8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T: Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Papua Act. -Infirm and Destitute Natives Account - Statement of the Transactions of the Trustees, 1019-20.
Post and Telegraph Act. - Regulations Amended.- Statutory Rules 1920, Nos. 103, 106, 117, 120, 138, 139, 140, 144.
War Gratuity. - Regulations Amended. - Statutory Rules 1920, No. 130.
asked the Minister in charge of Shipping, upon notice -
– The answers are-
Debate resumed from loth September (vide page 4530), on motion by Senator Russell -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– I shall not detain the Senate at great length in continuing the debate on this Bill. It certainly represents an innovation, and as such a conservative Chamber like this might at first glance be disposed to resist if.. I think that something should be done for the Northern Territory, and I would prefer that it should be given a Parliament of its own. There are but a few persons there, but they are face to face with the conditions existing in the Terri tory, and if treated liberally by the Commonwealth Government I believe that with a Parliament of their own they would make more progress in a few years than has been made in the Northern Territory since it has been under the control of either the South Australian or the Commonwealth Parliament. Very little is to be anticipated from a representative of the Territory being sent to the Senate, and less than might otherwise be the case, because it is proposed that that representative shall not come here as a full senator. As I said yesterday, I think it would be better to have the Northern Territory represented by one representative in the Senate and two in the House of Representatives. If that course were followed the representatives’ of the Territory would have the ear of Ministers who do things.
– We should have nearly the whole of the population down here representing the Territory.
– I realize that aspect of the proposal, but we are faced with the fact that this Parliament under the Constitution is not based upon the representation of the different States according to population. So far as the House of Representatives constituencies are concerned, an endeavour has been made to make them as nearly equal as possible from the point of view of population, but even in the matter of representation in the House of Representatives some of the smaller States have been given a minimum of five representatives, whether their population has warranted that number or not. In the Senate we have a glaring discrepancy between the representation of the larger and smaller States.
I have said that this Bill is an innovation, and I welcome it as such. Whether it will result in the improvement of conditions in the Northern Territory I am unable to say. Glancing at the development of Australia, and considering in particular the records of the development of New South Wales, one is struck by the length of the period over which the struggle was maintained by the people of that Colony for the right to govern themselves. From the time the right was conceded in the first councils without very much legislative authority, or no authority, apart from that exercised by the Governor, up to the time when the Colony was given absolute responsible government, the one thing most noticeable is that as the right of the people to govern themselves was conceded so the development of the country improved. I think that a similar experience might be anticipated in the Northern Territory.. I regard the Territory as possessing immense possibilities. The progress of the Territory has been retarded, whether by the mismanagement of the South Australian Government or the Commonwealth Government, or because of the neglect of its possibilities or the fact that we will not recognise them and will not put money into the development pf the Territory. We could put £1,500,000 into the development of Nauru Island without a word being said against it by most of the supporters of the Government. If, instead of giving the people of the Northern Territory representation in the Senate, as proposed in this Bill, we were to give them ‘ a Parliament of their own, with the power to establish their own institutions and to impose taxation amongst themselves, and. if, at the same time, the Commonwealth Parliament were prepared to extend to them generous assistance for any development of the Territory which might be considered in the interests of the Commonwealth as a whole, I believe that in the not distant future; instead of being, as it has been, a “white elephant” to South Australia and to the Commonwealth, the Northern Territory might become a rich province and attract sufficient population to justify it being recognised as a State of the Commonwealth.
That is looking ahead, and the object of the Bill before us is to give the people in the Northern Territory_ representation in the Senate. I think it would have been better if it had been proposed that the representative of the Territory in the Senate had a right to vote. From a party point of view, one or two votes either way should not be a matter of consequence to the Government, and it might be possible for members of the Government taking a trip on important public business to secure a pair.
I think that clause 4 of the Bill will require careful consideration. It deals with the qualification of the senator for the Northern Territory, and it provides that -
He must be of the full age of twenty-one years, and must be an elector entitled to vote at the election of the senator for the Northern Territory.
I have been wondering what is the qualification of a person entitled to vote at an election in the Northern Territory, and whether any one who is entitled to vote in any part of Australia should not be permitted to be a candidate for the position of senator for the Northern Territory. So far as I know, there is nothing to -prevent me from becoming a candidate for the Senate for Western Australia, although I reside in New South Wales.
– Nothing whatever.
– Why should it be proposed to set up a different qualification for a candidate for the representation in the Senate of the Northern Territory ?
– Are not the circumstances completely different? We do not give representation to electors even in the Federal Territory.
– I want to know why a different qualification should be required for a candidate for the representation of the Northern Territory in the Senate to that required for a senator representing any of the States.
– Because the. people of .the Northern Territory require a representative particularly acquainted with their interests.
– That argument would apply with equal force to the qualification of candidates for representation of the different States, but the framers of the Constitution did not think it necessary to require such a qualification as is set out in this Bill. It is possible that the people of the Northern Territory might consider that some person who is not a resident of the Territory is best qualified to represent them.
– In that case they would have the whole of the members of the Senate representing them
– Why should a .special qualification of this kind be required for the representative of the Northern Territory in the Senate?
– It is not a special qualification; this is a copy of the existing Act.
– I hope I have read the clause incorrectly, but I have based my argument upon the meaning which it conveys to me.
– It is awkwardly framed.
– Then it is right to call attention to it. I am of opinion that in the part of the clause which I have quoted the words “Northern Territory “ should be struck out. By being given representation here the people of the Northern Territory will be given something, though not much, and I am prepared to support any step forward.
I am sorry that it has not been proposed to give the Territory representation in another place. If the people of the Northern Territory should have one representative in the Senate there can be no argument against their representation in another place under the same conditions. If the Minister would accept an amendment in that direction, it would rest with the other House whether they would veto it or not. That would not be too much representation for such a distant part of the Commonwealth. Hitherto the Northern Territory has received very little consideration from any Government, notwithstanding that it comprises a vast territory with equally vast possibilities. It has never yet been governed in a manner to encourage the active investment of capital.
– Those who have invested capital in the Territory have not received much encouragement.
– For the reason, no doubt, that Governments have been fully occupied with the development of the more populous parts of the Commonwealth, and it appears as if the Northern Territory has been marked out as a kind of no man’s land and of no value to anybody.
– There is a debt of nearly £4,000,000. That does not seem as if it has been neglected.
– What is £4,000,000 compared with the possibilities of the Territory!
– It only represents about 2d. per acre.
– Well, it indicates, at all events, that Governments have been prepared to spend money there.
– I should imagine that the £4,000,000 to which Sena tor Thomas refers must have gone in salaries to men who, judging by Judge Ewing’s recent investigation and report, did not know very much about their business.
– No. The debt I refer to was incurred before the Territory, was taken over by the Commonwealth, and so none of it could have gone to the officials you refer to.
– It was a ‘” dead horse.”
– And the Territory then had representation in the South Australian Parliament.
– As a matter of fact, it was represented in this Senate at the inauguration of Federation by South Australian senators, the Territory then being under the South Australian Government.
– The expenditure to which .Senator Thomas refers, having been spread over such a long period of time, should not enter. into consideration now, and I do not think he ought to have mentioned the matter at all. I have in mind the immense pastoral and mining possibilities of the Northern Territory, which hitherto have been more or less neglected by those who are responsible for the government of that part of the Commonwealth. If we could resolve upon some scheme for their proper development, and if we are prepared to spend millions of pounds quickly, we would soon insure a satisfactory return for our money and induce the settlement of a large population there. It is quite a mistake to believe that the Northern Territory of Australia is not a fit place for the white race. That idea has been exploded long ago. As a matter of fact, the northern portions of the Commonwealth are, possibly, its healthiest parts, and with the construction of railways from north to south and from Queensland to the Northern Territory to open up all the good pastoral country, its satisfactory development could be expected.
– Railways from Queensland to the Territory should come first.
– So many promises have been made by the Commonwealth Government that, in my judgment, they should be kept in the order in which they are made.
– So much the worse, then, for the Northern Territory.
– Those who have gone before us in this-: Parliament may have made mistakes, but we have to foot the bill nevertheless. I think, therefore, we shall be on perfectly safe ground , if we insist that pledges given on behalf of previous Parliaments shall be> honoured in . their proper, order. I shall not favour the expenditure of any public money, not ls. of it, until the promise made to New South Wales with regard to the Federal Capital is kept. When that promise has been honoured I shall favour honouring the promise made to Couth Australia with regard to a. north to south railway; and then,, if you like, we may have the developmental railways from Queensland, to open up some of the good pastoral country.
-. - Railways only will open up that country.
– Believing as I dp that the investment of capital on these lines will lead to the proper development of the Northern Territory, and believing as I do in its undoubted pastoral, mining and other possibilities, I favour this Bill, although I cannot see how much can come from it. I hope the Government will consider my suggestion to give the Northern Territory representation in the House of Representatives as well as in the Senate. The Bill does not inspire me with the hope that it will confer much benefit on the Northern Territory, but still it is something, and therefore I welcome it.
Senator PRATTEN (New South Wales) [3.221.- Unlike Senator Gardiner I shall not be able to support the Bill in its present form. It is a measure to give representation, to the Northern Territory in the Senate, but the member to be chosen will not have a vote, although in other respects he will enjoy all the privileges of a senator. I should like to make an analysis as to the population of the Northern Territory, and the financial aspect of the proposal, before setting out a little constructive criticism for which the Minister has asked.
When we took over the Northern Territory from the Government of South Australia it. contained a population of about 4,857. On 30th June, 1919, excluding aborigines, the population was 4,921, an increase of only sixty-four. At that date it consisted of 3,S05 males and 1,116 females, the proportion of the men being, practically four to one. There has been no real settlement there, because, of the preponderating proportion of males over females, and a negligible birth rate. The population, or at least one-half of it, has been somewhat nomadic, and of the 4,944 persons in the Northern Territory on 30th June, 1918, according to official statistics, 3,767 were whites and 1,177 Asiatics. So far as we can see the maximum white population that the Territory has ever carried has been 3,767. This number, too, included all the railway and hotel employees, as well as over 100 Government, officials. Since these figures were compiled the population has further dwindled, as there has been an exodus from the Territory, due largely to the closing of the meat works there. Mr. Staniforth Smith, the present Acting Administrator, in an official communication to the Government recently, said the present white population, within a radius of 5 miles of Port Darwin, was only 600, though I believe statistics will also show that a year or two ago there were about 2,000, so that the exodus represents more than 50 per cent. In addition to this 500 or 600, people mentioned bv Mr. Staniforth Smith, there were, he says, about 320 Chinese. In answer to “a question which I put to the Minister not long ago, I was informed that the number of persons in the Territory qualified to vote was 706 in the vicinity of Port Darwin, and 1,534 in other parts of the country. I cannot reconcile this answer- with Mr. Staniforth Smith’s recent statement that there were only 500 or 600 people in the vicinity of Darwin. It is a fact that there is a smaller white population there now than there has been at any time during the last twenty years;, and, so far as one can analyze the figures, there cannot be more than 3,000 people now in the Territory altogether, including foreigners and Asiatics. This population, spread over 523,000 square miles of territory, means that after a huge expenditure there we now have only one person to every 175 square miles.
– And remember that a very large proportion of the European population is- composed of foreigners, or was until recently.
– I agree with thehonorable senator. It does not necessarily follow, of course, that the 3,000 people in the Northern Territory are all British or naturalized British subjects. It is a matter of common knowledge that the temporary addition to the population during the last three or four years was comprised largely of unnaturalized Greeks and Russians, and Latins from the Mediterranean.
– The eastern Mediterranean particularly.
– That being so, we would find it rather difficult to get those three representatives for the other Chamber, as suggested by Senator Gardiner.
– We would. Coming now to the financial aspect of the matter, I may say I have taken the trouble to extract from the maze of figures given in connexion with the Territory, some information that may. perhaps, be of interest. The liability taken over from South Australia, including the railways in the north and the south, was approximately £6,000,000, a sum which, as Senator Newland suggested, if spread over the whole area, would represent a capital value taken over of about 4d. per acre.
– You are not allowing for the assets covered by that £6,000,000, and, in any case, only half of it belonged to the Northern Territory proper.
– In regard to the liability of the Commonwealth, I shall now answer the point raised by Senator Newland. There is one liability in the north of the Territory and another in the south, consisting of the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta Railway, which is also an asset. Coming to the expenditure alone, without taking into consideration the capital value, from the 1st January, 1911, to the 30th June, 1920, the administration of the Northern Territory cost approximately £1,655,000. In addition to that there is an accumulated interest bill for the same period of £1,346,000, or a total for administrative expenses and accumulated interest of £3,001,000. Taking the period of nine and a-half years, the average cost of administration has been £175,000 per annum, and £144,000 per annum for interest, or a total of £319,000 per annum for administration and interest combined. This expenditure is altogether exclusive of new works, railways, and capital charges. The revenue from all sources during the nine and a-half years mentioned - from . 1st January, 1911, to 30th June, 1920- has been £818,000, or an average of £86,000 per annum. On these figures, therefore, there is a deficit, exclusive of new works and railways, of £89,000 per annum, and a deficit of £144,000 per annum in interest, making a total deficit on the working expenses of the Territory, apart from capital charges, of £233,000 per annum. New works have cost £428,000 over this period, or an average of £45,000 per annum. This refers only to the Territory itself, but another deficit has arisen in connexion with the working of the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta Railway. The deficit that has accumulated in this connexion is slightly over £1,000,000 for the period mentioned, or equal to £105,000 per annum. I desire to remind honorable senators, in connexion with a statement recently made by Senator Gardiner, that the Territory has had so little consideration from succeeding Federal Governments that the annual deficit in the north, for both administrative and interest charges, amounts to £233,000. New works have cost £45,000 per annum, and the average deficit on the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta Railway has averaged £105,000 per annum. We, therefore, arrive at a total accumulated deficit of £383,000 per annum. If we assume that there are nearly 4,000 people in the Northern Territory,’ it is obvious that during the last nine and a-half years that number of residents have cost the other taxpayers of the Commonwealth, nearly £100 each per annum. If, the whole of our average expenditure of government was at this rate it would mean that the expenditure to carry on the government of the Commonwealth would be £500,000,000 per annum. That is just about double all we produce and all we earn, and completely answers the statement made, that the Northern Territory has had little consideration from the Federal Parliaments.
This Bill, I take it, has been introduced in order to effect some change, and to provide for some advancement in connexion with the government of the Northern Territory. It is, I think, quite constitutional, and probably the idea has been adopted from the position that at present obtains in the United States of. America. The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) pointed out, I believe, during the course of his - second -reading speech, that in the United States delegates are sent to the House of Representatives or the Lower House of Congress by Territories that are not yet States, and that those delegates are paid and can speak, but have not a vote. I desire to point out, however, that this Bill provides for a new senator and does not even provide for a delegate. He is to be called a senator, and the constitutional union of Australian States is on the basis of - six senators for each State. I do not think that the Senate, at all events, should be disturbed until new States are created. If the Government desire to improve the position in the Northern Territory, I would have no personal objection to a delegate being elected for the House of Representatives, but the proposal in the present Bill is entirely another problem. While on this point, it may be of public interest if I read an extract from Viscount Bryce’s American Commonwealth, in which he sets out exactly the position in regard to the delegates in the House of Representatives of the United States Congress for the Territories that are not States. He says -
The National Government has ever since its establishment possessed a vast area of land outside the limits of the several States, the larger part of which remained wild, habitated only by Indian tribes. When, with the westward advance of the whites, any particular region became sufficiently settled to require a regular government and to be capable of some form of self-government, its boundaries were set, and it was erected into what is called a Territory. Most of the States admitted subsequently to the original thirteen were for a time Territories, . and became States when they reached a certain population. The process went on till all the continental area of the United States was thus, after passing through the territorial stage, distributed into States. . . The Territories sent neither senators nor representatives to Congress, nor did they take part in Presidential elections. The House of Representatives, under a Statute, admitted a delegate from each of them to sit and speak, but, of course, not to vote, because the right of voting in Congress depends on the .Federal Constitution. The position of a citizen in a Territory, therefore, was, and is, a peculiar one. What may be called his private or passive citizenship is complete; he has all the immunities and benefits which any other American citizen enjoys. But the public or active side is wanting, so far as the National Government is concerned, although complete for local purposes. He is in the position of on Australian subject of the British Crown, who has full British citizenship as respects private civil rights, and a share in the government of his own Colony, hut does not “participate- in the government of the Empire at large, al- though personally eligible for any political office in the United Kingdom or any other part of the Empire.
This quotation bears upon the present position, and indicates that if the Government want to provide for representation of the Northern Territory, it would be far more reasonable to follow the precedent set by the United States, the early history of which, after all, bears a somewhat striking resemblance to the ‘position in Australia today. In the United States, Territories send delegates to the House of Representatives who have the right to speak, but cannot vote or upset their senatorial arrangements. I do not think it advisable to upset the senatorial arrangement here, which is based, after all, on State representation.
I was struck by a phrase in the official report recently issued by the Acting Administrator to the effect that only the central portion of the Territory was capable of industrial expansion. During the last few years there has been some expansion and some increases in pastoral development: but in spite of the mineral resources in the Territory, there is no mine which is paying its way.
– That cannot be expected.
