13th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill) took the chair at 3 p.m.,and read prayers.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate if his attention has been directed to a recent report in the Sydney press to the effect that Senator Dunn, when addressing a meeting in Sydney ashort time ago, said that he had an army of 40,000 men available which could be utilized should the occasion arise. Has the Minister any knowledge of the truth of this statement, and, if so, has he taken any action to deal with it?
– I suggest that the honorable senator give notice of the question, to enable me to peruse the report to which he has referred.
– I give notice of t.he question for to-morrow.
. - by leave - I thank Senator Payne for asking the question which he has just submitted to the Loader of the Government in the Senate, and I also thank honorable -senators for giving me the opportunity to make a personal explanation on the subject. A paragraph appeared in the New South Wales press to the effect that, at a Labour rally held at the Sydney stadium, and which was attended by approximately 10,000 people, I made some reference to an army of 40,000 trained men. In making that statement, I made it quite clear - I do not wish to apologize for any words I used on the public platform - that I was the patron of a soldiers’ organization known as the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Labour Organization, which is an organization within the Labour movement. I then went on to Bay that certain members of another ‘ organization had said at a meeting in the Sydney Town Hall - it is absolutely true, and it appeared in the press of New South Wales - that on a given day and at a certain time they would march down Macquariestreet
– I rise to a point of order. Standing Order 408 provides that -
By the indulgence of the Senate, a senator may explain matters of a personal nature, although there be no question before the Senate; but such matters may not be debated.
The honorable senator- is not now explaining anything of a personal nature, but is proceeding to quote what he’ said in a speech he delivered in Sydney. An honorable senator is entitled to make a personal explanation when he considers that he baa been misrepresented, or when there is some misapprehension as to what he said. Surely, when making a personal explanation, an honorable senator is out of order in setting out his views on various matters!
The PRESIDENT (Senator the. Hon.
– I bow to your ruling, sir. Senator Payne asked a question in which my name was mentioned. I obtained leave of the Senate to make a. personal explanation.
– The honorable senator would be well advised to make a personal explanation, if he so desires, after an answer to his question has been given.
– I was only defending myself. I do not wish to camouflage anything I said to the effect that certain individuals are out to throw the State Labour Government of New South Wales off the treasury benches.
– The honorable senator is now distinctly out of order.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate an answer to a question which I asked prior to the Easter adjournment with respect to the sale of the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers?
– 1 have not an answer to the question ; but I shall endeavour to obtain it by tomorrow.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister -
What rate of payment is now being paid to the “specials “ that are guarding the Prime Minister’s residence?
– Al this juncture, I do not consider it to be in the public interest to answer the questions.
Senator HERBERT HAYS brought up the report of the Printing Committee and - by leave - moved -
That the report be adopted.
Motion agreed to.
The following papers were presented : -
Tariff Board - Reports and Recommendations -
Ironand Steel -Tubes or Pipes.
Dredging and Excavating Machinery.
– In view of the statement made by the Minister for Defence on Thursday last that, in the distribution of unserviceable clothing by the Defence Department, New South Wales had received more than its quota, I should like to know whether, in the event of any further distribution of such clothing, New South Wales will not be permitted to get more than its fair share.
– I have, on other occasions, informed honorable senators that it is not in order to state a hypothetical proposition when asking questions of Ministers.
– Then, my simple question is whether, in any future distribution of unserviceable clothing by the Defence Department, the Minister will see that New South Wales is not given more than its fair share.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.One of the contributing causes for the allocation to New South Wales of a greater proportion of unserviceable mili tary clothing, is the fact that the population in that State is larger, and the quantity of unserviceable clothing available is greater than in any. other State. I may add that, elsewhere in the Commonwealth, the distribution of this clothing is in the hands of State governments, whereas in New South Wales it is not. and up to the present, we have not been advised that requests by State governments had not been met. In any event, the amount of unserviceable military clothing now available is so small as to be hardly worth quarrelling about.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The schedule containing the amendments made by the present Government willbe debated in another place next week. It is hoped that the proposals will also be submitted to the Senate before the approaching adjournment.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What is the estimated bounty which will be paid on seed cotton for the year 1931-32?
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answer: -
The estimate is£ 70,000.
In committee. (Consideration resumed from the 10th May, vide page 511) :
Clause 16 (Functions of commission).
– Some reference was made last night by Senator E. B. Johnston to the claims made by the Performing Right Association for royalties in respect of musical items and other copyright works broadcast by A and B class stations. That matter has been engaging the attention of various governments from time to time. The position is by no means so simple as has been suggested in certain quarters. There is a good deal of misapprehension in the public mind with reference to the legal difficulties. There isno doubt that, as regards a considerable number of musical and other works for which it claims copyright, the association is able to prove its claim in a court of law. Nevertheless the people of Australia feel that they are being unduly pressed by the body in question, and suggestions have been made in the Senate and to me personally that we should invoke the aid of legislation on lines similar to the law in New Zealand and Canada. I have not had an opportunity to consider whether such legislation would effect the purpose which honorable senators have in view. In Great Britain, where this matter has been under consideration for some time, the authorities have come to the conclusion that the entire position will have to be reviewed in 1935. To a certain extent we are caught on the horns of a dilemma : on the one hand we are bound by the international convention dealing with copyright, and on the other, we have to consider whether, in order to get relief, we shall not have to violate our agreement under that convention. At the earliest opportunity the Government will consider and determine what action can be taken to resist claims which, by some, are regarded as outrageous.
– Whynot authorize a public inquiry?
– A public inquiry would be somewhat expensive,and whileI have not yet decided what course I shall recommend to the Cabinet, I remind the honorable senator that the facts are all before us in one form or another, although we may require some information as to the levies made by the association on broadcasting stations, owners of halls, and organizers of entertainments. Recently I was informed that B class stations have, within the last few days, reached a settlement with the association.
– That settlement was made under duress.
– Possibly the honorable senator is right, because yesterday I received a communication from owners of certain B class stations stating that the report of a settlement was scarcely accurate. As the broadcasting commission will have an opportunity to examine the position very closely, it may be advisable to wait until we have some recommendation from that body which will be entirely independent of the Performing Right Association.
SenatorFoll. - Is it not a fact that a prominent member of the present body controlling broadcasting is also a prominent member of the Performing Right Association ?
– I believe that that statement has been made. The Government will use every endeavour to give relief to the people of Australia. I stall have to submit the matter to Cabinet, and the nature of my recommendations will depend upon the information in my possession and that which cannot be ascertained without some form of public inquiry. The subject is receiving the closest consideration that. I am able to give to it at the moment, and will be dealt with thoroughly as soon as Parliament adjourns.
Senator Payne suggested an alteration of the definition clause, and I promised that the clause would be re-committed if it were found that his request could be acceded to. I point out, however, that this really is the operative clause. It reads -
The commission shall undertake the provision and rendition of adequate and comprehensive programmes for broadcasting from the national broadcasting stations . . .
Those will be the stations that are handed over by the Government. The effect of linking up the provision suggested by Senator Payne would be to hamstring the Government; in other words, all stations, for whatever purpose established, would have to be handed over to the commission. At the present time there are a number of stations in operation, and at least one or two in contemplation. They are broadcasting stations in the true sense of the term. Progress in regard to wireless is so rapid that I appeal to the honorable senator not to press his proposal. The Government might be compelled to erect a different class of station, for television or something of that sort, and progress would be prevented if every station for whatever purpose established, had to be. handed over immediately to the commission. There is no intention of setting up anything in opposition to this body.
This is the arm of the Government forthe development of wireless broadcasting, if it should be found necessary to erect other stations for some purpose that is allied to wireless, I do not think that the Postmaster-General should be deprived of the power to erect them. In certain directions the progress that has been made is absolutely astounding. I ask honorable senators to accept the clause.
Senator HERBERT HAYS (Tasmania) 3. 23]. - The Minister, in reply to Senator Johnston, said that the commission would, in all probability, deal with the question of copyright. I cannot find in the bill any authority for it to do so. The heavy toll exacted by the Australasian Performing Right Association on all classes of entertainment is well known to every honorable senator. Those upon whom the lory is made have nothing to guide them to a decision as to whether or not this organization has a legal claim. This is always said to be an international question. What is the connecting link between Australia’s interest and that of other nations? How is the matter to be taken up, and by whom ? Is it a Commonwealth ministerial function? The commission may or may not deal with it. The Minister should make a statement that will satisfy the public, who’ have to pay the heavy rates that are levied. As a member of the royal commission on the moving picture industry some years ago, I learned that this was a very vexed question, and that complaints were rife among those who supplied that class of entertainment. Let it be made quite clear in the bill that it will be one of the commission’s duties to deal with the matter.
– I regret that I was not more explicit. The function of the commission will be that of A class broadcasting. In the past, so I am informed, that branch of broadcasting has been levied on by the Australasian Performing Right Association to the extent of £30,000 per annum, under an agreement that was entered into between the parties concerned. One of the functions of the commission will be to exploit, in the in. ‘uresis of the community, the programme aspect of broadcasting. It will first have to determine what levies may property be made by the Australasian
Performing Right Association upon A class broadcasting, from which, I venture to affirm, the association obtains the bulk of its revenue. The commission will have to satisfy itself that these levies are not out of harmony with those that are made in other countries, and that they do noi offend against the principles of justice. I do not know whether £30,000 a year is either too much or too little. This, however, will give us a starting point for other inquiries and, if necessary, other action. I received a deputation on- this question the other day. The point ai issue is, not the title of the association so much as the tribute that it levies.
– And ii.right to levy it.
– Its right ha.been establishe’d in courts of law in the United States of America, Great Britain and elsewhere. When I first heard of the Australasian Performing Right Association, I thought it was a body which, bv some magic, extracted money from the air; but when I investigated judicial decisions that had been given on various occasions in the Old Country with respect to its title, I found that there was no doubt concerning that title. But in Aus tralia there is a doubt as to whether it extends to certain things. Rather than set up extensive machinery, is it not much better that we should fis the percentage which the association should receive? I understand that in all broadcasting operations to-day, the basis of the association’s demand for royalties is 85 per cent, of whatever is broadcast. New Zealand and Canada, as I have already said, have proceeded on certain lines, and are requiring the association to prove its title. That is one of the matters to which I must direct m attention. In reply to Senator Herber! Hays, I point out that the Commonwealth is bound by the decisions of the Internationa] Convention on Copyrights, and until that convention reassembles in 1935. we shall have to consider closely whether we can give the amount of relief to which we may consider the people of this country entitled, without violating any of the provisions of an international agreement. There are many other difficulties, also, and I trust that honorable senators will recognize that a reaction must come from the constitution of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, because it will be the first large révenue payer that will have to come into contact, and perhaps into conflict, if the payment is too large, with the Performing Right Association.
