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1891 AUSTRALASIAN FEDERATION CONFERENCE
- DEBATES - MARCH 2
- DEBATES - MARCH 3
- DEBATES - MARCH 4
- DEBATES - MARCH 5
- DEBATES - MARCH 6
- DEBATES - MARCH 9
- DEBATES - MARCH 10
- DEBATES - MARCH 11
- DEBATES, - MARCH 12
- DEBATES - MARCH 13
- DEBATES - MARCH 16
- DEBATES - MARCH 17
- DEBATES - MARCH 18
- DEBATES - MARCH 24
- DEBATES - MARCH 31
- DEBATES - APRIL 1
- DEBATES - APRIL 2
- DEBATES - APRIL 3
- DEBATES - APRIL 6
- DEBATES - APRIL 7
- DEBATES - APRIL 8
- DEBATES - APRIL 9
- DELEGATIONS FROM COLONIES
- INDEX TO DEBATES
- APPENDIX. COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA BILL 1891
- INDEX TO SPEECHES
Content Window1891 Australasian Federation Conference
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[start page 905]
THURSDAY, 9 APRIL, 1891.
Addresses-Commonwealth of Australia Bill (Adoption of Committee's Report)-Adoption of the Constitution-Establishment of the Constitution-Report of the-Proceedings and Debates-Votes of Thanks-Officers of the Convention-Dissolution of the Convention.
The PRESIDENT took the chair at 11 a.m.
The PRESIDENT: I have received an address from the Sydney Chamber of Commerce. I should explain that this address is dated 11th March last; but I have no recollection of its being received. A copy of it has been made, which the secretary will now read, and also an address from the Chamber of Commerce at Suva.
The following addresses were read by the secretary:-
Sydney Chamber of Commerce,
Sydney, 11 March, 1891.
The Hon. Sir Henry Parkes, G.C.M.G., President, Australasian Federation Convention, Sydney, New South Wales.
Sir,-I have the honor to inform you that at the first meeting of the committee of this convention, since the opening of the Australasian Federation Convention (held this day) the following resolution was unanimously adopted:-
That the Sydney Chamber of Commerce cordially welcomes the delegates of the Australasian Federation Convention, watches with profound interest their deliberations, and hopes their labours may eventuate in the increased commercial prosperity of federated Australasia.
I have, &c.,
HENRY CHAS. MITCHELL,
Chamber of Commerce, Suva, Fiji,
1 April, 1891.
Gentlemen,-I have the honor, on behalf of the Suva Chamber of Commerce, to offer my and their sincere congratulations to you, as members of a convention assembled, for a purpose so important to the welfare of the whole of the Australasian group.
Although Fiji has no representative among you, yet no less is she included amongst the colonies of Australasia. My chamber, cognisant and proud of that fact, desire therefore to add their testimony to
that of the other colonies to the importance of the work you have undertaken, and to mark its sense of the efficient manner in which it is being conducted.
Wishing you all success in your onerous undertaking. I have, &c.,
HENRY H. MARKS,
Chairman, Suva Chamber of Commerce.
COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA BILL.
ADOPTION OF COMMITTEE'S REPORT.
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH: I rise to move:
That the draft bill reported from the Committee be adopted by this Convention.
I do not propose to make any lengthy speech in support of this motion. In bringing up the draft bill from the Constitutional Committee, I had the opportunity to explain briefly its provisions, and they have since been very fully considered in the Committee of the whole Convention; but the alterations made in the bill have not in any way affected its principles. They have left me nothing new to add, and I do not feel disposed to make a speech merely for the sake of speaking. I only desire, if I may, to offer my congratulations to the Convention upon having proceeded so far in their work. I, for one, believe that the constitution which we have framed, although it probably does not meet exactly the views of any member of the Convention, will probably command itself to a large majority of us. Indeed, the probability is that it is the best constitution that could be framed with any chance of acceptance by the people of the colonies. I am satisfied that the more it is considered by them the more they will be inclined to come to that conclusion. Without further preface I submit the motion to the Convention.
