8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the Chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
The following paper was presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act. - Land acquired for quarantine purposes at Cape Pallarenda, Queensland.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with a message.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to-
That the message by taken into consideration in Committee forthwith.
Senate’s Requests. - Amend the item,The Senate - Special messenger in charge of stores and stamping correspondence, £250,”by making the amount £275.
Amend the item, Clerk of the House of Representatives, £1,250, by reducing the amount by £250.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Requested amendments not made.
SenatorRUSSELL (Victoria - VicePresident of the Executive Council) [11.8].- I move-
That the requests be not pressed.
I may inform honorable senators that this will not be final. There are difficulties in the way, but I am very hopeful that an adjustment will be made which will give effect to the requests made by the Senate and be fair to its officers. It will be remembered that the Senate made a request that the salary of £250 proposed for the special messenger in charge of stores and stamping correspondence should be increased to £275.
– The House of Representatives has refused to make the amendment in the Appropriation Bill, but it is proposed to pass a Supplementary Appropriation Bill to give effect to this request of the Senate. I have here the message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral recommending the necessary appropriation. Honorable senators were almost unanimous in favour of the increase requested in this officer’s salary, and they will no doubt be pleased that arrangements have been made to give effect to their request.
– It appears from what the Minister has said that, although the House of Representatives has not made the amendment we requested in the case of this officer, it is to be given effect in a different form. Are we to assume that there is to be a special Statute granting the increase of salary to this officer for a single year, and will a special enactment be required every year to continue to the officer that increase of salary 1
– That was the only way in which the matter could be arranged. It was necessary to get a special appropriation. “We had not authority to exceed the Estimates. It will be adjusted next year.
– Then I am to understand that what is proposed is but a temporary arrangement, and the matter will be adjusted in next year’s Estimates ?
– The Minister said nothing about the Senate’s other request.
– I said I am hopeful that we shall be able to put the matter on a right basis. I have spoken to my colleagues on the matter, and that is what is intended, but I am unable just now to say how it will be done.
– I hope that before we have finally decided the matter we shall have the benefit of the guidance of Senator Givens. The House of Representatives increased the appropriation for the Clerk of that Chamber by 25 per cent. - from £1,000 to £1,250 - and there was no provision made in the Estimates for a corresponding increase in the salary of the Clerk of the Senate. It is unnecessary to again go over the history of the relative positions of the Clerks of the two Houses since the establishment of the Commonwealth and the first meeting of this Parliament. What took place in connexion with the framing of this year’s Estimates will be fresh in the minds of honorable senators. Senator Givens has told us what took place between himself and the Speaker. If I remember rightly, it, was upon the initiation of the Speaker. But what took place subsequently was certainly not on the initiation of the President. The subsequent proceeding reflected very little credit on the sense of justice, of propriety, or of right of certain people. I say advisedly that in its effect it was tantamount to a deliberate ignoring and disregarding of the” Senate, its status and its authority. I do not approach the consideration of this matter with any personal feeling for any officer who is involved. Honorable senators who have been here long enough know that in a matter of this kind I would not let any personal consideration . influence my attitude. They will remember that, some years back, an officer who, at the beginning of Federation occupied a position in this Senate subsequently went to the House of Representatives, and later came back here, was the subject of congratulation. No one in this Chamber or the other place, since this Parliament was created, has been a closer friend of mine than he was. I was a friend of his; in a sense, before Federation, but I nevertheless took the responsibility of sounding the only discordant note in the congratulations that were extended to him. I did not think that the shifting about from this Chamber to the other place and back again was in the best interests of the Senate. Were I to enter into anything like a comparison, I should say that he was to me as much, or more, of a personal friend than any other officer who has occupied a seat in this Chamber. An exception would have to be made, perhaps, in regard to one gentleman, who does not, however, come into consideration on this occasion.
The Clerk of the House of Representa.tives is a gentleman with whom, by circumstances, I forgather very much more frequently than I do with the corresponding officer in this Chamber. Therefore, I cannot be accused of approaching the matter from a personal stand-point. I think the way in which this business has been carried out reflects no credit upon those who are responsible for it, and if the action of another pla’ce is acquiesced in by the Senate, the public and the Senate will be able to say hereafter that we deserve all we get from another place, because those who were in this Chamber when the first steps were taken did not resent them. I do resent them. I resent the discrepancy in the salaries. It is the first time* in the history of the Commonwealth that there has been such a discrepancy. Apart altogether from who occupy the positions at the moment, to put it forth that the’ Clerk of the House of Representatives has a greater responsibility and more duties to perform than has the Clerk of the Senate is incorrect. The Clerk of the Senate, with the staff at his disposal, has equally as much work to do as the Clerk of the House of Representatives, and his responsibility is no less. His duties are in every respect as heavy, and they call for the exhibition of as much industry, talent, and ability. There is no reason why we should depart from the practice of the past of having these two officers on the same basis in regard to seniority and remuneration. That the practice of the past has been departed from on this occasion is not due to the President of this Chamber. If what had been arranged with him had been carried through honestly and fairly, according to a mutual understanding, these officers’ names would have appeared on the Estimates with the same salaries attached to them.
