9th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) tookthe chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
SenatorMcDOUGALL.- I ask the Leader of the Senate whether he is in a position to explain what appears to me to he a departure from precedent in connexion with the proceedings yesterday on theopening of Parliament? I noticed that no member ofthe GovernorGeneral’s staff on that occasion appeared in the uniform of the Black Watch, and I should like to know whether that was merely accidental or was intended. as an i nsult to Scotland ?
Question not answered.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister -
– The Prime Minister furnishes the following replies: -
SenatorFOLL asked the Minister representingthe Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer furnishes the following replies: - 1.No.
SenatorFOLL asked the Minister representing the Treasurer upon notice -
– The Treasurer supplies the following information: -
SenatorFOLL asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister supplies the following answer : - 1 and 2. The Government has not yet had time tofinally deal with this important matter.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral furnishes the following replies : -
Canungra Timber Mill
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
What action do the Government intend to take with regard to the Canungra Timber Mill and various timber properties lying idle in Queensland?
– The Minister for Works and Railways furnishes the following reply: -
This matter is at present receiving earnest consideration with the view to an early decicion being reached.
Returns of Retail Prices- Paper
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
If the incidence of the operation of the Navigation Act, as it affects the State of Tasmania, the Territory of Papua, and outlying portions of the Commonwealth, will be taken into early consideration by the Government?
– The Minister for Trade and Customs informs me that the matter will receive consideration.
Special Annual Grant
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
If the Government will give early considertion to the urgent matter of the special annual grant to Tasmania?
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers supplied are -
SenatorFOLL asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Ministor supplies the following answers : -
Hobart Regatta Association
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer supplies the following answers : - 1 and 2. The Department proposes to tax payments made for admission to the grandstand to view the Hobart regatta. This action is supported by the advising of the Crown Law authorities.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will the Government, at the earliest possible date, consider the question of increasing the duty on imported maize, to protect the primary producer against the cheap maize being imported at the present time?
– The Minister for Trade and Customs supplies the following answer: -
The matter will be referred to the Tariff Board for report..
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister supplies the following answers: - 1 and 2. Yes.
In addition to general precautionary measures already taken, a cablegram has been despatched to the High Commissioner’s Office, London, regarding the particular case referred to in 1, with a view to preventing the man’s departure for Australia.
Disposal of Harness Factory and Woollen Mills
asked the Minister for Home andTerritories, upon notice -
– This question should have been addressed to the Minister for Defence, who supplies the following answers: -
Motion (bySenator Cox) agreed to -
That leave of absence for the remainder of the present session be granted to Senator E. D. Millen on account of ill-health.
The following Sessional Orders were agreed to (on motion by Senator Pearce.) : -
That the days of meeting of the Senate, unless otherwise ordered, be Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of each week : and. that the hour of meeting, unless otherwise ordered, be 3 o’clock in the afternoon of Wednesday and Thursday, and 11 o’clock in the forenoon of.Friday.
That during the presentsession, unless otherwise ordered, the sittings of the Senate, or of a Committee of the whole Senate, be suspended from1 p.m. to 2.30 p.m., and from 6.30 p;m. to 8 p.m.
Adjournment on Fridays.
That during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, at 4 o’clock p.m. on Fridays the President shall put the question - That the Senate do now adjourn - (which question shall notbe open to debate; if the Senate be in Committee at that hour, the Chairman shall in like manner put the question - That he do leave the Chair and report to the Senate - and upon, such report being made, the President shall forthwith put the question - That the Senate do now adjourn - which question shall not be open to debate.
Provided that, if the Senate or the Committee be in. division at the time named the President or the Chairman shall not put. the question referred to- until the result of such division has been declared; and if the business under discussion shall not have been disposed of. at such adjournment, it shall appear on the business-paper for the next sitting day.
That on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, Government business shall take precedence of all other business on the noticepaper, except questions and formal motions, and except that private business take precedence of Government business on Thursday, after 8 p.m.; and that, unless otherwise ordered, Private Orders of the. Day take precedence of Private Notices of Motion on alternate Thursdays.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That a House Committee be appointed, to consist of the President, the Chairman of Committees, Senators Cox, Drake-Brockman, Guthrie, Hoare, and McDougall, with power to act during the recess, and to confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth PublicWorks Committee Act 1913, the following, senators: be appointed members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, viz., Senators Foll, Newland, and Plain.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Committee of Public. Accounts Act 1913, the following senators be appointed members of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, viz., Senators Bolton, Buzacott, and J. D. Millen.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That a Standing Orders Committee be appointed to consist of the President, the Chairman of Committees, Senators Duncan, Elliott, Foll, Gardiner, Lynch, McDougall, and Payne, with power to act during the recess, and to confer with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
– I objected to this motion being treated as formal because I wish the Senate to have an opportunity of determining thepracticewhich it ought to follow in regard to the appointment of thisCommittee aswell as the Library and the House andPrintingCommittees. In the appointment of members to.serve on the Joint Public WorksCommittee and Joint Committee of Public Accounts we had a precedent in the practice followed last session, and I hold that appointments to the Committees I have just mentioned should be in exactly the same position. An honorable senator who was unsuccessful in the recentelection, but who retains hispositionuntilthe end of June, should hold his place on these Committees until this successor takes his seat in this Chamber and has an opportunity of voting upon the personnel of these several Committees. If we proceed to-day with these appointments we shall exclude, for instance, the successors of SenatorsBuzacott, Henderson, and myself from any say in the matter.
– Oh, no. These are Sessional Committees, and will have to be re-appointed when we meet again. The positions are filled each session ; they are not for the life of the Parliament.
SenatorDE LARGIE . - How do we know when the present session will end? I presume it will last for some considerable time yet.
– I hope at will not last until July.
– It might last longer than the Government.
-That is so. The term “ this session “ is very indefinite., and, so far as appointments to these Committees are concerned, we ought to establish the precedent that the successors of defeated senators should have some say in them, because the new senators will have to abide by the decisions of these Committees. Most of us do not attach a very great deal of importance to the positions, but, nevertheless, we should not prevent recently-elected honorable senators from having some say in their appointment. I admit that there is a difference of opinion as to what our proper attitude should be. This matter was first threshed out in another place, and I thinkwe would be well advised if we adopted theprocedure followed in the appointment of the Public Works and Public Accounts Committees, namely, allow defeated senators to continue to hold their places on them until the new senators take their seats in this Chamber.
– Senatorde Largie has brought forward a. matter that is well worthy of careful consideration. We have to recollect that the elections were held earlier than was expected, andthat certain honorable senators who were defeated at the polls will, under the Constitution, retain their seats until the expiration of the present financial year. In order that no injustice may be done to those senators who, unfortunately, were defeated, andwho perhaps may feel that they arenot being treated courteously by being left off these Committees, I move as an amendment -
That a Standing Orders Committee be appointed, to consist of the President, the Chairman of Committees, Senators de Largie, Duncan, Elliott, Foll, Gardiner, Lynch, and McDougall.
This will include the old members, and . Senator McDougall will take the place on the Committee of Senator Crawford, who has been elevated tothe Ministry., a step uponwhich we all congratulate him. The appointment of Senator McDougall, who has come to swell the ranks of the Opposition,will insure also that the Opposition will be fairly represented on the Committee.
– It is not in order to proceed in this matter by way of amendment. If any honorable senator is dissatisfied with the names proposed, the proper course is to demand a ballot. If any member demands a ballot, his demand must be conceded, and the appointments made in that way. If honorable senators will read the Standing Orders dealing with the appointment of Select Committees, which govern also the appointment of these Sessional Committees, he will find that these bodies must consist of seven members. The honorable senators to serve on a Committee should be nominated by the mover of the motion for its appointment ; but, if any senator so demands, they must be selected by ballot. I suggest, therefore, that rather than move an amendment, the proper course for Senator Foll to take is to demand a ballot.
– It is not my desire to call for a ballot; that is more a matter for any senator who might be affected. I do not feel that I have been discourteously treated, as my name appears in the motion.
– If we were to proceed in this matter by way of amendment, it might bo necessary to have a vote on every name included in the motion. The procedure which alwayshas been followed is to demand a ballot when an alteration of personnel is proposed. Any senator may demand a ballot, and his demand must be conceded.
– It clearly is the right of every honorable senator to demand a ballot; that is alternative to the adoption of the motion. I have moved a motion on which discussion has taken place, and surely, before a vote is taken, I should have the right of reply?
– After the ballot has been taken, the motion may be proceeded with, and the right honorable senator will then have the right of reply. The ballot will be taken in regard to certain names which it is desired to include in the motion, replacing those which at present are included.
– I appeal to SenatorFoll to withdraw his amendment temporarily, in order to give me the opportunity of replying. He can ask for a ballot afterwards.
– I am not questioning the right of Senator Foll to call for a ballot, but I see my own rights endangered by the following of that course at this stage. I foresee, too, the liability of a question arising upon which I may speak and then demand a ballot, thereby closing the mouth of every other honorable senator, notwithstanding that I may have made the most outrageous statements. In this matter I have been keeping myself in great restraint, although I have felt myself to have been overlooked to a greater extent than other honorable senators. I ask Senator Foll to allow this matter to stand over.
– I point out that, the Minister having moved a motion, it has become the property of the Senate, and must be disposed of in one way or another. If Senator Foll were to accept the suggestion of the Minister and withdraw his amendment, it would not lesser in any degree his right afterwards to demand the taking of a ballot. The proper course would be for Senator Foll to withdraw his amendment, reserving his right to ask for the taking of a ballot when the motion had been disposed of.