Mr. DIBBS: I do not rise with the view of offering any lengthy remarks, but to elicit certain information. I would like the hon. gentleman who has had charge of the bill, and who so largely helped in its preparation, and so ably carried it through [start page 906] Committee, to offer some explanation which would make one or two of the clauses a little clearer. I would first direct the hon. gentleman's attention to chapter I, clause 52, sub-clause 3. By this sub-clause power is given to the commonwealth to raise money
by any other mode or system of taxation; but so that all such taxation shall be uniform throughout the commonwealth.
Then, if the hon. member will turn to chapter V, clause 1, he will find these words:
All powers which at the date of the establishment of the commonwealth are vested in the parliaments of the several colonies, and which are not by this constitution exclusively vested in the parliament of the commonwealth, or withdrawn from the parliaments of the several states, are reserved to, and shall remain vested in, the parliaments of the states respectively.
It seems to me that some little explanation is required as to whether the powers of which the colonies now stand possessed of raising money by any mode of taxation which they think fit, is taken out of their hands, and left absolutely with the proposed commonwealth parliament.
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH: No; the federal parliament has power to make laws on certain subjects, and until it does so the powers of the states remain.
Mr. DIBBS: I know that; but when the commonwealth has dealt with customs and excise, the sole power of dealing with customs and excise will remain in the hands of the commonwealth, and not of the states. It is about clause 52, sub-clause 3, that I particularly want information, and I am sure the people of the colony will be very glad to have some explanation of the matter from the hon. member. This sub-clause will give the commonwealth exclusive power of raising money by any form of taxation.
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH: No; concurrent power!
Mr. DIBBS: Where is the word "concurrent"? I failed to gather from the debate that there was any means of raising money except by taxation. The clause says that, "so that all such taxation shall be uniform throughout the commonwealth" it shall be left in the hands of the commonwealth. I feel sure that hon. members will be glad to be perfectly clear on this point, because the bill will be discussed in the various parliaments, and we shall have to face our constituents upon it. It is therefore necessary for us to have the fullest information, so that we may be able to place it before the people throughout the parliaments. I want it to be clearly understood that the states have not forfeited their rights of taxation by allowing the 3rd sub-clause of clause 52, part V, relating to the powers of the commonwealth to raise money, to pass as it stands in the bill. To make my meaning clear, I will put a case: Take the case of New South Wales. This colony requires to raise, in round numbers, something like £2,000,000 for the annual payment of interest on our public debt. We shall require, in all probability, to go to the country for a land-tax and an income-tax, and what I wish to arrive at is as to whether the states will be able to look to land and income as sources of revenue when this constitution becomes law, and when the 3rd sub-clause of clause 52 stands as portion of the law of the land.
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH: Yes!
Mr. MUNRO: Certainly!
Mr. DIBBS: Then let the explanation be made known. Let it be understood that the people of Australia will be liable to two forms of taxation in the shape of income-tax and land-tax; that the commonwealth may agree to a land and income-tax, and that the states will have left to them the power of also agreeing to an income-tax for state purposes. If the hon. member, Sir Samuel Griffith, will make that perfectly clear, we shall know how we stand. Whilst the hon. gentleman is making the explanation, I trust he [start page 907] will also make another explanation. This bill has been framed in a remarkably short space of time, and has been passed in a shorter time than any such important bill has been passed in any other part of the world.
Mr. ABBOTT: It only took nineteen days for the American people to form their constitution!
Mr. DIBBS: The hon. member speaks from his knowledge of history, which he has read with his eyes and understood with his elbows.
Mr. ABBOTT: That is the hon. gentleman's usual courtesy!