– With regard to the first request, I believe steps have been taken to comply with it. Senator Keating can take it from me that, if I am alive and well, and have anything to do with the framing of the Estimates before the next financial year begins, the expressed wishes of this Senate will be fully respected. With regard to the other matter, I can only reiterate what I said before. It is, of course, very invidious for me in my position, or for the Senate, to attempt to interfere with the management of another place. I have always held the view that the only way in which we can get coordination is to have sincere co-operation between the two Presiding Officers. As far as I have been able, I have done my utmost to bring that about. Since this matter cropped up in the Senate, I have sent Mr. Speaker a copy of my remarks, so that he may know exactly what I said. I have received no communication whatever from him. He has not disputed my statement, as far as I know, or made any comments upon it whatever. It was impossible for him to dispute what I said, because it was a bare relation of facts. I entirely agree with Senator Keating that the way in which this matter was initiated was an entirely improper way. The whole matter originated in the proposal and recommendation of Mr. Speaker” to the Government to create the Clerk of another place Clerk of the Parliaments, and to give him an additional £250 per annum for the elevation. Honorable senators know what my reply was, and I will make available to any honorable senator who desires to see them the notes on the whole matter which accompanied my letter to the Government. The Government replied saying that they did not propose to appoint a Clerk of the Parliaments. It would be entirely improper for the Clerk of another, place to be created Clerk of the Parliaments. Any function which would require the services of a Clerk of the Parliaments would take place in this Senate, and it is inconceivable that the Senate would give precedence in this Senate to the officer of another place. It would be entirely objectionable, in my view, for the Presiding Officer of one branch of the Legislature to make proposals concerning the two branches without consulting the Presiding Officer of the other branch. Parliament consists, not of the House of Representatives or the Senate, but of the Senate and the House of Representatives It was laid down as long ago as 1908 by the representative of the Government in a letter to the then President (Sir Albert Gould), which letter we still possess, that if the position of Clerk of the Parliaments was ever to be revived, the Clerk o? the Senate should, and would, receive the position. I had absolutely no knowledge of anything further until the Estimates were tabled. To my astonishment, I found that, notwithstanding the agreement arrived at, the Clerk of another place was put down for an increase of £250 in his salary. I think the thing is objectionable, but the way in which it was done was infinitely more objectionable. It is impossible to get any co-ordination or harmony between the different Departments unless there is co-operation between the officers who are responsible for apportioning salaries set down in the Estimates. The Service of Parliament, in. my view, should bo treated as one in the matter of salaries, however many Departments there may be. I agree entirely with everything said by Senator Keating regarding the impropriety of placing the Clerk of the House of Representatives in a superior place as to salary and seniority to that occupied by the Clerk of the Senate. Senator Keating is quite right when he says that the Clerk of the Senate has to perform duties as heavy, and’ has to carry as much responsibility, as the Clerk of another place. I can substantiate that statement from my close association with the position. Although the Clerk of the Senate has a smaller staff, that staff has a very important Department to administer in connexion with which considerable sums of .money, entailing a good deal of accountancy and clerical work, axe handled, particularly in the control of the Refreshment ‘ Depart - ment. No such duties fall upon the staff of the House of Representatives. The Library ‘Committee is managed by its own staff, and this is the only staff in the Parliament which has to perform duties other than those relating to parliamentary work. Although our staff is smaller the work has always been done efficiently, and I trust that the ‘Committee will protect the officers of this Chamber. I have dis- closed all the facts in my possession. I do not know what induced Mr. Speaker to adopt the course he did. Of course, it is for the Committee to say whether the request shall be pressed or not; but it is clear to honorable senators that this branch of the Legislature has been placed in an invidious position. I understand that the Government have some means of adjusting the position in connexion with one of our requests, but I had no knowledge of it until the proposal was announced by the Minister (Senator Russell) a few minutes ago.
– Is it the duty of the Government to do that?
-Not beyond making a suggestion. I cannot say what will be done at this juncture, but if I am occupying my present position when the Estimates for the next financial year are being framed I shall see that no discrimination is made.
.- This matter has come before us for the second time, and since it was last discussed I> have had an opportunity of giving it further consideration. In regard to the- smaller matter . relating to an increase for a messenger of the Senate, I may say that I supported the proposal, but if I had been in possession of all the facts when I recorded my vote I would have voted with the minority. We are now informed by the Minister (Senator Russell) that a means of adjusting that difficulty has been found. To me the other question is a most serious one. Intrinsically, it is not one concerning which there should be any considerable difficulty, but it may create an entirely erroneous opinion concerning the rights of this branch of the Legislature. I do not know whether honorable members in another place have had all the facts placed before them in the same manner as we have.
– They have not.
– If they have not, they have voted under a misapprehension. It was the duty of the Presiding Officer in another place to have disclosed the facts to honorable members in that Chamber as has been done here, and if that course had been followed a different complexion would have been placed on the case. The personal element does not enter into this discussion at all. We have to consider what construction any reasonable observer would (place upon this action. When the Estimates were before another place a certain sum had been suggested for the ‘Clerk of the Senate, and a larger amount for the Clerk of the House of Representatives, clearly signifying that the other Chamber was a superior branch of the Legislature, and this Chamber an inferior one. I do not know what was in the minds of honorable members in another place when they came to that decision. Do they wish the (people to believe that this is an inferior Chamber?
– Some one there is apparently looking for trouble.
– If that is so, I am prepared to go half way, and, perhaps, go a little further. This Chamber has coequal and co-ordinate powers deliberately given by an overwhelming vote of the people of this country, and in no sense was it ever to be regarded as an inferior Chamber in status or in legislative power. There* is only slight disqualification or absence of authority in connexion with money Bills, but apart from that the power of the Senate is co-equal with that of the other Chamber. The volume of. business in the Senate is precisely the same as it is in another place, as all the Bills and many of the motions and messages which come before that Chamber have also to be dealt with by the Senate. The officers in this Chamber have to possess the same knowledge of parliamentary procedure, and in. every way the parliamentary duties and responsibilities arc equal. Unless the Senate is prepared to sign a declaration of its inferiority, there is no course open but to accept the challenge laid down, and to insist upon our request, and thus place the officers in both Houses in a similar position. I am not prepared to subscribe to anything that will tend to make the Senate an inferior branch of the Legislature, and am at all times prepared to stand fast for the constitutional rights of this Chamber. With the slight difference in our powers which I have mentioned, our authority is no greater and no less. I shall support whatever action may be taken in pressing our request for the purpose of maintaining the status and dignity of the Senate, and of opposing what is apparently the intentional and deliberate slight of another place.
– In connexion with the smaller matter we should extend our thanks to the Government for the trouble they have gone to in submitting a separate measure to enable the salary of one of the lower-paid members of the staff to be increased.
Regarding the other and more important question, I am sorry that the Government have intervened. They would have been well advised if they had stood aloof and allowed Parliament to deal with a matter which is directly under its control. Prom the beginning of this Parliament we had the senior officer in this Chamber. That position could be restored by requiring that whenever promotions are made the officer senior in office should be appointed to this Chamber. The present Clerk of the House of Representatives (Mr. Gale) is undoubtedly the senior officer in term of service. He has been here for twenty-one years, ever since the inception of this Parliament, and I think the only manner in which the Senate and another place can recognise his seniority is by exchanging him from the House of Representatives to this Chamber.
– But the difficulty is that some honorable senators seem to think that is not a satisfactory proposition. I agree that seniority in service ought to carry a larger salary.
– It does not follow that in order to mark seniority there should be any great increase in salary. I do not agree with Senator Keating that there should be no transfer of officers from one Chamber to the other. We cannot recognise seniority of service unless this is done. In the first Parliament Mr. Jenkins was Clerk in the House of Representatives and Mr. Duffy Assistant Clerk here. When Mr. Jenkins went back to the State Parliament Mr. Duffy went over to the House of Representatives. Thus, the precedent was established in the first Parliament. Other changes have taken place since then. Subsequently Mr. Duffy came back to the position of Clerk here. We should insist upon the observance of this principle so far as it relates to seniority in office. It is inconvenient that this important matter should be brought up for decision on the last day of the session. I am just as anxious as any other honorable senator to maintain the dignity of the positions in this Chamber as hitherto, but I also recognise the difficulty of giving effect to our opinions. If we allow it to pass now, the matter, I think, might be fought out on some other occasion, and I hope that it will then be definitely determined. Even if I am Government Whip, I shall do all in my power to finalize it in conformity with established precedents. This is not a Government affair at all, and I am sorry that, by the action taken, the Government have placed us in a delicate position. I cannot see any way out of the present difficulty other than to accept the message.
