12th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - I desire to make a personal explanation with regard to a vote taken in the Senate on the 20th
May on the amendment moved by Senator Colebatch to the motion for the printing of papers relative to the sugar agreement. A week prior to the vote being taken, Senator Crawford approached me in Sydney, stating that he had received a telegram from Senator J. B. Hayes, of Tasmania, asking for a pair on any division on the sugar question, but that he felt he could not give a pair on a matter of such vital importance to, Queensland. He therefore asked me if I could find another pair for Senator J. B. Hayes. I had already received information from Senator Cox that his medical adviser had advised him not to go to Canberra that week because of the state of his health, but that, if necessary, he was willing to attend any meeting of the Senate at which a vote was likely to be taken on the sugar question. I was able to tell him that I would pair him with Senator J. B. Hayes, and Senator Cox remained in Sydney. On my return to Canberra, I confirmed the arrangement with Senator J. B. Hayes who was anxious to get away. The vote, however, was not taken until the following week. In the meantime, Senator Cox returned to Canberra. I am quite satisfied that Senator J. B. Hayes left Canberra fully believing that he was paired with Senator Cox, and the blame for any misunderstanding that has arisen rests entirely upon myself.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate when he intends, in accordance with a resolution carried without dissent by the Senate on the 30th April last, to lay on the table the correspondence between the Government and the Commonwealth Bank relating to the guaranteed price of 3s. a bushel f.o.b. for wheat accruing under the Wheat Advances Act 1930, and whether he is aware that last week in the House of Representatives, the Minister for Markets (Mr. Parker Moloney), without any request from the House to do so, tabled other correspondence between the Government and the Commonwealth Bank relating to the Wheat Marketing Bill?
– It is my intention to make a statement on the subject on the adjournment. There are one or two matters relating to it which I regret, to say are not immediately available.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate the following questions, without notice : -
– I have no knowledge of any proposed repudiation in respect of the obligations of the Commonwealth toward soldiers.
– I give notice of the question for to-morrow.
– I take it that the question has already been answered.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Markets, upon notice -
– The desired infor- . mation is being obtained.
Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made and a reply “will be furnished as soon as possible.’
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the menace to Australia’s welfare involved by the reported growing spread of communism, will the Prime Minister consider the advisability of taking steps along the lines recently recommended in the United States of America by a congressional committee, whichhas been investigating communism in that country for eight months, viz., to (a) deport alien communists; (b) exclude communist immigrants; (c) deny citizenship to communists; (d) suppress communist publications and the communist party?
– The suggestion of the honorable senator will receive consideration.
asked the Min ister representing the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
In view of Central Queensland’s possession of vastcoal seams of great variety, including brown coal, bituminous coal, anthracite coal and semi-anthracite coal, will he endeavour to ascertain if such coals are suitable, and in what varying degrees, for the extraction of petrol by the hydrogenation process?
– A report on this matter is being obtained from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and a further reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
The following papers were presented : -
Navigation Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1931, No. 57.
High Court Procedure Act and Judiciary Act- Rule of Court- Dated 18th May, 1931.
Regulations : Motion to Disallow
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland) [3.11]. - I move -
That Statutory Rules, 1931, No. 64, Waterside Employment Regulations, be disallowed.
As this subject has been debated on many previous occasions, I do not propose to occupy the time of the Senate. I, therefore, formally move the motion.
No Question or Amendment shall be proposed which is the same in substance as any Question or Amendment which, during the same Session, has been resolved in the affirmative or negative, unless the order, resolution or vote on such Question or Amendment has been rescinded.
Honorable senators will recall that I took this point when the right . honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) moved to disallow the previous regulations that had been gazetted by the Government and, with all respect to you, Mr. President, I think my point then was not understood. Honorable senators opposite have always contended that the Government is continually gazetting the same regulations, and I submit that, under the standing order which I have just read, action cannot be taken by the Senate to disallow these regulations unless the Senate rescinds the resolution carried previously. The motion is out of order in that it proposes to determine a question substantially the same as one which has already been determined in the affirmative this session, without the previous resolution having been rescinded, namely, the disallowance of regulations granting preference in certain employment to returned soldiers and members of the Waterside Workers Union. When previously you ruled in this matter you stated that you understood the contention to be that the regulations before the Senate were not the same in substance as those previously laid on the table. Accordingly you ruled that the motion was in order.
– The honorable gentleman assured me then that the regulations were not the same in substance as those previously gazetted. Is he now in a position to assure me that these regulations now before the Senate are the same in substance as those which were previously laid on the table and disallowed?
– These regulations, as far as I and the Government know, are the same: they have the same intent and purpose as previous regulations that were disallowed.
Accordingly I submit, following the ruling of Mr. Justice Starke, that the motion is out of order. The previous resolution must be rescinded before this motion can be considered.
– Mr. President
– I propose to give my ruling now.
– It would be a pity if the Senate accepted a view which I consider from the remarks of the Leader of the Senate to be quite erroneous.
– The honorable senator is not in order at this stage. Any observations which he desires to make should be offered after I have given my ruling. I assume, however, that his one desire is to assist the Chair.
– That is so, Mr. President. I want to make clear one point.
– I am ready to rule on the point of order that has been raised, and I shall be glad if the honorable senator will resume his seat.
– On a point of order I desire to bring under your notice-
– The only point of order which can be considered at this stage is that which has been raised by the Leader of the Senate.
– I am aware of that, Mr. President, but-
– Again, I ask the honorable senator to resume his seat. He is repeatedly disobeying the Chair.
– I assure you, Mr. President, that I have no such intension.
– Nevertheless, that is the effect of the honorable gentleman’s attitude. I ask him to refrain from making any further observations at the moment, otherwise, I shall have to name him. The point of order taken by the Leader of the Senate hinges upon the identity of two sets of . regulations. The Leader of the Senate has assured me that the regulations now before the Senate are identical in substance with regulations previously gazetted and dis allowed by the Senate. That being so, I have no option but to rule that, before the motion can be considered, the resolution of the Senate relating to the regulations previously disallowed, must be rescinded.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.I ask leave of the Senate to give notice of motion for to-morrow to rescind the previous resolution.
– Is it the pleasure of the Senate that the honorable senator have leave to give notice?
– Leave having been refused, the honorable gentleman must, at the next sitting of the Senate, give notice of his intention to submit a motion to rescind the previous resolution.
