14th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. P.J. Lynch) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following paper was presented: -
Commonwealth Bank Act - Balance-sheets of Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Common wealth Savings Bank at 30th June, 1936, and Statements of the Liabilities and Assets of the Note Issue Department at 30th June, 1936-, together with Auditor-General’s Reports thereon.
Senator A. J. McLACHLAN laid on the table report and recommendation of the Tariff Board on the following subject -
Titanium Oxide, TitaniumWhite,also compounds and mixtures of Antimony and Titanium Oxides.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister (1) Has the Prime Ministerseen the report in the daily press to- the effect that the Prime Minister of New Zealand said on Wednesday last that the nest major problem which the Government of New Zealand would study would be the national health and insurance scheme, which would definitely be introduced next year? (2) Will the- Government consider the introduction of a national health and insurance scheme for Australia?
– I have already stated that the matter is now the subject of intensive study. Weare awaiting reports from twoexperts who have been brought out from Great Britain to advise on a scheme for Australia
Deaths Due to War Service
– On the 11th September, Senator. Brand asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation the following questions; upon notice: -
The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answers. -
– I ask the Ministerincharge of Development -
– The honorable senator advised me of his intention to ask these questions, so I am now in a position to reply to him as follows : - 1 and 2. Yes. Realizing the importance of this matter, the Government has been in touch, forsome time, through its officers in America, with the latest developments in connexion with mechanical cotton-picking. Recently the official secretary in the United States of America visited the Tennessee cottongrowing district near Memphis to see the Bust cotton-picker in operation. The official secretary states that this picker is the closest approach to a successful machine yetdevised, but that there are still certain mechanical defects. Hd adds that the manager of the United States Government Cotton Fool estimates that the value of cotton harvested by the Rust machine may be lowered by$3 a bale. It is understood that two of the machines are now being used in Russia. The price of the machine is quoted at $1,995 f.o.b: Memphis. Full information has been supplied to the Queensland Cotton Board.
– On the 11th September, SenatorHardy asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation the following questions, upon notice : -
The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answers : -
No separate record kept of the number in the County of Cumberland of the State of New South Wales.
These figures show a net total decrease of 3,926 pensioners, but such decrease is solely accounted for by cancellation of children’s pension consequent on their attaining the age of sixteen years.
No separate record kept in respect ofthe County of Cumberland of the State of New South Wales-.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The answers to the honorable senators questions are as follows: -
Yes. 2. (a) Nothing is known in the department of any tenders having been called for the supply of 1.000 casks of cement for New Guinea, but inquiries have been made of the Administrator, Rabaul, and a reply is expected shortly.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
The balance of £2,000,000 will bo apportioned later. Payments to States arc limited by the amount of loan money available, but up to date all applications by Status have been paid.
Lighting of Aerial Mast
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Is the new B class wireless aerial mast situated at Longreach, Queensland, equipped with a beacon in order to show its position to aeroplanes that are compelled to make night landings at that place?
– Inquiries I have made elicit that one mast is lighted by a 300 watt lamp 30 feet from the top; the other mast is not lighted. The matter is one for the civil aviation authorities, rather than the Postal Department.
Bill read a third time.
Bill read a third time.
SALES TAX BILLS (Nos. 1 to 9) 1936.
Bills received from the House of Representatives.
[3.35]. - I move -
Thatso much of the Standing Ordersbe suspended as would prevent the questions with regard to the several stages for the passage through the Senate of. all or several of the Sales Tax Bills Nos. 1 to 9 being put in one motion, at each stage, and the consideration of all or several of such bills together in committee of the whole.
As. honorable senators are aware there are ninesales tax bills and the amendment being made is exactly the same in each. It would be a waste of time to consider the nine bills separately, and the carrying of this motion will enable the nine bills to be taken as one measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative by an absolute majority of the Senators present.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -
That the bills be now read a first time.
– I have already dealt with the controversy between the Federal Government, the Western Australian Government and the Swan Roads Board over the renaming of the town of Bullsbrook,where a military aerodrome is being erected, and’ I do not intend to go into the subject at length to-day. At the request of those interested in the early history of Western Australia I merely wish to place on record the reasons why the name of Bullsbrook was chosen for the district and township.
Following upon the approval of the construction of the new military aerodrome at Bullsbrook, there was considerable controversy between the Federal and State governments and the Swan Roads Board concerning the name of the town, the district, and the aerodrome. Ultimately the name was altered, according to the Minister, by the State Government to “ Kingsf ord.” The following paragraph appeared in the West Australian of the 7th September, in regard to that worthy pioneer settler of Western Australia, after whom the town and district were originally named: -
Lieutenant Henry Bull, whose name, it has been suggested, should be obliterated from the map by the re-naming of Bullsbrook, was described by a writer “of 1835 among the most valuable settlers of the young Colony. In association with Mr. Leake, a Fremantle merchant and an extensive landholder, he worked a farm, a dairy and a horse mill at Upper Swan with remarkable success, and had “ some of the finest cows in the colony, the genuine produce of the Duke of Bedford’s famous breed, obtained directly from Woburn.” He was a lieutenant in the Navy, but had had some farming experience in Bedfordshire, and he took readily to life on the land and “ by his strenuous exertions,” overcame all difficulties, established an excellent home and “ completed his comforts by marrying a lady in the colony.” There is a description of his household : “ His kitchen, which is lofty and spacious, and has a fireplace of corresponding dimensions, is well garnished with flitches of bacon and other tokens of good cheer. After sharing with his numerous servants in their various employments - often himself holding the plough - it was his custom to sit down with them, presiding at the head of a long table plentifully furnished with plain but excellent fare, chiefly the produce of his own farm; to which were added good beer and ale from barley grown, malted and brewed on the premises. The quantity he raises of wheat, and other grain, and also hay, equals, if not exceeds, the produce of any other colonist.” Though the aerodrome is named “Pearce” by the Federal Government, and the town is newly named “Kingsford “ by the State Government, the name of the railway station still appears in the railway time-table as Bullsbrook. This leads to much confusion, and I express my extreme regret that a name which is bound up with the earlier history of the State, and which was good enough to last for 100 years, should now be abandoned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a first time.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 17th September, 1936 (vide page 213).
Clause 11 -
After section forty of the principal act the following headings and sections are inserted: - ” Regulations. “48. - (1.) Where an act confers power to make regulations, then, unless the contrary intention appears, all regulations made accordingly
Upon which Senator Duncan-Hughes had moved by way of amendment -
That after the word “ accordingly “, proposed new section 48 (1.), the following new paragraph be inserted: - ” (aa) shall he certified to by the SolicitorGeneral or some duly qualified legal practitioner in the Attorney-General’s Department as being in his opinion correctly drafted and not ultra vires.”
– This amendment should not be agreed to. A fairly lengthy discussion took place previously in regard to this matter, and it appears to me that the proposed amendmentconstitutes something in the nature of a reflection upon those now charged with the responsibility of draftsmanship. To have some officer of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, orsome other legal gentleman not now available to the Government, to supervise these regulations before they are promulgated would be wrong. At any rate, I know what I should feel if I were either the responsible officer or the drafting officer entrusted with the taskof framing regulations and were fold that I was obviously so incompetent for that particular task that a certificate by somebody else was necessary. As I do not think that this is a matter upon which we need to waste much time, I content myself by saying that I see no reason for the acceptance of the amendment.
– I do not regret that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) should have addressed himself to this amendment before I had an opportunity to say that, with the permission of the Senate, I wish to withdraw my amendment in its present form, and to substitute for it another which has been drafted by the officers of the Solicitor-General’s Department. In reply to Senator Collings, I may say that no objection was taken by the SolicitorGeneral’s Department to the purpose of this amendment. In order to make that clear, I shall read the following letter addressed by the Clerk of Committees to the chairman of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee: -
With reference to your remarks in the Senate on 17th September, in committee on the Acts Interpretation Bill (Hansard, page 212), I am authorized by the Solicitor-General to say that your statement to the effect that “ sometimes regulations are made and put into operation without having been first perused by any legal practitioner “ was quite correct.
Mr. Knowles tells me, for the information of the committee, that “ more than half “ of the regulations which are made go through his department; but there are many simple changes, such as the alteration of rates of charge, or the designation of positions, about which there could not be any legal question, which have been made without the AttorneyGeneral’s Department being consulted. Steps are being taken, however, to arrange for all regulations to be seen by an officer of the Attorney-General’s Department before they are made, in future.
To any one who desires to know the facts, that letter demonstrates clearly the soundnessof the case that I presented. I am not impeaching the Attorney-General’s Department. What I said was that there are in force many regulations which were not scrutinized by the Attorney-General’s Department, and had no legal drafting whatever before being given the force of law. I said that, in my opinion, that was unsound and should be altered. The letter shows that what I said was correct. With the permission of the committee, I shall withdraw the amendment in the form in which it was presented, and substitute another which has been drafted by the departmental officers.
Amendment - by leave - withdrawn.
– I now move -
That after the heading “ Regulations “ the following new section be inserted - “47a. - (1.) Where an act confers power to make regulations, no regulation shall be made accordingly unless the Attorney-General, or the Solicitor-General, or some officer of the Attorney-General’s Department, thereto authorized in writing by the Attorney-General or the Solicitor-General, certifies that the regulation, if made, would not be in excess of the power conferred by the act underwhich it purportsto be made. (2.) Any regulation made in contravention of this section shall be void and of noeffect.
– The letter which Senator DuncanHughes read as a prelude to the withdrawal of his amendment and the substitution of the proposed new section now before the committee, seems to have opened up an entirely new procedure in parliamentary debates. During my four and a half years’ experience as a member of this chamber I have not previously known of a public officer having been drawn into the cockpit of debate in the Senate.
– Hughes. - “What about the Auditor-General?
– The AuditorGeneral does not write letters to private members, and have them read on the floor of this chamber. He presents to Parliament an official document, which is open to the scrutiny of all senators. I suggest that the letter read by Senator Duncan-Hughes was inspired, and I charge him with impropriety in having read a letter addressed to himself and written by a public officer, who thereby becomes a party to discussion in this chamber.
– I rise to a point of order, and ask that the charge of impropriety be withdrawn. There has been nothing improper in my conduct. I made careful inquiries in order to ascertain whether the letter could be regarded as confidential, and I was informed that there was nothing confidential about it.
– I have pleasure in withdrawing the charge of impropriety if it offends the susceptibilities of Senator Duncan-Hughes; but I suggest that it would have been better had the honorable senator’s susceptibilities been hurt earlier. If, in future, honorable senators who rise in their places to express their opinions are to have before them the precedent of another honorable senator reading a letter sent to him by a public official, there is no knowing where the practice will end. I do not suggest that Senator DuncanHughes went to the official and asked him to write the letter; but there are many ways in which a difficulty of that nature can be overcome. If this precedent be established without protest, honorable senators will be encouraged to approach public officials for confirmation of sentiments expressed in this chamber in order to influence votes.
– In order to show the truth.
SenatorCOLLINGS. - I do not care what the purpose is. I object to a public official being subjected to procedure of this nature. The honorable senator has suggested that the letter was not inspired: but it was a most fortunate coincidence that it should have arrived at the psychological moment. The reading of that letter is a definite incitement to other honorable senators to fortify their arguments in this chamber with the opinions of public officials who should not be brought into the political arena at all. I disapprove of the new proposed amendment, which is merely a further aggravation of the original offence. We have appointed men to do the work of drafting and this amendment suggests that they are incompetent. The honorable senator suggested, as an extenuation of the proposed amendment, that only about half of the regulations which are promulgated go through the Attorney-General’s Department, and that there are occasions on which regulations are not seen by that department before they are issued. If there is any doubt about the capacity of the draftsmen to produce regulations in conformity with the act, it is the duty of those in charge to see that they are scrutinized by the Attorney-General’s Department before they become law. We have a flood of regulations and a Regulation and Ordinances Committee examining them to see that no objectionable powers are taken; then we have a protracted debate, the final result of which is that we arrive at the incompetence of the officers charged with the responsibility of the drafting. I hope that the honorable senator will repeat his very wise action of a few minutes ago, when he withdrew his first amendment, by withdrawing this one.
. - Clearly the Leader of the Opposition does not appreciate what lies behind the amendment moved by Senator Duncan-Hughes.
– I hope I have made that plain.
– All that the amendment proposes to do is to ensure that regulations framed by a layman shall be scrutinized by the AttorneyGeneral’s Department in order that they will be legally correct. It is obvious that that is the desirable course to take. I understand that most Ministers comply with that practice, but that in some cases regulations drafted by laymen have not been examined by responsible legal officers, and have subsequently been declared by the courts to be ultra vires. On several occasions decisions with costs have been given against the Commonwealth because regulations have failed to withstand challenges in the courts. It is in the interests of good government that all legislation and regulations shall be as near to perfection as is possible, and in order to attain that ideal it is desirable that the amendment be agreed to. Citizens have the right to be protected in the future against a repetition of the injustices that have occurred in the past as the result of faulty regulations, and it is the desire of those who support this amendment that this protection should be afforded.