.- I should like the Minister to elaborate the statement which he made a few moments ago indicating his objection to the amendment of the definition of “ national broadcasting stations “, as suggested by Senator Grant. I am sure that the committee does not desire un- necessarily to hamper the Government’ or the commission in the establishment of these stations. There are certain limitations upon broadcasting from these stations. Under the definition clause, national broadcasting stations are those made available by the Minister for the purpose of broadcasting national programmes. The Minister, apparently, suggested that it might be desirable to establish other stations which might be available, though not necessarily erected, for the purpose of broadcasting national programmes. Will he be a little more specific? A clear statement on that point would allay the apprehension that is felt in certain quarters, and it seems to me that this isan appropriate opportunity to seek such a pronouncement.
– At the present time, the erection of one or two additional A class stations is contemplated, and all of them will pass over to the control of the commission which will be constituted under this bill. It is not contemplated that the Government, qua government, shall do any broadcasting at all; the commission will control the programmes that are to be broadcast and generally control the chain of A class stations. The Wireless Telegraphy Act gives power to the Postmaster-General to erect stations of ill descriptions, but if we provided for the handing over of all stations to the commission, and in six or twelve months’ time the Minister might desire to erect a station for the purpose, for instance, of television, he would be prevented from doing so. There is no such intention at present, but the possibilities of wireless communication are so great that we cannot say what the future may bring forth. If we accepted an amendment along the lines suggested by Senator Grant, the whole matter would pass to the control of the commission, and the PostmasterGeneral would be excluded from the field.. That might lead to a static condition which would prevent the proper development of wireless communication. My object in opposing the ‘suggested amendment is, not to hamper the commission, but to leave the Government free to take what action may be necessary in future in connexion with wireless broadcasting developments, while retaining the powers that it already possesses.
– Can the Minister give any information as to the position of the local manufacturers of phonograph records which are largely used by the broadcasting stations? In Sydney, we have the Columbia factory. We are told that the A class stations pay £30,000 a year to the Performing Right Association ; but I have been informed that they pay nothing beyond the price of the records they use, and that they put them over the air day after day until the public gets tired of them. They are thus doing a great deal to reduce the sale of the product of an Australian factory, which is deserving of greater consideration than the Performing Right Association. If the A class stations have so much money in hand from licence-fees that they can give this mysterious association £30,000 per annum, without having any official record as to what rights it possesses in regard to the music that is broadcast, what is the position of the Australian factories engaged in the manufacture of records? Will they be accorded a similar measure of liberality?
.- The Minister, in replying to Senator Herbert Hays, said that the commission would have an opportunity to ascertain whether or not the charges made by the Performing Right Association were fair and equitable. How will this commission have any more power than the present broadcasting company has to decide that point? I recognize that one drawback of the existing arrangement is that a prominent member of the Australian Broadcasting Company is also a leading member of the Performing Right Association. That is most unfortunate.
– That drawback may be perpetuated.
– Of course; but I hope that every precaution will be taken to prevent such an anomaly, because to my mind it would be most improper to permit it. The Minister in charge of the bill says that the commission will be authorized to inquire into the reasonableness or otherwise of these charges. I submit that it will be powerless unless its hands are strengthened by some legislative enactment by this Parliament. Time after time the charges levied by the Performing Right Association have been challenged by the people concerned. Some time ago a band played in a Brisbane hotel each afternoon and the hotel proprietor received an account for several hundred pounds from the association. The matter was taken to court, where the association was asked to produceevidencethatit possessed the copyright of the music played. A verdict was given against the hotel, with the result that it had to pay several hundred pounds to the association. The only way to protect the people against this association is to take legislative action in that direction. “We were told some years ago that Australia was bound by an international copyright agreement; that a conference would be held in Europe to discuss matters affecting the copyright law, and that at the conference a certain professor would represent Australia. That conference was held, Australia was represented at it ; but I have not heard any report of its proceedings, and do not know whether Australia’s representative took any part in the discussion. I hope that no man with interests in the Performing Right Association will be appointed a member of the broadcasting commission.
.– I shall say little regarding the Performing Right Association other than that, in my opinion, it should be compelled to register its copyrights. If something is not done in that direction, we shall have to wait until 1035 before obtaining redress from the extortionate charges levied by this association. If the Performing Right Association were compelled to register every copyright it holds, the broadcasting companies would know whether its claims were well founded. This is a. matter which the Government should take up.
Action should also be taken to deal with the heavy charges levied by Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited. For some time this company has claimed patent rights in respect of practically every portion of the equipment used in connexion with wireless broadcasting.
– I rise to a point of order. The Opposition has definite views regarding the Performing Right Association ; but I submit that the charges made by that body are entirely foreign to this clause, which prescribes the functions of the commission. Some honorable senators appear to hold that because £30,000 may be paid to some organization, the committee is entitled to discuss what lasnight was described as wholesale robbery. I submit that Senator Grant’s remarks are entirely out of order in a discussion of this clause. If we are allowed to proceed along the lines of the honorable gentleman’s speech, we shall soon have a first-class debate on the copyright law.
– The Minister said that one of the duties of the commission would be to investigate the claims of the Performing Right Association. In that case, I submit that the discussion is in order.
– The clause provides that the commission shall undertake the provision and rendition of ade.quate and comprehensive programmes for broadcasting. In order to carry out those functions it has been found necessary to pay £’30,000 per annum to the Performing Right Association. This clause, in its present form, would allow those payment* to be continued, and I submit that this is the only place in the bill where we can register a protest against the payment of these levies. For that reason 1 submit that the discussion is in order.
– I persist in my poinof order. I have always understood thm in the committee stages of a bill we musanalyse the various means by which the Government proposes to give effect to the principle affirmed on the second reading. We have affirmed the principle that broadcasting in Australia shall be controlled by a commission. This is merely a machinery clause, setting out the manner in which the commission shall deal with broadcasting programmes. The only consideration before us is the provision of programmes - not what the commission shall pay to obtain them. In this clause we are asked to say whether the commission, or some other body, shall provide the programmes. Were the honorable senator to move that the £30,000 shall not be paid to the Performing Right Association, such an amendment would render relevant the discussion which Senator Grant has initiated.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).The bill provides that the commission may do such acts and things as it deems incidental or conducive to the proper exploitation of those things which may be beneficial to broadcasting. I rule that the discussion is in order.
– For some time Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited has been exploiting wireless listeners in Australia. It. took action some years ago against persons who were making and supplying any equipment used inconnexion with wireless broadcasting. The company claimed that it was entitled to a royalty of 12s. 6d. in respect of every valve socket made. It estimated the value of its patent rights at £93,000. On its own showing it received £46,240 in respect of royalty payments for the year 1929-30, and £114,115 for a further period commencing the 1st November, 1927. If those charges are not extortionate, I do not know what would bo. Listeners-in are being freely exploited by both the Australasian Performing Right Association, and Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited. The position is also acute under the definition clause, on which, when recommitted, I intend to move an amendment in accordance with the Minister’s promise.
– I am opposed to a continuance of the payment of £30,000 to the Australasian Performing Right Association. It is by far the largest payment to be made by the commission in connexion with the provision of programmes. I, therefore, move -
That the following words be added to the clause: - “Provided that no payment shall be made to the Australasian Performing Right Association by the commission without the approval of the Minister “.
The adoption of this amendment would be regarded as a protest by the committee against the exploitation of national broadcasting stations by this association. If we are to entrust the commission with the general control of broadcasting we should provide that further arrangements shall not be entered into with this company unless the Government of the day is prepared to assume responsibility for their continuance.
– It is mere assumption on the part of some honorable senators to say that £30,000 will in future be paid to the Australasian Performing Right Association. If honorable senators wish to do something practical they should move an amendment to the effect that no money shall be paid to that association unless it possesses the registered copyright in Australia of the music on which it claims copyright fees. Honorable senators should, in all fairness, admit that those who have produced music, or anything elseprotected under the copyright law, should receive payment for its use. Payment is received by others who produce anything of value to the public.
– No objection would be raised to the payment of copyright fees provided the author received them.
– That is so. In connexion with threatrical performances one association claims that it holds a licence, while another claims the same right; when a test is applied it is found that there is some difficulty with respect to the transmission of an author’s rights. That also occurs in connexion with the use of copyright music; but the greatest difficulty to-day is that if a list is sent in to the Australasian Performing Right Association of items which have been used, it will tick off practically everything, except perhaps some quotation from the Bible. It is the indefiniteness of the present position that is so annoying to the public. Those concerned do not object that fees have to be paid, but because they do not know exactly what performances can be given or what records can be used without payment. ‘I understand that in some of the lists sent to the Australasian Performing Right Association faked names of authors and publishers have been used, and that even in such cases the association has claimed the copyright. When complaints have been made its representatives have said that reference will have to be made to their representatives abroad, with the result that delays occur and those concerned do not feel inclined to trouble further in the matter. If Senator Johnston will amend his amendment to provide that no money shall be paid to the Australasian Performing Right Association unless it holds the Australian copyright with an Australian register, some good would be achieved. We do not know that £30,000 has been paid to this association.
– Senator McLachlan has said that such is the case.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).I suggest that Senator Johnston should move his amendment on clause 1.7, which deals with the general powers of the commission.
– Reference has also been made to certain patent rights held by the Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited. If the Australian people are to be encouraged to undertake research, and as a result effect. certain improvements which they eventually patent, they should be paid for the use of. such patents. I admit that this matter is of vital interest to the Australian people at the present juncture. The matter of patent rights is dealt with in the pamphlet from which Senator Grant quoted, and in which Mr. Justice Luxmore is reported to have said -
The whole subject-matter of the circuit patents is highly technical and difficult. Frequently it is a debatable question as to which of the circuit patents are being utilized in any particular receiving set. It is consequently fairest to the manufacturers to strike a general average and impose royalties calculated in a simple manner to cover the whole range of the circuit patents. Such a course not only avoids complications and expense in assessing the royalty, but places each manufacturer in a secure position, because whatever variation he may make in his receiving sets he need not, in practice, considerthe range and extent of his licence, for he will always be working within it.