– I rise to a question of privilege in regard to your action, Mr. President, in ordering Senator McLachlan to resume his seat before you had given your ruling. I have been a member of the Senate for a number of years, and have heard many rulings given from the Chair; and I can affirm that times out of number debate has taken place on a point of order prior to the ruling being given by the President. What I now wish to ascertain is, whether you rule that the Standing Orders provide that the President shall give his ruling immediately a point of order has been stated, or whether in this case you considered that sufficient debate had taken place to enable you to give your ruling?
SenatorFoll. - Under our Standing Orders the President can intervene and give his ruling at any time. Did you, sir, adopt the attitude that no debate could take place on the point of order that had been raised; or was it your opinion that the time was opportune for your ruling to be given?
– The question raised by the honorable senator is not one of privilege, but I shall not on that account withhold the explanation for which he has asked. I assure the honorable senator that it is in accordance with parliamentary practice for a ruling to be given when a question of order has been stated. If that ruling be disagreed with, the matter may be debated shortly at the time, a motion of disagreement being then submitted, and the debate upon it. adjourned to the next day of sitting.
– May I ask, sir, whether your attention was directed to Standing Order 430, and had you that in mind when you decided to give your ruling without hearing further debate upon the matter ?
– That Standing Order invests me with an absolute discretion to give a ruling at any time after a question of order has been stated. I exercised that discretion.
– May I be permitted to say a word by way of personal explanation? I had in mind the Standing Order to which Senator Daly has referred, and I was proposing to offer some observations which I thought might be helpful to the Senate, and to you, sir, in arriving at a decision. I had no intention of showing the slightest disrespect to the Chair. I should like to know whether it is competent for me to move at this stage that your ruling be disagreed with, so as to ensure that there shall be debate upon the matter? In my opinion a material point has been overlooked.
– It is competent for the honorable senator to move that my ruling be disagreed with.
– I take the point that objection should have been taken to your ruling as soon as it was given. In my opinion, you, sir, acted quite rightly when you refused to hear any honorable senator before giving your ruling. I submit that it is now too late for the honorable senator to take the action he has suggested.
-Thematter is still before the Senate. I wish to disagree with the ruling of the Chair on the ground that the matter comes within the category covered by Standing Orders 133 and 134. You indicated just now, Mr. President, that the usual practice was to allow a short informal debate ; and, if the point were persisted with, to require the disagreement . to be stated in writing.
– That is so.
– My reason for proposing to move that your ruling be disagreed with is to have the matter debated. You, sir, or the Minister, may be convinced that your ruling is the correct one in the circumstances ; but there are one or two considerations that I nevertheless desire to submit.
– The debate, on a motion that my ruling be disagreed -with, must be adjourned to the next day of sitting, unless in the opinion of the Senate the matter requires immediate determination.
– Delay to a future date may prejudice the position of honorable senators who sit on this side.
– I understood you, sir, to lay it down that two courses were open. You said, I believe, that there could be a preliminary debate ; and that, if that were not sufficient, the disagreement with your ruling should be stated in writing. Do you wish that disagreement to be stated in writing immediately ?
– Then I submit in writing the following motion : -
That the ruling of the President - That Standing Order 133 prevents the discussion of Notice of Motion No. 1, without a previous resolution rescinding a prior resolution of the Senate - be disagreed with.
– If the Senate desires to have the matter determined immediately, will it be necessary for a motion to be made to that effect?
– Then I move-
That the question of dissent requires immediate determination.
– Your ruling, Mr. President, has been challenged. Surely, then, the Senate should be consulted so as to ascertain whether it agrees or disagrees with that ruling.
– The question at this stage is, whether or not the matter requires immediate determination.
Motion - That the question of dissent requires immediate determination - putThe Senate divided. . (President - Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill.)
Majority . . 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
No question or amendment shall be proposed which is the same in substance as any question or amendment which, during the same session, has been resolved in the affirmative or negative, unless the order, resolution, or vote on such question or amendment has been rescinded.
The point of that Standing Order is that no question or amendment shall be proposed that is the same in substance as any question or amendment previously disposed of in the same session. The fact that the regulations to which the motion relates are the same in substance as regulations which have previously been disallowed has no bearing on the issue ; it is the motion or amendment, not the regulations covered by it, that must not be “ the same in substance “. The motion moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Glasgow), contingent on Statutory Rules 1931, No. 64, Waterside Employment Regulations, having been laid upon the table of the Senate, reads -
That Statutory Rules 1931, No. 64, Waterside Employment Regulations, be disallowed.
The fact that the regulations embodied in Statutory Rules No. 64 are the same in substance as other regulations previously disallowed by the Senate is not governed by Standing Order 133. The question which I submit you, sir, had to determine, was whether the motion was the same in substance as that on which the Senate had previously reached a decision.
That is the angle from which I think the Senate should consider your ruling under this Standing Order. The motion deals with something entirely new. How can it be said that Statutory Rule No. 64, which has not been disallowed by the Senate, is the same as Statutory Rule No. 51, which has been disallowed? Standing Order No. 133 does not cover the ‘ substance of the statutory rule, but the substance of the motion. I pass on now to what, perhaps, is a more important question - one which our own procedure controls. We cannot, by any action we may take under our Standing Orders, control the legislative provision of an act of Parliament. As you are aware, sir, the provision for the disallowance of a regulation is a statutory one, and, in any case, must override any provision that we may make for the conduct of our business. Even if we provided in our Standing Orders that a statutory rule, once having been disallowed, could never be disallowed again it would be abortive, for there is a statutory right in the Acts Interpretation Act to disallow regulations from time to time. No provision that this Senate might make would be valid against the enactment of the Parliament which governs this matter. Even if, for our internal procedure, we make certain provisions for the control of our business, as in Standing Order No. 133, I submit that the question or amendment has to be the same, and not the provision or regulation the disallowance of which is sought. To argue that a motion for the disallowance of Statutory Rule No. 64 cannot be moved until the motion for the disallowance of Statutory Rule No. 51 has been rescinded, because the two rules are in identical, terms, seems to me to be quite beside the point, because the two rules are entirely different. Each motion would apply to different statutory rules. I submit that the first statutory rule is dead. By virtue of the action of the Senate, it has disappeared. The powers of the Senate have been applied to it and it has passed out of existence. A new statutory rule has come in its place. Anything that may be moved in the Senate, or any notice of motion that may be given in relation to a particular statutory rule, can affect only that nile.
