15th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator theHon. J. B. Hayes) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Senate been directed to a statement made at the meeting of the Sydney County Council on the 1st November by Councillor Cramer, who, in discussing the proposed additional expenditure of £46,000 on the Bunnerong Power House, Sydney, said that the Council was merely making another target for enemy aeroplanes? Has the Minister’s attention also been drawn to a statement by Sir John Butters on the 2nd November that a single authority for the control of power sources and their distribution should be created ? Will the Minister, in the interests of national defence, and the security of established industries and transport, urge upon the Government the necessity for decentralizing power units, and when making additions to power units, taking into consideration the suitability of western New South Wales as a less vulnerable area, particularly as the cost of coal there would be reduced by one-half, owing to the saving of freight charges?
– My attention has been directed to the specific case to which the honorable senator has referred. Most of the undertakings which the honorable senator has in mind fall within the jurisdiction of the States ; but, from my personal contact with the Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) and my knowledge of his policy, I am sure that he will take all the factors mentioned into consideration. He has not overlooked the importance of the various activities of his department being carried on in localities which are the least exposed to enemy attack.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will he indicate which sections, if any, of the report of the Victorian Royal Commission on Industrial Life Assurance the Government intends to incorporate in its projected insurance bill?
SenatorFOLL. - The Treasurer has supplied the following answer: -
It is not the practice to announce, in answer to questions, the Government’s policy in respect of any projected legislation.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
When it introduces its projected insurance bill, will the Government print a memorandum showing a comparison of the provisions of the bill with those of the insurance bill that passed the Senate in 1930, in a manner similar to the memorandum that was circulated with the Patents and Trade Harks Bill, introduced in the House of Representatives in 1937?
SenatorFOLL. - The Treasurer has supplied the following answer : -
It is not considered that the value of a printed comparison between any legislative proposals which the Government may introduce and legislative proposals made years ago, which were not passed into law, would be sufficient to justify the expense involved.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
What amount has been drawn by way of salary, fees, and expenses by each member of the Commonwealth Bank Board during the last six years?
-The Treasurer has supplied the following answer: -
The matter has been referred to the Commonwealth Bank Board. A reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
What are the causes of the delay normally encountered in securing the issue of permits to enter Australia for foreign nationals nominated or vouched for by Australian citizens ?
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answer : -
Every application by a resident of Australia for permission to introduce an alien is dealt with on its merits after inquiries are made by the Commonwealth Investigation Branch as to the ability of the guarantor to honour his obligations and as to the prospects of the employment of the nominee without detriment to an Australian worker. These inquiries naturally take some time; but there has been an enormous increase of the number of applications received during recent months, and on that account also a certain amount of delay is inevitable.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
SenatorFOLL. - The Treasurer has supplied the following answer: - 1 and 2. So far as I am aware, no representations have been made by or on behalf of the aerial medical services for a rebate of tax on petrol. Experience in the past has shown that exemption from the tax in the case of petrol used for specific purposes is subject to such serious administrative difficulties as to render this course impracticable. Assistance has, however, been granted to the aerial medical services by way of a subsidy of £5,000 per annum.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
Richard Tauber’s Concerts
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answersto the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
What is the latest information available regarding the rabbit virus tests now being carried out on Wardang Island?
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answer : -
The second experiment on Wardang Island is still in progress, but it is too early yet to say whether the virus will be of use as an agent for the large-scale destruction of rabbits. The honorable senator can be assured that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will make a recommendation to the Government as soon as it is able to do so, and, if this recommendation is favorable, the necessary action will be taken without delay.
SenatorCLOTHIER asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice - .
Is the Prime Minister able to give an assurance that in considering methods of offering relieftothe wheat growers the Government will do nothing to prejudice industries which depend on wheat offal as their essential foodstuffs ?
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
Motion (by Senator Herbert Hats) agreed to -
That leave of absence for four weeks be granted to Senator Grant on account of illhealth.
Debate resumed from the 2nd November (vide page 1052), on motion by Senator Collings -
That the ruling of Mr. President that written notice was necessary in respect of a motion under Standing Order No. 04, and further that such notice should be given to the President before the meeting of the Senate, be dissented from.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes). - Before the debate on this motion is proceeded with, I should like to say that Standing Order 64 is somewhat indefinite, as is shown by the fact that the Senate recently referred it to the Standing Orders Committee for clarification. The report of the committee is now in the hands of the Senate. In the circumstances, I decided to follow the practice adopted in the past and gave my ruling in accordance with precedent. On the point under discussion, a former President, the late Sir Richard Baker, ruled -
When a senator wishes to move a motion under Standing Order 03 he ought, prior to its meeting, to furnish the President with a written statement of the matter of urgency.
Standing Order 63 mentioned in that ruling is now Standing Order 64. Senator Givens, a former President, also gave two rulings on the same subject. One was -
A senator cannot submit a motion for adjournment to enable him to discuss an urgent matter, if, prior to the meeting of the Senate he has not given notice of his intention to the Chair.
He also ruled -
A notice of intention to move the adjournment of the Senate under Standing Order (!4 is out of order when it is handed to the President after he has taken the chair, and it is not dated and signed.
– That given by the late Sir Richard Baker was between 1903 and 1906, and those given by Senator Givens were between 1913 and 1926.
– As I was not in in the chamber during those years, and few other honorable senators were, how were we to know that such rulings had been given?
– Bound copies of the rulings of past Presidents are on the table “of the Senate. The rulings I have cited have never been dissented from. I followed definite rulings on the subject given by past Presidents, and adopted the established practice. The Senate will now have an opportunity to discuss my ruling, but the procedure to be adopted iri future under Standing Order 64 can be decided finally when the report of the Standing Orders Committee is before the
Senate. I maintain that I was right in following the undisputed rulings of past Presidents.
.- In supporting the motion to dissent from your ruling, sir, I direct attention to the first portion of the motion -
That the ruling of Mr. President that written notice was necessary in respect of a motion under Standing Order No.64. . . .
I submit that the written notice was given.
– That is so.
SenatorKEANE. - I am confining my remarks to the second portion of the motion - and further that such notice should be given to the President before the meeting of the Senate.
Standing Order 64 reads -
A motion without notice, that the Senate at its rising adjourn to any day or hour other than that fixed for the next ordinary meeting of the Senate…
A motion was intended to be made without notice because the Leader of the Opposition was anxious to discuss a matter of urgency. That motion read -
That the Senate do now adjourn for the purpose of debating a matter of urgency, namely, the propriety of the action of the Government in proceeding with the business of this chamber while a motion is being debated in the House of Representatives to determine whether the Government enjoys the confidence of the said House.
A ruling was given by you, sir, which we are now challenging. The Standing Order gives an honorable senator the right to submit a motion “ without notice “ ; there is no provision that the terms of the motion shall be notified to you sir, prior to the meeting of the Senate. On the day on which the new senators were sworn in, a similar position arose. Senator Johnston and the Leader of the Opposition each wanted to move the adjournment of the Senate and each had handed to the President a statement in writing of the matter of urgency. It would appear from the precedents you have cited that all such statements have been required to be handed in before the meeting of the Senate. There is no doubt as to what has occurred in the past; but it is practically impossible for honorable senators, and particularly those who have recently been elected to this chamber, to. be au fait with all rulings which have been given in this chamber. Standing Order 64 has been considered by the Standing Orders Committee, and it is to be hoped that it will be so clarified that disputes as to its meaning will not arise in the future. That standing order provides that -
There is no indication when the statement in writing has to be handed in; if provision were made to cover that point, there would be no uncertainty in the matter. The Leader of the Opposition submitted his motion in writing, but he was in doubt as to whether it should be handed inbefore or after the meeting of the Senate. I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition handed in his notice of motion at the proper time. Yesterday yarn, sir, ruled that the motion was out of order, and dissent from your ruling was moved. “We do not suggest that your decision was in any way partial, but we believe that the point raised is of importance to the Senate, and that the action now being taken is in the ‘best interests of this chamber. I support the motion to dissent.
– I believe that your ruling, sir, was given in good faith; but it does not necessarily follow that it was in strict accordance with the standing order. The words “ motion without notice “ mean exactly what they say. They imply that a motion may be moved without previously informing any one of the action proposed to be taken. I believe that that interpretation of the Standing Orders wouldbe accepted by all competent authorities. You, sir, have stated that your ruling is in accordance with previous rulings, and I agree that it is, but that does not make it correct. We have no right to place upon the Standing Orders a construction that was never intended. The Standing Orders must be interpreted as they would be by competent authorities. When a ruling is challenged, the Standing Orders must be adhered to. If a procedure which is not in conformity with the Standing Orders is not challenged proceedings are more or less conducted under what are known colloquially as “Rafferty’s rules “. In such circumstances feelings are aroused and senators are prone to act contrary to their better judgment. Standing Orders have their origin in the practices, experiments and consultations of the past; they should represent the sum of parliamentary experience and once they are adopted they should not be departed from without the consent of honorable senators. I regret the position which has arisen at this juncture, but I feel that your ruling, Mr. President, should be challenged, other-‘ wise we should not know exactly where we stood should similar circumstances occur in the future. Allowance must be made for the fact that after all honorable senators are only members of this chamber temporarily; they come and go at election time. It is not fair that new senators, particularly those who have been accustomed to a very hard and exact school, should, after reading one thing in the Standing Orders, find out that in practice theStanding Orders are not invariably applied. This anomaly may suit the convenience of older members of the Senate who are fully aware of what might be termed the “ unwritten law “ in respect of the Standing Orders, which has been applied on this occasion to the detriment of honorable senators on this side. In order to avoid a repetition of the present position, I believe, Mr. President, that your ruling should be challenged. For that reason I support the motion.
SenatorE. B. JOHNSTON (Western Australia) [3.35]. - I support your ruling,Mr. President. I point out that the original motion proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Senatoi Colli ngs), apart from the precedents which you have quoted, does not comply precisely with Standing Order 64.
– A Daniel come to Judgment !
– I have had experience of a number of motions of this kind and, in compliance with the form prescribed in Standing Order 64, all of them have been framed to provide that the Senate at its rising shall adjourn to a particular day or hour other than that fixed for the next ordinary meeting of the Senate. The original motion pro posed by the Leader of the Opposition does not comply with that provision. It reads -
That the Senate do now adjourn for the purpose of debating a matter of urgency, namely, the propriety of the action of the Government in proceeding with the business of this chamber while a motion is being debated in the House of Representatives to determine whether the Government enjoys the confidence of the said House.
It is perfectly clear that in order to comply with Standing Order 64 the motion should have proposed that the Senate at its rising adjourn to a day or hour other than that fixed for the next ordinary meeting of the Senate. The motion, however, does not state any such day or hour.
– Until the debate now proceeding in the House of Representatives is concluded.
– The mistake on the part of the Leader of the Opposition is certainly regrettable. I have no doubt, however, Mr. President, that your ruling is correct.
– I support the motion. I suggest that in giving your ruling, sir, you should have informed honorable senators forthwith of the actual precedents on which you relied. It may be, for instance, that the rulings to which you have just referred were given in circumstances entirely different from the present. I trust that in future when rulings are given in similar circumstances the precedents on which the Chair relies will be immediately explained to honorable senators.
