8th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Treatment of Limbless Soldiers - Advances for Soldier Settlement
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation if he can inform the Senate when the promised Bill to rectify anomalies in connexion with the treatment of limbless soldiers is likely to be introduced?
– It is the desire of the Government to introduce the Bill at the earliest possible opportunity which the position of public business : will permit.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation if it is a fact that the Government desire to charge the Government of South Australia 7½ per cent, for money advanced for soldiers’ homes? Has the honorable senator’s attention been drawn to remarks made by the Minister dealing with the matter in South Australia, asserting- that that is the way in which the Commonwealth Government are assisting the returned soldiers?
– I have seen the. paragraph to which I think Senator Wilson refers. The honorable senator is slightly in error in connecting his question with money advanced for soldiers’ homes. The reference is to advances for land settlement of soldiers.
– For returned soldier purposes.
– The circumstances are these: When the Commonwealth Government entered into agreements with the State Governments to ad-‘ vance money for soldier settlement, it was agreed, necessarily by both the State and Commonwealth Governments, that the Commonwealth Government should charge the State Governments with the cost to the Commonwealth, whatever it might be. The agreement was that whatever the Commonwealth Government paid in raising loans for the purpose should be charged , to the State Governments, less a rebate of 2½ per cent, for the first five years. The South Australian Government entered into that agreement, and in consequence have been called upon to pay the higher rate which the Commonwealth Government had to pay in the raising of . one of the loans. It is necessary ; I may add, to expect the State Government to meet their obligations in this respect, for the reason that when the Commonwealth Government obtained cheaper money the State Governments accepted it; but when the loans cost the Commonwealth more than other loans have cost, the State Governments objected to taking the dearer money. As the money was raised for the special purpose of returned soldier land settlement, the effect of the refusal of the State Government to accept advances borrowed for the purpose, would have been to leave the dearer money which they had no immediate purpose for, in the hands of the Commonwealth Government. It is therefore clear that we have a right to expect that the State Governments shall honour their obligations.
– Have the Commonwealth Government ever paid 7½ per cent, for money?
– When the honorable senator comes down to fractions, I hope he will not expect to bind me to a definite answer. The State Governments are charged what the money costs the Commonwealth Government. ‘ I am not aware whether it cost 7¼, 73/8, or 7½ per cent. I am safe in saying that one loan cost the Commonwealth Government more than 7 per cent. Whatever the cost of the loan was, that is the cost lees the 2½ per cent, rebate to which I have referred, which is charged to the State Government.
Return to South Australia
– I ask the . Leader of the Senate whether he is aware that, whilst giving evidence before the Public Works Committee recently in Adelaide on the North-South railway, several prominent men in South Australia expressed regret that that State had parted with the Northern Territory, and considered that the State would- do well to secure its return. Have the Government received any request from the South Australian Government to this effect? If not, will the Commonwealth Government return the Northern Territory to South Australia if the Government of that State so desires, in order that the people of South Australia may build the North-South railway for themselves?
– I have seen a report of the evidence to which the honorable senator referred. I can say definitely that no proposal has been made to the Commonwealth Government for the return of the Northern Territory to South Australia.
Officers of Federal Taxation Department, South Australia - Percentage Paid bv States.
– I ask the Minis- .ter representing the Treasurer whether he can give me a reply to the question I asked last week on the subject of officers of the Federal Taxation Department of South Australia?
– The honorable senator asked some questions as to the number of officers employed in the Federal Taxation office in South Australia, and the total amount paid in salaries and wages. The answers supplied to his questions are as follow: - J. (a) Assessors .. .. ..58
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether he is yet in a position to answer the questions I asked one day last week with respect to the percentage of taxation paid by the several States?
– The honorable senator asked for information as to the percentage of income tax, land tax, and Customs duty paid by the various States into the Commonwealth Treasury, and the percentage on all taxation paid by each State. I replied that the information would be obtained as soon as possible, and I have now received the fol lowing answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
Charge Against a Senator.
– I ask you, Mr. President, whether you are aware that during my absence for a few days Senator MacDonald read a letter in this Chamber which he had received from Mr. Brennan, the honorable member for Batman, in which that honorable member stated that an interjection I had made during a speech by Senator Wilson was practically inspired to enable Senator Wilson to repeat a statement which the honorable member for Batman alleges was untrue? I should like to know whether the occurrence was in accordance with the usual parliamentary practice, and whether an honorable senator is in order in reading a letter of that description, in which a member of another place makes charges against a member of the Senate.
– I do not remember exactly what took place on the occasion referred to’as what was the purport of the letter: No point of order was raised when Senator. MacDonald read the letter, and I do not think that any point of order arose. However, it has to be borne in mind, that a point of order can only be raised at the time of the occurrence to which exception is taken. It cannot be raised later.
The following papers were presented : -
Customs Act - Proclamation, dated5th July, 1922, prohibiting exportation (except under certain conditions) of Canned Peaches, Apricots, Pears, Plums, Cherries, and Pineapples.
International Labour Organization of the League of Nations - Third Conference, held at Geneva, 1921 - Reports by Australian Delegates.
Northern Territory - Ordinance No. 9 of 1922 - Stock Diseases.
Public Works Committee Act - Seventh General Report.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General if he has yet obtained replies to the’ questions I put on the 13th July in connexion with postal matters?
– I shall make inquiries, and reply to the honorable senator later.
Port Charges on Oversea Ships.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will he have a return prepared showing the port charges on overseas ships trading with the State capital city ports of each. State of the Commonwealth?
– The information is being obtained.
Recommendations of Economies Commission
asked the Leader of the Government , in the Senate; upon notice -
– The answers are -
– I move-
That the Senate approves of the distribution of the State of New, South Wales into electoral divisions as- proposed by Messrs. J. Broughton, S. Irwin, and H. A. Smith, the Distribution Commissioners for the purpose of distributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before Parliament on the 29th day of June, 1922, and that the names of the divisions suggested in the report and indicated in red on the maps referred to therein be adopted, except that the name “ Barton “ be substituted for “ Kogarah “, and the name “ Reid “ for “Granville”, and the name “ Eden-Monaro “ for ‘“Monaro “.
In submitting this motion I do not propose to go into details regarding the reports of the Commissioners, which have been in the hands of honorable senators for some time. I am sure that the Senate will agree- that the distribution of the States into- constituencies is a matter thatmore directly concerns the House of Representatives than -the Senate, and I think we shall be inclined to take the view that what is agreeable to the House more directly concerned is agreeable to this Chamber. There is a statutory obligation laid upon any Govern- ment in connexion with, these matters. When a census has been -taken it is. part of the statutory duty of the Chief Electoral Officer to .acquaint the Government with the necessity, should such exist under the. Representation Act, for a. redistribution of seats. Subsequent to the taking of the last census the Chief Electoral Officer, in accordance with the Act, presented a certificate to the Government, which accordingly took steps, to appoint Commissioners for the various States. These Commissioners are not free agents; they axe bound by the directions given to them in ‘the Act, which, in its more important particulars, is a replica of the Constitution. The. Commissioners having presented their reports, it then becomes the duty of the Government of the day to place those reports before Parliament. That has been done in each case. In each State the Government has endeavoured to secure impartial Commissioners of a type who are capable of dealing with the subject efficiently. Honorable senators will1 find, if they look through the list of Commissioners, that they are men who are well acquainted with the geographical and other conditions’ of their- State, and that they are in no. sense party men. The Commissioners :have submitted their reports, which, with one exception, have been unanimously adopted by another, place. It is provided that if either House objects to a report it shall be referred back to the Commissioners!, This has been done in the case of one of the reports. I do not intend to worry honorable senators by debating unnecessary particulars, and I do not think I need read the Commissioners’ reports, or the reasons which have appealed to them, in putting forward their scheme. I think it is sufficient for us that the House more directly concerned has accepted the scheme.
– I do not quite agree with the Minister (Senator Pearce) that if the other House, which is particularly interested, is satisfied with the rearrangemerit proposed, we should necessarily accept it, and particularly so when we come to consider how they were “satisfied” with it. Unfortunately, I have been unable to leave my room for a month; but by reading the newspapers I learned that the other House was “ satisfied,” after a threat had been issued, that if it did not vote for the proposals there would be an election within eight weeks: There was only a difference of one vote - on the division. There is only one thing that prevents- my putting, in a protest against the motion before the Senate, and that is that my following is not sufficiently strong to back me up. Ten years ago, when a similar distribution was. made in Mew South Wales, we were strong enough to throw it out. It went back to the- Commissioners, who amended it very slightly, and as the other. House- did net alter it, I adopted the easy-going attitude^ of Senator Pearce, and allowed it to passu It is. quite possible that Senator E. D>. Millen, who has contested’, perhaps-, seven Senate elections-, knows a great, deal more about community of interest than any other honorable senator. I do not desire it to be thought that I am reflecting on the Commissioners who made the redistribution of New South Wales; but the fact that they are all honorable men does not relieve me of the necessity to put forward’ my objections. The Commissioners were made aware of slight alterations as to community of interest, and, so far as my information goes, not the slightest notice was -taken of those representations. I can quite understand that a member, with an assured’ seat, whose position is made safer still,, is not likely to make any representations in favour of a change; but the member whose position is rendered less favorable will probably become quite active in that direction. What I. contend is that the Senate has a right to return the redistribution to its authors-, and ask them to put it right according, to community of interest. The old centre of the district of Robertson was Mudgee, but, instead of forming an electorate according to community of interest, the Commissioners some ten years ago ran across until they struck the Maitland coal-fields district; and, with a certain number of voters from the coal-fields,. Robertson might have become a Labour seat. There was a Labour Government in power at the time. The Commissioners then extended the district to within 50- miles of Sydney. On the present occasion the Commissioners again ran down to Woy Woy, and when they came up from Mudgee and struck the coal-fields they spread out left and right to cut out the electors who happened to vote Labour.
– Where do they leave the Labour votes ?
– For Newcastle and Hunter.
– Does the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) object to that?
– I have already mentioned that the representative whose seat is made more secure is not likely to protest. My point is that it is not the business of the Commissioners to alter electorates in the interests of parties according to existing conditions. The present redistribution has made the position in New South Wales worse than it was ten years ago, because the Commissioners extended the Robertson constituency up the North Coast. The length of that district could be shortened by hundreds of miles by taking in the industrial centres. What community of interest is there between the week-end residents of Woy Woy, on the Hawkesbury River, and the agricultural and mining districts of Mudgee; or between Mudgee and the North Coast? I do not wish to leave the impression in the minds of honorable senators that I accuse the Commissioners of having intentionally made a party division. I exonerate, them from that, but the result of their division is, nevertheless, a party one.
Eden-Monaro was a district of farming, grazing, and similar interests. It has now been run into the dairying districts of Illawarra. Illawarra is absolutely swallowed up by the Werriwa electorate, which seat is at present held by a Labour man. I do not object to a few thousand votes of coal-miners being added to the electorate of a representative of coal -miners; but there should be some attention paid to community of interest. The Commissioners have made Werriwa an absolutely safe Labour seat.
– Why object to that?
– I am not objecting, but I am pointing it out. From the knowledge I have of New South Wales, I can only come to the conclusion that the result of the redistribution will be to make Labour seats doubly safe, and to do exactly the same with regard to Nationalist seats. Party interest has received more consideration than community of interest.
– Then both parties have received the same consideration.
– I hope that honorable senators will recognise that their duty is, first, to consider the whole of the electors, irrespective of party divisions.
– A very noble sentiment 1
– Not lived up to by many.
– I hope to have the opportunity to continue to spread that sentiment. My only reason for not deliberately moving for the rejection of the redistribution is that I see no hopes of such a proposal being agreed to.
– You did that once.
– The only alteration the Commissioners made on that occasion was in regard to East Sydney and Wentworth. .1 am sorry that alteration was accepted in another place. I believe that if the same Commissioners were engaged ten years hence in dividing the whole State into electorates that that aspect would be considered. Whether it i3 wise or not that the represent’‘ves who at present hold their seats shall be sp entrenched as to prevent any other candidate from securing a seat I do not know. Some appear to think that because both parties are satisfied there is no occasion to complain, but it must be remembered that there is a great and growing party known as the Country party which needs to be considered, and when the other parties are deliberately entrenched a third party would have to do some heavy “ pick and shovel “ work before its representatives would have an opportunity of securing seats in this Parliament. That is not fair if the electors want a change.
– Has there been a single meeting of protest in New South Wales?
– One could understand such meetings ‘being held years ago when all sections were not represented in Parliament, but at present every shade of political opinion has representation, and the position is totally different. Thirty years ago, it was necessary to hold meetings of protest at which the views of the people could be expressed. In regard to this particular motion there was a difference of only one or two votes.
– On a New South Wales- redistribution?
– No. The honorable senator is referring to the Victorian proposal.
– Before we adjourn I shall peruse the records to see if I am not right.
– There was no division at all in another place on the New South Wales redistribution.
– The division to which the honorable senator is referring was on a totally different proposal.
– Very well. If the amendment moved by the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) had been carried, would not the whole scheme have been reconsidered?
– The proposals affecting the other States would not have been sent back; but they could not have been put into operation, because the whole basis of representation would have been altered.
– I take it that if the distributions submitted by the Commissioners had been thrown out it would have been the duty of the Government to ask the Commissioners to submit another set of proposals.
– The object of the amendment moved by Dr. Earle Page was to alter the basis of representation.