The notice of motion now under discussion has particular reference to a specific statutory rule, notwithstanding that the contents of that rule may be literally exactly the same as the contents of another rule. The crux of the whole matter is the question or the motion, and not the statutory rule. It cannot by any stretch of the imagination be maintained that a motion to disallow Statutory Rule No. 64 can be the same as a motion to disallow Statutory Rule No. 51. They are quite different things. Statutory Rule No. 51 has disappeared. It is no longer in existence. I can quite understand that the Minister and honorable senators who are supporting him in propagating this gospel of the Standing Orders, have been led astray by the phrase, “ the same in substance “. But it is the question or amendment that must be the same in substance, and not the regulations. For these reasons I felt obliged, somewhat regretfully, to move my motion of dissent.
No Question or Amendment shall be proposed which is the same in substance as any Question or Amendment which, during the same Session, has been resolved in the affirmative or negative, unless the Order, Resolution, or Vote on such Question or Amendment has been rescinded.
That Standing Order is as clear as the English language can make it. It shows that the ruling of the President is sound, and that the previous resolutions of the Senate on this subject must be rescinded before the matter can be reconsidered.
No question or amendment shall be proposed which is the same in substance as any question or amendment which, during the same session has been resolved in the affirmative or negative, unless the order, resolution or vote, on such question or amendment has been rescinded.
Unless that Standing Order is interpreted to mean that the Senate cannot alter a previous decision without notice, it becomes an absurdity. Otherwise, as in the present instance, it would mean that the Senate could not re-affirm a previous decision without rescinding it - the very thing that a majority of the Senate does not want to do. What would be the legal effect if the Senate could, and did, rescind its previous decision in relation to the waterside workers’ regulations? It would mean that the Senate’s disallowance of those regulations would have no effect. It might also mean that persons who have been prosecuted for offending against regulations which they thought had been disallowed, would be again subject to prosecution because the resolution of the Senate had been rescinded. It would be absurd for the Senate to rescind something that it had no wish to rescind. Why should honorable senators, in the exercise of their privileges, be called upon to rescind something of which they entirely approve - something which they did in the past and want to do again? The purpose of the Standing Order is to prevent the Senate from arriving at an opposite decision without due notice being given to honorable senators. That contention is borne out by the wording of Standing Order 134, which goes so far as to say that seven days’ notice must be given of any intention to rescind a resolution of the Senate. In the light of that Standing Order I submit that it is entirely contrary to reason to say that honorable senators must be given seven days’ notice of a motion to re-affirm a previous decision of the Senate. Because of the peculiar wording of Standing Order 133. your ruling, Mr. President, appears reasonable; but I submit that it is contrary to the intention of the Standing Order to rule that the Government, having gazetted regulations, and the Senate having disallowed them, the Government can again gazette them and. the Senate be silenced for a week.
– Honorable senators must realize that my duty is to see that the proceedings of the Senate are conducted in accordance with the Standing Orders, which are, so to speak, my tools of trade, and may, by experience, prove to be good or bad. Honorable senators must also realize that an absolutely unparalleled set of circumstances is being dealt with at the present moment. These circumstances have arisen from the re-assertion on several occasions of certain regulations which, I think I am right in saying, is unprecedented in the history of the Federal Parliament. No ruling can be given by the Chair on a regulation which is merely laid upon the table without a motion being made in the chamber as to its fitness or otherwise for administration. Regulations are laid upon the table without debate and, in very many instances, without being seen by any hon orable senator, either before or after their presentation. The President is, therefore, not in a position to rule any regulation out of order. My ruling to-day is, I contend, in accordance with the provisions of Standing Order 133. I admit that that Standing Order has very little application to the present circumstances; as I have already said, it was evidently not framed with any idea of its being applied to the consideration of regulations in circumstances such as have arisen in this ease. As a matter of fact, if my ruling is disagreed with, the result may be, as I hope it will, the framing of a special standing order to cover motions relating to the- disallowance of regulations. I do not think that the course followed in connexion with these regulations - a regulation being disallowed one day and regazetted the next - was ever contemplated, or there would have been some standing order to exempt them from the provisions of Standing Order 133. That no such standing order has been framed is due to the fact that the position is unique. I assure honorable senators that I shall not in the least mind their disagreeing with my ruling, because I feel that in so doing they will be disagreeing not so much with my ruling as with the Standing Order which I have quoted.
I do not attach much importance to the points raised by Senator McLachlan. After all, they are purely legal. I do not think that the argument that the identity of regulations cannot be concealed by the fact that one is numbered 64, and another 53, carries any weight. If the state of affairs that has arisen had ever been contemplated, the Acts Interpretation Act would have contained provisions to overcome it. It is obvious to me that the present situation was never thought of by those who framed either the Acts Interpretation Act or the Standing Orders under which I have to conduct the proceedings of the Senate. I maintain that 1 have correctly interpreted Standing Order 133, but I repeat that the Standing Order itself lacks provisions to meet a situation such as has arisen. It is the responsibility of the Senate to rectify that omission.
I know that honorable senators are reluctant to disagree with my ruling, but
I shall not mind in the least if their disagreement with it has the effect of putting our Standing Orders and, may I add, also our legislation in this connexion, on a better footing than that on which they stand at the present time.
SenatorFoll. - Is not the trouble, sir, that you gave your ruling a little precipitately?
– Not at all. Apparently the honorable senator has not been paying attention to what I have said. I have already combated the proposition put forward in that connexion, and I repeat that I have to administer the Standing Orders as I find them. If there is any fault it lies not in my interpretation of the Standing Order, but in the Standing Order itself. If the motion of dissent is agreed to, I shall regard it as being carried against the Standing Order rather than against the interpretation I have given. I shall abstain from voting on the motion.
Question - That the motion (dissent) be agreed to - put. The senate divided. (President - Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill.)
Ayes . . . . . . 19
Noes . ‘. . . 7
Majority . . 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate on main question resumed.
– I hope that honorable senators will not agree to this motion. They cannot be unaware of the circumstances which preceded the making of these regulations.For a long time serious disturbances had been experienced on the waterfront, and in order to allay the trouble the Government framed regulations under the Transport Workers Act. Indisputably the regulations have enabled the work on the wharfs to be carried on without conflict or trouble. The Government has persisted with its policy because it believes it to be in the interests of the people and essential to effective working on the waterfront.
– Work was being carried on very well before the regulations were issued.