Mr. DIBBS: When the hon. gentleman makes a statement which is at once corrected by those around him, he might apologise for the interruption. We are here, not to deal with matters of courtesy, but to perform a solemn duty; and we have a right to obtain all the information we possibly can. After to-day there will be no opportunity of asking questions and obtaining information, and we shall only have the ex parte statements of the strong advocates of federation, or the strong opponents of federation. The hon. gentleman who has prepared this bill is the proper person to give us any information which is required, and I know he will cheerfully do so. Another point on which I desire
information-and not myself alone but other members of the Convention-is in regard to what is termed the inspection law. On page 20 of the revised copy of the bill, and in clause 13, it is stated:
A state shall not impose any taxes or duties on imports or exports, except such as are necessary for executing the inspection laws of the state; and the net produce of all taxes and duties imposed by a state on imports or exports shall be for the use of the commonwealth; and any such inspection laws may be annulled by the parliament of the commonwealth.
If the hon. member, Sir Samuel Griffith, will add to his other obligations to the Convention, and to myself personally, by giving some information as to the meaning of the expression "inspection law," I shall esteem it a favour. I only ask these very important questions because the public will require to know whether, by adopting this constitution, they are granting to their own state parliaments the power of taxing land and income, and whether they are giving an equal power to the commonwealth parliament-whether each parliament will have that power, or whether it is reserved to the commonwealth to make one uniform system of land-tax and income-tax throughout the country.
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH: If the members of the Convention will allow me to answer the hon. gentleman I shall be very glad to do so. The hon. gentleman asks whether the powers of taxation, other than those relating to customs and excise, will be exclusively vested in the federal parliament, or whether the other parliaments will also possess those powers. There is no doubt that all the parliaments of the states will have precisely the same powers of taxation as they have at present, with the sole exception of the right to impose customs and excise duties, after a uniform tariff has been established. It is possible that both parliaments might impose taxes on the same thing. That cannot be helped. I am sure the federal parliament would never impose direct taxation excepting in a case of great national urgency. The other question the hon. gentleman asks is as to what is the meaning of inspection laws. Import duties might be imposed under the guise of inspection laws. For instance, a stock-tax might be imposed, and it might be termed an inspection tax; the cattle might be inspected with the object of seeing whether they are suffering from pleuro-pneumonia, and 10s. a head for the inspection might be charged. The clause dealing with that matter is the same as the one contained in the Constitution of the United States, to prevent states [start page 908] imposing import duties under such pretences. They may very properly pass inspection laws for instance in the case of stock suffering from disease, or in the case of tea, kerosene, explosives, or articles of that kind; but if they have the power to do that it should be for the purposes of inspection only, and they ought not to use the power to place a restriction on trade.
The Vice-President took the chair.
Sir HENRY PARKES: I hope I shall have no need to offer apologies for saying a few words at this stage of our business. I naturally must have, in some measure, a special interest in the event which has taken place. It is only some seventeen months ago since the proposal for holding this Convention was first made, and I think I may say with all sincerity I never in my most sanguine moments, expected that we should reach this great and important stage at so early a date. It is a pleasure to me to recognise the voice of the hon. member, Mr. Munro, as the first definite voice that gave me encouragement. About the time when my letter to the hon. member, Mr. Gillies, was sent at the end of the year 1889, the hon. member, Mr. Munro, made a speech to his constituents at Geelong, and I noticed, naturally enough, that in that speech he emphatically and unreservedly expressed his concurrence in the proposal then made. Another gentleman here was the second to give me a word of concurrence and encouragement, very soon after what fell from the hon. member, Mr. Munro-that is, Sir Thomas McIlwraith. I could not for a moment suppose that events would march so rapidly as they have done, and a few months afterwards I was most pleasurably surprised by the cordial support to this proposal offered by the late premier of Victoria, the hon. member, Mr. Gillies, and also by the hon. member, Mr. Deakin. Since then things have gone on with increasing speed, until we have arrived at the conclusion of the work of this Convention. I have no more to say in words of that character; but I desire now to offer my most sincere congratulations to the delegates from the different Australian colonies, not simply on the result of their labours, but also on the admirable tact, the