– I quite understand that, and to defeat the scheme.
– To defeat the Government.
– That is a most laudable object, and one which would have had my support. If the amendment which was defeated by one or two votes had been carried the Leader of the Government in another place (Mr. Hughes) would have given effect to his threat, and we would have had a general election within eight weeks. That is the way in whichthe whip was cracked. I could quote many instances to show how seats have been made absolutely sure for certain parties, but the cases I have quoted should be sufficient. In future I trust that, whenever Commissioners consider the map in conjunction with the population figures, a redistribution will be made on a fair basis, without taking into consideration the interests of parties, because when we get down to that basis there will be more adequate representation of the people in another place. I hope I have not reflected upon the Commissioners, who, knowingly or unknowingly, wittingly or unwittingly, have formed electorates in the interests of parties, and that in future consideration will be given to those electors who may not be supporters of the political parties at present so strongly entrenched in certain electorates.
– I cannot allow some of the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) to pass without comment. First of all he said that the motion covering redistribution in New South Wales was carried in another place under duress. The motion under which this scheme was adopted was carried on the voices, no division having been called for. The division that was taken, and in which there was a difference of only one vote, was not in opposition to any particular scheme, but on a proposal which, if carried, would have altered the basis of representation, and would have involved the sending back of this scheme to the Commissioners , and also an amendment of the Representation Act,, and possibly an amendment of the Constitution. To show the impartiality of the Government in appointing Commissioners, I may inform the Senate . that the Commissioners in New South Wales consisted of Mr. J. Broughton, the SurveyorGeneral of the State, who is a State official; Mr. Stewart Irwin, Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State, who is the only Commonwealth officer on the Commission; and Mr. Horace Alexander Smith, of Sydney, the Government Statistician for the State. Is it likely that such an impartial body of competent men would consider the interests of parties? In their report the Commissioners invited attention to the proposal by advertisement, and paragraph 4 of that document reads -
Objections and suggestions in writing relating to the proposed Divisions of Calare, Darling, Parramatta, Martin, Newcastle, Robertson, and South Sydney, were received within the period prescribed by law for the lodgment of objections or suggestions.
After giving the whole of the objections and suggestions most careful consideration, your Commissioners were unable to adopt any of them.
That shows clearly that the Commissioners gave consideration to objections lodged, some of which, no doubt, were those referred to by Senator Gardiner. If the Commissioners had adopted the suggestions, are we to assume that every one would have been satisfied? Another set. of objections would have been raised, probably by Senator Gardiner, who would, have said that the States had been divided into electorates in such a way that the interests’ of his party had not been conserved, because there was, for instance, no community of interests: between the’ miners and another section of the community in a particular electorate. The objections raised by Senator- Gardiner showed that the Commissioners had’ endeavoured to preserve community and diversity of interests amongst the electors in those divisions. That seats’ have been made more secure for Labour is due to the fact that the Commissioners’ have grouped industrial communities: where there is a community of interest, and where the electors generally vote: Labour.
– It is just as well for- some of the Labour members- that they did.
– The fact, mentioned by Senator Gardiner is. the clearest proof that the Commissioners have had regard’ for community of interest.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Notice of motion (by Senator Pearce) withdrawn -
That the Senate approves of the distribution of the State of Victoria into electoral: divisions, as proposed by Messrs. R. C. Oldham, A. B. Lang, and R. H. Lawson, the DistributionCommissioners for the purpose: of distributing the. said State into, divisions,, in their report laid before Parliament on the 29th day, of June, 1922, and that the names of the divisions suggested’ in the report and indicated’ on the map referred to therein, be adopted, and that, the name of the new division be “ Deakin.”
.- I move-
That the Senate approves, of the distribution of the State of Queensland into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs. A. A.. Spowers,
I do not propose to repeat the remarks I made with regard to the distribution of New South Wales, as I cannot add to my statement. The maps are available for any honorable senator who cares, to perusethem.
– The statement made by Senator Gardiner concerning the redistribution of New South Wales, divisions confirms my opinion about the position in. that State, the general effect being to make the Labour seats-
– Order!-. The honorable senator may not discuss the distribution proposals as they affect New Soutlh Wales. The motion has been disposed of.
– If I am allowed to develop my argument], I. am sure, Mr. President, you will that I shall be in order in. making passing reference to the New South Wales distribution, the general effect of which has been to confirm Labour and Nationalist members in their seats.
– You do not object to that, do you?
– I do object to the general effect of the entire distribution scheme.. I want to be perfectly fair. In 1913-14 the Labour party were in possession of. seven out of the ten seats in Queensland.
– Those were the days !
– Yes,- those were the days when my honorable -friend also flourished exceedingly.
– But gone are- those days !
– They will come again. The distribution proposal will make it almost impossible for Labour, as we have known it in the past, to secure that representation which it is entitled to, and which it formerly enjoyed.
– They were the dark days.
-. - If they were dark for the- honorable senator andthose who think with him, they were- brighter days- for the people. In. Queensland the
– Your information with regard to South Australia is incorrect.
– My informant as to the position ‘in South. Australia is a South Australian, and one who, probably, sees things a little clearer than does the honorable . senator. My opinion as to Queensland is based on my own knowledge, as is also my fear about the position in Victoria, because formerly I
Was resident in this State. It is obvious that two of the Queensland seats - Brisbane and Oxley - have been made somewhat better for Labour.
– It is a reformation, not a redistribution.
– But it is not satisfactory in all its aspects. Those are undoubtedly Labour constituencies. The constituencies of Maranoa and Wide Bay are more difficult for Labour to win, and are made still more difficult by the proposed distribution. I do not wish to reflect on any electoral distribution Commissioners. It is difficult to reflect on men holding such important positions; but I must still express the frank opinion that the total . result of the work of the Commissioners who divided Queensland is likely to be remarkably satisfactory to those who are opposed to the Labour party.
– Does the honorable senator say that that is not a reflection on the distribution Commissioners?
– I say it is not.
– It is undoubtedly a reflection on them.
– I do not think so, though Senator Earle is trying to make it appear so. I know one of the Commissioners, and have always found him to be an honorable man; but I still say that the effect of their work, so far as the distribution of Queensland is concerned, is likely to be that the Labour party will lose two Queensland seats. I say that whatever the influence behind it,
– Are the honorable senator’s remarks inspired by his . experience of the time when Mr. Theodore gerrymandered the Queensland electorates?
– When did that happen ?
-The honorable senator knows when ‘it happened.
– So far as the State electorates in ‘Queensland are concerned the last redistribution took place under the Denham-Barnes Government in 1912, and before the Labour Government came into power. The ignorance of Senator Duncan is alarming. Apparently, he is not aware that in Queensland the Labour party have on three occasions won general elections that took place on redistributions by former anti-Labour Governments.
– Does the honorable senator say that the State redistribution in Queensland now is satisfactory?
– I say that in viewof the movement of population during the last ten years it is satisfactory.. That movement has been recognised in the redistribution of State electorates on which the next elections in Queensland will take place.
– Is that new distribution satisfactory ?
-So far as I know there have been very few complaints made about it, although I do not say that it does not contain some anomalies. With respect to the redistribution of Queensland into Commonwealth electorates, to which I am now addressing myself, I am saying . frankly what I have in mind, though, no doubt, the proposed redistribution ‘ is pleasing to some Federal representatives who will be standing -for confirmed Labour seats. The Kennedy electorate which could be won in almost any circumstances by Labour has been made better for the Labour candidate.
– And worse for the Country party candidate.
– Worse for the alleged Country party. In the case of the Maranoa electorate, I do not think that . the objective of community of interest has been realized by the proposed distribution, because Barcaldine, which was in the northern section of the Maranoa electorate, has been included in the Kennedy electorate, and a Conservative end of the Darling Downs electorate has been dragged into the proposed new Maranoa electorate, and will make that electorate a most difficult one for Labour to win. I do not propose to move any amendment, because I realize that to do so would be of little use, and would “be merely wasting the time’of the Senate. I feel that behind the proposed redistribution there is a deliberate intention to make it very difficult, if not impossible, for the Labour party ever to regain political control in the Commonwealth Parliament.
– The motion before us particularly concerns representatives of Queensland in this Chamber; but glancing hurriedly over the proposed redistribution of divisions in Queensland, and in the absence of better information from the Government, I am anxious to know” whether allowance has been made in the way provided by the Act for giving a percentage over and above the quota to different electorates. I notice, for instance, that, as compared with country divisions, the city of Brisbane is given an increased voting strength. It is quite clear that if we desire to do more than merely indulge in talk about the drift of population to the cities, a chance is given to us in dealing with these redistribution proposals, to give those who live far from the pleasant resorts of the cities a better and more effective voice in public affairs by giving country districts, the benefit of the margin below the quota for which the Act provides. I notice that in the proposed new redistribution of Queensland, Brisbane is to have a voting strength of 39,000, whilst Capricornia, which is a country constituency, is required to have a voting strength of 42,000.
– What about Kennedy and Maranoa?
– I find that the division of Herbert is required to have a voting strength of 40,000. So that Brisbane, as compared with Capricornia and Herbert, is given a distinct advantage. Here are two glaring instances of two country constituencies that are not receiv ing the consideration which, in season and out of season, by means of GovernorGeneral’s Speeches and in every other way, we assert that they are entitled to.
– The honorable senator never heard me say that a man living in the country is entitled to more parliamentary representation than a man living in the city.
– I do not know that I have heard the honorable senator say anything more often than that the man living on the countryside should be given more sympathy than the man living in the city.
– I have never in election matters shifted from the principle of one man one vote.
– We might, in dealing with these redistributions, in a most effective way give the men on the countryside some chance of making their influence felt in this Parliament. To give a greater voting power to electors in Brisbane than is given to electors in Capricornia and Herbert may suit Senator Gardiner, but it does not, and never will, suit me. My voice will always be raised on behalf of the man who gets away from the congested cities of the Commonwealth and goes out to blaze the track. In this proposed redistribution of the Queensland electorates, men are penalized for blazing the track. The Minister (Senator Pearce) referred to the Maranoa electorate, which is to include 33,242 electors, but I remind him further that the number required for the Darling Downs electorate is greater than that required for the city of Brisbane. I feel . that I ought to be given an opportunity to voice the opinion I hold that if theGovernment really desire that’ the country shall progress, they will see that people living there are given greater voting strength than they are- given at present. In the absence of complete figures as to the quotas for country and city constituencies, I am unable to criticise the proposal as perhaps it ought to be criticised, but I have referred honorable senators to at least three country constituencies in Queensland in which electors are given less voting power than isgiven to the electors of Brisbane, and if the same principle has been followed in the redistribution of the other States, all I can say is that if these proposals are agreed to we are only mouthing when we say that we consider that the primary pro-‘ ducer and the man who lives in the country should be given some special protection and assistance. In the proposed redistribution before us, they are given less voting power than is proposed to be given to electors in the city.
– That is not correct.
– Let the Minister give the figures.
– The honorable senator has had them in his possession for a month.
– The Minister has more clerks at his disposal than I have, and he can tell us the quota for country and for city electorates. I have compared Brisbane with three country constituencies in support of what I have said, and I repeat that if the same principle is followed in the proposed redistribution of the other States, it is not justifiable, because it is a vicious principle.
– Dealing first with Senator Lynch, who complained that he had been supplied with little information, I may’ say that the honorable senator, in common with every other member of the Senate, receivedthe reports of the Electoral Distribution Commissioners, at the end of June, so that he has had a month to study them. If he had studied the Queensland report, he would not have made the statements which he has made.
– I did not get much information from the Minister’s speech.
– The honorable senator can read; he has had the reports before him, and has had, perhaps, more time to study them than I have had. He has said that Brisbane is given better representation than the country districts, but he was careful to refer to only two or three country constituencies. Honorable senators will find, on referring to the report, that Brisbane is given 3,438more electors than Kennedy, and 5,956 more than Maranoa. Taking the city constituencies into account, their average is 40,109 electors, whereas the average of the country constituencies is only 38,768. There is an average of 2,341 more electors for each city constituency in excess of the average for each country constituency.
I come now to Senator MacDonald’s feeble echo of Senator Gardiner’s charge against the scheme. The honorable sena tor was careful to say that he did not intend any reflection on the Redistribution Commissioners. I cannot conceive a more serious reflection on the Commissioners than to suggest that their scheme has been framed to impose a disability on one particular party, and give a political advantage’ to another. I ascertained by interjection, while Senator MacDonald was speaking, that the Official Labour Government in Queensland has recently had a redistribution of the State electorates. I asked the honorable senator if he was satisfied with the scheme, and he said he was fairly satisfied with it. The singular thing is that these three Commissioners, in carrying out their duties, as stated in paragraph 8, page 7, of their report, took into consideration all the essential factors in endeavouring to arrive at a fair and equitable distribution of the electoral population: -
After due deliberation, Your Commissioners agreed -
that the State should he so distributed as to provide for three metropolitan and sub-metropolitan divisions, and seven extra-metropolitan divisions; and
that in framing their proposals, particular attention should be devoted to the adoption, wherever practicable, of the external boundaries of groups of State electorates as the boundaries of divisions, for the purpose of facilitating the establishment, of uniform electoral rolls to be used jointly for Commonwealth and State elections.
The Commissioners, who are suspected of party bias by Senator MacDonald, and against whom he has made imputations, actually worked on the data of the perfect scheme drawn up and adopted by the Government of which he is so great an admirer.