– The honorable senator should credit the Govern- ment with the same pure motives.
– I certainly do. The right honorable gentleman should not object to this amendment because it is an earnest attempt to improve statutes and regulations in the interests of good government and the public weal.
SenatorBRENNAN (Victoria- Assistant Minister) [3.45]. - Senator DuncanHughes said that the amendment which he has moved was drafted by the Attorney-General’s Department. That is literally true, but his statement is capable of conveying a wrong impression. All that the legal department does in such circumstances as this is to learn what is desired to be expressed or amended, and then take it in hand as a mere matter of courtesy so that the proposed amendment shall at least be correctly drafted. That is all that the department has done inthis case, but one might have thought from the remarks of Senator Duncan-Hughes that the department approved of his amendment. As a matter of fact, the department does not approve of it. There is a great deal to be said for the criticism directed by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) against the course taken by Senator Duncan-Hughes. A very undesirable position will be created if letters from officers of the Parliament are to be used in support of acase submitted by an individual member. In other words, it is undesirable to have such communications used in an attempt to influence the Parliament. At first sight the observation contained in the letter that more than halfof the regulations were seen by the department makes it appear that many of the regulations that are issued have not been drafted under legal supervision.
– That is the direct inference.
– In one sense that may be quite true, but the letter which the honorable senator read gives some explanation of the situation. Many regulations have to be issued in order to amend other regulations in minor details. Several boardshave been created by this and other Governments, which have the power to fix rates or to take certain other action. For instance, one of the existing boards may fix a levy on a product at a11/2d. To do this a regulation must be issued. Subsequently, it might be desired to change the rate of the levy to 2d. or 1d., and an amending regulation would be necessary to carry out the intention. It may be that such a regulation may never be placed before the legal department. Indeed, most people would say that it would be the quintessence of red tape to require such a regulation to receive the approval of the Attorney-General’s Department. As Assistant Minister for Commerce, I know the procedure adopted in the Commerce Department, which has most to do with the boards to which I have referred. A great many regulations pass through the department, but, if there should be the slightest doubt about any one of them, it has to be submitted to the legal department for approval, or, if necessary, for re-drafting. It is only in the minute matters that the department acts without the oversight of legal officers. The same thing applies in. the Defence Department, and the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, which are constantly issuing regulations covering the same sort of subject, and changing only in minor detail the main regulations. Throughout the Commonwealth Public Service the procedure is observed that if there is the slightest doubt about the validity of regulations they must, before being promulgated, be examined by the Attorney-General’s Department. With regard to the amendment itself, I ask what it will attain. It provides that -
No regulation shall be made accordingly, unless the Attorney-General or the SolicitorGeneral or some officer of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department thereto authorized in writing by the Attorney-General or the Solicitor-General certifies that the regulation, if made, would not be in excess of the power conferred by the act under which it purports to be made.
– The carrying of the amendment might save the Commonwealth a considerable amount of litigation costs.
– I do not. think that it would. In any case, the honorable senator’s solicitude for the Treasury is unnecessary, because every other department is as anxious as he is to save the Commonwealth from unnecessary costs of whatever nature they may be.
I invite honorable senators to consider how much further the amendment would carry us. In the first place, under the existing law, no regulation can be made in excess of the powers conferred by the relevant act. Is it suggested that regulations that are laid on the table of the Senate from time to time have not been examined by the proper authorities to ensure that they are not ultravires? Of course they are. Again, there is in the bill a section which deals with the issue of regulations made under any act. I refer to proposed new section 46, which reads -
Where an act confers upon any authority power to make, grant or issue any instrument (including rules, regulations or by-laws) then, (ft) Any instrument so made, granted or issued shall be read and construed subject to the act under which it was made, and so as not to exceed the power of that authority, to the intent that where any such instrument would, but for this section have been construed as being in excess of the power conferred upon that authority, it shall nevertheless he a valid instrument to the extent to which it is not in excess of that power.
The intention of the first part of this proposed new section is quite clear. It states that no regulation shall be made in excess of the authority given by the act. The second part deals with circumstances that arise sometimes when a regulation is divisible into parts. Some part of it may be beyond the authority given in the act under which it is made; but the other parts may be within that power. The latter portion of the section has been designed to save those parts that are intra vires the act. The amendment will merely add to the uncertainty of the law and that is a result against which lawmakers should guard. Therefore, I ask the committee not to accept the amendment. I remind honorable senators that the representatives of the Government in this chamber have exactly the same desire as Senator Duncan-Hughes has, namely, not to inflict unnecessary hardship upon any person in the community.
– I listened carefully to the speech of the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan), whohas endeavoured to persuade us that there is no necessity for the amendment because it merely proposes to enact what is, in practice, done under the existing law. If this is a correct interpretation of his remarks, I cannot understand his opposition to the amendment, which is the corollary of paragraph b of proposed new section 46 which the Minister road. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) appears to think that it was almost an iniquity for Senator Duncan-Hughes to mention that certain facts which he had placed before the Senate were confirmed by the SolicitorGeneral. I feel sure that the honorable gentleman would experience some difficulty in obtaining the backing of a leading public servant for some of the statements which he makes in this ch amber.
– I have not tried.
– The work which Senator Duncan-Hughes has done as chairman of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee should have the cordial approval of all honorable senators. We all know that in relation to this bill he has given us the benefit of his research on this committee. It is of no use for the Assistant Minister or any one else to say that the Solicitor-General did not know what he was saying in the communication which was referred to by Senator Duncan-Hughes. If that had come from a junior officer I might have deemed him guilty of an indiscretion, but it came from a senior officer with a high legal training - a man who knows what he is doing.
Senator Brennan. - What is the honorable senator’s authority for saying that the Solicitor-General appears in this matter? No name was disclosed in the letter read by Senator Duncan-Hughes.
– The SolicitorGeneral’s name was disclosed.
– No; it was said by some person unknown that the Solicitor-General had made a certain admission.
– We all know very well that the statement was made by the Solicitor-General, and I take the view that the carrying of the amendment will make members of this chamber feel more confident that the rights of Australian citizens are safeguarded, because they will know that regulations laid on the table have been scrutinized by some one having sound legal knowledge. I support the amendment.
.- I endorse the remarks of Senator Millen. For many years I have taken a keen interest in the issue of regulations, and I am convinced that Senator DuncanHughes is fully justified in submitting his amendment. I have, on other occasions, emphasized that we cannot exercise too much care in the framing of regulations and ordinances. It was a good thing for Parliament when the Senate appointed a committee to peruse and report upon regulations and ordinances, because the average member has not the time to read carefully every regulation or ordinance that is gazetted. Therefore, we owe a considerable debt to the committee for the excellent work which it has clone. I would be reluctant to vote against any reasonable proposal that was submitted by the honorable senator who occupies the position of chairman of that committee. I know that his one desire is that our legislation shall be as perfect as it is possible to make it; that it shall contain no ambiguity of phraseology, and that all regulations issued shall be in conformity with the acts giving the regulationmaking power. For this reason I intend to support the amendment.
– The first point I wish to make is with regard to the drafting of my amendment. The ‘Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan) suggested that the Government courteously drafted it for me, and that I was endeavouring to give the impression that the Government was in favour of it. I did not even take the initiative in approaching the parliamentary draftsman to alter the amendment which I had drafted, because I was satisfied with my own phraseology, and I am still satisfied with it. My only reason for asking leave to withdraw it and present it in another form was that I understood that, from a drafting point of view, the suggested new form would be preferable. I did not say that the Government was in favour of it, although I thought that probably it would be, because surely it is preferable that a legal document should be in sound legal form, as might be expected if it had issued from the law department instead of being issued by some board without good legal knowledge. I know that some further amendments which I intend to move will not be approved by the Government, but I did. imagine that probably Ministers would be in favour of the one which is now before the committee. I am sorry to learn that they are not. In regard to the remarks of the Solicitor-General concerning the supervision over ordinances and regulations, I simply say that some time ago I instructed the secretary of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, in the course of his duty, to see the Solicitor-General on this subject. He did so and informed me in terms which I have disclosed to the committee this afternoon. I should add that, before making this statement, I instructed the clerk to refer the matter to the Solicitor-General to make sure that there would be no disclosure of a confidential statement, and I was given to understand that there would not be. In the circumstances I fail to see why there should be objection to my giving the foots to the committee. What harm can arise from the statement? What is there to hide? I confidently believe that my amendment will improve the bill, and. therefore, I ask the committee to support it. Senator Brennan cited paragraph b of proposed new section 46. That provision simply enacts that regulations issued must not be in excess of the power conferred by the act. My amendment will provide that they shall be certified to be not in excess of such power, and that without such certification they shall be void and of no effect. I did not read the long report issued by the South Australian honorary committee which sat recently to consider subordinate legislation, but I may add that one member of that committee is now an acting judge, another has been Attorney-General for the State, and the third is a legal practitioner in the State Parliament. On this particular matter the committee, reported -
It is of the highest importance that all regulations promulgated should be properly drafted. The committee therefore recommends that a system be instituted to provide that before the Governor’s approval be given to any regulations to be made hereafter, the parliamentary draftsman or Crown Law officer be required to certify that they are correctly drafted and in his opinion are not ultra vires. This certificate would undoubtedly tend to prevent the promulgation of badly or loosely drafted regulations and tend to uniformity of drafting in the framing of all regulations.
This does not appear to me to be an epoch-making matter. The amendment has been moved with the object of making the measure more intelligible and less liable to be upset in courts than it would be without this provision.
– I fail to see how the adoption of this amendment will carry us any further than we are at present. In effect, the amendment provides that no regulation shall be made until a responsible officer of the Crown Law Department certifies that it is not in excess of the powers conferred by the act under which it is made. At what stage is an officer to certify? Before it goes to the Governor-General or in a draft form? Acts conferring regulation making powers provide that such regulations shall not be made until certain things have been done. There are difficulties associated with the working of the proposed new paragraph, which may be only a matter of draftsmanship. Is it suggested that the officers of the Crown Law Department do not scrutinize regulations with sufficient care?
– Many regulations do not come before the Crown Law Department..
– When they are purely formal such a procedure is unnecessary. If the amendment be carried, some officer of high legal standing will have to certify that all regulations, including some of minor importance such as I have mentioned, are not in excess of the powers conferred by the act under which they are made. I appeal to honorable senators to trust the officers of the Crown Law Department, who always see, so’ far as they can, that regulations are not in excess of the powers conferred by the act.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator Sampson.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
– The committee, having decided to insert the new section moved by Senator Duncan-Hughes, the question of its working now arises. . The Government is aware of the difficulties which may arise, and I move -
That the following new sub-section be added to new section 47a: - “ (3.) The notificationin the Gazette of any regulation made after the commencement of this section shall be prima facie evidence that a certificate was duly given in respect of that regulation in accordance with sub-section (1) of this section.”
Assuming that there was a prosecution, say, in Western Australia, and a question arose as to whether a certificate had been given, it would be necessary for the certificate to be produced. That would necessitate the production of the original document from the files of the Executive Council. As that would create some extraordinary difficulties, I ask the committee to agree to add another sub-section to follow the one which has just been inserted. The effect of the amendment I have moved is that notification in the Gazette shall be prima facia evidence that a certificate has been given.
.- Whilst I had no desire to be responsible for such an amendment, I have no objection to it. The gazettal is to be only prima facie evidence that can be rebutted at any time. The early part of the proposed new section provides that unless the regulation has been certified it shall be null and void.
Amendment agreed to.
– The next point to which I desire to draw attention is the larger question of whether there is any need to make the alteration contemplated in this bill. I dealt with this aspect of the matter in great detail during my second-reading speech, and I have no desire to recapitulate what I then said. I see, however, no reason why the alteration intended to be effected by this clause should be passed. The law as it stands has operated in Australia for 32 years and is, therefore, presumably, quite sound.
Though I have never been in favour of retrospective legislation I think it is much better than retrospective regulations ‘which are not subject to parliamentary criticism but can be promulgated by a department and made to operate retrospectively. Honorable senators are aware that there have been instances of the promulgation of retrospective regulations in the past and it is intended by a later clause to provide that these irregularities shall be regularized. To that I have no objection, so long as it is properly done. We must see that regulations made in the past which were irregular are now put on a legal basis. But I cannot see any reason why we should alter the law laid down quite clearly in the 1904 act that regulations are to operate only from the day on which they become law or from some subsequent date. I therefore move -
That the words “ subject to this section.” paragraph (6), proposed new section 48 (1), be left out.