untiring perseverance, and the disposition to consider each others' views, which have characterised the whole of the proceedings of this Convention. Naturally in an assembly of forty-five gentleman, many of them leaders of public opinion, it could not be otherwise than that there would be strong differences of opinion; but, however strongly marked those differences of opinion have been, they have never sunk into what could be called vituperation, or even distrust-not in one single instance to my knowledge. We must make fair allowances for men's feelings and for their different modes of giving expression to those feelings; but, on the whole, the proceedings of this Convention have been marked by a regard for each other, and by a disposition to reach the great end we have had in view with as much harmony as possible, which, I think, is in the highest degree creditable, and I think that the work which we have performed, taken as a whole, may be considered a great and valuable work. I can speak very freely of the constitution bill prepared, because I have had no direct hand in the preparation of it, nor any hand at all, beyond stating my reasons in the committee appointed for that purpose, and offering much suggestions as occurred to me. I venture to think that it would be very difficult to find any document of the same character which, in the manner in which it has been reasoned out, and the clearness with which its principles are expressed, would be very superior to the document which we have produced, and I venture to think that all these colonies may, and I dare to prophesy, although it is rather a dangerous thing to prophesy, that they [start page 909] will be quite satisfied with the result of these labours. There have been points of dissent and contention, naturally enough, incoming to our conclusions; but again I venture to think that those points of dispute, as time rolls on, will be found to have been best treated in this bill. I allude specially to the powers of the senate, to the position of the governor-general, and to the status of the governors of the colonies. I venture to think that experience will show that the compromise arrived at has been, considering the adverse opinions held by hon. gentleman, a wise, temperate, and successful compromise. The more the bill is discussed, I feel persuaded the better it will be for it, and I am certain that in the light of discussion all those compromises will appear to have been wise and just. I do not think that I ought to be restrained from making some reference to the opponents of federation outside this Convention. We may be sure that the bill will meet with perhaps virulent opposition. We know with what violence of feeling, with what violence of expression, every great work at every period of history has been assailed by those who were opposed to it, and still more by those who assailed it for no reason at all, and under no guidance that could be intelligible. We know that at all times in the mother country when great constitutional changes have taken place-not less in America-the most violent and unscrupulous expressions of opinion and exhibitions of conduct were indulged in by persons who manifested them not so much from their opposition to some particular constitutional change as from their disposition to do mischief. I was reading in a book, which, I think, lies on the table, that during the administration of Washington a rabble which filled the streets of Philadelphia cried out that Washington should be dragged out of his house and dealt with by the populace; and in the same book it is stated that the second President of America was held in such detestation by some persons that when a mother brought her infant son to the baptismal font and desired him to be christened "Thomas Jefferson"-Thomas Jefferson Jones, for example-the minister peremptorily refused to christen him, and stated that he would rather christen him Beelzebub. I read in the same book of one pious old gentleman who raised his head from his dying pillow and cried out that he believed in Jesus Christ and the resurrection, but that he had a wholesome hatred for the devil and Tom Jefferson. When such manifestations of feeling as that have been excited against the men who are now regarded as public benefactors, we also may expect to meet with abuse. The first class who will adversely criticise the work of this Convention will be the uninformed and the reckless. They are always ready to denounce any work which they cannot comprehend, and they exist everywhere in New South Wales, in Victoria, in South Australia, and in all parts of these colonies. But it is worthy of remark, and I think I am quite entitled to point out at this moment that, of all those who so far have criticised in adverse terms the work of this Convention, there is not one that has given a clear reason for the course he has taken, nor one that has stated the case with any degree of veracity and truth. I will give examples. We have been accused of giving away the liberties of New South Wales, and no doubt the hon. gentleman opposite, Mr. Gillies, and the hon. gentleman behind me, Mr. Munro, will hear that we have given away the liberties of Victoria. I have no doubt that my athletic friend, Mr. Kingston, will hear the same thing in South Australia. But I want to ask what liberties we have given away? I suppose the liberties of a free people consist in the protection of their possessions, their lives, [start page 910] their