– The Minister is referring to a “perfect scheme” which Senator Duncan has called “ Theodore’s gerrymandered scheme.”
– Senator MacDonald is one of “the elect” in Queensland, and therefore he must be accepted as speaking with greater authority and greater knowledge than we presume Senator Duncan to possess. I am answering Senator MacDonald’s objections by saying that these Commissioners took as their basis the scheme which he regards as being so perfect.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate approves of the distribution of the State of South Australia into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs. T. E. Day, O. H. Stephens, and J. Gardiner, the Distribution Commissioners for the purpose of distributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before Parliament on the 29th day of June, 1922, and that the names of the divisions suggested in the report, and indicated in red on the map referred to therein, be adopted.
– I wish to find out whether, in making the redistribution for South Australia, the Commissioners adopted the same vicious principle as has been adhered to elsewhere, whereby the electors within the metropolitan area are given more voting power than they are entitled to. Incidentally, I desire to point out that the three metropolitan constituencies referred to by the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) are not metropolitan constituencies, because they stretch for many miles into the country. The map of Queensland is a clear contradiction of what the Minister has said. If he cannot find any better reason for asking the Senate to agree to the redistribution of seats in South Australia than he resorted to in the case of Queensland, he has- a weak case. If a constituency which stretches its territory 70 miles into the country can be deemed to be metropolitan, then I am finished.
– The same principle to which I referred in the case of the Queensland redistribution, which Senator Lynch designated as “ pernicious,” has been adopted in the case of South Australia. There are fewer electors in the country constituencies than in the city constituencies. Three constituencies in the city have an average of 40,621 electors each, and four constituencies in the country have an average of 38,107 each.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate approves of the distribution of the State of Western . Australia into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs. H. S. King, H. R. Way, and J. F. Whitely, the Dis tribution Commissioners for the purpose of distributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before Parliament on the 29th day of June, 1922, and that the divisions referred to in the report, and indicated on the map as A, B, C, D, and E, be named as follows: -
– I consider that the proposed alteration of the names of constituencies will meet with the general approval of every one in the Senate.
– If we had a Labour representative from Western Australia he would probably think differently.
– I do not think so. ‘ I say, without fear of successful contradiction, that all the schools of political thought in Western Australia, Labour or otherwise, will approve of honoring the memory of a man whom every one looked up to as a big Australian.
– I think I could discover something that the honorable senator has said in the past that would not accord with what he is saying now.
– I have never said that Lord Forrest was other than abig Australian. I know he was an opponent of the Labour party for a very long time; but, putting party politics aside, I think that any one who knew him and his life’s work’ must admit that he was a big Australian and well deserving of any honour that we can extend to him. I have never said an unfair or an ungenerous thing about him or about his record of work as a great Australian. That was beyond reproach. I may have criticised him, but I challenge Senator Gardiner to repeat a single utterance of mine reflecting upon him as other than a big Australian, and I am pleased to see his memory honoured by one of the electoral divisions of his native State being given the name of Forrest.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate approves of the distribution of the State of Tasmania into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs. E. A. Counsel, J. E. Cathie, and P. C. Douglas, the Distribution Commissioners for the purpose of die- tributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before Parliament on the 29th day of June, 1922, and that the names of the divisions suggested in the report, and indicated in red on the map referred to therein, be adopted.
.- I have had an opportunity cf looking through the proposed redistribution of the electoral divisions of Tasmania, and conferring with some gentlemen there who have taken rather a keen interest in the matter. They have asked me to brine forward a very serious objection, which, I think, they are justified in taking, at all events, to the proposed altera-tion of two of the divisions in that State. The constituency of Darwin, which embraces the whole of the west and the north-west coast of Tasmania, has been altered to take in portion of Devonport, which is one of the principal towns in the north of the island. The other portion of Devonport remains in the Wilmot Division. Hitherto, that town, which is the largest outside Launceston in the north of the island, has always been included in the division of Wilmot, and it appears strange that, because the River Mersey separates the east from the west portion of the town, the Commissioners should think it .necessary to place East Devonport in a different division from West Devonport, the community of interests being identical.
– The river gives them a good boundary.
– It may be a convenient boundary, without effecting a fair division, having regard to community of interests. A portion of the city of Launceston has been in the Division of Wilmot, while the great , bulk of it has been in the district of Bass. I could understand the .Commissioners adopting these boundaries if it were impossible to arrange them otherwise. If East Devonport were taken with West Devonport, it would mean adding about 500 votes to Darwin, and that could be easily adjusted by taking a portion of the Kentish subdivision out of the proposed division of Darwin, and placing it in Wilmot, where it originally was. Bass is situated in the north-eastern portion of Tasmania, and embraces the great bulk of the city of Launceston. It has always had in it the mining districts of Fingal and St. Mary’s, known as the subdivision of Fingal. It is now proposed to take Fingal out of Bass, and place it in Wil mot. That would immediately destroy the community of interest. Wilmot has always been looked upon as an agricultural district, and Fingal as a mining community. The difficulty could be reasonably overcome, I am informed,!, by dividing Fingal, transferring a portion of the Lilydale subdivision and the whole of the Georgetown subdivision to Wilmot. Community of interest is the primary consideration that the Commissioners should keep before them. I think I have said sufficient to show that it would be possible to re-adjust the boundaries in a way that would not give any division an undue preponderance of voters.
– Does your suggestion involve the transfer of the whole of Lilydale 1
– No. If Fingal were allowed to remain in Bass, it would only give Bass an advantage of 1,400 voters, and the portion of the electorate proposed to be transferred to Wilmot would just balance that number of voters.
– The .River Tamar bas always intervened between the two divisions.
– But natural boundaries should never be allowed to outweigh community of interest.
– Fingal has been associated with Bass since the establishment of Federation.
– Yes; and furthermore, there are the north-east coast mines, and the whole of the northeastern belt is a mining district. I shall move that the motion be referred back to the Commissioners.
– That course is unnecessary, because, if the motion is not agreed to, the redistribution must be referred back.
– Then I intend to oppose the motion for the reasons I have assigned. I believe the Commissioners have done their best. My protest, as ‘far as Darwin and Wilmot are concerned, was forwarded .to the Commissioners, but, .unfortunately, it reached them a day or two too late, so that they have not had an opportunity of considering the objection.
Senator MacDONALD (Queensland) [4.291- - I ob ject to the proposed redistribution on behalf of the Labour senators who should be here from Tasmania.
So far from my remarks on this matter being a feeble echo of those of Senator Gardiner, I point out that I take the same attitude on this redistribution question in the party room, and I have had no consultation with Senator Gardiner. During the greater portion of his speech I was absent from the chamber, so I have but a slight , idea of what he said. I have no complaints to make concerning the Commissioners. I am acquainted with only one of them, and ihe is a man of high reputation, but the general opinion of Labour representatives is that under this redistribution the Labour party would stand to lose a number of seats, if the political pendulum took us back to- the position that existed in 1913-14. The net result , of the scheme is to wipe out two possible Labour seats in Victoria/ - the Grampians and Corangamite - and to establish a new electorate to be known as Deakin, which may be regarded as an anti-Labour seat. The effect, at any rate, is very unfavorable to the Labour party), and it is evidently desired to keep us from getting into power again.
– There is a stronger cause than that.
– The honorable senator speaks in riddles. If the Labour party had the same political mind as in 1913-14, it would be in an almost impossible position under the proposed redistribution as regards the exercise of political power. No matter how the Labour party might go up under this scheme, there would be very little chance of it gaining political control. With an alteration in the settlement of population other industrial centres may be established in places not at present anticipated, and so alter the position for Labour,, though that does not alter the fact that the boundaries of an electorate should not be denned by the cunning trickery of any people.
– The honorable senator is having a day out.
– The honorable senator may be surprised because I am speaking in this way; but there are senators in this Chamber who have taken
Up much longer time in discussing other matters of less importance than I have taken up to date. If we considered Tasmania from a Labour representative’s point of view, it would be found that the position there is similar to that in New South Wales, Victoria, and South* Australia. We know what happened in connexion with the Victorian proposal, because the so-called Country party, which has a certain amount of influence with the Government, can force them into–
– The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing that motion at this juncture. Any remarks on that proposal should have been made when the question “ That the notice of motion be withdrawn “ was put.
– I understand that I have missed my opportunity; but honorable senators are well aware that the position is as I have stated. In concluding I ‘ can only voice my objections to the motion. I am sorry that we have not a Tasmanian representative of Labour in this Chamber, because he would be able to put the position more clearly than one resident in another State.
– Senator Payne stressed the point that community and diversity of interest had apparently been overlooked. The honorable senator, however, lost sight of the obligation which Parliament, by an Act, has laid upon the Commissioners to not only consider community and diversity of interest, but means of communication and physical features. Unfortunately, the position in Tasmania is that there is such a tremendous disparity between electorates that the Commissioners had to take centres of population, or parts of centres of population, and add them to other centres. Between Bass and Darwin there is a difference of 5,000 electors. Between Wilmot and Denison there is a difference of 10,000 electors; between Darwin and Denison there is a similar difference; and between Bass and Wilmot a difference of 5,000. It is obvious, under these conditions, that the Commissioners had to take a portion . of Denison away and add it to other electorates. The same can be said in regard to Bass.
– I quite agree with that; but could it not have been done in a better way?
– They had to take away sufficient to add to the other electorates, and as the numbers in the centres of population are not very large, the Commissioners had a very restricted choice. The honorable senator will see that the only case where they have taken a part of a municipality or town has been in the proposed alteration of Darwin, and that has been done in order to make the number equal to what is regarded as a quota. They have taken a portion of Gormanston, Strahan, and Zeehan. In Franklin they have included a portion of Strahan; and, in order to strengthen Wilmot, have taken a portion of Zeehan, Devonport, St. Leonards, and Gormanston, to build up the electorates into something approaching electoral equality. In - the cases mentioned by Senator Payne the Commissioners have taken the river as the boundary, and surely that is having regard to physical features. Those who know the electorates must admit that while there is some mining in Darwin, in the portion adjacent to Wilmot community of interest has been considered, as there are small agriculturists and dairy farmers in both districts. It would be unreasonable for the proposals to be rejected because the river, which is a physical feature, has been taken- as a boundary. We would be stultifying ourselves if we rejected the proposal on those grounds, and the Commissioners, in having regard to physical features, have obeyed the command of Parliament.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 28th July (vide page 915), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– The debate in connexion with the redistribution of electoral districts has shown us that, although both Houses have to agree to the proposals of the Commissioners, it is a very good practice for either House to devote most of its attention to those measures which deal with its own particular business.
– The honorable senator must make due allowance for superior outlook and intelligence.
– I do not think that Senator Gardiner believes that a very liberal allowance need be made in his case or to the other representative of his party in this Chamber who has spoken concerning the- position in the other States in such a way that one would believe that he was a much- travelled person.
– Well, I have moved about a little.
SenatorDE LARGIE. - The portion of the Electoral Bill which affects the election of senators requires special consideration by this Chamber, as it is of more interest to us than to the members of another place. I have always held that a voting system that is suitable for a Lower House should be entirely different from one which concerns an Upper Chamber, and more especially one of the character of this Senate. The Senate is rightly regarded as a States’ House, the members of which represent the whole of the people, and who voice more particularly the opinions of the dominant majority of each State, and if we consider the position from that stand-point the portions of the measure which relate to the election of members to this Chamber must receive greater consideration here than in another place. The Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia holds a somewhat unique position among Upper Houses in other parts of the world, and so far as I am aware it is” the only Upper House elected by what may be termed the most complete adult suffrage it is possible to extend to the people. Elective Upper Houses in the schemes of moat Governments are usually constituted on a more restricted franchise than prevails in the case of the Senate, which is a Chamber of which we should be proud. This Senate is not only ah elective one, but its members are returned on the broadest possible franchise it is possible to extend to the people. In fact, in some cases the franchise is broader, from a democratic stand-point, thanis the case in connexion with the House of Representatives, which is very unusual. It is more democratic because it speaks for a larger constituency. It represents the whole of a State, and if we consider the case of at lease two of six States it will be found that in the Senate those States have twelve representatives while another place has only ten. I am referring now to the smaller State of Tasmania and the larger State, geographically, of Western Australia. The Senate ‘is a very democratic Chamber, where the franchise is not restricted.
– Is it not the contrary?
– Not if considered from the stand-point I have mentioned. If Senator Elliott refers to the fact that we have not equal representation for every voter within the Federation, he will see that that furnishes another reason why we should give, special attention to the position -of the .Senate. Had not the principle of equal representation in the Senate been accepted there would have been no Federation. The constitution of this Chamber as a States’ House was the key that opened the door to Federation. It was part of the Federal pact, and, as such, we should guard it very carefully. Whatever may be said ‘for- proportional representation for the House of Representatives, it cannot possibly ‘be adopted for the Senate, in view of the constitutional position occupied by this Chamber. Senator Gardiner. - But we take a much wider view of these matters than the framers of the ‘Constitution did twenty years ago.
– I do not know that we do. So far as my .reading goes, there is no more democratic Upper House in the world than this Chamber, and, therefore, the framers of our Constitution deserve all honour for their breadth of outlook.
– Take one matter, only, the question of salaries for members. ‘The framers of the Constitution thought £400 was sufficient, whereas we want £1,000 a year.