– Not under present circumstances. The only industry the Northern Territory ever had is at present closed, and the Government are providing free passages for people to get out of the country. There is a laxity of discipline, and only the other day I heard, on the most excellent authority, that the wharf labourers, headed by their union boss, and, it is said, on the authority of the Government, broached a beer cargo intended for the Government hotels, and consumed liquor before it even left the ship’s hold. Wharf labourers there work four or five days a month, and require £10 or £12 for doing so.
– It is only fair to say that the volume of trade at Darwin is not sufficient to keep them continuously employed throughout the month.
– Then there is a good deal of charitable relief bestowed by the Government upon the population of Darwin, small though it is. Attempts have been made to establish agriculture in the Northern Territory. In this connexion, about £15,000 was spent with the best intentions in the world, and the net result was to place only ten farmers upon the land, not one-half of whom are there to-day. The Government might just as well have “paid each of these men a bonus of £1,000.
– The price of rice in Australia is nearly £100 per ton. But who is growing it in the Territory ?
– Exactly. I come now to an analysis of the probable effective voting power of the Territory under this Bill. The Acting Administration has informed us that there are only 500 or 600 persons qualified to vote within a 5 -mile radius of Port Darwin. Assuming that another 1,500 voters are scattered throughout the Territory, what would be the total poll that would be recorded there ? People will not travel hundreds o? miles for the purpose of voting. Boiled down, therefore, this Bill asks us to give the Territory the right to send a senator here who will be paid £1,000 a year, and to allow him to speak as often as he likes, and as long as he likes in order to give representation to 500 or 600 voters at most.
There is another feature of the Bill to which I desire to direct attention. If we give 1,000 voters in the Territory the right to elect a senator, can we logically deny the same right to 1,000 voters in British New Guinea, German New Guinea, the Federal Territory, at Canberra, and in the mandated Territories which we are about to take over ?
– We shall have to deny representation to the residents of the Federal Territory, even if they number 1,000,000.
– Then if this Bill be passed, I shall initiate an agitation in favour of overriding that portion of our Constitution which prevents the inhabitants of the Federal Territory from having representation in this Parliament. As Democrats, we ought to favour the representation of manhood, and not of square miles. The government of the Northern Territory has been a ghastly failure, and I am not prepared to support a further political expedient such as this Bill represents. I do not believe that it will have the effect of keeping quiet the unruly element in the Territory. If the people there must have representation in this Parliament, there are half-a-dozen alternatives which may be adopted. Let the Territory be tacked on to the constituency of Kennedy, for example.
– Is there not a constitutional difficulty in the way of that being done?
– I do not think so. As a layman, I am of the opinion that the honorable senator’s suggestion can be constitutionally adopted.
– There are several other alternatives. One of these was before this Chamber during the last Parliament. Upon that occasion, an Ordinance was submitted for our approval to which Senator Newland moved an amendment. Some of us desired to improve that Ordinance by giving the people of the Territory the control of their own affairs - in other words, by granting them home rule. But what sort of home rule did the Government desire to give the Territory? It desired to create a Northern Territory Council, the majority of whose members were to be Government officials, who would, therefore, exercise absolute control over its affairs. An attempt was made here - and was defeated only by a narrow majority - to insure that the people themselves should have complete control instead of those officials. The refusal of the Senate to accept such a reasonable proposition has, in my opinion, been productive of a great deal of the trouble with which we have since been faced. We might reasonably agree to a delegate from the Northern Territory being sent to this Parliament when its population reached 10,000 souls. We might, perhaps, agree to a delegate being appointed to each House from every Territory under our control when its population has reached a certain point. The quota upon which representation in this Parliament is founded is about 50,000. and if ever our Territories contain 50,000 inhabitants, we might advance them even to the dignity of States. I am confident that a good deal can be done which will confer more benefit upon the Territory than will this Bill. I have previously pointed out that the many activities of government here are reflected ill a small way in Port Darwin, where they are very much mixed. Some of those activities are being conducted from Brisbane, others from Svdney, others from Melbourne* and still others from Adelaide. In view of the 2,500 miles of sea which it is necessary to cross in order to reach Port Darwin, I believe that the best possible development of the Northern Territory can come only from the south. We know that there are great mineral riches in the Territory, and that there are vast areas of cattle country there. Consequently we must try to see the Territory in its proper perspective. Continental development can only proceed from the thickly populated centres, outwards. Territorial development can be secured only by means of railway communication from the south. There are more than 100 officials in the Northern Territory and I suppose that they are included in the list of persons who, under this Bill, would have the right to send a senator here.
What good will this measure accomplish? It will not improve the position one iota. I believe that it offers only a quack remedy for the present position in the Northern Territory. During his speech upon the second reading of the Bill the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) practically stated that the Government had not had time to consider the position of the, Territory. I hope that sufficient time is at their disposal now.
– The honorable senator is scarcely accurately representing what I said. What I said was that during the period of the war the Government had not had time to consider the position of the Territory.
– I accept the honorable gentleman’s correction. I can quite understand that, during the period of the war, the Government had not time to deal with the affairs of the Territory. But the development of that Territory is one of the outstanding problems of Australia to-day, and, so far, our administration of it has been a failure, both from the stand- point of securing an increase of its population and from that of the cost involved. If this discussion does nothing else it will accomplish much good if it brings home to the Government the necessity for doing something for the Territory. I do not believe that any senator, coming from Darwin here, and thus losing touch with his constituents, would be able to accomplish more than any other honorable senator can accomplish in connexion with the affairs of the Territory. Such a representative might, of course, give satisfaction to the inhabitants of the Territory itself. But the great fact we have to remember is, if we are to keep Australia white, this huge Territory must be settled, and that this is a problem which will not brook of much further delay.
– Whilst I was listening to Senator. Pratten painting a picture of the Northern Territory from a financial stand-point, I was apprehensive that he intended to terminate his remarks with an amendment proposing that we should relinquish our control of the Territory on account of the failure we have made of it. But the honorable senator pointed out that his only reason for putting certain figures before the Senate was to show that, so far from the Territory having received no consideration from the Commonwealth Government, it had received very generous consideration. Well, it has, but the consideration which has been bestowed upon it by successive Governments has been very ill-advised, and very unsuccessful in its results’. Since the Territory was ceded to us by South Australia I do not think that any Commonwealth Government has given to it the proper consideration that its present position and its prospects merit. It occupies a most anomalous position. For years it was under the jurisdiction of South Australia. It was not part of the province of South Australia but was placed under the jurisdiction of that State by a special Imperial Charter or other instrument. While it occupied that position it was represented in the South Australian Parliament. About ten years ago it was ceded, with all its immense obligations, to the Commonwealth, and from that day to the present time, it has occupied, constitutionally, a very anomalous position. Having been taken over by the Commonwealth, there was no justification for a continuance of its representation in the South Australian Parliament, and under our Constitution there is no effective provision for its representation in this Parliament. Since the transfer of the Territory to the Commonwealth, therefore, its inhabitants have ceased tohave a direct representative in the South Australian Parliament, whilst being deprived of representation in this Parliament. Evidently the Government think that something should be done to afford them representation here and hence this Bill has been submitted for our consideration.
With the concluding portion of Senator Pratten’s remarks I am in entire accord. I do not think that this measure is one which will meet the necessities of the case. I do not regard it as a just Bill, nor do I think that it will commend itself to the residents of the Territory or allay any of the ill-feeling which exists in certain quarters there against the Commonwealth authorities in Melbourne. Senator Gardiner is apparently prepared to accept the measure as an instalment in the way of reform, and in the direction of recognition of the Territory and of its right to parliamentary representation. Yet his criticism of the measure was entirely adverse, and did not. justify the adoption of the principle underlying it. I think hi6 is a rather risky course, because we do not know the effect of the precedent we shall be setting up if we easily accept the Bill that is now before us. Reference was made by Senator Pratten to communities other than the Northern Territory in respect of which the Australian Government and Parliament have jurisdiction and authority. He quoted Papua and New Guinea. I could add to those Norfolk Island and other Territories at present under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth, besides still others that are to be mandated, and will shortly come under our authority. What will be their position? What we do with regard to the Northern Territory to-day may very easily form a precedent for the governance of those particular Territories and mandated areas in the future. We should, therefore, walk very warily just now.
One incident that Senator Gardiner referred to threw my mind back some years in connexion with the development of Australia. He stated that clause 4, according to his reading, seemed to suggest that it is necessary that the proposed senator for the Territory should be a resident of it, and that nobody outside the Territory could be elected as its representative in the Senate. His reading was questioned. I have not looked at it very carefully; but it is quite possible, without any reflection upon him, that that is not the reading of the proposed clause “at all. Senator Gardiner referred to the fact that, having studied Australian history, he realized that those who succeeded in securing self-govern- ment in Australia originally were very small in numbers at the time, .and that with responsible government came selfreliance and development. . That is so. On coupling that reference with what the honorable senator said about clause 4, I was reminded of the position of Victoria. Victoria was at one time part and parcel with New South Wales as one territory, governed by a Legislative Council sitting in Sydney. There were no railways and no roads right through from Melbourne to Sydney as there are now, and the residents of Port Phillip felt th’at they were just as far from the Seat of Government as the residents of the Northern Territory, with modern facilities for transport, feel that they are to-day from Melbourne. Although they had been petitioning the Imperial authorities time and again for separation from New South Wales and the establishment of local government and a local Legislative Council for Port Phillip, their petitions evidently .caine before blind eyes or fell upon deaf ears, because they received no response. When the. period for elections came round, they were extremely resentful at the inaction of the Imperial authorities, because they felt that they could not be properly represented by sending somebody in the slow vessels of those days round the coast to sit in the Legislative Council in Sydney, and somebody seriously suggested that Earl Grey, Secretary of State for the Colonies, should be nominated. He was actually nominated and elected without opposition. Earl Grey, resident in London, Secretary of State for the’ Colonies, was chosen by the electors of Port Phillip to represent Port Phillip in the Legislative Council of New South Wales at Sydney; and it was only when that honorable gentleman was asked by a wag in the British Parliament when he intended to give up his position and go out to represent his constituents of Port Phillip at Port Jackson, that the attention of the Imperial authorities was drawn to the grievance. It was through this that Victoria obtained separation from New South Wales, and self-government. I believe there is much virtue in selfgovernment, no matter how small a community may be. I am not speaking of a community that has been small for generations, perhaps for centuries, in some area, that has been developed possibly right up to its limit. But in a young, vigorous, nascent nation like Australia, in some of its less settled portions to-day, I believe selfgovernment will bring with it selfreliance, self-help, and enormous development. That has been the experience of the United States of America.
Reference has been made to the United States of America in the course of this debate; and, as we have a Constitution somewhat similar to theirs, I think that what has been the experience and policy of that country with regard, to the development, settlement, and constitutional growth of its Territories should appeal to us. The United States of America has a territorial policy, which was forced upon it. Although Senator Pratten says that its constitutional history in its early days resembles that of Australia, there are points of difference. The first United States of America were only thirteen, and those did not embrace the whole continental area of the present United States of America. They were practically the States in and about the present State of New York, and north and south of it, and a little west, but there were no .States west of the Mississippi; and down south, on the eastern side of the Mississippi, the areas were under French or Spanish control. It was only after the thirteen States compacted into the United States of America that they were able to get, by treaties and by cessions from the French and other European Governments, other areas over which those Governments then exercised authority. Apart from these, there were, west of the Mississippi, areas that were not claimed and not settled by any European Power, but were inhabited by the native Indians. Bit by bit, as settlement proceeded out from the original thirteen States, communities sprang up there and in the ceded areas; and, as has been pointed out by a previous speaker. Territories were constituted, which in their turn became States. The exact jurisdiction and authority of the United States of “ America over these areas, which were not comprised in the original thirteen Colonies or States, were matters of question, and the Supreme Court of the
United States of America was repeatedly invoked to judicially determine to what extent the United States of America had authority over these rising and growing settlements. I think the Dred-Scott case was an early case in respect of which that question was determined by the United States of America Supreme Court; but, for more than half a century, there were repeated references to that Court. The position established by the Court was that, so far as those Territories were concerned, the authority of the United States of America, that is to say, the authority of Congress, was plenary. There was no limit to its legislative jurisdiction over them, just as there would be no limit to the legislative jurisdiction of the Parliament of the United Kingdom over any portion of the British Islands. As these Territories grew, the United States of America was confronted with the problem of having some system of ordered government in them before they were large enough to become States, and the policy of recognising them as Territories was adopted. Later in the history of the United States of America, when the anti-expansion policy was not adhered to rigidly, and the Philippines, Cuba, Honolulu, and other places came within its power and authority, it had to make a differentiation in its territorial policy. It, therefore, differentiated between what were called the continential Territories, that is, the Territories on the mainland and adjacent to the United States of America, and the insular Territories; but for all practical purposes the continental Territories of the United States of America may be looked upon as analogous to the Northern Territory with us. We have the case of Alaska, which is a Territory of the United States of America, although not contiguous to it. Canada and the northern Pacific Ocean separate the United States of America from it, although it is on the continent of North America. It is a Territory of considerable population, and must have some ordered government.
The Minister (Senator Russell), in introducing this matter last night, referred to the ‘ . parallel of the United States of America, and asked that we should, to some extent, respect that, and have representatives of these Territories in our Legislature. I thought he said that in the United States of America the Territories were represented in the Senate, hut I noticed that when his statement was questioned by way of interjection, he made reference to an authority in which it was stated that the Territories were represented in Congress. “ Congress,” of course, there means the two Houses, the Senate and House of Representatives, just as “ Parliament “ means here. In Fairlie’s National Administration of the United States, I find several pages devoted to the Territories. Under the heading of “ Territories,” at page 216, the author states -
But for other regions, the only basis in the Constitution for the authority exercised is the clause that Congress “ shall have power to dispose of, and make all needful rules and regulations respecting, the territory or otlier property belonging to the United States.” The power of Congress over the Territories has, however, been repeatedly affirmed by the Supreme Court. Before the adoption of the Constitution, the Congress of the Confederation had provided, in the Ordinances of 1784 and 1787, for the government of the territory north-west of the Ohio River. The Northwest Ordinance was confirmed, with minor changes, by the new Congress in 1789, and a Bystem similar in most respects enacted for the territory south of the Ohio River in 1796. These measures provided for the appointment by the President and Senate of Governors and Territorial Judges, who should act also for a time as the local legislative authority.
That is, the Governors and Territorial Judges acted as the first local legislative authorities, as was somewhat similarly the case in Australia before we had even the original Legislative Councils. But, and here we come to Senator Pratten’s suggestion -
It was further provided that when a given population was reached there should be locally elected Legislatures; while ultimately the Territories were to become States, with control over their own Constitutions. This system of Territorial government was afterwards extended to the region covered by the Louisiana purchase, Florida, the Oregon country, and part of the Mexican cession. It never applied to the thirteen original States, nor to Vermont, Kentucky, Texas, California, and West Virginia. With these exceptions, all of the area of Continental United States has been at some time governed under the Territorial system. From time to time, the number and boundaries of Territories have been changed, as population increased and new
States were created and admitted to the Union. . . . Each of these Territories sends a delegate to the House of Representatives, who has a seat, salary, and the right to speak, but not the right to vote.
The Government seem to have been inspired in this Bill, to some extent, by the procedure adopted in the United States, but they have departed from tne United States method of allowing . representation by a delegate in the House of Representatives, and, instead, propose that he should sit in the Senate.
– But you recognise the difference between the United States Senate and this Senate, at the time these representatives were in the United States House of Representatives. The United States senators at that time were elected by the States themselves, and not by the people.
– Quite so ; but if the representation of a Territory should be in the Senate in the case of Australia, then the reasons for the representative of a United States Territory being in the United States Senate are even stronger, because the Senate of the United States has functions and powers which this Senate has not. Congress has plenary power over the Territories there, just as this Parliament has plenary legislative power over our Territories, but the United States Senate has the right of making and unmaking treaties. It has authority over peace and waT which applies equally to every resident of a Territory as to every resident of a State. The Australian Senate has not that power, and therefore any reason why, in Australia, a Territory should be represented in the Senate applies with tenfold force to the representation of a Territory in the Senate of the United States.
– The Senate in Australia has the powers referred to as fully as the House of Representatives has them.
– In the United States the Senate has treaty and war powers beyond and outside those possessed by the House of Representatives, and these touch the very life of the individual whether in State or Territory. In Guitteau’s work, Government and Politics in the United States, a very handy little book dealing with many matters connected with the government of the
United States, there is one chapter devoted entirely to Territorial functions, and I find this reference at page 412 -
The Continental Territories include Alaska and the Panama Canal zone -
Both of these are geographically separated from, the United States - both in the first stage of territorial development. The district of Columbia has an unusual form of Territorial government specially devised for the seat of the National Government.
This answers the suggestion of Senator Bakhap, by way of interjection when Senator Pratten was speaking, regarding Canberra. Referring to the government of Alaska, the author of this work states -
Although acquired in 1867, Alaska is still in the first stage of Territorial development, having no legislative body. Its officers include a Governor, Surveyor-General, District Attorney, and three Judges appointed by the President. Under the code of laws which Congress adopted for Alaska in 1900, communities having at least 300 inhabitants may incorporate as towns, thereby receiving certain privileges or local self-government
Later on the writer says -
Bach Territory sends to the House of Representatives a delegate who has the salary and other privileges of a member, except the right to vote.