Senator Johnston submitted that in order to comply with Standing Order 64 the Leader of the Opposition in proposing his original motion, should have stated a day or hour for the adjournment other than that fixed for the next ordinary meeting of the Senate. Such a provision was impracticable in this instance, because the Leader of the Opposition wanted to secure the adjournment until the debate on the motion of want of confidence in the House of Representatives is concluded; as that debate is still proceeding no one is able to fix such a time. I cannot help feeling that whenever the Leader of the Opposition proposes to adopt a procedure which is not palatable to the Government, some obstruction is raised to defeat his purpose. It is all very well for the Leader of the Senate to smile, but it was very patent to me that when he urged the President yesterday to rule the motion out, of order he was seeking to delay the matter, because he thought that the Government did not then have sufficient numbers to defeat the motion. In fact the Leader of the Senate resorted to subterfuge in this connexion. I should not attempt to pit my knowledge as a layman against that of the Leader of the Senate who is a legal man, but J strongly object to his attempts to mislead honorable senators on this side on what is, after all, a technical detail of procedure. So far as I can see the Leader of the Opposition, in drafting his motion, conformed fully with Standing Order 64.
– This is, perhaps, a suitable time for me to say a few words on this matter.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. President. Did not the Leader of the Government make his speech yesterday on this motion?
– No. The position is that yesterday the Leader of the Opposition proposed this motion, and after it was seconded I ruled that the debate should be adjourned.
– Regarding the point raised by Senator Johnston-
– I rise to a point of order. I have the proof of yesterday’s Hansard here. It shows that the Postmaster-General did make a speech on the motion that your ruling be dissented from. The official record reads -
– I move - That the ruling of the President be dissented from.
I then gave reasons in support of my motion. Senator A. J. McLachlan then said -
In what way does the honorable senator’s action comply with the provision in Standing Order 04, “ at its rising adjourn to any day or hour other than that fixed for the next ordinary meeting of the Senate . . .?”
If that was not a speech, I should like to know what constitutes a speech. At the time I protested against the Minister’s attempt to jump ‘my claim.
– The report clearly shows that those remarks by the Minister were made before the Leader of the Opposition had finished his speech; therefore, they must have been by way of interjection.
– It is true that I had a few words across the chamber with the Leader of the Opposition, but I did not address myself to his motion. After Senator Collings had spoken, Senator Cunningham seconded the motion of dissent.
-Thereupon I informed the Senate that the matter must he adjourned until the next day of sitting unless the Senate decided on motion, without debate, that the question required immediate determination. When no honorable senator moved to that effect, I declared the debate adjourned until the next .day of sitting.
– I direct attention-
– I rise to a point of order. I refuse to allow any one to jump my claim. There is no denying the fact that yesterday I protested against the attempt of the Leader of the Senate to prejudice my case; but he was allowed to proceed. I shall read further from the official report of yesterday’s proceedings -
– I know that it has been done on one occasion before. The Standing Orders Committee has recommended that Standing Order No. G4 be amended.
– I rise to a point of order. The Leader of the Opposition proposes to move that the Senate do now adjourn for a particular purpose.
– I rise to a point of order-
– I am entitled to hear arguments in support of the point of order raised by the Leader of the Senate.
You, sir, then heard arguments in support” of the point of order raised by the Leader of the Senate. You heard both the Minister and myself, and, therefore, E contend that you cannot hear the Minister again.
– That was before the Leader of the Opposition moved his motion of dissent.
– I spoke to my point of order.
– The official report continues -
-i contend that the motion is out of order, andI am entitled to elaborate the view of the
Government in the matter.
– The Minister is not entitled to do anything of the kind until I have given my reasons for moving the motion.
The Senate was then debating the ruling of the President. The PostmasterGeneral read Standing Order 64.
– Obviously, the Leader of the Opposition is under a misapprehension. I have the Hansard proof here.
– I was most careful to see that every one was treated fairly.
– I hope, sir, that you will allow me to proceed a little further. I agree that the remarks which I have already made refer to what the Minister had to say on the point of order. I then moved “ That the ruling of the President be dissented from.” The official record continues -
I regret very much indeed that every now and again 1 seem obliged to fall foul of the Chair. I assure you, Mr. President, that 1 do not do so willingly. However, I object to the suggestion that I am such an imbecile that J cannot understand the plain English of Standing Order 64.
– On a point of order, I submit, Mr. President, that the honorable senator is not entitled to proceed to debate his motion of dissent. Standing Order 429 provides that debate on a motion of objection to the ruling of the President shall be “ forthwith adjourned to the next sitting day, unless the Senate decides on motion, without debate, that the question requires immediate determination.”
– The honorable senator is in order in speaking to his motion of objection to my ruling. When he has submitted his reasons, the Senate will have to decide whether the matter requires immediate determination.
A little later, the Postmaster-General asked in what way my action complied with Standing Order 64, which he then proceeded to quote.
– I said that from my seat here. Clearly, it was by way of interjection.
– The remarks of the Minister were on the point of order. He could not have made a speech until the motion had been seconded. Later, Senator Cunningham seconded the motion of dissent. Senator A. J. McLachlan could then have spoken; but, up to that time, his remarks were either by way of interjection or had relation to the point of order.
– If you, sir, say that the Minister did not make a speech,
I shall be compelled to dissent from your ruling.
– I rule that the Postmaster-General has not previously spoken to the motion; he could not do so until it was seconded.
– I shall move to dissent from that ruling. Every honorable senator who was here yesterday knows that the Postmaster-General had as much to say as I had, both on the point of order and on the motion of dissent. However, the point is not how much he had to say, but that he made a speech. He was as prominent in the discussion as I was.
– If the honorable senator objects to my ruling, he must submit notice of dissent in writing.
SenatorFoll. - I rise to a point of order. I have here the proof of the official report, from which it will be seen that the Leader of the Opposition in moving that the ruling be dissented from spoke sufficiently long to fill nearly a column of Hansard. Then the Leader of the Senate made a few remarks after which the Leader of the Opposition continued to speak. Obviously, he had not concluded his speech, and therefore the Minister’s remarks must have been by way of interjection. Unless the remarks of the Postmaster-General were in the nature of interjections, the Leader of the Opposition made two or three speeches.
– The PostmasterGeneral could not have spoken until the motion had been seconded. This is a question of fact, not of interpretation. Clearly the Postmaster-General has not spoken to the motion; therefore, he has the right to speak now.
– I move -
That the ruling of the President be dissented from.
After what occurred yesterday, I am not. prepared, except under compulsion, to withdraw a fraction of an inch from the stand I then took. I have here the
H ansard proof of yesterday’s proceedings.
Under the heading “ Dissent from Ruling” the following appears: -
– I move -
That the ruling of the President be dissented from.
I want the Senate to recall all that had happened before I submitted that motion. In my speech I said -
I regret very much indeed that every now and again I seem obliged to fall foul of the Chair. I assure you, Mr. President,thatI do not do so willingly. However, I object to the suggestion that I am such an imbecile that I cannot understand the plain English of Standing Order 64.
That is what SenatorFoll describes as a speech filling nearly a column of Hansard. My remarks occupy only about eight lines of Hansard. The Postmaster-. General then stood up. His remarks were not by way of interjection. He made a speech.
SenatorFoll. - On that reasoning, the Leader of the Opposition made about eight speeches.
– I shall continue to make speeches and my colleagues will do the same. The Opposition will give to the Government all the work that it is looking for. It will not allow Ministers to take snide steps to prevent its Leader from being heard.
– I rise to a point of order. The remarks of the Leader of the Opposition have no relevancy to the matter before the Chair.
– I object to the word “ snide.”
– Is the PostmasterGeneral now making a speech or an interjection ?
– The PostmasterGeneral rose to a point of order, as the Leader of the Opposition himself has done on numerous occasions.
– The Minister is attempting to make a speech. Therecord in Hansard continues -
– On a point of order, I submit, Mr. President,that the honorable senator is not entitled to proceed to debate his motion of dissent. Standing Order 429 provides that debate on a motion of objection to the ruling of the President shall be “ forthwith adjourned to the next sitting day, unlessthe Senate decides on motion, without debate, that the question requires immediate determination.”
Was that not a speech against my motion of dissent? After the Minister had spoken, you, sir, intervened and the record of your remarks occupies six lines of the report. Following that, there is nearly a column recording what I said. Then Senator A. J. McLachlan said -
In what way does the honorable senator’s action comply with the provision in Standing Order 64, “at its rising adjourn to any day or hour other than that fixed for the next ordinary meeting of the Senate . . . “?
The Minister did not preface his remarks with a personal explanation or a point of order. I regard your ruling as a gross injustice, and I shall protest against it to my last breath.
– I second the motion.
Motion (by Senator A. J. McLachlan) agreed to -
That the question of dissent requires immediate determination.
Question put -
That the ruling of the President be dissented from.
The Senate divided. (President -Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes.)
Majority . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Thatthe Senate at its rising adjourn to a day orhour other than that fixed for the next ordinarymeeting of the Senate . . .
Onthatground alone the motion of dissent moved by the Leader of the Opposition must fail, because a motion in the terms submittedby him is customarily moved by a member of the Government.
SenatorCollings. - What was wrong with my motion - “That the Senate do now adjourn “ ?
SenatorCollings. - The Standing Order is not mandatory on that point.
A senator desiring to move a motion under the above Standing Order ought to furnish the President, prior to the meetingof the Senate, with a written statement of the matter of urgency.
Later, President Givens ruled that a senator could not submit a motion for the adjournment of the Senate to enable him to discuss an urgent matter if, prior to the meeting of the Senate, he had not given notice of his intention to the Chair. Later, President Givens gave a further ruling to this effect -
Notice of intention to move the adjournment of the Senate under Standing Order64 is out of order when it is handed to the President afterhe has taken the Chair, and if it is not dated and signed.
– I support the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings). I was surprised to hear the Leader of the Senate attack my leader’s proposed motion for the adjournment of the Senate, on the ground that it did not specify the date and hour to which the Senate should adjourn. That was not the ground on which you, Mr. President, ruled the motion out of order, and honorable senators should ignore it. Your ruling was based on the objection that the notice was not handed in prior to the meeting of the Senate.The Leader of the Senate weakens his case by telling us now that, because Senator Johnston has raised a question of another kind-
– But it supports the ruling.
– Not at all; it merely provides the Leader of the Senate with another string to his bow. I notice that this standing order was amended on the 1st October, 1937 ; its terms are not ambiguous. As stated by Senator Cunningham, the motion, in addition to being handed to the President in writing, must be supported by four honorable senators rising in their places. I ask honorable senators not to takenotice of the new matter that has beenintroduced in the debate. So frail is thecase submitted by the Leader of the Senate that he immediately seized on the suggestion of Senator Johnston. Nothing in the standing order requires that the notice of motion shall be handed in at any specific time prior to the meeting of the Senate. It is clear that if the notice is submitted in writing to the President, and supported by four honorable senators rising in their places, the President must accept it. The Leader of the Government knows quite well that he has said nothing to support his argument that the standing order has the meaning which he has attached to it. That is why Senator Johnston has raised the objection that the motion for the adjournment did not specify a time or hour other than that fixed for the next ordinary meeting of the Senate. I am surprised that the Leader of the Senate, after making two speeches, has subscribed to the argument advanced by Senator Johnston. He has acted in this way for a specific reason; it is because of the numbers in this chamber.