– I am sorry Senator Gardiner has introduced nhat matter.
– Surely it can. be used as an illustration of a different outlook as to the value of the .position.
– I was dealing, with .another matter altogether. The suggestion .made by Senator Gardiner is not in accordance with his general attitude, and certainly does him an injustice. Notwithstanding the pamphlets which honorable members receive from time to time, and ‘the articles <that one treads in the daily press, .written Joy men who are not sufficiently informed as to the .true position of the Senate, we must, I repeat, be exceedingly careful about the introduction of proportional representation into elections for this Chamber., because the probable consequences would .be to alter completely the basis upon which this Chamber was created. At the general elections of 1914 and . 1917 and 1920 representation in the Senate was captured by one party. If the Senate is to carry out its true function as a States’ House, it should represent the dominant section of the .people. Let us, for instance, .suppose that a double dissolution follows upon a dispute concerning some important question. Under proportional representation it would be quite possible to have one-half of the Senate returned supporting the Government of the day and the other half supporting the Opposition. In .such circumstances responsible government would be impossible. Equally unfortunate would be the result if each of the States returned three Free Traders and three Protectionists. I expect, of course, that . during the debate we shall hear a great deal about proportional representation.
– I hope so.
– Well, I hope that so far as this Chamber is concerned we shall have nothing to. do with tobe principle, because it would .ultimately destroy the position of the Senate as a States’ House representing the majority of .the people, it would be possible, under proportional representation, to have senators from each. State espousing six .different sets of opinions, and all more or less representing minorities. Thus the Senate would become a replica, of the House of Representatives, and would be furnishing the beet possible argument for its abolition.
– Are you in favour of proportional representation 1
– Not :for <the Senate.
I desire now to direct attention ,to the question of marking the ballot-papers. Until the last alteration in our electoral system the marking of ballot-papers for a .Senate election was .simplicity itself. All that the elector was asked to do w.as to place a cross opposite the name of any candidate he wished to vote for.. There was no ambiguity about the system at all,; but .in order that the Senate ballotpapers might correspond with .ballot- papers for the House of Representatives, the elector is now required to place the numerals 1, 2,, 3 opposite the names of Senate candidates he desires to see returned. We cannot make our voting system too- simple. It ought to he easily understood by every elector. The fewer informal votes at each election, the more satisfactory will be the result. The last alteration has not simplified matters for the average elector, nor has it made the position any easier for the returning officer. Every vote should have equal .value. In the case of Senate vacancies, ballotpapers marked in order of preference, 1, 2, and 3, should be equal, and counted as a primary vote. We have been told that, in practice, the counting of votes in the order of preference works out as if all the effective votes were of equal value. Possibly the system works out with mathematical precision as stated; but, at all events, it creates an impression that votes are not all of equal value.
– The first three ought to be counted as No. 1.
– Either they should be treated in that way, or the first three should be numbered 3-1, 3-2, 3-3.
– But you would not know which vote to cut out among those lower down in the order of preference.
– The elector, after having made his choice as to the first three candidates, could mark the other candidates in the order of preference, 4, 5, 6, 7, and so on, though I admit this would make the ballot-paper look somewhat clumsy. Senator Russell, I understand, has given notice of his intention, to move as an amendment that the votes on a ballot-paper marked 1, 2, and 3 should be regarded as of equal value. That, I think; would meet the case.
– My suggestion was not that the voter should vote 1, 1, 1, for the first three candidates of his choice, but that in the counting those ballotpapers marked 1, 2, and 3 should be regarded as No. 1 votes.
– I have referred to- both methods of marking, and believe that either would do, but we must adopt one if we are going to make the work of voting clear.
I wish to Bay a word or two in reference to the much-debated question of grouping candidates on the’ ballot-papers. In my view that is one of the least important of the amendments of our electoral law proposed by this Bill. At the same time I think that it is an amendment which is very necessary. I can see no objection to it, and I certainly ear see no violation of any electoral principle in it. ‘ If our object is to make our system of voting clear to the electors in order that they may east their votes in accordance with their intention, we must see that our’ system is made as simple as possible. The- proposal to group candidates will help in that direction. It is contended that it will introduce party politics into- our electoral machinery, but that matters very little because we know that we have party politics, have always had them, and, so far as I can see, we must continue to have party politics in any scheme of government.
– We have never yet had party politics recognised ‘by the Crown.
– I do not know what the honorable senator means by his expression “recognised by the Crown.”
– Party politics were recognised by our law in connexion with the referenda on the conscription question. The leaders of parties were allowed to put their arguments for and against the proposals.
– That is quite true. The leaders of the different parties were given an opportunity to put the party views before the electors. That was found to be most satisfactory and met with general approval. Whether the party system is recognised or not, no one can deny or wish to deny its existence. To my mind, it is the only possible system of government in a civilized community. I know of no other that can be substituted for it. We have heard a great deal about the value of the referendum, but in connexion with every referendum we have had in Australia party politics have been as prominent as they have been in connexion with any parliamentary election. The party system has been accepted to such an extent that we cannot hope to do away with it by any amendment of the electoral law.
– The electors elected National candidates throughout Australia, whilst at the same time they had sufficient intelligence to reject the proposals of the leaders of the National party for the amendment of the Constitution.
– That is so. Does Senator “Wilson object to belong to a political party?
SenatorWilson. - I object to bringing political parties -into the Bill.
– If he does, the honorable senator occupies a unique position. Whilst I desire the dominant opinion to be represented in the Senate, I also desire thatwithout any doubt whatever it should be representative of the majority. The party system has so far been the only method suggested by the mind of man for the government of a community such as ours, and how therefore can any one reflect upon the introduction of the party machine into our electoral law? Men are quite proud to ‘be associated with others on an electoral platform as belonging to the same political party. They issue party addresses to the electors, and go the length of issuing “how to vote” cards almost at the doors of the polling booths. They publish party posters throughout the country, and insert party advertisements in the press. In the circumstances, what harm can follow from associating candidates on the same ticket in order to make the position more clear to the elector ?
– So that they can run in any old thing.
– I do not think the proposals will help the candidates in any shape or form.
– I am very young in politics, but I think it will.
– Perhaps when Senator Wilson has gained a little more experience of parliamentary elections, he will find that it is not easy for “ any old thing “ to slip into politics. Political accidents of that kind very seldom happen. The honorable senator need not be afraid of the calibre of the men who will be returned to the Senate. He need not fear that “ any old thing “ will get into the Senate. The man who has to contest a whole State, and run the gauntlet of every section of the community, must possess capacity and character before he can hope to be successful. The grouping system has my. approval. It will clarify the position, and reduce the number of wasted votes. If, as the result of experience, it is shown that any harm is done through the adoption of the system, the electoral law can be altered again as it has been altered before.
– The honorable senator is going to vote for the grouping system.
– Undoubtedly. I always vote and speak in the same way.
– Has the honorable senator always been in favour of the grouping system?
– I think so, but Ave have not alwayshad to consider it.
– Will the honorable senator say that he has always favoured it?
– I cannot say that I have always favoured it, because it is a somewhat new proposal. However, I am in favour of it now. I do not speak without experience of elections. I know the great difficulty that men, and particularly women, who are not familiar with the names of our public men, have when they are presented with a long list of candidates from which they they must select those for whom they desire to vote.
– Is. it not correct to say that the honorable senator was. largely responsible for killing the grouping system when it was last before this Chamber ?
– I do not think that I have ever been responsible for killing anything or anybody. I am in favour of the grouping system, and of recognising the second and third preferences in the marking of a ballot-paper as equivalent to the first preference. I hope that representatives of the smaller States in the Senate will be particularly careful to have nothing whatever to do with the system of proportional representation, because it is distinctly contrary to the position which the Senate occupies in the scheme of Federation.
.- I am entirely opposed to the change in method intended to be inaugurated by clause 3 of the Bill. In my opinion the system of pre-selection- by party machines is an evil one. Already a great many of the people of Victoria, at any rate, are disposed to refuse to have anything further to do with it. It seems to me, however, that by this Bill it is proposed to make the party machine, all powerful. If candidates are to be grouped in the way proposed, that will operate inevitably as a suggestion to the electors that they are bound to vote for one or other of the groups.
– Why so?
– They will think so.
– They will certainly think so. They will consider that we are forcing this machine system down their throats, and they will blame the Nationalist party for introducing such a system.
– Does not the proposal, on the face of it, convey that impression ?
– It does to my mind. The electors generally will not know every detail of the provisions of the Electoral Acts. All they will have before them will be a ballot-paper, in which three candidates will be included in one group and three in another. They will be branded and labelled, and the electors will be asked to make their choice between the groups. That is a system to which I am altogether opposed. It is true that we have to some extent recognised party politics and political parties before today, but this Bill represents the thin end of the wedge for the introduction of the party machine into Parliament. This is a parliamentary recognition of the party machine. The Minister (Senator Pearce) pointed out that it originated in America and met with great success there, but America is a place where the party machine grew into a menace. It was one of the devices intended to perpetuate a party’s power for evil. We ought to have nothing whatever to do with it. We should, on the contrary, do everything in our power to prevent the party machine getting a greater hold of our institutions than ithas to-day. Only very recently we have seen the Scandals which arose an the British Parliament because of the use which the party machine made of the King’s prerogative of conferring titles of honour upon eminent men. Parties have seized upon that as a means of extorting huge sums of money that are applied to forward party aims. That is one example of the evil of .exalting the party machine, which this Bill is intended to recognise and uphold.
– Does the honorable senator not think that the best service that many of those “ eminent men “ render to the State is that they contribute to party funds ?
– In doing so they certainly render a service to political parties, but it is questionable whether they render a service to the community generally.
I have stated my objection to the principle of grouping embodied in the Bill, but I am opposed to the Bill as it now stands for another reason. I am strongly of opinion that we ought, as soon as possible, to provide for proportional representation in the Senate, and I intend, at the close of my speech, to move that the Bill is unsatisfactory to us because it does not make such provision. I want the great sectional interests of this country, which are not properly represented now, and which, in a democratic system ought to be represented, to be represented here.
– That sounds peculiar after the honorable senator’s declaration against the party machine.
– I have said that while party government has been recognised, the party machine has not; and I desire to keep the party machine from being recognised. While saying this, I nevertheless consider it essential that we should make provision for the proper re- presentation of sectional interests in Par.liament. Under the present system, sectional interests get no representation. There is no doubt that, at the last election, the Country party commanded a very great deal of support, but its interests are not in the least represented here to-day.
– I object to that statement. I represent the producers of Victoria, just as much as does any Farmers Union man, even with the brand upon him.
– That remark is correct. While we stated in our election campaign that we were prepared to represent those interests, there were, nevertheless - as appeared from the voting - a great number of people who would have preferred to send in their direct representatives, and return my honorable colleague, Senator Guthrie, as a second string.
– Do I understand the honorable senator to say that he promised the Country party that he would support them?
– We promised the primary producers that we would represent their interests to the best of our ability. One cannot say that the great industrial interests of this country - although so ably represented in this Chamber by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) - are adequately represented here. While that may be satisfactory to us as a party for the moment, it may not be so satisfactory to us in the future. The tendency everywhere is for the great cities to- grow, and for Labour and industrial interests to get power in such cities into their own hands. It may happen that cities like Melbourne and Sydney, with their huge preponderance of industrial voters, may get the absolute control of Senate elections for the States of Victoria and New South Wales. Country interests would then be absolutely and totally unrepresented. Although that is stating an extreme case, it may be realized at any time. Now is our opportunity, when the National party is in power, to guard against the possibility, and to insure that every large interest is .adequately represented. Nothing less is worthy of us here in the Senate. It was said by the last speaker that we would be split up into a number of little sections, all of which would be fighting one another. That is not possible where only three men are being elected, and the smaller sections would be obliged to indicate their preferences in some way for the people representing the larger sections. The principle of proportional representa-tion is making steady progress in the countries of the world. It has been adopted in the latest, of the Dominions that have been granted practical independence within the British Empire. In
Ireland, both the North and South Parliaments are elected on the system of proportional representation. I have heard that the recent elections there, were entirely satisfactory. At any rate, the adoption of the system had the effect of totally defeating the attempt that was made to “ rig “ the election by the political parties of the time, the anti-Treaty-ites and the Treaty-ites. There was a great return of representatives of the Farmers and Labour parties, who were not previously represented in the Provisional Convention.
– Does the .honorable senator say that both the political parties were against the Treaty?
– No. The De Valera-ites were against the Treaty, and the Collins party were- for the Treaty j but they arranged between themselves that they would not stand against each other, so that the new Parliament would be exactly the same as the Convention. The proportional system having been adopted, however, that arrangement went by the board, and the opponents of the Treaty, instead of getting a “ walk-over,” as they had hoped for, were defeated by the great body of public opinion, which returned sectional representatives in the farmers’ and labour men. That is how the present position has been brought about. The desperate opponents of the Treaty said they would not take a hand ii> the Parliament, and turned to arms. These facts are an argument in favour, of proportional representation as defeating any attempt to “rig” the elections by means of the party machines.
– Does the honorable senator favour proportional representation for the Senate?