– If the motionis carried, every honorable senator will lose the right to demand the taking of a ballot.
-Would it not be possible for an honorable senator to call for a ballot after the debate has been concluded and before the question has been put?
– Then that is the proper course to adopt.
– I have no desire to burk discussion, and I would, therefore, withdraw my amendment.
. - I do not remember an occasion since I entered this Chamber on which a course has been adopted similar to that which is being adopted now. When new senators have been coming in after an election, the appointment of Sessional Committees has been deferred until they had taken their places in this Chamber. The new senators should be afforded the opportunity of. taking part in the appointment of the Committees under which the Senate willhave to transact its business. If that procedure is not followed, we shall be depriving the new senators of any say in the matter. The senators who have been on these Committees should be allowed to hold their positions until their successors are appointed, otherwise the. Senate is practically passing a motion of no-confidence in them, and is not giving them any thanksfor the services which they have rendered. In 1913, the Sessional Committees were appointed shortly after we entered the Senate. After the succeeding election I was appointed a member of the Printing Committee. Some senators who have been on these Committees are still members of the Senate, and, unless they had done any wrong, it would be an act of discourtesy not to allow them to continue as members. I know that it is not the intention of the Senate to act discourteously towards them. Let these men complete their terms.
.- To overcome the difficulty; I suggest that the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) withdraw some of the names submitted and substitute those which have been omitted, when I believe the motion will pass unanimously. As has already been’ pointed out, certain senators who have been successful at the recent elections will take their seats after 30th June; but it must be remembered that those who were defeated then are members of the Senate until July. I believe the practice in the past has been to appoint fresh Committees after the new senators have taken their seats. I do not know whether the Government intend to allow these Committees to lapse when the present session ends.
-brockman. - They are only appointed for the session’.
– If this is going to be a short session new Committees can be appointed in July, and it would be an act of courtesy to allow defeated senators to remain members of them so long as they are entitled to retain their seats in the Senate. 1” trust the Minister will adopt my suggestion.
– I am somewhat reluctant to speak on this matter, although I feel very strongly concerning the position which has arisen. When the Senate met under similar circumstances three years ago, the then Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator E. D. Millen) sent for mo to discuss the personnel of Committees. I was then the only member .of the Opposition entitled to act on paid Committees.
– But that was in June.
– No ; it was before that, and I asked the Minister to allow old members to continue. The practice of electing members of Committees at this period was followed, but by arrangement the old members were allowed to continue.
– That was not so. New members were elected to the Joint Public Works Committee and the Joint Public Accounts Committee.
– Not at this stage.
– In July.
– My memory is sufficiently clear, particularly in regard to the paid Committees.
– We know you did not kick up any “bobbery” about getting on the other Committees.
– If statements of that kind are to be made, I shall be called upon to “kick up” what the honorable senator terms “bobbery.” I have been restraining myself; but am anxious that the business of the Senate shall be conducted in the proper manner. The “ bobbery “ in this instance ia being occasioned by a few people who are interfering with the arrangements of the Government, and there will .be no more consulting the Government as far as I am concerned, even if they should request me to do so. If matters are to be conducted in this way, I shall refrain from giving any information or advice even if it should be sought.
– Is that fair to the Government? The Government have notbroken away from the established practice.
– On these Committees it is customary for both sides of the House to be represented, but because we have unfortunately been without adequate representation in the Senate we have not been able to submit representatives for service on the Committees. I am not blaming the Government for that.
– Why; did not the honorable senator object to the appointments which have been made to the Joint Public Accounts Committee and the Joint Public Works Committee?
– I did not do so; but although I disagree with and dislike the arrangement, I considered it better to remain silent. The unfortunate position is that the elections take place at the wrong time of the year. Just as difficulties have arisen in connexion with the appointment of Committees at this stage, grave constitutional difficulties are likely to present themselves again when elections are held and Parliament called together before some of the new senators can take their places. What is happening now is likely to occur in the future. If greater support had been given to the Labour party, and that party had obtained a majority in another place, practically all the business of a Government; comprised of members of the Labour party could be held up by representatives in the Senate who have been defeated at theelections. I do not wish to say anything harsh, but constitutionally it is a very unwise position in which to place a Parliament. The general elections should be held as near as possible to the date on which newly-elected senators can take their seats. The Government are in a position to do as they wish. We all have our rights, and even defeated senators have as much right constitutionally to speak at this stage as I have. I shall exercise my right to speak until the last day I am a member of the Senate. In view of the peculiarities surrounding the appointment of Committees, I think we should allow the matter to pass.
– The Government do not wish to act discourteously towards any members of the Senate. The position has arisen in this way : It is the desire of the Government to give the Opposition representation on these Committees, and every honorable senator will concede that the Opposition, although small in numbers at present, has a right to representation. To make that possible, it became necessary to exclude certain honorable senators who were members of Committees during the last session.
– The same arguments should apply to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and the Joint Committee of Public Works.
– Quite so. If representation is to be given to the Opposition on these Committees, some names have to be omitted. Honorable senators appear to, be making a storm in a tea-cup, and, seeing that the present session will not last more than two or three weeks, the members of the Committees which we now propose to elect will hold office only for that time. Surely during that period the Opposition have a right to representation on the Committees. When we considered the names which had to be omitted we naturally excluded those whose term will end in June. Honorable senators are aware that no great honour or publicity is attached to membership of these bodies. I have been a member of the Senate for a very long time, and have noticed that senators who have been defeated have generally shown adisposition to be free from parliamentary work because they are reshaping andadjusting their privateaffairs. It naturally appeared to me that those senators who will not be with us after the middle of the year would prefer to be free fromCommittee service. Some honorable senatorshave referred with solicitudeto those who are to take their places in July. We are not interfering with their rights in the slightest degree. When we meet again in Juneor July, we shall commence a fresh session, and understanding order No. 33 new Sessional Committees will be appointed.. The new senators will, in July, have a free hand in the selection of the members to form these Committees for the : new session. I ask honorable senators to accept this explanation. As I have said, I had no wish, in submitting these names, to be discourteous to any one. The Opposition has certainly a right to two members on . these Committees, which consist of seven members. But as these are merely sessional Committees, they will exist only during the session, that is, for not more than a week or two. In view of these facts, I ask honorablesenators to allow these motions to pass as they stand.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That a Library Committee be appointed to consist of the President, Senators Benny,Gardiner, Glasgow, Guthrie, Hoare, andJ.D. Millen, with power to act during the recess and to confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That a Printing Committee be appointed to consist of Senators Foster, Hoare, McDougall, Newland, Reid, Russell, and Thompson, with power to confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
The following papers were pre sented: -
Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act - Statement by the Minister for Trade and Customs of reasonsfor allowing the use of certain imported articles in manufactures on which bounty is payable.
Trading with the Enemy Act - Regulations amended- Statutory Rules 1922, No. 192.
Treaties of Peace (Austria and Bulgaria) Act - Regulations; amended - Statutory Rules 1922, Nos. 128, 129, 185, 186, 188, 189.
Treaty of Peace Act- ‘Regulations amended Statutory Rules 1922, No. 127.
Treaty of Peace (Germany) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1922, Nos. 187, 190, 191.
Postmaster-General’s Department,. - Twelfth Animal Report, 1921-1922.
War Service Homes Act - -Land acquired in New- South Wales at - Deniliquin, Ryde-
Debate resumed from 28th February (vide page 15), on motion by Senator Thompson -
That the following Address-in-Reply be agreed to : -
To His Excellency the Governor-General. May it PLEASE Youn Excellency-:
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our< loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– In addressing myself to the question before the Senate, I may commence^ by noting: the business.like manner in which! the mover- and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply dealt with the Opening Speech.- I have heard a very great number of opening speeches from Governors-General, but I cannot remember one in connexion, with which the mover and seconder of the AddressinReply were- so much at a loss, for material as. they were on this occasion. Senators Thompson, and Benny, therefore, have my congratulations upon having made, good in submitting an AddressinReply to an opening speech of which very little use could be made. It is interesting to note, that after delaying the meeting of Parliament to the extreme limit of the constitutional period at which it should be called together,. His Excellency’s advisers1 have no programme to1 put before us. That is astonishing. Perhaps my mind- suggests evils which may not arise,, but it appears to me that we may be entering upon a period when Parliament will be scrapped altogether. To-day. we had the Minister answering a question put with regard to the- disposal of one of the most valuable and useful enterprises which the Commonwealth has ever entered into: I refer to the Woollen Mills. The Govern- . ment were asked whether. Parliament would be given, an opportunity of discussing the matter before the proposed sale of the Woollen Mills was completed, and the Minister,, in answering the question, emphatically said “ No.” For a Government that has met Parliament without any programme to proceed to sell such an industrial concern as the Commonwealth. Woollen. Mills before they have been sufficiently long. in. office to estimate the advantage the mills have been to the people’ of this country, and to say at the same time that Parliament is- not to be given an opportunity to discuss the matter, indicates to my mind that the powers of Parliament are departing from it. What is the history of these mills.? The Prime Minister of the day,- Mr. Andrew- Fisher, and, I think, Mr. Hughes, were in England -when -the Labour Government determined to enter upon the manufacture of woollen materials. Applications!1 were called for the position of manager of the proposed woollen mills, and a, gentleman of the- highest qualifications was selected for the- position. He was immediately put on the books, of the. Commonwealth. and was- given instructions to visit the mills of Great Britain to inspect for himself and decide upon the most suitable and’ up-to-date machinery for the work he was to be. called upon to carry out. He came to this country, . having’ ordered the machinery he required. He went from one end of the Common- c wealth to the other to1 select the most suitable site for the establishment of the mills. In course of. time they began operations, and, as one who knows-,. I say that those mills- saved this country hundreds of thousands .of pounds during the war. I can remember that on. one occasion there was a demand for higher prices for materials required for soldiers1’ overcoats and uniforms. I received a deputation of mill-owners; and I can remember that Mr. Smale, the thea manager of the Commonwealth WoollenMills, met those gentlemen and checked; their statements as to costs of manufacture. He was able to effectively answer all that they had to say by quoting .the prices -at which he was turning out material. Demands for increased prices “were cut down because if- was known that we could produce the articles ourselves. One of the mill-owners who was a member of the deputation to which I refer, and which I received as an Assistant Minister, complimented me on the possession of a man of such efficiency and capacity as manager of the Woollen Mills. As a matter of fact, his qualifications were so attractive to these gentlemen that he was given a better position than that which he . occupied under the Commonwealth. I venture to say that had the Commonwealth Government been desirous of maintaining the efficiency of the mills they would not have lost the services of that gentleman.