– I deny that. What reason would the Government have for taking action if the work had been proceeding peacefully? Only the obstinacy of honorable senators of the Opposition makes them continue throwing a wrench into the machinery. Since these regulations were first promulgated there has been no disturbance in connexion with the waterfront - except in this chamber. Some honorable senators seem intent on causing dissension and disorder; one would think that they themselves were trying to live up to the reputation they give to the waterside workers. Prior to the regulations being introduced the newspapers recorded almost daily disturbances, injuries to individuals, and interruptions of work on the waterfront. Lately, no occurrences of this kind have been recorded, and it is evident that the work on the wharfs is proceeding serenely. Why then do honorable senators persist in creating turmoil? They may have the satisfaction of irritating the Government, but they achieve nothing else. Work is interrupted only when the regulations are disallowed. As soon as new regulations are issued the shipping companies engage men for work that is impending. The continual meddling by the Senate is not fair to the ship-owners or the workers. If evidence were adduced that the handling of the merchandise on the. wharfs was not being carried out efficiently under the regulations honorable senators would have some ground for their . opposition to them. But while the work is being done well and amicably this chamber has no warrant for interfering with it. The action of the Opposition in this matter is harassing a Government which already has enough trouble on its hands.
– Trouble of its own making.
– The Government is endeavouring to pull Australia out of difficulties in which previous incapable administrations landed it. Surely honorable senators opposite realize the foolishness of being brought back here week after week merely for the purpose of disallowing regulations under which industry is being carried on satisfactorily? The procedure of the last few weeks is open to ridicule. The Senate disallows regulations and, when new regulations are gazetted, it proceeds to take precisely the same action. The only disaffected section of the community appears to be in this chamber. Here we have the spectacle of honorable gentlemen representing the various States of the Commonwealth coming back to Canberra once a week to pass a certain motion. The challenge was thrown out to the Government several weeks ago. The course which they are pursuing may give satisfaction to some honorable senators opposite, but I remind them that the inconvenience caused to Government supporters who in this chamber number only five or six, is as nothing to the annoyance caused to honorable senators opposite. I appeal to their sporting instincts if not to their commonsense to cease this stupid and foolish procedure.
– Does the Leader of the Senate wish to see the volunteer workers on the wharfs starving?
– I regret very much that volunteer workers or any other persons in Australia should be starving. I regret also the causes of our present difficulties, but I hope that the nation will give immediate and earnest attention to the problems confronting us, so that we may get out of our present difficulties as quickly as possible. I hope that the Senate will not carry the motion.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH (Western Australia) [4.38]. - I was under the impression that this business would be decided without a repetition of all the arguments that we have heard on previous occasions when the Senate has been considering the disallowance of similar regulations. Apparently I was mistaken. I do not intend to give a silent vote on this motion because the Leader of the Senate has charged honorable senators on this side with being guilty of foolish and stupid action when, as a matter of fact, all that we are endeavouring to do is to uphold the principles of justice and observance of the law. We are essaying, among other things, to support the decisions of the Arbitration Court and endeavouring to ensure that persons who entered into solemn obligations with other persons shall be permitted to discharge those obligations. Peace is very desirable, but peace is not everything. I commend to honorable senators that most delightful book The Exploits of Asaaf Khan, which tells how Asaaf brought peace to his people. Having assembled the two disputing parties, he singled out those from whom he had most reason to expect trouble and reducing them, by an excess of hospitality into a state of insensibility, he promptly chopped off all their heads. In that way be brought peace to his village. That is the kind of peace that honorable senators opposite seek to bring about on the waterfront, by debarring from labour any who do not agree with their particular brand of politics. There is one point to which I should like to direct the attention of honorable senators with regard to this set of regulations. In a statement that was made by the Attorney-General (Mr. Brennan) for publication on -the day that the regazettal of these regulations was notified, the honorable gentleman said -
I have the Governor-General’s permission to say that His Excellency expressed his personal desire, consistent with his official duty, to defer the consideration of the Waterside Workers Regulations until after the Senate meet next Wednesday, but as the Government considered the matter of immediate urgency, His Excellency felt bound to follow the advice of his Ministers, in accordance with the principles of responsible government.
His Excellency is the direct representative of His Majesty the King. I am sure that when a new method was adopted with regard to certain details concerning the appointment of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral it was not thought for a moment that that was going to interfere in any way with the dignity of the office. I ask honorable senators to imagine, if they can, what would happen if the
British. Government offered a similar affront to His Majesty the King, by ignoring His Majesty’s personal desire! That is what this Government has seen fit to do. If that were done in England, there would be a blaze of indignation and disgust from Land’s End to John o’ Groats. If an English government ignored the personal desire of His Majesty, it would not be tolerated for one moment.
– I rise to a point of order. I do not think that His Excellency the Governor-General is under discussion, and I respectfully urge that honorable senators should be asked to desist from irrelevantly bringing the name of so eminent a citizen into the debate.
– The standing order dealing with the subject is No. 417, which reads -
No senator shall use the name of His Majesty or of His representative in this Commonwealth disrespectfully in Debate, nor for the purpose of influencing the Senate in its deliberations.
I have not noticed anything disrespectful in the utterances of Senator Colebatch, and I take it that he is not endeavouring to influence the Senate in its deliberations. In this connexion I ask that honorable senators shall not use the name of His Excellency the Governor-General except when it is absolutely necessary to do so, and then to mention it with all respect, and within the limitations prescribed by Standing Order 417.
– I quite appreciate what you have said, sir, but I think that you will recognize that, so far as I am concerned, the admonition is unnecessary. I have not mentioned the name of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral except with respect. The disrespect is on the part of the Government represented by honorable senators opposite, which has brushed aside His Excellency’s personal desire.
– Honorable senators opposite endeavoured by their address to persuade His Excellency to their way of thinking.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH.Can it be claimed with justification that this was a matter of immediate urgency, and that prompt action was necessary in the interests of industry and of the country generally? The only effect of gazetting the regulation on Monday instead of Wednesday was that on those two days a certain set of people obtained employment instead of a certain other set of people. I believe that it will be admitted that, from the point of view of their worthiness as citizens and the need of their families, each side was equally deserving of consideration. The immediate urgency which, in the opinion of the Government, justified it in brushing aside the personal desire of the representative of His Majesty the King was that it desired to give those two days work to its own political supporters. In effect it said, “ We will even flout the personal desires of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral in order to please our political supporters.”
– And the honorable senator and his colleagues want to please the volunteers, their supporters.
– I do not want to please anybody. ‘My desire is that the right thing shall be done. In the past it has been recognized that the Parliament is His Majesty the King, or his representative, the Senate and the House of Representatives, but the Government now seeks to brush that aside and establish that Parliament consists of the caucus and the House of Representatives and nothing else. I believe that that is a feature of’ the case which the people of Australia will keep prominently in mind if and when any attempt is made by this Government to enlarge the powers of the Federal authority.