– I do, because I think it is unfair that- my friend, the Leader of the Opposition, should have to carry the weight of representing alone, or practically alone, the great body of the industrial workers. The change to proportional representation might be disadvantageous to my party at the present time, but I am sure that the ultimate result would be beneficial to all. I think that if other parties were more adequately represented here the Government would be compelled to pay greater attention to the dignity of the Senate. They have removed from Ministers in this Chamber practically every important portfolio, and if they did not get so much of their own way they would be compelled to pay greater deference to us. In order to give effect to my beliefs, I move -
That all the words after the word “ That “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ the Bill is unsatisfactory to the Senate inasmuch as it does not provide for proportional representation.
Senatorde Largie. - That sounds like a vote of want of confidence in the Government.
– There is no such intention. I hope that the Government will so amend this Bill that it will he acceptable to those of us who believe that we should . provide in a democratic manner for the representation in the Senate of all interests.
– I second the motion pro formâ because, while I disagree with the objections to . the Bill entertained by Senator Elliott, I have special reasons of my, own for desiring the rejection of the measure;.- I particularly object to what I would regard as a blot upon our electoral system - the group or ticket system of voting. We have been experimenting during the past twenty-one years in connexion with our electoral laws, and it is well for honorable members to recall the fact that the plumping’ system introduced in the early days by one party, and looked to for salvation by that party, was at another time considered by the same party to be the bane of its existence. Plumping made it possible- for the return of senators professing what were then known as the clear and undiluted principles of the Labour party. Those representatives found themselves here by virtue of the inclusion of the principle of plumping in our electoral legislation. Later on the anti-Labour party, which had resisted the introduction of the plumping system, clamoured for it. It is equally true that, with regard to the postal vote, we have been tinkering with our legislation. The utmost opportunity was given to people to vote by post, and after that system had been in- operation for some time, it was recognised that it was liable to such gross abuse; that we nearly had to abandon it. It has been so modified that it is now -unrecognisable as compared with its original form.
So f ar as the postal vote and plumping are concerned, public opinion is not very mature, and now we are invited to adopt the group . system. Throughout our experience as a Commonwealth the party system has proved an evil - perhaps a necessary evil, but an evil just, the same. I do not know whether the trouble is more manifest now than it was: at the inception : of . theFederation ; but we are asked to make an innovation that is . at once most uncalled for and pernicious. In the country where it has been triedextensively the people are turning their hacks upon it. I need not say that the system is borrowed from the United States of America, where it has been in operation for many years. I propose to quote the late Viscount Bryce to show what has taken place in America owing to the’tendency to encourage and solidify the party system. If we desire politics in Australia to be preserved from the- discouraging features of American politics, we ought to endeavour to keep the party system, under. I am quite aware that I shall be asked how it is possible to get on without that system. While it is impossible under present conditions, it is. our duty to discourage party government andthe party . system as much . as possible. My ideal is that this Chamber should consist of thirty-six independent members.
– There is a fair amount of independence manifested in this Chamber now, and the honorable senator is not the least striking example of it.
– I hope to see that independence more pronounced than ever. I am trying to do my share in that direction, as one who believes that this Chamber has come to stay as an integral portion of our constitutional system. Notwithstanding all the press and other criticisms from outside, this is the one Chamber that springs from and represents the deliberate choice of the people. It enables them to search out from amongst themselves the best and most approved types of their kind, who come here as national representatives, and register their opinions in the country’s interests. It is true, as I have said on a previous occasion, that the Senate does not contain an array of great statesmen, such as it once boasted of ; but it is equally true that the present mediocre members are just as necessary to the carrying on of the government of Australia, and they have been called upon to remedy conditions brought about : by the actions of the statesmen of by-gone times. It would be a fell day for this country if its representative institutions had to be subjected to any form of underrating that would prevent representative government, and particularly majority rule, from prevailing. It would certainly be a downward step to lose hold of the high niche to which the race has been raised by the efforts of our forefathers.
I oppose this Bill not exactly for the reasons outlined by Senator Elliott, but because of the blot it contains in the shape of the group system. I believe that system came into vogue in the early day? of the United States of America, following closely upon the revolution, and it has slowly become part and parcel of the American system of government. It is plainly admitted there to-day that a really high-class man, in the political sense, is in a hopeless position as a candidate for the Presidency, because the party system is so much -encouraged that it is useless for a man of outstanding civic virtue and merit to offer his services as an independent candidate. Seeing that under this system good men are debarred in the United States of America, we should be - very wary before introducing the very thing that has prevented the most able citizens from receiving the highest office in the gift of the people of that land. Viscount Bryce has a very interesting chapter as to why the able men are not coming forward. He points out that when the big figures, such as Washington, Webster, Franklin, and others, had vanished from the scene there was, up to the time of the American War, almost a barren period, wherein no men of particular distinction came forward to reach the presidential chair. Every crisis brings out a country’s best men, but there is no reason why, even in quiet times, we should not have the advantage of the services of the most capable and distinguished people amongst us. Viscount Bryce, in bis chapter in The American Commonwealth, headed, “ Why great men are not chosen for the Presidency.” says -
Because in America party loyalty and party organization have been hitherto so perfect that any one put forward by the party will get the full party vote if his character is good and his ‘”’ record,” as they call it, unstained. The safe candidate may not draw In quite so many votes from the moderate men of the other side as die brilliant one would, but he will not lose nearly so many from his own ranks. Even those who admit his mediocrity will vote straight when the moment for voting comes.
Thus it is seen that the grouping system favours the man of mediocre talents, and allows the man of high capacity to be rejected. Viscount Bryce further says -
An eminent American is reported to have said to friends who wished to put him forward, “ Gentlemen, let there be no mistake. I should make a good President, but a very bad candidate.”
– Has not the party machine in America produced a long list of distinguished Presidents?
– We are living in an age of evolution, in a time when Senator Gardiner and every other man should wish to see the best men win; but this system, a leading element of which we are asked to implant in our legislation, has had the effect of handicapping the best talent in the community. If there are candidates of outstanding capacity, let them come forward and be enlisted under the banner of national duty. This system, according to the high authority I have quoted, is barring their way. What is done during a great crisis in the British Empire? Did they during the war period depend upon the slow, and cumbersome method of selecting men by party machinery? Not at all. They said, “ Now we are in the hour of our darkest peril, and, although our party machinery is here, we must go outside the ordinary routine and select the best men to guide this country.” Honorable senators know, what the practice then was. Elections had nothing to do with it, because the necessities of the nation were very pressing, and the most suitable men had to be selected. They were not obtained through the ballot-box.
– Lloyd George was elected through the ballot-box.
– What is tho use of irrelevant interjections of that nature, when the honorable senator knows that under the direction of Lloyd George’s Government the ballot-box was ignored, and -the services of such men as Sir Auckland Geddes and others were secured ? We have not to look far to find that Parliaments have departed from the practice of seeking their best men through the* ballot-box.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that we should have men who are prepared to ride over every one and everything?
– I am simply directing attention to the practice in other countries, and the interjection of the honorable senator clearly discloses the great gulf which exists between us. I have already shown that the ballot-box is not the expedient by which any country can secure its best advisers and counsellors. The grouping system has been borrowed from the United States of America, a country which borrowed from Australia the ballot system, and we are going back and adopting a system which is waning in favour in other countries, where it has been tried and has failed. It would be well to remind honorable senators who are not well acquainted with the fact that party government, discipline, and management has been a fine art in the United States of America, above all other countries in the world, where everything is regimen tali zed and directed by local enactments. The States enact laws for the control and management of primaries equivalent to our Labour leagues and National organizations. Just imagine a Parliament in this country turning its attention from the more important issues before it and getting down to framing Statutes for regulating and controlling the administrative machinery of the humblest political organization in the country! That is what has been done in the United States of America, but there is now a revulsion of feeling against such a practice. Honorable senators know that nearly every State in the Union has passed statutory laws regulating the control of political organizations, and have placed upon them the imprimatur of authority to the detriment of more important subjects. This revulsion of feeling has arrived, and it is well to remember that in the world’s affairs we always wait until the danger is upon us and the crisis arrives before a change is made. On page 240 of Cleveland’s Organized Democracy, we find the following : -
Ignoring of Party Designations.
The above systems of nomination recognise only party nominations. There is a growing tendency to abolish all party recognition in municipal elections. In Des Moines, candidates for municipal offices appear upon the primary ballots without any party designations. The two leading candidates of the primary elections for each office are placed upon the general election ballot, thus assuring majority choice at the general election. In a majority of cities where party recognition has been abolished, the primary election is done away with entirely, and the candidates appear upon the general election ballot by position only.
This method is now in use in Boston and many small cities.
SenatorRowell. - That is in connexion with municipal elections.
– Yes; it must be understood that municipal government in. the United States of America is very important, and the policy of party recognition in the United States has been abolished by the people after being tried for sixty or seventy years. We should now ask ourselves whether we are going to introduce a system which has been tried and which has failed in other places. If it can be shown that it is an advantage, well and good. Dealing with the essentials of the proposal itself, I can quote other statements “by Viscount Bryce which are equally emphatic and convincing to show how party recognition by legislatures has been overdone. On page 92, volume 2, of Viscount Bryce’s standard work, The American Commonwealth, we find the following: -
Apart, however, from this objection,- Europeans whose habit of regarding party organization as a purely voluntary matter and parties as fluid and changing, not solid and permanent entities, makes them averse to any legal recognition of parties as concrete and authoritative bodies existing within the community, arc disposed to ask whether these laws may not be a sort of counsel of despair, an abandonment by the good citizens of their old hope of extinguishing or superseding the machine altogether by the voluntary and unfettered action of the voters -themselves.
That is Viscount Bryce’s opinion of what is happening in America. Quite apart from the general aspects of the case, we are endeavouring to superimpose upon our electoral machinery something entirely foreign and totally, unnecessary in dealing with intelligent people. We are told that one of the reasons for its introduction is to avoid mistakes. Will it be contended for a moment that it is not within the power of ‘ the average elector to select the names of three senators from a list of candidates which may number twenty or perhaps thirty? Is human fallibility so marked that it is beyond the power of an elector to vote for the representatives of his party without embodying such a proposal as this in our electoral law. Mistakes, I know, are made, and I can recall instances where informal votes were recorded in ballots taken in this Chamber. How are we to remedy it? Are we to say, in view of the number of informal votes recorded at elections, that many of the people cannot read plain English. What sort of admission is that for us to make, having regard to- our system of free education? If we do this- we may find ourselves charged with ignorance and incompetence, and there will be ground for such a charge. It’has been said in support of this preposterous proposal that the grouping system will not help one party more than another. But where will it lead. Is there to be any limitation to which parties can be subjected? . We have now representatives of the Country, Nationalist, Labour, and Socialist parties, and quite a number of others- of lesser importance, seeking political honours. Goodness knows how many more parties will arise if they are entitled to be grouped under the provisions of this Bill. Are we going to superimpose upon our electoral system something more confusing and more complex than anything there is to-day? What does the grouping system mean? In . order to determine how one group shall take precedence over another; there are no less than thirteen clauses- and sub-clauses to regulate this ultra-complex innovation in our electoral law. When we are discussing this particular clause, I shall have more to say, and shall endeavour to obtain additional information from the Minister. Who- is to decide if, -say, John Smith is to attach his name to one group or the -other? Who will say that he shall not be grouped with the representatives of a particular party ?
– The other members of the group will decide-, that.
– Where will he be if they refuse to admit him ?
– An independent.
– Yes, at the tail end.
– He may be at the top.
– No; the groups take precedence, and he will be among the nondescripts or independents at the tail end. We have had members in this Parliament who were not prepared to attach themselves to any political party; but we are deliberately providing in this Bill that their place shall be at the bottom of fifteen, twenty,or, perhaps, forty, names. Is that the way to treat independent candidates ‘ If we had men of the Lloyd George calibre in this country who would refuse, to- associate themselves with any grouping system they would be at the- tail end. Are we justified in saying that independent, candidates shall be placed at the bottom-, of the- list? That is where we shall be placing, them.
– That is- where they will want to be.
– I quite realize what- the honorable senator’ means.
– Cannot the honorable senator rely upon the intelligence of the electors?
– I am prepared to credit them with more intelligence than this proposal does-.
– Will; not the electors select an independent candidate if they wish- to vote, for’ him?
– That is what they can do under the present system. Why alter it.?.
– He- would be in the same- position as a man whose name began with, say, W.
– No system should treat an independent man,, who is the, salt of political life, in this way. Every independent man should have the fullest opportunity for the expression of his views. Let us suppose that a man whose name was Abraham Anderson declared, his independence of party nomination. Where would he be put on the ballot-paper under this grouping system?
– At the: top.
– No. He would be down at the bottom amongst those candidates whose names might begin with Z. Under the operation of these thirteen clauses, the unfortunate returning officer would be called upon to determine the rival claims of candidates, and would be obliged to put Abraham Anderson, an independent candidate, right down amongst those at the bottom of the list. This is an innovation that I am not prepared to adopt unless it can be shown clearly and definitely that we shall be doing wrong to no man. We have been told that the grouping system is to be introduced in order to obviate informalities at elections. But rather would I allow that blot to remain upon our electoral system than that we should introduce a system which has been tried and rejected in America.