We talk of scrapping the Harness Factory and scrapping the- Woollen Mills, in the name of economy. When they are scrapped we will still have to provide harness and clothing. Where, then, does the economy come in ? I know there is a feeling against the Government conduct- . ing these enterprises. Why does it ‘exist ? K could understand the feeling if there was evident a similar objection to the Government using public funds to assist private people in carrying on industries. There is not sufficient feeling of that kind to prevent the Commonwealth Government from spending millions of money every year in assisting private manufacturers and producers. By the Tariff and Excise duties it has imposed, this Parliament levies upon the people taxation to the extent of £30,000,000 a year to give aid to manufacturers and producers of this country to carry on the industries in which they are engaged. Millions of pounds have been, voted by the Senate and in another place to assist private manufacturers and producers; and there is no complaint made of extravagance on this account. But when itis proposed that we should spend a few thousand pounds in establishing industries ourselves to provide materials required by the people of this country, serious objection is raised, although the charges of waste and extravagance cannot be borne out by a reference to the results from these Commonwealth-controlled industries.
I may ‘set an example in dealing with these matters which may not be as commendable as that set by the business-like speeches of the mover and seconder of the Address-in-Reply, but I know they will excuse me. They referred indirectly to the question ‘ of immigration. We want people in this country. Having seen a little of other parts of the world, I know- that this country can carry 100,000,000 people. But if those who talk about desiring immigration were in earnest, do honorable senators not think that they would adopt the simple method of arranging with the working classes of this country from one end of Australia to the other to offer no objection to people of suitable character coming to fill our vacant spaces ‘?
Senator Thompson referred to the greatState which he has the honour to represent and its suitability for the growth of cotton. I am not a Queenslander, but I rarely speak of Queensland in this chamber or anywhere else without expressing my astonishment at its unlimited possibilities. I regard it as a State possessing the richest sugar-growing land in the world; and I dare say that. Senator Thompson, who has a knowledge of the matter, will claim, that it has land equally valuable for the production of cotton. “ If the production of cotton in Queensland becomes as successful as we all hope it will, I . am wondering whether when the industry is being carried on profitably under conditions so favorable, the rest of us who 3o not inhabit such a big, rich, fertile tract of country will be called upon to do what we are asked to do for those engaged in the industry carried on on the rich sugar lands of Queensland. Will the people who grow wheat under most difficult con- ,ditions in New South Wales, South Australia, and Western Australia be called , 1 upon out of their hard earnings to subsidize the people who grow 0 cotton in Queensland ? I hope_ that the industry will be self-supporting, and that when ‘it comes into existence the hat will not be . passed round amongst the’ people of the other States to keep it. going. We have had an agreement in connexion with the sugar industry for some years; and with regard to that I will say that any agreement with reference to sugar that will assure .to the producer of sugar a full and ample return for his labour I will gladly support, but any agreement which “will . increase the- price of sugar to those who use it merely to add to the profits of the sugar companies I will oppose.
Sugar is now selling at at least 2d. per lb. above what its market value would be if its sale were removed from restrictions. Sugar is grown in New South Wales as well as in Queensland. What is happening? Is the grower getting the benefit of the high price, or is the chief benefit being derived by the speculator in sugar? In glancing through the share list I see that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company’s shares, which were originally valued at £20, are quoted at from £40 to £43 on theStock Exchange. Has the increase in value assisted the grower to any extent ?
– Are not war bonds subject to the same fluctuations?
– That is a fair analogy. A person who was wealthy and patriotic enough to purchase a £100 war bond can now get only about £95 for it on the market.
– You ought to compare the 1914 prices of sugar shares with the present prices.
– I shall leave that comparison to the Minister. War bonds have been issued upon thesecurity of the Commonwealth credit, and I venture to say that the market value of £100 bonds ranges from £95 to £97 12s. 6d., and, where it is higher than that, it is due to the fact that interest has already accrued and will soon be paid; but sugar shares that cost originally £100 will fetch at least £200 on the market. The mover of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply said he was a business man. Business men of ability will be of value to the Senate. But is it a business proposition to tax the people generally to keep the price of sugar at twice its value, for the benefit of the holders of sugar stock ?
– Those shares have been increasing in value for thirty years.
– I quite understand that the value has been gradually increasing, but I think the price of £43 reached about a fortnight ago represents approximately the high-water mark. The company creates the increase in value by the enormous profits it is making. That its shares have risen from £20 to £40 shows that its profits are too large, and the tax upon the people is too heavy.
– The profit has been made on sugar grown outside of Australia, and the honorable senator knows it. It is no use juggling with the question in that way.
– If it is juggling to state a simple fact that everybody knows, Ishall soon become an expert juggler. I am endeavouring to state in a simple way what is well known, and to show that there are people who, for economy’s sake, will sell such a valuable undertaking as the Commonwealth Woollen Mills, while they’ allow the shares of the Sugar Refining Company to. increase in value by subsidizing the shareholders without helping the cane producers.
SenatorFoll. - Was it not a Labour Government’ that made the first Sugar Agreement ?
– Yes. It gave the cane producers the highest price they had ever received, and at the same time it conserved the interests of the consumers by fixing the retail price at 3½d. per lb. When that agreement terminated, every one concerned had benefited by it. The growers got a good price, the company enjoyed a high profit, and the consumers had cheap sugar.
– Why can that not be done now ?
– The price is 5d. at present. It did go up to 6d., but it was reduced to 5d. for electioneering purposes.
– The price dropped to 5d. as soon as the arrears under the Agreement had been paid off.
– A reference to the date when the price was reduced will bear out my contention.
I do not often make explanations, but I wish to do so in regard to a paragraph that appeared yesterday in the Melbourne Sun. It states-
Senator Gardiner (New South Wales), Deputy Leader of the Labour party, some time ago warned SirE. Johnson of a move against him, and offered him Labour’s support, but he declined to have the office trafficked in.
I have never offered Sir Elliot Johnson the support of Labour. I had heard the rumour of a bargain that had been made with regard to the Speakership, and incidentally I may say, Mr. President, with respect to removing you from your position. I admit having had an interview with Sir Elliot Johnson, whom I asked if it was true that he was leaving the Speaker’s chair, and that Mr. Watt was to take the position. This interview occurred last Friday. The late Speaker denied all knowledge of such an arrangement and assured me that it was not true. I told him with a good deal of warmth of the trafficking not only in Ministerial positions, but for the highest offices in Parliament. In my indignation I may have said that I had no vote in the other House, but that, if I had one, nobody engaged in the business of bargaining for those positions would receive support from me. I desired him to confirm the rumour that I had heard - for it was only a. rumour. I do not consider it fair forme to be held up as one who bargained to keep Sir Elliot Johnson in the Chair. I had no authority from my party to do that. I merely approached the late Speaker to ask him if it was a fact that ho was being turned down. He was quite surprised at the suggestion. He could not believe that the party that had sustained him for so long was going to cast him aside, so he discredited the statement I made to him as to the disreputable bargaining said’ to be proceeding outside of’ Parliament.
I should like to recall the election results, and consider what has happened since we last met. Fortunately for. myself I was a spectator at the election from the safe dugout of a seat that lasts for three more years. Under those circumstances. I could take a calm view. In many respects the recent election was quite remarkable. At. the beginning, we had as Primer Minister the gentleman whom Mr. Benny referred to as the great little man who had piloted the ship of State through dangerous shoals. I have been associated with Mr. Hughes for many years’, and perhaps frequently I have been sorry that the heatof my words has not been warranted by the events that have transpired, but I have not lived long enough to be sorry for words that have expressed the indignation that I feel. On the two occasions on which I was a defeated candidate in New South Wales, I nursed the belief that those were the two occasions when I particularly deserved to be elected. To my colleagues of the old times I am not going to be hypocrite enough to pretend thatI would like to see them taking the places they previously occupied, tut there is no bitterness on my part towards them if they conscientiously believe that the stand they took was for their country’s good. When they stood with the
Nationalists they were applauded, but now that the turn of the Nationalists is finished, they have been thrown aside like a sucked orange. They served their party in its time of need, and yet they have been turned down from one end of. Australia to the other. To my mind that is. the meanest aspect of the whole of the recent Federal election. The crowning act of meanness of the party in power was committed when they drove from the highest office in the Commonwealth the great little man who had piloted their ship through troubled waters for so many years.