The same judgment ruled that a royalty charge upon receivers of 12s. 6d. per valve socket was not excessive.
– The honorable senator does not dispute the accuracy of the figures I quoted.
– I do not. Those who possess a valuable patent should be paid by those who use it. It is a question of value. This matter caused a good deal of uncertainty in Australia some years ago, and when a number of prosecutions were then looming up, the trade did not know where it stood. An arrangement was subsequently entered into whereby on the payment of a small sum from each listener’s licence Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited generously permitted the Australian trade to incorporate in its productions any of the patents held by that company. The position with respect to patent rights is similar to that in relation to copyrights. The patents held by the Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited over their own inventions and those brought in under licence have been of great benefit to Australian manufacturers and to the Australian people. I am in favour of payments being made to those who introduce valuable patents or who hold the copyright of music or similar matter provided that the right people receive the payments.
Amendment - by leave - withdrawn.
.- I thank the Acting Attorney-General (Senator McLachlan) for the information he has given concerning the representations I made in connexion with an amendment of the definition clause. I am prepared to accept his statement up to a certain point, but I still think that he has not covered the whole of the ground. I contend that an amendment on the lines I suggested last night would safeguard the interests of listeners-in, and I trust that further consideration will be given to the points that I raised. The adoption of the amendment I suggested last night would not, in any way. interfere with the position of the Government under this bill. It would merely make it quite clear that only . certain classes of work will be undertaken by the commission. In discussing this clause, I am able to refer to the deplorable conditions of broadcasting in Tasmania. Notwithstanding the earnest representations which have been made to the Government from time to time for an improvement in the service, nothing has been done. Various governments have been approached from time to time, but while they have admitted that the service is inefficient no improvements have been effected. This is most unfair to licenceholders in Tasmania, who have to pay the Same fees as are paid on the mainland. The delays that have occurred have been very annoying, particularly to those who have incurred certain financial obligations, and who are unable to receive the benefits of an efficient service. In 1929, it was pointed out by Professor Cherry that certain admirable sites were available in Tasmania. The present station is totally unsuitable. That has even been admitted by the Government. If the Government wishes the number of listeners-in in Tasmania to increase, it should provide an up-to-date plant and arrange for a proper service. The Minister referred to the fact that the number of listeners-in in Tasmania was comparatively small. It is not surprising when one considers the inadequacy of the service provided. If a modern plant were installed and good programmes were broadcast, the number of licences taken out would immediately increase. I sincerely trust that the Government will give this matter its immediate consideration, and arrange for the Tasmanian listeners-in to receive the benefit of a service equal to that available on the mainland.
– This clause defines the functions of the proposed broadcasting commission in such broad and comprehensive terms as to convey the impression that the commission will be the final authority. But when one turns to clause 52, one finds that the Minister may prohibit the commission from broadcasting any particular matter which, in his opinion, should not be published. When any station is broadcasting political speeches or addresses, the person in charge takes care to mention that the management is not responsible for the views expressed, the reason being, of course, to safeguard the licence. Not long ago, as honorable senators may recall, the then PostmasterGeneral prohibited the broadcasting of a speech on the ground that it had special significance. I should like to know if there is any direct conflict between clauses 16 and 52. This is important, because it is conceivable that, at some future time, we may have a Minister objecting to the broadcasting of particular matter on the ground that the political views expressed do not coincide with his own. Authority must reside either in the Broadcasting Commission or in the Minister, and, in view of what has happened in the recent past, the position should be clearly defined. It is not desirable that there should be any restriction ou the broadcasting of political view3, unless, of course, they are seditious.
– Is it not possible to have too much politics over the air? Owners of wireless sets may not renew their licences if they get too many political speeches.
– What is the alternative? Does the honorable senator suggest that there should be no broadcasting of political views? We may depend on the common sense of the community to fix a useful limit to the use of broadcasting stations for the promulgation of political views.
– This clause has been discussed very fully, and I am certain that honorable senators have made up their minds about it. The amendment which I suggest has reference Oto the methods by which we express, in our legislation, the purpose we have in view, and in defence of the English language, I take exception to the whole wording of this clause. I know exactly the noun by which I would describe it if it were not for the fact that I might give offence to our friends of the fourth estate.
– Is it as bad as that?
– It is. Where is the necessity to say, as in the opening words of the clause, “ The commission shall undertake the provision “ ? Why not substitute the more direct language. and say, “ The commission shall provide “ ? And where is the need for “ rendition “ ? That word is not used anywhere except in the remotest fastnesses of the. country where some small newspaper is issued. The whole intention of the clause could be better expressed in more direct and simpler language, such as, for example - “ The commission shall provide adequate programmes for broadcasting from the national broadcasting stations “. If those words were employed, there would be no need to state that the commission “ shall take all possible steps to exploit and so on. “ Exploit “ has only recently come into use as a verb, and it is rarely used except in a bad sense. Employed in this bill, it offends one’s appreciation of the English language, and the day may come when we shall have complaints from the public about “exploitation” in connexion with broadcasting. I, therefore, suggest to the Minister that, in the interests of the English language, the clause be redrafted along lines which I have indicated, thus making the language simpler, and its meaning clearer. That is all that is needed. I strongly object to the use of the word “ exploit “ in relation to our national broadcasting service, and before I resume my seat, I may perhaps be pardoned if I remind the Minister that when a newspaper editor died his friends, when they erected a tombstone over his grave, had engraved on it the fact that he was one -
Who never used “ sense “ for a verb ,
And rarely used “ urge “ as a noun.
. - Although the purity of the English language may not be our primary concern, it seems to me to be a bad omen that such deplorable language as is to be found in several provisions of this bill should be employed in a measure designed to improve the general culture of the people. Senator Brennan has criticized the language of clause 16. I direct attention to what I regard as an even worse example in clause 17. I have taken the trouble to ascertain the precise meaning given in the Oxford New English Dictionary to a number of words in these clauses. “Rendition,” I find, is used, in the sense intended here, only in the United States of America. I know of no reason why it should find a place in one of our statutes. In the United States of America, it is defined to mean “ the action of rendering; giving out or forth; acting; performing, &c.” I do not go so far as Senator Brennan in his condemnation of the word, but I consider that it might properly give place to” “rendering” which, at least, is English. Then, there is the word “ exploit.” In most instances, as Senator Brennan has observed, it is used in the bad sense, such as “ to utilize for one’s own ends ; to treat (persons) selfishly as mere workable material ; to make capital out of.” “ Exploitation “ may be used in a pleasant or in an unpleasant sense. In the latter case it is taken to mean “ the action of exploiting or turning to account for selfish purposes; using for one’s own profit.” Clause 17 states that “ subject to this act,” the commission may do certain things “ incidental or conducive “ to the “ proper exploitation “ of those things, and so on This may be assumed to mean “ turning to account for selfish purposes.” I agree with Senator Brennan that, while it may not be possible to make an act of Parliament a great literary document, although it may perhaps be said of some of the earlier English statutes, we should, at least, do something to preserve the King’s English, and should not too readily adopt the latest phrase or word that may be current in the United States of America.
– I bow to the criticism of my learned and distinguished colleagues, Senators Brennan and DuncanHughes. But I find that, with the draftsman of the bill, I am erring in distinguished company, because the act under which the British Broadcasting Corporation is working uses the word “ exploit “ somewhat extensively. I confess I do not like the word “ rendition “ myself. In fact, I did not know there was such a word until I had the privilege of examining this bill. The suggestions that have been made are, I think, perfectly good, and I shall take heed of them, because in recent times there has been a considerable amount of loose drafting in some of our legislation.
– The British charter, in clause 17 uses the word “ attainment “ for “ exploitation.”
– That is so, but the English charter states that the British Broadcasting Corporation shall “ develop and exploit the said broadcasting services.” I agree that clause 16 could, with advantage, be remodelled, but I am not prepared to do this on the floor of the chamber. I have promised Senator Payne that I shall agree to the recommittal of the bill for the purpose of reconsidering the definition clause, and I will not object to the recommittal of clause 16 also, in order to have it remodelled. Honorable senators having “ tweaked “ the ear of the draftsman - that may not be good English, but I know it is good Scotch - I ask them to pass the clause on my undertaking that, at the right time, it will be recommitted and overhauled.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 17 (General powers of commission).
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH (Western Australia) [4.18]. - I hope that the committee will reject this clause. In giving power to the commission we should be quite specific. “We may not be able to set out every detail of the work which the commission may do, but it seems to me that if the clause is passed in its present form, it might very well constitute the entire bill. It states -
Subject to this act, the commission may do such acts and things as it deems incidental or conducive to the proper exploitation or those things which may be beneficial to broadcasting.
The wording is even worse than in the previous clause, to which Senator Brennan has directed attention.
– I propose to say something about the language of this clause, too.
– At the moment I am not so much concerned about its language as I am with the power which it vests in the commission. The Minister may be able to give reasons for the clause as drafted, but unless they are, in my opinion, adequate, I hope that the committee will reject it. If it is considered desirable to give additional power to the commission, we should know what it is.In its present form, it authorizes the commissionto do practically anything, including even the business of manufacturing equipment to be used in connexion with broadcasting. That would not be a proper function for a governmental institution.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 10th May (vide page 519).
Clause 7 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That clauses 4 and 5 be reconsidered.
Clause 4 -
Section 10 of the principal act it amended . . .
Section proposed to be amended - “10. - (1.) A person shall not, from and after the date fixed by Proclamation, and during the currency of the Proclamation, pay to any person, other than the Treasurer or an authorized person, any moneys due by the person to the State, which, but for this Act. would have been payable to the Slate, and would have formed part of the specified revenue of that State. (2.) Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, if the Governor-General declares by Proclamation -
[4.26].- I move-
That the following be added to the clause: -
The object is to make it clear that the Treasurer has the power to direct that the payment of any particular moneys or class or part of moneys to which subsection 2 of section 10 of the principal act applies, must be made in the manner specified in the proposed sub-section 2a. This will prevent the evasion of the Treasurer’s direction for the payment of moneys to a State officer.