The writer further shows that the effect of the establishment of local Legislatures, has been to inspire the residents of these Territories with a sense of responsibility. They are put into competition with the residents of other Territories, both in their form and conduct of government, and in respect to the results achieved by their self-government. They have a certain scale of population to which to attain, when they may claim the dignity of being recognised as States. Of course, it has not always happened that a Territory has become a State on purely constitutional and disinterested considerations. The State of Utah for a long time was denied recognition as a State, for reasons that were not constitutional. Other Territories have been admitted to the dignity of States a little in anticipation of their populations reaching the required limit, because political considerations and the need for certain votes dictated that policy. Broadly speaking, the position is that Territories, recognising that they must reach a certain stage of development and population before they can claim to be recognised as States, have been put upon their mettle.
What is the position in the Northern Territory as disclosed by Senator Pratten ? Millions have been spent there, and the honorable senator has suggested that at the present time something in the nature of charitable relief is being doled out to residents who have not made provision for the rainy day, and now turn to the Commonwealth Government to assist their exodus from the Territory. So long as residents of the place believe that the Government here can always be tapped in necessitous cases there will be very little inspiration to self-help and very little inducement to self-reliance. But if the Territory had some form of local government or home rule as ample and wide as it can safely be made, I feel sure that from the first the result would be evidence of a considerable amount of self-reliance and self-help amongst the residents, and there would be a disposition to attract settlers which has not been evident in the past.
– Local government would not have secured for them ships and coal, and have kept them going industrially during a time of crisis like the war.
– I am not saying that this should have been done during the war. I recognise that the demands incidental to the war overshadowed everything else, but now that we are entering upon an era of peace, which I hope will be of long duration, I believe that to give the residents of the Northern Territory the fullest possible measure of representation; self-government would be the very best thing we could do for them. They would, of course,’ know that, financially, the Commonwealth would . be behind them, but so far as possible they should be thrown upon their own resources. We know what has followed the extension of local government in the different States. Wherever a comprehensive scheme of local government has been adopted bv a State we have seen municipality after municipality vying with each other in their efforts to show the best results. I believe that if the people of the Northern Territory were given to understand that after a certain ‘population was attained and a certain stage of development was reached, the Territory would be recognised as a State, that would be a considerable incen- tive to effort on their part. It would tend to attract people from other portions of the Commonwealth, if they knew that the Northern Territory was self-reliant, and was not an official offshoot, dependent absolutely and wholly upon the Central Administration of the Commonwealth. Dependent as the Northern Territory is to-day on the Central Administration in Melbourne, at the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth, for the ordinary activities of government and dependent also, upon the Central Government, as suggested by Senator Pratten, for private benefactions and individual charity, it is easy for residents of the Territory to blame the Central Administration, 2,000 or 3,000 miles away, for every ill experienced by any resident there. But if the responsibility of local government were thrown upon the residents, those who had grievances could go to the fountain and source of all the evils they suffered from, and that, I believe, would be conducive to the growth of a proper local public spirit in consonance with Australian democratic sentiment. We have the opportunity to do for the Northern Territory to-day what might be cited, as a justification for similar action with regard to other Territories and mandated areas in the future.
– Would the honorable senator give the people of the Northern Territory local government to-day?
– Yes. I think that the Government are under an obligation to go thoroughly into the condition of affairs in the Northern Territory.
– Economically and industrially they do govern themselves, but so far with no very good result.
– That is because responsibility is not intrusted to them.
– The financial responsibility is not upon them.
– Financial responsibility, within certain limits, should be put upon them. They very often do things in their excitement and in their resentment at their present anomalous pos:tion which they would not do if they knew that they must themselves face the immediate financial and other consequences of their action.
– Could the votes for a local Parliament be collected in the Northern Territory?
– Why not? Votes are collected from the scattered districts of Queensland and Western Australia to-day.
– They were collected in the Northern Territory in the Conscription Referendum.
- Senator Pratten quoted from. Viscount Bryce’s The American Commonwealth, and I listened with interest to what he had to say. He quoted from page 588, but if he had turned to page 590, he would have seen what Viscount Bryce has to say by way of summarizing the position and policy of the United States with regard to its Territories. He says -
The arrangement above described worked well. Self-government was practically enjoyed by Territories despite the supreme authority of Congress, just as it is enjoyed by Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, despite the legal right of the British Parliament to legislate for every part of the King’s. Dominions. The want of a voice in Congressand in Presidential elections, and the fact that the Governor was set over them by an external power, were not felt to be practical grievances, partly, of course, because these young communities were too small and too much absorbed in the work .of developing their natural resources to be keenly interested in national politics. Their local political life resembled that of the newer Western States. Both Democrats and Republicans have their regular party organizations, but the business of a Territorial Legislature gave little opportunity for real political controversy, though abundant opportunities for local jobbing.
There he shows that the politics of the Territories themselves appealed to the residents very much more than did the National . politics, and that whilst the people of a Territory were divided into Democrats and Republicans, they brought their political acumen, interest, and industry to bear upon local rather than upon national problems. Just as the Frenchmen say, “It is the coat nearest the skin that we think most of,” so it will be with these Territories, if we adopt something like a Territorial policy and give the residents of our Territories the amplest measure of self-government consistent with the general policy and safety of the Commonwealth. It will be found that questions coming before the local Legislatures will be those which will interest them most, and to which they will give their special attention. There will thus be a period of constitutional probation, but I feel that the ultimate result of the adoption of such a policy will be that we shall find the residents of the Territory actively working for their development until they become entitled to the dignity of States.
I think that the Government should reconsider the whole position. If they are going to make temporary provision for the separate representation of the Northern Territory in one Chamber only of this Legislature, it should be given in the House of Representatives, but apart from that, what we ought to do is to enter upon a comprehensive scheme applicable to all the. Territories of the Commonwealth and give them as full a measure of self-government or home rule as possible, if we desire to do what will best promote their development and that of the Commonwealth.
– After the two very fine and informative speeches which have just been delivered, I feel that, in making any further contribution to the debate I shall be but assisting in the “massacre of the innocents.” To my mind, this Bill has very little to commend it, in spite of the assistance given to the Government by an honorable senator who is ordinarily opposed to them, but who has lent to this measure the weight of his support and influence. Senator Russell, in introducing the measure, made one or two statements in the nature of an appeal to honorable senators. When he pleaded for the parliamentary representation of men and women, he was on pretty solid ground. The old axiom, “ No taxation without representation “ is as good today as ever it was, and that being so, we must do something for the Northern Territory. If its development is to proceed with any degree of satisfaction to the people residing there, they must be given some voice in the management of this great Australia of ours. But whilst we may concede this much, we need not agree entirely with the views of the Government. Senator Russell, in introducing tile Bill, painted a bright picture as to, the future prosperity of the Northern Territory, provided the Senate agreed to the Bill. So far as my recollection goes, he said that whilst undoubtedly there had :been very great industrial trouble in Darwin, all friction would disappear once the people had a senator to speak, but not to vote, for them in this Chamber, upon all important matters. Even the beer-drinking incident, to which one honorable senator referred, would never occur again if only the people had a voice in this branch of the Legislature.
– I could point to places in big States like New South Wales where, even with representation, that sort of thing is done.
– Then surely the Minister will see that. that is an argument against his proposal. He told us, when moving the second reading of the Bill, that all these troubles would cease if we gave them the right of representation; but now he points out, by way of interjection, that such things are going on in all the States. I cannot reconcile his two statements, though I admit I should like to ‘be able to take his roseate view of the future.
– Now you are mixing me up with the beer.
– Well, I have no desire to mix the Minister up with beer at all. I would not do such a thing. I think the Minister is quite capable of mixing his own beer. Though the Minister presented a very roseate picture of the future, if the people have representation in the manner proposed, I do riot think it will make one scrap of difference in their conduct,’ or to the future of the Territory. But, as a matter of common justice, the question (bears an entirely different aspect. I do not think it will make much difference to the residents of Darwin whether they have representation or not; but I can readily conceive that it might make a great deal of difference to us, as has been pointed out by Senators Keating and Pratten. We have everything to lose, and they ‘have nothing to gain, and so we should hesitate before adopting the course suggested by the Government. The question has been asked: Why have the Government proposed that representation be given in this Chamber and not in another place? Surely if representation is to be given at all, it should be in another place, where the most vital of all questions with which the Territory is concerned, the question of finance, is dealt with. We have no power over finance.
– And, in addition, a representative in another place would come in touch with more Ministers than in this Chamber.
-Senator Keating has suggested another reason why this representation should be in the House of Representatives. The two gentlemen, or two Bolsheviks, who will help to represent the Northern Territory, if appointed to the House of Representatives, would come in direct touch with a larger number of Ministersthere than in this Chamber, and, however influential and important Ministers in the Senate may be, I suggest that, because of the sheer weight of numbers in another place, if the proposed Northern Territory representatives were able to exert any in fluence at all over Ministers, it would be far better for the Territory, and better for the Commonwealth generally, if they exerted this influence in another place.
In the course of his remarks, the Minister suggested that those who were opposed to the Bill should endeavour to put something else in its place, thus confessing that the proposal in the Bill was the best the Government could devise for the solution of the Northern Territory problems. I agree that something should be done to give the Territory representation, but, with Senators Keating and Pratten, I fail to see why it should be singled out for special representation while other equally important Territories are overlooked. We can, I think, meet the position in an entirely different way, and, therefore, I move -
That all the words after “ That “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “ the Senate is of the opinion that residents of the Northern Territory who would, under ordinary circumstances, be entitled to a vote under the Commonwealth electoral laws should, for that purpose, be attached to the State of South Australia and accorded the right to vote at the election for senators for that State, thus being granted representation in the Commonwealth Parliament.
I do not think any injustice will be done to South Australia by attaching the residents of the Northern Territory to that State for the purpose of representation in this Parliament.
– You would have to get their consent, would you not?
– Yes; but if they were desirous of representation, there should be no trouble about that.
– What argumentis there for attaching them to a State constituency that does not more cogently apply to attaching them to a House of Representatives constituency, and an adjacent tropical one at that?
– The Northern Territory has been more particularly associated with South Australia than any other State, and if anybody understands the needs of the Territory, surely it is the Government of South Australia. It is proposed, in the near future - and I hope it will be carried to completion - to connect South Australia with the Northern Territory by a railway. The Territory will then be closer to South Australia than to any other State. At present it is in communication with South Australia by telegraph, and it should be easy, therefore, to make the necessary electoral arrangements for votes in the Northern Territory to be recorded as in the State of South Australia for the purposes of Senate elections. My proposal is distinguished from that in the Bill in that it will give to the residents of the Northern Territory, not one senator without a vote, but six senators with votes, and I think it is infinitely better.
– That is what they had at the inception of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– Yes, and, so far as my information goes, I do not know that they were dissatisfied with the arrangement. My proposal is an entirely feasible one. Unlike the Bill, it does not establish any dangerous precedent, and it gives to the people in the Northern Territory the representation they desire.
– I have known cases where people in isolated portions of one State have never seen their representative.
– That is so. Even in a small State like Victoria, there are places in which, I venture to say, even the honorable senator is unknown. This is so in New South Wales. In some places the people have never seen their representatives, and, I believe, they hope to God they never will! But this is not an argument against my proposal. I hope it will commend itself to honorable senators, because I think it is a way out of the difficulty. It meets everything that the Government desires, and it has none of those inherent objections and dangers contained in the Bill.
We would, I believe, be committing a great injustice to the other States and this Parliament if we passed the Bill in its present form. We would be giving away a great many privileges that have been handed to us. We should be careful in this Senate to preserve that degree of dignity and power which we at present possess, and which should not be idly frittered away in the manner proposed by the Government. I believe my amendment offers a way out of the difficulty. It would enable the Government to observe their pledge to provide for the residents of the Northern Territory some form of representation, and it would enable this Parliament at all times to hear any representations which the residents of the Territory desired to make through the South Australian senators.
– So important is anything affecting the status of the Senate that I may be excused if I offer a few observations on the proposal now before honorable senators. I do not question the constitutional competency of this Parliament to deal with such a measure as has been introduced by the Government, nor do I intend to follow the example of Senator Pratten and Senator Keating, who so exhaustively and trenchantly, and, I might say, eloquently, dealt with the Constitution in the United States of America, so far as it has any bearing on this proposal. The United States of America is a Democracy. Ours is a Democracy. Our Constitution, in regard to its main principles, is very largely modelled on that of the United States of America. Nevertheless, there is a psychology of Democracy, and I venture to say the psychology of the Australian Democracy differs from that of the United States of America, as both in turn differ from that of the people of Switzerland. I have this objection to the Bill: It goes too far in one direction and not far enough in another. I have the same objection to the amendment. I say this of the psychology of the Australian Democracy, and to a certain extent it is true of every Democracy worthy of the name: No white man member of this democratic community will be satisfied until he has an effective voice in regard to the public deliberations and decisions on matters of national importance, or, for that matter, of local importance either. Now, the genius - if I may use the word - of all British communities is in the direction of centrifugal government. There is always the anxiety and ambition to take advantage of the opportunities of self-government. I think Senator Keating has dealt very ably with that in its relation to the people in what was known as the district of Port Phillip, and I have had occasion to use the same argument and illustration when speaking on public platforms against the various proposals for the amendment of the Commonwealth’ Constitution which have been mooted from time to time. Beyond all doubt the first step in regulating political affairs in the Northern Territory will be to give those people, when they are sufficiently numerous, some form of self-government. After that, they must be given a voice in the affairs of the Commonwealth, for they, no less than ourselves, are Australian citizens. The objection I have to the Government proposal is that, while it provides that they shall have a representative in the Senate, it does not give them anything like effective representation, for the representative will have no vote. I do not say that a representative should be present in the Senate at all, and if the Territories of the Commonwealth are to be represented in this Parliament, the. fit place for them is another Chamber. I admit the logic contained in Senator Duncan’s amendment that if it is right and proper that they should be represented in one Chamber, it is also right and proper that they should be represented in the other, through the medium of their attachment to a State. Even if the Northern Territory is not constituted a State in itself, it seems that it ip quite an easy matter for us to give logical and proper representation to the Australian citizens of the Commonwealth, and the first thing to be done, I humbly submit, is to attach them, in their capacity as voters for the popular Chamber, to the nearest district of the House of Representatives. After that, Senator Duncan’s amendment may fitly and properly cover the whole ground by attaching them as Senate electors to the State of South Australia, through which State they were originally represented.
I have already stated that it is not my intention to refer at length to the United States of America Constitution, because Senator Pratten and Senator Keating have already done so. I desire, however, to deal seriatim with certain sections in our own Constitution which have a full bearing on this matter. Section 6 is worded in such a way that the electors in the Northern Territory must have been, at the inception of Federation, electors of the State of South Australia. The section reads - “ The Commonwealth “ shall mean the Commonwealth of Australia as established under this Act. “ The States “ shall mean such of the Colonies of New South Wales, New Zealand, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia, and South Australia, including the Northern Territory of South Australia, as for the time being are parts of the Commonwealth, and such Colonies or Territories as may be admitted into or established by the Commonwealth as States; and each of such parts of the Commonwealth shall be called a “State.” “ Original States “ shall mean such States as are parts of the Commonwealth at its establishment.
I, as a senator assisting to represent in this Chamber an original State, and one which is the smallest territorially and in point of population, have a very keen interest in anything that affects the Senate, and the status of States in this Chamber, which is particularly designed, under the provisions of the Constitution, to represent communities of Australian people as States. Section 24 of the Constitution provides that a quota shall be obtained, and by virtue of this quota the representation of the people in the Commonwealth as electors of the House of Representatives can be increased or diminished. It must be remembered, however, that the quotas are progressive. I have gone into some arithmetical calculations during the debate, and find that the quota at the present time in Australia is, as near as possible, 70,000 voters. Perhaps it will be better if I quote the section, so that honorable senators may be able to follow my line of reasoning. It reads -
The House of Representatives shall be composed of members directly chosen by the people of the Commonwealth, and the number of such members shall be, as nearly as practicable, twice the number of the senators.
The number of members chosen in the several States shall be in proportion to the respective numbers of their people, and shall, until the Parliament otherwise provides, be determined, whenever necessary, in the following manner: -
A quota shall be ascertained by divid ing the number of the people of the Commonwealth, as shown by the latest statistics of the Commonwealth, by twice the number of the senators.
The number of members to be chosen in each State shall be determined by dividing the number of the people of the State, as shown by the latest statistics of the Commonwealth, by the quota; and if on such division there is a remainder greater than one-half of the quota, one more member shall be chosen in the State.
About 5,000,000 people divided by 72 is, approximately, 70,000.
– That is for the House of Representatives.
– Yes, and if the honorable senator will follow my argument he will see the conclusion to which it leads. Tasmania is an original State, and, consequently, according to the application of the principle of a quota, without any other attachment or corollary, would be entitled, as nearly as figures can determine, to exactly three members in the House of Representatives. But, being an original State, and the constitutional stipulation providing that no State shall have less than five representatives, Tasmania has five members. Before Tasmania can have an additional member, even if the quota remains as it is, she will have to have a population of 385,000 people. Her present population is about 210,000, and she has to increase it by 175,000 before she is entitled to an additional member in what is known as the popular Chamber.
– That is if the other States stand still.