– He has a lot of friends yet.
– He is not a friend of mine, either politically or privately. I am speaking merely as one who watched the result of the election with unprejudiced eyes. I followed Mr. Hughes through the central districts of New South Wales, and on some occasions I was so close to him that at places where he spoke at midday,. I was able to reply to him at night. Although I am physically strong, Mr. Hughes conducted a campaign through the Calare electorate that would have broken down the strongest men ever seen in this Parliament. Following the Prime Minister as a Red Indian followed his victim with knife and hatchet in the hope of getting his scalp, I could not help recalling, when standing in the council hall at Peak Hill, or in crowded and overheated rooms, with the thermometer at 104 degrees in the shade, the words of Macaulay -
Even the ranks of Tuscany could scarce forbear to cheer.
When Mr. Hughes was out there he told his audience that he was as good a Labour man and as great a Socialist as he was twenty-five years ago. I knew, and of course he knew, too, that that was the only hope he had in those Labour districts of getting a following strong enough to win the election. The paraphernalia ofthe late Prime Minister and of his following, consisting of motor cars piled high with travelling bags and other impedimenta, reminded me of some circus or menagerie But the campaign was. a strenuous and remarkable one. Mr. Hughes would address a- meeting at 10 o’clock in the morning, have a 30-mile run, address another meeting’ at noon, snatch a hurried lunch, speak again at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and travel a considerable distance to address his chief meeting at night somewhere else. I know of no other man who could have conductedsuch a parliamentary campaign and finished so strongly as the former Prime Minister. But what happened? Ho is now being applauded by the press and every one else for the crowning act of his life, and that was “ getting out.” He bore the brunt of the fight. During the recent election he led his forces in places where it was not easy to lead them. I remind honorable senators that he was not “ doing “ Collins-street in immaculate dress, including spats, attractingthe attention of all passers-by. On the contrary, he was out in the back country conducting one of the most strenuous campaigns in the history of the Commonwealth. As a good Australian, my blood boils at the treatment meted out to men who at one time were members of the party to which I still belong. They served the Nationalist partyin their hour of need. Their treatmentby that organization calls to mind the reward meted out by the Egyptians to one who saved them from famine - they used him wisely in their hour of need, and rewarded him by the enslavement of his kin. The Nationalists, I repeat, used their leader while it suited them, and rewarded him in a manner that must redound to their everlasting discredit.
We were told yesterday by the mover and seconder of the Address-in-Reply that the party in power had been elected by the people as an anti-Labour party. I do not believe it. I do not believe that Senator Benny - who by the way was not a candidate at the last election - ever ventured to tell his audience that the issue before the electors was Labour and anti-Labour.
– You are quite right there.
– The issue was, “ Did the Hughes Government possess the confidence of the people?” It was Mr. Hughes himself who made that appeal to the people, and when the verdict of the people had been given, the correct and only constitutional course for the late Prime Minister was to retire immediately, or else call Parliament together at the earliest possible moment to see who should govern the country. I regret very much that that course was not followed, and it is my intention to quoteconstitutional authorities in support of my view. Iknow that honorable senators will bear with me if I quote authorities at some length, because I desire to deal seriously with the constitutional aspect of the position. My idea of aconstitutional Government is a Cabinet responsible to Parliament, and a Parliament responsible to the people. The only way in which a Government may be properly brought into existence is by the best set of men elected by the people coming together in agreement upon opinion, and selecting a Committee of the Parliament to govern in a constitutional manner. Heretofore, in Australia - if I am wrong I invite the Leader of the Senate tocorrect me - high-minded men have observed this ideal of constitutional government. They have not hawked, bargained, intrigued, or huxtered for positions. We have never previously had an experience like the present in the history of Australia, andI think honorable senators will search the annals of British parliamentary government in vain for records of Ministers offering positions of preferment and emolument, and negotiating with others in an underground and, secret manner in order to get together a body of men to govern this country. That, to my way of thinking, is the reverse of constitutional government.
– The honorable senator is referring to the Prime Minister, I presume.
-I am speaking in general terms. In my judgment, the plain duty of the late Prime Minister, when the election was over, and the returns were sufficiently advanced to show that his Government had been defeated, was to summon Parliament, in order that the future government of this country should be determined in a constitutionalmanner. I believe it is the duty of the advisers ofthe King’s representative here not to put him in an invidious position. Any arrangements that were necessary to insure the future government of the Commonwealth could better have been carried out on the floor of the House, where everything could havebeen done openly, and no one allowed to spread rumours andcreate suspicion as to how this man was induced to come in and the other man suddenly left out. It is admitted that all the incidents associated with the constitution of the present Government were somewhat remarkable, and the more one looks at them the more one ia surprised at the personnel of the Cabinet. “When the arrangements had been completed, the press asked for my opinion, and I stated that there were three surprises. There was surprise, for instance, at the inclusion of men who never thought they would get there; there was surprise that certain gentlemen who wore regarded as certainties were not included; but the greatest surprise of all was that caused to some members of the Government, who did not know how it happened. This, I think, can be said of Senator Wilson, who now finds ‘ himself sitting alongside of, and supporting, Senator Pearce. During the whole of the time I have known the honorable senator, I have never regarded him as a man who was taking politics seriously. As Leader of the Opposition, very often I found him exceedingly useful in opposition, particularly to Senator Pearce. I generally thought of him as belonging to that sporting class of men who think that a little “ scrap “ does not matter very much. I believe that, hitherto, his attitude has been that he was not in this chamber to support any Government, and that it was not his business particularly to support the gentleman who is now his” Leader, and from whom, I have no doubt, he will gain a little wisdom.
– You do not suggest that that is why he is there, do you?
– I did not know why he was included in the Ministry until the Prime Minister spoke at Adelaide recently. I confess that for some time I was puzzled as to how I should address the Senate in this debate, and say something about Senator Wilson, with whom, of course, I am on very friendly terms; but, fortunately, during his recent visit to Adelaide, the Prime Minister came to my assistance. Mr. Bruce knew, of course, that Senator Wilson had no parliamentary qualifications for office, but his inclusion in the Cabinet, even at the sacrifice of another member with a long parliamentary record, was necessary to bring about the coalition. The Prime Minister, I repeat, recognised that, and when he endeavoured to explain to the people of South Australia why Mr. Foster had been left out and Senator Wilson included, he said, “Look at his flashing eye and his rugged exterior. He is a gift for the gods!”
– I was wondering if you were going to deny it?
– Oh, no! On many occasions, when leading the opposition to Government measures, I have felt helpless, and I can honestly say that Senator Wilson, with that free and easy manner of his when criticising the late Ministry, was veritably a “ gift from the gods “ to me. But there is one thing I am sure of, and that is that Senator Wilson is young enough to learn something about parliamentary govern-: ment. He is under” an able tutor when he is under Senator Pearce; I have sat in the same position. I feel sure that Senator Wilson, with experience .and years, will develop those qualities which other members of this Senate have developed, and notwithstanding which they have been overlooked in the allotting of portfolios. I hope that he will develop those qualities rapidly. T hope that, that light touch - so pleasant, sporting, and entertaining - will give way to the more serious, thoughtful, and dignified manner of a” Minister weighted with the responsibilities of participating in the government of this country. The only regret that 1 have is that during the period I was there-
– That you are not there now ?
– That is always regrettable. I am not unmindful of the fact that to aspire to the highest office in this -Commonwealth is an ambition with which every man may be imbued, even though he fails to achieve it. The only regret I have is that while my colleagues and I were in office there was only one question that mattered - the winning of the war. We were not concerned as to whether we could survive for a session, or as to the success or otherwise of negotiations for the formation of a Government. Our sole concern was whether Australia and the Empire were going to live.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear I
– Although “I may not have posessed the god-like appearance of a man who comes direct from the gods, at least I tried to do my best.
Let us look seriously at the question of the formation of a Government. The constitutional aspect presupposes that those who accept office have the confidence and the support, not only of a majority of the members in the House of Representatives, but also of the people in the country. Do those conditions obtain today? Has any gentleman the right - I do not care if he wears spats four times as big as those which are worn by the Prime Minister - not possessing the first requisite for the position of Prime Minister, to form a Government in the circumstances in which the present Government was formed 1 He has not, I made some remarks, that some people might consider were rude, with regard to the position. I still may have something rude to say if I am allowed by the President to say it.
I have here a number of opinions regarding the formation of Governments. I will go back to the occasion when representatives of ‘ the press interviewed me as I was coming out hurriedly from a meeting. They informed me that Mr. Bruce had been sent for. I said, very indignantly, that I refused to believe that such a thing had occurred. They assured me that, it was so. “ Well,” .t said, “ if Mr. Bruce has been sent for it is an outrage on constitutional procedure.” Let us look at what constitutional procedure is. Some people claim that similar occurrences to that to which I am ^referring have happened frequently in the past. T. claim that this is the first occasion - and I challenge any one to produce another - on which a defeated Minister, a member of a party which has been defeated in the country, has been sent for and entrusted with the duty of forming a Government.
– Was Mr. Bruce entrusted with the task of forming a Government on such an occasion ?
– I do not know the whole of the details, but I take it that when Mr. Hughes resigned his advice was sought, and that that advice was that Mr. Bruce, should be sent for; that Mr. Bruce was sent for; and that Mr. Bruce was given until the following Monday night to advise His Excellency whether he could form a Government.