The effect of the amendment is to provide that the old rule as to regulations coming into effect only on or after the date they become law shall still exist. No good reason has been given why the law should be altered at all. If the procedure is to be regularized in the future and if we wipe out all the irregularities of the past it would be far better to leave the law as it now stands than to make an alteration which will be subject to new legal rulings. Proposed new section 48(2) provides that the accrued rights of persons are not to be prejudiced and liabilities are not to be imposed. Even if the section refers only to payments it is doubtful whether it does not impose a liability on the taxpayer and the general public and also affect existing rights of the people. I put my amendment to the committee to test the opinion of honorable senators as to whether the old law which operated for 32 years until these departmental inaccuracies took place should not continue to operate. I do not think that deliberate errors actually took place; rather do I believe that the departmental officials failed to devote proper attention to the directions laid down for their guidance. I prefer the law as it now stands.
– The honorable senator’s amendment is the first step in course of action designed to deny to the Executive Council any power to make retrospective legislation.
– And the additional powers which the Government is seeking.
– I want to be quite sure about that. Does the honorable senator not agree that, if the whole of the amendments of which he has given notice be carried, the effect will be that no regulation having retrospective operation will be valid?
– Yes. That is the present position, and I think that it should continue.
– First of all, I want to call attention to the extent to which the Government has in the proposals which it has put before the Senate limited the previously existing power of making retrospective regulations. In the 1904 act the Government could have given power to make legislation retrospective. It did not do so, as the Broadcasting ease decided.
– Is not that enough ?
– The honorable senator is proposing not only to take away that power, but also to limit the power of making retrospective regulations proposed in the bill. There are certain well-established principles with regard to the making of laws having retrospective operation. They have to be made sparingly, and should not be used in such a way as to interfere with rights which have really accrued. But in large departments it is sometimes necessary to correct an error. Honorable senators will recollect that such a neces- sity arose some time ago, in connexion with the salaries of persons engaged by the Dried Fruits Board in London. That regulation was given retrospective operation.
– It was made retrospective for six years.
– That is so, but why ! It was done only in order that the necessary legal authority should bo given for the payment of the salaries of certain persons in London, and there was no way of providing this authority except by giving retrospective operation to the regulation which was passed. It was wholly remedial in its effect. It did not inflict a hardship upon anybody, but, on the contrary, cleared up, it was thought, the law regarding this matter. In each circumstances the making of retrospective legislation has always been deemed to be proper. If this amendment were carried such a regulation would be bad; in fact, there would be no power to make it. To-day government departments have grown to great magnitude, and the necessity for retrospective legislation may occur at any time - for instance, for the remedying of a wrong. The honorable senator’s amendment, if accepted, would, however, deprive the Government of the power to make such a regulation.
– I have no desire to deprive the Government of any power which it possesses at present. I am quite prepared to restore to the section the words “ unless the contrary intention appears “.
– I do not follow the honorable senator when he says that he does not desire to deprive the Government of any power which it at present possesses. The Parliament at present has full power to pass regulations with retrospective operation. Though the honorable senator’s amendment looks harmless, it proposes to strike out the whole of sub-section 2, which limits the operation of the regulation-making power. That sub-section provides in express words that regulations shall not be passed affecting rights which at present exist, or imposing on any person liabilities in respect of anything done or omitted to be done before the date of notification. There are two provisions, each of which is designed to ensure that wrong shall not be done to any person. Power to give retrospective operation to a regulation is sometimes necessary. For instance, a department may fix rates of pay as from a data which has passed in order to do justice to a particular person. A government rarely tries to make a regulation which would affect accrued rights; but should it do so, the position is safeguarded by the provision that any regulation which contravenes proposed subsection 2 shall be void and of no effect. I cannot understand why the honorable senator should wish to take out a provision which supplies a remedy for something of which he strongly disapproves. I ask the committee not to accept the proposal of the honorable senator.
– As I stated previously, the act of 1904 provided that regulations shall come into force from either the date of notification or a later date. ‘ Section 10 which so provided contains the words “ unless the contrary intention appears “. If my amendment be carried, I shall have no objection to the inclusion of those words in this bill. I do not seek to rob the Government of any power in that respect which it nowhas.
Proposed new section 48 is one of the key provisions of this bill. There has always been power to give regulations retrospective operation, if the governing act provides for that, and to that I have no objection; but I do object to a government department promulgating a regulation with retrospective effect when the act does not authorize it to do so. The Minister referred to the hardship which would have been caused to men who were due to receive some money in England had they been prevented from getting it; but I remind him that those men got their money. It is true that it was not paid in accordance with the law; but still it was paid to them. In order to validate that payment a regulation which had retrospective effect for nine years was framed. I maintain that that is not a sound way to do things. There may be some other means by which the Treasurer could meet such a situation. There is always the alternative of passing legislation to make such payments regular. In my opinion, there is no justification for the intended action of the Government beyond the argument that it would enable small sums to be paid to persons from whom they have been incorrectly withheld.
– Senator DuncanHughes laid stress on the words “ unless the contrary intention appears” in section 10 of the act of 1904. That section reads -
Where an act confers power to make regula tions, all regulations made accordingly shall, unless the contrary intention appears -
be notified in the Gazette; (b) take effect from the date of notification, or from a later date specified in the regulations ;
be laid before both Houses of Parliament within thirty days
That section was given prominence in the Broadcasting case. The High Court held that under that section, a regulation could not take effect from a date earlier than the date of notification. Itwould appear that Senator Duncan-Hughes has overlooked the opening words of the new section 11 -
Where an act confers power to make regulations, then, unless the contrary intention appears, all regulations made accordingly -
shall be notified in the Gazette.
– I have no objection to the retention of those words. I remind the Assistant Minister that I did not draft the proposed new legislation.
– The honorable senator said that he did not object to the words of the 1904 act being included in this bill, and I now draw his attention to the fact that they are in the bill. Let me give to the committee an illustration to show the need for some such power as the Government asks in this measure. Under the Financial Emergency Act, a certain method of calculation is employed in ascertaining the amount of reduction to be made in Public Service salaries. In the Parliamentary Service, owing to the fact that officers had been classified at a later date than in the Public Service, doubt arose as to whether the method adopted was legally correct. It was queried by the Auditor-General, and reported to the then Acting Treasurer (Mr. Casey), who arranged for two officers, one from the Treasury, and the other from the staff of the Public Service Board, to make inquiries. The report of those officers expressed the opinion that, whilst the method adopted was irregular, not to follow it would place parliamentary officers at a disadvantage compared with other officers of the Public Service. They recommended certain amendments to the Parliamentary Officers Regulations to remedy the position. Such amendments are contained in Statutory Rules 1935, No. 54. As it was necessary to correct the position back to the 1st July, 1931, Regulation 67a was so drawn as to operate from that date. That regulation was given a fairly extensive retrospective operation, because it was remedial. Subsection 2 of proposed new section 48 provides that regulations shall not be expressed to take effect from a date before the date of notification in any case in which, if the regulations so took effect, the rights of a person existing at the date of notification would be affected in a manner prejudicial to that person, or liabilities would be imposed on him in respect of anything done or omitted to be done before the date of notification. I again emphasize the further provision that where any regulation is made in contravention of that sub-section, such regulation shall be void and of no effect.
– The Government is seeking greater powers than were given by the original act.
– It is not seeking greater powers than every one thought were reposed in it until the decision of the High Court in the Broadcasting case. From 1904 until the decision in that case, governments acted in the belief that they had that power. There are probably hundreds of regulations which have been given retrospective operation for shorter or longer periods. Since the decision in the case referred to, theposition has had to be reviewed, and the Government is of the opinion that grave inconvenience would sometimes be caused if there were no power to make a regulation retrospective. That power is required to rectify wrongs. The position is safeguarded by the provision that any regulation which contravenes proposed sub-section 2 shall be void and of no effect. I ask the committee to reject the amendment.
– I was interested to hear from the Minister that in the past hundreds of regulations have not been in conformity with the law. I suspected that that was so. But I cannot agree with the honorable senator’s statement that nobody ever realized that no power existed to make regulations except for the future. It has always been quite clear that that was the law, but slackness crept in and the law was infringed. Despite the decision in the Broadcasting case, I doubt very much whether we should ever have had this bill brought before us, but for the actions of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. This bill not only validates what has been done in the past, but it also seeks to put the Executive in the position of being able, in the future, to issue retrospective regulations if it thinks fit so to do. By refusing to give that power to the Executive the Senate would not debar the Ministry from effecting by legislation what it wishes to do by regulation.
– And by this bill the Government is not debarring the Senate from disallowing any regulation.
– This bill gives to the Executive additional regulation-making powers of which I do not approve. If it be necessary to take certain action the Government should do it by legislation and not by regulations made by a department.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out (Senator DuncanHughes’s amendment) - put.The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator Sampson.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– In view of the vote just recorded I shall not proceed with the other similar amendments of which I gave notice. I now move -
That in proposed section 48 the following now sub-section be inserted: - “ (2a.) If any regulations are not laid before each House of the Parliament in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (1.) of this section, they shall be void and of no effect.”
The law provides already that regulations have to be laid on the table of the House, but there is no penalty or sanction if it is not complied with. Nothing is done if a regulation is not tabled within the prescribed time, and that creates an undesirable position. When I spoke on this point on the second reading it was suggested that I was unduly alarmed because in point of fact regulations always were laid on the table of the House.
Aa a matter of fact, in this respect, the law is not always complied with. My amendment provides that if a regulation be not tabled within the prescribed period it shall have no effect. The third report of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee gives specific instances of regulations not having been tabled within the prescribed time, lt says -
The committee draws attention to the fact that cases have occurred in the past and are still occurring where regulations have not been laid before Parliament within the prescribed time. A notable instance of this is the case of the Motor Omnibus Regulations of the Territory for the Seat of Government. Under section 5 of the Interpretation Ordinance 1 914-1 930 of the Territory for the Seat of Government, regulations made under an ordinance must l>e laid before each House of the Parliament within fifteen sitting days of that House after the mating of the regulations. The regulations in question were made on Oth June, 1934, and were not laid on the table of the Senate until 2nd October, 1035 (38 sitting days afterwards).
Further details of omission to table regulations within the prescribed time are contained in the following memorandum from the Clerk of Committees to the Chairman of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee : -
It has been laid down that it is not part of the duty o£ parliamentary officers to see that regulations and ordinances are laid on the table of each House within the prescribed time. This is the responsibility of the department concerned.
However, some individual cases have come under notice. In March, 1930, it was discovered that the Bankruptcy Regulations had not been tabled. The following question was asked in the Senate on 27th March, 1930 (Hansard, volume 123, page 553): - “ Is it a fact that a statutory omission has been made in not tabling in the Senate the Bankruptcy Act by-laws T If so, will a validating act be necessary in respect of business transacted under such by-laws f”
The Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral replied - “ It is a fact that by a regrettable oversight, due to changes of staff in the Attorney-General’s Department, the bankruptcy rules wore not tabled within the time specified in the act. They are now being tabled, and the Senate will have full power to deal with them. There is no reason to believe that the validity of the rules is affected in any way-
I invite the attention of the Senate to that remark -
Steps have been taken which will prevent the possibility of this happening again.”
Also, in March, 1930, it was discovered that the Northern Territory Aboriginals Ordinance, No. 9 of 1918, had never been tabled. When attention was called to the omission, the Ordinance was at once tabled, and a few days later Senator Sir Hal Colebatch moved for its disallowance.
As I have said, the report of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee mentions a third instance of failure to comply with the law in respect of the tabling of ordinances. Apparently it is not legally certain whether a regulation which has not been tabled within the prescribed time is good law or not law at all. The Tasmanian Law Reports of 1916 contain the report of a case, Payne v. Thorpe, in which Mr. Justice Ewing held that the fact that regulations had not been tabled within the prescribed time made them absolutely invalid. The crux of the matter is whether such tabling of the regulations is a matter of form or of substance, and Mr. Justice Ewing held that, in the circumstances of that case, it was a matter of real substance, and that unless a regulation was tabled within the prescribed time it became void and of no effect. I could support my view by reading the very interesting judgment delivered by Mr. Justice Ewing, but I know that probably the committee would not wish me to do that, so I shall read only portion of it. Mr. Justice Ewing said -
Is the lading of regulations on the table of Parliament a matter of real substance? 1 think that it is; that this is one of thos: cases where Parliament has handed over the power to make laws, and create penalties for their non-observance to a public body, retaining control over such regulations when made, and that it is the real object of the provisions that they must be laid on the table of both Houses of Parliament.
In a more recent judgment, the High Court expressed the view that there appeared to be some doubt as to whether a regulation that had not been laid on the table of Parliament within the prescribed time was not good law - whether, in fact, a government could not refrain from laying a regulation on the table of either House, and at the same time operate under it.