– Every honorable senator must know that Standing Order 64 was framed to provide an opportunity for any member of the Senate to. draw the attention of the Government to a matter of urgent public importance. During the time that such a motion is under consideration, it amounts to one of want of confidence in the Government. It provides that the Senate shall adjourn until an unusual hour, and, if it were carried, the business of the Senate would be taken out of the hands of the Government. Why has the practice always been followed of requiring notice of such a motion tobe given? If an honorable senator submits such a motion for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgent public importance, it is only fair to assume that it is a matter in which the Government is directly concerned. The object of requiring notice is to give a member of the Government an opportunity to prepare an answer to the criti cism. If honorable senators opposite were in office, it would be to their advantage, as well as to the advantage of every other member of the Senate, that the responsible Minister should have time to prepare a reply to the mover of the motion. In every British parliament, the practice is to require notice of such motions for this very purpose. I suppose that the Leader of the Opposition has no object in view other than to have the matter mentioned by him ventilated. Instead of questioning the ruling of the President, every honorable senator should, in his own interests, and for the benefit of the Senate as a whole, support it. Every parliament in the British Empire is, as I have said, governed by similar procedure to that which lias been adopted in this Senate, and various authorities have laid it down as the proper practice. Senator Cameron referred to Standing Order 64 to support his argument that notice need not be given. The standing order refers to “ a motion without notice,” clearly meaning a motion that has not appeared on the notice-paper. The object of this standing order is not to give an advantage to the Government, but merely to give to every member of the Senate an opportunity to draw attention to matters of urgent public importance.
– The honorable senator has said, in effect, that the rules of the Senate are made to be broken. The whole argument of the President himself suggested that Standing Order 64 should be broken. That Standing order lays down a certain procedure, and this has been followed by the Leader of the Opposition; but, for reasons best known to Ministers, they intend to oppose my leader in this matter. I desire to know whether you, Mr. President, are compelled to take cognizance of what past presidents have laid down. Is it mandatory on you to do that, or can you use your own judgment in the interpretation of a standing order? I should say that you can exercise your own discretion. If you read the standing order carefully, without importing into it any additional words, I submit that you can come to no other conclusion than that the Leader of the Opposition is in the right. I also desire to know whether, under Standing Order 64, any day or hour must be mentioned in the written notice. The idea of the Leader of the Opposition was that the adjournment of the Senate should take place “ now “.
– “ Now “ would imply an immediate adjournment, and the question could not be further debated.
– Three hours are allowed in which to debate the motion. Wo are discussing the question whether the motion should state a time which the Senate should adjourn. You, sir, have not dealt with that point, but have ruled in accordance with precedents established by the late Sir Richard Baker and the late Hon. T. Givens, both of whom once held the position of President of the Senate. The rulings of your predecessors contain words which are not in the Standing Orders, and therefore they should be disregarded. No specified time is in the standing order when notice must be given. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber are only simple-minded workers, but we understand plain English. Although the procedure set out in the standing order was followed by the Leader of the Opposition, he was prevented from proceeding with his motion. I am sorry that you, sir, have been guided by the “ misrulings “ of past presidents. You have held your present position for a comparatively short period, and I should have imagined that you would have been guided, not by rulings given by your predecessors, but by the Standing Orders. I know that it is not mandatory upon you to be governed by decisions given by persons now deceased. You have to use your own judgment, and, had you done so in this instance, I feel sure that you would have permitted the Leader of the Opposition to proceed. I support the motion.
– I am somewhat in a quandary in determining whether the Senate is to be governed by the rulings of past presidents or by the Standing Orders, which have been framed to enable the business of the Senate to be handled in an expeditious and orderly maimer.
When I first took my seat in this chamber I was advised by the then President, Honorable P. J. Lynch, to study the Standing Orders, and I have taken the trouble to become as conversant with them as is practicable in a comparatively short time. Although a layman in matters of this kind, I can place a reasonable interpretation upon plan English. I trust that you, sir, will answer the point raised by Senator Brown as to whether the Senate is to be governed by the Standing Orders or by the rulings of past presidents. You have cited rulings contained in volumes which are not in the possession of honorable senators, and consequently we cannot be expected to have a knowledge of the rulings which have been given from time to time. When you were elected to your present position the supporters of the Government had a decided advantage in that they knew beforehand that you were to be elected President. That knowledge enabled Senator Johnston to hand to you, before you were elected, an intimation that he proposed to move the adjournment of the Senate to discuss a. matter of urgent public importance. The Leader of the Opposition (SenatorCollings), not knowing who was to be elected President, could not notify you of his intention to move the adjournment of the Senate. An honorable senator opposite should not have the right to speak when an honorable senator on this side of the chamber is prevented from doing so. The rights of members of the Opposition have not been fully protected. I believe that you, sir, have endeavoured to be impartial, but you are not infallible. We contend that you shouldbe guided by the Standing Orders and not by precedent. The Leader of the Opposition submitted his motion because he considered it improper for the Government to proceed with business in the Senate while the fate of the Government was in doubt. Although, the Leader of theSenate said that he did not propose to deal with Government business, the debate on the exportation of iron ore, which involved an important matter of government policy, was proceeded with. As I contend that your ruling is not in accordance with the Standing Orders, I intend to support the motion.
– I trust that this motion will not be debated on party lines merely because it has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition. Having been nominated to represent my party on the Standing Orders Committee, I have found the debate on this subject most interesting, and particularly the remarks of honorable senators who have had a somewhat lengthy parliamentary experience. The Standing Orders Committee dealt with the standing order under review from one viewpoint, and the recommendation which will come before theSenate later will lay down the procedure to be adopted in the future. Senator Cameron is correct in his assertion that the words “ motion without notice “ govern the matter. You, sir, have stated that you propose to adhere to your ruling that notice in writing mustbe given before the Senate meets. Even had the motion of the Leader of theOpposition been in the form suggested by Senator Johnston it would have been ruled out of order on the ground that it should have been placed in your hands prior to the meeting of the Senate. As Standing Order 64 stands at present, the original motion proposed by the Leader of the Opposition was quite in order. It was in accordance with the standing order a motion without notice. The President is above party. He is not supposed to be in any way an ally of the Government. His duty is to see that the Standing Orders are carried out and that honorable senators as a whole receive fair play. However, if we accept Senator Herbert Hays’ contention that it is necessaryfor the President to be given notice of a motion of this kind some time prior to the assembling of the Senate in order that he may advise the Ministry of it, we shall place him in a false position.
– I said that was why the practice had been adopted.
– I do not know where that practice has been adopted. When discussing Standing Order 64, the Standing Orders Committee did not consider whether the President should be enabled to get into touch with the Leader of the Senate or the representative in this chamber of any particular Minister. The only matter considered by that committee - and I understand that it arose as the result of the skirmish which occurred at the first meeting of the now Senate - was the question of precedence in connection with motions of this kind.
– As a matter of courtesy, the appropriate Minister should be informed of any urgency motion which might be pending.
– That point was not discussed by the Standing Orders Committee. The recommendation of that committee for an alteration of Standing Order 64 deals only with the order of precedence in which notices of motion shall be dealt with, because, as we know, only one motion can be taken on the one day. The recommendation of the committee is designed solely to obviate that particular difficulty. After listening to this debate, however, I doubt whether the committee has done the right thing in making its recommendation. In this instance, there is a danger that a right which honorable senators should value highly may be taken away. If this motion of dissent be defeated, it will not be possible for any honorable senator to raise a matter of urgency unless he gives notice of his motion prior to the meeting of the Senate. The Standing Orders at present provide that certain preliminary business must be disposed of before such a motion can be proposed. They specify exactly the time, the place and the procedure. Certainly, I believe that, if members of the Standing Orders Committee had had the benefit of hearing this debate, they would not have made the recommendation for the alteration of Standing Order 64 that is contained in its report which will later be considered by the Senate
The reason given by the President for ruling the motion of the Leader of the Opposition out of order, is not sound. To those who are inclined to rely solely on precedent, I point out that in institutions which’ follow this practice, such as our law courts, precedents give way to fresh rulings from time to time. As a matter of fact the present Attorney-General came into prominence largely because of his advocacy of a case which destroyed a judgment that had stood in this country for very many years. The High Court had given a judgment which denied to employees in a State instrumentality the right to approach the Federal Arbitration Court, but through the advocacy of the present Attorney-General that decision was upset by the Privy Council. One could cite many other instances of precedents being upset in our courts. Even though judgments may be long established and musty with age they are upset by new ideas and interpretations. Therefore, I ask those honorable senators who feel inclined to vote against the motion before the Chair, and rely solely on precedent, not to do so, but to adhere to the strict wording of the Standing Order. The day may not be far distant when a Labour Government or some other government of a political colour different from that of the present Govern ment will assume office iu this Parliament, and those in opposition may find it very necessary - and indeed a privilege - to adopt the procedure for which the Leader of the Opposition is contending this afternoon. For that reason and also because I value and appreciate the impartiality which should distinguish the pos: tion of president of this chamber, I should be loath to see this Senate come to a decision which will, in effect, make the President a messenger of the Government. I hope that this motion will be carried, in which event, I feel sure, neither the President nor any other honorable senator will feel hurt. This difficulty must be cleared up and now is the time to do it.
– Your ruling, Mr. President, has placed me in a quandary with respect to not only the particular standing order that is under discussion, but also other Standing Orders, which have a bearing on the motion before us. You ruled the original motion by the Leader of the Opposition out of order because notice of it was not handed in to you fifteen minutes prior to the meeting of the Senate. I take it that that was the only ground on which you based your ruling. To that point the only reference in Standing Order 64 is -
The senator so moving must make in writing, and hand in to the President, a statement of the matter of urgency.
The Leader of the Opposition complied with that provision. I can find no provision anywhere in the Standing Orders that such statement must be handed to the President fifteen minutes or any other specified lime prior to the meeting of the Senate. Why should we not adhere to the plain English of the Standing Orders in preference to relying on rulings given by presidents in the early days of the Senate? If we are to be governed by such precedents, we should be allowed access to the secret source from which these precedents appear to be drawn. The Standing Orders Committee amended Standing Order 64 on the 1st October, 1937. Was that committee enabled to give full consideration to the rulings by previous presidents? We must conclude that that opportunity was not afforded to the committee. It is quite reasonable to rely on precedents, if they are up to date. Mention has been made of procedure in the House of Commons. If we are to rely on precedents on this occasion, we should pay attention to the invariable practice in English-speaking countries operating the bicameral parliamentary system, . namely, that the upper chamber shall not continue to conduct business while the fate of the Government is in the balance in the other branch of the legislature. I suggest that honorable senators should be consistent in their reliance on precedents.
In reading the Standing Orders one cannot but realize the difficulty caused by the legal jargon employed therein. On one occasion I took part in a discussion on the meaning of the word “notwithstanding”, and an array of legal talent held up the business for three days in endeavouring to decide the meaning of the word. I suggest that honorable senators should adhere to the strict wording of the Standing Orders rather than rely on precedent. We should get down to common sense, ensure that our Standing Orders are set out in plain English, and adhere to them rather than be governed by what has been decided in the dead past.
– I do not propose to discuss the motion at any length, but I should like to refer to some remarks made by Senators Sheehan and Arthur regarding procedure in this chamber so far as it relates to Standing Order 64, which, I understand, the Standing Orders Committee proposes to amend. First, I remind honorable senators that the Standing Orders Committee owes no allegiance to the Government. As far as possible, its personnel is representative of all parties, and no member of it is obliged, or expected, to allow allegiance to any particular party to influence him in the committee’s deliberations. Senator Sheehan said that the proposed standing order would make the presiding officer of this chamber a kind of messenger boy, in that after he has received a notice from an honorable senator that he intends to move a certain motion, it will be necessary for him to act as an intermediary between that senator and the Minister concerned. I point out to the honorable senator that the proposed standing order will merely sanction what has been the practice of the Senate since its inception. The proposal is made not with the idea of using the President of the Senate in the manner suggested, but in order that the government of the day, which is responsible for the conduct of the business of the Senate, may know how its programme may be affected. In spite of the fact that their political differences may be great, it is the invariable practice for the leaders of parties in this chamber to notify . one another of their intentions in regard to each day’s programme. If, for instance, the Leader of the Senate proposes to make some alteration of the order of business, or desires to introduce new business, he invariably notifies the Leader of the Opposition of his intention.