– I do not expect that anything that is said by honorable senators on this side of the chamber will influence the opinions or the votes of honorable senators opposite. Had it not been for the outburst of Senator Colebatch, I certainly should not have delayed the Senate by addressing myself to this motion. I throw the misrepresentation of Senator Colebatch back in his teeth.
– The honorable senator is out of order in describing a remark of Senator Colebatch as a misrepresentation. He may describe it as an inaccurate statement.
– I throw back into the teeth of Senator Colebatch the in- ‘ accurate statement that this Parliament is caucus-ridden. The ignorance of the Opposition on this subject is remarkable. I say that with all sincerity. It is nonsense to allege that this Government is caucus-ridden, and even if honorable senators opposite believe it I am charitable enough to assign the misrepresentation to their ignorance.
– Why are the honorable senator and his colleagues taking their instructions from the Waterside Workers Federation in this matter?
– We are not taking any instructions from the Waterside Workers Federation. The Government is attempting to restore permanent peace on the waterfront.
– The whole thing is a joke.
– If it is, the joke has been perpetrated by the Opposition in the Senate. . If honorable senators opposite would treat this matter seriously, decide the issue on its merits, and allow the Government to govern the country, there would be no joke on the waterfront.
– And there would be very little work there.
– There, again, is an outburst from a mind that is so prejudiced against the workers of Australia that it is only necessary for a man to join a trade union to be designated a loafer: I have listened to Senator Guthrie on many occasions and have discovered that no man takes a keener delight in displaying his spleen against trade unionism than he.
– I suppose that Senator Guthrie believes in the Pastoralists Association.
– Of course he does, because the Pastoralists Association would crush trade unionism if it could.-
– Are not these voluntary workers trade unionists?
– I must apologize if I have strayed beyond the confines of the debate in answering an interjection that was improperly directed to me by Senator Guthrie. I do not for a moment desire to discuss whether the volunteers are unionists or not. What I say to Senator Colebatch and other honorable sena tors opposite is that this Government was returned to power to govern the country. It has done nothing that conflicts Avith its constitutional rights. I admit that the Senate has the right to veto any legislation that may be enacted by the Government in this form ; but I contend that the grounds upon which it exercises that right should be stronger than those that have been advanced on this or any previous’ occasion. It is of no use to take this action on the ground that the Government has brushed aside the personal desire of the representative of His Majesty the King.
– That is not the only ground. The other grounds have been stated time and again.
– I am endeavouring to meet the objections that have been raised by honorable senators who have spoken this afternoon. The Attorney-General showed no affront to the representative of His Majesty the King. Senator Colebatch knows that the prerogative of governments lies in certain decisions that have been arrived at by different Imperial Conferences. He knew, when he supported the petition to His Excellency the Governor-General, and so did every other honorable senator opposite, what the answer to that petition would be.
– On a point of order, I desire your ruling, Mr. President, as to whether the honorable senator is in order in discussing a matter that has been discussed by the Senate on another motion during the current session.
– The honorable senator must confine himself to the subject-matter of the motion.
– Senator Colebatch was permitted to attack the Government because of what he considered an apparent affront to the representative of His Majesty ; and I was endeavouring to show that in presenting a petition which the Opposition knew-
– The honorable senator is not in order in saying that the Opposition knew anything; he cannot possibly sustain such an assertion.
– By way of personal explanation, I say that I did not know what the Governor-General’s answer would be. I do not question that answer now; but I bad good reason for hoping that it would be different from what it was.
– I was of the opinion that Senator Colebatch was more conversant with constitutional law than apparently he is. Anybody who knew what a first-year student of the University would be expected to know of constitutional law-
– The honorable senator must not reflect on any other honorable senator’s knowledge or lack of knowledge.
– With great respect, I submit that I am not reflecting on the knowledge of honorable senators. The honorable senator said that he did not know what the answer of His Excellency would be.
– Did not the AttorneyGeneral display indecent haste?
– I do not think that he did.
– That is not the subject under discussion. I ask honorable senators to confine themselves strictly to the discussion of whether these regulations shall be allowed or disallowed.
– I sincerely trust that the Senate will allow these regulations to remain in force, and that it will permit the Government to govern this country until such time as it is satisfied that that government is upon wrong lines. Not one honorable senator opposite has been able to cite an instance of industrial unrest on the waterfront that has been due to the action of the Government. They all admit that there is industrial peace on the waterfront; that no protest has been lodged against the action of the Government by the shipping companies; that for the period during which the regulations have operated no stoppage of work has occurred and no pillaging has taken place, and that there have been no offences such as those with which they charged waterside workers prior to the enactment of the Transport Workers Act. But they say that, in the interests of justice and of law - to use the words of Senator Colebatch - they should disallow these regulations.
What is the position ? The Government tried unsuccessfully to induce the shipping lords of Great Britain, through their mouthpieces in Australia, to meet it and to arrive at a peaceful solution of the trouble. It found those representatives unrelenting. They were determined to fight, not the militant trade union movement of New South Wales and Fremantle, but the trade union movement of Port Adelaide and Port Melbourne. Consequently, a proclamation was issued covering those particular ports, and the decent trade unionist was really hounded off the wharf. Any person who visits Port Adelaide must sympathize not only with the workers, but also with the tradespeople of that port. The Government, in its anxiety to meet the wishes of both of those classes, attempted to have means provided whereby the work on the waterfront would be distributed between that band of workmen to whom the employers felt that they owed some allegiance, and the- men to whom the work rightly belonged. But a deaf ear was turned to every entreaty of the Government, and, after many months of unsuccessful negotiation, it felt that, in the interests of justice and of these men to whom the work rightly belonged, some drastic step must be taken. Even now the door is not closed against these shipping lords, to whom certain honorable senators opposite are prepared to bow the knee in adoration; it is still open to them to confer with the Government. It would be better for the Senate to allow the Government’s discretion in this matter to remain unfettered, in the hope that, being unable to sustain a firm stand, the shipping lords might confer with it and thus pave the way for what we all hope to see, namely, absolute and permanent peace on the waterfront. I resent very deeply the suggestion that the peace desired by honorable senators who sit on this side is the peace of Asaaf Khan. That is not the sort of peace that we desire, or are pleading for to-day. .It is not the sort of peace that the waterside workers are anxious for; but, apparently, it is what Senator Colebatch would mete out to them.
