about 5,000 persons. At the meeting which I addressed, Imeasured up the crowd, and mentioned the fact that I estimated that there were from 140,000 to 150,000 persons present.
– I understand that the police estimate was 50,000 all told.
– I am prepared to tell honorable senators how I formed my estimate. I said that in a dense crowd there may be said to be eight people to every square yard. I saw that for 200 yards ahead of me there was a dense crowd of people, and the crowd was more than 100 yards wide. If the figures are worked out on the basis I assumed, they will show that there must have been about 160,000 people present. But to be on the safe side, I estimated the number at somewhat less. The Minister for Repatriation is. under a misapprehension as to what occurred. The people in charge of the meeting conducted it in such a manner that no one here could take exception to it. I heard Father O’Reilly’s speech at the first platform, and no exception could be taken to it. There is not an honorable senator present who would not be proud of it if he had made that speech. There was not a disloyal utterance contained in it. The opposing crowd, probably annoyedbecause their meeting was so small, brought a Union Jack with them and rushed the platform of the other side, and in the rush they lost their flag. Was that an attack upon the Union Jack ? It was an attack of law-breakers sheltering themselves under theUnion Jack.
– They are a very small minority, but they are very noisy.
– They were a small minority, and the Minister and the Government would justify what they did. To my mind, there could be nothing more discreditable to the Union Jack than that those who marched under . it should try to break up another meeting that was being lawfully held, in the way they did.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
– Could I be given leave to continue my speech.
– The honorable senator is at liberty to move that his time be extended.
– I shall not do so.
– Senator Gardiner has given us many harangues of this character. The only difference between this and others to which we have listened, until we are sick of them, is that on this occasion he has been dealing with a particular case. He is fond of prating about freedom and liberty. These words come tripping off his tongue. He uses sophistical arguments until one begins to wonder whether to be a champion of freedom and liberty one must necessarily be an enemy of his own country, because the honorable senator every time holdsup as brilliant and shining examples of champions of freedom and liberty those who have done their best to hand this country over to Germany.
– Let the honorable senator name one of these people when he makes such a statement.
– I shall name them before I have finished.
– The honorable senator knows such a statement is untrue.
– Freedom and liberty inmodern organized society are based on the observance of law. Without law and its observance there can be no freedom or liberty. Most of the afternoon the honorable senator has been glorifying and exalting persons who have been guilty of acts of disloyalty at a time when this country has been fighting for its life.
– Let the honorable senator name one person who has been guilty of an act of disloyalty.
– He has attempted to depreciate and discredit the Government, who has acted in these matters in strict accordance with the laws of this country, passed by a Parliament of which he was a member and introduced by a Government of which he was a member, and upon which on two occasions - in 1917 and in 1919 - the people of Australia passed their judgment of . approval. That law is on our statute-book to-day. It was placed there by a Government of which Senator Gardiner and I were members, and it has twice received the approval of the people of this country. That no action has been taken outside that law is the declaration of the High Court of this country. When Senator Gardiner attacks the Government in this matter he attacks not our Administration, but the law of the country.
The honorable senator has spoken of MagnaCharta, and . says that it protects the lives and liberties of the citizens of the country. It does do so. But Magna Gharta was never conceived and never intended to protect the rights and liberties of the enemies of the country. I ask where was Senator Gardiner when, as one of the first laws placed on our statute-book with the assistance of the party of which I was then a member and he was a supporter, we provided for the deportation of many persons from this country ? There were some thousands of people in Australia who we said should, for the benefit of the country, be deported to the land from which they came. One of the first of the more important measures passed by this Parliament was the Act under which we deported some thousands of kanakas from Queensland. Why did not Senator Gardiner, who talks so much about Magna Charta, then raise his voice against that invasion of the rights of human beings? The honorable senator and those with whom he is associated were silent on the subject at that time. They approved of that legislation, and had a part in carrying it into effect. I have no doubt that Senator Gardiner, as I have done myself, boasted from many platforms that the party with which we were then associated assisted to pass the law under which we removed from Australia human beings who, in our opinion, would have been a menace to our national life.
– The honorable senator cannot link me up with what was done before I became a member of the party.
– Was not Senator Gardiner a member of the Labour party in New South Wales at the time?
– Senator Gardiner signed the pledge of that party, and came into this Parliament boasting that he was a member of the party who deported the kanakas from Queensland.
– A party who freed slaves and took them from their slaveowning bosses to their own land.
-I hope that the honorable senator will keep calm. I did not interject while he was speaking.’