. - I should like to be supplied with further information on this matter. I presume that this amendment, like every other that has been brought forward by the Government, has stood the test of its legal advisers, and that a further amendment may or may not be needed. But in order to get rid of Joseph’s coat as soon as possible, if another patch is necessary it may as well be inserted in the garment before it leaves this chamber. Let us suppose that a man owes £50 by way of income tax to the State of New South Wales. Under the act he is compelled to make payment to the Commonwealth Treasury. The Treasurer prescribes that the amount shall be paid by cheque. That is done, and the cheque is subsequently dishonoured. Is not the liability of the taxpayer to the State of New South Wales discharged, even though a new liability may be created in favour of the Commonwealth on the cheque?
– There is no payment until the cheque is cleared.
– I cannot agree with the right honorable gentleman. My understanding of the position is that, with language such as is here used, the action of the taxpayer would constitute a payment. IfI owe a man £10 and give him a cheque, which he accepts, certain legal consequences follow that acceptance. But according to my reading of this particular provision, the language of which is clear and unambiguous, the liability to the State will be discharged by the delivery of the cheque, even though another liability may be created in favour of the Commonwealth on the cheque. I should like the Leader of the Senate to set my mind at rest on that point.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for Defence) [4.33]. - I am advised that payment is governed by the words “ to the extent of the amount actually paid “. If a man pays by cheque, which is dishonoured, his liability still remains.
– I have very great respect for the opinion of the Solicitor-General, who has been consulted on this matter by the right honorable gentleman ; but even he might well consider whether some phrase other than that employed should not be used. Otherwise I feel certain that the Government will have to come back to the Senate with a further amendment. The inclusion of the words read by the right honorable gentleman do not qualify in any way the opinion that I have expressed. If the Treasurer said that payment had to be made in pumpkins or oranges, even if the articles tendered were bad, payment would be properly made.
– Would the case be met by the substitution of the words “in fact” for the word “actually”?
– I do not think that there would be any real difference. The difficulty might be overcome by the insertion of the words “ and in the case of cheques, the amount in. respect of which the cheque is honoured “. I think that Senator McLachlan will admit that, although he may not altogether agree with my contention, the matter is not beyond doubt. If we can place it beyond doubt, we shall have the satisfaction of knowing that it will not be necessary to put another patch on Joseph’s coat to-morrow. The question arises as to how far the acceptance of a cheque discharges the original liability in regard to which the cheque is tendered. The terms in which this amendment is drafted make the tendering and acceptance of a cheque a discharge of the liability in respect of which the cheque is accepted.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for Defence) [4.37]. - It is suggested by the Crown Law authorities that if there be any doubt on the matter, it could be overcome by inserting the words, “and in the case of payment by cheque, upon the cheque being honoured “.
– That meets my objection.
Amendment - by leave - altered to make proposed new sub-section 2a read as follows : -
The Treasurer may direct that payment of those moneys, or any part of those moneys, shall bc made or tendered by bank draft, crossed cheque or money order, made payable to the person or account specified by the Treasurer, or in such other manner as is specified by him, and any payment made in accordance with the Treasurer’s directions shall, to the extent of the amount actually paid, and in the case of payment by cheque upon the cheque being honoured, be a good discharge of the liability of the person making the payment, and any payment made otherwise than in accordance with such directions shall not be a good discharge of the liability of that person and shall be a contravention of this act.
– It seems to me that the proposed new sub-section 2b should read - “Any officer or employee of a State who knowingly refuses “, &c. In taxation acts that safeguard is provided.
– He cannot refuse “ knowingly “. Why not say “who wilfully fails”?
– There are many reasons for which an officer may think that ho is justified in refusing to accept a payment made or tendered in accordance with the Treasurer’s directions.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for Defence) [4.41]. - I see danger in qualifying the words employed in the proposed subsection, because resolutions have been published in the press showing that certain Public Service organizations have practically directed their members to disregard this legislation. Such members of the Public Service might say “ We knowingly refused, but we thought that we were doing what was right “. The language should be made explicit.
– I do not press my suggestion.
– Does the proposed new subsection 2b mean that if a State public servant, particularly in New South Wales, is guilty of a misdemeanour under this provision, he may be imprisoned? 1 understand from the press that, during the last fortnight, a number of amending bills, relating to New South Wales finances have been brought down, and it is evident that a good deal of whispering has been going on as to the possible effect of this legislation. I have no doubt that the officers of the Crown Law Department have been in close consultation with the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Acting Attorney-General. I am anxious to know whether, under this legislation, State officers are to be placed in gaol at Garden Island or at Berrima. Needless to say, the members of my party will vote against this amendment.
– I take the same exception to this amendment now as I took yesterday. It seems an iniquitous . proceeding an the part of any government to punish in the harshest manner the man who is least responsible for a certain action. It seems to me that, under this provision, an officer of the State Public Service of New South Wales must choose between dismissal and compliance with the law of the Commonwealth ; but he will not be compensated if he is dismissed. We inserted a provision yesterday enabling the person who dismissed an officer in such circumstances to be prosecuted, but, as Senator Brennan properly pointed out - and I think this would apply more to the Public Service than to the Railways Department - in the final analysis the officer would be dismissed within the precincts of the Executive Council chamber. In that event the person who dismissed him could not be prosecuted. Are we to punish the very man who has been living for years as a decent citizen? Is he to suffer the ignominy of paying a fine, or serving a term of imprisonment, merely because he has carried out instructions which he promised to observe when he was appointed to his position?
The Commonwealth Government has no real jurisdiction over State officers. The High Court has supported the opinion of
Parliament that it has power to do what has been done, but State civil servants are in no way responsible for this conflict. Probably they are divided in their opinions on this matter. No matter what their views may be, the Government proposes that they must face either dismissal or the police court. Senator Brennan made a defence to-day of the English language, but in my opinion the principles of justice call for a stronger defence. If the words “except if he is carrying out the legitimate command of his employer “ were included, I could support the proposed new sub-section 2b. When a fight is proceeding between two contending factions, those opposed to the Commonwealth authorities will not allow anything to stand between them and what they regard to be ultimate victory. An officer of the State who obeys the Commonwealth law will almost certainly be dismissed. The Premier of the State could dismiss him in the name of His Majesty the King in the Executive Council chamber; and no one could be prosecuted for the action.
– Would that be the end of the matter?
– I do not know. The amendment provides that any officer or employee of a State, who refuses or fails to accept a payment made or tendered in accordance with the directions of the Commonwealth Treasurer, shall be guilty of an offence. The Commonwealth may serve on him a notice requiring him to-
– Obey the law.
– Should he obey the law he will be in grave danger of dismissal; and the very government which brings about that result is not prepared to compensate him for carrying out its instructions !
– It would appear that the State Government believes in victimization.
– Two wrongs do not make a right. I am not concerned with what the Government of New South Wales believes; but I am concerned with putting men into prison, or fining them, for not doing something which this Parliament says they shall do; and which, if they do it, will result in their dismissal from the service of the Crown in another sphere. I hope that the committee will reject the amendment, because it is wrong in principle, and also because it will not reach the people at whom it is aimed.
– I rise to protest against the amendment. Had I not been absent from the sittings of the Senate for some days I should constantly have protested against the legislation which was enacted in my absence. It is probably well that I did not waste my time in useless protests; I can now concentrate on this measure. The first Financial Agreements Enforcement Bill which was before us prior to the Easter adjournment was said to be a perfect measure, which would effectively prevent the Government of New South Wales from pursuing its former course of action. It has been found so perfect that it has been amended two or three times ! I predict that we shall have to amend it a good many more times before the New South Wales Government is beaten. I protest against this measure because it creates artificial offences; it makes many of the citizens of New South Wales potential criminals. It is scandalous that barbaric legislation of this kind should be passed by this Parliament. As Senator Daly has pointed out, a State public servant pledgeshimself to carry out the instructions of the State which employs him. Now, he is to be placed between two stools ; he must inevitably fall to the ground. The introduction of this measure is a confession of failure on the part of the Commonwealth Government; it is an admission that the previous legislation has proved absolutely ineffective. I predict that this measure also will prove ineffective. It is preposterous humbug to say that the people of New South Wales are only waiting for an opportunity to send the Lang Government into political oblivion. There are some who say that if Mr. Lang and his colleagues are so sure of the support of the electors they should not hesitate to consult them. But why should they rush out to test the feelings of the electors who returned them to power less than two years ago? I am convinced that a majority of the State public servants in New South Wales will consider it their duty to obey the instructions of the State which employs and pays them. The promise that- those public servants who comply with this barbaric legislation will be amply compensated will prove of little value; it will be another “ scrap of paper “. The bill provides no machinery for the protection of State public servants. If this Parliament had any courage whatever, it would not resort to the cowardly device of punishing State public servants who carry out the instructions of their employer, but would proceed against the Government of the State. I say frankly that if I were a State servant, engaged and paid by the State, I should consider myself bound to obey the instructions .of my employer and should do so in spite of the Commonwealth. If prosecutions are necessary in order to carry out this legislation, they should be directed against the Government of the State, or its members individually; and, if necessary, against me or any other person who speaks in support of that Government. But to proceed against a perfectly innocent and defenceless public servant is a form of barbaric legislation -which would disgrace an assembly of blackfellows. There is nothing in the principal act, or in the various amendments of it, that provides any machinery which can save a State public servant from the consequences of his disobedience to the State law and the regulations thereunder. This legislation is indefensible, and, moreover, it will not achieve its object. Ff any attempt is made by the Commonwealth to prosecute State public servants under this legislation, the whole resources of the State will be utilized in their defence. This legislation only makes confusion worse confounded. It takes away the last vestige of liberty of the State public servant, and makes every citizen of New South Wales a potential criminal at the behest of a benighted legislature.
– Those who oppose this measure must have forgotten the provisions of the Commonwealth Constitution. Senators Daly and Bae appear to believe that the Federal Parliament has no power to deal with the present disturbance. Senator Daly said that officers of the New South Wales Government who collect revenues may pay such revenues into the State Treasury in spite of this legislation.