– That is so.
– As Senator Herbert Hays pointed out, when the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives gave notice of his intention to move a motion of no confidence in the Government, he handed a copy of his motion to the Prime Minister before it was tabled. That was done not only as an act of courtesy, but also in order to facilitate the arrangement of Parliamentary business. If Senator Sheehan, as a member of the Standing Orders Committee, has given his approval to a recommendation, I hope that he will not decide to alter it. I have been a member of this chamber for over twenty years, but I have never known of a previous instance of an honorable senator moving the adjournment of the Senate to discuss what he considered to be a matter of urgency without giving the government of the day notice of hisintention to do so. I point out that it is not the Government, but the Senate itself, which decides whether or not a matter is urgent. A motion which is supported by four honorable senators rising in their places automatically becomes one of urgency. I emphasize that the practice which it is proposed to apply in the Senate, is in the interests of the member who proposes to move the motion, because it enables the Minister concerned to obtain and supply the information desired. That procedure is more necessary in this chamber than in the other branch of the legislature, for the reason that in the Senate there areonly two Ministers in charge of departments. Each of the three Ministers here represents a number of other Ministers, and consequently it is impossible for him to be acquainted with the details of departments of which he is not in control. I hope that the Senate will not depart from the established practice - a practice which I believe has been of benefit to every section of the Parliament.
– in reply - It is not my intention to anticipate the debate which will take place when the next item on the business-paper comes before us; I shall confine my remarks to reasons why the Senate should support my motion that the ruling of the President be dissented from. I do not think that you require it of me, sir, but I feelimpelled to say again that I sincerely regret haying to take exception to your rulings. I do so only because of ray firm conviction that I am right and you are wrong - not that I am fair and you unfair. I claim that my interpretation of Standing Order 64 is unassailable. In passing, I may say that the Opposition will not be satisfied with the position when this matter has been dealt with in this chamber, but will have it raised in the other branch of the legislature, in order that a procedure which agrees with common sense may be adopted, and that” honorable senators shall not be at the mercy of the vagaries of legal minds and the tyranny of precedents. You, sir, said that Standing Order 64 is not very definite, and that it should be clarified. I am in the position that I must not - it is not a case of will not - retreat one fraction of an inch from the stand thatI have taken, otherwise I shall be undone. Standing Order 64, far from being indefinite, is most definite; it lays down exactly what must be done in certain circumstances. I claim to have complied with that standing order in every particular. The Leader of the Senate referred to rulings given by Presidents Baker and Givens. If we are to be guided by their rulings, there is nothing more certain than that these Standing Orders are useless; indeed, in that event, they are worse than useless, because they are misleading to honorable senators who make a practice of studying them.
– Did not the honorable senator quotefromMay a few days ago?
– Yes. The honorable senator’s interjection reminds me that the Leader of the Senate made a misstatement when he said that I quoted from May yesterday. On the earlier occasion, however, the issue was not one of precedent. I was astounded when the Leader of the Senate referred to rulings given by Presidents Baker and Givens; I had thought that if he quoted a previous ruling at all, it would have been one more up to date. I emphasize that these Standing Orders are useless if they can be over-ridden by rulings given years ago. I am reminded that President Lynch emphasized the necessity for every honorable senator to become acquainted with the Standing Orders. Unless they are to be cur guide it is merely a delusion and a snare to hand a copy of them to newly elected senators with the admonition to study them. The Leader of the Senate said that to agree to my motion would be to establish a dangerous precedent. He urged me to read Standing Order 429. If it be correct that I am endeavouring to establish a dangerous precedent, why does Standing Order 429 exist at all? It reads -
If any objection is taken to the ruling or decision of the President, such objection must be taken at once, and in writing, and motion made, which, if seconded, shall be proposed to the Senate, and debate thereon forthwith adjourned to the next sitting day, unless the Senate decides on motion, without debate, that the question requires immediate determination.
– The “honorable senator misapprehends the position. I urged- that it was dangerous to depart from a series of precedents.
– I made a note of the Minister’s words at the time. He could have said that to dissent from the President’s ruling, if it were based on past rulings, would be to establish a dangerous precedent, but he did not say that. Standing Order 429 not only allows for dissent from the President’s ruling, but also lays down the procedure to be followed. Unless that standing order serves some useful purpose it should be wiped out, for while it stands it merely encourages honorable senators to do things which the Minister describes as dangerous. The special pleading .of the Minister might serve its purpose in a common police court, but it will not avail in a decent deliberative assembly. I have studied the -Standing Orders and I believe that I understand them. Without egotism, I think that I can say that I am as quick of comprehension as is any other honorable senator, at least, I can see a hole in a ladder as quickly as most other men can. I have searched this book of Standing Orders from cover to cover, but I find nothing in it to say that if a standing order is in question some precedent shall be called in to buttress it. Why is it that yesterday, as on the 1st July last, I was confronted by precedents rather than Standing Orders? I ask the Leader of the Senate to deny, if ho dares, my statement that there is not in this book of Standing Orders one suggestion that any standing order may be abrogated by some ruling of a previous President. The thing is preposterous. It was interesting to hear the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Foll), in a dignified and gentlemanly way which I am sure he cannot help, quarrel with Senator Herbert Hays. From the look of amazement on the Minister’s face it would appear that he is not aware that he quarrelled with his colleague from Tasmania, but I assure him that he did. He said that the handing of a notice of motion to the President would not necessarily mean that he would pass on to the Government something which should not be passed on. Senator Herbert Hays said that the value of the ruling was that it enabled the Government to know what was going on.
– I said the same thing.
– That is so; but the Minister also said that there was no suggestion of bringing the President into the trouble as a political ally of the Government.
– I said that there was no suggestion of making a messenger of the President.
– I said that, as a matter of courtesy, Ministers should be given a chance to prepare a reply to any criticism.
– The honorable senator said more than that. He declared that my motion was tantamount to a motion of want of confidence in the Government.
– No. I said that our Standing Orders gave to members of the Senate the same opportunity as is given in a debate on a motion of want of confidence. I spoke in general terms.
-That is not so. I made a note of the honorable senator’s remarks at the time. It records the honorable gentleman as having said that it would be of advantage to the Government to know that a motion of want of confidence was being moved ; that my motion was tantamount to a vote of want of confidence in the Government. In its terms my motion is not one of want of confidence. It was deliberately framed to preclude the possibility of the creation of an atmosphere of want of confidence. That was decided after a party consideration of the whole business. I had drafted a motion of a very different colour and character, but realizing that we did not want in this chamber a discussion of the nature of a motion of want of confidence - we wished this matter to be taken seriously and dealt with in a proper manner in the House of Representatives - it was so redrafted that no honorable senator would have any justification whatever for regarding it as a motion of want of confidence. I invite honorable senators to read it again. It questions the- . . propriety of the action of the Government in proceeding with the business of this chamber while a motion is beings debated in the House of Representatives to determine whether the Government enjoys the confidence of the said House.
That is all that we should have to consider in the debate. We on this side definitely desired to challenge the Government on that issue, but the proceedings yesterday were interrupted by the ruling of the president.
– I said that Standing Order 64 gave to every honorable senator an opportunity to move whatever motion he desired.
– I know what the honorable senator said, because I made a note of it. In the course of his remarks the honorable gentleman also frequently used the phrase, “ a matter of urgent public importance “. I know that honorable senators get into the habit of using those words when they submit a motion for the adjournment of the Senate, because that is in keeping with the corresponding standing order of the House of Representatives. But I point out that the Senate Standing Order 64 does not say anything about a matter of “ urgent public importance “. It mentions only the word “urgent”, and leaves it entirely to the discretion of the senator submitting the motion- to decide whether the matter which he wishes to discuss is urgent or not. It is not necessary that the matter raised should be one of public importance.
– It is reasonable to assume it.
- Senator Ashley’s remarks on this point were very” pertinent. And may I say that I appreciate very much the tone of the addresses which have been made by senators on this side of the chamber? These speeches have been made in a most courteous spirit and perhaps were in contrast with some of my remarks, because I seem to have become the storm centre in this discussion. I say this without any disrespect to you, Mr. President. Senator Ashley asked that senators should be supplied with copies of all rulings given by presidents of the Senate since’ the inauguration of federation. I say in all seriousness to the Leader of the Senate that if what he and other honorable senators have said in support of your ruling, Mr.. President, is in accordance with fact, and if our Standing Orders are always to be interpreted in the light of rulings given by nast presidents, then every honorable senator should be supplied with a list of every ruling given since the inception of federation.
– All the rulings are available on the table of the Senate.
– I know that, but we all cannot have access to them at once. The consummation of the attitude of the Leader of the Senate must be that, as soon as the Government Printer can possibly do the work, senators must have on their desks copies of every ruling given.
– The drawers will not hold them all.
– Then some work can be provided, for cabinet-makers and carpenters. I demand to be given a copy of past rulings and I . promise that if ever in the future a question such as this arises, I shall have at my finger tips not only rulings which favour the Government, but rulings which favour my argument. I should also like a definition of “speech”. One of the speeches made after I moved my motion of dissent from the President’s ruling, occupied eleven lines in Hansard, and another occupied six lines. Such lengthy utterances cannot be regarded as interjections, because they were not made while the honorable senator speaking was sitting down. It is difficult to know just where an interjection ends and a speech begins; I contend that if a Minister orany other senator gets up, and while standing, makes a contribution to the debate, that is a speech and he should not be entitled to make another. If honorable senators are to be permitted to say as much as eleven lines by way of interjection then I promise to keep this Senate occupied for a long time by interjections.
Senator Cameron was particularly apt in his remarks on the question of precedents. That honorable senator asked that a vote should not be taken on the question of precedents because the Standing Orders Committee had suggested a way out of the difficulty in which we now find ourselves. As a matter of fact, the Standing Orders Committee has not proposed a way out, as I shall show when the debate on that matter takes place.. The action proposed by that committee, if adopted, will only result in a worse mess than exists at present. All our Standing Orders will be absolutely valueless unless they are interpreted with common sense, and not in accordance with rulings given a long way in the past. I was amused by Senator Arthur’s story of the nine legal gentlemen who debated for days the interpretation of the word “ notwithstanding “. I was reminded of the story of a lady school teacher who wrote the word “notwithstanding” on the blackboard and asked the children to give her a sentence containing that word. One bright lad, who no doubt had the makings of the leader of a government, said - “ Father has a hole in his pants, but not with standing “. If legal quibbles about the interpretation of our Standing Orders are to be indulged in, and if rulings by presidents long since dead are to be cited as precedents, it will be impossibleto carry on the work of this Senate in an orderly fashion. It is useless, for instance, to cite as a precedent a ruling by President Baker simply because that gentleman was regarded nearly 40 years ago, as an authority on constitutional matters. We on this side refuse to bow down and worship him in 1938.
– At one time Moses was regarded as not a bad judge.