The honorable senator says that the Federal Government desire to continue government by military law. The honorable senator must know that that statement is absolutely incorrect. He must be aware that ever since the cessation of the war the Government have taken every step they could possibly take to rid themselves at the earliest opportunity of the powers with which they were invested for the protection of the country during the time of war, and with which it was necessary they should be clothed to arm the country against its enemies outside and inside Australia. To say that the Government desire to continue the government of the country under military law is not only to insult their intelligence, but to give them no credit for possessing any political astuteness whatsoever. Obviously, any Government that proposed to adopt such a course would commit political suicide, and any Parliament that submitted to such a Government would soon find retribution at the hands of the electors. I remind Senator Gardiner again that the action taken in regard to the particular case he has mentioned has been taken under a law that was passed during the war, which clothed the military arm of this country with the necessary powers to protect the Commonwealth from internal as well as external attack.
– For the duration of the war, and no longer.
– Senator Gardiner claims that the gentleman whose cause he has been championing this afternoon has lived for thirty-four years under the British flag. Unfortunately, many who lived for many years in Australia and enjoyed the freedom with which they were blessed under the British flag, when the war broke out, did their best to trample that flag in the dust. It is on record that one person who lived under the protection of the British flag had the audacity to enter the House of Commons, take the oath of allegiance to the King, and take part in making the laws of the country - Tribich, alias Lincoln, who it was proved was a German spy for the whole period of his residence in the United Kingdom. The mere fact of having lived thirty-four years under the British flag is not proof of loyalty.
I would like to say to Senator Gardiner and to others who are so active in this matter that there are two reasons why this man should have been particularly careful in his behaviour. He was a German - there canbe no doubt about that - he was a minister of religion, and there was every reason why a man in such a position should have been discreet and absolutely above suspicion. The proof in his case - I say it without hesitation - was undoubted. He was not only disloyal to the British flag, but demon-, strated his willingness to ‘assist Germany at a period when the British nation was fighting with its back to the wall. If Senator Gardiner wishes this country to take a calm and dispassionate view of the case, why does he not submit the facts that are within his knowledge? ‘Senator Gardiner stated that he conversed with one of Father Jerger’s sisters, and deplored the fact that Father Jerger was not able to visit . his relatives, or to consult his legal advisers. If Senator Gardiner has seen Father Jerger’s sisters, they could have informed him that he was released on parole, and for a period resided with them.
– I was speaking of a later period.
– The honorable senator made no such qualification.
– I was speaking of the period after his arrest.
– Father Jerger and his relatives knew that he was to be deported, and for a time he was on parole and living with his sisters. Surely it was possible for his relatives and friends to have visited him then.
– And they did see him. I had no intention of making a misleading Statement.
– The honorable senator was so anxious to make out a case that he mentioned certain facts and omitted others.
– ‘The Minister for Defence is deliberately misrepresenting me, and I deny it was my intention to mislead any one.
– The honorable senator now denies having made such a misleading statement.
– Mr. President, on a point of order. I have been misrepresented by the Minister for Defence. I had no intention of misleading any one.
– If the honorable . senator has been misrepresented it will be open to him by leave of the Senate to make a personal explanation at a later stage. I am not to judge whether an honorable senator’s statement is correct or otherwise. If Senator Gardiner considers that he has been misrepresented he will have the opportunity of making a personal explanation at the proper time.
– If Senator Gardiner says that he did not deliberately suppress these facts, I am quite prepared to accept his statement. But he discussed the subject for an hour and a half, even to the extent of introducing extraneous matter, and neglected to mentionimportant facts that had a particular ‘bearing on the question. Senator
Gardiner referred! to military rale, bat he must realize that Father Jerger has been a military and not a civil prisoner. He is charged with a military and not a civil ‘ offence, and the Act, which Senator Gardiner and this Parliament passed, makes the offence with which this person is charged a military and not a civil one.
I may also remind Senator Gardiner that not only has this country the power legally given to it by Parliament - which has been supported by the High Court - to deal with, enemy nationals in the matter of deportations, but the Peace Treaty, which the German representatives have signed, makes Germany a consenting party. If honorable. senators will turn- to the Peace Treaty, signed at Versailles, they will find in articles 214 and 220 of Part VI. that Germany has agreed’ to the deportation of enemy nationals, and is prepared to take the . necessary steps to receive them when they are expelled from other countries. There can be no doubt as to our powers in this matter. Father Jerger is ‘a German, and during the war was guilty of disloyal acts.