– Yes; but, as I have mentioned, the quotas are always progressive, and it is more than probable that before we have another member, we shall have to have a population of 500,000. What are we to do? Tasmania having, according to the strict application of the quota, a member of the House of Representatives for every, say, 42,000 of her present population, I should be prepared to vote for a representative of the Northern Territory in the House of Representatives as soon as there is a population of 21,001 white people there, or one more than half of the number of people in Tasmania who have a member in the lower chamber of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– The honorable senator is very generous towards the House of Representatives.
– I do not think for one moment that it can be logically contended that the arguments of Senator Duncan and others can be refuted, that if the Territory is going to be represented at all, it should be represented in the other Chamber. It is, a young Territory, and it is to be hoped that it will be a growing one. It has to face developmental and financial problems, and, as the late Mr. Deakin - one of the glories of Australian public life - said, “Government is finance, and finance is government.” I do not altogether subscribe to that dictum, but finance is certainly one of the most important problems in a country such as ours. I would be prepared to support the proposal when there are 21,001 white settlers in the Territory, as that is on a constitutional basis, and one that has stood the test of time. I have great respect for the Constitution, and I admit that what is proposed is strictly within the limitations of the Constitution, and that we have the competency to do what the Government has asked of us.
I want to know what particular virtue, wisdom, or necessity there is in existence in connexion with the affairs of the Northern Territory that the residents there should be given representation, whilst a similar number of white settlers in Papua should not be represented. What is the matter with the Commonwealth Federal Territory? Should not those people have representation, as Senator Pratten contended ? There is a strong agitation for moving the Federal Parliament to Canberra, and should that eventuate, there would be, in a very short time, a population of 10,000 in the vicinity. Would not the arguments that are used in connexion with the Territory apply as cogently to the people who would be residing in the Federal Territory?
– Does not the honorable senator think that a little later they will apply them?
– Yes; but not so loosely as is contemplated in this measure, because we are being asked to give senatorial status to the representatives of 2,000 or 3,000 people, at the same time saying that such representative shall not have a vote.
– The honorable senator could eliminate that proviso when the Bill is in Committee.
– I am prepared to support the passage of the Bill into Committee on the condition that the inhabitants of other Federal Territories be given the right to vote for the House of Representatives in the nearest constituency, and that they be allowed to vote for the Senate in the Territories attached to the nearest State of which they are territorially component parts.
– That would mean that the Northern Territory might be represented by senators from South Australia, Western Australia, or Queensland.
– I would like to know to what extent the interests of portions of the Northern Territory differ from the interests of such districts as Dampier and Kennedy. It is constitutionally competent for us to amend the Bill in such a way as to attach these people to the nearest electorate of the House of Representatives. Section 29 of the Constitution provides -
Until the Parliament of the Commonwealth otherwise provides, the Parliament of any State may make laws for determining the divisions in each State for which members of the House of Representatives may be chosen, and the number of members to be chosen for each division. A division shall not be formed out of parts of different States.
There is nothing in that section which prevents the electors in Commonwealth Territories being attached to the nearest House of Representatives electorate, and that being so, I respectfully suggest that this measure, if allowed to go into Committee be radically altered so as to provide for representation of the electors of the Northern Territory, few though they be. There can be no objection to giving any Australian citizen an effective vote. The only question which arises is, “ Through what constitutional and electoral channels shall that vote be exercised ? “ In my opinion, the proper channels through which the votes of the few thousand inhabitants of the Northern Territory should be exercised are the nearest House of Representatives’ constituency, and the State of South Australia, to which the Territory was formerly attached.
I believe that the real position is that the Northern Territory is British Territory, in that it has never been formally bestowed upon any oversea dominion. It is actually as much the property of the British Crown as was Western Australia before i,t was granted constitutional government. I understand that the Commonwealth has merely superseded South Australia as administrator of the Territory.
– Is there any chance of levying upon the owner of the Territory for *r expenditure upon it ?
– Of course, I may be in error, because these are constitutional points, which should occupy the attention of members of the legal profession, rather than of myself.
– We ought to find out who is the real owner of the Territory.
– I believe that the real owner is the British Government.
– Then let the British Parliament pay for its own “ white elephants.”
– The British Parliament has never formally conferred the Territory upon an oversea dominion.
– It was handed over to South Australia by the Imperial authorities upon certain conditions.
– The real trouble in connexion with the Northern Territory will not be obviated, even if we grant the fullest parliamentary representation to its people. I have been in the Territory upon three occasions, and, although I have not seen very much of it, having travelled only a few miles! from the coast, I have talked with people who have been resident there for years, Asiatics as well as white men, and I have gathered from them that the real trouble with the Territory is that it is a very poor country. Australia as a continent is remarkable for one thing. Other fertile countries have barren coastlines; but, with the exception of a few favoured localities, the foreshore of the Australian continent is forbidding to an extreme degree. One has to go to the inner rind before he will come to the fertile belt.
– Some of the richest districts in the Commonwealth are to be found upon the coast.
– In my remarks I exempted a few favoured localities. Let the honorable senator go along the Great Australian Bight, or to the Northern Territory, and he will find country which ‘ is as poor as were the proverbial turkeys of the patriarch Job. Most people think of the tropics as excelling in fertility. If we had the same soil in the Northern Territory as is to be found in the Western part of Victoria, the problems of the Territory would solve themselves. If we had similar soil there to that which is to be found in Java, all difficulties would solve themselves.
– In Queensland, we have hundreds of thousands of acres of such soil, which are quite unused today.
– But Queensland, it should be remembered, is larger than were several erstwhile European empires. The Northern Territory is sufficiently big to permit of many important States being carved out of it. But the fact is that the marine or semi-marine regions of the Territory in which the population is at present located are poor in the extreme. The Chinese residents there have told me that one of its greatest drawbacks is the white ant problem. One has only to leave his hat down at night and before morning it will have been eaten. Why, the packers at the Marranboy tin-field are obliged to hang up their pack-saddles each night in order to prevent their destruction. Every year, too, there is a six months’ drought in the Northern Territory. Its soil is poor, the white ants are a plague, and the climate is such that wet and dry seasons alternate over prolonged periods with great regularity.
Honorable senators will doubtless recollect that a little while ago I made an interjection in regard to the price of rice. Now, though rice ia not the staple diet of the white inhabitants of Australia they consume a very large quantity of it. What is the price of rice to-day? One cannot buy a pound of it in a grocer’s shop for less than about a ls. Ought not that to be an incentive to the enterprising spirits of the Northern Territory ? But. although I have seen in the Queen’s Hall splendid samples of rice which were grown in the Territory, nobody is undertaking the cultivation of this cereal there, notwithstanding that its price is more than £100 per ton at the present moment. Mining men from Tasmania who have gone to the Territory have afterwards said to me, “ If one discovered there silver, silver lead, zinc or any other ore which is of commercial value, ‘ it would not be of greater commercial value than would similar ore mined in Victoria, Tasmania, or New South Wales.” The difficulties of transport come in, as does also the high cost of labour.
– Does not’ that remark apply to every product ?
– It does to a great many. But even in regard to the staple products of the country in which the honorable senator is specially interested, special legislation had to be enacted to preserve an important industry from destruction.
– The Commonwealth is getting well paid for it.
– I desire to see every State of the Commonwealth rich and prosperous. Nobody would be more pleased than I would be if we had a nourishing population in the Northern Territory. But, even if we do the utmost justice to its residents, its problems will not be solved.
I think that some honorable senators struck the keynote of this matter when they said that the best thing we could do would be to confer upon its people powers of self-government, and allow them to levy taxation upon themselves in order to meet the needs of an ever-growing community. Every large country, every important area, which is peopled by individuals with an imperialistic strain in their blood, such as
Ave have inherited, is confronted with a similar problem. Egypt had its Soudan to deal with, Spain had Cuba, and the United States had Arizona. The United States had a very big problem to solve in the south-western portion of America for many years. Even the Asiatic countries, which are coming into prominence, have had their territorial problems in the shape of hungry areas devoid of inhabitants. For example, China, has Mongolia. During the imperialistic Man chu domination the Chinese did everything possible to induce people to settle in Mongolia. So that these, problems with which Democracy is faced are as old as the hills. China desired the settlement of Mongolia in order that she might have a buffer State to the Russian colossus. But we cannot get people to go to a country if the conditions which obtain there do not suit their civilization. Upon many occasions I have pointed out to Chinese merchants the opportunities which exist for growing rice in the Northern Territory. One man told me that he knew rice could be grown there. He put a proposal to me that I’ hesitate to ventilate in this Chamber because I know that it would be scouted. He said that if the Commonwealth Government would” give him a suitable area and permit him to bring in contract labour from China, upon the understanding that this labour would be returned at the end of a certain number of years and replaced by similar labour, he would undertake the cultivation of rice in the Northern Territory, but not otherwise. Of course, we all recognise that we must develop the Northern Territory under our White Australia policy. But with the objection which white men have to strenuous labour in the paddy fields of the Territory we cannot grow rice. I am absolutely certain that the causes which retard the development of the Northern Territory are too deep seated to be removed by the action of any legislator or legislature such as we are likely to have for many decades.
Knowing that the Territory is peopled by white men, mainly men of their own race, that they will want votes, and that as Australian citizens thev should be granted them, I am in favour of this measure going into Committee if the Government will take into consideration the simple method of attaching these people to the nearest House of Representatives constituency, and« for senatorial representation to the State of South Australia, and if it will also confer the same privilege upon the white men resident in every other Territory of the Commonwealth. If Ministers cannot see their way to do that, although the principle of the Bill is constitutionally right, I am of opinion that it is inexpedient to apply it at this stage. Seeing that, in the case of Tasmania, its population will require to be increased by 175,000 souls before it will be entitled to another member in the House of Representatives, I am not justified in going farther than I have already intimated my preparedness to go.
– If one fact more than another has been demonstrated in this discussion, it is that, although we have been legislating for different parts of Australia by means of one Parliament and another for something like 100 years, there are tremendous areas of this country about which numbers of our legislators know very little indeed. I do not blame them for that. This is a tremendous continent, and it would take a man more than a lifetime to get over a very small portion of it. Therefore, the fact that we are largely in ignorance of the great possibilities, not only of the Northern Territory, but of the whole of the northern portion of Australia, is, to my mind, simply an indication that some better means should be adopted for acquainting the Legislature with its requirements. Such schemes have been propounded as cutting off the northern portion of Australia and making a new State of it, and other ways have been suggested, from time to time of inducing people to settle in the tropical parts of Australia. A good deal has been said here to-day about giving the people the right to some form of self-government, thereby adding to their responsibilities, and increasing the sense of nationhood, which would undoubtedly result in great benefits to Australia as a whole.
This Bill appears to have been hurriedly drawn, and proper steps have not been taken by members of the Government, or those responsible for its introduction, to acquaint themselves with the needs of the country or of the people affected. It is not good enough to bring down a Bill of this description without making inquiries or representations among the people concerned, to ascertain their opinions on the legislation to be proposed. It is evident to me that this has not been done, but I am one of those who, in any circumstances whatever, would welcome some kind of representation of the people of the Northern Territory. I am not going to quarrel very much with the Government ‘ over the means adopted, so long as the people there are given representation. How would honorable senators, who grumble about the taxation they have to pay, notwithstanding the fact that they have full representation in the Parliaments of the southern States in which they live, and in the Federal Parliament also, like to live in a place like the Northern Territory, with its rather trying climate and its many other disadvantages, and be called upon to pay taxation, whilst having absolutely no voice in the government of their country ? The people who live there are expected, not only to pay taxation, but also to obey the laws, in the making of which they have no voice or part. I go a long way to excuse men who break laws in the making of which they are denied any share, in spite of their repeated applications and requests for some sort of representation.
There is no doubt that all Governments in the past have neglected the Northern Territory, but when the Territory had two representatives in the South Australian Parliament we had no difficulties such as arise there to-day. I suppose men in those days were more peaceably inclined, and we did not hear so much of the difficulties and troubles elsewhere as we do now, but there were no such troubles in the Territory when it had two representatives in the South Australian Parliament. These were elected just as other members were. There were eight or ten polling booths in the Territory.
– You would not collect many votes at eight or ten polling booths. You would want 800.
– That is a matter for the future. We know where the people axe situated, and we know that nowadays a ride of a hundred miles on camel back, or in a motor car, is not considered very much by the people in the interior, as Senator Guthrie will agree. In those days the declaration of the poll in South Australia was hung up sometimes for two or three weeks whilst the floods subsided inthe Northern Territory. We have been told here to-day that rain never falls there, but I have known the declaration of the poll to be delayed for six weeks whilst the people had to wait for the floods to subside before the ballot boxes could be collected from the polling booths. As a matter of fact, enough water falls in the Northern Territory to irrigate the whole of Australia if it were properly conserved.
We expect the people in the Northern
Territory to be loyal, and to obey the laws that are made here under southern conditions, while they have no voice or vote in them. We can easily understand that after a time the people there become sullen and discontented, if not openly disloyal, to the Government of their country.
– You are only talking about Darwin.
– Largely Darwin.
– That is a very small portion of the Northern Territory.
– I know that very well.
– A lot of the people at Darwin were disloyal before they went there.
– The rest of the citizens of the Territory are more loyal than any others in Australia.
– I do not want honorable senators to run away with the idea that I am accusing the people of Darwin of being disloyal. What I am saying is that the conditions under which they are living have a tendency to render them so. I know that the people in the southern portions of the Northern Territory have very little sympathy with those who break the law in Darwin. Some of the finest men are to be found in the centre of Australia, but these cattle and sheep men, miners and others in the centre of the Northern Territory are as much discontented with the present form of government as are the people in Darwin. although they are not showing their resentment in the way that the Darwin people are doing. The time has arrived when these people should have a voice in the control of their own affairs. They are interested, not only in the affairs of the Northern Territory, but in those of Australia, and it is time something was done to give them a vote and a voice, and a sense of their own responsibility as citizens of the Commonwealth. Many matters that want settlement and adjustment in the Territory are never heard of in the Senate. If a representative were sent to this or another branch of the Legislature, or if representatives were elected or appointed here, who had a right to speak with authority concerning the Northern Territory., those matters could be put right. I have no more right to speak for the Northern Territory than has any other honorable senator here, nor am I asserting that right, but if the
Territory were represented here by any means whatever, the difficulties of its people would be brought before Parliament, and many of their grievances would be adjusted long before matters reached the position in which they are found to-day. If that had been done, the Territory would never have got the reputation that it has. It is said that “ distance lends enchantment to the view,” but, in the matter of distance, the position in the Territory has been made even worse than it would be had these things taken place nearer to hand.’
The Commonwealth has had control of the Territory since 1911, and we have been told to-day that a very large sum of money has been spent on it. This is, unfortunately, true ; but, for all the money that has been spent there by the Commonwealth Government, the people of the Territory are no better off, and are not even as well off as they were in the old days under South Australian rule; nor are they any more contented, because, under those old conditions, they had representation in Parliament, and, therefore, had a safety valve. They could, and did, send to Adelaide men who lived amongst them, who were in business in Darwin, and knew the Territory from end to end. Those men came to the South Australian Parliament, and put the position of the Territory before the southern people. The inhabitants of the Territory in those days were quite satisfied with their representation, and were generally satisfied, also, with the treatment meted out to them by the South Australian Parliament.
In dealing with a continent like this, we must make certain allowances for its tremendous area, and its varying interests and requirements. It must be remembered that the Northern Territory is half as large again as New South Wales or South Australia, six times as large as Victoria, greater than the Union of South Africa or Egypt, twice the size of Japan and its dependencies, and greater in area than the whole of France and Germany combined. In considering a Territory of those huge dimensions, with its varying conditions and its varying climates, we ought to be very generous before we’ condemn those who live in it. It is very easy for us sitting here to condemn the vagaries or the illegal actions of a certain number of people among them.
It has been argued here to-day that we ought to count population instead of territory in dealing with Federal matters. I agree that that is largely true; but it does not make the position any easier for those in the Northern Territory, nor does it reconcile them to their conditions. It is true that there are a number of small towns in Australia with a very much larger population than is possessed by the whole of the Territory, but that does not make things any easier or better for the people who are living there. A good deal has been said to-day about the loss of money on the Territory and the extent of its public debt; but that loss, and waste of money, and the huge debt, have been brought about, not through any fault of the people of the Territory itself, but through the maladministration of the various Governments who have had the handling of that country, not only since Federation, but since it was first settled. The people of the Territory were not responsible for the debt; and, when the Federal Government took the place over, it should have done what any business concern would do - it should have funded the debt and wiped it off. Any man who buys a business, and the debts with it, simply writes the debts off and starts afresh. If that had been done, and it should have been done, the Northern Territory would have been in a very different position financially from that in which it is to-day.
– It would make no difference to the financial position of the Commonwealth, which would have to bear the burden all the same.
– It would make this difference to the Northern Territory that its pre-Federation debts would not be quoted against it whenever any matter connected with it is referred to.
– The only way- to wipe out those debts was to pay them.
– That is what should have been done.
– The Commonwealth is bearing the debt, and not the Northern Territory.
– The members of the Commonwealth Parliament knew what the debts of the Territory were when they decided to take it over, and since they did that, .the debts of the Territory has been added to very ma terially, chiefly by the accumulation of interest on debts incurred many years ago.
– With all due respect to him, the honorable senator is wrong there.
– The debt is still debited to the Northern Territory, and is growing larger every year.