Some people imagine that the advice of the retiring . Prime Minister must be accepted by the Governor-General in Australia, or by the King in England. That is not the case. - A change of Government is one of the occasions on which the Governor-General or the King is absolutely at liberty to use his own judgment. I think there are some writers who claim that another occasion is when a dissolution has been advised. Some people think that the outgoing Ministry or the outgoing Premier has the right to advise the Governor-General or the King. I will give a quotation which expresses the position much more effectively and much more clearly than I can express it. These . extracts are taken from Fifty Tears in the Makin;/ of Australain History, by Sir Henry Parkes. He says’ -
There seems to be an opinion abroad, apparently received without inquiry, that it is a constitutional practice for a Minister retiring from office to advise the Crown as to his successor. Whether the representative of the Crown in this Colony has at any time permitted such practice, I do not intend to say, but it is known that on some occasions no such advice has been given or sought, and it is undeniably the fact that nothing of the kind has over occurred in modern times between retiring Ministers in England and the Sovereign. It will occur to the mind of any person capable of reasoning on the subject that it would he a logical absurdity for a Minister who has forfeited his position as adviser of the Crown, by the tender of his ‘resignation of office, still to be permitted to advise as to the person who is to be his successor. Having himself failed to obtain the support of Parliament in his Ministerial capacity, how can ho be tlie right person to advise who is likely to succeed in securing that indispensable support in the government of the country? Having, as Minister, passed outside the boundary within which he can be held responsible -to Parliament for his advice (for by his resignation he has paid the utmost penalty which Parliament can exact), is he then to advise, without responsibility, on the momentous question of the formation of another Government?
– He is speaking, of a Prime Minister who has been defeated in Parliament.
– Constitutionally, the only difference between a defeat in Parliament and a defeat in the country is that the latter is the more severe vote of censure. If defeated in Parliament, a Government can appeal to the constituencies, which have the right to say by whom they shall bG governed.
Here is another extract from Sir Henry Parkes’ work : -
When, in the early part of 1846, dissension arose in thePeel Administration on the policy ofrepealing the Corn Laws, and Lord Stanley determined to retire, SirRobert Peel tendered his resignation to the Queen, andhe explained his conduct in these words to the House of Commons: - “ While I retained the hope of acting with a united Administration, while I thought there was a prospect of bringing this question to a settlement, I determined to retain office and incur its responsibilities. When I was compelled to abandon that hope (my sense of the coming evil remaining the same), I took the earliest opportunity, consistent with a sense of duty and of publichonour, of tendering my resignation to the Queen, and leaving Her Majesty the full opportunity of consulting other advisers. I offered no opinion as tothe choice of a successor. That is almostthe only act whichis the personal act of the Sovereign; it isfor the Sovereign to determine in whom her confidence shall be placed.” (Hansard Debates, volume1xxxiii., page 1004.)
Another instance which he gives is the following : -
In 1852, the first Derby Ministry was defeated on their financial policy, and Lord Derby announced their resignation in the following terms in the House of Lords: - “ Having had a distinct declaration of want of confidence on the House of Commons, and having ascertained that my colleagues unanimously concurred with me as to theonly course we ought to pursue, I proceeded to wait upon Her Majesty, and to tender to her, in my own name and that of my colleagues, the humble resignation of our offices. Her Majesty was pleased to accept our resignation, and signified her pleasure, which was acted upon the same day, to send for, and take the advice of, two noblemen, members of Your Lordships’ House, both of them of great experience and considerable ability - of long practice in public life.” (Hansard Delates, volumecxxiii., page 1701 )
The two noblemen alluded to by Lord Derby were the Marquis of Lansdowne and the Earl of Aberdeen; but it is clear that the Queen did not ask the retiring Minister for any advice on the expediency or propriety of seeking the counsel of those statesmen. She simply informed him, not as a defeated Minister, but as a peer of the realm and a privy councillor of great weight and consideration, of the course she intended to take.
I have no doubt that Mr. Hughes’ advice, as a Privy Councillor, could have been asked.
– Possibly itwas.
– Here is anotherextract from the same work : -
The English system of government does not, as is sometimes fancied, go of itself. It is not an automatic contrivance, nor an engine which a child may feed or tend. To discern the real meaning of popular or parliamentary contests, to act as the interpreter of the national mind, to select its truest representatives, and to give effect to its will are offices involving grave responsibility and calling for more than ordinary intelligence and judgment. To do these things is part of the business of an English monarch. Constitutional Kings and Queens cannot but have, like humbler people, their own political opinions and personal preferences. The high impartiality and the controlling sense of public duty which, amid the changes of partyGovernments,have for a generation kept the private feelings of the Sovereign in abeyance, deserve record and honour. (Daily News, 5th December, 1868.)
Another extract is the following : -
We know from an unimpeachable source the patriotic viewwhich the reigning Sovereign has always takenof her duty on the occasion of a change of Ministry The wise and lamented Prince who was her dearest adviser in life has told us how scrupulously Queen Victoria guards herself from any personal feeling or any consideration in conflict with the feeling of her Parliament and her people in selecting her First Minister. Speaking in the House of Lords on the death of the Prince Consort EarlRussell said - “ I happen to know from the late Prince . himself the view he took ofthe duty of the Sovereign in such a case. He stated to me not many months ago that it was a common opinion that there was only one occasion on which the Sovereign of this country could exercise a decided power and that was in the choice of the First Minister of the Crown. The Prince went on tosay that, in his opinion, that was not an occasion on which the Sovereign could exercise a control or pronounce a decision ; that when a Minister had retired, from being unable to carry on the Government, there was at all times some other party which was prepared to assume the responsibility of office, and was most likely to obtain the confidence of the country. But, he said, a transfer having been made, whether the Minister was of one party or the other, he thought that the Sovereign ought to communicate with him in the most confidential and unreserved manner with respect to the various measures to be brought forward, the fortunes of the country, and the events that might happen - that, whether he belonged to one party or another, the utmost confidence should prevail between the Sovereign and the Minister, who came forward in Parliament as the ostensible possessor of power.” (HansardDebates, volume clxv., page 44.)
Earl Hassell went on to give the weight of his own opinion on the beneficial effect of tin’s unbiased and scrupulous conduct on the ‘ part of Her Majesty in the working of constitutional government. He continued - “I do, mO. Lords, attribute in great measure to that opinion which the Sovereign held in common with the Prince, the fact that there has been no feeling of bitterness among any party in this country arising from exclusion, and that all parties during the past twenty years have united in rendering that homage to the Sovereign which the conduct of Her Majesty has so well1 deserved, and the country still reaps the benefit of the good counsel which the Prince Consent gave to the Crown.” (Hansard Debates, volume clxv., page -14-.)
There is the statement of the Prince himself that “there was. some other party, the leader of which was- the proper person toL be sent for. That is1 a statement of unbiased judgment, and made without any sense of bitterness after exclusion. It was the correct constitutional course to’ pursue* in this1 instance. I have made myself reasonably well acquainted with these facts, and am placing them on record so that they may be readily accessible to honorable senators. ‘ The late Sir Henry Parkes’ statement- continues -
This part of the case is very lucidly stated by Mr. Todd: - “A- retiring Minister may, if’ requested by the Sovereign, suggest that any particular statesman should be empowered te form’ al new Administration, but such advice should not be obtruded on the Sovereign unasked. Beingdebarred by his- own resignation, or dismissal! from- office) of the1 constitutional right to tender advice to the1 Crown, he csm only do so, if required, in the quality of a peer or a Privy Councillor, being still responsible- in that capocity.’ for any advice he- may give to the- Sovereign.
Sir Henry Parkes continues ;
I have stated the case as I find it elucidated by the most trustworthy records and authorities, and I do not believe a single authenticated instance from (modern practice in England can be adduced in opposition to the view I have explained. . The Governor, as the representative of the Crown, has few duties to perform which devolve exclusively on’ his functions as Governor, and of these duties the most important are to decide independently when advice is tendered to dissolve Parliament, and to decide independently on. committing (the executive power to hew hands. In calling a member of Parliament to the service of the Crown, he is not - to use the words of the Prince Consort as quoted by Earl Bussell - ‘ To exercise a control or pronounce a decision ‘ in. determining the special character of the change, but he is, like Her Majesty, to select the person who, in his -judgment, taking into consideration political experience, party -relations, capacity for public business, and representative character, is ‘ most likely to obtain the confidence of the country ‘.”
These records are interesting, and I am very -glad to have the opportunity of placing them before the Senate.
– The last quotation was rather disastrous from- the honorable senator’s point of view.
– I quoted it fully, and I da- not think the Minister will ever be able to accuse me of using only a. portion . of a quotation to gain any temporary advantage. I shall now quote several extracts, from Todd’s Parliamentary Government of England -
Upon ‘the resignation or dismissal of a Ministry, it is customary for the Sovereign to send for the recognised Leader of the Opposition, or for some other person of known weight and influence in either House of Parliament, who is capable of leading successfully the political party to which he belongs-, and to authorize him to undertake the formation; of a. new Administration. It is not essential,-however; that the person selected to bring about the construction, of a new Cabinet should be the intended Prime Minister. It may bo difficult at first to fix upon any one suitable for- this office with whom a new Administration could be- induced to’ cooperate. . . . But if,, in the opinion, of the Sovereign, the state of parties would render a coalition Ministry expedient, the” Sovereign would suitably communicate directLy- with, the two leading statesmen* whose, co-operation, was desired, indicating, of. course,, the one ,to- whom the formation of the Ministry was’ entrusted.