Many honorable senators will, perhaps, remember an incident that occurred only a few years ago in connexion with a statutory rule, which had not been laid on the table of the Senate. In 1931 a lawcase, Dignan v. Australian Steamships Proprietary Limited, arose out of chat incident. That case did not, in so many words, override the decision of Mr. Justice Ewing. It was determined on another point, as these cases so often are. In his judgment, Mr. Justice Starke said -
The implication of this provision, we have been told, is that the regulation-making authority must lay a regulation before each Mouse of Parliament within fifteen sitting days of that House, or else the regulation is void. But no such sanction is to be found in the act itself, and the suggested implication is quite unnecessary if the purpose of the provision he to apprise the Houses of regulations, and not to prescribe a condition of their power to disallow them.
In this obiter dictum, Mr. Justice Starke gives emphasis to my point that in the act itself “no such sanction is to be found” that the act does not affirm that, unless this provision is complied with, a regulation shall be void. This lack of sanction I am seeking to remove from the act by the insertion of the amendment to provide that regulations shall be laid on the table of either House, failing which something shall happen. Mr. Justice Dixon, in the same case, put this view -
I can find no justification for the view that if the regulations are not laid before both Houses within the time provided by the statute, they cease to operate. The section does not say so, and it would be strange if such an omission, of which there could often be no public knowledge, operated to annul an existing law.
I direct particular attention to the words, “ the section does not say so “. The intention of my amendment is to ensure that in future the section shall say so.
– The legal position of regulations and ordinances was decided by the High Court, a higher tribunal than “the Tasmanian court. It is well set out in the judgment of Mr. Justice Dixon in words, following those read by my learned friend, Senator DuncanHughes -
In Darrach v. Thomas ( 1 ) Cullen C.J., Pring and Sly JJ., expressed the opinion that it would not sooperate.
– Seeing that the judges differ, is it not better to put the matter beyond all doubt?
– Again I fail to see what advantage would be gained by accepting the amendment moved by Senator Duncan-Hughes.
– What is the objection?
– Instructions have been given to those responsible for the issuing of regulations, to see that they are laid on the table of each House within the time prescribed. But how much further will that provision take us? It seems to me that, if we provide that any regulation not so laid on the table of Parliament shall be void a great deal of trouble may ensue. We had an instance of this difficulty in connexion with an ordinance relating to the Northern Territory, to which Senator Duncan-Hughes has referred. That ordinance had been in force for many years, and was generally believed to be good law until someperson discovered by, I suppose, a perusal of the Journals of the Senate, that it had not been laid on the table of this chamber. I submit that the mere act of laying an ordinance or a regulation on the table in order to bring it before the public does not make it better law. The thing that matters is the publication of the instrument in the Commonwealth Gazette. The laying of a regulation or ordinance on the table of either House simply furnishes the Parliament with the opportunity to disallow it. Senator Duncan-Hughes mentioned the trouble over the earlier ordinance.
– I merely repeated what the Minister representing the Attorney-General in this chamber had said.
– Yes ; we are all familiar with that “ regrettable oversight “, as it was described. The honorable senator cited two such instances, one being an ordinance under the Northern Territory (Administration) Act, and the other under an ordinance for the Territory for the Seat of Government. I do not wish to challenge the honorable gentleman, but I ask him to give a single instance, within the last four or five years, of a regulation not having been laid on the table of the Senate within the time prescribed. I assure him that the greatest care is now exercised to see that every regulation or ordinance is brought before Parliament.
– Could the Minister say the same of earlier governments?
– I can say that, irrespective of the political colour of governments that have been in power, we have always had a good Public Service, which, after all, is responsible for the tabling of regulations. Provision has now been made to make it part of the duty of a responsible officer to see that all such instruments are laid on the table of each House, so that whatever may have happened in the past, every precaution is now taken to make it humanly impossible for these matters to be overlooked in future.I ask the committee not to accept the amendment.
– The existing law sets out the course to be taken in connexion with regulations and ordinances, but it seems to me that there is some legal doubt about the invalidity of such instruments if they are not laid on the table, and either House does not exercise its power of disallowance. So far as I have read the judgments and other literature on the subject, it appears that regulations should be tabled so that Parliament may exercise its power of veto. If the plain injunction set out in the act that they shall be tabled is not complied with within fifteen sitting days, the regulations should cease to operate.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator Sampson.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That after proposed new sub-section 3, proposed section 48, the followingsub-section be inserted - “ 3a. Notwithstanding anything contained in the last preceding sub-section, if on absolute majority of the members of either House of the Parliament pusses a resolution (of which notice has been given at any time,’ after any regulations have been laid before that House) disallowing any of those regulations the regulations so disallowed shall thereupon cease to have effect.”
The amendment carries a step further an earlier provision in the clause. It is designed to ensure that a majority of either House of Parliament shall have the power to disallow regulations at any time. This subject is at present under consideration in South Australia, and the Honorable Hermann Homburg has introduced a bill to provide that regulations may be revoked at any time by a resolution of both Houses of Parliament. My amendment has not been drafted in that form. The House of Representatives is the House which makes or unmakes Ministries, and if a regulation were disallowed in that House it might be regarded as a vote of no confidence in the Government, when, if disallowed in the Senate, it would mean nothing of the kind. An alternative suggestion has been put forward by Mr. Mayo, K.C., who stated in evidence: -
After the expiration of a period of one month Parliament may disallow by resolution in either House the whole or any part of a regulation, but an absolute majority ofeither House shall bo required.
That seems to me to be more acceptable than the proposal which requires action to be taken by both Houses. Honorable senators will realize how difficult it is to get both Houses of Parliament to pass a motion in the same terms. If the feeling against a regulation becoming law is sufficiently strong to induce an absolute majority of either House to say that it should be disallowed, the arguments against it must be particularly strong. The legal officer who advised the South Australian Law Society on this subject wrote -
That provision be made for the revocation of any regulation upon resolution of both Houses of Parliament after the time for disallowance upon tabling has expired. This is, in effect, the bill introduced by the Honorable H. Homburg in the State Parliament. Such a provision has much to commend itself in that oft times the full effect of a regulation is not felt or appreciated when laid before Parliament, and it is allowed to pass without comment. It may be intra vires, but objectionable, and there should be machinery to disallow same without the necessity of an act of Parliament or the pleasure of the department concerned.
Although the recommendation of the committee was upon a resolution of both Houses possibly the resolution of one House should be sufficient, provided it is an absolute majority of such House.
That proposal, which the committee might consider, is based on the fact that the objection to regulations does not always arise immediately after they are tabled. Sometimes their purport is not realized until a business man becomes the “ toad beneath the harrow “, and by then the time in which the regulation may bechallenged has passed. I therefore suggest that a majority of either House of the Parliament should have the power to disallow a regulation at any time.
– It would depend on the mood of Parliament.
– Possibly, but it would be difficult to get an absolute majority of either House to reject a regulation which may have been in force for six months. The Parliament should retain sufficient power to disallow an unsatisfactory or undesirable regulation, evenafter fifteen sitting days have elapsed.
– At present the law provides that either House of Parliament shall have power to disallow a regulation within fifteen sitting days of such regulation being tabled. The honorable senator now proposes an amendment under which a majority of either House shall have power to disallow a regulation, at any time. The adoption of the amendment would create uncertainty, which would not be in the public interest. The South Australian committee which has considered this subject recommended that both Houses of Parliament should have the power to disallow regulations at any time. That is vastly different from the proposal of the honorable senator. Both Houses of the Parliament can pass laws. All that the proposal made by the South Australian committee amounts to is that, instead of having to pass a formal bill, if both Houses agree, a regulation may be disallowed. The honorable senator objects that it is difficult to get both chambers to agree to a disallowance. Possibly it is; but if that criticism can be made against the disallowance of a regulation, it can also be applied to every act of Parliament that has been passed. It is necessary to have both Houses of Parliament in agreement before any piece of legislation can be placed on the statute-book. It would be impossible to know from day to day where we stood if one chamber, by an absolute majority, could disallow a regulation which had been in force and had been acted upon for a number of years. It appears to me that if that were done, wide law-making power would be conferred on one branch of the legislature, when the Constitution provides that the law-making power shall be vested in the “King and the two Houses of the Parliament. It is impossible to foretell exactly what its effect would be, but it is obvious that it would produce uncertainty in the law. The Senate ought not to assume or claim too much power of law making. It has its rights as a branch of the legislature, but the taking of power to disallow, at any time, regulations which have been acted upon for years, might lead to the greatestconfusion in the administration of the law. I am sorry that some honorable senators are absent from the chamber at a time whenwe are dealing with matters in respect of which there is exhibited such a division of opinion, and thus deprive themselves of the opportunity of hearing what is being said for and against the proposed amendments, but I ask those senators who are present in the chamber not to agree to give effect to this far-reaching proposal.
– Listening to this debate I am reminded of a time when it was found very convenient that one chamber had the power to disallow regulations. I refer to the industrial trouble on the waterfront, in connexion with which the Senate rendered a service to the community byexercising its power of disallowance. Surely honorable senators can see that, should the House of Representatives again have, as it then bad, a Labour majority and the Senate a non-Labour majority, it would be utterly impossible to get both Houses to agree. The proposal put forward by Senator DuncanHughes is sound. There are many times when it would be quite impossible io secure agreement between both branches of the legislature.
– I am in complete disagreement with the views expressed by Senators Duncan-Hughes and Millen. I think it would be unwise to allow the momentary mood of either chamber to determine at any time the fate of regulations made by ih« Executive, and considered by the; Government to be essential to administration. Senator Millen referred to the difficulty of securing -agreement between both Houses; but I consider that such agreement is essential. I hold certain political opinions, but I have to recognize the will of the people as expressed at a general election, and I, and those who think as I do, should not have the power, through a majority in one branch of the legislature, to set at nought the policy of n Government approved by the electors.
– Then the honorable senator should have gone out of business- long ago.
– The Senate has always been regarded as a chamber of review, and should not be converted into a chamber of destruction. If a regulation has been legally made and promulgated it should not be subject to the whims of a majority in one chamber.
– Parliament would not override the law, but the regulations.
– -The mere fact that a regulation may be overridden because of the political complexion of one House might lead to abrogation of the law entirely. The essence of the law might be expressed in the regulation, which would therefore be essential to the operation of the law.
– We do not operate under regulations to that extent.
– It is proposed shortly to hold a referendum to clear up a difficulty which has arisen in connexion with the marketing laws, which are largely operated by regulation. I agree with the views of the Minister in charge of the bill. I do not think it desirable that one chamber should have continuous power to destroy the law merely by the disallowance of regulations.
– The honorable senator is fencing with words.
– Nevertheless, a regulation is, in essence, legislation, because it gives effect to legislation. The power of regulation-making must not be subjected to the whims of political parties for the moment in power. When a regulation is made affecting a section of the community, the reaction of that section immediately influences the Parliament. If the regulation is inequitable, it can speedily be rectified by the Executive, with or without pressure from the legislature.
.-Senator Millen concurred with the mover of the amendment regarding the difficulty of getting both Houses of the Parliament to agree. I remind the honorable senator that the question is not whether one or both Houses should agree. I merely called attention to the fact that the South Australian Law Committee, whose report was quoted by Senator Duncan-Hughes, recommended the striking out of the limitation of time during which a regulation might be disallowed, but required that the disallowance should be by both chambers. Either House of the Parliament now has the power to disallow a regulation which has been laid upon the table within fifteen sitting days after its promulgation. Senator Duncan-Hughes has proposed that that time limit should be deleted, and that Parliament shall have power at any time to disallow a regulation, perhaps after it has been in operation for years. Senator Millen’s choice of the waterside workers case as an illustration was an unhappy one. In that case no mistake had been made; the laying of a regulation on the table had not been overlooked. On the contrary, immediately the regulation was laid on the table, notice of disallowance was promptly given.
– In that case, however, the regulation would not have been disallowed if the agreement of both Houses had been necessary.
– I desire to correct a misapprehension that might have arisen from the remarks of Senator Duncan-Hughes. It would bc an extraordinary power to give to one chamber, that it should be able to upset a law which has been in force, and which has been, apparently, approved of by the people for a considerable time. What would happen if this proposal were carried ? The personnel or the political complexion of members returned to this chamber and to the House of Representatives very often differs. An election takes place, and a party which may secretly cherish a dislike of a particular regulation which has been in force for many years is returned to one chamber with a large majority. By unilateral action that majority may upset a regulation which is a part of a comprehensive scheme, worked out and built up for many years, as is the case in connexion with the marketing schemes. But even then the people are not without resource ; there still remains the supremacy of Parliament. Parliament can still repeal any regulation or act if it so desires, and there is still power left in the Government it self to pass a new regulation superseding one already in existence. The Government is as much concerned with the smooth working of the laws of the country as are the honorable senators who are supporting the amendment. I ask the committee not to accept this farreaching proposal.
. - I see grave danger in the pro posal of Senator Duncan-Hughes. I visualize an extreme Government in the other chamber of the legislature not seeing eye to eye with the Senate, in which event a state of chaos would exist. When
Senator Millen spoke I thought that he would stress the danger -to which I have referred.