Senator Bakhap pointed out that the country on the North Coast of Australia is very poor country. That is so, and the Northern Territory is condemned very largely because quite a number of people who visit it go no more than a few miles inland from Darwin. On that account the Northern Territory has been given a bad name. Let me inform honorable senators that Darwin is 97 feet above sea-level; Daly Waters, which is 200 miles from Darwin, is 691 feet above sea-level, and Alice Springs is 926 feet above sea-level. So far as rainfall is concerned, whilst one fourth of the Northern Territory has an annual rainfall of less than 10 inches, 180,940 square miles of country within the Territory has an annual rainfall of more than 20 inches.
– Will the honorable senator say at what period of the year the rainfall is precipitated in the Northern Territory?
– It is largely a tropical country, and we know when tropical rains generally fall. To listen to some opinions expressed about it, one might be pardoned for coming to the conclusion that the -Northern Territory is a particularly cursed portion of Australia, when, as a matter of fact, practically similar climatic and physical conditions are to be found in Northern Queensland and in the North-West of Australia.
– The northern part of Australia suffers less from drought than does any other part of the Commonwealth.
– That is so ; but the rainfall is at a- certain time of the year. Because of this we must, apparently, do nothing to promote its development, but, although the same may be said of Northern Queensland and of the North-West of Australia, we must go on with the development of those areas.
Senator Pratten told us that the debt of the Territory and on the Oodnadatta Railway amounted to something like £6,000,000, but the debt on the Territory proper, when it was acquired by the Commonwealth, was really something like £3,300,000.
– The liability of South Australia in respect of the Northern Territory when it was taken over by the Commonwealth was about £6,000,000.
– That includes the debt on the Oodnadatta railway.
– The debt was £3,780,000 without the debt on the railway.
– That was the position, and it is scarcely a fair thing to debit the Northern Territory proper with the debt on the Oodnadatta railway. That railway remains as an asset, and I do not take the debt upon it into consideration. As I have said, apart from the debt on the railway, the debt on the Northern Territory proper when it was taken over by the Commonwealth was something like £3,300,000. It was estimated at that time that there ‘were payable assets in the Territory proper to the value of £1,500,000 in the shape of railways, wharfs, railway workshops, and public works, so that the balancesheet of the Northern Territory at the time it was taken over was not so bad as has been represented, and showed that the actual debt of the Territory proper was something under £2,000,000.
– The honorable senator means that the deficit was £2,000,000.
– I mean that the debt was £2,000,000. Then, we have to bear in mind that the lands of the Northern Territory represent an important asset apart from the payable assets to which I have already referred. It will be agreed that 2d. or 3d. per acre for the lands of the Northern Territory is a very low estimate indeed of their value. Whilst ‘honorable senators may make as big a mountain as they please of the debt of the Territory, they should not overlook its assets. I am confident that if we knew their value better than we do we would not be very much alarmed about the debt.
– A great deal of the land in the Northern Territory ought to be worth an annual rental of 2d. or 3d. per acre. i
– The honorable senator’s interjection reminds me that land on the “Queensland side of the border, between that State and the Northern Territory, is leased at something like 12s. 6d. per square mile, whilst the land on the other side of the border, in the Northern Territory, although practically the same land, is leased for about ls. 3d. per square mile.
– That is on the Barkly Tableland.
– Yes, in that part of the country. If we were to charge the same rent for land in the Northern Territory that is charged for land -over the border- in Queensland, the revenue so derived would go a long way towards reducing the deficit and making the Territory pay.
Another fact that is lost sight of is that the Northern Territory is not credited with any Customs duties. The Excise duties on food and beer to which Senator Duncan referred are paid in Sydney, Melbourne, and elsewhere, though the goods are consumed in the Northern Territory. This is shown by recent reports from the Administrator of the Northern Territory and the Governor of Papua. In Papua the Customs revenue is a very large factor in the total revenue of the Territory, whilst in the Northern Territory no credit i3 given for Customs revenue.
– I understood that credit was given to the Northern Territory for Customs duties to the amount of £10,000.
– No. The bulk of the duties on articles consumed in the Northern Territory are paid in Sydney, where £20,000 or £30,000 was paid in this way.
– I think they are all credited to the Northern Territory.
– No; the Administrator in his report calls attention to the fact that the Territory does not get credit for Customs duties paid on goods consumed there.
– It gets credit for Excise duties to the extent of £7,000.
– That should be sufficient to show that the Northern Territory is not given credit for all the duties of Customs and Excise paid on goods consumed there.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that duties to the extent of £30,000 are paid on beer alone consumed in the Northern Territory?
– The honorable senator will agree that the article referred to carries a very stiff duty. ,
In dealing with the matter of the representation of the Northern Territory in the Senate I may point out that in 1864 the first Government Resident of the Territory was appointed from South Australia. It had no representation at that time in the State Parliament. The people of South Australia took over the Territory, and appointed a Government Resident at a salary of £1,000. At that time the Government Resident was not under much expense for the upkeep of an establishment, and in that respect was in a very much better position than the Administrator to be appointed in the near future will be. I do not propose to say much of the administration of the Territory by South Australia. There is little doubt that, from the time of the appointment of the first Government- Resident - whose name, I think, was T. B. Finnis - it has been a record of failure, more or less. South Australia floundered on in its administration because the place was very difficult to get at. Since that time a few surveyors and others have made their way across the continent, but there were then no wells or bores on the route, and Darwin was half-way round the continent from the centre of administration in South Australia. In 1890, some thirty years ago, the Territory was first given representation in the South Australian Parliament. From that time on, until the Commonwealth took it over, the people of the Northern- Territory had representation in the South Australian Parliament. The Government Resident was also a Judge, and was under the direct control of the State Parliament. Honorable senators will, therefore, see that it would be no new thing for the people of the Northern Territory to be called upon to elect a parliamentary representative.
Senator Pratten went very exhaustively into the figures of the population of the Territory. His figures were, doubtless, quite accurate, but they prove little or nothing. There is only a handful of people there, but, in the consideration of this question, that should not count for very much. I say that it is high time that something was done for Northern Australia. I am told by people competent to express an opinion, that if one leg of a compass was placed on the land at Port Darwin, and if, taking in a certain area, a half-circle were drawn, and the same thing were done in the centre of London, it would be found that there are two-and-a-half times as many people within the half-circle drawn at Darwin as there are within the half -circle drawn in London. That may be somewhat startling.
– What radius?
– I cannot say.
– No. It takes in those Territories across the Straits where the people are planted so thickly together that there is scarcely room, for them to lie down. I am giving this information because I believe that if nothing is done with the Territory the people who are there now will not remain there for long. And then what will happen with those millions of people only a short distance from our shore ? How are we going to keep Australia for the white race if we do not make some honest attempt to settle the country ? Those people who are watching us with envious eyes will not wait too long.
– We are all agreed upon that.
– Unfortunately, the northern part of Western Australia is just as empty.
– The whole of the northern portion of Australia is practically similarly situated.
The amendment moved by Senator Duncan will put the residents of the Northern Territory in the same position, so far as representation in this Parliament is concerned, as they were when the Commonwealth Government took over the Territory. The South Australian senators then represented the Northern Territory, which was also attached to the Division of Grey. Senator Bakhap suggested that, for the purpose of representation in the House of Representatives, the Northern Territory should be attached to the nearest State electorate. That would be practically impossible, because one portion of the Territory would be adjacent to a Western Australian electorate, another would be closer to a South Australian electorate, and another adjacent to some Queensland electorate.
– I confess I did not make myself quite clear on that point. What I had in mind was the advisability of attaching the whole of the Northern Territory to some tropical electorate.
– But a very small proportion of the Northern Territory is tropical.
– However, this is a small matter. The question is how best to provide adequate representation. I have no right to speak for the people of the Northern Territory. I know nothing about their wants apart from information which is available to all honorable senators, but I am anxious that some representation should be given to a large number of people who live there, because when Vesteys’ works start again there will be a large number of people in the Territory.
– The question whether Vesteys will start again will depend on their treatment by the Federal Government.
– Vestey Bros, have acquired very large areas of country, and their own interests will lead them to start again.
– It is doubtful.
– It is very probable that hundreds, probably thousands, of men will be attracted back to the Territory when the works re-open, and I am anxious that it should not any longer bp without some representation. If the amendment is acceptable to the Senate I have no objection to it, nor have I much objection to any reasonable means of giving the people representation, but I do not think that much may be expected from a change unless the representative has a vote in the Chamber, or, at all events, a vote on matters affecting the Northern Territory. Indeed, we ought to have, not only a representative of the Northern Territory, but also of the other Territories, and each should be entitled to vote on all questions directly affecting the people he represents. If the amendment is not carried, I shall endeavour, in Committee, to secure for the representative who comes here a vote on all matters affecting the Northern Territory.
Senator THOMAS (New South Wales) that the Bill was not mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech, and it seems to me that any proposal to alter the representation in the Senate should have been important enough to be included. Possibly the Government think so little of the Bill that they did not bother to mention it. then. I cannot congratulate them upon the measure, nor can I congratulate the Minister in charge (Senator Russell) for the manner in which it was introduced. He has piloted numerous Bills through this Chamber most successfully. Many of us remember how, at the close of last session, when his colleagues were unavoidably absent, Senator Russell, single-handed, piloted through this Chamber measure after measure, in a manner that must have been gratifying to himself, and certainly was pleasing to those of us who take a keen interest in his career. In connexion with this Bill, however, he appeared to lack that eloquence, that strength of conviction, which so often is to be remarked in his speeches; and so I came to the conclusion that he was charged with a duty in which he took no particular pleasure, and from which he was receiving no inspiration.
Senator. Duncan has already remarked on the fact that the Minister urged that if the people of the Northern Territory had a vote for a representative in this Chamber, a good deal of the discontent that has been evidenced in Port Darwin for some time past would disappear. I think it all depends upon how the people are represented. It does not necessarily follow that representation would lead to the removal of any discontent, as suggested by the Minister. Let us look at the Imperial Parliament. The people of Ireland have, per head, more representation in the British Parliament than any other part of the United Kingdom; yet, if what the papers tell us is correct, they are not particularly contented. What they want is Home Rule,or some other kind of representation.. Then, again, in New South Walesthere has been an agitation - to what extent public opinion is behind it I cannot say - to separate a certain portion of the State, the North Coast country, from the Sydney section, in order to set up a Parliament of their own, although at the present time the people there have complete representation in the New South Wales Parliament.
– And they are also asking for additional senatorial representation.
– I understand that is so. If representation in a Parliament means contentment, there ought to be no discontent in Australia outside of the Northern Territory, anyhow, because with State Houses, Legislative Councils, the House of Representatives, and the Senate, we are fairly well catered for as a people. Notwithstanding this, during the last week or two, we had the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) introducing a Bill to bring about industrial peace. The Minister, in support of the Bill, said that every Administration unhappily had failed to solve the Northern Territory problems. They had failed, so he said, because they had been unable to attract population; and now, in order to bring about a flow of immigration to the Northern Territory, it is proposed to give the people representation in this Parliament. Let me put to the Minister the position of a young married man, with, perhaps, two or three children, who desires to get away from the beaten track of the earlier settlements, and make a home in a new country, a country throbbing with the first pulsation of life, where he hopes to advance with its progress. His thoughts may, perhaps, turn to the Northern Territory, where, he will be told, he can get land for practically nothing. He may make inquiries, and find that, though he may be 200 miles from the nearest doctor-
– Five hundred miles.
– “Well, he may find that he will be 500 miles from the nearest doctor, and perhaps 50 miles from the nearest school. He will be prepared to put up with these and other disabilities, but if by any chance he finds that he will not have a vote for some parish or shire council or Parliament, he will not be disposed to go there. I do not hesitate to take this stand, and I believe I am the first to go so far: I say that the people of the Northern Territory, under the present circumstances, are not entitled to a vote.
– A good many of us agree with you.
– It may not be democratic or popular to say so, but I repeat that they are not entitled to the vote, because the Northern Territory is practically a Crown colony. For many years Western Australia was a Crown colony.. Did Western Australia then have any representation in the Imperial Parliament? The Imperial Parliament, through their Crown, representatives, said, “We will pay for this or that, and you must accept our laws until you are strong enough for constitutional government. The Imperial authorities said, “ If you care to carry on and have a Parliament of your own we will not object.” The Northern Territory is in a similar position to a Crown Colony. As far as the question of taxation without representation is concerned, it may be mentioned that the citizens of Washington do not have a municipal or other kind of vote, and I have been informed by Americans that the best conducted city in the United States is Washington.
– Who controls iti
– A Commissioner. The most important problem in connexion with the Territory is that of an adequate population, and if there is to be representation it must be effective.
It is not my intention at this juncture to discuss the financial aspect of the question, as that has already been very fully and ably dealt with by Senator Pratten. I may mention, however, that the Government spent, last year, approximately £497,000, and that the income was £139,000, showing a deficit of £358,000, which has to be made up by the taxpayers of the Commonwealth. A large- portion of the income was derived from the earnings on the railway between Port Darwin and Pine Creek, the receipts from -which amounted to £42,000. The working expenses, excluding the interest on the railway, were £52,000, and the revenue £42,000, so that even in that connexion there was a loss of £10,000 for the year. Figures have been quoted today by Senator Pratten giving the population, at the time the Territory was transferred from South Australia to the Commonwealth. I do not know where Senator Pratten obtained his figures, but I have ascertained that when the Commonwealth took over control of the Territory there were resident there 1,182 Europeans, 1,387 Chinese, and 277 people of other races, making a total population of 2,846. I understand that since the Commonwealth has taken over the
Northern Territory that the population has not increased.
– It is probably a little less.
– It may be, and if such is the case we are committed to the extent I have mentioned for a population of 1,182 Europeans.
– To-day there are 2,843 European residents, and there must have been an increase, as 600, in addition to the number mentioned, have left the Territory. On the 30th June the population was 3,433.
– If the taxpayers of the Commonwealth have to contribute £358,000 a year to keep two or three thousand white people in the Territory, it may be safely said that the residents are receiving a fair deal. I would be quite prepared to live in a community without a vote and allow other people to pay my taxation rather than have a vote and pay some one else’s taxation. How can the representation be effective if the senator does not have a vote ? Many honorable senators have been in this Chamber for years, and one at least has been a member of the Chamber where Ministries are made and unmade, and I ask them whether the Government cares how a Bill is criticised so long as the member criticising it supports the Government when a vote is taken. The Government do not care what a man says so long as they are assured of his vote. When such is the case, how much less will they care if we have a senator in this Chamber who has not a vote? I remember reading, some years ago, of an incident in the political life of Lord Randolph Churchill, when Kent returned thirteen Conservative members to the House of Commons, the full number to which it was entitled. The late Mr. Gladstone had been defeated on some important measure which was before the House of Commons, and he said that although he had been defeated he had behind him “ the moral support of the world.” Lord Randolph Churchill said that when it came to a division he would prefer to have behind him the votes of the thirteen members from Kent rather than “the moral support of the whole world.” There is a good deal in that.
The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) said - I may have misunderstood him - that if honorable senators were not in favour of this Bill we should suggest a substitute. I understand that he was not merely asking us to suggest something in the way of representation, but that we should recommend a policy as the administration in the past had been a failure. The Government have now come down with this panacea, and have said that if the Northern Territory is allowed to have a representative without a vote, the problems and difficulties associated with the Territory will be overcome. The Minister has said, in effect, that if we throw this measure out, we must suggest a suitable policy, because this is all that the Government can do. It appears that the National Government, comprising the picked talent of that great party, has nothing more to offer for the solution of this great problem than the appointment, without a vote, of a senator to represent the Northern Territory. In adopting this attitude, it would appear that they are offering “ a box of pills to stop an earthquake.” What good would a senator be in this Chamber without a vote? Since the inception of Federation there have been six representatives of the State of New South Wales in this Chamber possessing votes, but their combined efforts have not been able to induce the Government to have the Federal Capital transferred from Melbourne to Canberra, although that is provided in the Constitution. If these six senators from New South Wales have not in twenty years been able to influence Governments, what possible hope is there of a representative of the Northern Territory, without a vote, endeavouring to assist in solving some of the great problems in that Territory? Two members representing the Northern Territory were members of the South Australian Parliament for forty years, but the net result of their efforts is shown by the fact that on the 30th December there were 1,182 Europeans, 1,387 Chinese, and 277 people of other races resident in the Territory. That indicates what was accomplished there in forty years. The last election in the Northern Territory for the return of representatives to the House of Assembly in South Australia took place on 2nd April, 1910. I have been endeavouring to ascertain how many electors voted upon that Occasion, but, unfortunately, I have been unable to secure complete returns of the polling. At the time the figures in my possession were published, the returns had been coming in for a week, but there were still a few outstanding. At that election, Mr. Crush secured 271 votes; Mr. Brown, 261; Mr. James, 238; Mr. Giles, 212-; and Mr. Vaughan, 251 ; a total of 1,034.
– Were not the electors required to vote for two members upon that occasion?
– Yes. The total number of votes recorded must, therefore, be divided by two. In other words, only about 517 electors recorded their votes at that election.
– Was that for the Lower or the Upper House in South Australia ?
– The election was for the return of representatives for the House of Assembly. The Northern Territory was not represented in the Legislative Council. If once a senator came here as the representative of that Territory without a vote, a clamour would at once be raised to give him a vote. He might be a Demosthenes, but if he lacked a vote, he would be able to exert practically no influence in Federal politics. Consequently he would go back to the Territory and say, “ Fellow electors, if only I had a vote in the Senate, I should be able to do something. Without it I am able to do nothing. Give me a vote and I will shake things up.” The result would undoubtedly be that he would be given a vote, notwithstanding that he would represent only some 400 or 500 electors, whereas Senator E. D. Millen is required to obtain the support of 500,000 voters to insure his election.