I feel that the regulations are doomed to be disallowed. In that event I strongly urge the “Government to re-enact them immediately, so that a measure of justice will be meted out to the members of the Waterside Workers Federation, even though it be for only a short period.
.- “We on this side of the chamber propose to disallow these regulations because we believe in unionism and fairplay. It has been unfairly stated by Senator Daly opposite that I am opposed to unionism. I am strongly in favour of it, and realize that there must be unions in connexion with all trades and occupations for the purpose of collective bargaining. I propose, however, to defend, as far as I can, the interests of the Permanent and Casual Waterside Workers Union, an organization registered under the Arbitration Court. Its members came to the assistance of their country at a time when trade was interrupted by repeated strikes on the waterfront.’ The members of the Waterside Workers Federation had disobeyed the awards of the Arbitration Court, and perishable goods and other primary products were allowed to lie on the wharfs awaiting shipment. Members of that union practised cruel victimization on the volunteer waterside workers who were brutally attacked by members of the federation whenever they were in sufficiently large numbers. They were pushed under trains, battered with bottles, and even their wives and families were maliciously persecuted. One of the best measures passed by the last Government was the Transport Workers Act, which required that waterside workers be licensed. Prior to that there were continual strikes on the waterfront, trade was disorganized, and pilfering of cargoes was rife, with the result that this country got a very bad name. It is well known that many members of the Waterside Workers’ Federation had criminal records. We, on this side, propose now to defend the interests of the volunteer workers - who, I repeat, are unionists - and to frustrate this attempt to hound them off the wharfs, and prevent them from making an honest living. It is simply humbug for the Government to say that it is seeking to do justice on the wharfs. It is seeking to defend persecution. The subversive attempts of the Waterside Workers Federation were checkmated by the loyal workers who came forward and offered to work when the work was there to be done. Until the advent of this new union there was almost continuous trouble on the waterfront of the various ports of Australia. Even during the war strike after strike occurred. The waterside workers refused to send forward to the men overseas the comforts which were being despatched to them by the Red Cross Society. They also refused to ship the primary products which, at that time, it was so vital should be sent overseas. Since the members of the new union have been working on the wharfs it has been found that they are much more efficient than their predecessors. The stevedores and shipowners are agreed on this, and they also state that pilfering, if it has not entirely disappeared, is not anything like so bad as it was. Personally, I should like to see all the men on the wharfs obtain work if it were there for them, but I cannot agree to support regulations designed to give law-breakers a monopoly of what work is offering, while the loyal workers are allowed to starve. Honorable senators on this side are justified in coming here week after week to disallow these regulations which are framed in the interests of law-breakers, and directed against those who obeyed the laws of their country at a critical time in its history.
– Honorable senators opposite are continually decrying what they describe as class hatred, hut it seems to me that they themselves manifest that class hatred in their attitude towards unionism. I am one of those who, while not preaching class hatred, believe in the class struggle as the very basis of the Labour movement. There are two bodies of men on the wharfs at the present time, the unionists, and those who are euphemistically styled volunteers.
– They are also unionists.
– Tes, of a sort. The honorable senator who has just resumed his seat spoke of these volunteers coming to the rescue of their country, as though they were heroes who sacrificed their own interests for the sake of their country. Honorable senators must know that these so-called volunteers were mighty glad to get the jobs which were formerly not open to them, largely owing to their inferiority, either of physique or skill. The general testimony of expert observers and investigators, such as sociologists, as well as of those directly concerned with industry, is to the effect that, on the whole, the best workers in every occupation are unionists. Ever since the inauguration of trade unionism, the tendency has been for the best men in various occupations to join their organization, by which, alone, experience has sho wn that they can obtain a modicum of justice under the existing capitalistic system. There can be no stronger indictment of the system which honorable senators support than is provided by the fact that, if the system had any economic stability about it, there would be no quarrel between the unionists and the volunteers, because there would be work for all. But unemployment, which is the root cause of industrial troubles, is not only the inevitable product of the system under which we live, but is also necessary to its maintenance. It is the keystone of the capitalistic system, and so long as unemployment continues, so long will there be a class struggle between those who serve the bosses’ ends and those banded together to look after the interests of the workers.
Although members of the “Waterside Workers Federation must be more or less degraded by the system under which they are compelled to toil, and therefore make blunders, is that a sufficient reason why they should be condemned as though they were arch criminals, and subjected to the venomous comments which are showered on them every time these regulations are debated? Are honorable senators opposite so free from guile that they should be hurling gibes at these men everlastingly, because, on some particular occasion, they may have done something detrimental to the employers’ interests. There is something fundamentally wrong, when, in a country teeming with opportunities-
– I think that the honorable senator is straying from the subject before the Chair.
– I regret that you restrain me, Mr. President, but I think that one should have an opportunity of pointing out that there is a deeper cause of these industrial troubles than the merely superficial one generally given.
– The honorable senator’s remarks would be more appropriate on an abstract motion.
– I bow to your ruling. I have no intention whatever to ask honorable senators to do other than what I know they will do - that is, vote for the disallowance of these regulations. Any such pleading would be in vain, but 1 desire to place on record my opinion that trouble of the kind on which honorable senators opposite take one view, and we on this aide take the other, will continue until we alter the system that produces these results. If the Ministry is to be true to its name as a Labour Government, it is its bounden duty to take every opportunity to further the interests of trade unionists.
– With equality of opportunity for all trade unionists.
– That is impossible under the present system. The so-called volunteer workers belong to a bogus organization that was formed for the purpose of serving the interests of the shipping employers. To that extent those workers are traitors to their own class, and we must necessarily fight them. In loyalty to the working class, we must take every opportunity of helping the organization through which, alone, the workers may receive but a modicum of justice. Were it not for trade unionism, the working class would be the most brutalized section of the human race. Unionism has done more than any other influence to raise the white workers of the world.
– And the awards of the Arbitration Courts should be obeyed.
– Arbitration has been kept within decent limits only by the fact that men were game to strike when their conditions became intolerable. All human experience proves that unionism, with , -all its defects, which I admit and regret, has done more than anything else to secure for the working classes a share of the wealth that they produce, and, consequently, I must back up any Government in any action it takes to help the organized working class. Therefore, I shall vote against the motion before the Senate. I hope that the Government will continue to re-enact these regulations, if necessary “ to the Greek calends “. If it comes to a matter of endurance, I think that the members on this side will outlast those in the ranks of the Opposition.