– Although I have been keenly interested in the clash of legal minds, I have hitherto not taken - much part in this discussion. We .should get down to realities. To me it is deplorable that these matters are decided by senators who are absent from the chamber during the progress of the discussion. When the division bells ring they troop into the chamber and, notwithstanding that they know nothing of the arguments which have been advanced, they decide the issue.
– The majority has fluctuated with every division.
– That ie so. My point is that in respect of each division the result has been decided by senators who were absent from the chamber during the- discussion. The charge of nonattendance in the chamber cannot be laid against members of the Opposition, or against those supporters of the Government who have taken a keen interest in the debate. If we go back a few months, and call to mind what took place when this controversy originated, we shall get some idea of the motive behind the antagonism to the making of regulations. The Opposition is divided in its opinion on this subject. My colleague, Senator J. V. MacDonald who differs from me, is a member of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, and is acquainted with all the discussions which took place there. He has voted as he thinks right ; and to his action I take no exception as, indeed, I have no right to do. In any case, the honorable senator has been present during the whole of the discussion. He would be free to alter his views if sound arguments justifying that course were advanced. An amendment which places no limit on (the period during which a regulation may be upset by a snap division in one House-
– The amendment provides for an absolute majority of the members of the House.
– By a snap division I mean one taken before opportunity is given to understand the implications of any proposed action. It may happen that, under a regulation, payments amounting to thousands of pounds, and covering several years, have been made. If, as the result of a vote of one House that regulation were suddenly defeated, and the Government were required to refund large sums df money a deplorable state of affairs would arise. I realize that a government can introduce legislation to amend any existing legislation; but a government would be foolish indeed were it to take action which would place it in the position _ which I can visualize. Let us imagine that, after & regulation has been in operation for anumber of years, some peculiarly constituted intellect sees a possibility of contesting it successfully, and persuades an absolute majority of the members of one House to his way of thinking. What a position for any government to be -in! And how humiliating to the Senate were action of that nature taken by the other chamber ! I am in a peculiar position in that, as the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, I occasionally find myself supporting the Government. Senator Leckie told me yesterday that I was one of the Government’s most enthusiastic supporters. That may be; for I do not imagine that it is my duty to oppose the Government merely for the sake of opposing it. I believe that behind every one of the amendments submitted this afternoon is an ulterior motive. Even interpreting the motive at its best, I believe that the amendment, if carried would harass any government. Governments must have the power to make regulations. Moreover, the disallowance of regulations should be made as difficult as possible. Regulations are made, not by people with ulterior motives, but by responsible officers of the Crown, who know what they are doing.
– Does the honorable senator agree with the regulations made under the Crimes Act?
– If the honorable senator will enlighten me as to what regulations under that act he refers, I shall tell him where I stand regarding them. At the moment we are dealing, not with the Crimes Act, but with an amendment of the Acts Interpretation Act. Mention has been made of the regulations issued during the waterside trouble. The Government of the day, which had been elected by the people of this country, issued certain regulations, in pursuance of the powers vested in it. Another authority upset them as fast as they were made. Irrespective of the final result, the fact remains that responsible government became a farce. At that time I was an ardent supporter of government by regulation, but I was absolutely disgusted to see to what a farce government could be reduced. The trend of the amendments proposed this afternoon is in the same direction. So strongly do I feel on this- subject that I think that any government ‘would be wise not to set up committees, and vest them with powers which encourage them to create chaos and confusion. The amendment before the committee is a menace to the Senate as a part of the law-making machinery of this country.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) has become needlessly excited, with the result that his utterances lack their customary logic He has spoken of the danger of one House of the Parliament disallowing a regulation. I assume that no question of regulations being ultra vires arises. An alteration of an act or of a regulation does not make it ultra vires. If a regulation is ultra vires, the court will say so; and on ite decision a government may have to pay back money it has received. From the remarks of the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan), it would appear that the disallowance of regulations is governed by mathematics, in which the number fifteen plays a prominent part. Are we to do certain things within fifteen days, or are we to have a longer period for consideration. That is all that we have to decide. There is no question of embarrassing governments. In order to give full force to our arguments, we have all expressed rather extreme views, but that does not alter the position which has to be faced. Is it to be merely a matter of mathematics? If any section of the community has found that a. regulation has had an effect not intended by the Parliament the Parliament should have the opportunity to say that the regulation should be amended, without there being any necessity to repeal the whole of the legislation under which it was promulgated.
– In our enthusiasm for Lord Hewart’s ideas regarding the “ new despotism “, we are in danger of being led away from realities. As honorable senators know, regulations used to be embodied in schedules to acts as part of the legislation; but in order to facilitate the passage of. bills through Parliament, and to enable Parliament to devote its attention to broader considerations, a regulationmaking power was embodied in most acts. Safeguards are providedwhereby the regulation-making power vested in the Executive is controlled by the Parliament. . Although the procedure which had been followed since 1904 was recently challenged successfully, that does not mean that we are to throw back on to one, or both, of the Houses of this Parliament the executive government of the country. That would be the effect of the amendment if it were agreed to. By a sudden vote a recalcitrant House could wipe out regulations framed by, say, the Postal Department or the Trade and Customs Department, and cause chaos and confusion. The administration of the country could not go on. The whole of the departments of the Commonwealth Public Service are being administered to-day under a set of regulations for which the Government of the day has to take responsibility. Sight seems to have been lost of the fact that if this amendment be carried and a regulation be regarded as obnoxious a majority in either House of the Parliament could at any time, after due notice, disallow it. If that happened, it would be the duty of the leader of the party responsible for the disallowance of the regulation to face the position and demand the resignation of the Government. If that power were exercised without warning the country would be cast into chaos. That some limitation of the power of either House of Parliament to disallow regulations is necessary must be clear. The existing safeguards against bad regulations becoming law are sufficient. Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives must have sufficient confidence in their ability to carry out their duty not to allow the issue of regulations which do not accord with their notions of what is proper. At any time within fifteen sitting days of the tabling of any resolution a motion may be moved in either House for its disallowance, and I consider that that provision meets all that is required. “With the exception of Mr. Homburg, none of the distinguished gentlemen whose views on this subject have been quoted by Senator Duncan-Hughes have had experience of government, and in criticizing this aspect of public policy Mr. Homburg did not suggest changes so sweeping as that which is proposed in the amendment. Mr. Homburg said that it was a new principle of British jurisprudence that without passing an act both Houses of the Parliament should, at any time, have the power to disallow regulations. That would be taking the administration out of the hands of the Executive.
– Government by regulation is a new thing in British jurisprudence.
– Not at all. It has been recognized for many years as a necessary aspect of public administration. At one time acts of Parliament contained in a schedule the regulations required for their operation, but in order to enable the legislature to deal with broad principles without having to consider minor details of administration, the principle of empowering the Executive or its agents to make regulations, was instituted. It was decided to transfer to the responsible Ministers the power to make regulations and the onus of accepting the challenge if they were regarded as being wrong. The acceptance of the amendment would make it impossible for any persons or departments to have any certainty regarding the regulations under which they worked.
– There is no certainty in the customs regulations, even to-day.
– There is certainty until they are challenged. If the amendment were agreed to, all existing regulations could be upset. Is that the intention of the mover, or does he intend to confer on both branches of this legislature a power which neither would be prepared to use? If, however, this amendment is no mere gesture, then Senator DuncanHughes wants us to return to the former practice of including regulations as schedules to bills. If that procedure had to be followed the attendances of honorable senators in this beautiful city would be much more frequent and of longer duration than they are at the present time. That the Executive must possess power to make regulations has been recognized over a long period of years, but this Parliament has not granted that power without imposing safeguards.For some of those safeguards the honorable senator who has moved the amendment is responsible, and their need is conceded by the Government ; but that either House of the Parliament should be empowered at any time to disallow regulations and create chaos is inconceivable. The practice of passing regulations as an integral part of an act has gone into the discard, and this new practiceof passing legislation, empowering the subsequent issue of regulations has replaced it. Lord Hewart has pointed to abuses which are conceivable if the Executive unduly exercises its power to make regulations, and has suggested that these abuses should be checked, and remedied. I consider that this bill effectively disposes of all objection on that score. To enable a majority of either House of Parliament to disallow regulations to the extent envisaged in the amendment would be to take the power out of the hands of the Executive, as it is constituted to-day, and, to make the Parliament itself the Executive. If that be not so, then this amendment has no meaning. This bill leaves undisturbed the rightof any honorable senator to give notice within fifteen sitting days of the making of any regulation of his intention to move for its disallowance, and. I offer the opinion that if any regulation were made which affected the trade and commerce of this country, it would very promptly be brought before the notice of one or both branches of the Legislature, and appropriate action would be taken. As a matter of practical politics, the amendment is impossible; even the proposal made by Mr. Homburg is not within the realm of practical politics.
– In spite of what has been said, the voting on the various amendments has been sincere. I regret that I have had to disagree with my Leader, Senator Collings, but these matters are non-party, and I am a member of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. The votes I have recorded this afternoon has been in accordance with the conclusions that I have reached after listening to the debate. I do not like retrospective legislation, and as a member of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, I like to think that all regulations are put before it, and that everything is in order so that members can know fully what has been done. I have supported other members of that committee on previous occasions, but I think that Senator Duncan-Hughes has gone too far in moving an amendment designed to remove the limit of fifteen sitting days on the time within which action to disallow regulations must be started.
– The honorable senator is entitled to his own opinions and to vote as he likes.
– I shall vote on this matter according to my conviction. With regard to the waterside workers’ regulations, although I was not a member of this chamberat the time, I felt that it was ridiculous for the Government to be making regulations only to have them disallowed by the majority in this chamber. It was a case of the dog chasing its tail. In such matters, the Government should have the deciding voice.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
General business taking precedence at 8 p.m.,
Debate resumed from the 17th Sep tember (vide page 228), on motion by Senator Abbott -
That in order to encourage the breaking down of barriers and in the interests of mutual understanding and peace among the nations of the world, and to permit full use of the invention of wireless and enable the foundation of an international public opinion and literature -
It is imperative that a means of international thought exchange be established by a common language agreed upon in conference of the nations - such language to be compulsorily taught in their respective primary and secondary schools.
For this purpose this Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia urges that the nations,be invited by His Most Gracious Majesty the King to send their representatives to a world convention.
That this resolution be conveyed to His Excellency the Governor-General for submission to His Majesty with the humble prayer of this Senate that action be taken accordingly.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [8.0]. - Everybody must agree that international peace is to be most ardently desired. Therefore, on this motion to enlarge upon the glories of peace and the horrors of war would be, I suggest, not to approach the “subject in the right way. The question which we should ask ourselves is this : Would the carrying of the motion be a practical step in the direction of universal peace? This Government earnestly desires to support every movement of a practical nature that is likely to lead to peace. It strongly supports the League of Nations and every movement having for its object the attainment of peace in a world that is now distracted by fear of war. Everybody in this generation knows something of the disastrous effects of the Great War, which will not be forgotten by any living person who was old enough to appreciate its horrors. The general desire for peace by the people of every country may be taken for granted. Our concern should be the adoption of practical means for its attainment.
Having said this, I invite honorable senators to consider if the adoption of a common language would, as is suggested in the motion, be a guarantee of peace? I remind them that before the Great War the most sanguinary conflict in history was, I suppose, the American Civil War - a struggle between peoples largely Anglo-Saxon in origin and all speaking the English language. At the present time a disastrous war is being raged in Spain between people speaking a common tongue. These two tragic occurrences in history prove conclusively, I should think, that a common language is not a guarantee of peace.
I submit also that language is not the only element in the differences between nations. The elements of religion, race, and national customs affect national character and thought just as vitally as does language. Withso many urgent questions awaiting solution upon which it seems almost impossible to have agreement, is it likely that agreement will be reached in respect of a proposal which. I submit, is prima facie impracticable?
Let us consider for a moment the problems that beset the citizens of all nations, and upon which it seems impossible to get accord. I need mention only some of these minor difficulties - the reform of the calendar, the suppression of the drug traffic, the Geneva Red Cross Conventions, and the prohibition of the use of poison gas. There have been many attempts to reach international agreement upon these subjects. Yet it is now proposed to summon a world convention to consider a proposal much more difficult of achievement than any of those which I have mentioned and upon which there appears to be little hope of reaching agreement. Having in mind these facts, I feel certain that the proposed convention would not arrive at an agreement upon this issue. Is it conceivable tha t use of the German language would be acceptable to the people of France? It is extremely unlikely that many nations would adopt English as the common medium. Therefore, the adoption of some neutral language would seem to be inevitable, and I suggest that even in Australia such a proposal would be extremely unpopular.
Senator Sampson. - Why?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.I assure the honorable senator that I fully understand all that it means. That is the reason for my intervention in the debate at this stage.