SenatorKEATING (Tasmania) [11.36]. - Unfortunately, we have not received copies of the message, as has been the case with other messages from another place.
– There is no schedule to the message. It simply refers to the Senate amendments in the plural.
– I desire to move, by way of amendment to the motion, that our request as to the salary of the Clerk of the House of Representatives be pressed. I think it is necessary that we should do so.
– As there appears to be a consensus of opinion as to the other request, namely, that relating to the special messenger in the Senate, the position will be met by referring to it as request No. 1, and the motion being so amended as to read: -
That request No. 1 be not pressed.
Motion, by leave, amended accordingly, and agreed to.
Motion (by “Senator Russell) proposed -
That request No. 2be not pressed.
– It is not necessary to move an amendment to the motion. I shall content myself by voting against it, because there is an advantage in voting in the negative in this Chamber. I hope that, for the reasons already given, the Senate will not agree to the motion at it stands. Senator de Largie referred just now to the transfer of Mr. Duffy from this Chamber to another place and to his retransfer to the Senate. That, in itself, indicates that the position in this Chamber was looked upon as the senior one. The gentleman now in the position of Clerk of the Senate had, in my opinion, well established his right to the position long before he acquired it, but owing to the transfers from the other Chamber he was denied what he had properly worked for and had earned. These movements of officers from the other Chamber to the Senate all indicate that the position here has been looked upon, throughout the history of this Parliament, as the senior office. The Senate takes precedence on the Estimates, too, and in all phrases which indicate the two Houses the Senate is spoken of first.
– It is the same in all Acts.
– Yes. I hope that all the facts and all the circumstances out of which this incident has arisen will become known to the members of the other Chamber. I have been asked by some of them why the Senate requested that the salary be reduced by £250, and, so far as I could observe, the information I gave caused them to view the whole position in a totally different way, although it may not result in an alteration of their votes. If this request is pressed, I hope the Government will realize that there is no reflection intended on them, unless in the mild form indicated by Senator de Largie.
– The trouble is not of our making.
– No; we did not originate it. On the contrary, the object of our Presiding Officer throughout these proceedings has been to establish and maintain harmony. I think we owe him a tribute of appreciation for the earnest efforts he has put forward to prevent this Chamber from being regarded as sub- ordinate to the other. If the attitude of the other House were acquiesced in, it would amount to an admission that the Senate was subordinate to the House of Representatives; so I hope the request will be pressed. It has been mentioned that Parliament was expected to conclude its work to-day. As a matter of fact, it was anticipated that the session would conclude yesterday. But personal considerations must be put on one side when matters of such importance as this have to be decided. It is not a mere question of whether an additional £250 a year shall be granted to an officer; there is an important principle involved.
– I have listened to this debate with somewhat mixed feelings. The position clearly is that the President of the Senate was tricked; but are we on that account to adopt a dog-in-the-manger policy, and say that because the Clerk of the Senate is not to receive the same salary as the Clerk in the other, Chamber, we shall prevent theClerk of the House of Representatives from being paid the £1,250 a year? There is a possibility of the Clerk of the Senate receiving an increase under a proposal of the Government. The Senate should not insist on the Clerk in another place being kept at the level of £1,000 a year, merely because there happens to have been some difference of opinion between the two Presiding Officers.
– What is the Government proposal?
– On the honorable senator’s own statement the Government are not blameworthy.
– It is not one of the functions of the Government, but of Parliament, to deal with this question.
– The office is considered to be worth £1,250.
– It is not worth it according to the Speaker, but it would be worth it if the Clerk of the House of Representatives also held the position of Clerk of the Parliaments.
– That is more a title than anything else.
– This is the first time that it has been decided that the Clerk of the Parliaments shouldreceive a higher salary by virtue of that office.
– There has been no Clerk of the Parliaments since 1908, and as the Government have decided that the position in the other Chamber is worth £1,250, why should the Senate say that it is not worth so much? Why should we object to the other Clerk receiving that amount, simply because our Clerk is not to get it also? If this position is worth £1,250, I want to see that salary paid for it. There is a probability that in the near future the Clerk of the Senate may be paid a similar salary.
– When the matter was previously under consideration the Senate considered that £1,000 was the maximum value of the Clerk’s services in either House. It is not a question of whether this Chamber is adoptinga doginthemanger attitude.
– I do not wish to place either my colleague, Senator E. D. Millen, or myself, in a false position. When I asked my colleague ‘what we should do in this matter, he told me that an adjustment would have to be made later on the basis of equality. That remark would be open to the interpretation that both Clerks would receive £1,000, or that both would get £1,250. I thought Senator E. D. Millen meant that, at any rate, neither the Senate nor the Clerk of this Chamber was to be humiliated. I dare say that the Government will be largely guided in, this matter by the recommendation of Senator E. D. Millen and myself.
SenatorREID (Queensland) [11.50]. - This is not so much a matter of the dignity of the Senate as of the payment of fair remuneration to the officers who have been referred to.
– The dignity of the Senate is involved.
– The dignity of the Senate can be maintained without making so much fuss about it. I wish to ask Senator Givens whether, assuming that the Committee does not press its request, the Government, being informed of the view of the Senate, can make provision on next year’s Estimates for an increase in the salary of the Clerk of the Senate to make it equal to that proposed for the Clerk of the House of Representatives, and can make that increase retrospective to cover the present financial year? If that could be done these officers would be put on the same footing.
– There would be no finality about that. The House of Representatives would only go one better again next year.
– In next year’s Estimates the salaries of all the officers of the House of Representatives would go up.
– That is not what I suggest. Honorable senators have taken exception to the discrepancy between the salaries proposed for these officers, and to equalize matters have refused to indorse the increase proposed for the Clerkof the House of Representatives. The members of another place have a right to remunerate their officers as they think fit, and they had a right to , increase the salary of their Clerk if they thought the position he occupied was worth the salary they proposed.
– That is the whole question. Do we propose to reduce the salary of the Clerk of the House of Representatives because we do not think the position justifies the payment of an increased salary, or because our dignity has been offended?
– I wish to know from Senator Givens whether, if the request is not pressed and the position is explained to the Government, it will be possible to increase the salary of the Clerk of the Senateon the next Estimates, and make it retrospective, to put the officers of both Houses on an equal footing?
– I cannot say what will be done in the present circumstances. When the matter has been finally decided by Parliament it will be for me to consider the whole of the circumstances, arrive at a decision, and make a recommendation accordingly to the Government. What the Government will do, I am, of course, unable to say. This, however, I will say emphatically: That if Parliament agrees to fix £1,250 a year as the fitting remuneration for the Clerk of the House of Representatives, I shall, in preparing my next Estimates, put down a similar salary for the Clerk of the Senate. That will not be my decision, but the decision of Parliament itself.
– I hope that the honorable senator will recommend the in crease of the salaries of all the other clerks and officials in proportion.