Honorable senators will see- the difference between forming a Ministry taken from a. party able to control a majority, in another place and forming- one composed of representatives! of two parties. Edward W. Ridges, in his Constitutional Law of. England, states -
The present- practice upon., the formation of a new Ministry- ia for the Crown, to call upon the recognised leader of the party which’ h’as- been returned with a- majority in the House, of Commons to nominate his colleagues who are to occupy the most important posts at the heads of the various Departments- of State. . . .
I realize the great difficulty confronting His. Excellency the Governor-General in the recent crisis, when no party had. a majority. I am not pretending to belittle the difficulties. An important situation had to be met; but I do not think that, grave as the obstacles were, there was any justification for setting out on a new course. The question should have been settled on the floor of the House, and His Majesty’s repre- . sentative relieved of the situation in which he was placed. The quotation continues - tt has become n recognised convention that in the event of an adverse verdict being given at the polls at a general election, the previous Ministry will resign immediately, and will not wait for a vote of confidence to be passed by the new House of Commons. This is expressed by saying that at a general election the continuance of the Ministry in office depends upon the goodwill of the electorate, and no longer upon the goodwill of the House of Commons. The Cabinet is responsible collectively to Parliament for advice given to the Crown in the conduct of the Executive, and this means that the Ministry must resign if the House of Commons passes a vote o£ want of confidence in the Government.
I have just proved that when the constituencies show a. lack of confidence in a Government it should resign. To send for one member of a defeated Ministry is just as great a departure from constitutional procedure as -it would have been if the Governor-General had sent for the ex-Prime . Minister (Mr. Hughes) after he had resigned. I shall now quote from the Governance of England, by Sidney Low-
The “ responsible “ Minister….. is one * of a body, which answers as a whole for the acts of its members. The House of Commons cannot dismiss a Minister of whose acts it- disapproves; it cannot even’ formally censure him, unless it is prepared to get rid of all his colleagues as well. Now, as a rule, that is just what the House - < that is to say, the majority of the House - is most reluctant to do. If it censures the Ministry, it practically censures itself. If it con- ‘ signs it to ‘defeat at the polls, it is, of course, depriving a considerable number of its own members of their seats. It is absurd ‘to suppose that the House of Commons - even the party majority - approves every action of every member of a Committee of some twenty Ministers or .more over a space of four or five years. But very rarely indeed’’ does it express its disapproval in the only fashion for which a Premier need care, that is, by a hostile division on a point of real importance, or an unfavorable vote in Supply. It is practically impossible to bring a Minister to book unless the House is prepared to sacrifice the whole Cabinet to punish him.
Does not the Minister for Home and Territories feel as much responsibility for the defeat of ‘the Nationalist Government, of which he was a member, as Mr. Hughes does ? I ask him, because I know he will reply very effectively from his point of view, if it is not a distinct departure from the usual practice, and contrary to the custom of centuries, and to the method followed since the inception of Federation, as well as during the whole period of constitutional government in the different States, for a defeated Minister to be sent for to form a Government? A Minister must participate in the defeat of the Government of which he is a member. I shall now quote from The Growth of the English Constitution, by E. A. Freeman, who says -
We now have a whole system of political morality, a whole code of precepts, for the guidance of public men, which will not be found in any page of either the Statute or the Common Law, but which are in practice hardly less sacred than any principle embodied in the Great Charter or in the Petition of Rights. In short, by the side of our written law there has grown up an unwritten or conventional Constitution. . . . The unwritten Constitution makes it practically impossible for the Sovereign to keep a Minister in office of whom the House of Commons does not approve.
Ministers are in office whom Parliament and the country did not approve. A vote of “censure by the country is more farreaching than a similar vote recorded in the House of Representatives. I draw attention to this statement by Thomas Pitt Taswell-Langmead, D.C.L., who, in his .English Constitutional History, states -
The nicest of all the adjustments involved in the working of the British Government, writes Mr. Gladstone, is that which determines, without formally defining, the internal relations of the Cabinet. On the one hand, while each Minister is an adviser of the Crown, the Cabinet is an unity, and none of its members Can advise as an individual, without,” or in opposition, actual or presumed, to his colleagues. As a rule, the resignation of the First Minister, as if removing the bond of cohesion in the Cabinet,, has the effect of dissolving it.
The following is taken from Law of the
Constitution, by A. V. Dicey : -
The following are examples of the precepts to which Mr. Freeman refers, and belong to the code by which public life in England is (or is supposed to be) governed: - “ A Ministry which is outvoted in the House of Commons is in many cases bound to retire from office.” “ A Cabinet, when outvoted on any vital question, may appeal once to the country by means pf a dissolution.” . “ If an appeal to the electors goes against the Ministry, they are bound to retire from office, and have no right to dissolve Parliament a second time.”
The decision of the electors was as much against the Minister (Senator Pearce) and the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) as it was against the” ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). There can be no doubt about that. The quotation continues -
If a Premier were to retain office after a vote of censure passed by theHouse of Commons - if be were to dissolve, or, strictly speaking, to get the Crown to dissolve, Parliament, but were to be again censured by the newly-elected House of Commons, and then, after all this had taken place, were still to remain at the head of the Government - no one could deny that such a Prime Minister had acted unconstitutionally.
There are situations which we may anticipate, and the practice adopted in this instance may be repeated, unless checked. I ask the Senate to consider this statement by the Honorable “William Edward Hearn, Q.C., M.L.C., which I have taken from The Government of England -
Each member of the Ministry, therefore, is responsible for all the proceedings of the Ministry; and in like manner the collective Ministry is bound by the acts of each of its members. . . The distinctive characteristic of the Cabinet, and the feature which is essential to its successful and complete operation, is its political unity. The Cabinet is not an ordinary Board. It is literallya partnership of Privy Councillors for administering the Government. . If it fail or if it succeed, its failure or sucecss is that of the collective body. Whatever internal difficulties it may have, its voice and its action are single. If one of its members commit any error orbecome involved in any difficulty, theblame attaches not to him only, but to all those who either actually concurred in his views’ or at least authorized him toact on their behalf. It is needless to say that under our existing system a retiring Ministry gives way at once, and in a body, to its successor.
Except in the case of a mere reconstruction of a Ministry, no member of the outgoing Ministry is now asked, or would consent, to remain in office under the opponents of his party.
That is the position. Retiring Ministers should give way in a body. Why are the present Prime Minister and the Minister for Home and Territories in office when the Government of which they were members has been censured by the people?
-Does the honorable senator suggest that the GovernorGeneral acted unconstitutionally? There is an easy means of testing the constitutionality of the position in the other Chamber.
– Thereisno doubt that the Government will secure support in another place. They will obtain the constitutional right to govern; but, unfortunately, so much has already happened contrary to constitional practice and honorable conduct that the public life of Australia cannot be restored to the high pedestal oh which it stood prior to the last Government taking office.
– Is not public opinion reflected in another place?
– I have already shown that the present Prime Minister and the Minister for Home and Territories were members of the defeated Government, and have now accepted office in another Government, which is an entirely new departure. Their actions” may be tolerated not only by the House of Representatives but by the people, but their actions tend to the disesteem of Parliament. In The Growth of the EnglishConstitution, by Edward A. Freeman, M.A., it is stated that -
The life and soul of English law has ever been precedent; we have always held that whatever our fathers once did their sons have the right to do again.
– Not at all.
– Were their fathers always right?
– The quotation states “… whatever our fathers once did their sons have the right to do again.” I am not suggesting that their actions were always right. The quotation continues -
When the Estates of theRealm declared the throne of James the. Second to be vacant, they did not seek to justify the act by any theories of the rights of resistance of by any doctrines of the rights of man. It was enough that, 800 years before, the Estates of the Realm had declared the throne of Richard the Second to be vacant. By thus walking in the old paths, by thus hearkening to the wisdom of our forefathers, we have been able to change whenever change has been needed, and we have been kept back from changing out of the mere love of abstract theory. We have thus been able to advance, if somewhat slowly, yet the more surely, and when we have made a false step we have been able to retract it. On this last power - the power of undoing whatever has been done amiss - I wish specially to insist. In tracing the steps by which our Constitution has grown into its present shape, I shall try especially to show in how many cases the best acts of modern legislation have been, wittingly or unwittingly, a falling back on the principles of our earliest times.
I have submitted a series of quotations from eminent authorities.
– None of which bears directly on the question at issue.
– The reason for that is that no writer could ever have anticipated what has happened here. No such thing could occur tothe mind of any one possessing the sensitiveness which is characteristic particularly of men occupying high positions in Great Britain with regard to the honorable aspect of what they are called upon to do.
– There are members of Mr. Lloyd George’s Government, members of his party defeated at the polls, who are members of the British Government to-day.
– Were they defeated at the polls with Mr. Lloyd George’s party or were they members of Mr. Lloyd George’s War Ministry who upon retiring with him went to the polls with the gentlemen with whom they are now associated ? No precedents are to be found anywhere that bear upon what has happened here. I do not believe that if the records ofGreat Britain for a hundred years were searched a man could be found who accepted office under the conditions under which Mr. Bruce accepted office. I want to touch on the aspect of this business from the point of view, shall I say of “playing the game”. I have read quotations to show how an Englishman loves a precedent. I am an Australian, the sonof Australians, but I think that the desire to keep to the safe path is as strong in me as it is in any Englishman. I love the beaten track; and I do not like the short cut which leads I do not know where. To follow such a course may lead to disastrous consequences; and that may be the result here.
-The Trades and Labour Council will call the honorable senator to account forthis.