I was rather staggered ‘ at the idea of the Government introducing this Bill. Whilst the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) was moving its second reading I was irresistibly reminded of the story of a farm labourer in England. He was a very competent labourer, but rather erratic, and the farmer who was employing him never knew exactly what he would do next. One day the farmer, upon entering a barn, found that the labourer had hanged himself. The farmer looked at him sadly and said. “ Well, well, I wonder what he will do next.” Similarly, when I think of this
Bill having been introduced by the Government for the purpose of settling the great difficulties connected with the Northern Territory, I wonder what they will do next.
Debate (on motion by Senator Foll) adjourned.
[6.221. - Doubtless honorable senators were under the impression that by adjourning the debate upon the Bill for the parliamentary representation of the Northern Territory, they would be let off a few minutes earlier than they otherwise would be. I hope that I shall not upset any of their arrangements, but I now lay upon the table the papers relating to the Budget and move -
That the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1921, and the Budget Papers 1920-21, laid on the table, be printed.
This course is adopted to enable honorable senators to make themselves acquainted with the Estimates for the current financial year, before those Estimates come up in the form of an Appropriation Bill. Until this innovation was adopted the Senate had no opportunity of Becoming officially acquainted with the condition of the finances of the country until a day or two prior to the prorogation or the dissolution of Parliament, as the case may be. These papers are brought forward
– In redemption” of a Ministerial promise.
– Yes, a promise in connexion with which I claim some little credit. In submitting this motion, I desire, briefly, to outline the more important facts which are disclosed by the Budget papers. For the year 1919-20 the Revenue was estimated at £46,346,635, and the actual amount received was £52,782,748 - an excess of- £6,436,113. The headings under which the largest contributions were made to that substantial increase were: - Customs and Excise, £21,574.559, an excels of £3,824,559 over the estimate; Post Office, Telegraphs and Telephones, an excess of £489,972 over the estimate. The income tax yielded £2,348,000 in excess of the estimate, the total revenue thus collected being £12,848,123. The
Succession Duties were responsible for an increase of £591,000 over the estimate, and the war-time profits tax produced an excess over the estimate of £369,000, the total collected under this heading being £2,569,012. The total direct taxation collected for the year was £20,273,131, an amount which would have sent a shudder of fear through Australia in pre-war days.
The estimated expenditure for the year ended 30th June last was £49,570,203, and the actual expenditure was £50,558,383, an excess of £988,180. Of that excess £731,000 was accounted for by higher wages, the result of Arbitration Court awards, by the rise in the price of materials, the fact that invalid and old-age pensions exceeded the estimate by £247,000, and by a special allowance for the Post Offioe to enable it to carry through some much needed works, provision for which had been deleted when the original Estimates were prepared. The revenue for the year 1919-20 was £52,782,748, and the expenditure out of revenue was £50,558,383, leaving a surplus on the year’s transactions of £2,224,365. There was brought forward from the previous* year a surplus of £3,523,058, ‘so that the accumulated surplus to the 30th June last was £5,747,423. In the proposals for the current financial year, provision, is made in connexion with the immigration policy, which this Government propose to push forward with as much energy as possible, for an item of £100,000, which it fs hoped will be spent during the remainder of the year. Provision is also made for the expenditure of £150,000 to initiate the plan for carrying through the Canberra proposals. It is contemplated that the first work undertaken will be the erection of residences for the workmen who will be employed upon the main structures.
– That money will last about three years, I suppose?
– It wili be exhausted in six months.
– There is a very wide gap between Senator Fairbairn’s statement and the rather impulsive suggestion of Senator Pratten. In this, as in other cases. I imagine that the truth lies between the two extremes.
I have given the revenue and expenditure for the year 1919-20, showing that that year terminated with an ac cumulated surplus of, roughly, £5,750,000. I come now to the current financial year 1920-21. The total expenditure for the year upon which we have just entered is estimated” at £98,S64,836, as against an actual expenditure last year of £97,283,250. I propose to show, not the principal items in that expenditure, but the items which account for the increase. The estimated expenditure out of revenue for the current year is £68,872,578 - I am leaving out the loan expenditure for the time being. The actual expenditure out of revenue last year was £50,558,383, so that there is an estimated increased expenditure out of revenue this year of £18,314,195. That £18,314,195 fs accounted for by statutory increases in connexion with invalid and old-age pensions, war loan interest and sinking fund, which amounts to close upon £5,000,000, interest on Treasury bills, war pensions, and other increases which cannot be avoided. These represent a total of £7,351,000. There is another amount of a little more than £7,052,000 due for war services, which were previously charged to loan account. But the war being over, and the Government being desirous of cuttingr down the loan expenditure as much as possible, they have transferred that expenditure to the revenue account. The expenditure of the two amounts which I have just mentioned is obligatory. There are certain other sums totalling about £4,000,000, such as additional amounts required for the resumption of the training of our Citizen Forces, Air ‘Services, and increases in the Postal and other De7 partments. The expenditure of thia £4,000,000, I admit, is optional, and, if honorable senators think that it is not justified, it may be cut out. Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to S p.m. Senator E. D. MILLEN. - I have explained how the increased amount of £18,000,000 over the expenditure of last year is made up of £14,000,000 of unescapable expenditure, and another £41,000,000 of expenditure which, in the opinion of the Government, is desirable, but which it is possible to avoid or postipone should Parliament so desire.
It is proposed to raise, in revenue, during the current year, the sum of £63,364,700, as compared with an actual revenue last year of ‘£52,782,748.
That is an increase of£10,581,952. The items which will contribute the larger proportion of that increase are as follow : - Customs and Excise, estimated revenue £26,000,000, or an increase of £4,425,000 over the receipts under the corresponding heading for last year; Post Office, telegraphs and telephones are estimated to yield a revenue of £8,089,000; income tax is estimated to return£13,000,000; the wartime profits tax,£4,000,000, and miscellaneous items, nearly £3,000,000. The revenue for 1920-21 is estimated at £63,364,700, and the expenditure at £68,872,578, thus showing on the year’s transactions a deficiency of £5,507,878; but, as I have already stated, there was an accumulated surplus on the 30th June last of £5,747,423, so that taking that on to the revenue side of the ledger, there will be an estimated surplus on the 30th June, 1921, of £239,545. To mention some items of revenue which the Government anticipate receiving, it is proposed to raise £3,766,000 from new sources: Of this, it is proposed to obtain £1,933,000 additional from the Customs and Excise duties on beer, spirits, tobacco, and cigars, and£1,233,000 by increases in the postal, telegraphic and telephonic rates.
– Is the increase in Customs and Excise an estimate, or is it in connexion with the proposed new duties ?
– Those are increased duties, and the figures are necessarily an estimate. With regard to the telephone rate increases, it is proposed to make certain exemptions in favour of country districts.
– Hear, hear! and the Government should make an exemption in Sydney, too, until they give us the service.
– I have no doubt that the rural area of Sydney will be well looked after while the honorable senator is here. It is proposed also to raise £600,000 by an addition of 5 per cent. to the income tax.
– Is that on everybody, rich and poor alike ?
– I should like to know for which class Senator Thomas is speaking now.
– Is that all the additional taxation proposed ?
– That is all that is contained in the projects of the
Treasurer, as outlined in another place to-day.
I have made no pretence to do more than present the few bold headlines which mark this Budget, but it seemed to me that if there was one occasion on which Parliament should endeavour to get away from its old practices, it was the Budget. Senator Thomas has indicated the lines which reform ought to follow. It would be a great convenience to honorable senators and everybody else if an arrangement could be made by which the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook), who has to my knowledge put some weeks into the preparation of the Budget, was able to address the members, not merely of one House, but of both Houses. I have not ventured to do more than outline the Budget, because honorable senators have even now in their possession printed copies of the Treasurer’s speech covering the whole of the matters that he touched on, and I should be wasting the time of the Senate, as well as my own, if I made a more ambitious effort to place before honorable senators the state of the country’s finances. I have put forward the main matters for consideration, and remind honorable senators that they will have an opportunity, as I shall have later on, if the occasion arises, of discussing the finances at any length they like, and that opportunities will be afforded to the Government to offer such additional information as any honorable senator may desire. ‘
Debate (on motion by Senator Pearce) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator E. D. Millen) read a first time.
Debate resumed (vide page 4615).
.- Generally speaking, I indorse Senator Keating’s remarks. I should be one of the last to do anything in this Parliament or out of it to deprive any section of the people of Australia of the right to exercise the franchise, but I do not think that the Government, in bringing in a Bill to enable a representative of the Northern Territory to sit in the Senate, are doing anything that will benefit the Territory to any extent. It is hardly the duty of the Senate to deal with small domestic matters such as need attention in the Territory. What is needed there is some system, such as Senator Keating suggested, of home rule, giving a form of government on the spot to deal with local matters. If the Territory is to be developed, it will be necessary, for some time to come, to put far more money into it than is likely to be got out of it. It is useless, while the Territory is in its present state of development, to think that we are going to make it a paying concern right away. We cannot do it. We have not the people there, and the Territory is not sufficiently developed. Senator Duncan’s amendment commends itself to me, in view of the fact that it offers the only possible alternative for giving these people representation. For that reason I shall support it. It would give the people of the Northern Territory the exercise of the franchise, to which they are entitled, by allowing them to vote for the Senate candidates for South Australia. Generally speaking, I cannot understand why the Government have brought down a Bill of this description, providing for the representation of a small section of people in the Northern Territory in a Chamber such as the Senate is supposed to be. We are essentially a House to review legislation. We are a States House, and if matters directly concerning the Home and Territories Department, which administers the Northern Territory, are to be brought under the notice of the Minister in charge of that Department, surely the Government should have placed the representative of the Territory in the Chamber in which that Minister sits.
– But that portfolio may change from one House to the other.
– That does not apply to the Treasurer, who is responsible for the expenditure, although, of course, we cannot foretell the future. Senator Russell, in his second-reading speech, suggested that if representation were given to the Territory, a greater inducement was likely to be held out to people to in vest money there. I fail to see how to give the Territory a representative in this Parliament will induce people to invest money there any more than if the Territory had no representation.
– I do not think I made such a statement.
– The honorable senator did not make it directly, but he argued that if these people had representation in the Senate, the amount of industrial unrest in the Territory was likely to decrease, and that, therefore, the chances were that the Territory would be considered more favorably by investors of capital. The firm of Vestey Brothers has sunk far more money in the Northern Territory than it is ever likely to get out of it.
– Yes. The company has had no encouragement from any Government or section of the people of Australia. It has been made, more tor less, an ‘ ‘ Aunt Sally ‘ ‘ for everybody in the country to gibe at on every possible occasion. Since I have been in this Chamber, I have never heard any honorable senator stand up, when Northern Territory matters have been under discussion, and say one word in favour of these people who have invested so much money there, and have tried to open up the Territory.
– Vesteys are national benefactors.
– That is so.
– Nor has anybody condemned thom.
– I have heard Vestey Brothers strongly condemned, but some honorable senators chiefly responsible for that condemnation have, in the meantime, been called upon to face their masters, and are no longer here. If honorable senators will turn up some of the debates that have taken place in this chamber on the Northern Territory, they will see how Vestey Brothers have been condemned.
– Their greatest difficulty was to secure refrigerated space. We did not control any ship possessing refrigerated space during the currency of the war. They were all controlled by Great Britain.
– That was one of the difficulties; but I venture to say that the impossibility of securing refrigerated space was not the principal reason for which Vestey Brothers shut down their works. As a matter of fact, the company has had no encouragement from the Government, or from any section of the community. In view of the fact that there is evidence to show that Vestey Brothers in the Northern Territory have been the strongest opponent of the American Meat Trust, they should have been encouraged to carry on their operations.
With our experience of the treatment accorded to Vestey Brothers, we may assume that giving 2,000 people in the Northern Territory a representative in the Senate is not likely to bring about a more satisfactory state of affairs. What is required is the adoption of an entirely different policy for the development of the Territory. If a gentleman is elected to represent the Territory in the Senate, he must, as do honorable members from distant States, spend practically the whole of his time in Melbourne. It will not be possible for him to keep in touch with the local affairs of the Territory any more than it is possible for any member of the Senate at the present time to do so. We know that Senator Newland has taken a very great interest in the Northern Territory, and I commend him for it. On many occasions he has played practically a lone hand in advocating the opening up of the Territory. I have heard him on a number of occasions dealing with the subject, and I read speeches
On it made by him prior to my entering this Chamber. He has on many occasions urged upon the Government the necessity for a change in the policy adopted for its development. Honorable senators will remember that on one occasion he moved for the disallowance of a certain Ordinance passed in the Northern Territory. I wish now that I had supported him in the. division that took place on his motion. The vote I gave on that motion is practically the only vote I have recorded in this Chamber which I regret. If I had then supported Senator Newland, the Ordinance to which he objected would have been disallowed, and the disgraceful state of affairs which existed in the Northern Territory a few months ago would have been avoided.
– We who supported Senator Newland on that occasion can now say unctuously, “ We told you so.”
– Senator Pratten is in that fortunate position. I am not, but I am quite prepared to take my gruel. The Government propose to give the people of the Northern Territory a vote to elect a member of the Senate, who will come here and talk, not merely upon Northern Territory matters, but upon everything under the sun, and then walk off without the responsibility of casting a vote for the opinions to which he has given expression.
– That can be rectified by an amendment of the Bill in Committee giving the representative of the Northern Territory a vote.
– I do not think that such an amendment would be- accepted by the Government. I make bold to say that the Government are not too keen on passing this measure, and I hope the amendment moved by Senator Duncan will be carried.
Senator J. F. GUTHRIE (Victoria) T8. 20]. - I did not intend to speak on this Bill, but as one who has been fairly largely interested in the Northern Territory all my life, I may be allowed to say a few words, especially with regard to Vestey Brothers. I look upon Vestey Brothers as national benefactors to Australia. Their company is a purely British concern, and they can do what no one else can do for the Northern Territory. Only a capitalist can invest in the Northern Territory with any hope of success. That has been amply proved by its history. Vestey Brothers invested £1.000,000 in buildings alone. From what I know of the very uphill fight they have made in the Territory I think I may say that they have not had that sympathetic support from the Federal Government which they might have had. I doubt whether the Government have been able to adequately protect them against the Bolshevik element in Darwin.
– They are the only British company that has set itself up against the American Meat Trust.
– They are the only British concern to-day that is fighting the American Meat Trust, and, therefore, from a national stand-point alone they are entitled to the greatest consideration from the Parliament of Australia. I understand that it is very doubtful, indeed, that Vestey Brothers will re-open their works at Darwin. I believe they had some grievance against the Federal Government for the nonfulfilment of a promise in connexion with the building of a wharf.
– The wharf at Darwin is a disgrace.
– It is a disgrace. Vestey Brothers have been the largest employers of labour in the Northern Territory. Theirs is the one great industry established there, and as a British firm they are entitled to the most favorable treatment that the Government of Australia can give them.
I do not think that there is much to be hoped for from the proposal of the Government to give the Northern Territory partial representation in this Chamber by a senator elected by about 3,000 people, the bulk of whom it is somewhat difficult to describe.
– They are undisciplined, and doubtful in many respects. The people who are reallv working honestly to develop the Northern Territory represent but a very small minority of the total population, and the proposed senator would be elected bv the doubtful element and floating population of Darwin, and not by the people who are really developing the Territory. There are people there who have been fighting against great odds, difficulties, and hardships, such as lack of transport facilities, telegraphic communication, no roads, few Government bores, practically no ports, no railways, no police, and only one doctor. I know the history of the Territory pretty intimately, and the terrible uphill fight which the pioneers have had there, though I admit they have been able to secure large tracts of country at a very low rental. The great bulk of the country is suitable only for cattle, and it requires a great deal of capital for any man to take up land there and carry on successfully. I know many who have put £30,000 or £40,000 into’ the Territory, and later have forfeited their leases and gone out of it without a penny. It will not make things anv better to have a senator elected by the Bolshevik element of Port Darwin coming here to voice the grievances of that section of the community and not of those who are really developing the Territory.
I do not believe that votes could be collected in the Northern Territory. It has been said that votes have been taken on public questions there, but I am able to say for one place, of which I am managing director, that no one there has ever recorded a vote. The nearest polling booth is 500 miles away, and the only way to get to it would be by aeroplane. No such means of transit was known there until Sir Ross Smith came through and landed at our place and stayed the night, and recently Parer and Mcintosh came that way. There are thousands of miles in the Northern Territory which cannot be crossed. In the circumstances, I maintain that the proposed senator for the Northern Territory would be elected by the votes, not of the people who are fighting against great hardships to develop it, but by those of extremists who may happen to have been in Port Darwin sufficiently long to have their names on the roll. I shall support Senator Duncan’s _ amendment. I am not fully armed to-night to speak on behalf of Vestey Brothers, but I do think that they have not been received with the open arms and encouragement which they were entitled to look for from the Government of Australia.