– Will the Minister for Defence name them 1
– Among those who took action to bring his disloyalty under the notice of the Defence Department were members of Father Jerger ‘s own faith, and, with the exception of one, all of those who gave information on- which he was interned were devout Soman Catholics. It is my duty to state that fact, in answer to those who are endeavouring to make this a sectarian question. One of those who gave evidence was not only a Roman Catholic, but was a priest of the Roman Catholic Church, and one who was loyal to the British Crown. Several hundred German na1tionals ..have been deported from Australia under precisely the same law and procedure as in the case of Jerger. Why have there not been protests in Parliament in connexion with these cases? This Parliament has been in session since, those deportations occurred, and Senator Gardiner knows that that is so. Many other disloyalists have been compelled to leave this country, but the adjournment of the Senate has not. been moved to discuss the position-. It now appears that, when certain influences in this country are attempting to defy and defeat the law,-
Senator Gardiner appears as the champion of liberty and freedom and an admirer of Magna Ohana. Why does he object to the deportation of this one man’ when many others have been similarly dealt with ?
– Hansard is full’ of my protests.
– The honorable senator claims a civil trial in this case. -Why has he not made a similar claim for others ? I again remind him that ‘ it is not a civil offence with which this man is charged. There is no civil law- with which he can be charged with breaking, and this country in not punishing Jerger, because’ internment and deportation is not punishment, but a means, of protecting the nation. Would we- be effectively protected if one who had shown himself to be disloyal, and willing iD the hour of our’ country’s direst, need to thrust a dagger into its heart, was merely imprisoned? Would this country be protected by imprisoning such, a man for a period of, say, two years ? What we say is this : “ In our need you proved yourself to be a danger, and we shall remove you from the country. We shall send you to that country which you are willing to serve.” We are deporting Jerger, not to punish him, but to protect ourselves. Senator Gardiner -stated that action is being taken to stir up sectarian strife. What an absurd charge! As hundreds of other Germans have been deported without protest, it is. obvious that it is not the action of the Government that is stirring up strife, but -of those who have seized upon this one case, in an endeavour to give it a sectarian bias. It is upon those fi>r whom Senator Gardiner speaks that the charge must rest, as they are responsible for raising the sectarian issue. Would . Germany give Britishers interned in Germany during the war access to her civil Courts for redress?
– We are complaining of the action that has been taken since the cessation of war.
– Some have declared our action to be illegal. In the case of Wallach, the Supreme Court of Victoria ruled that the Government had the power to intern persons under the War Precautions Act, and in the Jerger case the High Court has, on two occasions, ruled that the action of the
Government was legal. What is Senator Gardiner’s alternative? It is that, as these persons have not committed a civil crime, they should he free.
- (Senator Gardiner must remember that he was a party to the internment of many of these men.
– If they had been allowed at large, we would- not have remained free very long.
-Of course not. Many . were interned because of their disloyal acts and. utterances, and some think that, now the war is over, they should enjoy full rights of citizenship, and be entitled to all the benefits of the peace that this country hag won through the sacrifice of its gallant sons.
– What caused his internment? Toll us the truth.
- Senator Gardiner challenges me to state the facts. I have already informed the Senate that members of Jerger’s own Church, and a member of his own communion, said that he was disloyal, and considered the matter sufficiently grave to report it to the Defence Department. That was judgment passed upon him of a far sterner character than I or any member of the Government could pass upon him. Surely that would not be done without some justification. Possibly some of this clamour for a public trial is due to the fact that heaven and earth - and I think I could say hell as well - were moved to ascertain who gave information against Jerger. The priest who gave that information has already- either, consenting himself or without consent - been deported from this country without a trial. There hasbeen no clamour against his deportation, and he was not deported by the Government of this country. I do not think that it would be difficult for us to get that gentleman to return to Australia. If we are to give to Jerger a public trial we must deal similarly with every other German deported from this country. There is no reason why Father Jerger should receive exceptional treatment. He should receive the same, but no better, treatment than any other German who has been dealt with under the law of this country. Otherwise what would it mean ?
It would mean that in some districts in Australia Britishers and loyal Germans would lose their livelihood and possibly their lives. It would mean that because they dared to he loyal to this country, and because they gave us information of value which enabled us to take action to protect ourselves, they are now to be thrown to the wolves. That is what it would mean. So long as I am a member of the Government I shall never consent to that being done. In Father Jerger’s case I have always refused, and I sholl continue torefuse, to disclose the names of those who, in the discharge of their duty to this country, gave us the information which enabled us to put in an internment camp one man who, outside of it, was doing his best for Germany. If Senator Gardiner really values freedom and liberty he will throw in his influence with the Government, who, in this matter, are acting under the law, and through the law, and he will lift his voice, not in denunciation of Ministers, but in denunciation of those forces of disorder and disloyalty which are seizing upon this opportunity to excite the sectarian passions of a section of the community against the Government and against the law of this country.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 5.37 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 July 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1920/19200721_senate_8_92/>.