– I shall shortly recapitulate the reasons which are actuating the Opposition on this occasion, and which influenced it in disallowing similar regulations previously. The union which the Government seems to desire to shelter and give work to, to the exclusion of the other union, has, in effect, by its refusal to accept the award of the Arbitration Court, deliberately over-ridden the law of this country. To the Waterside Workers Federation the Government proposes to give the preference which was refused more than once by Mr. Justice Beeby and by the full Arbitration Court.
– The honorable senator’s own union takes care of its members.
– The society to which I belong is conducted in a manner that may help at times the muchtroubled president of the Australian Workers Union. The Government, by the very act of issuing these regulations, debars from work men who have laboured efficiently on the waterfront for some two and a half years, without a single instance of a stoppage of work. These men are not employed for less wages’ than, or under different conditions from, those provided under the award. These are the men whom the Government seeks to drive out of employment to the advantage of those who have refused to obey an award of the court, which has been characterized by the other side as a pernicious award. There were scenes of violence on the waterfront recently in Sydney. The Government, for another reason, interfered with the right of employers to free selection, compelling them to employ members of an organization which has constantly defied the court over a long term of years. This body’ has harassed the shipping industry; has caused innumerable delays, and has inflicted loss on the shipowners and the community amounting to; hundreds of thousands of pounds. I have given several of the reasons which actuated the Government in introducing the legislation under which these regulations have been framed. I cannot understand why the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers
Union should be referred to as a bogus union. What has it done to justify such a term ? It is a union registered under the law, and its members are as much entitled to consideration as are the members of any other trade union organization. Why should the members of that organization, who are obeying an award of the Arbitration Court, be singled out by the Government for punitive treatment? Probably it is because the present Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin), when the Transport Workers Act was under consideration, said that in the event of a change of Government the men who were then performing the work on the waterfront, would, so to speak, be thrown to the wolves. In effect the Government is attempting a back-door method to repeal the Transport Workers Act. I am willing to admit that many of the members of the Waterside Workers Federation are honest and deserving men, but unfortunately they were influenced by their leaders to disobey an award of the Court, and, in consequence of that and other actions, are now suffering. It is the responsibility of this Parliament to support any section of organized workers which is observing an award of the Arbitration Court. Honorable senators opposite have said that there is now peace on the waterfront; but that is due solely to the fact that the work is being efficiently performed by the members of the so-called bogus union. Quite recently Mr. Kelly, the President of the South Australian Arbitration Court, at the instance of the South Australian Government, held an inquiry as to the extent to which relief should be afforded to the members of the Waterside Workers Federation at Port Adelaide. Mr. Kelly conducted an investigation into the whole circumstances and instead of reporting in favour of action being taken to alleviate the position of the members of that federation in Port Adelaide, reported that its members should approach the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union and endeavour to arrange for a joint appeal to the Arbitration Court, so that the members of both organizations might get a fair share of the little work which, unfortunately, is now offering on the wharfs at that port. It is not a question of political bigotry, but of doing the right thing by those men who are observing the law. These men are entitled to all the support that we can give them. “We are not concerned with the opinions of the representatives of the shipping interests so long as the work on the waterfront is satisfactorily performed. ‘ “When the Transport Workers Act was under consideration promises were made by certain members of this chamber and another place, and those promises must be honoured. As no additional reasons have been adduced to warrant’ the regulations now under consideration, I intend to support the motion. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber have already committed themselves to the principle that the members of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union should be supported. If some members of the federation are experiencing hardship it is to be regretted, but hardships will unfortunately have to be faced by many others before financial stability is restored in this country. In view of the report submitted by Mr. Kelly, who acted in an independent capacity, there is no reason why action should now be taken to grant preference to those who in the past have openly and repeatedly flouted the law.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland) [5.25]. - When I moved the motion for the disallowance of these regulations, I was under the impression that, as the subject had been debated at length on previous occasions, there was no necessity to endeavour to justify the motion. Since the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Barnes) and other honorable senators have raised certain points, I should like to take this opportunity to reply briefly. The Minister said that since the present Government had issued regulations under which preference is given to members of the Waterside Workers Federation there had been peace on the waterfront. He must realize that prior to the passage of the Transport Workers Act, there was continual industrial trouble, and that almost daily the transport of overseas and interstate goods was seriously hampered. Since that act has been in operation, the handling of goods, both overseas and interstate, has proceeded without interruption. Ships have been running to schedule time, cargo has been handled expeditiously, and much more cheaply, while efficiency generally has been increased by from 30 per cent, to 40 per cent. Pilfering and short landings, which were an enormous charge on ship-owners prior to the passage of the Transport Workers Act, have also disappeared.
– In what ports?
– In Brisbane for instance.
– And in Melbourne.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.In practically all ports.
– That is not correct.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.It is the duty of the Government to protect the trade and commerce of this country, but it was also the duty of honorable senators opposite when in Opposition to advise the leaders of trade union organizations, whom they represent, to obey the law. During periods of industrial disturbance on the waterfront when awards of the Arbitration Court were being openly flouted honorable senators opposite remained silent.
– Why does the honorable senator wish to obstruct the Government ?
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.I am not obstructing the Government, but am endeavouring to assist those who are peacefully working under an award of the Arbitration Court. Senator Rae referred to the members pf the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union as being physically and morally inferior to the members of the Waterside Workers Federation. That is an insult to these men, which I strongly resent. It is also al reflection upon the members of the Waterside Workers Federation, because trade has been carried on without any trouble since volunteers have been employed on the waterfront - and carried on more cheaply, expeditiously and efficiently-
– And more honestly.
– Yes; it has been carried on with less loss to the shippers than formerly. Senator Rae also referred to the Casual and Permanent Wharf Labourers Union as a bogus union. He should know something about bogus unions, for he went to Queensland during the last shearers strike and formed a union outside of the Australian Workers Union.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable senator entitled to make statements to which I cannot reply, and which are not relevant to the subject before the Chair?
– As to the first part of the question, the honorable senator is not out of order; as to the second, he is straying from the subject.
– Am I not entitled to reply to the statement of the honorable senator that a bogus union has been formed? I was endeavouring to show that the honorable senator was not consistent.
– The honorable senator need not reply to irrelevancies.
– I have no doubt that the Australian Workers Union will know how to deal with the honorable senator on account of his activities in Queensland during the last shearers’ strike.
Honorable senators opposite have suggested that since the enactment of the Transport Workers Act the members of the Waterside Workers Federation have been thrown out of work; but that is not so, for the members of the federation who took out licences have been employed continuously. About 400 members of the federation are at present in continuous employment on the Brisbane waterfront. The members of the federation who took out licences have been given employment.