– I said exactly theopposite
– We have already provided that State officers who do not com ply with the Commonwealth law, which requires them to pay certain moneys to the Commonwealth instead of to the State, shall be subject to the consequences of their action. Senator Rae’s remarks might be acceptable to the Lang intelligentsia of New South Wales; but they are not acceptable to the Senate. Honorable senators know that section 109 of the Constitution provides that where a law of a State is inconsistent with the law of the Commonwealth, the latter shall prevail. We have already passed legislation calling on State public servants to pay to the Federal Treasurer moneys which in the ordinary course of business would be paid to the State Treasurer. Senator Daly appears to have forgotten the law.
– I am against the private interpretation of our laws.
– That stand may be all right when the honorable senator addresses the “ three star “ democracy of Adelaide in the Trades Hall in Grotestreet, but it will not do in an assembly of nien who may not be of the calibre of those in that exclusive society in Adelaide. The honorable senator must recognize the supremacy of the federal law.
– I see a grave danger in this clause, and consequently, I shall oppose it. It is still true that “ no man can serve two masters.” Yet this bill requires a public servant of the State of New South Wales to do so. Should a State public servant obey his Commonwealth master, his State master would probably dismiss him. How will the Commonwealth prove that he had been dismissed, because he obeyed one master rather than the other? We need not think that the State would be so foolish as to discharge a man on the ground that he had refused to carry out certain instructions. There are many ways of getting rid of an unwanted man in any Public Service. In the New South Wales Government Railways, for instance, a man may be called upon at any time to have his eyesight examined ; or he may be retrenched without any reason being given. It will be impossible to prove that a man dismissed from the State service has been victimized, because he obeyed the instructions of the Commonwealth, rather than those of the State. And even if it is true that he has been victimized, how easy it will be for the Commonwealth to escape its obligations! It is not sufficient to say that the Commonwealth Treasurer may pay him half the fine imposed on the person who has dismissed him. The Crown is liable for the payment of any fine imposed on its servants for having obeyed instructions issued by superior officers. If New South Wales has to pay the fines of those who carry out the instructions of the Government the taxpayers of that State will have to submit to additional taxation. This quarrel which commenced between the Premier of New South Wales and the Commonwealth Government is now . extending from responsible Ministers of the Crown to others. It arose in the first instance when the Premier of New South Wales refused to co-operate with other State Premiers. The Commonwealth Government is now endeavouring to compel Mr. Lang to abide by the agreement adopted at a Premiers Conference. But this legislation is an attempt to place the responsibility upon State servants, who will be unable to offer any resistance, and who, if they clear themselves before one authority, will offend another.
– Which authority should be supreme?
– This is a quarrel between theCommonwealthGovernment and the State Government. The State Premier, who is in the wrong, should bo dealt with. After pursuing a policy for a certain distance, the Government now finds the Premier of the State concerned so elusive that it is concentrating upon the public servants who, in carrying out their own government’s instructions, are unable to defend themselves. It is the government of the State, and not the public servants, which should be penalized. If this Government finds that it cannot prosecute the Premier of New South Wales, why does it not admit that it has made a mistake, and endeavour to settle the whole dispute amicably?
Motion (by Senator Foll) put -
That the committee do now divide
The committee divided. ( Chairman - Senator Plain.)
Majority . ….. 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the words proposed to be added (Senator Sir George Pearce’s amendment) be so added - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator Plain.)
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Question - That the clause as amended be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator Plain.)
Majority . ….. 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause also verbally amended,and as amended, agreed to.
Clause 5 -
Section fifteen of the Principal Act is amended by inserting after sub-section (5a. ) the following sub-sections: - “ (5b.) The Treasurer may, if he thinks lit, at any time and from time to time during the currency of any proclamation -
) cancel or vary the terms of any notice served in pursuance of sub-section (1.) of this section, and
refund to the Chief Executive Officer of any corporation by whom any moneys were paid in pursuance of any such notice, the whole or part of any such moneys. “ (5c.) Any refund made in pursuance of the last preceding sub-section shall be a good discharge to the Commonwealth in respect of all claims in relation to the moneys refunded or in relation to or arising from the application of this act to those moneys.
Section proposed to be amended - 15(Moneys held by banks on behalf of
[5.19].- I move-
That the following sub-section be inserted after proposed new sub-section 5c: - “ (5ca.) In making any refund under subsection 5b of this section, the Treasurer may specify the particular fund, account or purpose in respect of which the refund is made.”
Honorable senators will remember that the clause in the bill to which these words are to be added is that which enables trust funds in the possession of a bank to be paid out on the authority of the Treasurer to the owners of the trust funds in question.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Bill further reported with amendments.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– I was not present during the second-reading debate of this bill.
– Why not?
– I was not here because I thought I was doing a good job somewhere else. This afternoon Senator Lynch, by way of reply to some comments made by Senator Daly, quoted section 109 of the Commonwealth Constitution. That section, as we all know, enacts that if a State law is inconsistent with a law of the Commonwealth, the latter shall prevail and the State law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be invalid. The honorable senator delivered what may be termed a lecturette for the benefit of Senator Rae, Senator Daly and myself, and recommended that we should study the section in question. We are aware of that provision in the Constitution and need no coaching from Senator Lynch. At the committee stage of the bill the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) secured the insertion of two new subsections, one of which provides that any officer or employee of the State of New South Wales, for that is the State aimed at in this legislation, who refuses or fails to accept a payment made or tendered in accordance with the directions of the Commonwealth Treasurer shall be guilty of a contravention of the act. Does this mean that the Government is attempting to drive a wedge between the present Government of New South Wales and the great body of public servants employed by that State? Does it mean that this powerful Commonwealth Government, which was returned to power only a few months ago upon its definite promise to rehabilitate the finances of Australia, and provide employment for our people, has discovered that, despite all its enforcement legislation, it is unable to take legal action against the Premier of New South Wales? Are we to assume that the Commonwealth Crown Law officers have advised that the Premier of New South Wales, being a member of the Executive Council in that State, is in an unassailable constitutional position; that, in effect, if he were liable to prosecution under this new law, legal action against him would be tantamount to legal action against His Majesty the King, whose personal representative is the Governor of that State? I agree with Senator Daly that this is panic legislation. New South Wales is served by a loyal and efficient body of public servants. Upon appointment they, like members of the Commonwealth Public Service, undertake to uphold the law and the authority of the State in a constitutional manner. The right honorable the Leader of the Senate and his Cabinet colleagues take the view that Mr. Lang, the Premier of New South Wales, in resisting the Commonwealth Government is not acting constitutionally. Senators Rae, Mooney and I believe that Mr. Lang is right in regarding as his first duty the feeding of the men, women and children of New South Wales, before paying interest to overseas bondholders. Evidently the Commonwealth Crown Law authorities have convinced this Government that its authority under previous legislation was insufficient, and that this further amending legislation was necessary. If the Leader of the Senate thinks that the people of New South Wales will meekly submit to this tyranny he is wrong. It is but a few days since the l3t May was celebrated as Labour Day throughout the Commonwealth, so it may not be out of place if I remind the Senate that not very many years ago the Leader of the Senate was a responsible mouthpiece of Labour in this country, and was accustomed to submit the usual May Day resolution on the Yarra Bank, Melbourne, and elsewhere. In those days he was in the ranks of those who, in these times, are described as militant agitators. Apparently like old wine he has mellowed with the years, for now we find him leading the forces of those opposed to Labour. His later political environment has influenced his ideology; but if there is to be a “showdown “ in this chamber we shall not burk the issue. The movement in Australia, headed by Mr. Lang, is the direct outcome of the present depression, which as one knows has extended throughout the civilized world. Senator Lynch referred to the Constitution, but did not read section 111, which is as follows: -
The Parliament of a- State may surrender any part of the State to the Commonwealth; and upon such surrender, and the acceptance thereof by the Commonwealth, such part of the State shall become subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Commonwealth.
Has the Commonwealth taken steps under that section to provide for the detention of those State officials who are not prepared to carry out its enforcement legislation? Am I wrong in assuming that there have been negotiations with a view to enlisting the services of comrade Em Campbell, and the DutchIrishman, De Groot, for the purpose of seizing Berrima gaol, so that it may he used for the incarceration of State officials who defy this law? I notice that the right honorable the Leader of the Government is consulting the Standing Orders, to learn whether there is in them a brick that “he may throw at me. Let us have a little more of the Constitution. Section 120 makes the following provision : -
Every State shall make provision for the detention in its prisons of persons accused or convicted of offences against the laws of the Commonwealth, and for the punishment of persons convicted of such offences, and the Parliament of the Commonwealth may make laws to give effect to this provision.
That causes me intense amusement. Here we have the Commonwealth Government making laws against a State, and then asking that State to hold its servants in its prisons on behalf of the .Commonwealth. If I know the Premier, the Minister for Justice, and the Chief Secretary of the State of New South Wales - and I claim that I do - if the right honorable the Leader of His Majesty’s Government in this chamber believes that they will consent to the imprisonment of their servants in State institutions, he has another think coming. Will the right honorable gentleman state where it is proposed that those who are guilty of contravention of this act are to he placed?
– If the honorable senator will sit down, I shall tell him.
– The right honorable gentleman must first tell me where the booby hatch is. The whole thing is a farce. This Government has been advised by its Crown Law authorities that it cannot issue a summons against Mr. Lang, or any other member of the New” South “Wales Government, because that would be an act against the Crown. Let us be sincere, and dispense with this political humbug. What have the servants of the State donn, that they should be swooped down upon by these 200 special “ cops “ who are to be under the jurisdiction of Major Jones ?
– I request the honorable senator not to refer to policemen as *’ cops.”
– I admit that it is a slang term, and regret its use in the presence of such a strict custodian of the King’s English. I shall refer to them as “ special constabulary,” or “ special policemen,” if that sounds nicer. The famous 200 are to march from Canberra, armed with batons, for the purpose of incarcerating State servants. I trust that Commonwealth public servants will not permit themselves to be made tools of for the purpose of having people bashed into submission. If the Clerk Assistant of the Senate were leg-ironed into joining this particular constabulary, and came at me with a baton, I should “ go “ him, quick and lively. Because the unfortunate unemployed are engaged in the blackfellow stunt of “ a big walk about,” and are tramping the roads in droves, some hysterical motorists tell the plausible story to officers or Ministers that they are heading for Canberra; and in a moment of hysteria the Government rushes to have a large number of batons made, so as to arm members of the Commonwealth Public Service as special policemen. I say with every determination, and a full sense of responsibility, that if there is any conscription of Commonwealth public servants into a basher gang, and either a politician or a public servant attempts to come at me with a baton, I shall “ go “ him quick and lively.