.- Coming as I do from the most southern State of the Commonwealth, I have been greatly interested in the debate, and have listened with pleasure to the information conveyed by honorable senators qualified to speak on this important Bill. I very much regret that I cannot congratulate the Government on the measure they have submitted. It appears to me that it cannot be considered the- outcome of the consideration which so important a question should have received at the hands of the Government. To suggest that the appointment of a senator to represent the Northern Territory will allay the discontent which we are given to understand exists there, and be a panacea for many other evils in the Territory, shows that this measure has not received the consideration which the importance of the question warranted.
The problem of the Northern Territory is one of the most difficult which Commonwealth legislators have to face. The area of the country is very large, and the local conditions difficult to cope with. The fact that the extensive coastline is unpeopled is a menace to the Commonwealth which is likely to be intensified until it is peopled. In view of the fact that South Australia spent a very large sum of money in an endeavour to develop the Northern Territory, and that that expenditure has been supplemented in recent years by the Federal Government, it is very necessary that we should get down to some sound basis for the purpose of evolving a scheme that will result in a great increase in the population, at all events in proximity to the coast-line. I was much interested by the details given by Senator Newland concerning the possibilities of the Northern Territory. From what I can gather there are vast areas of land which, if properly utilized, can become very productive. If some scheme can be devised for the proper development of these areas, we should be able to insure the employment of a f airly large population, not only for the development of the Territory, but also to help the finances.
Last year the deficit in Northern Territory accounts was more than £500,000. This deficit is growing from year to year. In 1918 it was £389,339; but this year the total expenditure is in the neighbourhood of £722,000, of which sum £200,000 represents the amount set aside for the redemption of portion of the debt, so that the actual deficit on the year’s operations is about £500,000.
– To be made up by that extra 5 per cent. on income taxation throughout the Commonwealth.
– The time has come when we should make a determined effort to decrease the deficit. Senator Newland is right when he says that the burden ought not to be placed upon the people who are already settled there, because they are not responsible for it.
-We ought to develop the Territory, not bleed it. (Senator PAYNE.- Exactly. We want some practical scheme to accomplish that end.
– I have heard that remark so often that it reminds me of the talk about scientific Protection.
– The honorable senator cannot hear it too often. The liability is undoubtedly a heavy one; but we should not . be unduly pessimistic. On the contrary, we should do what we can to convert it into an asset. Perhaps this will not be done in our time; but, nevertheless, it is our duty to do what we can to lighten the burden upon those who may follow us. If we shirk our duty in this respect, we are not fit to occupy our positions in the National Parliament.
– We have had ten years of trying, yon know.
– I am aware of that. The Minister (Senator Russell) said that if honorable senators did not approve the Bill in its present form, they might make suggestions in order better to meet the needs of the Northern Territory. I take it, however, that it is the duty of the Government, and not individual senators, to bring forward a scheme for approval.
– When the Government does bring forward a proposal you do not seem very enthusiastic about it.
– It would be extremely hard for anybody tobecome enthusiastic about a measure like this. If the Minister is enthusiastic, then all I can say is, he must be a marvel. We have been told that the discontent that has been rife in Port Darwin for so long will disappear after the appointment of a senator, who, however, will have no vote, to voice their opinions in this Chamber.. I think the Minister was drawing the long bow when he ventured that opinion. Senator Duncan’s amendment seeks to give the electors in the Northern Territory the right to vote for South Australian senators to represent them. There have been other suggestions, including one for the establishment of local government, with the idea of solving the problems of the Territory.
– Local government would ruin it altogether.
– I do not think so. I am an advocate of the system of. local government, and, indeed, of any effort to induce the people of the Northern Territory, or those who are within a reasonable distance of the principal centres, having some such system.
– Some parts of the Northern Territory are as far from Darwin as we are.
– That is so, I know.
– Everything would depend upon the head-quarters of the local governing body.
– The honorable senator is quite right. Senator Duncan’s amendment will not quite meet the case as presented by the Minister, who asks for approval of the Bill in order that a senator may be appointed as speedily as possible, so that his first term would end in. June, 1923.
– To synchronize with the next general election, I take it.
– Yes, but the appointment will be made as soon as the machinery can be put into operation. That is the object of the Bill. The Minister’s purpose might be met, I think, if an arrangement could be made for a poll to be taken now of the residents in the Northern Territory as to which member of the Senate should voice their needs. They might choose the honorable senator, who has given us so much information today.
– Would you suggest that he be paid another £1,000 a year?
– No. The honorable senator does not propose that the South Australian senators who, under his scheme, -would be appointed to represent the Northern Territory should get an additional salary.
– They would deserve it, though.
– I think the suggestion I have made offers one way out of the difficulty. Another way would be for the electors of the Northern Territory to appoint a delegate to visit the Seat of Government, say, once a year, and place before Ministers and Parliament the particular needs of the Territory. -
– The “delegate would want to start the year before. It would take him about a year to get here.
– The whole scheme is futile, if it is not possible for the Northern Territory representative to get back from time to time in order to keep in. touch with the needs of the people there.
It would be useless for me to speak at any greater length on this question. I am going to oppose the Bill, because I feel it will not be effective, or help the Territory in any way whatever, and I suggest that if it be defeated the Minister should confer with his colleagues with a view to preparing some scheme to do something to realize on the assets that are there in order to make them productive, and to reduce the annual deficit. I trust the Bill will not be accepted, because it proposes to give a very small section of the community, before they have proved themselves worthy of it, more representation in the Senate than the larger States enjoy.
– I cannot say that I am at all encouraged by the reception that the Bill has received, but I must express my surprise at the tone of the debate. I have listened for the greater part of the day to the speeches that have been made, and I have heard honorable senators complain that the Bill will not solve the problems of the Northern Territory. It was not introduced with that idea at all. No one suggested that it would solve those problems.
– You read the secondreading speech of the Minister who introduced it.
– It is not intended that the Bill shall prove a solution of those natural and other difficulties with which the Northern Territory is confronted.
– I did not suggest that.
– That is the impression the honorable senator conveyed. Almost his last words were an expression of the hope that something might be done to make the assets of the Northern Territory productive and thus to reduce the annual deficit. The Bill does not pretend to do that. Every one will agree that we want for the Northern Territory a very much stronger policy than we can pretend to have had in the past. Senator J. F. Guthrie referred to the many ills which the people are suffering from in the Territory. And again I say that the Bill does not deal with them. All that the Bill pretends to do is to give to the men who are asking for it some opportunity of making their voices heard in the National Legislature. That is the simple purpose of the measure, and I need not deal with it at any great length. If I may judge from the speeches that have been made, honorable senators approve of the principle contained in the amendment moved by Senator Duncan. But Senator Duncan does not say that the people of the Northern Territory are not entitled to representation. As a matter of fact, he says that they are, and that is what this Bill says. The measure recognises that democratic principle.
– But you are proposing to give the people representation in the wrong Chamber.
– That may be so. It is admitted that they should have some representation, and therefore it cannot be said that this is such an extraordinarily freak measure as some honorable senators have tried to show it to be. The unanimous opinion of the Senate, I take it, is that the principle is sound, and, in view of this fact, I repeat that I am surprised that so many honorable senators should have attacked the Bill as if we were attempting to do the wrong thing. The most that can be said against it, judging by the speeches delivered to-day, is that it seeks to do the right thing, but, in the opinion of some honorable senators, in the wrong way. It is not, therefore, a matter of principle upon which we are differing. It is a matter of detail. The Government have submitted a method, following the United States precedent, of giving undeveloped Territories representation in the Senate.
– Not in the Senate; in the House of Representatives. That is the United States principle.
– The honorable senator is quite right. In the United States the undeveloped Territories have the privilege of representation out of all proportion to their numbers in order that their views may be directly voiced in one branch of the Legislature.
– As delegates in the Lower House.
– We may leave the particular branch of the Legislature alone for the moment; the principle is the same, namely, to give the people in these embryonic communities some opportunity of having their local needs stated by some representative from their own district. Now, this Bill attempts to do that. Apparently, the Government are not in touch with the opinion of honorable senators as to the particular branch of the Legislature in which the proposed representative of the Northern Territory should have his seat, but, in view of the fact that the Senate has admitted the desirability of giving effect to the principle, I cannot see that the Bill is wrong in principle. Of course, I am forced to the conclusion that the majority of the Senate prefers the method suggested by Senator Duncan. That is not the opinion of the Government. At all events, it is not the opinion which the Government entertained, and if my anticipations are correct, that the amendment is likely to be carried, the Government will be compelled to reconsider the position in the light of the opinion expressed by this Chamber. I ask honorable senators to consider this aspect of the case. If they agree with the purpose of the Bill, cannot they just as effectively accomplish their object of giving representation to the Northern Territory by passing the second reading, without adopting the amendment at this juncture, and then, when the Bill is in Committee, amending it in such a way as will enable it to go to another branch of the Legislature?
– Will the Government accept the principle embodied in Senator Duncan’s amendment?
– As a member of the Government, I cannot be expected to accept an amendment in that form, as the carrying of it would be tantamount to defeating the second reading.
– Why not withdraw the Bill?
– If I were to withdraw the Bill, I would sooner do so after I have seen how the votes are recorded. I urge the Senate to pass the second reading of the Bill, and to give effect to its wishes when it is in Committee.
SenatorPratten. - We would be committing ourselves.
– The Senate has already expressed itself in favour of giving representation to the people of the Northern Territory.
– Not in the form embodied in the Bill.
– But the form can be altered when it is in Committee.
– If it will go through the second reading, we commit ourselves to the principle of the Bill.
– The prin ciple of the Bill is representation for the Northern Territory.
– We are in favour of representation, but not in the form embodied in the Bill.
– We want the people of the Northern Territory to vote with South Australia.
– If that is so, by voting for the second reading of the Bill, honorable senators will affirm the desirability of giving these people representation; and, having done that, they can say in what way they shall be represented. Senator Bakhap. - That principle is also affirmed by those who are supporting the amendment.
– The honorable senator must realize that if the amendment is carried it nullifies the whole Bill.
– It gives them a vote.
– Not at all. It destroys the Bill.
– But the Government could introduce another measure.
– Of course we could.
– But supposing South Australia should object to the Northern Territory being attached?
– It is not at all clear if the Northern Territory can be attached to South Australia; and I do not assume for a moment that Senator Duncan, and those who are supporting him, has not a bona fide belief that representation can be given in this way. Coming back to bedrock, and first principles, the carrying of the second reading is an affirmation of the principle of representation. There is, in my opinion, a more workable way of dealing with the proposal, and that is by adopting the second reading, and then, when the measure is in Committee, amending it on the lines indicated.
.- If there is any honorable senator in this Chamber who can make a good case out of a bad one, it is the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen). I do not think that honorable senators are likely to bo inveigled into recording a vote for the second reading in the hope of having it amended in Committee. I desire to stress a very special feature of the measure. It must be remembered, particularly by those honorable senators representing the smaller States, that the fact that there is equal representation of all States in this Chamber is the foundation upon which Federation was established. I can quite understand honorable senators representing larger States, such as New South Wales or Victoria, being not at all reluctant to do anything which might weaken the position in which we stand today. I strongly advise honorable senators, particularly those representing the smaller States, to keep unaltered the Constitution as it is to-day. To introduce new senators into this Chamber, other than as representatives of a new State, would be the thin end of the wedge to alter the present constitution of the Chamber. That appears to be the most important phase of the question.
– It would be a dangerous precedent.
– Undoubtedly. If the Northern Territory could be represented in the popular Chamber of this Parliament, and that representation meant the creation of a new State, let them send their six senators to this Chamber, as every other State is doing. I trust that honorable senators will adhere to their decision, and reject the Billin toto, as it is useless endeavouring to amend it as suggested by Senator Duncan. A new Bill must be introduced; and it is better to reject it on the second reading, to give the Government an opportunity of reconsidering the position, and devising other means of giving equitable representation, without affecting the Constitution under which we are working.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Duncan’s amendment) be left out - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
– The question now is, “ That the motion, as amended, be agreed to.”
– Do I understand that we are now about to vote upon an amendment of the motion for the second reading of the Bill?
– No. The motion for the second reading of the Bill has been disposed of, and the Bill itself will disappear from the notice-paper. The voting of the Senate now will practically be on a substantive motion. If this motion be carried, it will be recorded in the’ Journals as an expression of opinion by the Senate. That is the only effect it will have.
– May I ask whether you, sir, stated just now that the Bill had disappeared from the businesspaper ?
– Undoubtedly. The Bill has been entirely superseded by the amendment. The Senate has deleted the words affirming that the Bill shall be read a second time, and has substituted for them an expression of opinion, which will go upon the records of this Chamber.
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 10th September, vide page 4421) :
Clause 3 -
After section 6 of the principal Act the following section is inserted: - “ 6a. No person or organization bound by an award of the Court or entitled to the benefit of an award of the Court shall do anything in the nature of a lockout or strike, or continue any lockout or strike.
Penalty: One thousand pounds.”
Upon which Senator Elliott had moved -
That after proposed new section 6a the following new section be inserted: - “ 6b. The Court may, on the application of any party to an award, make an order in the nature of a mandamus or injunction to compel compliance with the award, or to restrain its breach, under pain of fine not exceeding One hundred pounds or imprisonment not exceeding three months, and no person to whom such an order applies shall, after written notice of the order, be guilty of any contravention of the award by act or omission. In this section the term ‘ ‘ award ‘ includes order.’ “
.- Since I submitted this amendment I have been looking very carefully into the matter, and I find that the principal Act already contains a provision which covers the ground that would be traversed by my proposal. I therefore ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
– Which is the section of the principal Act which covers the honorable senator’s amendment?
– Section 48.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 4 to 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 verbally amended; clause, as amended agreed to.
Clauses 10 to 20 agreed to.
.- I move-
That the following new clause be inserted: - “ 20a. After section 58a of the principal Act the following section is inserted: - 58b. The rules of an organization registered under this Act, and the officials of such organization, shall not, during the currency of an award in the industry concerned, prevent or impede any members of such organization from entering into written agreements in accordance with such award at any time prior to the commencement of service.’ “
I bring forward this amendment in the interests of peace in the pastoral and sugar industries. In order that honorable senators may understand my object, I should like to explain the position. Upon nearly all stations the present practice is for the shearers to inquire at the end of the shearing whether they are likely to be re-employed next year. If they are told that they are, just before the next shearing season opens they write to the station manager, who sends them along an agreement, which they sign and return to him, retaining a copy for themselves. But, in the old days, before shearing started, the practice was for a number of men to come along and camp on the station property, and, at a . certain fixed time, the roll was called. The men assembled in a body, and the names of those who were to be employed were read out. Then they signed it, and there was great turmoil among those who were not going to get a job. They often came hundreds of miles looking for work, and when they were disappointed, they gave a great deal of trouble. It was argued in another place that this amendment would do away with collective bargaining. That was said by some of the men who represent the Australian Workers Union, an organization with which the pastoralists have been getting on remarkably well of late. We had an agreement with them until the end of this year, but when an award was given in Queensland granting them more money and shorter hours, the pastoralists recognised that it was only fair, as the cost of living had increased so much, to adopt the Queensland scale. That has been done by all the pastoralists’ organizations of Riverina, Victoria, South Australia, and West Darling. The New South Wales graziers did not adopt it until the other day, but they have practically done so now. We have got on exceedingly well with the Australian Workers Union. They are a union that does not believe in direct action. They argued that it was very hard on them that their men in Queensland were paid considerably higher rates, and the pastoralists in the various States saw the justice of their argument and gave way. An agreement was made on those lines to continue until the end of the year, when it comes before the Arbitration Court again. The shearers some time ago passed a rule that none of their members were to be allowed to sign the agreements before roll-call, but in every case, I think, they have suspended that rule. The pastoralists say that it only leads to turmoil,” rowdyism, and larrikinism, and is a great detriment to shearers and sugar-workers who have to travel vast distances, and then, possibly, not get a job. They assemble at the station or in the cane field and then have to wait until roll-call, when the whole of them have to sign on.
– Very often their fares have to be advanced.
– Yes, that sometimes happens. The question is whether this amendment does away with collective bargaining. We all concede collective bargaining, but my contention, and I think it is a just one, is that the collective bargaining nowadays is all done in the Courts. The pastoralists and the Australian Workers Union representatives appear before the Court and the Court holds the scales between them and makes its award. If that collective bargaining is transferred from the Court to the shearing sheds and the cane fields, we shall get again the interminable discussions between the employers in these industries on the one side and the employees on the other, leading to all kinds of abuses. From their point of view, the men like to know, when they travel hundreds of miles to a station or a sugar estate, that they are certain to find a job, and that is a perfectly reasonable demand. The wages .and hours we are in entire agreement with. The price of rations is fixed, and the pastoralist has to put up in a conspicuous place what he is going to charge for them. He is not allowed to charge more than 10 per cent, over what they cost him. He must produce his invoices to the shearers’ representatives. There is no cause for dispute there. Hut accommodation has to be inspected and passed by the police, who visit every wool shed. I understand that they visit all the accommodation for the cane-cutters on the sugar estates every year before the working season begins. They have to decide whether the accommodation is fit and proper for the men to occupy. The only remaining, point is the price of meat. That is fixed by the Court at not more than the price of the carcass meat in the nearest township. This year it was very high, and the Shearers Union officials made representations to that effect to the pastoralists. An agreement has now been made to charge 5d. per lb. for mutton and beef in Victoria, 4d. in Riverina, and 3d. in West Darling and Queensland. Once that agreement was made, every single thing that could possibly ‘ arise between the employers and the employed was settled by collective bargaining before the Court. I cannot, therefore, see why any rule is necessary ito give the men collective bargaining when they arrive at the station or the sugar plantation. I cannot see why, in the cause of peace, we cannot have the collective bargaining done before the Court, as has been the case in the past. There is no need to reopen the whole question at roll-call time.