– Whether their record was good or not?
– If they are licensed they are given work.
– Has there been no victimization ?
– I cannot answer that question. All I can say is that the men who took out licences, and who were prepared to work under the award of the court, were allowed to work. Traders who use Queensland ports have suffered tremendously in the past through the actions of the members of the Waterside Workers Union. There were two sections df the union in Cairns, each of which tried to secure control of the work on the waterfront, and shippers had to stand by while the two sections fought each other. At Bowen the members of the federation declared certain persons black, and refused to handle inward or outward cargo for them. They were a law unto themselves. The result was that these people had to send their cargo to Townsville and rail it back again. That sort of thing has not happened since the Transport Workers Act has been in operation. The people on the coast of Queensland would be very sorry if the conditions which have prevailed in the last two years were altered, as they would be altered if the regulations which we are now seeking to disallow were to remain in force.
– Would the honorable senator agree to the application of the regulations to Melbourne and Adelaide?
– Certainly not, because conditions formerly were just as bad there as in other ports.
– The honorable senator does not know what the conditions were at Port Adelaide.
– I know that there were difficulties. If the members of the Waterside Workers Federation desire to work on the waterfront they should obtain licences. If they are licensed they will doubtless be given employment.
– The honorable senator should remember that the people of Port Adelaide buy sugar from Queensland.
– That is.no reason why we should allow conditions to revert to what they were before the Transport Workers Act came into force. I hope that the Senate will disallow these regulations.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The Senate divided. (President - Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Address to, and Reply by, the Governor-General.
Motion (by Senator Barnes) proposed -
That the Address of the Senate to His Excellency the Governor-General, passed on the 28th May last, and the reply of His Excellency thereto, be printed.
Debate (on motion by Senator Sir William Glasgow) adjourned.
Senator BARNES (Victoria - Vice-
President of the Executive Council) [5.42]. - I move-
That the bill be now read a’ second time.
This bill is of a non-contentious nature. Senator McLachlan drew the attention of the Government to the possibility of an injustice being done to some officers in the Northern Territory by the principal act, and this simple measure has been drafted to meet their case.
– Under the principal act some of the officers in the Northern Territory would not have their superannuation and other rights preserved to them. This bill provides for justice being meted out to them.
Debate (on motion by Senator Sir William Glasgow) adjourned.
Motion- (by Senator Barnes) proposed -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn till Wednesday next, . at 3 p.m.
– I understood that the Leader of the Senate (Senator Barnes) proposed to lay on the table the papers relating to the proposed guarantee of3s. a bushel f.o.b. for wheat.
– The honorable senator will notbe in order in bringing forward that matter now. He will have an opportunity to do so when the motion for the adjournment is before the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Wheat Guarantee - Imperial Conference Decisions: Powers and Dutiesof the Governor-General.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
asked that papers relating to the guarantee of 3s. a bushel on wheat be laid on the table.
– The matter referred to by the Minister is not yet before the Chair.
– I remind the Leader of the Government (Senator Barnes) of his promise to give the Senate some information as to the reason why papers asked for by resolution of the Senate over six weeks ago have not yet been produced. The inaction of the Government is the more exasperating when we reflect that other papers which have not been called for have been produced by Ministers voluntarily. Some time ago the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) had some correspondence with the Commonwealth Bank authorities. That correspondence was laid on the table of another place, and copies were distributed throughout Australia without, so far as I am aware, the authority of the Bank Board having first been obtained. Last ‘ week the Minister for Markets (Mr.
Parker Moloney) laid on the table of the Library some of the correspondence between the Government and the Commonwealth Bank Board relating to the proposed advance of 4s. a bushel on wheat under . the Wheat Marketing Bill. That is very interesting, and I shall have something to say about it later. My complaint is that the papers containing the correspondence which passed between the Commonwealth Bank and the Government in regard to the non-payment of the 3s. advance have not been produced, although six weeks ago the Senate resolved that they be laid on the table of this chamber. The Government has produced correspondence which passed between the Commonwealth Bank and the Commonwealth Treasurer, although it was not asked for. That correspondence dealt with the inability of the bank to continue to finance the Commonwealth Government.
– Not only this Government, but all governments of the Commonwealth.
– That is so. I wish to know why the correspondence relating to the 3s. advance cannot be produced. This Government should bc able to advance 3s. a bushel to the farmers, and if the correspondence wore made available to us’ we could ascertain the reason for withholding from necessitous farmers the relief, small as it might be, of which they are so desperately in need.
– I should like some information as to the position of the Senate in this instance. If the Minister in charge of this chamber, in replying on a motion that the House do now adjourn, makes . any statement on a matter of policy or in reply to a question, no other honorable senator, according to the ruling of the Chair on this and previous occasions, can continue the debate. When a Minister moves the special adjournment of the House, as the Minister in charge of the Senate did this afternoon, surely he should be allowed to make a statement in reply to questions asked by other honorable senators, so that they may have an opportunity, when the adjournment of the House is moved subsequently, to reply, and he may have the- right to’ a final reply. -If the Minister is not permitted to make any statement when he moves the special adjournment of the House, honorable senators will lose a privilege which they have enjoyed in the past, because it has been the . practice of this Senate, for many years, when the adjournment of the House is moved, for honorable senators to bring up certain matters irrelevant thereto and for the Minister to reply.
– I understand that the custom in the past has been for the Minister, if he has promised another honorable senator to make a statement on a certain subject, to do so when moving the adjournment of the House. I, perhaps, have erred in preventing the Minister from replying to Senator Johnston, but the Minister may now make a statement to which Senator Johnston may reply at the next sitting of the Senate.
– There is a motion on the noticepaper for the printing of . certain papers that passed between the Senate and His Excellency the Governor-General. As circumstances similar to those which arose the other day may arise in the future, I urge the Government, for the guidance of honorable senators, to publish the actual decisions of the Imperial Conference relating to the powers and duties of Governors-General.
– In reply to Senator Johnston, let me say that the papers relating to the wheat guarantee of 4s. a bushel have been laid upon the table of the House ofRepresentatives; but the correspondence relating to the proposed advance of 3s. a bushel is the property of the Commonwealth Bank, and this Government has no control of it. The Government is endeavouring to ascertain the views of the bank with respect to making that correspondence public, but whether that will be done depends entirely upon the bank and not upon the Government. I regret that I cannot give the honorable senator any information other than that.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 5.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 June 1931, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1931/19310611_senate_12_130/>.