We in this Chamber are on a pedestal, because we are the recognised advocates and mouth-pieces of the several States that sent lis here. Let any honorable senator say he is prepared to run counter to the interests of his State in any substantial degree, and very quickly his place will be not inside but outside these walls. This is a States House. We who are its members are the avowed representatives of the States, and if we adopt this grouping system we shall be doing no good service to this Chamber, which takes, -as it is expected to take, the widest possible view of National politics, placing always the interests of State above the interests of party. Are we to subordinate the interests of this country to the interests of party? We have passed through two quinquennial ^periods of strenuous party strife, but we are sobering up now, and the time is coming when the development of each State should be allowed to proceed along lines to be determined by the people themselves. The States should revolve upon their own axis. They must not be fused, and should not lose their identity in the Federation. If a member of this Chamber is asked, “ What are you ?” he will, of course, prefer to say, “ I am a member of the. Senate of the Commonwealth,” rather than that “ I am a member pf a certain political party.”
– But what is party, after all?
– The honorable senator asks me, What is party ? I remind him that, during the war period, party considerations counted for notting. When the enemy were knocking at our gates in the distance, party -considerations counted for nothing. Why, then, should we introduce into our electoral system something that has .been abandoned by progressive peoples elsewhere?
– Will you run without a. party at the next election ?
– I do not know whether I shall be running or not.
I have already admitted that the party system is bud. The national welfare will not be served by this attempt to ingraft it upon our electoral system. There is no guarantee that its adoption will lead to fewer informal votes, and as for the smooth working- of an election, I do not know what, will be the .position of a returning .officer, or how he will determine a demand by a candidate, to be attached to any particular’ party. Who is- to be the umpire ? If, for instance, a candidate declares that he wishes, to be grouped as a Labour candidate without the- sanction or indorsement of the Labour executive, who is to say him nay ? If we say ‘ that, notwithstanding our advanced educational system, our own people are incapable of picking out three names of candidates on a ballot-paper, and that in order to avoid informalities we must group the candidates, according to parties, we shall label ourselves as a nation of ignoramuses. I am not prepared to do that. The proposal should be rejected because it will elevate the party system. I could submit quotation after quotation from the authorities to whom I have already referred, showing that ‘this system has been rejected by every other progressive community in the world. If we want to keep this Chamber on a pedestal in the eyes of the people, as a States House, we. will reject the group system as embodied in this measure. If, on the other hand, we want to put the interests of party before the interests of the nation, then, of course, we shall adopt it. If we are to be wise in our. generation we will discard this discredited innovation because it will be nothing more nor less than a blot upon our electoral system, which has worked fairly well up to the present.
T6.171. - I appeal to Senator Elliott to withdraw his amendment. I understand that he is dissatisfied because the Bill does not ‘provide for proportional representation : but if he wishes to test the feeling of the Senate on. that question, the BiU will not prevent him from doing .so. Senator Russell has already availed himself of the opportunity. Senator Elliott may not be able again to speak to the Bill, but he may get another, honorable senator to submit a motion giving an instruction to bring before the Committee that section of the Act which deals with the system, of voting. I shall not oppose any such action, and the Committee will, therefore, have an opportunity to record a straight-out vote for or against proportional representation. This will not place any honorable -senators in a false position, and I am sure Senator Elliott does not wish to do that. Possibly, some honorable senators are in favour of proportional representation, and yet may be in favour of some of the provisions of this Bill. Even if Senator Elliott’s amendment were carried, it would not further the cause of proportional representation.
– The Minister is in error when he says that Senator Elliott has lost his opportunity to take any action. He may give notice of a contingent motion to be moved when the second reading of the Bill has been carried.
– That being so, I invite Senator Elliott not to press his amendment.
– One can always, listen with pleasure to the enthusiastic eloquence of Senator Lynch. There is always something in what the honorable senator has to say, and the manner in which he says it commends it to one’s attention. I listened with pleasure to the honorable senator denouncing the party system with all the vigour of a most earnest nature, but I thought that if I felt as keenly on the party system as the honorable senator does, I could suggest a course of action for him to take. He will not be p, candidate at the next Senate election for Western Australia, but I suggest to him that he might resign his position in the Senate as a party man, and see what the electors of Western Australia will think of him as an opponent of the party system. Within the next six months, probably, he will be afforded an opportunity to stand on the high pedestal upon which he would place the rest of us, as a .man who refuses to continue to sit in this Chamber as a nominee of a political party. There is no member of the Senate who is not a direct representative of. the party system. When Senator Lynch quotes the opinion of great men on the party system of America, he commends rather than condemns the system. I would like the honorable senator to mention the name of one great man who, in the last fifty years, has been prevented from becoming President of the United States of America because of the party system. The system has given that country some very remarkable men. The party system has found its highest development in Great Britain? which has set an example to the world in the management of parliamentary government. What has tended most to secure for the British Parliament the title of the “ Mother of Parliaments “ has been the departure from the old system of the selection of the Government by the Monarch. (Gradually, and with the effluxion of time, and the crystallization of public opinion in Great Britain they have reached a system under which the members of the Imperial Parliament form themselves into parties, and there is a distinct division in the Parliament itself, with a Government on one side and an Opposition on the other. Thishas tended to keep parliamentary government pure in Great Britain. It is true that some things of a not very creditable character may have taken place, but we should look at the system of government as a whole, and if we read history rightly we have reason to be intensely gratified at the success which has followed the adoption of the party system in Great Britain.
It is contended that the Bill proposes to introduce the party system into our Electoral Act.
– To give it a legal benediction.
– What is proposed by the group system will be of the greatest convenience to the electors. What will, be the difference between the ballotpaper that will be placed before the electors, should this Bill become law, and that which has been placed before them in the past?
– What is proposed is really not a grouping system, but a very undesirable labelling system.
– I want to get at the point. It is of no use for honorable senators to discuss the measure with a preconceived idea of what is proposed if they do not take the trouble to read the Bill. I have here an example of the ballot-paper to be issued under the provisions of this measure. It contains eleven names, and I want honorable senators to consider what would be the difference between the ballot-papers issued in each case if a similar number of candidates sought election for the same seat under the existing law.
– A very considerable difference.
– The difference would be merely that should the Bill pass, the party candidates will form themselves into groups, and immediately before the name of a candidate the letter “ A,” the letter “ B,” or the letter “ C,” and so on, will appear. That will not interfere with the freedom of the voter to indicate his preferences in any way he pleases.
– He need not give a party vote at all.
– Of course he need not. Under the old system, candidates whose surnames commenced with the letters “ Z,” “ Y,’’ or “ W “ have had their names appearing at the bottom of the ballot-paper. If the grouping system is adopted such persons may find their names included in the “ A “ group or the “ B “ group. Will that be in any way injurious to candidates? I do not think it will, and, personally, I think that the position in which a candidate’s name appears on the ballot-paper makes very little difference.
– That is contrary to the argument of those who advocate the grouping system.
– I want to emphasize the fact that the only difference in the ballot-paper which will follow from the adoption of the grouping system will be the placing of the letters “ A,” “B,” “C,” “D,” and so on, in front of the names of the candidates, and a candidate whose name might otherwise appear at the bottom of the ballot-paper may find it included in a list at the top.
– All the electors are to be put in the alphabetical class.
– I remind the honorable senator that all the electors are placed alphabetically on the electoral rolls. In the State which I represent, the electors will find a way in which to vote for those whom they desire to see returned, no matter in what position their names appear on the ballot-paper. There are party organizations in all the States, and the electors vote according to party views. The Senate will not be going out of its way should it decide to make it easier for the electors to do so. It is suggested that some difficulty arises where the names of candidates are very similar, though they may belong to different parties. I know that at the last election it was suggested that my name appearing on the ballot-paper after the names of Cox and Duncan and immediately preceding that of Garling, I received a great many votes that were intended for Mr. (now Senator) Garling. It was claimed that electors who were opposed to me voted for me and left Mr.
– No; they put me in with Messrs. Grant and McDougall.
– At the election Senator Garling received less than 6,000 first preference votes, owing to the fact that the party to which he belonged gave 240,000 first preference votes to Senator Cox. To prove that there is anything in the statement that I received Senator Garling’s votes to secure my position, it would be necessary to prove that the name of Gardiner is more like the name Garling than the name Garling is like the name Gardiner. If, in the one count, I received his votes because of the similarity of our names, surely -in the first preference votes he should have received mine.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– The only question for argument regarding this new ballot-paper is that it proposes to change the order in which the names may appear upon it. Instead of being in alphabetical order, the names will be alphabetically arranged according to groups. The paper will be no different from the old ballet-paper, except for that change and the addition of the letters “A,” “B,” “C,” “D,” “ E,”&c, to the candidates’ names. The electors will have the same wide choice of individual men as they have to-day.
– Why not mark the name of the parties on the ballot-paper instead of using only letters?
– The use of a letter would simplify the ballot-paper ; the use of the names of parties would confuse the electors. Before the dinner adjournment I was quoting the fact that Senator Garling and I were running at the last election, and I claimed that the similarity of our names made no difference to the result of the poll. I am using that as an illustration. [ find that of the first preference votes Senator Garling got 5,949. My vote was 113,000. I am, not using that as an argument adverse to him, because in a large part of New South Wales I was given No. 1 by my party, and in no part of New South Wales was he given No. 1 by his party. If, outside the organized party voters,, there were only 5,949 people who would vote for Senator Garling in preference to me, it would not be much of a compliment to him to say that part of that number belonged to me, but was given to him by mistake. More votes could only have gone to Senator Garling by mistake than came to me by mistake if the name of Gardiner is more like- Garling than Garling is like Gardiner.
SenatorRowell. - Could not the honorable senator have got . Senator ‘Garling’s third vote? ‘
– I. certainly did not get Senator Garling’s third vote when he and I were running off. The figures are worth looking at when we are considering an amending Electoral Act. I find that when my colleagues, ex-Senators Grant and McDougall, dropped out, Senator Duncan benefited practically to the extent of over 2,000 votes. My colleagues had between them 190,000 votes, and Senator Garling improved his position by a little over 3,000, showing that even the names of Duncan and Garling made very little difference. In the final count, when. Mr: Falkiner, the . Country candidate, dropped out, his large vote of 136,000 was distributed. Of those Senator Garling received 99,336, while I got 34,277. I think that was a very fair division of Mr.Falkiner’s votes. They were really the votes which, in the final count with Senator Garling and myself, ended the election. When we are considering the form of aballot-paper for the ‘electors, we can quite well leave it to their intelligence to find out for whom they want to vote. They do not make any mistakes. If any one will go through the State voting, as I have done, he will be . surprised at the intelligent following of their parties by the whole of the electors of the Commonwealth.
– In the face of that argument the honorable senator is surely not . supporting this proposal.
– In the face of that argument I am supporting it. This ballot-paper no more introduces party politics into the’ electoral system than does the present ballot-paper..
– I have never heard & more forcible argument, against the proposal than that nut forward by the honorable senator.
– It needed no forcible argument to -put Senator Wilson against it. There is nothing on the proposed ballot-paper in the nature of a party inducement or a party statement. The candidates are grouped according to the orders of their party; but there is nothing on the paper to show whether they are Nationalists, Labour supporters, or Socialists.I have no objection to the party system ; in fact, I have a great deal to thank it for. I never would have been in politics, and would not be in . the Senate to-day, but for it. I think most honorable senators will say the same thing. There may be some who have exceptional ability, and would get into the Senate anyhow ; but most of us realize that, but for the party system., the marvellous ability that we possess would never have been recognised by the public outside. I cannot help referring to Senator Lynch’s enthusiastic attack on the party system. With what is he going to replace the party system?
– Common sense.
– He will have a very great difficulty in finding enough Western Australians to win all the seats in the other States. Judging by Senator Lynch and the other representatives from that State, it is to Western Australia alone that we must look for common sense. Senator Lynch most eloquently denounces the system under which we were all elected, but he sat down without saying one word to indicate in the most vague way what he would propose to take its place. How did the party system originate ? It originated by the steady growth of attention paid to the electoral system by the outside public. It was the outside public that created parties. The parties are the machines for sifting the grain; and will Senator Lynch say that if he is going to sow a crop of wheat he will not have anything to do with the new-fangled machines that separate the good grain from the bad? In farming there are means of winnowing grain . before it is sown, and the party machines winnow the grain of politics. Can any man live in the public life of this country and do anything which discredits him in the eyes of his country or his party? If he does so, the party is a machine which is ready to displace him. I am quite sure . that any human system will hare its defects. With a little effort and practice I think I could use any existing system. Before
I condemn a system, I want, to” know whether the country has yet developed anything better to take its place. As soon as the free and independent electors outside Parliament - and they are very free and very independent - say that they have had enough of the party system, then it will’ go: The more I become acquainted with the party system, the more I realize that, however much we may complain about it when it does, not suit us, the civilized world has very much to thank it for. It. would be a very great loss, say, to the public life of this, country if Senator Lynch, in his independence,, grew to such an extent intellectually and otherwise that he despised parties, and said to the electors of Western. Australia, “ I will consider no party. I will not act in accordance with the dictates of the will of any party. I ian going to Parliament as an independent man to: vote as Senator Lynch thinks right upon every question that comes along.” >His would be an ideal position, if he could get here; and it would be an ideal position when he was here. But what is the use of trying to achieve the impossible? We have before us now a Bill containing an innocent proposal to alter the ballot-paper by breaking away from the old system, and arranging the names in groups in alphabetical’ order, with letters of the alphabet against each name. Honorable senators say that this would mean the introduction of the party machine into the polling booth; but I am very dubious about that.