SenatorCOLLINGS. - Moses laid down standing orders which nearly every one in this Christian civilization has been breaking ever since. Senator Foll was really amusing, and, as usual, even in his most amusing moments, he did not lose his eloquence or earnestness. That is something which unfortunately cannot bo said of some Ministers. I was glad that Senator Foll pointed out that in order to carry on the work of the Senate in an orderly fashion, leaders of the two parties should confer. It is only proper that we should confer on matters of procedure, but there must be no resurrection of rulings given in years gone by. While it is the hope of honorable senators on this side that negotiations can be carried on in a pleasant manner, we are not prepared to have doubtful rulings foisted upon us and declared to be sacrosanct, merely because of precedent. It is remarkable that until this afternoon, advantage had never been taken of precedents. With all respect to the President I hope that honorable senators will support my motion of dissent. I wish the President’s future course tobe clearly defined so that he may be saved from pitfalls such as this. Instead of relying on precedent for guidance, the President should have adequate safeguard in the common intelligence of honorable senators on both sides of this chamber, and their ability to construe the ordinary everyday language in which our Standing Orders are couched. It should be left to the President to decide on their merits all points raised, and we on this side would be in an infinitely safer position than we occupy at this moment.
Question put -
That the ruling of Mr. President that written notice was necessary in respect ofa motion under Standing Order No.64, and further that such notice should be given to the President before the meeting of the Senate - be dissented from.
The Senate divided. (President - Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes.)
Majority . . . . Nil
In committee (Consideration of report of Standing Orders Committee) :
– (1) A Motion without Notice, that the Senate at its rising adjourn to any day or hour other than that fixed for the next ordinary meeting of the Senate, for the purpose of debating some matter of urgency, can only be made after Petitions have been presented and Notices of Questions and Motions given, and before the Business of the Day is proceeded with, and such Motion can be made notwithstanding there be on the Paper a Motion for adjournment to a time other than that of the next ordinary meeting. The Senator so moving must make in writing, and hand in to the President, a statement of the matter of urgency. Such motion must be supported by four Senators rising in their places as indicating their approval thereof. Only the matter in respect of which such Motion is made can be debated. Not more than one such Motion can be made during the sitting of the Senate.
Committee’s recommendation -
After the word “must” first occurring, paragraph (.1.). leave out the words “ make in writing, and hand in to the President, a statement of the matter of urgency “, and insert in lieu thereof the words “at least fifteen minutes before the time fixed for the meeting of the Senate supply to the President a written statement of the matter of urgency “.
At the end of paragraph (1.) add “ ; and where two or more statements of motions it is proposed to move are supplied to the President on the same day, that received first shall be given precedence “.
Senator A. J. McLACHLAN( South
Standing Order 64 has been considered by the Standing Orders Committee, which has submitted a recommendation for the clarification of the standing order, and for the avoidance of those difficulties which were apparent this afternoon, and even more apparent on the 1st July last.Broadly speaking, I think that the adoption of the recommendations will accomplish the end which all honorable senators desire to attain. It wouldbring the language of Standing Order 64 into line with the practice adopted inthis chamber hitherto, having regard to those precedents to which I alluded this afternoon as having been accepted from time to time by this chamber. On one occasion, as I admitted this afternoon, there was a departure from that practice; but, with that exception, every President has adhered to it. If amended as suggested by the Committee, the first paragraph of the standing order will read -
This makes it clear that notice must be given before the meeting of the Senate, and the inclusion of the last sentence is recommended in order to avoid a clash between’ two or more members of the Senate who desire to submit motions for adjournment on the same day. The Committee considered the standing order carefully, and came to the conclusion that the notice of motion first received should be given precedence. As a matter of practice, the notice can be delivered to the Clerk, who may receive it on behalf of the President if he happens to be absent, or it may be handed to the President himself.
– The honorable senator is a member of the committee which made these recommendations, and he has the right to suggest emendations or additions; but the adoption of the committee’s recommendations would beget a certain amount of order, and establish the practice to be observed without recourse to the precedents to which the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) so much objects. I move -
That the recommendations of the Committee be agreed to.
– I express my thanks to the Standing Orders Committee for the effort it has obviously made to overcome the difficulty in which we find ourselves; but, if ever there was failure to clarify an issue, we find it in the recommendation now before us. Instead of clarifying the issue, the standing order, if amended as now proposed, will be so confusing that we shall never be able to get out of this mess. I ask this committee to reject the recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee. I have never seen such a foolish recommendation. It is supposed to be a solution of the problem with which we are confronted ; but it is nothing of the kind. The Leader of the Senate sees the difficulty, and attempted in the most clumsy manner imaginable to explain how it could be overcome. If the amendment be adopted, what will happen? If I am the offending senator, I must, at least fifteen minutes prior to the meeting of the Senate hand to the President the substance of the motion I propose to move. That means that the President will have to be present from the time I arrive at this chamber, which is usually 9 a.m., until the Senate meets, because I will be entitled to serve a notice upon him at 9.5 a.m., which’ will be “ at least “ fifteen minutes before the meeting of the Senate. If some other honorable senator wishes to serve a similar notice ahead of mine, he will have to hand in his notice before I do so. In these circumstances I shall have to insist upon the President giving me a receipt for the motion, and certifying on the envelope, or on the document itself, that I delivered it to him at, say, five and three-quarter minutes past nine. Senator Johnston, or some other senator who may submit his notice a quarter of a minute later, will also have to obtain a receipt that he handed in his notice at that later time. That is actually the mess into which the Standing Orders Committee will get us. The Leader of the Senate has said that such notification could be handed in to the Clerk of the Senate; but I am not going to hand in any such notification to that official until the standing order finally adopted authorizes the clerk to receive it and to issue a receipt showing the precise time at which it was delivered. The amendments recommended by o the committee to Standing Order 64 serve to give effect to the -President’s recent interpretation of that standing order. If this recommendation be adopted, there will be no doubt that a statement of a matter of urgency, which, according to Standing Order 64, must be made in writing, shall be handed in before the time fixed for the meeting of the Senate. The difficulty of fixing the time at which such statements have been handed to the President could be overcome by making the amendment read -
At least fifteen minutes before the time fixed for the meeting of the Senate, supply to the President, in duplicate, a written statement of the matter of urgency. The President shall note on each copy the exact time at which he received such statement; and shall return one copy to the senator moving the motion.
The amendments recommended by the Standing Orders Committee make it essential for the President to be available to receive such statements within the time prescribed. It is ridiculous that this committee should be asked to consider amendments such as those proposed by the Standing Orders- Committee. The effect of the recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee is that if the Senate is to meet at 3 p.m., an honorable senator wishing to move the adjournment of the Senate must, before 2.45 p.m. hand in a notification to that effect to the President. That is supposed to over- nome the difficulty; but it does not do anything of the kind. The period is not limited to one quarter of an hour before the meeting of the Senate, as some honorable senators may think. An honorable senator aware of the fact that the Leader of the Opposition proposed to move the adjournment of the Senate could “ steal his thunder “ by manoeuvring for position. The alleged Leader of the Country party, for instance, might endeavour to score a point.
– “Will the Leader of the Opposition indicate the nature of the amendment he proposes to move?
– I shall do so at the proper time. Standing Order No. 64 is as clear and definite as it can be, and there is actually no need to clarify it. This afternoon, Senator Johnston directed attention to the words “ a motion without notice “. The first portion of the standing order reads -
A motion without notice, that the Senate at its rising adjourn to any day or hour . . .
Is it suggested that those words mean that the Senate shall adjourn until, say, 7.30 p.m., or some other time that may be specified? If that is what the standing order means the words should be in quotation marks, but nothing of the kind is intended. All the standing order provides is that if I wish to move a motion in order to debate a matter of urgency, I must do so - after Petitions have been presented and Notices of Questions and Motions given, and before the Business of the Day is proceeded with.
Honorable. senators will notice that there is no full stop in the portion of the standing order which I have cited. All that the standing order provides is that a motion without notice must be made after petitions have been presented and notices of questions and motions given, and before the business of the day is proceeded with. The standing order also provides - and such Motion can be made notwithstanding there be on the paper a motion for adjournment to a time other than that of the next’ ordinary meeting.
Then there is a full stop. The standing order is so worded in order to enable an. honorable senator wishing to move a motion .to submit it at a proper stage in the proceedings. Senator Johnston endeavoured to prove that it meant something else, and another honorable senator said, “ Of course it does, and the honorable senator would have been ruled out on that account if not for any other reason My motion was ruled out of order for an entirely different reason. The Government should realize that the Standing Orders cannot be punctuated to suit its purposes, that the Opposition is not endeavouring to employ “ snide “ tricks, and it is always prepared to fight fairly. T have asked eight or nine honorable senators, some of whom are supporters of the Government, to show me where I am wrong, and the unanimous opinion of those whom I have consulted is that I am right. I move the following amendment : -
That after the words “make in writing,’ and hand in to the President, a statement of the matter of urgency “ the following words be inserted - “ Such statement shall not in any way be construed as notice of motion and may be handed in at the time of moving the motion or before; nor shall the handing in of such statement, in cases where more than one such motion is sought to be moved, operate to give; precedence to a senator who first hands in such statement to the President, but the senator first rising in his place shall have precedence “.
That is a privilege I claimed on a previous occasion. The honorable senator first rising should have precedence. I am sure that the President will be able to detect the first honorable senator to rise. It must be remembered that after a Minister has spoken the Leader of the Opposition is entitled to the call. My amendment will have an effect opposite” to that recommended by the Standing Orders Committee, and should clarify the position. We should leave Standing Order No. 64 in its present form, because it is perfectly clear, but if an amendment is considered necessary, that which I have moved should be adopted.
– I ask the committee to oppose both the recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee and the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. The proposal recommended by the committee, if adopted, would not tend in any way to clarify the present position. On the contrary it would give rise to a feeling among honorable senators that whenever a motion for adjournment to debate a matter of urgency was proposed in competition with another similar motion everything was not aboveboard. I have no doubt that, in the race to get in first, the interests of the Government would always be well looked after. My objection to the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition is that in any call from the Chair honorable senators opposite would undoubtedly fare better than honorable senators on this side.
– After Ministers, the Leader of the Opposition has precedence over other honorable senators.
– But he has not precedence over the Leader of the Government. I am reminded, too, that he did not receive the call before Senator Johnston at the first meeting of this Senate when a skirmish arose over this very procedure. I do not propose to dwell upon that incident, except to say that I hope that we shall never witness a repetition of it in this chamber. I submit that as the result of recent discussions the interpretation of Standing Order 64, as it stands, is quite clear to every honorable senator and, therefore, it should be retained in its present form. Whilst I suspect that in respect of other Standing Orders also we may, on some future occasion, have a decision from the Chair based on precedent rather than on their text, the fact remains that we have now gone thoroughly into the interpretation of Standing Order 64 and every honorable senator must surely be conversant with its provisions. The main virtue of Standing Order 64 as it stands is that it requires that any honorable senator wishing to move a motion for adjournment in order to deal with a matter of urgency shall take action which will be entirely aboveboard and free from all suspicion of preference from any quarter. If the committee’s recommendation be adopted, however, honorable senators wishing to move such motions will bc obliged to hang around the President’s doorstep in order to get in first. Such procedure, I suggest, is not only undesirable but also unnecessary.. If the provisions of Standing Order 64 as it stands are adhered to in the light of the ruling of the President, a better feeling will be maintained among all honorable senators. Therefore I urge the committee to reject both the recommendation of the committee and the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
– I propose to vote against both the recommendation of. the Standing Orders Committee and the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings). Surely we have now had sufficient discussion to enable us to realize the proper method to be adopted in submitting motions for adjournment in order to discuss matters of urgency. The President has ruled that in order to comply with Standing Order 64 notice of such a motion must be handed in to him before the Senate assembles. As that is a simple procedure, I cannot support the amendment. We are aware that the ruling of the President was based on parliamentary practice. By its vote the Senate has confirmed that ruling, and now that the position has been made quite clear I can see no reason why the standing order should be altered.