As is well known, there have been numerous attempts to secure the adoption of a synthetic international language, such as Esperanto, and Ido. Many such languages have been invented and vigorously promulgated by excellent organizations, but all have failed to make substantial headway. I have said that an attempt to introduce a synthetic language such as Esperanto would be unpopular in Australia. I hold this view, because at one time there was published in this country an Esperanto journal known as La Suda Kruco. After an existence of thirteen years it ceased publication in October, 1934, and in its last editorial headed Morituri te salutant, it stated that the journal had come to an end through insufficient support.
Basic English seems to have more chance of adoption, because it represents a simplification of the English language into not more than 850 elementary words. Text-books and numerous articles com mending it have recently been written in basic English. Almost without exception these books are remarkable for their clarity of expression and elegance of style. H. G. Wells, in The Shape of Things to Come, predicts that: - “One unlooked for development in the 100 years between 2,000 and 2,100 was the way in which basic English became, in that short time, a common language for use between nations . . by, 2,020 almost everyone was able to make use of basic for talking and writing. “
This distinguished writer, whose prophetic vision is evidenced in so many of his works, this optimist of the optimists, forecasts that by the year 2,020 basic English may be in universal use! Humanitarian ideas, such as the adoption of a universal language, and proposals in general for the growth of goodwill between peoples, are extremely slow in evolution. During the war it was widely believed that armaments in a highly developed industrial world created suspicion, tension and conflict. Accordingly, the framers of the covenant of the League of Nations, believed that a proposal for the gradual disarmament of the nations offered the best chances of universal peace ; but despite provision in the covenant and exhaustive examination over a period of years, the scheme for disarmament utterly collapsed and we are further from that ideal than ever before.
Although it might be conceded that a universal language -would lead to a mutual understanding of international difficulties, and help to bring about peace among the peoples of the world, it does not follow that it would ever be acceptable. Nevertheless it is reasuring to know that the British conception of freedom of thought, British principles of justice, and British efforts in the cause of peace are gaining recognition despite the formidable barriers presented by certain forms of totalitarian government. In the same way the English language, by its inherent merit and comparative simplicity, is making headway, and is fast superseding French as the diplomatic language, particularly in Asia. English commercial terms and practices are now adopted in all parts of the world, and with the almost universal adoption of English as a language of intercourse in the
East, the adoption by a section of the British people of this motion would be a matter for regret because it might jeopardize the acceptance of our own tongue as the universal language. Honorable senators may have seen a report in the press of the 23rd September that English is to replace German as the most widely taught language in Russia. Among the inherent merits mentioned is that English is a blend of Germanic syntax and Latin vocabulary such as is offered by no other European language. An added difficulty in the case of many countries is that several languages are spoken by different sections of the one people. The element of national pride must also be taken into consideration. Language is an outward and visible sign of a people’s cultural, moral and psychological development. Even if the Senate felt that a universal language should be advocated on the ground that it is an ideal worth trying, it is extremely questionable whether an address to His Majesty would be the correct procedure. Such an address would be referred by the King to his responsible advisers - in this case the Commonwealth Government, which could not support the proposal. If honorable senators are in favour of the general principles underlying this motion, the proper procedure would be for the President of the Senate to forward the proposal to the Secretary-General of the League of Nations for submission to the Committee of International Intellectual Co-operation which is responsible for the consideration of questions of this nature. Should the proposal command support from other countries it will be placed on the agenda-paper for discussion at the assembly. If sufficient support is then forthcoming any resolution for implementing the principle or a proposal for an international conference to discuss the subject would be referred to individual governments.
I ask honorable senators to contemplate what would happen if we did as we are invited to do. We are expected to ignore the League of Nations, and to ask for the appointment of a world-wide convention. What would such a convention do, even if it were summoned? Obviously, one of its first actions would be to appoint a committee to consider the language to be adopted, and how such a language could be made universal. It would have to provide a cumbersome system when the necessary machinery is already in existence. Because “of that I. suggested to the honorable senator when he moved the motion originally that the proper body to approach was the League of Nations.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.That does not effect the advice I gave to the honorable senator. I again remind him that an organization which is almost world-wide is already dealing with similar subjects. I. suggest that the motion be amended by omitting paragraphs 2 and 3, and submitting in lieu thereof the following paragraph: -
That thePresident of the Senate be requested to forward this resolution with a request that it be referred to the Committee of the League on International Intellectual Co-operation for consideration.
I am informed that similar action has been taken in connexion with other matters. Organizations submit to the League for consideration, proposals which are not sponsored by governments, and the League refers them to appropriate committees. The motion in its present form will lead to a dead end, because it is practically asking the Government to sponsor it. I submit, with all respect, that the Government cannot do so.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE..Not in specific terms, but the constitutional effect of the motion is that the Government is to sponsor it.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE If an address is presented to His Majesty, the King refers it to his advisers. In this case advice would be sought from the Commonwealth Government. The Government feels that it cannot sponsor the motion, because it considers that the scheme is impracticable. In view of the fact that the League of Nations exists, the summoning of a world-wide convention is unnecessary.
– I join with other honorable senators in congratulating Senator Abbott upon the energy and enthusiasm he has displayed in submitting this motion to the Senate. I am sure that the honorable senator is the last one to ignore history, which records that right down through the ages a common tongue has not prevented war. Many reforms, once considered impracticable, have since been adopted. We revere our own language and would resent any suggestion that it be taken from us. I do not know what would be done with prohibited migrants if the present multiplicity of languages were abolished, and a common tongue substituted. Under the language test the authorities could no longer prohibit migrants, such as Hen Kisch, from landing in Australia if my mother tongue were treated as a foreign and dead language. In Ireland to-day there is a strong movement to eschew the English language and to revert to the mother tongue of the Celt. There is no urgent necessity to adopt a common language; rather is there need to engage the nations in a discussion of its desirability. The Leader of the Senate has clearly indicated the attitude which would be adopted should a majority favour the motion. After all; we have at hand an instrument of potential peace, and whatever shocks that organization has received in the immediate past it is still the only definite instrument functioning in the interests of real world peace. Major nations may break away, return to the fold and break away again, but ‘ the whole structure is working in the interests of universal peace. I believe that the League of Nations will continue to function and extend its influence throughout the world. I do not doubt the sincerity of Senator Abbott in suggesting a method by which this motion should be placed before the world. Many races have a decided opposition to anything British. We wish to give this motion a reasonable chance of being carried, and to take steps towards bringing it to fruition without any suspicion of trying to introduce basic English. We should, therefore, be careful of the form in which the motion leaves this chamber. Those nations which are not now full members of the League still have representatives on many of its important committees. The Australian representative at the recent International Labour Conference at Geneva has just returned to this country. During his absence abroad he was in collaboration with representatives of the United States of America, Germany, Japan, and other countries which do not ally themselves with the principal policy of the League of Nations. It is not right to suggest that we should forward a resolution of this Senate to some weak-kneed organization not representative of the comity of nations. To obtain the best possible results from his long months of painstaking work, Senator Abbott should take steps to see that his motion is not presented to the world as the opinion of one single nation. The matter should be referred to the Assembly of the League of Nations; this neutral organization could arrange for the discussion, of the need for a. common language, which, I agree with Senator Abbott, if adopted, would go a long way towards bringing about universal peace. I submit that Senator Abbott would be well advised to have his efforts consummated through some neutral avenue which would be free from any suggestion of nationalistic prejudice; therefore, I move -
That paragraphs (2) and (3) be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following paragraph: “ (2) That the President of the Senate be requested to forward this resolution of the Senate to the League of Nations with a request that ft be referred to the Committee of the League on International Intellectual Cooperation for consideration.”
– Honorable senators will agree that a great part of the speech of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) was directed towards the amendment, which he himself suggested, and which had been circulated in his name. I shall confine my remarks at the outset to one or two either uninformed, or perhaps reckless, statements made by tho right honorable senator with regard to this matter. In suggesting his amendment as providing a better means of securing the objective, tho right honorable gentleman told the Senate that, if tho motion were carried in tho form in which I have placed it on the businesspaper, after being sent to the Secretary of State for the Dominions, through His Excellency the Governor-General, it would bo returned to the Commonwealth Government as His Majesty’s adviser. I draw Ihe attention of the right honorable gentleman to the opinions on that subject expressed by one who is regarded as a high authority on dominion government and British political institutions. Keith, is the second edition of Responsible Government in the Dominions-
– That edition was published before the Statute of Westminster was passed.
– It was published in 1988. Does the Leader of the Senate suggest that the decisions of the Imperial Conference of 1926 alter the procedure in relation to this matter! Oan the right honorable gentleman produce any authority for such a statement? Even in the index, under the heading “King, His Majesty,” Keith says -
Can only be advised through Imperial Ministers, through whose hands dominion recommendations must pass.
I think it will be found to be laid down by this and other authorities, that the Imperial Cabinet is the only cabinet which can advise His Majesty the King. The Minister’s statement is wrong, as a statement of constitutional law.
– The honorable senator is quite wrong. In connexion with the appointment of the GovernorGeneral, the announcement stated that the King had acted on the advice of his Australian Prime Minister.
– That is so in matters affecting Australia. A perusal of the publication to which I have referred will bring that fact to tho minds of honorable senators. I refer particularly to pages 910 and 1228. At the latter page, Keith says -
Consequently, it would not be in accordance with constitutional practice for advice to be tendered to His Majesty by His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain in any matter appertaining to the affairs of a dominion . . .
What the right honorable gentleman said is perfectly correct so far as it applies to our own affairs, but this motion does not deal with affairs which are primarily the responsibility of the Government of tho Commonwealth. On the contrary, it deals with an international matter affecting the people of the world. May, whose opinions will not be taken lightly in any parliament throughout the British Empire, has laid it down that either House of the British Parliament has a right to present either an address or a resolution to His Majesty as an expression of its opinion, and such action does not commit the Government. There is nothing to suggest that the Government is asked to sponsor my motion. It is true, as the Leader of the Senate has said, that he suggested that I should alter my original motion, which stood in almost exactly its present form; indeed, he enthusiastically drafted the alteration. I have it in his own handwriting. If that was done in a spirit of friendship, I appreciate the help of the right honorable gentleman, but lately I have had some reason to doubt his intentions in regard to this motion. It has been on the notice-paper for about fifteen months, and it is time that the Senate dealt with it in one way or another.
When I discussed this matter with the Leader of the Senate some time ago he suggested that the resolution should be sent to the general Assembly of the League of Nations, and his suggested amendment provided that it should invite the co-operation of the Prime Minister of Australia and the governments of the the British Dominions, India, and Great Britain; they were to be invited to co-operate by instructing their delegates to support the proposal at the general Assembly of the League of Nations. But when the motion, as amended in accordance with his suggestions, came up for further consideration, he said that be could not support it. I am a great believer in the League of Nations, and I want to see it flourish and achieve its objective of bringing about peace among the nations. But the Leader of the Senate, by his attitude to-night, is merely side-tracking my motion. I certainly shall not agree to that, nor will the Senate, if I know anything of its temper
Now the right honorable gentleman wants to refer the motion, not to the general Assembly, as he originally proposed, bitt to a subsidiary committee of the League of Nations, which is gradually losing some of its most prominent members. In the cable published in the press to-day, honorable senators will have read that one of the great European nations has withdrawn its sympathies from, and adherence to, the League. Is it suggested that this is the way to approach the people of Germany, Italy, Japan, or America? If I were to attempt to answer the contentions of the right honorable gentleman, I should probably not be in order.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynoh). - The honorable senator will be in order in discussing the merits of the amendment.
– So far from this being a futile suggestion, as some honorable senators have said, I point out that it has the support of some of the great minds of the world. Perhaps these inferior intellects are merely misguided fellows like the one who has the temerity to ask the Senate to carry thi3 motion and to suggest that he who exercises the greatest influence for peace in the world to-day - I refer to King Edward VIII. of England) - rather than the League of Nations in its present depleted state, should call the nations together. In no circumstances can I accept the amendment, and I invite the Senate emphatically to reject it.
.- The Senate is to be complimented on the high plane on which this motion has been debated, and I hope that I shall not depart from the standard which other honorable senators have set. Nevertheless, I confess that I have not been able to follow the movements of other senators towards the “empyreal blue” and cannot share their altruistic fervor. If I attempted to do so, I am afraid that I would suffer from spiritual vertigo. The climax came when Senator Sampson referred to a big black Matabele “ nigger “, who, he said, was, like Gunga Din, “ white, clean white inside “, and I thought that there were only two things left for an honorable senator to do. To save himself he could either apply the cold lamp of reason to the proposal, or he could burst into tears. I did not know how you, Mr. President, would treat a senator in tears, so I chose the other alternative. There are three grave reasons why the motion should not be agreed to in its present form, if at all. The first is that the proposal is not novel. It has been tried and found wanting. Secondly, instead of bringing about peace and understanding among the nations, it would have the very opposite effect. As a convenience for travellers, a common language would have some advantages, but as an assistance to culture it would not be worth anything at all.
– What about Mr. Fisk’s remarks concerning wireless?