– I have always recommended for every officer the remuneration to which I thought he was entitled. When Parliament intervenes and sets a standard of remuneration for one particular office, I must obey its decision. I did everything in my power to bring about unity, co-ordination, and harmony. If we are going to have a sort of Dutch auction with one House trying to get the better of the other in matters of this kind, it will put an end to all hope of co-ordination and harmony, it will greatly increase expenditure, and will lead to jealousy and wire-pulling on the part of the officers. I have never believed that it is desirable to conduct the affairs of the Parliament in that way. There should be unity, harmony, and co-ordination amongst its officers, and I shall, in future, try to give effect to that idea, as I have done in the past. If I cannot succeed, it will not be because of any lack of goodwill on my part. When an agreement was made as to the way in which things should be done, I had a right to expect that it would be observed in the spirit and in the letter. I had no knowledge whatever of any proposal to make the Clerk of another place Clerk of the Parliaments. I think it was entirely improper for the Presiding Officer of a House in which such a position was never held to put forward such a recommendation without consulting the representatives of the other branch of the Legislature. I did not hear a word about it, and it might possibly have slipped through Cabinet without my knowing anything of it had it not been for the fact that one of the Ministers in the Senate was present at the meeting at which the recommendation was received. I have already told honorable senators what followed, and I need not go over the matter again. Apparently disappointed in that proposal, those interested said, “If we cannot get £250 increase of salary for him in that way, we shall get it for him . in another way.” I heard no whisper of that, and knew nothing of it until I saw the Estimates. I cannot say what I will do in the circumstances; but, if Parliament itself sets the standard for the remuneration of this particular office, I shall certainly obey the expressed will of Parliament, and see that the officer filing a similar position in this Chamber shall receive the same salary.
Motion negatived ; request pressed.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
Sitting suspended from 12.1 to 2.30 p.m.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill (on motion by Senator Russell) read a first time.
Senator RUSSELL (Victoria- Vice-
President of the Executive Council) [2.33].- I move-
That this Billbe now read a second time.
The Bill now before the Senate differs from the measure which was rejected last night. The difference between the two Bills lies in the fact that the present Bill does not contain the following provisions of the rejected Bill, namely: -
The Government have decided to defer consideration by Parliament of all the foregoing amendments until it comes to deal with the final report of the Royal Commission on Taxation.’ The alterations that have been made in the measure, I think, will meet the objections that were raised by honorable senators, I have no doubt with the best of intentions, last night.
– It will be recollected that last night, when dealing with another measure submitted to the Senate, I entered a very vigorous protest against asking the Senate to agree to a measure that we had not had time to understand. After the cursory examination that I had made of the Bill, I was able to point out a number of features which appeared to me to be very objectionable, while not pretending that my survey of the situation was by any means exhaustive. Now, another measure is sent up to us, and when I compare it with the one formerly submitted, I find that the clauses which appeared to me to be objectionable have been omitted. I asked the Minister (Senator Russell) whether the Bill, the second reading of which he moved last night, was to be retrospective in its operations, and he said it was to be. The present measure is only retrospective with regard to those clauses which give relief to taxpayers, but not with regardto any imposition of taxation. That is an assurance which, as a result of my own careful examination of the Bill, with the assistance of the SolicitorGeneral, I think I am able to give to the Senate. The Solicitor-General assures me, and I agree with him, that the Bill in its present form is not retrospective with regard to any increased obligations placed upon taxpayers, but is retrospective in regard to the relief of taxpayers. The objectionable features of clause 6 of the former Bill have disappeared. Clause 2, which, I understood, would have amounted in effect to making a levy upon capital, has also disappeared.For those reasons, I do not intend to oppose the Bill now before the Senate. Some clauses of it are very desirable, particularly those which give relief to pastoralists and miners. There is one clause in the Bill which, personally, I am not very keen on. I refer to clause 9. I understand that it is very desirable, in the interests of the taxpaying community of Australia, that some such clause should be in existence. Its object is to deal with a company which, I am given to understand, has succeeded up to date in evading its legitimate ‘taxation. In order to, catch that company in particular, and some other companies in general, the clause has been made so wide that I am afraid it will catch some persons whom the Government and the Commissioner are not too anxious to chase. I am not prepared to oppose the inclusion of this clause, although I see certain objectionable elements in it. I will support the second reading of the Bill, and will not offer strenuous opposition to any of the clauses when in Committee.
– The Minister (Senator Russell), .in moving the second reading 6i the Bill, has stated, in effect, that it is an improvement on the Bill submitted last night. I believe it is, from the cursory glance I have had of it, and from what has been said by Senator Drake-Brockman. The Minister says it meets all the criticism that was levelled at the previous Bill. If that be the case, it does not demonstrate to me that this Bill is entirely satisfactory. The criticism of last night was delivered under most disadvantageous conditions. Many honorable senators had not seen the Bill; there were only six copies of it in the chamber. If a copy of it had been in the hands of each honorable senator, there would probably have been more criticism, and if copies had been in their hands, as they should have been, long before the second reading motion, there might have been still more criticism.
– I thought we had settled that by agreement. I made my apologies last night.
– Let us get away from last night, and come to the present moment. The Bill has only just now come into our hands. In consequence of being kept here almost night and day during the last week, I had to take advantage of the short suspension of to-day’s sitting to attend to urgent personal matters requiring my atten tion. I returned to the Chamber after a scant and most hurried lunch and ha’d a very brief conversation with the Solicitor’General. I have therefore been able to very cursorily peruse the provisions of the Bill, and if it only meets the criticism of last night, the action of the Senate is justified. I am inclined to believe that if we had had more time to discuss the measure which was rejected, possibly other faults could have been found with it. As honorable senators are aware, a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into Commonwealth land and income taxation, and that body has been conducting its investigations for some time. Months ago some of my Tasmanian constituents, individual and corporate, consulted me with reference to possible alterations of taxation legislation, and I promised them that when any taxation Bill was introduced consequent upon the report of that Commission, they would be furnished with a copy before it became law. I was asked if I could do that, and! I gave an affirmative reply. When a Bill of any importance is introduced, at any rate in the Senate, the Minister in charge of the measure moves the second reading, after which an honorable senator seeks an adjournment of the debate, which is granted sometimes until the following week. In these circumstances, honorable senators are afforded ample opportunity of circulating the Bill outside, thus enabling those who are familiar with the working of the legislation to have an opportunity of ascertaining what it really means, and of furnishing comment upon it. When I was in Sydney last July I made a similar promise, but at the death-knock of the session we have a taxation Bill submitted to us. Last night we did not even have sufficient copies, and we were asked to blindfoldedly pass it through all its stages, although, its effects could not be foreseen.
– It is not the fault of the Government if copies were not available, because 100 were printed for thirty-six senators.