– What about new senators?
– Like myself, new senators must take the trouble of making themselves acquainted with the provisions and interpretations of Standing Orders. I suggest that if we amend Standing Order 64 we shall only make confusion worse confounded.
– I point out to honorable senators that in this matter, I, as Leader of the Senate, have no interest except as a member of the Standing Orders Committee. I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition (‘Senator Collings) might withdraw his amendment and move that the recommendation be referred back to the committee for further consideration.
Amendment - by leave - withdrawn.
That the motion bc amended by leaving out the words “ agreed to “ with a view to insert in lieu -thereof, the words - “ referred back to the Standing Orders Committee for further consideration and report.”
Some honorable senators, including some of my colleagues, have expressed the opinion that the committee’s recommendation, if adopted, would clarify the position in respect of Standing Order 64, but I suggest that it would lead to further confusion. Perhaps, having the benefit of this debate, the committee on further consideration will he enabled to get over the difficulty.
Amendment agreed to.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Resolution reported ; report adopted.
Sitting suspended from 6.18 till 8 p.m.
– I move -
That the fourth report from the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, presented to the Senate on 23rd June, 1938, be adopted.
The report of the committee was circulated among honorable senators some time ago. Briefly, it is an historical record of the work done by the committee since it “was appointed on the 17th March, 1932. The committee is not opposed to the making of regulations, but it is of the opinion that a close watch should be kept on them, in order to avoid any abuse of the regulation-making power. This subject has been discussed in many parliaments, a fact which prompted Lord Hewart to write his much discussed book The New Despotism. I have noted during the last twelve months that some judges, when giving decisions based on regulations, have referred to the autocracy of the bureaucracy. In South Australia a standing committee on the lines of the committee functioning in the Commonwealth sphere has been appointed, and I understand that similar action is being taken in New South Wales. I do not propose to discuss the report in detail, but 1 draw special attention to paragraphs 2, 5 and 11. Paragraph 2 reads -
The Report of the Select Committee oi the Senate on the Standing Committee System, appointed during the session of 1929-30-31, contained the following recommendations (amongst others) : -
I emphasize the non-party character of the committee and, for the information of new senators particularly, I point out that it scrutinizes all regulations which are promulgated. Paragraph 5 of the committee’s report is as follows: -
The Standing Order (No. 36A.) under which the committee is appointed and under which it functions, while- it gives the committee power to send for persons, papers, and records, merely states that “All regulations and ordinances laid on the table of the Senate shall stand referred to such committee , for consideration and, if necessary, report thereon.” In the absence of direction as to procedure in considering the regulations and ordinances, the committee has formulated its own procedure, which consists of obtaining from- the public department responsible for the issue of a regulation or ordinance a full explanation of it, with the reasons for the making thereof. These explanations are considered by the committee in conjunction with the regulations or ordinance under examination, and have been found helpful, lt was inevitable that many regulations would come before the committee which, while correct in form, gave effect to some item of Government policy of a controversial nature. . After, careful consideration of this aspect, the committee agreed that questions involving government polley in regulations and ordinances fell outside the scope of the committee. This decision necessarily limited the committed activities very considerably.
Of course, a decision of the committee as constituted in June, 1938, when this report was submitted, does not bind the present committee, but the new committee has worked along similar lines. Apart from being an historical record, this report draws special attention in paragraph 11 to the method of implementing an important item of government policy. This subject occupied a considerable amount of the committee’s time. As a committee, it was concerned not with the merits or demerits of the Government’s trade diversion policy, but only as to whether that policy should have been given effect by parliamentary enactment or by regulation. Statutory Rule No. 69 dealing with this subject is an innocent looking document, but for a number of years its effect has been more far reaching than that of any other regulation which has been promulgated. It reads -
I, the Governor-General, in and over the Commonwealth of Australia, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, hereby moke the .following Regulations under the Customs Act 1901-1935.
The regulation contains 85 items, ranging from playing cards to motor cars. Honorable senators are aware that this trade diversion policy has caused a great deal of comment throughout the Commonwealth and, therefore, I draw particular attention to the committee’s comments contained in paragraphs 11, 12 and 13-
By way of explanation, honorable senators arc reminded that prior to 1934 the Government had power to prohibit the importation of goods by proclamation. Such procla- nation was laid before Parliament for its information, but there existed no power for disallowing it. The House of Representatives could of course exercise a certain amount of control over the Government’s use of this power, but the Senate could not, except indirectly. In October, 1931, the senator who subsequently became the first Chairman of the Committee, introduced a bill providing for the substitution of the word “ regulation “ for the former word “ proclamation “ in section 52 (.</) of the Customs Act. The bill lapsed at the end of the session, but in the following session it was introduced as a Government measure and passed into law. It was under this power that the Government acted in its trade diversion policy.
In reading the evidence given before the Select Committee I was interested to notice that a prominent legal and constitutional authority said that no legislative change should find expression in a regulation. The Government’s trade diversion policy was a legislative change of major importance. The committee expressed the opinion that that policy should have been given effect by parliamentary enactment rather than by regulation. It was also of the opinion -
That the gazetting of such regulations on the eve of a four-months’ adjournment, giving them the force of law. and denying the Senate the right to discuss, or disallow them during that period, was not in the best interests of good government.
That regulations are necessary but the Senate should prevent abuses of the regulationmaking power.
– I second the motion. The Regulations and Ordinances Committee, which consists of representatives of all parties in this chamber, has an onerous task in scrutinizing the great volume of regulations which come before the Senate from time to time. This report contains an account of the activities of the committee since it was appointed in 1932. All honorable senators, irrespective of party, will agree that government by regulation is not in the best interests of the country. The committee endeavoured to be unbiased, but it was hampered in that it could not of itself disallow any regulation. The committee can only decide whether or not a regulation is in conformity with the provisions of the act under which it is made. Since the chairman of the committee (Senator McLeay) has adequately dealt with all the salient features of the report, I shall not detain the Senate further than to say that the committee has at all times done its best to ensure that regulations are strictly in accordance with the statutes under which they purport to have been made. I have pleasure in seconding the motion.
. - The fourth report of the Standing Committee on regulations and ordinances which is now before the Senate, discloses that the committee has devoted itself assiduously and painstakingly to the task for which it was appointed, namely, the examination of regulations and ordinances laid on the table of the Senate.
I do not propose to deal with all of the matters mentioned by the committee. Some are of an historical nature, and a careful reading of the report will well repay honorable senators who are not familiar with the constitution and working of the committee.
I have selected four matters which appear to call for comment on the part of the Government. They are - (1) The lack of substantive legislation in connexion with censorship of imported films; (2) The assurance as to the examination of regulations by the AttorneyGeneral’s Department; (3) The method adopted to implement the trade diversion policy of the Government; and (4) The lack of bound volumes of ordinances for the Australian Capital Territory.
The censorship of cinematograph films is dealt with in paragraph 6 of the committee’s report. This paragraph was brought to the notice of the Trade and Customs Department, and advice has been received from that department that the experience of the Censorship Board and the department shows that the control of censorship by the present regulations is working smoothly and there does not appear to be any necessity for the bringing down of substantive legislation for this purpose. The department states, however, that should any difficulties arise in future, which would appear to make desirable the action suggested by the Standing Committee, full consideration will be given to the matter.
As is stated by the committee in paragraph 9, the Minister representing the Attorney-General in this chamber assured the Senate that arrangements would be made for all draft regulations to be examined minutely and according to definite legal principles, both as to the matter and form of the regulations. The committee has drawn special attention to this promise, and states that it accepts the assurance given by the Minister. I am happy to be able to inform honorable senators that that assurance has been given effect to in its entirety. Soon after it was given the various departments were circularized and requested to forward to the Attorney-General’s Department all regulations in draft form. Arrangements have been made in that department whereby all regulations are closely scrutinized both with regard to their matter and form, and I doubt very much whether the members of the committee have any cause for criticism as to the form in which regulations are now made.
The committee has referred in paragraphs 11 to 13 to the means adopted by the Government to implement its trade diversion policy in 1936. The representations of the committee in this connexion will be kept in mind should legislation of the character in question be again under consideration.
I note with pleasure the remarks of the committee with regard to the issue of bound volumes of statutory rules each year. The committee expressed its appreciation of the speed and efficiency with which such volumes are issued. The committee commented, however, on the lack of bound volumes of ordinances for the Australian Capital Territory. It is noted that the committee has recommended that in future the legislation of the Territory should be issued in bound volumes at regular intervals in the same way as statutory rules are now issued. This practice was adopted formerly, but owing to shortage of funds during the depression, and other circumstances, it became impracticable for some time to re-issue up-to-date copies of this legislation.
During the debate on the Seat of Government (Administration) Bill in 1935, the question of publishing up-to-date volumes of the ordinances and regulations of the Territory was reviewed and was referred to the Attorney-General by the Minister for the Interior. In November of that year the AttorneyGeneral’s Department was asked to undertake the revision and rearrangement of the ordinances and regulations of the Territory in order to enable them to be reprinted in volume form under the provisions of the Amendments Incorporation Ordinance. One circumstance that effected the completion of the work of revision is the great extent to which ordinances and regulations of the Territory have been amended during the last few years. For this reason, it is necessary, for convenience of reference, that consolidations of the individual laws be made prior to their preparation for issue in bound volumes.
As a result of the committee’s report this matter has been discussed again with the Attorney-General’s Department, which advises that the publication was prepared with a view to its issue during the current year; but, in view of the
Senator A. J. McLachlan. promulgation of the Seat of Government (Designation) Ordinance 1938, it was deemed advisable that the publication be brought up to date and contain all laws in force in the Territory on the 1st January, 1939. . This ordinance made the alterations in the various ordinances that were necessitated by the adoption of the designation as “Australian Capital Territory “. The new volumes will be issued as early as possible in 1939.
I must again refer to the excellent work being done by the committee. It should afford members of the committee some pleasure to know that their labours are appreciated by the Government and that their recommendations are given the very close consideration which they deserve. Several of the suggestions of the committee have been given effect and it is a matter for congratulation that this body has been able to achieve such useful results in the short time that it has been functioning.
– 1 do not propose to do more than say that, like the Leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan), I appreciate very much the work which the committee has done. Because of what has happened in this chamber during the last 48 hours, I have some conception of the task which confronts this committee in unravelling complications which arise from time to time. The committee is to be complimented on the way in which it has performed its work. I say this even though I may not always agree with its conclusions. I concur in the recommendation that the power to govern by regulation should be used only in connexion with more or less routine matters. It should never be employed in connexion with matters involving fundamental principles of policy. Such matters should be dealt with by legislation. I agree also with the committee’s respectful and restrained, comments with regard to the Government’s trade diversion policy, which we had no opportunity to discuss until the time was much too late. The Opposition approves of the report and will support the motion for its adoption.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Before considering the amendments proposed to be made in the principal act by the bill now before the Senate, it may be helpful to honorable senators if I give a brief account of the establishment and work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The work of this organization is generally appreciated by members on both sides in this chamber, especially by those who have made a close study of such activities.
The council is really the successor to the Commonwealth Institute of Science and Industry, which was established in 1920. In 1926, the Science and Industry Research Act constituted the present council, which consists of three members nominated by the Commonwealth Government, the chairman of each of the State committees constituted under the act, and such other members as the council, with the consent of the Minister, co-opts by reason of their scientific knowledge. The members nominated by the Commonwealth Government form an executive committee which has, when the council is not in session, all the powers and functions of the council.