– The honorable senator must not use threats.
– Threats are being used against the peace, order, and good government of New South Wales by Eric Campbell, De Groot and others; and the Canberra Times to-day published the announcement of the inauguration of a basher gang. The New South Wales Government is acting constitutionally. It has sworn allegiance to God, King and country, and its term has eighteen months still to go. It believes in the preservation of law and order, not in baton rule by the Commonwealth or by any other government. Commonwealth public servants have friends in the ranks of our party who will resist, if necessary, any dragooning or conscription of them by the Ministry into a basher gang. Much has been heard lately regarding the motherhood endowment payments in New South Wales, and I have been asked to inform the Senate exactly what the Premier of New South Wales has said on this subject. In view of the amending legislation passed with respect to the enforcement of the financial agreements, the Government of New South Wales wishes to know who will pay the motherhood endowment in that State. The following newspaper quotation shows the position taken up by Mr. Lang on this matter : -
Despite the protestations of Mr. Lyons that the Bruce Government did not grab the money earmarked by the State Government for the payment of family endowment, the Premier, in the Assembly yesterday, emphasized that when the cheques were drawn for the payment of the mothers of the State, the money was in the bank and had been seized under the Grab Act.
Air. Buttenshaw raised the question when lie asked if the Premier had been responsible for dictating certain replies sent to disappointed applicants, in which it was declared that any delay in the payment of the endowment was entirely due to the seizure of the funds by the Bruce-Lyons Government.
The Premier said the question was a foolish one. It was true a number of citizens had written to various members of Parliament, including himself, and to some officers, asking why the cheques that were issued had not been paid. “ The reply is that the money was there before the cheques were issued, but before the cheques were presented by the mothers to the bank, Bruce and Lyons seized it. The money is still there,” emphasized the Premier.
Mr. Stevens: How can it be still there if it has been seized?
Mr. Lang: The money is still there, and the banks refuse to pay it out. If Bruce and Lyons have not seized it, then the bankers have seized it, because bankers hold it against the mothers. “ If “, concluded Mr. Lang, “ mothers are asking why they cannot get their money, the reason is as I have stated again and again. Letters similar to that mentioned have been written by myself and signed by me, and the statement that Bruce and Lyons are responsible is perfectly true and cannot be denied.”
– It can be, and is, denied.
– The matter which the honorable senator is discussing may be relevant to the Financial Agreements Enforcement Act, but is not relevant to the bill under consideration. The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the amending bill.
– I have no wish to disobey your ruling, Mr. President. This bill will not “ cut any ice “ in New South Wales. We have a certain policy in that State, and intend to carry it out. Other States are likely to come into conflict with the Commonwealth authorities for the reason that has led Now South Wales to ask for a moratorium with respect to interest payments on its overseas indebtedness. We know that Tasmania and Western Australia fear this particular class of legislation. Speaking of Western Australia, honorable senators may have noticed in the press within the last few days that the Mayor of Perth has lost his. seat in the Legislative Council in that State on the secession issue; he was defeated by a Labour man.
– The honorable senator is getting further than ever from the bill, and I am beginning to think that he is deliberately ignoring my ruling. He must at once return to the discussion of the measure under consideration.
– I am endeavouring to draw attention to the conflict which this bill will cause in New South Wales. It may be found that Western Australia will soon be in a similar position to that of New South Wales. I think that you, Mr. President, will agree with me that a candidate who refused to advocate secession was defeated-
– I do not agree with the honorable senator, and I will not allow him to continue in this manner.
– Then I leave you to express your agreement or otherwise when you return. to the State which you represent. I can assure the Government that the amendments contained in this bill, which are agreed to by the brutal majority opposite, will not get it very far. I should like Senator Greene to mention the gaols in which all the public servants of New South Wales who will come into conflict with the provisions of this bill will be incarcerated. Members of the New South Wales Public Service, from those in the highest ranks to the office boys, are loyal to the policy of the Premier of that State. They believe that “Lang is right.” If it is the intention of the Commonwealth Government to bring about the downfall of the present Ministry in New South Wales, all I have to say is, “ Get on with the job.”
Motion (by Senator Foll) put -
That the Senate do now divide.
The Senate divided. (President - Senator Hon. W. Kingsmill.)
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the report be adopted - put. The Senate divided. (President - Senator Hon. W. Kingsmill.)
Majority . . . . 18
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed-
That the bill be now read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Foll) put -
That the Senate do now divide.
The Senate divided. (President - Senator Hon. W. Kingsmill.)
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the bill be now read a third time - put. The Senate divided. (President - Senator Hon. W. Kingsmill.)
Majority . . . . 18
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 6.17 to 8 p.m.
In committee (Consideration resumed from page 568).
Clause 17 (General powers of commission).
.- Senator Colebatch urged the committee to reject this clause. I ask the Acting AttorneyGeneral (Senator McLachlan) to postpone its consideration, and to set out in explicit terms the powers proposed to be conferred on the commission. Under the clause in its present form, the commission could engage in almost anything. It could. as Senator
Colebatch said, engage in the manufacture of wireless equipment, and enter into competition with those engaged in selling wireless sets. So far as I am able to interpret the clause the commission, could enter into competition generally with those who, under the law, have invested a large amount of capital in enterprise, and who are now engaged in legitimate trading. Senator Guthrie, who is unable to be present to-day, has sent me the following telegram, dated the 4th May: -
Conference held last Friday representing Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, Victorian Employers Federation, Victorian Radio Association, and’ Electrical Federation of Victoria, passed following resolution : - “ This conference views with deep concern the possibility of thu proposed broadcasting commission entering into competition with private enterprise under clause 17 of the Broadcasting Bill, and urges amendment in direction of eliminating any such possibility “. Melbourne Chamber of Commerce, in absence from conference also intimated full support of resolution. Keen disappointment felt result decision House of Representatives on this clause, in view of unlimited powers granted to commission to unduly encroach upon rights of legitimate private enterprise. At most any trading powers given commission should be clearly defined and limited in act. Would welcome your support of views in Senate.
Secretary, Victorian Radio Association.
I do not know whether the honorable senator wished me to place this on record, but there is no harm in indicating the serious nature of the position or the forces opposing this proposal. The honorable senator, who concurs in the views expressed in the telegram, has also written asking me to bring the matter under the notice of the committee. I do not think that the commission proposed to be appointed by the Government will engage in undertakings of the nature contemplated by some, and which are the subject of this protest, but it should not be given the power to do so.
– In view of the decision in the Bunnerong case the commission will have no power to do such things.
– There is a wellgrounded fear that the powers of the commission are so wide that interference in the direction mentioned is possible. There is the opportunity for this specially privileged commission to enter into the field of private enterprise, and to do irreparable harm to those not enjoying the privileges and immunities which this body, as a government instrumentality, will enjoy. I suggest that its powers should be clearly denned instead of being expressed in a general way by a provision so elastic in its terms. Senator Colebatch said that he proposes to vote against the clause. I suggest that the position would be met if the Government specificially set out the powers of the commission, so that we should not be handing it a blank cheque. No commission, however wisely chosen, or excellently composed, should be entrusted by the Government with such powers. In view of the basic political principles of the party introducing it, the proposal is difficult to understand.
– I trust that the Government will comply with the request of Senator Lawson. I also wish to bring under the notice of the Minister the necessity for inserting a new clause to provide that no member of the commission shall directly or indirectly be interested in any works or contracts in which the commission mav engage. Where commissions or boards are entrusted with work such, as is provided for in this bill, it is usual to insert such a clause. Provision should be made that if any member of the commission should be directly or indirectly interested in any -work or contract associated with the commission he shall forfeit his seat.
– As provision should be made for disqualifying a commissioner found to be interested in works or contracts in which the commission is interested, clause 13 will, if necessary, be recommitted for that purpose. The clause now before the committee has been carefully worded, with a view to preventing any of the dangers to which Senator Colebatch and Senator Lawson refer. It is not intended that the commission shall operate outside the ambit of the power vested in it under this bill. It is beyond the powers of any such body to function on behalf of the Government in realms such as those mentioned. The Commonwealth Shipping Board, which was vested with very extensive powers, was prevented from entering into a certain contract. I quote the following from the judgment of the High Court in the Bunnerong case : -
The act transferred the ships to the board and also the interest of the Commonwealth in the islands and all improvements, buildings, structures, erections, dockyards, machinery, &c., on those islands respectively. It authorized the board to carry on the general business of a ship-owner and also to carry on in respect of the islands the business of manufacturer, engineer, dock-owner, ship-builder and repairer, and any other business incidental thereto or to the works and establishment*.
Although it would be difficult to confer a more comprehensive power upon any corporate body than that conferred upon the Commonwealth Shipping Board, the court decided that the board had not the power to enter into contracts. We are, therefore, safe in assuming that the Government, through the proposed commission, could not carry on a manufacturing business.
– Does the Minister suggest that the Postal Department is not entitled to manufacture telephones?
– That is incidental to the work of the department.
– What is the difference between a telephone and a wireless receiving set?
– The Postal Department would be entitled under the law to manufacture telephones, but a commission, appointed by the Government, could not under the powers conferred upon it in this bill engage in the class of work mentioned by honorable senators.
– If the Government can engage in such undertakings, surely the commission could.
– No. After dealing with the powers to which I have referred, the late Sir Adrian Knox, Mr. Justice Duffy, Mr. Justice Rich, and Mr. Justice Starke, set out the various arguments raised. On page 9 of the judgment they went on to say -
There is no power which enables the Parliament «r the Executive Government to set up manufacturing or engineering businesses for general commercial purposes.
They then proceeded to deal with the various points which have been raised. The judgment concludes -
The executive power of the Commonwealth was also touched upon but it is impossible to say that an activity unwarranted in express terms by the Constitution is, nevertheless, vested in the Executive and can, therefore, be conferred as an executive function upon such a body as the Shipping Board.