– They were not available to us. Early in a session a most ordinary measure is introduced, and one on which there may be little difference of opinion, but an adjournment is always granted to enable its provisions to be con- sidered. Why was not this Bill introduced earlier, to enable us to fulfil our obligations to our constituents, and to give us an opportunity of considering it in conjunction with those who are likely to be affected, or who are conversant with its subject? It has been said that its presentation has been delayed because it has been dependent upon the report of the Royal Commission. Am I to understand from, the Minister that this measure is consequential upon the report of that Commission ?
– Does it contain anything apart from the recommendations of the Commission?’
– I believe there has been a slight addition in clauses 2 and 3.
– Will the Minister, when the Bill is in Committee, direct attention to the alterations, because the Bill should not be passed without that information being given.
– Do we know what the Royal Commission recommended?
– I do not know when the report was received by the Government. It was tabled in the Senate on the 2nd November last and in the House of Representatives on the same day, where a motion for the printing of it was agreed to. I saw the original report tabled in the Senate, and1 I do not think that printed copies have been circulated to honorable senators.
– I have not seen a copy.
– I have had a copy in my possession for some weeks.
– The report was in the hands of the Government some time before the 2nd November, because if was tabled in both Houses on that date, and it ‘cannot be urged that this legislation is being rushed because of the delay in receiving it. In general terms and upon general principles, I vehemently protest against the Government asking, and practically demanding, the Senate, by suspending the Standing and Sessional Orders, to pass the Bill in this way. I shall always protest against such procedure. I have done it in the past, and this week, as honorable senators have observed, I have, on every Bill that was to be considered, protested against the procedure. At the same time, I have endeavoured, by attending in my place continuously, to become familiar with the measures, because I have responsibility. If this Bill is passed, I shall have to take my share of blame, but I do not intend to let it go without a protest. If it gets into Committee, and I do not know what the different clauses mean, I shall oppose them or shall refrain from voting. If I do not vote at all I am sure that honorable senators, knowing that I have been almost continually present, and realizing the attention I have given to business, will acquit me of shirking my responsibility.
– With the exception of clause 9, the Bill really extends concessions to taxpayers.
– Clause 9 is most important.
– Clause 9, which was commented upon by Senator DrakeBrockman, might achieve the purpose intended; but it might go even further. If that is so, we should analyze it very carefully, so that, if necessary, it may be amended to prevent it doing what we do not wish. The Bill may contain much that is of merit; but it is not now a question of merit or demerit, but of ‘the method in which it is introduced. Having been introduced- so long after the report was presented, it may be’ said that there is a suspicion in some quarters that it cannot stand the light of outside criticism. At this juncture, I am not attacking the Bill, but the method. I am ^reluctantly compelled to vote against the second reading; but if it passes that stage, I shall deal with the clauses as far as I can on their merits, and if I cannot understand them, I shall either vote against them or not at all.
– Owing to the late introduction of this Bill, we have to abandon parliamentaryprocedure, and speak almost in parables. I understood the Minister (Senator Russell) to say that when the Royal Commission on Taxation submits its final report there will be a general overhaul of our taxation legislation. The fact that the Government have withdrawn the objectionable features contained in clause 6 is a complete vindication of the view taken by the Senate last night. The power proposed to be - taken for levying income tax on primary producers cannot be discussed in a few minutes, but might take hours. In spite of what the Taxation Commission has recommended, the income derived by primary producers will not, even under this proposal, be placed in the same position as income derived from, other sources. In one year they have a deficit, and the next year, owing to climatic conditions, their incomes may reach a high level; but the taxation is supposed to be averaged over a period of five years. I shall reserve for another occasion what I want to say as to the formula employed for the fixation of taxation on our primary producers. In my judgment, although the proposals in this Bill will afford relief, they are not by any means so favorable as they might be. I shall vote for the second reading in order to expedite business, but I hope thatwhat has been said this afternoon will be a lesson to the Government, and that in future more recognition will be given to this Chamber as a branch of the Legislature co-equal in legislative power with another place. I realize, of course, that at the close of every session in this Parliament, and no doubt in every other Parliament, business is rushed. But just as the Government have power now to expedite business, so also have they the means at their disposal, in the earlier parts of the session, to insure the passage of measures. It is possible for the Government to test the patience of this Chamber just a bit too much.
. -The question has been asked if this Bill is in conformity with the recommendations made by the Taxation Commission, and I should like to say that clause 2 (a) was not considered by the Commission, and sub-clause b was inserted by the House of Representatives; clause 3 was not considered by the Royal Commission ; clauses 4 and 5 are as recommended by the Royal Commission. The subject-matter of clause C was dealt with by the Royal Commission, but the clause is more liberal than as recommended. Clauses 7, 8, 10, and 11 are as recommended by the Commission; but clause 9 was not dealt with by the Royal Commission, and clause 12 was inserted at the instance of the Taxation Commissioner.
– Is there any appropriation in the Bill?
– Yes, for the salaries of members of the Board.
-But is there any reason why the Bill should not have been originated in the Senate?
– It could not have been originated here. It appropriates money for the salaries of the Board.
– There is no specific appropriation, so there was no necessity for a Governor-General’s message.
– I understand there had to be a message.
– An important point has just been raised by Senator Keating, and it is fitting that I should make the position quite clear. Frequently measures of this kind have been introduced in the Senate, and there was no reason why this Bill should not have been originated here, as the clause appropriating revenue could have been omitted and inserted in another place, or a separate appropriation provided for. I want the Senate not to go to sleep on its rights and privileges. Under the conditions I have set out, the Bill could easily have been introduced in this Chamber, and dealt with as similar measures have been dealt with on other occasions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
After section 10 of the principal Act the following section is inserted: - “ 10a. ( 1 ) For the purpose of ascertaining the rates applicable to the income of primary producers, the amount of so much of the taxableincome of the taxpayer as is derived from primary production shall be taken to be -
June, 1923, the average of the amounts of taxable income derived by the taxpayer during the last two preceding financial years from primary production;
for all subsequent financial years, the average of the amounts of taxable income derived by the taxpayer during the last five preceding financial years from primary production.
Primary producer ‘ means a person engaged in primary production;
Primary production ‘ means the production resulting directly from-
Income from primary production ‘ means the income of a primary producer to the extent to which it is derived directly and in the first place from primary production; and
The average of the amounts of taxable income’ means the amount obtained by dividing, by the number of years upon which the average is based, the sum of the amounts of taxable income derived by the taxpayer from primary production during each of those years, after deducting from that sum the amount, or the sum of the amounts (if any) by which the deductions allowable under this Act, in any of those years in respect of income from primary production exceeds the assessable income of that year derived by the taxpayer from primary production.”
– I notice that sub-clause 4 provides that -
For the purposes of this section -
Primary production “ means the produc- duction resulting directly from -
cultivation of land; or
maintenance of animals or poultry, and includes dairy produce manufactured by the person who produces the principal raw material used in the manufacture of that produce.
Does that include dairy produce manufactured by co-operative dairy factories?