I now come to the question of proportional; voting. On the whole, I am against it. It may be that I have not studied the question well enough. It may be- that I am rather Conservative in regard to the things with which I do not agree. If I had to choose an ideal system of elections for any Parliament, I should choose the good old system of “ first past the post.” That obtains in England at the present time, and I think we should get representative Parliaments by it. But it is not what we desire. I recognise that the question of preferential- voting has come to stay. When first introduced into this House I made a slight effort to stop it. I might have succeeded but for the brutality of the President. Unfortunately he, using, very properly, the powers which this House has conferred upon him, broke down my efforts by- a physical strain that I could not continue under: During the dinner adjournment my colleagues would not allow me to- continue. They said that preferential voting allowed the majority to. be; represented, and they- were going to stick to1 it. The question of proportional representation is now raised. If there is any Parliament in existence, or any House elected’ by the people, where proportional representation could be used with les3 evil effects than anywhere else, I believe that it ia.in the Senate elections. One very’ grave’ objection ,to it in the House of Representatives’, would be that, in the event of a. by-election:, the people would be robbed of their right to fill the vacancy.
– Under the proportional system, am applied in Tasmania and New South Wales, there would bo no. method, by which an extraordinary vacancy in the House’ of Representatives could be filled by the vote of the people. As far as the Senate- is concerned., that objection to the system does not exist, because. such vacancies are filled by the State Parliaments. Whether we make proportional representation, the law for the election of the Senate, or whether we go to the country under the present conditions,, or in accordance with the present measure, without proportional representation, I think there will be enough common sense - and, shall I say, generosity - on the part of the people to see that th’s House is not composed of the representatives of one party only, or does not consist of thirty-four representatives of one party and two of another:
– Those of us who advocate proportional representation wish to see equitable justice.
– I have recognised the fairness of proportional representation! ag applied’ to the Senate, but, with parties as at present constituted, is it likely to make matters any better for them? In this Chamber the Country party representative is a Nationalist. Senator Wilson is as Conservative as possible, and is always prepared to give a vote against the progressive interests of the country.
– He is against the Commonwealth Shipping Line.
– He- is against everything by which the Commonwealth
Democracy will benefit. I have heard some honorable senators contend that speck States like Tasmania are entitled to the same representation in the Senate as the big States.
– The United Kingdom itself consists of specks like that. Tasmania would not have joined the Federation if it had not been allowed the same number of seats in the Senate as the other . States. We are still a sovereign State.
– That shows the selfishness of some people.
– We had to be separated from the big States to get decent- legislative attention to our own needs.
– The small States cannot expect the intelligence of a growing Australian Democracy to continue such an absurd system.
– You cancel the contract, and Tasmania will resume its original position as a sovereign State under the British Crown.
– The contract is drawn up in such a simple manner that the people themselves can alter it. The time is not far distant when every State will be part of Australia, and when every man will be an Australian, and not a State’s representative. When that time comes unification will have superseded the Federation. Surely nobody will say that our Constitution is fixed and unalterable. We may alter it under the measure we are now considering.
– Surely on your speech you will favour proportional representation ?
– I am not much against it, but I find myself in a difficult position, public .interests conflicting with personal advantage.
There are one or two provisions in the Bill that need serious attention. We should not get excited over the form and shape of the ballot-paper and pass a measure for which we may be sorry afterwards. I realize that this is a machinery Bill, which can be best dealt with in Committee, but it would be a great mistake, in my opinion, to enlarge the powers of returning officers in asking questions of electors. If there is one thing more than another that we should guard against in electoral matters, it is the tendency to in terfere with the voters’ right to exercise the franchise independently.
– Do you believe in an elector voting early and often?
– No ; nor do I agree that a returning officer should be allowed to brow-beat an elector, and do anything that might prevent him from voting. If a returning officer is in doubt as to whether a person is entitled to vote he should be allowed to require the elector to sign a declaration. But we should be very cautious about increasing the limited number of questions a returning officer is now permitted to put to the elector. He should certainly not be allowed to harass him. A voter, under this proposal, could be asked if his place of living was “ bond fide “ within his division. An elector might want to know what that expression meant, and by the time the elector had heard the returning officer explain the meaning of that Latin phrase, it is possible that he would be frightened out of the polling booth. But under this Bill, it is intended that the elector shall not be permitted to go back to the returning officer, because there is a special clause to debar him from raising the same question again that day. I maintain that our chief object should be to make the electoral system as simple as possible. How can any good arise from duplicating the number of these questions? The Electoral Department, like all Government Departments, is always looking for more power. It is well known that people get excited on election day, and some electors are so nervous that almost any question by the returning officer would drive them, out of the polling booth. First of all, the returning officer may ask three or four questions; then the scrutineers, probably, want the questions nut in their way, and it is quite conceivable that a nervous elector would be prevented from exercising the vote. We would be well advised to adhere to the existing provision as to questions by returning officers. Will anybody contend that impersonation has increased of late years?
– In the disputed Ballarat election it was contended that certain people had been improperly allowed to vote, and if these questions could have been asked on that occasion the trouble there would have been’ prevented.
– I am glad the Minister has mentioned that election.. The upsetting of it was due to the action of ‘the returning officer. Are we to give more power to these officers? Speaking broadly, I think the Commonwealth, will generally secure the best men that it can get for the work. Why should we overload the electoral law with such provisions as that now proposed, unless to cure some apparent evil?
– It may be for the protection of the elector.
– This provision does not give him very much protection, because the Returning Officer has the right to disallow a vote. That right should not be given to any Returning Officer. An official may have the authority to say that if an elector claims the right to vote he must sign a declaration, and if his right is substantiated his vote should be allowed; but it is unjust and unreasonable to give a Returning Officer the right to disallow any elector’s vote. There is another provision under which, if an elector states his objections in such a way that the Returning Officer is satisfied he has grounds for objecting, he can, by signing a declaration, vote; but I am. referring to the elector who cannot answer numerous questions, and who is not to bo allowed the privilege of leaving the booth to obtain the necessary information, and on returning to record his vote. I live in the Wentworth electorate, and on approaching the Returning Officer I may be asked in which division I live. My reply might bo to the effect that I was not quite sure, as I was on the boundary of Lawson and Waverley. The Returning Officer, who may bc a careful man, would probably say that that answer was insufficient, and would disallow my vote. After leaving the booth, however. I could satisfy myself on the point and return and inform theofficial that I was in the Waverley Division ; but the law will not .allow me to reenter the booth mid record my vote, as Parliament has decided that the matter cannot bo opened up again on the same day.
– The honorable senator has not read the clause carefully, because lie will find that if the Returning Officer will not allow a vote an elector can insist upon his right.
– I think I am making the position quite clear. Under sub-clause 3 an elector, if he knows his rights, can vote, but one of my chief objections is based on the fact that an elector cannot vote unless he answers the questions. The sub-clause reads : -
The voter’s answer to any question put to him by the Presiding Officer under the authority of this section shall be conclusive, and the matter shall not, subject to this section, be further inquired into during the polling.
– Read sub-clause 4.
– It is:-
Where a person’s claim to vote has been rejected in pursuance of this section, and that person alleges that his claim to vote is wrongfully objected, and states the ground of his allegation, the Presiding Officer shall, notwithstanding anything contained in this section, permit him to vote if he makes a declaration in the prescribed form before the Presiding Officer as to the grounds of his allegation.
If it is intended that an elector can return and vote after he has obtained the information he requires to answer the questions correctly, what is the use of the provision which I have read? If we delete sub-clause 3 that would meet the case of an elector who had ascertained his rights and demanded a vote. My most serious objection, however, is in connexion with the questioning of voters in the booth.
– An elector - can in- .sist upon hia rights without leaving the booth, notwithstanding what the Returning Officer says in regard to his vote.
– And the man who knows his light will insist upon exercising it. What is an elector to do who looks upon the Returning Officer as one possessing authority, and who should be obeyed, if he tells him- that he has not the right to vote? If he went outside and consulted his party manager he would come back and demand the vote. I have known electors to be refused the right to vote, although their names were on the roll, and on one occasion I went into the booth with an elector, and coached him in demanding his right to vote. When I entered the booth the Returning Officer said, “ What are you here for?” I replied, “ To vote, and if my name is not on the roll I will get out.” The elector I was assisting demanded his right to vote, although he had been turned out of the booth half-an-hour previously merely because they knew how he was likely to vote; but that incident occurred during a State election some time ago when politics were not so pure as they are to-day. If the officials are at all suspicious, and believe a person is acting dishonestly,
surely the electoral machinery is sufficient to protect the interests of candidates. Senator Duncan interjected that electors had been convicted of impersonation; but there are no provisions in the Act under which they could be convicted. Any person claiming the right to vote should be allowed to do so, and the Returning Officer should be given full power to punish any person who votes illegally. I do not care how stringent the provisions are made; but the rights of hundreds of thousands of voters should not be prejudiced merely to prevent one dishonest person from voting.
I understand that Senator. Elliott will accept the suggestion of the Minister, because in its present form the amendment as to proportional representation might be regarded as a vote of censure on the Government, which, of course, would have my approval. I trust, however, that when the amendment is moved the Senate will deliberately consider the whole question of proportional representation, and although I could vote against it the occasion is one of those on which I would place public interest before personal advantage. Even Senator Wilson has convinced me of the advantages of a proportional system.
– Does the honorable senator believe in the representation of minorities ?
– Under the proportional system in New South Wales positions have arisen which prove conclusively how little we know concerning ihe system. In one instance a Returning Officer gave a decision after dividing the votes by a certain figure; but the Parliamentary Elections and Qualifications Committee displaced the candidate and put another man in his place. I have seen quite a number of communications to the press, some of which have stated that under the Tasmanian Act the matter would have been decided as it was by the Elections and Qualifications Committee, and others are decided by the Returning Officer. It can. therefore, be seen that there is still a difference of opinion as to the method to be- adopted in arriving at a decision, and, apparently, we do not know enough concerning the system. Outside I have referred to the present Electoral Act as a fraud and a swindle.
– The honorable senator must not refer in this Chamber to an
Act passed by this Parliament in that way.
– I realize that, Mr. President, and I shall content myself by saying that I have referred .to the Act in that way outside, although I am not doing so here. I have, however, referred in the Senate to that Statute in the strongest- language I was capable of employing. Under the existing Act exSenator Grant and ex-Senator McDougall did not have all their votes counted in the last election, and surely that is unfair. Ex-Senator McDougall’s figures - were 87,000, and those of ex-Senator Grant, after ex-Senator McDougall had dropped out, were 104,000. There were three vacancies for the Senate, and with such a large number of votes surely all their votes, as well as my own, should have been counted. My votes were first counted against Senator Cox, who beat me, then against Senator Duncan, who also defeated me, and then against Senator Garling, whose name is so like my own, and whom I eventually defeated. I am supporting this Bill because it is an improvement on the existing measure; but it would be preferable if the votes recorded for the number one candidate on the first count were of equal value for the first three vacancies. Some time ago the Electoral Department submitted a proposal for the party system of voting which this Senate, in its wisdom, rejected, with the result that only one of the three Labour candidates for New South Wales was returned at the last election.
– That happened elsewhere to every one.
– Not at all; and the fault is in the present system. I would welcome an amendment to the exists ing Act which provides that, although there are three vacancies to fill, the electors have the voting power to fill only one. Perhaps under the preferential or proportional system the Minister will see that when there are three vacancies to fill the electors shall have the right to vote for the three candidates desired, and that the election of a candidate shall not depond upon the rejection of certain candidates before the next- votes are counted.
– Were the votes of which the honorable senator speaks second, third, fourth, or fifth preferences?
– Second and third preferences. In New South Wales, the Labour party arranged that in one division I should have all the first preference votes, in another that ex-Senator McDougall should have them all, and in another that ex-Senator Grant should receive them. In the first count, ex-Senator Grant received 84,000 votes, and ex- Senator McDougall 84,100, and I was leading the Labour men with 113,000 : that was when I was supposed to be defeated.
– The honorable senator endeavoured to defeat the electoral law, but he did not’ succeed.
– No. After exSenator McDougall had readied a certain stage, his votes were not counted; and when he dropped out ex-Senator Grant got ex-Senator McDougall’s votes, but. he did not go any further.
– And the honorable senator got the advantage.
– That is the preferential system.
– That would be all right if there were single electorates; but this is an instance in which three candidates were required to fill three vacancies.
– The Senate electorate is a single electorate so far as the counting is concerned.
– So far as the counting is concerned it returns only one man. I need not argue the matter further, because every one must have a vivid recollection of the counting of the votes for the Senate at the last election in New South Wales. In my run off with Senator Cox, when we got to the end of the tether, he reached his quota, with about 20,000 votes more than were counted for me. In the run off with Senator Duncan I came a little nearer the top, and then in the run off with Senator Garling my votes exceeded those which were counted for Senator Duncan. Although he was declared elected before I was, I secured more than 1,000 votes in excess of the number counted for him.
– Senator Duncan’s votes were not all counted.
– I admit that. My own opinion is that, had I been out of the way, and ex-Senator McDougall’s votes been counted, he might possibly have secured even a larger number of votes than were counted for me. Where there were three vacancies to be filled, I contend that every elector should have been given the benefit of every one. of the first three votes cast by him.
– The honorable senator’s argument appears to be that with a smaller number of votes there would have been two out of three candidates returned belonging to his party.
– My argument is simply that where three vacancies have to be filled, the electors who are asked to fill those vacancies should each have three votes. As a matter of fact, what happened throughout Australia was that Labour had only one vote at the last election. That is to say, the whole strength of the Labour vote in every one of the States was counted for only one candidate. That might happen to the National party at the next election.