– Did the honorable senator read the debate on a similar proposition in another place? Was it not withdrawn there?
– I read the debate. The amendment was not withdrawn, but was defeated, entirely on the ground that it did away with collective bargaining. That objection was raised by Mr. Cunningham, who is an Australian Workers Union man. Collective bargaining is not now done in the woolshed or on the cane-field.
– It is not done between individual employers and employees ?
– No. It is done between the Shearers Union and the Employers Union in the Court. There is not a single point raised in another place that I have not dealt with.
– Might not many minor matters arise at various times which are not covered by an award, and which could be made the subject of agreement between individuals and the employer ?
– I do not think that is possible.
– You might make trouble between the organization and the employers because of an agreement made with individual members, if your amendment is carried.
– An agreement made between individual members on each side must be strictly on the lines laid down by the Arbitration Court. The honorable senator cannot mention a single point Which is not settled in the Court.
– It would be an offence on the part of the employer if the agreement were not in the terms of the award.
– Absolutely, and the Australian Workers Union would immediately have him brought before the Court and fined. If honorable senators can mention any point which it is pos- ,sible to bring up that has not already been settled by the Arbitration Court, I will withdraw the amendment; but nothing of the sort was mentioned in another place. The price of meat was mentioned but that is fixed until the end of the year between the two organizations, and then it has to come before the Court again.
– The effect would be to give the employer a wider choice in selecting his men, because he could make agreements for periods ahead?
– Yes. Tho same men come up year after year, and know that the job is assured to them. They are put to considerable expense in travelling, but they know they will be all right when they get there.
– I shall not discuss the merits or demerits of Senator Fairbairn’s proposal, although it may have many virtues; but I draw attention to paragraph d of clause 2, which includes, in the definition of “ strike,” “ the total or partial refusal of the employees, acting in combination, to accept work if the refusal is unreasonable”. I believe that would cover the practices mentioned by Senator Fairbairn as a form of strike, because it is suggested that the men meet in groups, and hold what are practically semi-strike meetings. I take it that that would be dealt with under section 6, by which regard may be had, not so much to the actual words or actions, as to the spirit of the thing. If there is a spirit of combination for the purpose of preventing the men from going to work, it undoubtedly constitutes a strike, and those concerned, and the organization, incur a penalty, of £1,000.
– Do not the men. observe the award?
– It is alleged that instead of entering into an agreement as they used to, they now meet in places outside the town, and stipulate for conditions over and above the award of the Court.
– Why encourage that?
– We do not desire to encourage it. Apart from the merits or demerits of .Senator Fairbairn’s amendment, I have received the following opinion from Sir Robert Garran, the SolicitorGeneral, showing that we have not the power under the Constitution to pass it into law: -
The amendment seeks to forbid an organization, during the currency of an award, from enforcing any rule preventing members from entering into written .agreements in advance. The Commonwealth power is confined to conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of certain disputes. Incidentally to this power, the Parliament can provide for the establishment and recognition of organizations of employers and employees (Jumbunna case, G C.L.R. 398). And it can make statutory provision as to their rules, &c, in relation to matters which concern their effectiveness as instruments for conciliation and arbitration. But it cannot make laws for the regulation of labour conditions, otherwise than by means of conciliation and arbitration. It appears to me that the purport of this amendment is* not incidental to conciliation and arbitration, but is in the nature of an industrial regulation.
I have looked into the question sympathetically, but feel bound to point out these facts.
– We have the opinion of the Chief Justice, given to us when he was in private practice, against that interpretation of the law.
– I believe Mr. Adrian Knox did advise the pastoralists that he believed there was a power, but we have to take the best advice we can get from the Solicitor-General’s Department. Although all men at times make mistakes, Sir Robert Garran has been very reliable. Pie has never given this Chamber any advice which was not always accepted with full confidence. Of course, no one can ultimately determine the question until the High Court is appealed to.
– The advice has not always come out in the wash.
– There is a judgment superior to the opinion of any individual, and that is a decision of the High Court, but none of us can say what the decision of the High Court on this question may be. The Government have no desire to insert in the Bill provisions the constitutionality of which is extremely doubtful. There are many provisions in this Bill which may lead to appeals to the High Court, and we ought not to add to the number. On the best advice I can get I ask Senator Fairbairn not to press his amendment, not because I am against the principle of it, but because it is covered by a provision already in the Bill in part qf clause 2 providing for the insertion after the word “employers “ in section 4 of the principal Act of the words “ and the total or partial refusal of employees acting in combination to accept work, if the refusal is unreasonable : “ If employees adopt as a method of striking a refusal to sign an agreement, which is equivalent to an award of the Court, it will be obvious that they will act with a purpose, and that purpose will be to prevent the award of the Court being brought into operation. In a recent case it was unmistakable that what the employees desired was better conditions in excess of the award of the Court. If employees refuse to sign an agreement they will, under the provision to which I have referred, be liable to a charge of combining for the purpose of a strike.
– If they will not sign the agreement there can be no strike.
– I am pointing out to the honorable senator that the very act of refusing to sign an agreement, which is equivalent to an award of the Court, will indicate a combination not to do so, and those who refuse to sign such an agreement will be liable under the provision to which I have referred. I ask honorable senators to let the clause pass as it stands, since I am advised that the amendment is not in accordance with the Constitution.
– I do no feel myself competent to express any opinion on- the constitutional aspect of the amendment proposed by Senator Fairbairn, but if it is possible to include such a provision in the Bill I am satisfied that it will be found to be of great advantage, not only to employers, but to employees. If the amendment is agreed to an employee can rest assured before he leaves his home that there will be remunerative employment guaranteed to him, whereas if the amendment is not accepted it is quite possible that a man after travelling a long distance, in expectation and under a promise of employ- ment, will find himself prevented by a class of men, known as strike promoters, from accepting that employment at very great loss to himself, as well as to the employer. I am confident that the insertion of such a provision in the Bill would have a very important bearing upon the industrial position in connexion, especially, with shearing and with harvesting operations in the sugar districts. The amendment is one which should commend itself to honorable senators.
Question - That the proposed new clause be agreed to (Senator Fairbairn’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Section 48 of the principal Act is amended - (a) by inserting after the word “breach” the words “ or to enjoin any organization or person from committing or continuing any contravention of this Act or of the award”; and (b) by inserting after the words “of any contravention of,” the words “ the Act or.”
. -I wish to propose an amendment of an earlier part of section 48 of the principal Act than that dealt with in clause 21. It is a small amendment, but its effect, if adopted, would, I think, be very farreaching. Section 48, referring to the Arbitration Court, provides that-
The Court may, on the application of any party to an award, make an order, in the nature of a mandamus or injunction to compel compliance with the award or to restrain its breach under pain of fine or imprisonment, and no person to whom such order applies shall, after written notice of the order, be guilty of any contravention of the award by act or omission. In this section the term “ award “ includes “ order.”
That section was passed in the belief that it was constitutional. Senator Elliott notified an amendment in an earlier part of the Bill now under consideration, which he finds was substantially word for word the same as section 48 of the principal Act. I intend to propose the omission of the word “ Court “ in section 48 with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ High Court or any Justice thereof.” When section 48 was passed we were under the impression that the Arbitration Court would have the power of enforcing its awards by mandamus or injunction, but a decision of the High Court determined that the Arbitration Court is not a Court in the strict constitutional sense of the term, as is the High Court. According to that decision, the Arbitration Court, as constituted by this Parliament, is a tribunal established in the exercise of our legislative power under section 51 of the Constitution, and the paragraph of that section which gives this Parliament the power to legislate with regard to conciliation and arbitration in relation to industrial disputes. “We have erected a tribunal dealing with conciliation and arbitration, and for the purpose of convenience have called it an Arbitration Court. But in the sense that the Court we have constituted, such as the High Court and Courts we have invested with Federal jurisdiction under sections 71 and 72 of the Constitution are Courts, the Arbitration Court or tribunal, established under a totally different provision of the Constitution, is not a Court. In the case of the Waterside Workers Federation versus Alexander, reported in 25 Commonwealth Law Reports, page 434. and the report of which extends from page 434 to page 490, the High Court pronounced a decision which I have summarized on this page. The High Court was asked specifically three questions, all of which were resolved by a consideration of sections 71 and 72 of the Constitution. Section 71 says, in effect, that the judicial power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in. a High Court consisting of at least three Judges, and such other Courts as the Parliament chooses to invest with jurisdiction, and we have invested State Courts with Federal jurisdiction for certain purposes. Section 72 provides that the Justices of the High Court and the other Courts created by the Parliament are to be appointed by the GovernorGeneral in Council, to hold office during good behaviour, and to receive certain remuneration. It was because, amongst other things, the President of the Arbitration Court was appointed for only seven years that it was held that the Arbitration Court is not a Court in the strict sense of the term as it is used in the Constitution. The first question submitted to the High Court in the case to which I have referred was : Is the constitution of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration beyond the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament (a) as to its arbitral provisions? The final decision of the High Court on that question was “ No, as to ite arbitral provisions.” This decision was given by Chief Justice Griffith, Mr. Justice Isaacs, Mr. Justice .Rich, Mr. Justice Higgins - who held that parts of the Act that were severable were valid and other parts invalid - Mr. Justice Powers, and Mr. Justice Duffy. Six of the Justices of the High Court held that the Arbitration Court was validly constituted as to its arbitral functions. Mr. Justice Barton dissented, holding that it was beyond the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament. Then the question was repeated as to its enforcing functions. This is the important matter. The final decision of the Court was “ Yes “ - that is, that the constitution of an arbitration tribunal with the power of enforcing its awards was beyond the powers of this Parliament. The Justices who held this view were Mr. Justices Barton, Isaacs, Rich, and Powers. Chief Justice Griffith dissented from that decision, and so did Mr. Justice Duffy. Mr. Justice Higgins pointed out that parts of the Act severably were valid and parts severably invalid.
Question No. 2 was : “ Is an award invalid because of the appointment of the President for a term of seven years?” The final answer was “ No,” the Judges who held this view being Chief Justice Griffith, and Justices Isaacs, Rich, Duffy, Higgins, and Powers. Mr. Justice Barton again dissented, holding that the award was a nullity because the President was appointed for seven years.
The third question, and this comes right to the point, was : “ Is an award enforceable by the Arbitration Court?” To that the answer of the High Court was “ No,” the Justices who so decided being Mr. Justices Barton, Isaacs, Rich, Hig- gins and Powers. Chief Justice Griffith and Justice Duffy held that the award, was enforceable by the Arbitration Court, but both in that affirmative reply spoke with qualifications. Mr. Justice Griffith said that if he had wrongfully answered question No. 2, he would have been obliged to reverse all his answers to the other questions. Mr. Justice Duffy said that, throughout, his answers were based on the validity or the invalidity of the appointment of the President of the Arbitration Court.
The net effect of the decision is that the so-called “ Court “ of Conciliation and Arbitration - more properly termed a tribunal - is properly constituted as an arbitral tribunal, but it has no judicial functions or powers; no judicial power to enforce its decision or to impose penalties for the purpose of enforcing its awards or orders. We purported in the Act to endow the Arbitration “Court” with powers to impose fines and penalties, and also to give to Courts of summary jurisdiction powers to impose the like fines and penalties in like cases. Now we find that the Arbitration “ Court,” having no judicial function, cannot impose such fines and penalties, but the Courts of summary jurisdiction can.
I have gone through these judgments carefully, and I now wish to direct the attention of honorable senators to some of the concluding sentences in Mr. Justice Powers’ judgment on page 489 of the Commonwealth Law Reports, 1918 : -
I do not think that Parliament intended to create a Court in the ordinary sense of the word, but only to give power to a President to prevent and settle disputes by conciliation and arbitration, and, therefore, did not apmint him as President “ during good behaviour,” but for seven years. The awards made by the President can be enforced in State Courts, and there is not any reason why Parliament could not give to the High Court, if it thinks fit, power to enforce Arbitration awards made by the President or DeputyPresident. The President or Deputy-President could then, as a High Court Justice, enforce the awards if Parliament thinks fit to give that authority.
There is an open invitation to us.
– That decision would require an Arbitration Judge to be appointed for life.
– No. The Arbitration Judge, not as a Judge of the Arbitration Court, but as a Justice of the High Court, is already appointed for life, and in his capacity as a Justice of the High Court we oan endow him as well as other Justices of the High Court with power to enforce the awards of the Arbitration Court by a simple insertion of certain words in the original clause. All this difficulty about the enforceability of Arbitration Court awards can be constitutionally met by a provision of that kind. As section 48 of the principal Act is now before us, this is the time to make the amendment. I regret that I did not give the Minister notice of my intention to submit thi’s proposal, but the fact is that since this Bill was previously under consideration I have been looking into the matter, and I had intended to suggest to Senator Elliott that he should insert in the amendment which he had circulated the words, “ the High Court or any Justice thereof,” in accordance with the view expressed by Mr. Ju’stice Powers. I believe that it is the desire of the Government that the Arbitration Court shall not be the crippled and manacled tribunal that it is to-day. In the judgment to which I have referred repeated reference is made to the dual capacity of the President of the Arbitration Court.
– Has the honorable senator overlooked’ the fact that this particular section has already, been amended by the Act of 1918 1 ‘
– I have not that Act before me. Since Senator Elliott dropped his proposed -amendment, I merely looked at the last reprint of the Consolidated Statutes which are contained in the Appendix 1914-15.
– I am afraid that there has been a misprint in the memorandum relating to the Bill which is in the hands of honorable senators, because I find that this’ section of the principal Act was amended by section 6 of Act No. 39 of 1918. In that Act the words. “ by the County, District or Local Court” were inserted. Senator Keating desires to substitute the High Court for the Arbitration Court. I suggest that the amendment, which has already been made by the Act of 1918, was made for a sound reason. That reason is an obvious one. When an application requires to be made to a Court it must be made immediately. Manifestly the High Court cannot always be available in every district. By the insertion of the words, “ County, District or Local Court “ in the Act of 1918 we multiplied the opportunities of people who wish to apply to the High Court for a mandamus “or injunction. I ask Senator Keating not to propose the deletion of the words at the end of the clause.
– In reply to the remarks of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) I have not recently perused the text of the Act of 1918. As a matter of fact, there has been circulated amongst honorable senators copies of the measure which is now before us with the sections of the principal Act which it is proposed to amend. The amendments are indicated in clear black type. In these copies the words to which I have alluded, still stand, and, consequently, I was, justified in assuming that they represented the position as it exists to-day.. Reference has frequently been made to the dual capacity in which the President of .the Arbitration Court acts. In hiscapacity as President of that tribunal he hals a seven years’ tenure, but is armed with no judicial functions. In his capacity as a Justice of the High Court he has a life tenure of his office, and is armed with full judicial functions. Since the Minister for Repatriation has directed my attention to the Act of 1918, I recognise that I cannot, by my suggested amendment of the earlier section 48, give to the High Court, or any Justice thereof, powers similar to those which are vested in any District, County, or Local Court or Court of summary jurisdiction. But surely if Parliament is prepared to invest these inferior tribunals with power to enforce Arbitration Court awards, it ought to be quite willing to invest the High Court with the same authority. The question involved here is now merely one of giving to the High Court the same powers to enforce Arbitration Court awards as are already vested in a County, District or Local Court. The President of the Arbitration Court himself should be armed with these powers in his judicial capacity, though he cannot exercise them in his presidential capacity.
– If tie honorable senator will be content with moving his amendment now, I will promise to confer with the Crown Law officers in regard to it, and to let him know the result in the morning.
– Most certainly I am willing to adopt that course. If Ministers can achieve the object at which I amaiming they will command the unanimous support of this’ Committee.
– Is it the intention of the Minister to postpone the consideration of this clause?
– No. If necessary the Bill can be recommitted on the motion for the adoption of the report.
– That is hardly the point, because if we pass the clause, and there is a difference of opinion when the stage mentioned by the Minister for Defence is reached, we shall have to con- sider the whole question again.
– The position will not he affected by passing this clause. The amendment will have to be made in another clause, and the Bill may be recommitted on the motion for the adoption of the report; hut that will not he done to-night.
– I understand that if the Senate expresses an opinion on the principle enunciated by Senator Keating that it will not affect this clause in any way.
– If the Senate indorses Senator Heating’s suggestion, it will mean making amendments.
– And not in this clause?
– Not necessarily. The draftsman may point out certain objections, and I can see difficulties in making the amendment in this clause.
– Then we shall have an opportunity of recommitting the clause?
– Yes, if the Senate so desires.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 22 (Proceedings by and against clubs).
– I ask the Senate to negative this clause, as it relates to clubs, on which the Senate has already given a decision.
– Has this clause any bearing upon an amendment made in another Bill?
– The clause relates to the employees of clubs, and as the Senate has already decided that clubs shall not come under the provisions of this measure, the provision is unnecessary.
Clause 23 and Title agreed to.
Clause 7 reconsidered and verbally amended.
Bill reported with amendments.
Senate adjourned at 10.7 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 September 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1920/19200916_senate_8_93/>.