Parliament cannot confer such powers upon the proposed commission to be constituted under this measure. In a separate judgment, Mr. Justice Isaacs said -
It was suggested that the capacity of the board to enter into the agreement depended on a question of fact, namely, whether in the circumstances, such an agreement would or could be assistant to the effective preservation or operation of the works as an authorized Commonwealth institution. I am unable to find such a meaning in sub-section-4 of section 14, and if I could, I should be unable to find its justification in the Constitution.
Mr. Justice Higgins also delivered a judgment in terms similar to that of Mr. Justice Isaacs. Thus the commission’s functions will be restricted to those things incidental to broadcasting. In its original form, when this bill was introduced in another place, this clause road -
Subject to this act, the commission may do such acts and things as it deems incidental or conducive to the proper exploitation of those things which may be beneficial to broadcast programmes, but shall not engage in any subsidiary business which, in the opinion of the Minister, is not desirable or necessary for the purpose for which the commission was established.
By an amendment moved by Mr. Maxwell in another place, the latter portion of the clause was eliminated’. We now have to decide whether or not we shall allow the commission free play in the discharge of all functions connected with its particular business, even to the extent of manufacturing wireless equipment, though not for sale to outside purchasers. If honorable senators are not convinced by what I have said, I should have no objection to a recommittal of this clause, because I know that Senator Johnston wishes to move a further amendment to it. The functions of the commission are, I submit, set out in a business-like way, but as it is impossible to foresee future developments in broadcasting, it was considered desirable to express those functions in somewhat general terms. Whether or not they are too elastic I cannot say, but the activities of the commission will certainly be controlled by the law.
– The suggestion made by the Minister is probably the easiest way out of the difficulty.
– Would it not be better to postpone consideration of this clause?
– I agree with Senator Lawson that, unless the bill limits the functions of the commission, that body will have a very wide authority. No one will deny that what a Government may do it may delegate to this commission. By way of interjection when the Minister was speaking, I suggested that there was nothing to prevent the commission from manufacturing broadcast receiving sets, because, as we know, already the postal department manufactures certain equipment required for its activities, and under this bill a regulation could be framed requiring every listener-in to purchase or rent from the department a receiving set of a particular type approved by it. And since the postal department may even sell telephone sets to subscribers, I assume that eventually there will be nothing to prevent the department from also selling receiving sets. Certainly there will be no prohibition upon their manufacture by the department. This view is strengthened by the legal decision in the Bunnerong case. If that judgment went as far as the Minister said it did, the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner would not be authorized to manufacture railway locomotives for the East- West railway line.
– The Bunnerong case did not touch on that point.
– I agree with the Minister. Broadcasting, like our telephone services, is a government monopoly, at least so far as A class stations are concerned; so I assume that, unless we expressly provide against it, the commission will have power, as the bill at present stands, to manufacture wireless receiving sets for sale to holders of wireless licences, and in that way it could enter into competition with private enterprise. Actually the commission could establish a printing office in competition with the Government Printing Office in Canberra. It is idle to suggest that private enterprise will not be affected by the clause in its present form. Senator Grant was perfectly correct in his criticism. Printers in Tasmania, and also in South Australia, may be affected by this clause. If we are going to give the commission these powers, let us do it with our eyes open. As clause 16 is to be reconsidered, to meet objections raised by Senator Brennan, we should be in a better position to understand the effect of this provision after clause 16 has been recommitted and its precise form determined.
– I agree with Senator Lawson. I have received a telegram in terms similar to that sent to Senator Guthrie, and, I presume, to other honorable senators. We should remove all doubt as to the interpretation that may be placed upon the ambiguous verbiage in this clause, and define clearly the functions of the proposed commission. We should consider this matter from a practical stand-point. While the present revenue of the commission is in the vicinity of £400,000 a year, in the not distant future there might be 1,000,000 subscribers, so the commission might eventually be handling an enormous revenue. Therefore, it should be subject to limitations, and its powers should be closely scrutinized. I hope the Minister will agree to the postponement of the clause, so that we may agree upon the precise functions of the commission.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH (Western Australia) [8.24].-Before the clause is postponed, if the Minister intends to adopt that course, I should like to say a word in reply to the argument advanced by the honorable gentleman in support of it. I attacked this clause on a question of principle - on the ground that it is not right that Parliament should give unlimited power to any delegated body. The only answer which the Minister could think of was that all sorts of developments might occur in the future, thus making additional power desirable. I do not know exactly what power the commission is likely to require, but I remind the committee that it is not unusual for this Parliament to pass a bill to-day and amend it to-morrow. We have got into the habit of doing that lately. We should not give wide powers to the commission to-day simply because of probable future developments. If, as time goes on, additional powers are necessary, let the Government come to Parliament and ask for its approval. We should not lightly give away wide, generous and unrestricted authority to the commission, because that means the abrogation of the functions of Parliament. There is no force in the argument that, because certain unforeseen things may happen in the future, it is desirable now to give the commission powers much wider than may be necessary. If the need arises, the government of the day can come to Parliament and ask for extended powers.
– The Minister has told us that the clause, as drafted, was in somewhat different form, and was amended in another place. The original clause was much preferable, and I am inclined to agree with Senator Colebatch that the committee should reject the one now before us. But as that is not likely to happen, I move -
That the following words be added: - “but shall not engage in any subsidiary business “.
The Minister has stated that it is not intended that the commission shall engage in any subsidiary trading business. He has also made it very clear, buttressing his argument with the opinion of eminent legal authorities, that it could not so engage even if it wished to do so. If that be so, there can be no objection to my amendment, because it will simply make it clear to the commission that Parliament does not wish it to do what the learned Minister has said it has not the power to do and what it is not the wish of the Government that it shall do. Moreover, the amendment, if accepted, will protect the community against any subsequent government that may wish to give effect to a socialistic policy. From what we have seen in the past, we must acknowledge the need for exercising the greatest care when conferring power on different commissions, particularly in relation to State trading, to which a majority of Government and Country party members are opposed.
– Does the amendment really mean anything?Certainly, as the Minister properly pointed out, the Bunnerongcase covers the point raised by Senator Johnston. The commission will not be able to engage in any business outside of that for which this legislation is enacted.
– It is the Government’s original proposal.
– Probably, upon mature consideration the Government discovered that it meant nothing, and quite properly struck it out. This does not meet the contention of Senators Colebatch and Lawson. The real point, as I understand it, is that certain honorable senators desire to limit the operations of the commission to the actual broadcasting, all other matters being left to some other body. What is meant by “ subsidiary business “ ? It cannot be said that the installation of a telephone in a private house is a subsidiary business of the Postmaster-General’s Department, nor that the installation of a receiving set would be a subsidiary business of a broadcasting company that had the power to do that class of work. I do not consider that Senator Johnston’s proposal overcomes the difficulty.
I press the contention that it is impossible intelligently to debate clauses 17 and 18 until we know exactly the provisions of clause 16. When we have that knowledge we can interpret the words “ subject to this act “, which Senator Johnston evidently overlooked. What do those words mean? This clause merely contains a declaration of what the law really is, and purports to give power which is incidental to the carrying out of the main purpose of the bill. The principal function of the commission is set out in a clause that is to be re-drafted. Until we know what class of structure is to be erected, let us not commence to furnish it. I do not care whether the Minister postpones this clause, or gives an undertaking to re-commit it.
– Senator Daly appeared to indicate that I propose to vary the principles underlying clause 16. The reason for the intention to re-commit that clause is to use language that is more agreeable to certain honorable senators, and, I confess, also to myself, than has been employed. But the principles which underly the. clause, I take it, have been accepted by the committee. This is an incidental power, and if it were entirely eliminated it might not matter very much. The words “ subject to this act “ apply not only to the provisions of clause 16, which contains the particular functions that have to be discharged by the commission, but also to a number of other provisions that honorable senators will dissect in the later clauses of the bill.
– Are not those words regarded as possibly the most confusing that can be included in a section of an act of Parliament? Have not judges said so over and over again?
– The reason for their inclusion, I understand, is that they specify what is being done ; because the High Court has laid it down that the boundaries fixed may not be exceeded. It may be more convenient if this clause also is recommitted.
– Could not clause 16 contain sufficient to enable clause 17 to be dispensed with?
Senator McLACHLAN If I were the draftsman I should probably make one clause of the two. But when these measures are submitted to distinguished legislators it is the habit of those gentlemen to alter the draftsman’s handicraft and to produce something that probably he had not in view. I should like to hear what honorable senators really have in their minds. Is it feared that this body will embark on some enterprise that is outside its functions ? Let us consider some of its incidental functions. Under the provisions of clause 20, studios will be taken over. Those studios will have to be equipped. A statute cannot specify all the minor details connected with the provision and furnishing of rooms. Clause 19 gives power to purchase and dispose of assets. Land will be acquired under lease, and it may be necessary for the commission to do certain things in connexion with it. If we entrust the commission with the power to undertake these fairly big functions, we should also entrust it with incidental powers. I should like to know what is the real point at issue.
.- The difficulty which arises out of this bill appears to me to be largely the result of its amendment by another place, the effect of which was, as Senator Johnston has stated, that certain words which ruled out any subsidiary business were omitted. Consequently, the clause now has a general effect which it did not have when the bill was originally introduced elsewhere, and really corresponds in a wider sense with the dragnet provision that we are accustomed to find in the final clause of a bill, which gives power to make regulations. I do not care for dragnet clauses, because they may confer powers that are very much in excess of what it is intended to give. I agree that this clause should be qualified in some manner, either by ruling out subsidiary business, as suggested by Senator Johnston, or possibly by a re-drafting. There is also the alternative suggested by the Minister, that very much harm might not be done, by the rejection of the whole clause. But the difficulty in which I find myself with respect to that suggestion is that a clause very similar to this particular one is contained in the British Broadcasting Corporation’s charter. If there is one thing that has been stressed for some time past in correspondence as well as in the press, it is that we should get closer to instead of further from that charter, which sets out the objects of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Clause n of that charter, which is really the dragnet clause, reads-
To do all such other things as the corporation may deem incidental or conducive to the attainment of any of the objects or the exercise of any of the powers of the corporation.