The powers and functions of the committee are set out in the act and include the following: -
One branch of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has been engaged on the standardization of scientific instruments and generally improving the standardization of various kinds of machinery and tools used in industrial undertakings throughout Australia. This work, which has been of immense value, is revenue-producing, because the services of experts made available by the council are paid for by those industries which are receiving the benefit from this policy.
The council also acts as a means of liaison between the Commonwealth and other countries in matters of scientific research. Provision is made for the council to co-operate,as far as possible, with existing State organizations in the co-ordination of scientific investigation, with a view to the prevention of unnecessary overlapping and the utilization of facilities and staffs available in the States. State committees have also been appointed in each State. The function of these committees is to advise the council with regard to the general business of the council and any particular matter of investigation and research.
Such, briefly, is an outline of the organization and functions of the council, the executive committee of the council, and the State committees. The amendments provided for by the bill are largely of a machinery character, and do not impinge upon the main structure of the Science and Industry Research Act 1926, except in so far as provision is made for vice-chairmen, in addition to the chairman, of State committees of the council to be members of the council.
The purpose of the measure is to amend the principal act in four respects, namely : -
The extension of the scope of the council to cover research into the problems of secondary industries renders it essential that there shall be a widening of representation on the council to provide for the interests which it will serve in the future.
With regard to the proposal to give the council power to acquire property by purchase, I may explain that under the present act the council has power to acquire property by gift, grant or bequest, subject to the approval of the Minister, but not by purchase. This omission is entirely the result of an oversight; in fact, the council has exercised this authority since it came into being. Property, equipment, stores, &c., have been purchased by the council to enable it to discharge its functions. Its power to make purchases of equipment, stores, &c., has not been disputed by the AuditorGeneral; but the purchase of fixed property, such as land, buildings, &c., has been questioned. The purpose of the amendment is. therefore, to place the matter on a proper statutory basis.
In respect of the appointment of permanent officers, the act provides that they shall be engaged for such periods, and shall be subject to such conditions, as are prescribed. This bill renders optional the prescription of conditions, the words “ or as the council, with the approval of the Minister, determines “ being added to the original provision. Regulations already issued under the act provide that officers employed thereunder shall be engaged for such periods, and shall be paid such salaries and allowances, and shall be subject to such conditions as the council, with the approval of the Minister, determines. These regulations are inconsistent with the act, and the purpose of the amendment now proposed is to regularize the matter. There is another object to bo served in rendering optional the prescription of conditions of employment. By reason of the diversity of conditions and the character of the work upon which officers of the council are employed, a certain amount of flexibility is very desirable. There are entomologists following the course of varied problems, in respect of which it is difficult, if not impossible, to lay down any definite conditions of employment; similarly, there are research workers on animal health problems, on plant problems, on cool storage problems, and so on, in respect of which conditions of employment must be regulated in accordance with the progress of experiments.
In some cases it is necessary to send officers overseas to search for predators for pests in Australia; to investigate problems common to other countries; to conduct research where special facilities are available for the purpose, and generally to maintain contact with world scientific works. It is quite impossible to prescribe conditions which would be applicable to all the varied circumstances connected with the employment of these officers. Salaries of officers have, however, been prescribed by regulation, and it is proposed shortly to submit to Parliament regulations covering other main conditions of employment such as recreation leave, sick leave, furlough, travelling allowances, &c., which will be similar to, or will closely correspond with, regulations under the Commonwealth Public Service Act. The council actually adopts very closely Public Service conditions; it deviates from Public Service practice only in exceptional circumstances. That is an added reason why all the rather voluminous regulations now in force under the Public Service Act should not be duplicated to meet the needs of the council.
The council has not hitherto had power to employ temporary or casual employees without the prior approval of the Minister. It frequently becomes necessary to engage employees of this kind when dealing with different investigations. ‘Such matters as the handling of fruit in connexion with cold storage, fruit picking at the dried fruits station at Merbein, the planting out of tobacco seedlings or other kinds of seedlings in connexion with plant investigations, all call for temporary and casual labour. In addition, it is often necessary to cmploy at short notice for brief periods such persons as typists, telephonists, messengers, caretakers, watchmen, office cleaners, &c. The present arrangement whereby the approval of the Minister is necessary is cumbersome, and it is now sought to give the council slightly wider powers in this regard. This, briefly, is the scope of the bill, which I now commend to the Senate.
– T do not propose to offer any opposition to the measure, for I regard the explanatory speech by the Minister as satisfactory. In view of what happened in the earlier part of the sitting, it is a pleasant balm to wounded feelings to be able to return- to a calm atmosphere, and find something on which one can congratulate the Government. I believe that this bill i’s necessary. I have always appreciated the work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and I concur in the introductory remarks of the Minister in which he gave, for the benefit of all senators, particularly those who have recently come amongst us, a brief resume of the history of the council. I was pleased when the functions of this body were recently widened to bring within its purview problems of concern to secondary as well as primary industries. The journal- which the council issues is an exceedingly valuable one, and, although it contains much matter which is necessarily of a highly scientific nature, it is couched in such language’ and contains such illustrations that even a layman can follow the trend of’ the investigations being conducted, and appreciate the results that have been achieved. In some instances, the results have proved very valuable to Australia, and particularly to the industries concerned.
Senator ARTHUR (New South Wales) [8.40 . - I understood the Minister to say that one of the functions of the council is to make grants for the purpose of encouraging scientific and industrial research. He outlined some of the activities of the council, but I did not hear him refer to investigations concerning industrial conditions which affect the health of the employees. On a previous occasion I brought under the notice of the Senate the plight of a large section of the working people who contractdiseases in the course of their employment. The council might well be directed by the Government to use its scientific knowledge for the purpose of alleviating distress known to be suffered on account of occupational diseases. On a former occasion I referred to the condition of some of the men engaged in the coal-mining industry. There is also occupational disease among those employed in the metalliferous section- of the mining industry, and in sewer excavation work. In the baking and other trades occupational disease has reached such alarming proportions that the Government should ask the council to consider means of protecting the health of the employees. Wo are well aware of the evil effects of white lead, yet thousands of pounds are being spent in introducing scientific appliances in industry which may tend to increase the- trouble. We should consider the plight of the invalid pensioners who have been thrown on the industrial scrap-heap. Many discarded employees are forced to accept the pension, because nothing has been done to eliminate occupational diseases; yet a system’ of national insurance has been introduced to enable the Government to recover from, the pensioners the payments made to them. Some time ago I submitted almost a complete scheme for the investigation of the health of the coalminers. I suggested the establishment of a laboratory in- Sydney, arid it seems to me that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research could establish a laboratory in each State to discover means of combating industrial diseases which cause employees to be discarded. If the matter is left where it is at the present time, the Government will hear more about it from me at a future date.
– Will the Minister inform me who is the Chairman of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research?
– Sir George Julius.
– Is Sir Herbert Gepp a member of the council?
– I think not, but he is associated with the work.
– He gave a lecture in Melbourne some time ago under the auspices of the Australian and New Zealand Economic Society, of which I am a member. The council carried on its operations throughout the recent depression, and obtained fine scientific results which showed how production of certain cereals could be increased; but it offered no suggestions as to how the purchase of the increased quantities of products could be assured. A person who can make two blades of grass grow where only one grew previously is said to be a public benefactor. When the council showed how to grow more wheat the price of wheat was only 2s. a bushel; it would have been better if the council had been able, to show how to raise the money to purchase increased quantities of products. I recall Sir Herbert Gepp delivering a lecture on industrial planning, and also hearing at a meeting of the ‘Economic Committee in Hobart an interesting discourse on the same subject by a Mr. Anderson, a graduate of the University of Melbourne. At that gathering a bank manager said that when we were faced with a financial and economic depression certain persons began to plan for everything but the means by which money could be obtained to purchase the product of our industries. I informed the committee that it is easy to talk about increased production, but that we live under a money economy, and that if our financial system will not provide the money with which to purchase goods, increased production is of no advantage. What is the use of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research suggesting means by which production can be increased unless the people have the money to purchase the goods produced? The members of the council have not made any suggestions in that direction. It is useless to pay scientific or any other officers thousands of pounds annually to show how production can be increased if sufficient money is not available to purchase what is being produced. I have brought these facts under the notice of some members of this Parliament, including some members of the House of Representatives holding conservative views. Several have asked me the way in which I think that the purchasing power of the people can be increased and my views on finance generally. Some have come to me and said, “ I want to know more about your system “. I listened this morning to a most interesting speech by a member of the House of Representatives, and when he had concluded his remarks and had left the chamber I informed him that he had spoken of the manner in which money should be expended on defence but had not said how it could be obtained. I suggested the provision of national credit. I also informed him that, when certain legislation was brought before this chamber, honorable senators in Opposition proposed to fight it to the last ditch.
Senator -Crawford. - Does the honorable senator support the Douglas Credit system ?
– I have already this week had an honorable senator called to order for associating me with that system. I have never mentioned the name of Douglas; I base my arguments solely on the community control of credit, which is a part of the policy of the Labour party. Honorable senators will recall that I asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether the Government proposed to adopt a recommendation of the Royal Commission on the Monetary and Banking System that the Commonwealth Bank Board should be asked to issue credit-free loans for war expenditure. The reply was a complete evasion of the question. The Prime Minister said that he was not prepared to ask the Manager of the Commonwealth Bank to issue free credit. The information I desired to obtain was deliberately suppressed. I maintain that, if we do not tackle this subject in a. proper way we shall again he faced with the problem of handling national finance in what has been termed the orthodox way. The Government has recently increased the sales tax by 20 per cent. and the income tax by 15 per cent. in order to provide money to meet defence expenditure, but we shall be recreant to our trust as representatives of the taxpayers if we allow this swindle to continue. When I asked what commission the trading banks received for floating Commonwealth loans I was informed that they obtained 5s. per cent. That does not represent their profit. If a client purchases Government bonds up to a value of £1,000 for cash, the bank can purchase bonds to the value of £7,000 or £8,000 by sending its cheque for that amount, and that is how Government loans are raised. I would have to pass the cash for my purchase, while the bank creates credit to the amount of its purchase; that credit costs it nothing. The Royal Commission on the Banking and Monetary System informed the Government that it can obtain money through the Commonwealth Bank free of interest.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes). - I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the subjectmatter of the bill.
– I am merely showing that the highly-paid experts in the employ of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should employ some of their time in discovering a way in which money can be made available to people, so that they may purchase the goods which industry produces. Money should be made available free of interest to facilitate the work of the council. If the Government is to adhere to “ orthodox methods of finance “ we shall find ourselves in the position in which Great Britain was placed a few weeks ago, when the Prime Minister of the greatest Empire the world has ever known had, in effect, to go down onhis knees to Herr Hitler, and ask him not to fight, because, owing to the orthodox method under which finance is handled, money would not be available to enable Great Britain to engage in war. I have informed the members of the House of Representatives that they should avail themselves of the opportunity now afforded to obtain the necessary credit to provide for national defence.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 (Short title).
Senator COLLETT (Western Australia; [8.54]. - For some time manufacturers and industrialists have sought the establishment of a bureau of standards. If such a bureau is in operation, is it being conducted under the auspices of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research ?
– A bureau of standards is associated with the council, and provision has been made by means of a trust fund to finance its work.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 2 to 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 (Discoveries by officers and employees).