– It might happen to any party in a big minority.
– I claim that where three vacancies have to be filled, the first three votes should be counted. Failing that, I would prefer proportional representation, because it would, at any rate, give each candidate the number of votes to which he was proportionally entitled. Even though the Minister may be under the impression that the existing system of counting is right because under it he was returned, I hope he will look into the matter seriously, and will agree that, as an election for the Senate is held to fill three vacancies, each of the electors is entitled to three effective votes.
– Adopting the suggestion of the Minister for Home and Territories, I ask leave to withdraw my amendment, with a view .to submitting it in another form at a subsequent stage.
Amendment. by leave, withdrawn.
– I do not intend to speak at length, but some statements have been made during the debate which have led me to think it necessary to express my views. I wish, first of all, to refer to some remarks made by Senator MacDonald, remarks which he repeated in ‘another discussion to-day. Prefacing his remarks by saying that he did not intend to reflect on certain Government officials, the honorable senator proceeded to reflect on them in very severe terms. He proceeded, also, to reflect on members of the Senate. He said that he realized that no matter what he said he could not affect the vote of any member of this Chamber.
– That is not a reflection; it is a fact.
-BROCKMAN. - The honorable senator knows that it is not so. I invite him to look at some of the divisions, and he will find Senator Gardiner and I are on the same list against proposals brought down by the Government. I wish to tell the honorable senator that he is introducing into the Senate an entirely now tone, which has not previously been noticeable during the time I have been a member of this Chamber.
– Is the honorable senator sure that he is correctly interpreting my remarks?
– If Senator MacDonald will submit, not merely abuse, but arguments that will be convincing to intelligent people, he will secure their support, no matter on which side of the House honorable senators may sit. That is my experience in this Chamber. If he casts reflections on the intelligence of honorable senators, for my part I shall resent it, and I tell him so very plainly. If he can submit an argument capable of convincing me, I will support him; but if he abuses me because I happen to belong to the great National party, he will certainly get no assistance from me, and where he hits he will be hit back.
– The honorable senator appears to have been hit pretty badly.
– BROCKMAN. - Senator, MacDonald devoted most of his remarks to clause 2, to which ho somewhat strenuously objected. His main contention was that it was better that ten men not entitled to vote should, record votes rather than that one man entitled to vote should be denied his right. That is an extraordinary doctrine, which might very well come from Queensland.
– From which State the greatest men in the Commonwealth have come.
Sen a tor DRAKE - BROCKMAN. - Some very great men in the Commonwealth have come from that State, but every man who comes to this Parliament from Queensland is not necessarily a great man, even if he abuses his opponents and does not endeavour to convince them. With the contention of Senator MacDonald I cannot agree. My view is that it is better that one man should fail to have his vote recorded rather than that ten others not entitled to vote should record votes which may have the effect of defeating the intention of the majority of the people. Senator MacDonald claims to be an ultra-Democrat in favour of one man one vote, and one vote one value, and he ought to agree that Parliament should be a proper reflection of majority opinion.
– The honorable senator believes that ten should go guilty, rather than that one innocent person should be punished.
– BROCKMAN.That is an extraordinary question. 1 do not believe that any one should be guilty, but if he is guilty he ought to be punished.
The next comment to which I wish to refer is that of Senator Bakhap. He stated, amongst other things, that he believed that honorable senators, either individually or in groups, had been influenced by outside political organizations. The political organizations of Tasmania may perhaps have approached the honorable senator on this subject, but no political organization has approached me, or has endeavoured to influence my vote at all. I do not know, in fact, what the point of view of the political organizations in Western Australia supporting the party to which I belong, is on this subject. I do know my own views on. it, and I express them here regardless of what the views of outside organizations may be. I believe that those organizations are, in the main, composed of very intelligent people, and consequently their point of view will probably coincide with mine.
Senator Bakhap also suggested that by passing this Bill we shall be inferring that the electors are grossly ignorant of politics and candidates, and that when confronted with a ballot-paper they will not be able to understand it. I do not think that such an inference can fairly be drawn. Another (honorable senator suggested at the same time that under this measure electors would be voting for a letter of the alphabet rather than for particular candidates. As I understand the Bill, the individual elector will retain every right that he has at present. He may, if he pleases, vote for one candidate of each party. The provision to which exception has been taken is intended for the purpose of assisting the elector, and not hindering him in any way. He will still have all the freedom of choice that he enjoys under the existing system. To say that by passing this measure we shall be reflecting on the intelligence of electors is absurd. We are endeavouring to assist the electors. We know perfectly well that even men of the very highest intelligence - of the high order of intelligence that we find in this Chamber - when they come to exercise a vote sometimes make extraordinary mistakes. I have known important ballots taken amongst honorable senators in which informal votes were recorded. If that can happen amongst men of the intelligence of honorable senators, how much more likely is it to happen amongst the great majority of electors who have not the same opportunity of keeping themselves informed with regard to current politics that honorable members have. To say that the measure is a reflection on the intelligence of the elector is the quintessence of absurdity . It is an endeavour to help the elector, and if it will do so, it will be something gained. I am prepared to vote for it believing that it will be of very material assistance to the elector in coming to the conclusion the desires to come to,and in securing the result he desires from the casting of his vote.
Senator Keating’s comment was on very similar lines to that of Senator Bakhap. He stated that no matter what we said the public would say that Parliament was endeavouring to assist the organizations outside. I . want to make it clear that I am not endeavouring to assist any organization at all. I am endeavouring to assist the elector.
– I do “not think that any branch of the National Federation in Australia has expressed an opinion on the matter.
– I have not heard of any. The organizations that support me have expressed no opinion on it. I believe that they have not been aware of the intention to introduce this Bill.
– The honor able, senator should not forget that a’similar proposal was submitted to the Senate before.
– I believe that happened while I was still on active service, and I am, therefore, not familiar with what occurred on that occasion. The measure comes to me per fectly fresh. No influence has been brought to bear upon me by other members of this Parliament. I do not know the debate which took place on the matter before, nor do I know the opinions of the political organizations outside upon it. My own view, and I have been materially influenced in it by the ballots which have taken place in the Senate, is that honorable senators, as well as the ordinary average, intelligent elector in the community, need every assistance that Parliament can afford them in recording their, votes.
I would draw the Minister’s attention to the wording of clause 3. I know what he desires to achieve, but I am a little doubtful about the wording of the clause as it now stands. I suggest that he might refer it back to the officer who drafted it,, with a suggestion that it might be reconsidered and made plainer. I think that probably what the Government wants is there, but I have a slight doubt about it.
I do not propose to deal with the other portions of the Bill here. They can be much more . appropriately dealt with in Committee. I am inclined to think that there is a great deal of truth in the contention of Senator Gardiner that clause 14 will require some amendment in Committee.
.- One or two of Senator MacDonald’s criticisms suggest the impetuosity of a beginner in politics. There was, for instance, the criticism in which he chided me for proceeding with the debate on the second reading of the Bill before the report of my speech had appeared in Hansard. Had his Leader been in “the Chamber at the time, I am sure he would not have made that criticism.If the honorable senator had had more experience he would know that if a member desires to obtain a proof “copy of another member’s speech he usually asks for it. and if the member who made the speech has no objection, he arranges with Hansard for a proof to be supplied.
– I suggest that that should be done as a matter of routine.
– There is an objection to that which Senator MacDonald will be the first to urge when he is a little older in political life. Before he allows his speech to get into the hands of his political opponents, he will like to be certain that the report is correct. He will prefer, I feel sure, to correct the report of his speech himself before it is circulated to his opponents, although the Hansard reports are generally so accurate that they need no correction.
Regarding the nomadic elector, I can assure the honorable senator that this Bill will not prevent him voting. The Bill does not interfere with the sections of the Act, and has to be read in conjunction with it. The sections in the Act which enable the nomadic voter to vote are not touched. What the Bill proposes, and what it secures, I shall explain. We have compulsory enrolment, and it is the duty of the elector to see that his name is kept on the roll for the subdivision in which he is entitled to be enrolled. These clauses are for the purpose of securing that while he does this, he does not also keep his name on a roll on which he is not entitled to be enrolled.
Senator Garling seemed to have some doubt, although he was in favour of the grouping system, whether the clause would really give power to form a group in certain circumstances. He will find that owing to the way in which the clause is drafted, the grouping has to be done in a prescribed manner. A form which candidates will be able to obtain will be provided, and after agreement among themselves they will fill in that form, which will be obtainable long before the date of the election. Senator Garling questioned whether, if Brown, Smith and Jones agreed to form a group, Robinson could come along and demand to join the group. He thought that if Brown, Smith, and Jones did not agree to the inclusion of- Robinson, the group could not be formed. That view is not correct. Brown., Smith, and Jones could be grouped, and Robinson’s name would appear’ on the ballot-paper, but not as a member of the group. Senator Bakhap said that the provision for grouping is a reflection upon the intelligence of the electors. I wish to address a few remarks to those honorable senators who used that argument. What is the use of intelligence without the information necessary to enable it to form a judgment? This, clause does not propose to provide the intelligence. It proposes to provide the information, and the intelligence of the electors, having the information, is then capable of expressing fully and without mistakes the judgment that it has formed.
I am inclined to- think that Senator Russell, in his remarks on the ‘methods of counting, has been influenced unduly by his own experience in the last election. He is inclined to find fault with the system as it exists in the present Act, because of something which occurred to him, and which he seems rather to resent. The argument, as he stated it, does not seem, to me to apply. If the group provision had been in the Act at the time of which Senator Russell speaks it would not have, prevented him from being included in the group that his name appeared in. On the other hand, it would have facilitated his being there, because I understand that there was no objection on the part of the other two members with whom he was grouped to his inclusion with them. Therefore, his experience at the last election cannot be used as an argument against, at any rate, the group system, nor can his forecast of what may happen four years hence. He said he might not be prepared to sign a pledge to any party. It is not a condition of the formation of a group that a candidate must sign a pledge. There is no such obligation.
– There is an obligation to get into the group.
– There may be an obligation of that character in a party, but not in the party to which Senator Russell is attached. There is no pledge in that party. Even if there were it Would be a question between Senator Russell and his organization as to whether he should sign it. If his organization is willing to indorse his. candidature, and to put him forward as one of a group, I cannot see how his forecast of the position at the next election, or his statement of the position at the last election, would prevent him. from being a member of the group.
Senator Russell also mentioned the counting of the primary votes, and Senator Gardiner enlarged upon the same thing. I. shall have something more to say about that matter when we get into Committee, where we shall be able to consider Senator Russell’s contingent notice of motion and Senator Elliott’s proposal in favour of proportional representation. In regard to the arguments put forward by Senator Russell and Senator Gardiner, I take it that we do not want to try to invent a counting system that will enable us to take more out of a quart pot than we put into” it. What we desire is a system- that will record truthfully and accurately the view of the majority of the electors in a State. That is what the Act and this Bill purport to do.. I think that an examination of the votes cast at the last election made it clear that the Act accomplished that. As a matter of fact, the . voting not merely for the Senate, but also for the House of Representatives, when added together for each. State, showed that the Official Labour party was in a minority in every State. Therefore, if the preferential system is destined to give the seats to the majority party, then, judging by the votes cast for the House of Representatives, the results justified the system. I therefore say that before we alter the system of, the counting of votes we ought to be quite sure that we are not merely tampering with it, and not endeavouring to get a piebald system of proportional representation out of it. If the Senate- is in favour of proportional representation, there is a proper and accepted method of getting it. The Senate may decide to adopt a welltested system- by which we can have proportional representation, but it cannot get proportional representation under a preferential vote by altering the system of the counting of the primary votes. Itseems to be in Senator Gardiner’s mind that by an alteration of the method of counting, results similar to those obtainable from proportional representation can be . achieved. Senator Gardiner is clearly lamenting the fact that in New South Wales at the last election only one representative of the Official Labour party was returned. He seems to be asking that they should return more. There were not sufficient votes cast in New South Wales to justify more than one, unless there is to be some other’ system. I ask honorable senators, before they alter the’ present system of counting, to thoroughly satisfy themselves that the new method they propose to adopt will be consistent with the principle of preferential voting, and that they will not be bringing in a freak system that will have freak results.
– Proportional voting would keep the Nationalist party in power for some time.
– I think that result is pretty sure to be obtained under any system. When there are three vacancies to be filled for the Senate, and there is only one ballot-paper, there are really three- elections in the- count, and the. same principle ought to apply, in each of these counts. There can be only one man and one vote in each count. If we were, to give the first three votes- equal value, there would be three primary votes in a single electorate. There would be three separate elections on the one ballot-paper.
– When there are three candidates to be elected. No. 4 is the first preferential vote.
– Yes. It would complicate the system. - I hope the Senate will not accept the . suggested alteration without making sure that it would be a step in the right direction.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time. ‘
– May I ask if Senator Elliott will have an opportunity to submit his proposal in favour of proportional representation?
-Senator Elliott’s right to submit his proposal is fully conserved, because the section which he proposes to amend in the principal Act is exactly the provision that Senator Russell wishes, in accordance with his contingent notice of motion-, to have opened for consideration.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to-
That it be an instruction to the Committee of the Whole on the Commonwealth Electorals Bill to consider on amendment of section 135 of the principal Act.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Senate adjourned, at 9.21 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 August 1922, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1922/19220802_senate_8_99/>.