– Honorable senatorsopposite are always warning me about the way in which I may be dealt with in my own party. I want to say that, speaking justly, my own party ought to have dealt with me on many occasions. Whenan Australian delegate was going to America. I expressed my pleasure, and I was then told that some of them would deal with me. I take these risks. If the Trades and Labour Council are likely to deal with me because I prefer to stick to precedent, and to proceed along the old beaten track onwhich the liberties which they andI enjoy have been gained, I say to them and to all others that Parliament is an institution which has been built upby upright men, guided by honorable principles. The changes advocated by men who contend that our parliamentary institutions are obsolete will find very few supporters amongst those whodesire to keep up the standard of honour in this country.
– The honorable senator has often been threatened, but has never been dealt with.
– My view of the matter so far as the Trades and Labour Council are concerned is that they have sufficient knowledge of me to be confident that in me they have a good man, and I have sufficient knowledge of them to say that when I cease tospeak as I feel I will be no longer a. good man for them or for any one else.
I want to come to the question why the Government was defeated, andI quote very briefly from the Sydney Daily Telegraph as follows: -
The electors crushed the HughesGovernment at the polls, and drastically reduced his following. In view of his appeal for an absolute majority, the significance of this defeat cannot be watered down.
The Melbourne Age said -
The Hughes Cabinet has been routed by the people, and those of its members who remain can be allowed, by neither cringing or audacity, to force their way into the new Government.
– That is the organ of the Official Labour party.
– The Age went on to say -
Mr. Bruce has no more right to lead a Government of Australia than has the rejected Prime Minister, whom he backed in acts that the public hotly condemned, and with whom he vowed as a man of honour thathe would go down.
– Well put him out.
– That is what our party would be willing to do. They desire to goto the people throughout Australia whovoted against Mr. Hughes a short three months . ago, and give them an opportunity of again saying whether or not he possesses their confidence.
– The honorable senator is speaking with his tongue in his cheek.
– We all know itas wellas the honorable senator knows it.
– There are quite a number of things which Senator DrakeBrockman knows better than I do.No ane> regrets more than myself how little I do know of this parliamentary business.
Let me sec whether the election was fought as Senators Thompson and Benny have contended. I hope I am not misre presenting them, but they seemed to think that the present Government is constitutionally in office, because the real issue before the electors was- Labour versus antiLabour. No such issue was ever put to the country. Mr. Hughes and Dr. Earle Page could not be induced to agree for one minute on what the issue was. On the eve of the elections Mr. Hughes was said to have held out the olive branch to Dr. Earle Page. If there was to be a union of the two parties ordinary decency, not to say- honorable conduct, would suggest that that was the time for the two parties to be brought together. They were going, to their masters, the people, and if they intended to coalesce, they should have said, “ Let us do it in the light of day, and. face the people with a united programme, and ask them for their verdict.” That was not done. But no- sooner were the- elections- over than Dr. Earle Page, in returning thanks for his election, said that one thing- which the Country party had done was to intercept the pendulum of public opinion and prevent it -from swinging altogether to the Labour party. I was a. long way away at the time, but,. ‘ distant as I was, I was able to inform even the Speaker, of the House of Representatives that he was going to lose his job. I want to say this, because it ought to be said publicly; that the persons most hungry for office in this business were Dr. Earle Page, Mr. Stewart, and Mr. Gibson. That ought to be said. I know that Senator Pearce is so convinced of the necessity qf the members of the Cabinet speaking with one voice- that he would not say things like that, but I question whether he will deny my statement. When to the press and the: people outside the members of the Country party were saying that they would not have Mr. Hughes, they were saying to the managers and coalition framers, “ For Heaven’s sake, bring about a change; we want to get on to the Treasury benches.” I object to “the members of the Country party saying; that they, did not seek office. I say that they sought office with the activity and. spirit. of a fox-terrier after a rabbit. They scraped out every burrow from which there might be a chance of securing it.
– Every member of Parliament should seek office.
– I realize that securing office is a very important business, but I am criticising the present Government because, in my opinion, to secure office honorably is a more important business.
Dr. Earle Page, having addressed the members of the Country party, was reported in the A ye of 10th February, 1923, as follows : -
Mr. Page explained at length tlie course of the negotiations’ . . . that it was a case of accepting the agreement as signed or breaking entirely with the Nationalists- He stressed the point that the party, bacl scored its great success in- compelling: the resignation- of Mr. Hughes, and maintained’ strongly that the new Government bore very little resemblance to the old and discredited. Administration.
I ask, through, you, sir, whether Senator Pearce has listened to that statement by Dr. Earle Page, that the new Government “bore very little resemblance to the old and discredited Administration,” of which Senator Pearce was a> member..
– He was saying that he was- not a member of the previous Administration. That is- all he meant.
– That is a very easy way of brushing aside the- statement. Dr. Earle Page,, speaking at a banquet at Grafton, said, according to the Daily Telegraph -
Placed, side by side, the policy and proposals of the Nationalists and Country party are surprisingly alike, and Dr. Page gives- that as one of the reasons for the formation of the composite Government.
– Senator Gardiner has himself always said that..
– Yes ; and I have often asked that the sham and pretence of there being two parties on the other side should be. dropped. Tb has now been dropped, and I am glad that it has, because I have a. great hatred of shams. Senator Wilson should know that I am complaining ‘ not because a composite or coalition Cabinet has- been formed,., but of the conditions under which the coalition has been -brought abou*, which are unspeakably discreditable and a. disgrace to every one- who participated in the business. Dr. Earle Page, speaking at a banquet at Grafton, said -
The alliance was of such’ a nature that if a fair deal for the interests they represented, and the policy the’ advocated, could not be secured, they would be able to pull out just like an army corps, with their lines of communication and all their forces intact, to put their case before the public again as an independent political organization.
– I do not think there is much in that.
– The honorable senator does not think there is much . in anything. He is so complacent that I can imagine that he has already been nominated for the highest position in the Senate by the junta he support’s. Can any one understand Dr. Earle Page making such a statement as I have quoted after the Cabinet had been formed and its members had sat round the Cabinet table ? He preferred to pose before the electors as a narrow party man’ rather than as a Minister who had taken the oath to administer the laws, and who, by virtue of his acceptance of office, accepted the policy of . the ‘Prime Minister under whom he served. The .older we get, the more we are ‘ inclined to attach importance to things which we passed lightly by when we were boys. I can recall a little village and half-a-dozen boys who had one of their number bailed up about something, and he ..said, “Honour bright ! ‘ ‘ We were only rude boys, but no one doubted or questioned him. He and we kept our honour bright. It is a British instinct to keep our honour bright, and I call upon the Government to keep their honour bright, and not to drag this Parliament down to the level of discreditable conduct which would not be tolerated by the people of the Commonwealth. This was the most discreditable piece of bargaining, intriguing, and huxtering for office that has ever disgraced a State in any part of the world.
– What should have been done ? Tell” me that.
– If the Government had not a majority they should have immediately resigned. If they were not prepared to do that, they should have called Parliament together, ..and instead of the painful business of bargaining for office they should have , allowed the positions to be filled on the floor of
Parliament. Dr. Earle Page stated at Grafton -
I think the Nationalists will play fair, and as long as they do, we will reciprocate, and good government should result..
That is splendid, seeing that it was uttered after he had become a Minister under Mr. Bruce, and after he had taken the highest office within his reach. I venture to say that the number of portfolios he was going to get was the chief consideration with him. He said, “ We must have office in proportion to our responsibilities.” Stripped of the tinsel’ that meant, “ We must have an equal share of the cash.” The following extract is from the Sydney Morning Herald of the 2nd February,’ 1.923:- ‘
In the appointment of the Ministry … it was stated that Dr. Page objected strongly to the appointment of Senator Pearce, but he was forced to give way. When questioned as to the accuracy of this statement, Dr. Page . stated he could not discuss the negotiations.
– It was stated by whom ?
- Dr. Earle Page did not deny that he strongly objected to the appointment of Senator Pearce.
He stated in his policy speech -
The* question has been raised as to bow far the Country party is prepared to work in harmony with other parties in Parliament. li> this regard we can only. say that, while we are not prepared to . enter into any “ entangling alliance which would in any way destroy ihe entity of the party, we are, however, prepared to co-operate with any other representives of the people* upon the floor of the House, or in the conduct of the government of the country, who hold the same ideals and principles which we advocate.
That would be a very fine basis for amalgamation. But will the Nationalists say that that is the basis? Mr. Bruce, speaking at Maryborough, said-r-
If Mr. Hughes be thrown out, as some cheery optimists suggest, I may say incidentally that I will go out too, and I think we will put up a stiff fight against those who attempt to run the government of this country.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired. Extensio7i of time granted.]
– * When Mr. V., C. Thompson was congratulated upon his election for New England, he stated, at a meeting of the Tamworth New State ;League -
The new State - issue was now discussed throughout Australia. The issue had definitely passed into the Federal sphere, and the new Ministry would soon bring in a Bill providing for an elective Convention. He was bold enough to say that this Federal Convention, which would give the new Staters their chance to educate the people, would be held in the near future. It was one of the cardinal points of policy agreed on between Dr. Page and Mr. Bruce. Failure to go on with it would probably precipitate a political crisis.. The new Ministry contained u majority of new Stater3, including Dr. Page, Mr. Stewart, Mr. Chapman, . and Mr. Gibson. He understood that Mr. Bruce also favoured new States.
When I asked Senator Pearce to lay that compact on the table of Parliament, it was no more than asking for something to which the Senate was entitled.