– This is the averaging clause, which, I understand, determines the rates of income applicable in any one year. It provides, in paragraph a, that, for the purpose of ascertaining the rates of income applicable to primary producers, the amount of so much of the taxable income shall be taken to be -
It seems to me that if the average for two years is taken, the taxpayer may be very seriously prejudiced. It is quite possible that a year of plenty will be succeeded by a year of drought. Suppose, for instance, that inone year a man made £10,000 and in the following year only £1,000. Under paragraph a, the income for the two years would be averaged, and the taxpayer assessed in the second year on his income at the rate applicable to £5,500, when, as a matter of fact, his income would have been only £1,000. His taxation would be on a rate higher than that applicable to his actual income, and probably he would have to pay in taxation actually more than he had received for that year.
– That very often happens.
– Would it not be possible in the striking of an average not to confine the calculations to a two-year period, but to take in the preceding five years ?
– This matter was carefully considered by the Royal Commission. I understand the proposal is to work gradually up to the five-year period.
– But why not accept the principle at the outset?
– If the five-year period were adopted, the inflated values for all commodities during the war would probably lead to an inequitable average for a number of years. ‘
– I see that what the honorable senator suggests is possible. It had not occurred to me before, and it only goes to show that we should have ample opportunity for the consideration of a measure such as this.
– That provision will not become effective for three years.
– Then, a great deal of the strength of the honorable senator’s argument” is lost. The five-year period could be adopted.
– But the clause is retrospective in some respects, is it not?
– I understand that the retrospective provisions of the Bill are confined entirely to the relief section.
– That is so.
– This clause will not take practical effect until after the 30th June, 1923. The acceptance of the principle of basing taxation on the average income for a number of years will afford a general sense of relief to those engaged in primary production throughout the Commonwealth. I hope the Committee will have no hesitation in passing this clause. It seems to me more liberal than I had expected, because, according to my reading of it, allowance is to be made for the losses in some years. The concluding paragraph evidently means that the losses of one year may be set against the profits of other years.
– Does the Minister make that admission ?
– That is so; on the average of five years.
– The interpretation given by Senator Crawford is one which he, no doubt, favours; but I would suggest to the Minister (Senator Russell) that he inform the Committee whether that is the position.
– I am told by the Commissioner that there would be deductions for losses over the five years.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 (Rebates in cases of double1 and .treble taxation).
– Will the Minister (Senator Russell) tell us the effect of this clause?
– This is a very important clause, because it will remove a grave injustice which at present exists in relation to taxpayers who- derive income both from the United Kingdom and from Australia. At present, these taxpayers pay tax in both countries. The British Legislature recently gave relief up to half of. the rate of tax payable in the United Kingdom, but the Commonwealth and State Governments in Australia have continued to levy tax at their full rates. The clause will extend to Australia the system of relief approved by the British Parliament. Indeed, the action now proposed to be taken in this Bill is the complement of that already begun in England. It is not proposed that any relief shall be given to a .person who pays tax only to the Commonwealth and a State. That system of double taxation will continue. Dealing on the one’ hand with the sum of the Commonwealth and the State rates, and on the other hand with the United Kingdom rate, it is to be noted that, when the States also come into the scheme, the taxpayer, in the aggregate, will pay an amount of tax equal to that payable at the higher of the rates, having got rebates in the three instances equal to the aggregate of the lower rates. I understand that it will result in a saving to 45,000 taxpayers.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 to 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 (Taxation of income of nonresident persons).
– It was remarked by one honorable senator, before the Bill reached the Committee stage, that the object of this clause was to collect income tax from a foreign company which is operating in our midst, . and which has been able through certain technicalities to evade its legitimate responsibility. If that is so, there is’ probably some justification for tightening up our legislation. It has been suggested, however, that, although the clause might achieve its purpose, it might also operate unfairly towards some local organizations. I have not had time to analyze the clause, and I would like the Minister (Senator Russell) to meet that criticism.
– I am informed by the’ Commissioner that the clause will not work mischief towards certain Australian firms. The experience that 1 had during the war period enabled me to learn something of the oil trade. One company, which produces its oil very cheaply by black labour, consigned its products to a distributing company in Australia on a low percentage basis. The invoiced costs were fixed in such a way that if the oil cost about 6s. a case to produce, the cost was invoiced from New York at about 25s. a case. The Government intend by this measure to tax the home company, as well as the distributing company, on the ascertained profits, because Australia has been robbed right and left throughout the war.
– It is a pity you did not do this during the war.
– You have lost £3,000,000.
– The matter has been fully investigated.
– It seems to me that the clause would apply only to traders doing business in duty-free commodities.
– It will apply, I understand, in both cases.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 10 (Boards of Appeal).
– Sub-section 12 of the proposed new section 36a was located when I inquired of the Minister (Senator Russell) whether the Bill contained any provision for appropriation of money, and the Minister’s answer implied that in consequence of the provision in sub-section 12 the Bill had to be introduced in the other Chamber. The Minister was then replying, and I had no further opportunity to speak at that stage.
– My authority was the Solicitor-General.
– It is a question of the rights of this Chamber. I was very glad to hear the President speak of the necessity to adhere’ to those rights. Bills with provisions corresponding to this one. have originated in this Chamber repeatedly since the inauguration of Federation. This Chamber baa of late experienced too many pinpricks. I do not desire the impression to get abroad that this Chamber acquiesces in the view that such a Bill cannot be originated here.
– We have had such Bills before, and spaces have been left foi the amounts to be filled in.
– I do not believe that this Chamber will acquiesce in any claim that may be made in another place that a Bill containing no specific appro priation must originate there. I protest against such a claim.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 11 and 12, and title, agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Russell) proposed
That this Bill be now read a third time.
– I do not propose to delay the passage of this motion for more than a moment or two, but I must make some reference to a point which was raised at the conclusion of the debate on the second reading of the Bill. Honorable senators will remember that I asked the Minister (Senator Russell), during the course of his reply to the debate on the second reading, whether there was any appropriation proposed in this Bill. He indicated that there was an appropriation provision. I asked him whether it was considered that this was a Bill which, because of its nature, must originate elsewhere, and could not have originated here. He told honorable senators that, as then advised, this was a Bill which must be originated elsewhere. In answer to a further question, he said that its introduction elsewhere was preceded by a message of appropriation from the GovernorGeneral. The President thereupon very properly interposed and drew attention to the fact that similar Bills had been introduced here, and I think very wisely and appropriately enjoined honorable senators not to sleep upon the rights of the Senate. I cordially indorse what was said by the President, and I wish, before the Bill passes, to take this opportunity of protesting, as I did when the Bill was in Committee, against any assertion on the part of another place, if such were made, of any such claim as was inferentially implied in the Minister’s answer to my question. I do not, of course, say that the Minister made such a claim, but he said that, as then advised, that was the position. If such a claim -was asserted elsewhere, I take this, the final, opportunity afforded by the consideration of this measure to protest against it. I wish to place on record the fact that numbers of Bills containing corresponding provisions for appropriation, ultimately to be made specific, have originated in this Chamber. In the case of those Bills, the place for the specific appropriation has been left blank. There can be no doubt that such Bills can be originated here, and I again protest against the assertion of any contrary claim on behalf of the other branch of this Legislature.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill (on motion by Senator Russell) read a first time.
.- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The object of the Bill is to make retrospective to the date of commencement of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1915 section 13 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1915-1918, which grants exemption from income tax to the personal exertion income derived from Australian sources by persons who were on active service outside Australia during the recent war. The amendment is being made in the present manner for two reasons, viz. : - .
Bill to amend the Income Tax Assessment Act 1915-1918 had been settled before the present amendment was decided upon ; and
Its object is to deny to persons who remained in Australia in the work of the Defence Department any right to claim exemption under the wording of the original section in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1915 on the ground that they were on active service within the meaning of the Defence Act. The Department has collected tax from all such persons, but they are now claiming refunds in consequence of the judgment of the High Court in the case of Ramaciotti v.
Commissioner of Taxation, which ruled that “active service” meant active service as defined in the Defence Act. The Bill will not disturb the judgment mentioned so far as it applies to the Ramaciotti case.
– And other people in a similar position cannot recover?
– That is so.
– And Ramaciotti’s case was probably a test case.
– It was decided that, in accordance with the definition of “ active service “ under the Defence Act, General Ramaciotti was entitled to exemption, and officers similarly placed will also be entitled to exemption.’
– Then where is the necessity for altering the law?
– Because the High Court accepted as the definition of “ active service “ the definition which is contained in the Defence Act, and that included many officers who, although they did not leave Australia, were engaged in war services. I do not think that it was intended that men whose service was confined to Australia should receive the benefit of exemption from income tax.
– The High Court did not say that they should not receive it.
– Then why this measure to get round the decision of the High Court?
– If we made a mistake in the law we passed, we have a right to correct it.
– Will this Bill affect pending litigation?
– No. I understand that the money has been collected by the Defence Department for this purpose, and the question is whether it should be paid into the revenue or to individuals.
– How much is involved ?
– Over £16,000. As it is quite clear what the proposition is, I leave it to honorable senators.
– I am not quite clear as to what the proposition is. The High Court decided, in the case of Ramaciotti against the Commissioner of Taxation that he was entitled to certain moneys by reason of the fact that he was engaged upon “active service” during a certain- period mentioned in one of our Income Tax Acts, the. term, as used in that Act, being construed by the Court ‘in accordance with the definition in the Defence Act. As a result of that decision, it appears that a number of other claims for exemption from taxation may be made.
– They are sure to be made.
– Yes, they are. The Department apparently knows the number of claims that may be made in cases which would be governed by the decision of the High Court in Ramaciotti’s case, and they know that, in consequence of that decision, those claims would have to be paid.
– Would the honorable senator exempt from income tax fellows who did not leave Australia?
– That is not the question.
– Yes it is. General Ramaciotti never went abroad.
– Yes, he did go abroad.
– What does the Minister mean by “ abroad “ ?
– He had a good’ job in London.
– We have been informed that £16,000 is the amount estimated to cover all possible claims, m view of the decision of the High Court. Why is that amount set aside?
– Because there are clerks in the Defence Department who never left Australia, who are claiming the exemption.
– How is the amount arrived at? It is evident that, as soon as the decision of the Court was given, the authorities, either of the Income Tax Department or the Defence Department, discovered that a number of other persons would be entitled to the benefit of that decision, ‘and it was found that the amount involved in their possible claims was £16,000. They were entitled to this money by law, after the decision in Ramaciotti’s case, because it seems to me that that was a test case. To say that there is no pending litigation which might be affected by this Bill is only to say that only one case was taken as a test of the position of these officers, and it .was assumed that, because of the decision in that case, the Commonwealth would be expected to honour “claims from persons occupying, in this respect, positions similar to. that occupied by General Ramaciotti. I protest against this ex post facto legislation going behind the decision ‘ of the High Court, and denying their rights under that decision to those who have so far refrained from suing the Commonwealth. It is not playing the game.
– What was the intention of the Legislature in the matter in the first place? Was it not intended that the exemption from income tax should apply only to those who were on active service abroad?
– I do not at this moment know.
– But that is the point.
– The Income Tax Department realized that there would be a number of claims. They have absolutely identified the possible claims, because they have been able to estimate their total amount. The Department has not been sued,’ because it has been assumed that, in .view of the decision of the High. Court, the claims which might be put forward by these persons would be looked upon as just.
I do not think this is a fair thing. It is not right to pass ex post facto legislation - legislation after the determination of the event - with the’ object of preventing other people from getting the benefit of the determination.
– The provision was only intended for men who went on active service abroad, and not for men who went for a trip on board ship.
– Whatever was intended, the High Court has ruled that the intention of Parliament, as expressed, covered the cage of Colonel Ramaciotti, and, consequently, all corresponding claims. I do not think that we shall be doing an act of justice if we go back on the obligations we incurred by our past legislation. If we did not express our intention correctly, that is our fault, and it is the result of passing legislation in the hurried manner in which we are passing this Bill at the tail-end of the session. ‘ No ‘‘matter what was .our intention, what we provided and declared to the world was that these claims should be honoured.
– I may have unintentionally misled Senator Keating. On further investigation, I find that the sum of £16,000 which has been referred to has been collected. There was a doubt as to whether Colonel Ramaciotti was on overseas active service; but, according to the definition of the Defence Act, he was. In cases of a similar kind, the decision of the Court will be honoured; but, as a result of that decision, there has been an agitation among a number of clerks who were in home service jobs for the whole period of the war, and who are now demanding refunds from the Taxation Department. We do not intend to grant them. I do not think it was intended to give the exemption to men. on home service.
– Will all cases that come within the rule of the Court in the Ramaciotti case be honoured?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second! time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill (on motion by Senator Russell) read a first time.
– I move-
That this Bill he now read a second time.
In connexion with the Appropriation Bill the Senate made a request that the salary of the special messenger in charge of stores and stamping correspondence in the Senate should be increased by £25, so as tomake his salary £275. The House of Representatives could not make the requested amendment in the main Appropriation Act, but has passed a special appropriation to give effect to the Senate’s desire. This is the Bill now before the Chamber.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without request or debate.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with a further message.
That the message be taken into consideration in Committee forthwith
Senate’sRequest (Pressed). - Amend the item, “ Clerk of the House of Representatives, £1,250,” by reducing the amount by £250.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amendment not made.
– A Committee of members of both Houses was formed to consider this question, and the decision of the Committee has been reported to me as follows : -
The Committee considers that it is advisable that there should be uniformity in the salaries of the Chief Officers in the Senate and the House of Representatives, and that in the future preparation of the Estimates this uniformity should be observed.