– I shall deal with that subject presently. If bv culture such things as music and painting are meant, I reply that music is already a universal language, as also is art. As to literature, I maintain that a common language would be of no help to the literature of the nations. Does any honorable senator know of any great book, with the excep- tion of the Bible, that has been adequately translated into another language?
– “What about the works of Balzac, and Dumas?
– They are not so good in English as in French. and I have read them in both languages.
– There will be new books in the common language.
– Does the honorable’ senator think that any great work will be written in a language other than the author’s mother tongue ? People think in their mother tongue.
– Not in the year 2000.
– I am thinking of the danger of a common language at the present time. If this motion be agreed to, honorable senators will be likened to a lot of Rip Van Winkles - men who have just awakened to the fact that the world might have a common language. As Senator Duncan-Hughes pointed out, Latin was for centuries the common lan- guage of the whole of the civilized world; ut did the common language bring peace and understanding to the peoples of that time? No; they fought as hard and as bitterly then as in later years. Do honorable senators, who imagine that a common language would encourage a better understanding among the nations, think that it would be good for the peoples of all nations to be able to read the vituperative statements against Britishers which appear almost daily in the newspapers of some countries? Would the knowledge that such things were being published make for peace? If a German or a Russian curses me in German, or Russian, I reply : “ I hope that it will be a better day to-morrow,” but if an Irishman curses me, I know that he is cursing me, and I curse him in return. With a common language we should find the peoples of one nation cursing those of other nations. I assure honorable senators that there is not much love for the British nation among the other nations of the world.
– The honorable senator has been keeping bad company.
– No; I am trying to exercise the common sense with which I have been endowed. I believe that the only persons who would benefit from a common language would be travellers.
– Would it not assist trade relations - if the nations still want to trade?
– Money is the universal language of traders. Reference has been made to broadcasting, but do honorable senators think that peace and understanding among the nations of the world would be furthered by the broadcasting of a common language?
– What did Mr. Fisk say?
– The honorable senator quoted some of his remarks, but Mr. Fisk is altogether mistaken. He is almost as mistaken as is Senator Abbott. If the Senate carries the proposal of Senator Abbott, the great mass of the Australian people will laugh heartily tomorrow when they reflect that the elected of the nation are of the opinion that, by means of a synthetic language, peace and understanding among the nations will be achieved. I know that my speech this evening will be misunderstood, but I am firmly convinced that the establishment of a common language would constitute a grave menace to the peace of the world because, by means of broadcasting, pernicious propaganda would be circulated, setting nation against nation.
– We have that now.
– The position would be worse in the event of war. A common language would provide one nation with an effective means of undermining the morale of another nation. Prom Russia and Germany, propaganda is already being broadcast in English. How much more dangerous would the position be if the broadcast addresses were understood by the peoples of all nations! The idea of the honorable senator is the result of wrong thinking. But even if he be right, and the establishment of a common language would bring about a better understanding among the nations, I submit that the mover of of the motion has chosen the right way to defeat his purpose.
– What does the honorable senator suggest?
– For the Englishspeaking people of the world to submit a proposal of this kind is practically to kill it.
– Would the honorable senator send it to the Shah of Persia?
– I should prefer to send it to the Labour party room in the hope that those there would not talk in so many tongues as they do now. I am sorry to have to oppose what appears to be the view of the majority of the Senate.
– The honorable senator has demonstrated the need for a better understanding in this Chamber.
– I am trying to convince honorable senators that there are two sides to this subject. Some honorable senators have been carried away by an excess of altruism. That peace which we all desire cannot be achieved by a proposal such as that now before the Senate.
– We can give it a trial.
– I am sorry to speak in this way, for I admire the enthusiasm of Senator Abbott in this matter; but I cannot but believe that his arguments are based on false premises. Instead of tending towards establishing universal peace and understanding among the nations of the world, I believe that the adoption of a common language would have the opposite effect. And even if it were true that a common language would lead to peace and understanding, the procedure which has been adopted would defeat the honorable senator’s object. I should like to see Senator Abbott, instead of trying to induce the Senate to embark upon something foolish, to give his enthusiasm to the movements for spreading of the use of Esperanto or basic English. Both, especially basic English, are making progress all over the world.
– How could either be obtained as a universal language unless a world convention were held?
– The use of Esperanto has been increasing for many years, and many conferences representing all nations have been held in relation to it. From the little examination I have made of basic English, I believe that it is the best of the synthetic languages. Its weakness, however, lies in the fact that it is basic English, and the hostility of the nations of the world to anything that is English prevents it from being more widely used. As a matter of fact, the fact that the language is derived from English is almost enough to kill it. I remind Senator Abbott, also, that the nations of the world could not be forced to use a synthetic language. I believe that the Senate should not pass this motion. Instead of a universal language being a blessing, it would be a curse; it would be a grave danger in time of war, and, far from increasing- culture, it would lessen it.
– On the two occasions on which this motion has been debated, some fine speeches have been made for and against it; but I am not nearly so sanguine as to the results which would attend an international conference on the subject of a universal language, as some honorable senators appear to be. I see many difficulties in the way. Perhaps I have not the profound respect for philosophers, professors and scientific men I should have, and I am inclined to support Senator Arkins’s view, that anything that is to be of any use in this world needs a mixture of the academic and the practical. I am reminded of the story of a man in America who, when opening a hide and skin store, decided as a novel advertisement to place calves’ tails through two or three holes over the front door of his store. On the following morning he found a man gazing with interest at the sight, and asked him if he were interested in the nature of the business, and if he were a farmer. “ No,” replied the man, “I am a philosopher, and I am wondering how the calves got through those holes.” We sometimes are prone to forget the practical while speculating on theories - to soar above earthly levels in seeking to attain the almost unattainable. In my opinion, a universal language would not be an effective contribution towards the peace of the world. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) cited wars which have occurred between peoples who speak the one tongue. He instanced the American civil war, and the civil war which is raging to-day in Spain, and he might have cited, also, the French revolution. I am informed on the best of authority that Great Britain is controlling India to-day almost entirely through the hatred which exists between the two main castes of Indian people. Each caste is always prepared to support the Government against the other, and this enables a handful of Englishmen in the garrisons to control the vast Indian empire. If honorable senators require another example of the fact that a common language does not make for peace, it is provided by Ireland. The Irishmen speak but one language, but internal peace and brotherhood are by no means assured in their land. It has been stated in this chamber that a universal language would enable the doctrine of international peace to be disseminated by wireless broadcasting. I was struck by the remarks of Senator Millen when he very forcibly pointed out that not only could a universal language be employed for broadcasting messages of peace and goodwill, but also for purposes of the very opposite nature. Furthermore, the existing methods of broadcasting programmes would have to be revolutionized. In Australia to-day broadcasting provides nothing for the man outback who really needs it, except ten or fifteen minutes of news each day; beyond that, most of the matter which is broadcast comes from gramophone records. The Leader of the Senate declared that, if earned, in its original form, the motion would have to come back to this chamber before it reached its final destination. I have no reason to doubt that, but the Senate has been assured by Senator Abbott that this motion could be despatched directly to the King. Of course, we would have no control of its course subsequently. The fact should be remembered, that efforts to establish a universal language have been made before and have failed.
– Where? What we are pressing for to-night has never been tried.
– Esperanto and basic English are examples of the failure of similar movemen ts. It is sometimes wise, if you fail at first, to try again, and, as I am sincere in my desire to do everything possible towards the maintenance of world peace, I am prepared to support the motion.
– I feel that an auxiliary language for universal usage is essential to that common understanding among nations that may ensure universal peace. Basic English may provide this universal language. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) made quotations from that wonderful work, The Shape of Things toCome, by H. G. Wells, in which the author foresees the state of the world in the year 2020. Senator Pearce described the author as a visionary, and said that the adoption and use of a universal language, even if it be basic English, would take a great number of years. Mr. Wells forecasts that, a century hence, the hundreds of millions of people of the world will be employing a universal tongue. To-day, those people are talking hundreds of tongues. There is nothing out of perspective in Wells’s vision, and if that great thinker believes that all the wonderful things which he forecasts in his book shall come to pass within a hundred years, it is not too much for us to expect that a common language is within the realm of attainment within a very much shorter space of time.
– The honorable senator, having spoken to the original motion, must now confine his remarks to the amendment, which is to refer the subject-matter of the motion to the League of Nations.
– I shall obey your ruling, Mr. President. Senator Abbott believes that the better plan is to transmit the motion to His Majesty the King, who will be invited to summon a world convention. The Leader of the Senate to-night suggested that a better method would be to send it to a special committee of the League of Nations, as this course would not hamper the acceptance of basic English as the universal language. I agree with that view, and remind the Senate that we shall start with the enormous advantage of 500,000,000 people who use some form of English for commercial or governmental intercourse. Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, and numerous other leading thinkers of the British Empire are firmly convinced that basic English will one day be the common language of mankind. Leading thinkers in Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Czechoslovakia and other countries are equally convinced that basic English will one day be the auxiliary language for the people of the world. It should, however, be remembered that the common language will be an auxiliary language; that is to say, it will dovetail in with the languages of the various nations without in any way interfering with their ideals or traditions. Its sole purpose will be to enable people speaking diverse tongues to understand one another and in that way reach a common understanding of international difficulties. I am sorry that I cannot agree with Senator Abbott as to the course to be adopted. I am in entire agreement with his ideal, which is to do something in an attempt to bring about world peace, and, with him, [ believe that a universal language will be a step in that direction. I disagree with those who think that it will lead to conflict. It was urged by one honorable senator in the debate last Thursday evening that the use of a common tongue would not make for peace; that the attempt of the Communists, by means of broadcast addresses, to engender bitterness among the peoples of various nations would bo facilitated. It is possible, under existing conditions, for any person to broadcast propaganda addresses in any language, but all peoples are not able to understand him. “Would it not be better and would it not lead to a common understanding of international difficulties if it were possible for people to listen to broadcast addresses in some common tongue from leading thinkers, on so many of the problems that beset mankind?
It is true that the adoption of a common language would not be an absolute guarantee of peace. There have been, at various times, and in many countries, most sanguinary conflicts between people speaking a common tongue; we see an instance of that in Spain to-day. Not long ago, even in England, bitter struggles occurred between people speaking in the mass the same language. Not more than a century and a half ago people living in the various counties were unable to understand one another. Even so recently as 25 years ago Yorkshire newspapers, having a wide circulation, were printed in a dialect which could not be understood by other than the people of that county. It would be a good thing if people were able to speak to one another in a common tongue and so understand each others views on vital problems. Consider the position of the League of Nations. The meeting of the assembly brings together the leading statesmen and diplomats. The absence of a common language has to be met by the employment of interpreters and the use of modern mechanical devices. Would it not be better if their deliberations were conducted in a universal auxiliary language?
I say this because of my experience with many people in this country who a few years ago spoke a foreign language. To-day they use the English language. Some of them are my best friends, because I have been able to speak to them in my tongue and I have learned to appreciate their outlook. But, as I have said, a common language will not necessarily lead to a complete understanding of all our difficulties. We have evidence of this in this country. Wo speak a common tongue, but in the sphere of politics, for example, we fail sometimes to understand one another. Even in the home there are occasional disagreements; but we should not lose sight of the ideal underlying the motion. We should do all that lies in our power to forward any movement that will lead to man’s understanding of man. If we do this I believe that we shall get nearer to the realization of what our civilization should mean, namely, that we should be able to live together as a common brotherhood at peace with one another. When that idea is realized the world will be a better place for all.
– I join with other honorable senators in commending Senator Abbott for having submitted the motion. Every one who, in this distracted world, when the nations seems to be advancing slowly or rapidly as the case may be to war without any one being able to say that any particular man or country is to blame, raises his voice to plead for peace does good ser- vice to civilization. With the underlying motive of the motion we have no quarrel whatever. Probably most of us will agree with the motion as it stands. We concede that a common language would be a tie amongst the nations but, as was pointed out by the Leader of the Senate to-night and by Senator Foll a week ago, that tie is not strong enough to prevent conflict. It did not, for instance, prevent the French Revolution at the end of the 18th century, or the war of independence in the United States of America, about the same time, nor did it prevent the American civil war in the last century or the present conflict in Spain, which comes at a time most inopportune for any one who has to maintain the proposition that a common language is a definite safeguard against war.
Even if it were true that a common language would make for peace, does it follow that what the Leader of the Senate describedas a synthetic language would necessarily be an agency for accord among the nations ? We speak of “ our mother tongue “. In itself that is a term of endearment. But will any person affirm with enthusiasm that a synthetic language which, as Senator Leckie has said, may be useful for the purpose of commerce, would be a useful agency for cultivating say, blood warmth between the peoples speaking it?
The attainment of universal peace is an ideal. It was looked forward to in the middle of last century by Tennyson who spoke of the day when - the war drums throbbed no longer, and the battle flags were furled
Inthe Parliament of man, the federation of the world.