property under the laws of the country, and the protection of their free exercise of the franchises which they enjoy under the constitution. Have we touched either? Have we given away any security under the laws of the country? Have we given away, in any degree whatever, the iberties enjoyed under the political institutions of this country? We rather-not rather, but in a marked degree, extend the province of law, and endeavour to make it more accessible and more completely satisfactory to all classes of the country, and, in regard to the liberties of the people of this country, so far from giving away any particle of these liberties, our efforts tend to vastly extend them. The people of New South Wales, for example, enjoy every atom of liberty which they enjoyed before, but their liberties will be circumscribed only by the shores of Australia as a whole. Now, they have liberty and political power confined to a very small space on this continent-then they will have liberty and power extended over the whole of the colonies. How we can be accused of giving away the liberties of the people when the direct contrary is the case-when we have greatly and benevolently, and justly extended the liberties of all classes of the people-passes understanding. Then we are accused of giving away the lands. I will take New South Wales again, though of course, the case might be stated in connection with any one of the other colonies. We are accused of giving away the lands of New South Wales. That is so incorrect that I think I shall be pardoned if I characterise it as a shameful perversion of the truth. For so far front giving away one inch of the lands of New South Wales, we have taken special care to guard the lands, and the territorial rights, as they stand at the present moment. And this remark applies to all the other colonies. Then, again, we are told-and this, especially, is aimed at New South Wales-that we have given up the control of our inland rivers, the Murray and the Darling. We have done nothing of the kind. What we really have done in this bill is to allow the federal government to so regulate these rivers that their navigation and traffic shall be best promoted in the interests of all the conterminous colonies. Is not that simply just? If in regard to the Murray and the Darling this is done, what becomes of the Murray which I believe flows fully 200 miles through the territory of South Australia? Would not that be in our interest? Does not New South Wales, does not Victoria desire to use the Murray for all the purposes of trade? And if the Murray and the Darling in New South Wales are controlled in the interests of all Australia, in the interests of all the neighbouring colonies, is not the Murray in its flow through South Australia, with South Australian land on both its banks, and no other, equally conserved in the interests of New South Wales? So that I think I am fully justified in saying that the persons who have set up to denounce our work have no case whatever, and they attempt to put forth no case which is not based upon gross misrepresentation of facts, and which cannot be supported by reason. It is proper, at this stage of my observations, to point out that if we are going to federate, if we are in earnest in our desire to make an Australian nation, we must to a very large extent, look to the whole of Australia. I, as a citizen of New South Wales, so far as I may have influence, must look to Victoria, to South Australia, to Western Australia, to Queensland, and to the new colonies which are sure to come into existence just as much as I look to New South Wales, when I am viewing any matter in a federal light and as a federal transaction. No doubt it will be our duty to see that our respective colonies are not injured [start page 911] in the administration which may follow, and very possibly at no very distant date, upon our work of the last five or six weeks. No one can complain of that. So far from complaining of it, the man would be hardly fit to have a home in any one of the colonies who did not guard his own particular state from intrusion, from trespass, and from wrong. But we must look beyond all that; and we must look to the national powers, the national rights, and the national progress of the government which we are about to erect, and this government would be imperfect indeed if it had not a voice in the determination of how our inland navigation, let the question arise in whatever colony it may, is to be controlled for the benefit of these congeries of states-for this new nation made out of five or six hitherto separated colonies. Now, it is very unpleasant to dwell-and I do not intend to do so-upon a subject of this character; but when we find persons endeavouring to awaken animosity in the public mind against the work of the Convention, who give no reason for what they are doing, who cannot, apparently from some defect in their intellectual structure, state any case with accuracy, we may well, I think, state how ill-founded their accusations are, and may well be pardoned for stating the naked truth. I think I have exhausted the category of anathemas hurled at us by certain people out of doors. I think I have pointed out that in every case these vituperative attacks are based either upon ignorance or upon a wilful misrepresentation of the real facts. We have arrived now at the finish of this bill, in which I think every delegate may justifiably take a clear pride. This bill, I have no doubt whatever, will be ratified by the people of these colonies. I have no doubt