It appears to me to be obvious that the intention is, not to give the widest possible powers in every direction, but to say that the corporation shall be entitled to do such proper and reasonable things as are in conformity with the terms of the charter. The powers of the commission should not be restricted to such an. extent that it will be unable properly to carry out the duties entrusted to it; but I fail to see how its powers can be defined in detail. I think that Senator Colebatch’s proposal goes too far, and I favour the suggestion by Senator Johnston, which removes the possibility of the commission being permitted to engage in any subsidiary business. ‘ Alternatively, perhaps, a provision could be inserted on these lines -
The commission may do all’ such things as are in. conformity with and conducive to the exercise of any of the powers granted to it by this act.
While it may be considered desirable to enumerate certain functions as being within the powers which the commission should exercise, we should not grant it a general power which would entitle it to do all kinds of things which are not contemplated at the present time, and which have not been discussed. On the other hand, we cannot expect the members of the commission to do good work unless they have a reasonable amount of power. If they are to be hamstrung, the chances are that the most suitable men available will not be prepared to act. We should give such powers to the commission as are in conformity with the general provisions of the measure; but we should make it clear that those powers are not general.
– After hearing the remarks of Senator Duncan-Hughes, I have come to the conclusion that if we struck out this clause, the commission could still do what it regarded as “ conducive to the proper ‘ exploitation of those things which may be beneficial to broadcast programmes “, and at the same time, within the ambit of the act, do anything else that it considered necessary. It seems to me, therefore, that this clause is entirely superfluous. The statement by the Minister supports me in that opinion.
– I agree with Senator Millen that this clause could be dispensed with, and I ask the Minister to consider the situation that would arise if it were struck out. In that case we should be driven to this position, that the main object of the commission would be to deal “with broadcasting, or, as Senator Daly expressed it, “ with what goes over the air “. That should be the main business of the commission. When we confer power on a commission to carry out a certain work, we empower it though not in express terms to do all those things which are necessary in exercise of its main power. A well-known Latin maxim of the law provides for that.
If clause 17 were not included in the bill, the commission could still do such things as were conducive - I do not admire the language of this clause - to the advancement of its main object, which is the establishment of national broadcasting stations, and the cultivation of broadcasting. In addition to this power, the commission would have the express powers granted under clause 18, but these would not be incidental to the main powers. In case the ‘Government should adhere to the bill as now printed, I draw attention to the use of the term “ as it deems incidental “. This clause confers an extraordinarily wide power, because it make3 the commission the judge of what is “ incidental or conducive to the proper exploitation of those things, which may be beneficial to broadcast programmes.” This provision makes the commission the judge in such terms that no court of law, no matter how wide an interpretation it placed upon those words, provided it acted with honesty, could question its decisions.
– It puts the decisions of the commission beyond the review of any court, “ subject to the act.”
– I a.gree with Senator Daly, regarding the significance of that phrase. It is like the expression “ subject to this Constitution “. It is very difficult . to say what limitation that imposes. “ Subject to this act,” read in conjunction with what follows in the clause, merely means that the commission may do anything which it deems to be desirable in the interests of broadcasting. The phrase greatly strengthens the words, “ as it deems incidental,” and nobody can pass judgment on what the commission does. I go the whole distance with Senators Colebatch and Millen in saying that if the clause were removed, the commission would have, as an incidental power, the right to do all the things which it considered necessary or conducive to the proper conduct of broadcasting.
– I intend to support Senator Colebatch, in voting against this clause, and I also desire to see clause 18 deleted. The provisions of that clause could be covered by an amendment of clause 16. Clause 18 gives the commission power to print and issue, gratis or otherwise, papers magazines, periodicals, books, pamphlets, circulars and other literary matter as it thinks fit. Surely that would be entering into competition with various companies that have built up a valuable connexion in this direction.
– At considerable expense, too.
– Yes. I fail to see that it would be proper to give the commission these wide powers. It could issue daily or weekly newspapers.
Bill brought up, and (on motion by
Senator McLachlan) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator McLachlan) read a first time.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate in this bill.
Motion (by Senator Sir George
Pearce) agreed to -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until 1 1 a.m. to-morrow.
Labour on Sugar-cane Fields.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I desire to draw attention to the serious state of affairs existing in the cane-fields of Queensland, where organized attempts are being made by Italian land-owners to stop the further employment of British labour. I have here some extracts from the Melbourne Heraldon the subject which, in my opinion, deserve the earnest and prompt consideration of the Government. Last night’s Melbourne Herald contains the following report: -
At South Johnstone, four groups of farmers, chiefly foreigners, have refused to accept the British gangs which they drew in recent ballots for the 1932 season. A special combined meeting of the directors of the South Johnstone mill and members of the South Johnstone mill suppliers’ committee has been summoned for this afternoon to discuss the situation.
A manifesto issued on behalf of one of the British gangs which the farmers want to displace warns the Italians that they are risking the whole future of the sugar agreement which “ was granted by the Commonwealth to Queensland for the establishment of a British born defence force in North Queensland. As the sugar industry is a key industry in Australian defence, it follows that its composition should be 100 per cent. British-born subjects, with total elimination of any naturalized Australians.”
The manifesto declares that Britons do not dominate any industry, much less a key industry, in Italy in the way the Italians evidently seek to dominate the Queensland sugar industry. It asks what would be the position if in years to come Australia went to war with Italy knowing that a great proportion of her northern population comprised Italians, who, despite their professed Australianism, always remained Italians in word, thought and deed.
The same journal contains a later telegram which shows that the position is even more serious than was set out in the earlier message. The later report reads -
Seek to Exclude British-born. (From Our Special Representative.)
Serious trouble again threatens in the sugar industry as a result of determined efforts by Italian farmers andcane-cutters to secure the abolition of an agreement whereby increased percentages of British cutters were introduced into the northern sugar area during last season following a campaign waged by the British Preference League.
That organization set out to prevent further penetration of the sugar industry by foreigners. An agreement was adopted between representatives of the farmers, the millers and the unions engaged in sugar production, by which it was arranged that a certain proportion of foreign cane-cutters should he dropped every year and replaced with British-born workers.
The introduction of this new labour last season was successful. The Innisfail area had fewer industrial disputes than ever before, and the official comment upon the work of the Britons was “ completely satisfactory.”
The Italians, however, have been active and a special defence organization has been formed. Lately it briefed Mr. W.F. Patterson, a Brisbane barrister and the Communist party candidate for the Toowoomba seat in the present State election.
Mr. Patterson’s arrival in Innisfail on Saturday attracted many hundreds of Italians to this centre, and the barrister has since had interviews with Italian nationals engaged in both farming and outting.
Some Italian farmers to whom British cutters were allocated for the coming cutting season have refused to accept any workers other than those of their own nationality.
Mr. Patterson in a statement to day declared that the agreement to provide British preference in the northern cane-fields was illegal, and advised all farmers engaging cutters for the 1932 season to employ any one they wished. “ We are going to urge the farmers to defy the agreement,” asserted Mr. Patterson. “ If they are interfered with in any way, legal action will be taken immediately, because the British preference can be wiped out in the northern cane areas.”
Mr. Patterson’s remarks have caused a sensation in the sugar industry, all sections of which view the present developments with considerable concern.
The Secretary of the Innisfail Cane-growers Association (Mr. G. P. Hudson) said to-day that if the Italians succeeded in having the spirit of the present agreement broken, then it would be only a matter of time before the British cutter would be again forced out of the industry.
Since the only argument of those who support the sugar monopoly - to which I am entirely opposed - is that it is necessary to maintain theWhite Australia policy, I hope that the Government will take a hand in the matter, and see that the efforts of these Italians, headed by a lawyer who is well known as a Communist, are brought tonought.
[9.11]. - I ask the leave of the Senate to withdraw my motion since it appears that there are some papers which, under the law, should have been tabled to-day.
Leave granted; motion withdrawn.
The following paper was presented : -
Financial Agreements Enforcement Acts - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1932, No. 41.
Labour on Sugar-cane Fields - Statement by Senator Dunn.
[9.12]. - In now moving -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I desire to inform Senator Johnston that I shall bring his remarks under the notice of the responsible Minister. I have grave doubts, however, whether the Commonwealth has any power to interfere in the matter of the employment of Italian labour once the Italians have been admitted into the Commonwealth.
– This morning when I asked leave to make a statement honorable senators on both sides of the chamber courteously agreed to my request. But the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Pearce) raised a point or order, and a ruling was given which prevented me from proceeding further. I now desire to explain my position in connexion with the matter referred to by Senator Payne in a question to-day. I am always prepared to stand by any statement I have made on the hustings. It is true that I attended a Labour rally in the Sydney Stadium, at which 10,000 persons were present. The meeting was organized by the Sydney branch of the Waterside Workers Federation for the purpose of placing before the electors the political situation in New South Wales. In my address to the gathering, I said that I had been duly constituted the patron of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Labour organization in New South Wales. Honorable senators may not know that, since 1917, there has been incorporated in the constitution of the Australian Labour Party in New South Wales a “ soldiers’ policy.” Nothing was further from my mind than that I should pose before the general public as a patron of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia. I am not even a member of that organization. I understand that His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, Earl Jellicoe, and Sir Harry Chauvel are patrons of that league in various spheres. I have no desire to usurp the position occupied by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales; I shall not. scab on any man’s job. I have sufficient to do as the patron of the organization to which I have referred. [Quorum formed.]. A new political organization, which has arisen in our midst - I refer to . the New Guard - recently held a rally at the Sydney Town Hall, at which the Governor of New South Wales was lustily boo-ed. The New Guard endeavoured to force. Sir Philip Game to cancel the mandate which the Lang Government had received from the people of New South “Wales. The members of that organization further said that at a certain time on a given date they would march down Macquariestreet, enter Parliament House, and throw the Premier of New South Wales and the members of his Government off the treasury bench, lock the doors, and confiscate the keys. As a duly elected member of this chamber who believes in constitutional methods, I bon– tend that no such threats should have been made towards a constitutionally elected government. If by any unlawful ‘ act, Mr. Eric Campbell, or any - other member of the New Guard attempts to overthrow the Government of New South Wales, the members of the organization of which I am a member intend to have something to say. The members of the New Guard further said that if any stood in the way of their march to the State Parliament House they would go right through them. There are approximately 4,000 members of the New South Wales Police Force who have been appointed to maintain law and order-
Attention coiled to the state of the Seriate. There being no quorum present-
Mr. President adjourned the Senate at 9.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 May 1932, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1932/19320511_senate_13_134/>.