The House of Representatives have, for a second time, declined to make our requested amendment. In view of the report of the Joint Committee and of the fact that uniformity in the future has been approved, I move-
That the request be not further pressed.
– I do not quite understand what will be the effect of the agreement arrived at by the Committee referred to. Is it not intended to include the decision of the Committee in the message which we shall send to the other House? How is effect to be given to the decision unanimously arrived at? I do not know that the decision of the Committee will insure anything being done in the future. I do not understand how the Committee was constituted. When the sitting of the Senate was suspended at noon no reference had been made to the appointment of the Committee, but on previous occasions when there has been consultation between the members of the two Houses the personnel of any Committee to be appointed has been determined in the Senate. This Committee does not seem to me to have been ordinarily constituted for overcoming difficulties of this kind. The Minister (Senator Russell) has informed the Senate of the decision of the Committee, and the decision will appear in Hansard. Corresponding information may be given in the other House and appear in Hansard. I do not know whether it will appear in the Journals of this Chamber, or in the Votes and Proceedings ofthe other House. I do not know, either, whether it can have any effect, but it appears to me to be nothing more than the pious expression of a hope. It is not the function or responsibility of the Government to make such provision ; that is the responsibility of this Senate and of the House of Representatives. The Minister may make this statement, may support the decision of the Committee, and may give it the Ministry’s cordial sympathy and approval, but where will that lead us ? I will, if it is necessary, move to have incorporated in the message to the House of Representatives something to give effect to this agreement. I am. not prepared to draft a motion immediately. The common agreement of the Committee does not altogether fit in with everything I desire. Originally we took up the attitude that neither of the two positions should carry a salary of £1,250. If it is necessary to give way on that point, I will give way graciously. The President (Senator Givens) may be able to suggest to us how effect can be given to the common understanding arrived at between certain members of both Houses.
– I wish it to be clearly understood that I do not intend to assist in the slightest degree in increasing the salary of any officer already receiving fair remuneration when many others are living on the bread-line. I feel sure Mr. President will protect the interests of the Senate officials, but at a time when there is every need for economy I do not think that we are justified in increasing the salaries of highly-paid officers.
– The motion which I presume is to be submitted by the Minister (Senator Russell) is satisfactory so far as it goes, but it does not overcome the real difficulty. We . all agree that there should be uniformity in this regard; but there should also be uniformity in connexion with other officials who are performing similar work in each branch of the Legislature. If one Chamber is to be pitted against the other, the salaries of officials may be increased to an unreasonable extent. It is evident that all this trouble could have been prevented if a reasonable attitude had been adopted by the Presiding Officers, and I think the Senate is to blame for not having taken definite action earlier. Matters have been allowed to drift, and, as we are now in a difficult position, we will have to get out of it in the best way possible.
– In view of the report of the Committee to which I have referred consisting of representatives of both Houses, I trust the request will not be further pressed.
– The Minister (Senator Russell) must realize that I have no knowledge of any official Committee having been appointed. We have to deal with the motion submitted by the Minister, and either accept or reject it.
– It is quite a misnomer to say that the Committee which inquired into this matter was a Committee consisting of representatives of the Senate and honorable members of another place. Such a Committee has no official status, because it was apparently appointed at the request of the Government. It has arrived at a decision, but, apart from expressing a strong opinion in favour of uniformity, we are in the same position as we were before.
Motion agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to -
That the report be adopted, and that the House of Representatives be informed that representatives of the Senate in conference with representatives of the House of Representatives have recommended that it is advisable that there should be uniformity in the salaries of the Chief Officers in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, and that in the future preparation of the Estimates this uniformity should be observed.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Russell), by leave, agreed to -
That the Senate, recognising the vital importance to the British Empire of aerial communication, views with concern the prospect of abandonment of proposals for the establishment of an Imperial Airship Service, and expresses the earnest hope that the period during which the airships and other existing material will be available will be extended in older that Parliament may have an opportunity of discussing proposals for co-operating with Great Britain and the Dominions in a scheme for the establishment of an experimental two-year service.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to-
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the Senate from the determination of the Senate’s last sitting in the year 1921 to the date of its first sitting in the year 1922.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 3 p.m. on a day to be fixed by Mr. President, which day of meeting shall be notified by Mr. President to each senator by telegram or letter.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
On behalf of the Government, I desire to take this opportunity of wishing you, Mr. President, and honorable senators, a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year. “We have had our little differences of opinion, but all honorable senators are broad-minded enough to forget them outside the walls of this Legislature. I hope we shall have many happy days together in the era of peace that appears to be rapidly approaching. On behalf of the Government, I thank you, Mr. President, for the manner in which you have presided over this Chamber during the session that is now closing. To the Chairman of Committees, whose office is second only in importance to yours, we owe very much, and I am sure honorable senators will join me in extending our thanks to him. All honorable senators appreciate very much the work done by the Clerks, whose duties are responsible and onerous. All the other officers of the Senate likewise have done all in their power to insure the convenience of honorable senators. Then there arc those, sometimes termed the slaves of Parliament. I refer to members of the Hansard staff. “We always appreciate very much the value of their work. I do not know whether honorable senators care to be as candid as I, but
I confess that my Hansard speeches are better than as delivered on the floor of this Chamber. I sincerely hope that in future we shall be able to work in a more peaceful atmosphere, and that there will be fewer all-night sittings. I am sure all honorable senators will join me in wishing all officers of the Senate, from the President down to our messengers, the best of good wishes for the coming year.
– Before putting the motion, I desire on my own behalf to express my thanks to members of the Govern ment and the Senate generally for, and my sincere appreciation of, the kindness, consideration, courtesy, and support accorded to me in the discharge of what are sometimes difficult duties. I desire also, on my own behalf and on behalf of honorable senators, to thank all the officers and. attendants for their devotion to duty, and to include in my thanks members of the Hansard staff for the highly creditable manner in which they discharge their duties. We are closing the session under the happiest of auspices. Two important Conferences - the Disarmament Conference in America and the Irish Conference in London - have almost ended their labours under what appears to be the happiest of omens for the future peace of the world. The news during the last two days in regard to both Conferences is the best we could receive at this time of the year when messages of peace and good-will are being exchanged throughout the Christian world. I think we can reasonably hope that when we meet again next year we shall be cheered by the brighter prospects for the future prosperity, peace, and happiness of the world. I desire also to convey to members of the staff who are not immediately associated with this Chamber - I refer to the Refreshment Room staff - our best thanks for what they have done during the session to contribute to the convenience and welfare of honorable senators generally. I extend my good wishes to all honorable senators for the coming year, and express the hope that they may return to their legislative duties improved in health and with renewed vigour.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.21 p.m. until a date and hour to be fixed by the President, and notified by him to each senator.
By His Excellency the Right Honorable Henry William, Baron Forster, a Member of His Majesty’s Most Honorable Privy Council, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 December 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19211210_senate_8_98/>.