I hope I have not wearied honorable senators by my references to the new Cabinet. There are one or two more matters to which I could refer in showing how history is always repeating itself. In Parkes’ Fifty Years in the Making of Australian History, we read the following :-
The scheme of parliamentary government supposes that a small band of superior men in whose political character and administrative capacity, as a whole, the Legislature has confidence, shall govern us so long as they can retain that confidence. The grand security for good government by these men consists in their direct responsibility to a larger body of men, who, in their turn, are responsible to - the whole people. . . . We ought not to fool surprised, however much .we may regret, that the preliminaries to which we have adverted, are speedily followed by negotiations and combinations that shock our sense of political propriety. And herein lies the danger to the people. It is this that makes matters trifling in themselves, of the highest concern to the well-being of the community. Once off the rail, who can answer for the engine which so far has carried the train with speed and security? Those who resort to means that amaze the community to obtain power are not likely to stop at trifles in retaining it. But the mischief will not end with their retirement from office. The next set of Ministers may commence their deviations from the Constitution, not from the original landmarks, but from the marks left by their predecessors.
Men who willi obtain office by the means by which the present Ministers have come into power are not likely to stop short of anything in their efforts to retain it. Quoting further from the same authority, at page 231, we read -
I held the opinion that our system of government might be made a blessing or a curse, according to the degree of sensibility to the principle of responsibility entertained by those whose chief business was to govern, and the degree of subserviency to the views of the Executive entertained by those whose chief business was to represent the country. If Ministers were sufficiently lax in their notions of their obligations to the Constitution, and the representatives of the people were sufficiently lax in their notions of the trust reposed in them, there would be little check upon the abuses of power, and it would be difficult to fix a limit to the tricks, devices, evasions, manoeuvres and manipulations, and the invisible arts of corruption in the practice of these, by which a worthless Administration might be supported. In all limes good men had made efficient government, and systems had failed to convert unstable, unprincipled, and scheming men into good and efficient governors.
To my mind the present Government came into power under conditions unexampled in the history of Australia, or any other British community. It has come into existence as a result of men setting aside the opinions of a lifetime, to enable them to sit in the same Cabinet. I congratulated Senator Pearce the other day on coming back to the Senate as a member of the Government. Judging by his experience of the last fourteen years, I should think he will be a permanent occupant of the Ministerial bench in this Chamber.
– Why not? He is an able man.- If the position had been an elective one, the Senate would probably have elected him.
– I can remember his being in a “Labour Government. I recall his being defeated, and then restored to a Ministerial position. I remember “ his joining the Hughes Labour-Nationalist Government.
– You are giving a testimony to his efficiency.
– I am giving a . testimony also to his capacity for always being on tap and ready to take a position whenever one was offered to him.
– How many men on your side have ever refused a portfolio when it has been offered to them ?
– Let me answer that interjection by saying that in 1913, when practically seventy Labour men were returned to this Parliament, they could have held office by appointing an independent gentleman in the other House as Speaker ; I refer to Mr. Wise. We could have held office then with the help of the Speaker’s vote, but to the credit of Mr. Fisher and the Labour party, we never considered the matter. There were no negotiations then to enable us to get a .. majority. I have shown how high is the standard maintained by the Labour party, and it has had the commendation of Mr. Hughes on the present occasion. When Mr. Hughes handed in his resignation, why did he not ask the GovernorGeneral to send for Mr. Charlton, who led a party of twenty-nine ?
– We do not know the advice- that he tendered.
– But we know the result of it. When Mr.. Hughes ‘retired why did he not advise that Mr. Charlton be sent for ? It is of no use to say that the Labour party wanted office, because that was quite impossible. When, however, Mr. Charlton had returned from the elections with the biggest party in Australia, why was the Governor-General not advised to send for him ? If that question had been put to Mr. Hughes his one answer would have been, “ The Labour party will not negotiate for office. They are going their own way. They have not a majority of their own, and, therefore, they cannot hold office.” The advice given to the Governor-General was that the sweets of office be hawked round in a basket. During all the time that the Labour party has taken a part in the public life of this country there has never been a political crisis in which it has clung to office. Our party can afford to wait. We will wait until the force behind Labour is so great that it will be impossible to keep it out of office. People writing in reply to my criticism of the GovernorGeneral in sending for Mr. Bruce, said that we ought not to be angry with the Governor-General so much as with the people of Australia for not having given us a majority. I was not angry with the Governor-General, but I was indignant that the Labour party had been passed over, and I hope I shall never live long enough not to feel indignant at a snub.
I want now to go a little further and say that had the Leader of the Labour party been sent for, we knew that, as soon as the House met - and necessarily it had to meet in February - we could not carry on. We knew that until the conditions were settled we could do nothing. Buff if Parliament had been called together earlier everything that had to be done could have been done on the floor of the House. It has been said, as I have already indicated, that our quarrel should be, not with the Governor-General for not having sent for Mr. Charlton, but with the people of Australia for not having given our party a majority in the House.If that was the reason, then the same argument should have been applied tothe position occupied by Mr. Bruce. Upon what ground was he sent for, in view of the fact, that Mr. Charlton was leader of the largest party, and also the Leader of the Opposition? When the people of the Commonwealth give us an absolute majority, no one will be able to keep us from our rightful position. If then it was a sound rule for the GovernorGeneral not to send for the Leader of the Labour party because he did not command an absolute majority of the House, why was that rule not applied to the Nationalist party? Instead of being sent for and passed out when the House met, we were passed over.
– In view of what you have said, surely you would not have attempted to form a Government?
– That would have been the right and constitutional course. We should then have called Parliament together immediately, inview of the difficulty due to the state of the parties, and the question of any coalition would have been settled in full view of the people.
– Settle it now in the face of the people.
- Dr. Earle Page got to wort with the knife and cut the vitals out of the Nationalist party.
– That expression has been used outside. I would not repeat it here; but it does look as if an anaesthetic had been administered to the Nationalist party, and an operation performed, rendering them unfit for further service as His Majesty’s Government, though possibly useful as attendants on the Sultan of Turkey.
I thank honorable senators for listening to what; I have had to say in connexion with what I regard as a grave constitutional position. I should be sorry indeed to think thatwe had reached a time when the highest standards of honour wereno longer necessary for men aspiring to high political positions: in this country, and that the chiefrequisite waswillingness on the part of such men to sacrifice the principles upon which they had been elected. That, to my mind, would strike a blow at the confidence ofthe people in our parliamentary institutions. The machinery of parliamentary government can only work smoothly when the highest standards of political morality are maintained. If, in this matter, we fail to “ play the game,” and fail to set an example to our people, then all the old standards of business and trade will be swept away, During the recent elections wo hadMr. Hughes bitterly denouncing Dr. Earle Page, and the latter reciprocating with equal vigour. We have been told since by the mover and seconder of the motion for the AddressinReply that the present combination of political forces represents the verdict of the people, and that that verdict was anti -Labour. Well, we are quite prepared to go to the country again upon that issue.
– The honorable senator is talking about going to the country before the member for the Northern Territory has been elected. He wants an election beforethe recent contest has been concluded.
-I am talking about an honorablesettlement of this question. The Government have been brought into existence as the result of bargaining, huxtering, and intrigue. The Ministry comprise two separate parties, one half meeting in one party room, and the other half in another room. Constitutional governmentwill, in such circumstances, never be a success.
– Wherein do the platforms of the party differ?
– They have none.
– I do not know but if theirparty platforms are not different, wherewasthe necessity to dispense with Mr. Hughes’services ?
– On questions of administration, so -they said.
– If there was no difference in the platforms of the two parties, that was a very good reason for calling Parliament together and allowing the constitution of the new Government to be settled on the floor of the House. If there was no difference in their platforms, there was no occasion for a change in the leadership of the Ministry.I hold nobrief for Mr. Hughes but I cannotresume my seat
Without repeating that nothing discredited theNationalist party more than their contemptible treatment of their old supporters from the Labour party, and their more contemptible actionin dispensing with the services of Mr. Hughes. One of my friends said to me that he was surprised that Senator Pearce should take office in the present Government, in view of the fact that Mr. Hughes had been treated so badly ; but I told him that if he knew Senator Pearce as well as I did, he would quite understand why he would take office in any Government. I am wondering if we are under a Democracy seeing that a vote of censure by the people does not remove a Government from office. I see Senator Pearce smiling complacently, notwithstanding the disaster that overtook his party at the last election. It seems to me that a Government cannot now be removed from office by a vote of censure, and so I would like Senator Bakhap, when he is speaking on this question, to inform us what will bo necessary hereafter to remove a Government from office.
I am very much obliged to honorable senators for extending my time limit. I have said all I wanted to say, and I shall reserve for future occasions what remarks I may desire to make on the Government policy if ever they produce a policy. Parliament has met, hut its members have been refused any official information concerning the compact which resulted in the formation of the Government. The people of the country have a right to knowwhat that compact is. It should not be kept secret for the benefit of the Government. Formyself, I like to keep to thebeaten track, and toknow that what I am doing to-day is safe because it has been done before, and that what Imay do to-morrow will be safe because I am treading the wellbeaten track of constitutional government.
Debate (on motion by Senator Pearce) adjourned.
SenatorPEARCE (Western Australia Ministerfor Home and Territories) [5.48]. - I understand that a census motionhas been moved in another place andfrom what I have been able to learn it seems probable that the debate will last the better part of next week. In thecircumstances, it seemsunwise to ask honorable senators to come together for, possibly, one day or two days next week. I move, therefore -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 14th March.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 5.49 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 March 1923, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1923/19230301_senate_9_102/>.