That is the view of the idealist. But the means by which universal peace is to be established come into the realm of reality. One may sympathize with the ideal of universal peace, whilst being sceptical concerning the means suggested for attaining it. Thus, with other honorable senators I commend Senator Abbott for submitting his motion, but I deprecate the attack which he made upon the Leader of the Senate to-night. I think the honorable senator will concede that my Leader is as anxious as he is for universal peace.
– I never questioned the right honorable gentleman’s sincere desire for peace.
– Then the only question at issue is the procedure to be adopted to implement the motion. I agree with the views expressed by my Leader as to the constitutional position. If the motion is adopted in its present form it will be sent to His Majesty the King and, in my. opinion, it will be returned to the Commonwealth Government for advice. I invite the attention of the mover to the second paragraph, which reads -
For this purpose this Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia urges that the nations be invited by His Most Gracious Majesty the King to send their representatives to a world convention.
It will be noted that the motion is silent as to the manner in which this matter is to be brought before His Majesty. It asks that the nations be invited by His Majesty to take certain action. It does not indicate who shall adviseHis Majesty to do this.
– I indicated that in my speech.
– But the motion itself does not deal with the procedure. It merely asks that the resolution be conveyed to His Majesty. If it is forwarded from the Governor-General as a resolution he will be asked to seek the opinion of his advisers on the subject.
– That is not in accordance with the practice outlined in Keith.
– The honorable Senator quoted from a volume on the relations between the Mother Country and the dominions which is completely out of date. Those relations were entirely altered at the Imperial Conference in 1928 and the following war. On matters of dominions policy the King is guided entirely by his Dominions advisers.
– On matters of dominions policy !
– I remind the honorable senator that this is not a subject over which we should become excited. We should not, as Samuel Lover said, “fight like devils for conciliation.” If a resolution is forwarded by the Governor-General to His Majesty it must be returned to His Excellency’s advisers in Australia, and their advice sought. His Majesty would not take any action until he had received advice through, the Governor-General. I agree with the Leader of the Senate that it would be embarrassing if the resolution were passed in its present form, and the Senate would be wise to accept the amendment proposed by Senator Allan MacDonald. That would prevent us when discussing universal peace from exhibiting discord amongst ourselves.
– The Assistant Minister’s suggestion is that the motion should be amended so that it will be in a form which the Government said earlier it could not support.
– Not the Government.
– It has taken the Government fifteen months to make even the proposal that it has suggested tonight.
– I trust that Senator Abbott will accept the amendment suggested by Senator Allan MacDonald, which seems a via media that we should adopt.
– I congratulate Senator Abbott upon the eloquence and fervour lie displayed in moving the motion now before the Senate. According to the speeches already delivered on the subject, a majority of honorable senators supports the principle, but some do not approve of the method proposed. No one denies that in order to remove the prejudices, jealousies and animosities which exist today a better understanding between the nations of the world is desirable. The main question involved is whether the adoption of a universal language would be beneficial or detrimental to the world generally. I believe that a universal language would assist to mako the world a far better and happier place than it is to-day. Senator Leckie said that the adoption of a common language would be the means of promoting animosity and that, in time of war, this danger would inevitably be greater than it is to-day. If the nations would agree to the adoption of a common language, the jealousies, prejudices and animosities prevalent to-day would be removed, and the possibility of war reduced. The honorable senator then proceeded to show that pre vious attempts in this direction had always failed; but that should not deter us from advocating something which may eventually benefit the whole world. Mr. Henry Ford said that he regarded failure as nothing more than the stepping-off place for ultimate success. I do not consider that this subject is of such magnitude that the Senate should hesitate to deal with it.
I was very interested in the remarks of Senator Millen, who referred to the dangers that would accrue in India if a universal language were adopted in that country. Although I respect the honorable senator’s opinions and ability, his conclusions were purely assumptions. Following upon the British conquest of Canada in 1763, a measure of self-government was provided. Owing to racial differences, the problem of government was exceedingly difficult, and the British Government, in 1791, in its desire to overcome the trouble, passed the Constitution Act, which divided Canada into two sections - the upper and the lower. Each portion was given its own Parliament, with power to make its own laws. Each taught its own language in its schools. In the upper portion English was spoken, and in the southern French was the national language. This resulted in confusion and chaos, and the prejudices, jealousies and animosities mentioned by Senator Leckie increased, because the people did .not understand thoroughly each others’ views. Danger could be seen on the horizon, and after about 50 years under that form of government Lord Durham, an eminent English authority, was sent to Canada as Governor. During his term of office he prepared a masterly report on the state of affairs in Canada, in which he informed the British Government that the only way in which to overcome the difficulty would be to remove the two governments and to set up one constituted authority. The Union Act, which was passed in 1840, provided that one parliament should govern both sections. Each was to have equal representation in Parliament. Thi9 constitutional change laid the foundation for a common language. A few years later the Union Parliament even spoke of federation. Later, the
British. North America Act was passed, under which the two portions of Canada, which previously had been in open conflict, were brought together, with. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the one dominion; later Prince Edward Island was added. Who will say that Canada did not speak with one voice in 1914, when the descendants of the French joined with the British in the one army ?
– Two languages are still spoken- in Canada.
– In 1914 the Dominion of Canada spoke and acted with one voice. That is a practical illustration of what has been achieved, and the Canadian situation should be compared with the difficulties which Senator Millen said would arise in India if a common language were spoken there. Senator Leckie also mentioned Australia. Though this continent is almost as large as Europe, ite people speak -with one voice. We have political differences, but we can appreciate each other’s point of view. As an illustration of this, I remind honorable senators that to-morrow we shall probably be asked to vote sums of money to certain States that are alleged to suffer disabilities. If a different language were spoken in each State of the Commonwealth, could we speak with one voice and work as harmoniously as we do at present? We could not. What is done in Australia and Canada would be done all over the world if the nations could be induced to adopt a universal language. National animosities, prejudices, and jealousies would gradually be removed, and with their removal would go the threat of war.
I am glad to know that an overwhelming majority of senators heartily endorse the objective which Senator Abbott seeks to achieve. The question which agitates the minds of honorable senators at the moment is as to what authority a resolution of the Senate should be addressed. Senator Allan MacDonald, in his amendment, suggests that it should, be sent to the League of Nations. The original motion provides that it should be forwarded to His Majesty the King. I see a difficulty in that. If, after receiving a resolution of this Senate, and after consultation with the Imperial Government, His Majesty calls an international conference or a convention to consider the matter, it is quite possible that Germany, Japan, and other nations may refuse to attend such a gathering. If that happened, the prestige of His Majesty the King would, I am afraid, suffer greatly. If, on the other hand, the resolution were sent on to the League of Nations, it could be discussed, not only by the Members of the League, but also by nations at present outside the League. If nations, whether inside or outside the League, refused to attend such a convention, there would be no loss of prestige on the part of the British Government or of His Majesty the King. For that reason, I think that the amendment should be agreed to, and I feel sure that, if the resolution were sent on to the League of Nations, the objective of the move would have much better prospects of success.
Senator Abbott is regarded by some as a dreamer. That, I think, is somewhat flattering, because almost everything worth while in the world has been conceived by people who were regarded as dreamers or visionaries. I do not think that such remarks will discourage Senator Abbott in the least. The honorable senator does not claim that the acceptance of his motion will do immediately everything to which he aspires. Honorable senators are at least unanimous in desiring to promote peace and a better understanding among the nations of the world, and those who are t opposed to the motion have not explained what means they would adopt to bring about such a desirable result. In conclusion, I join with other honorable senators in commending Senator Abbott for the idealism that has actuated him in bringing this motion before the Senate.
– At the outset may I say that I trust that I shall not give Senator Leckie spiritual vertigo or, myself, burst into tears. When I spoke on this subject last Thursday, I meant every word I said. I spoke with all sincerity, and if I were guilty of giving any honorable senator spiritual vertigo or of conveying the impression that I was about to burst into tears, I apologize. I spoke feelingly of a Matabele who was my friend. Whether a mau be black, yellow, brown, or brindle, if he gives his life for you, it is impossible to recall him to memory without betraying some emotion. The cheap sneer to which I was subjected by Senator Leckie rankles.
As to the amendment, which involves the consideration of which procedure has the better prospects of success, I am quite satisfied that if a resolution of this Senate is sent to the League of Nations, that will be the end of it; it will be safely stowed away in a pigeon-hole and we shall hear no more of it. I listened very carefully to the speech delivered by the Leader of the Government (Senator Pearce), but probably prepared by the Department of External Affairs. The right honorable gentleman suggested that if Senator Abbott’s motion were carried and a resolution were sent to His Majesty the King, His Majesty would return it to his advisers in Australia. Honorable senators may be quite sure from what they have heard to-night that it would then be decently or indecently interred. Apparently whatever we do we shall be up against a stone wall. I remind those who sneer at people who have dreams or visions, that I speak as one who has had six years’ experience of actual warfare - two years in the South African War and four years of active service in various parts of the world during the Great War. I know at first hand of the horrors of war and I am prepared to support any effort to obviate them. The objective of Senator Abbott may be regarded as idealistic; it may be a dream; no one contends that the adoption of a common language would guarantee peace throughout the world. But we do seriously suggest that if the nations adopted a common language which could be. taught to the rising generation, such a means of exchanging thought would be a powerful factor in promoting international understanding and goodwill. We are too old to learn a new language now and most of us here will never live to see its adoption but we can repose our faith in the children. I was very surprised that Senator Leckie, who is such a keen pro- tagonist of the manufacturers, was not keen on a. manufactured language. I think the Senate might quite well dismiss any fear that it might make itself ridiculous in the eyes of the world if it sent a resolution based on this motion to His Majesty the King. It is preposterous to suggest that His -Majesty would lose ‘prestige if some nations declined his invitation to be represented at a convention. Such a suggestion in relation to the head of the great British Commonwealth of Nations is childish. I hope that the amendment will not be carried, and that a resolution will be sent to His Majesty the King. It has been said that we should confine ourselves to practical things; but I remind honorable senators that all worthwhile things in this world, the things which give some people spiritual vertigo, were conceived in the minds of dreamers and idealists - men whose minds were not trammelled by considerations of pounds, shillings and pence and other material factors. I trust that the Senate -will agree to the motion.
– After I had spoken in opposition to this motion last Thursday night, I began to ask myself if there was not another side to be considered. On reflection, I came to the conclusion that the hope of the world lay in the Christian religion, and that a common language would provide a vehicle by which Christian teaching could be broadcast throughout the world if the churches so desired. Believing that universal peace would be promoted if the creed of the Founder of Christianity could be disseminated in speech that would be understood by all peoples, I have resolved to support the motion.
.- I should have thought that the amendment moved by Senator Allan MacDonald would have been accepted readily by Senator Abbott, because, as was pointed out by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) the League of Nations has the machinery already in existence for handling matters such as this. If the motion be carried in its original form, and an address sent to His Majesty the King, there must be some delay because of the procedure to be adopted, whereas if it were forwarded to the Committee on International Intellectual Cooperation it would possibly be placed on the agenda of that body within a few months. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings), I, and other members of this Parliament are members of the International Relations Committee in Brisbane, a body which is affiliated with the Committee on International Intellectual Co-operation. When in England last year I was asked by the Foreign Relations Committee of Brisbane to represent that body at the meeting of the Committee on International Intel1 lectual Co-operation in London. Unfortunately, the committee had been sitting for two or three days when I arrived. The committee which works all the year round, has a permanent secretariat. Representatives of the various nations meet either in London or elsewhere at least once a year. If a resolution of this Senate be forwarded to this committee, it is certain that the subject will be dealt with within seven or eight months from now, because that body usually meets in May or June each year. As the Leader of the Senate pointed out, it would be more practicable to send the resolution to the Committee, because it already has in existence the machinery necessary to deal with it. We should bear in mind that although Japan, the United States of America, and Germany have withdrawn from active participation in the counsels of the League of Nations, their delegates attend the various committees which deal with social questions, such as the white slave traffic, and the trade in opium and other drugs. Those nations sent delegates to the meeting in London of the Committee on International Intellectual Cooperation. Senator Abbott’s desire to get his proposal before the nations would be expedited if the amendment were agreed to, and, therefore, I urge him to accept it. I know that the honorable senator has a great admiration for that international committee.
– I admire the King more.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Senate divided. (President - Senator the Hon. P. j. Lynch.)
Question so resolvedin the negative.
Original question (Senator Abbott’s motion) - put. The Senate divided.
President - Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Sir George
Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Senator ABBOTT (New South Wales) (10.151.- If in the heat of the debate which nas just finished any hard knocks have been given, I trust that they will be taken by honorable senators as they would take them in a game of football.’ I have no feelings whatever against any honorable senator, and 1 sincerely thank the Senate for the wonderful reception that it has given to my motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The Senate adjourned at 10.17 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 September 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1936/19360924_senate_14_151/>.