– Have the scientific and other officers associated with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research a free hand as to the direction in which they shall carry out their scientific work, or do they have to act under directions from the Government? Some of the officers of the council could occupy their time on the northern rivers of New South Wales, where a large number of dairy farmers, particularly on the southern side of’ the Lower Clarence River, are concerned with the activities of the New South Wales Tick Board. I understand that the Commonwealth Government has subsidized . this board to the extent of £44,500 over a period of three years, and that a grant of £25,000 has been made for the construction of dips for dairy cattle. I understand that dipping affects the milk production of the cows, and possibly some officials of the council could ascertain whether it is necessary to spend such a large sum of money in a district which is particularly free of tick. Over the border in Queensland dips are going to ruin, while tick- infested kangaroos and wallabies are carrying the pest into New South Wales. If the work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is to be continued it should be in tie interests of the whole community. Some members of the House of Representatives who have particularly large holdings on the Clarence River believe that action should be taken in the direction I have suggested.
– In answer to the first part of Senator Arthur’s question, I point out that the powers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research as set out in Part III. of the regulations include, subject to the regulations and the approval of the Minister, the initiation and carrying out of scientific research in connexion with, or for the promotion of, primary or secondary industries in the Commonwealth. In its last annual report the council dealt at length with the work it is doing in connexion with the cattle industry. The success of this work, of course, depends upon co-operation between the council and the Commonwealth and State Governments, and I might add that each of the State governments has given that co-operation to the fullest possible extent. For instance,, tick areas can .be defined only by the State governments. The Council has done tremendous work in connexion with tick eradication involving the discovery of the habits of the pest. It has also advised State governments and owners of properties in connexion with the quarantining of certain areas. I assure the honorable senator that the council regards this work as an important part of its activities, and I suggest that he study a copy of its last annual report. However, I shall see that his remarks are brought under the notice of the chairman of the council.
– This afternoon Senator Cunningham was successful in obtaining information concerning the conduct of experiments with the rabbit virus myxomatosis on Wardang Island. I impress upon the Minister the absolute urgency of this work. Graziers and pastoralists throughout the Commonwealth have received progress reports of the most satisfactory nature. They have been told by officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research that whilst the virus is at least 50 per cent, successful in the destruction of rabbits, all other animals and humans are immune from it. Surely something can be done to expedite this investigation in order that the virus may be released. In every country district which I have visited I have been asked why, even on the results already achieved, it cannot be released. Settlers say that if the virus could destroy even 50 per cent, of the rabbits - the experiments at Wardang Island reveal better results - the council would be justified in releasing it immediately. I know that this is a serious matter and that nothing should be done in this direction without the approval of officers of the council and public health services. At the same time, however, I suggest that the Government might indicate when these experiments are likely to reach a stage when the release of this virus will be warranted. 1 am sure that every honorable senator would be pleased to have that information.
– I am not a scientist, but in answer to Senator Johnston I should like to say that I have some idea of the seriousness of any action which might destroy the balance of nature. In that direction we must proceed with the greatest possible caution. If the balance of nature be upset in one respect a fresh problem will be created. In the destruction of rabbits with this virus we should hasten’ slowly. There are hundreds of facets to the problem. We must be sure that infected rabbits will not carry the infection to other animals besides rabbits. Some doubt still exists on that point. The honorable senator will appreciate the difficulties of the position. I have had considerable experience in rabbit country in Queensland, and I know that the farmers in those parts are not only interested in getting rid of the rabbits, but also are curious as ‘to whether the experts are absolutely sure that it will not do more harm than the rabbit has ever been able to do. Perhaps the Minister can enlighten Senator Johnston more fully on that point than I am able to do, but I assure the honorable senator that the rabbit problem cannot he settled until the scientists engaged in this work know a great deal more about the problem than they do at present.
– I support the .representations made by Senator Arthur that the council should extend its investigations into diseases peculiar to certain industries. Excellent progress is being made by the laboratory established under the control of the Commonwealth Government at Kalgoorlie in connexion with miners’ diseases. I see no reason why diseases peculiar to other industries could not be investigated in a similar way. Such action would be in. the interests, not * only of the industries concerned, but also of humanity.
. I am” familiar with the investigation being made in connexion with rabbit virus, -because that work was commenced when I was administering this important department. Two points have definitely been established : First, that the virus will not attack any other living organism ; and secondly, that it is . contagious among rabbits. I understand that some difficulty arose in the experiments at Wardang owing to the fact that the vi rus was released in- only one part of the island. Results were confined to that part, apparently, because the rabbit, uses the one warren and the one means of egress and ingress. That, of course, would account to some extent for what might be regarded as a partial failure of these experiments.
I assure the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) that it has been demonstrated beyond doubt that this virus is a carrier. The balance of nature to which he referred can, to that extent, be upset. The progeny of most animals, as is the case with human beings, do not inherit certain diseases, but the disease caused by this virus is hereditary in rabbits. We can regard this virus as satisfactory in two respects : First, it does not breed immunity; and secondly, it will not attack any living organism except rabbits. It has taken years to establish the.se two facts. In reply to Senator Johnston, I point out that the tests so far conducted have not been sufficiently wide to warrant a recommendation that the virus be released to the public. I understand that the experiments are proceeding. However, as we know, the scientist is very cautions and will not pronounce judgment on any experiments until he has exhausted every test.
– I point out to Senator Arthur that investigation into industrial diseases comes within the scope of the Department of Health rather than the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The Commonwealth Department of Health is working in conjunction with the State health departments in investigating phthisis, and as an illustration of its readiness to extend its operations, I point out that it is establishing, in the various capital cities, clinics for the conduct of experiments and demonstrations with regard to the nutrition of children. I assure the honorable senator that his remarks will be brought under the notice of the Department of Health.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 10 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
Standing and sessional orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Foll) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to validate until the 4th May of next year the collections of duties imposed under a customs tariff resolution introduced into the House of Representatives on the 4th May of this year. Honorable senators will recollect that under the Government’s trade diversion policy a licensing system was applied to the importation of a number of classes of goods from certain foreign sources. Towards the end of 1937 the Government reviewed its policy on trade diversion, and on the 7th December, 1937, 1 informed the Senate of the intention of the Government to alter the licensing system and to substitute a system of adequate duties where such action was necessary for the protection of Australian industry. Ultimately, the licensing system was terminated, except in respect of motor chassis. In the meantime, inquiries had been instituted with the object of ascertaining to what extent Australian manufacturers had incurred additional capital expenditure in the production of the goods covered by the trade diversion policy, and the need for further tariff protection to safeguard that capital expenditure, pending reports of the Tariff Board after public inquiry as to the amount of the protection necessary. As a result of those inquiries, the Government came to the conclusion that, pending a public inquiry by the Tariff Board, there was’ need for additional duties under the general tariff on a number of items in order to safeguard either the new capital which had been employed, or the extensions which had taken place. Accordingly, in May last the Government introduced tariff proposals increasing the general tariff rates on a number of lines, including lawnmowers of certain types, refrigerators, fractional horsepower motors, electric fans, spring hinges, advertising posters, pencils of wood, motor vehicle springs, and shock absorbers. It was made clear that these duties were of a temporary nature, and would remain in force only until the Tariff Board had reported upon the various items. Up to the present, the Tariff Board has not completed its reports upon the subjects covered by the tariff proposals of May, 1938, and in order that the capital expenditure incurred may be safeguarded in the meantime, the Government desires to validate the duties from the time of their imposition until the 4th May next. I may mention that it is necessary to have this bill passed by to-morrow as the period of six months from the time of the imposition of the duties will expire on Saturday. When an embargo was placed on the importation of certain goods, a number of industries sprang up in different parts of Australia, ‘and, in addition, some existing industries extended their establishments to manufacture items covered by the embargo. When the licensing system came to an end, these new industries would have been left entirely without protection had not the Government, after careful inquiry, formulated a set of duties to meet the situation. At the same time it asked the Tariff Board to report on every industry which had been affected by the trade diversion policy.
– When does the Minister expect to receive a report from the Tariff Board?
– I cannot say. When the Government submitted these matters to the Tariff Board it urged that body to expedite its inquiries.
– The Tariff Board has had some references before it for two years.
– The duties are only temporary, but unless they are validated this week it will be necessary to introduce a fresh schedule, and there is a possibility of applications being made for refunds of duty amounting to a considerable sum. The industries concerned know that the existing duties are only of a temporary nature. When the Tariff Board’s reports come to hand, the Government will be in a position to know what protection should be given to these industries.
– Is it the policy of the Government to act on the advice of the Tariff Board or to anticipate its recommendations?
– The Government has . consistently acted on the advice of the Tariff Board.
– It has anticipated the board’s reports.
– No. These are merely temporary protective duties, pending reports by that body.
– The declared policy of the Government is that duties shall not be raised without reference to the Tariff Board.
– The duties have not been raised. They are merely temporary duties pending the receipt of the Tariff Board’s reports.
Debate ‘. (on motion by [Senator Collings) adjourned.
Lyons Ministry : Resignationof Postmaster-General.
Senator A. J. McLACHLAN (South
Australia - Postmaster-General) [9.25]. - 1 move -
That theSenate do now adjourn.
This may be the last occasion on which, as Leader of the Senate, I shall make this motion, for I have to-day addressed the following letter to the Prime Minister : -
Canberra, A.C.T., 3rd November, 1938.
My dear Prime Minister,
On the notice-paper of the House of Representatives to-day I find a question by Mr. George Lawson, making inquiries as to the companies of which I am a director, and furthermore asking ifthe department of which I am at present in control enters into contracts with some of theme companies.
I have made no secret of the fact thatI am a director and chairman of directors of the Hume Pipe Company of Australia Limited. thesupply of materials for post office requirements is arranged by inviting public tenders, which, in addition to beingadvertised in the Commonwealth Gazette, are brought under the notice of the firms from whom it has been customary to receive tenders. On receipt of tenders, the details are scheduled and analysed from the point of view of determining those which will provide the most economical supply of the material needed to meet the department’s requirements.
They are then examined by a tender board consisting of three ofthe most highly-placed officers of the department, who submit a recommendation with the necessary details supporting their views, to the Director-General.
The Director-General reviews the basis of the recommendations and the extent of the orders tobe placed and issues the necessary instructions to the Chief Inspector of Stores, who then executes the contract with the successful tenderer.
It is not the practice to bring these matters under the notice of the Postmaster-General excepting in unusual circumstances, such as, for instance, the placing of substantial orders with foreign firms.I have never been consulted in regard to the placing of contracts for pipes or ducts with firms with whom I may be associated or with any others, nor haveI any departmental or personal knowledge of such contracts.
Having regard to the suggestion underlying the question that I may in some obscure way have influenced the department,I feel that one course only is open to me, and that is to tender my resignation as Postmaster-General.
ThisI do with some reluctance at such a time, but the protection of my honour and the honour of the Government against any insinuation that underlies the question on the notice-paper leave no other course open to me, andappears to be the one I should adopt under the circumstances.
I shall carry on the business of the Senate and of the department until I hear from you.
TheRt. Hon. J. A. Lyons, C.H., M.P.,
Prime Minister of the Commonwealth,
My only regret is that the public life of this democracy has sunk so low that it should be for one moment suspected that a man would abuse the trust reposed in him by the Crown. I say that it is a degradation of democracy that such a charge should be made. My personal honour is dearer to me than all the pelf in the world.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Nauru - Ordinances of 1938 -
No. 1 - Official Secrecy.
No. 3 - Laws Repeal and Adopting.
Air Force Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1938, No. 97.
Air Navigation Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1938, No. 104.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1938, No. 96- No. 98.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Miranda, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Senate adjourned at 9.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 November 1938, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1938/19381103_senate_15_157/>.