whatever in my mind that the large colonies will ratify this bill. I see nothing in it which can possibly germinate into a valid ground for withdrawing the popular assent from its provisions. I see as much as we could possibly expect in the measure to commend it to the approval of nearly all classes of the people in these free states. I offer these observations on the motion for the adoption of this report, because it appears to me the proper time. Looking to the future from the point at which we have now arrived, I feel that I only state the plain truth in stating that this bill, for the preparation of which my hon. friend, Sir Samuel Griffith, deserves so much praise, will be a document remembered as long as Australia and the English language endure. That is a bold expression, but not an extravagant one. The colonies must federate, or, in other words, they must come together, and be one some day or other. I will assume for a moment that that day has not arrived now. If that be the case, it cannot be far off; and whenever the time comes this admirably drawn bill, so clear, so instinct with the true spirit of well-ordered liberty, so instinct with a true appreciation of stable and sober laws, so pervaded by the very spirit of toleration and mutual consideration-that come whenever that day may, this bill must be in the foundation of the edifice of federal liberty. It can never be forgotten, it can never be depreciated, it can never be made less than it is to-day; and supposing another constitution should be framed by other men, to a very large extent the provisions of this bill must be embodied in that constitution, so that this Convention has breathed into this bill the breath of an immortal life. As long as these colonies exist, as long as the language we speak exists, this will be one of the great foundation stones in raising towards heaven the temple of the nation's liberties. We may well then be satisfied. I must say my own attendance here has been somewhat exacting. I think the attendance of my hon. friends, the delegates from Queensland, must have been equally so. All must [start page 912] have made great sacrifices; but we may well be satisfied with what we have done. Under any circumstances, no body of men could have done much more, and I, for one, do not think that misrepresentation will have much power in diverting the attention of the public from the true merits of our labours. I support the motion for the adoption of this report with every possible feeling of concurrence. I have no doubt the motion will be carried unanimously, and I have no doubt whatever that our approval will be re-echoed by the best portions of the population of all these colonies. Our labours, under our commissions, are so far at an end. But some of us will have to fight the battle of the bill in the parliaments, and before the peoples of these countries. I shall enter upon that task with a light heart, and a conscience that tells me we have done well, that we have done our best, that we have not been diverted by any inferior object, and that, almost without exception, we have engaged in our work with a wholeness of soul and the exercise of our best thoughts. The result of our labours, I say unhesitatingly, will be generally approved by all the most thoughtful of the population, by all those in fact who are most competent to form an opinion on so difficult, so complex, and so hazardous a labour as ours has been. I give my support to the motion of the hon. member, Sir Samuel Griffith, and I have no doubt whatever that the support I give will fairy represent the support the bill will receive from the people of this country.
Mr. MUNRO: I do not think it is necessary for me to say much on the present occasion. In fact, the time has now arrived when we must be departing for our colonies, the work we undertook having been completed. I quite agree with the hon. member, Sir Henry Parkes, that, under all the circumstances, we ought to be satisfied with the work that has been done. Personally, I must say that the present position of affairs is altogether better than that I expected to see about ten days ago. Coming together, as we did, from the various colonies, under a mandate from our parliaments, to frame a constitution, each of us coming with life-long convictions, and with a determination to do what we could to make the constitution the best one possible, of course it was to be expected that there should be a large amount of difference of opinion, and that our opinions should be very strongly expressed. But I am happy to say, with you, sir, that while that was the case there was little or no personal misunderstanding amongst us. I, for one, feel that it is a high honor to have been a member of this Convention. I shall feel, for the rest of my life, the pleasure of having met the hon. gentlemen sent here as representatives of the various parliaments on an occasion like this, to exchange views and consider this great question. To all of us, I think, that is a pleasure we shall not forget. Of course we knew a number of these hon. gentlemen by name from the important positions which they occupy in their various colonies, but we have now met face to face, and I, who have expressed my views as strongly as any one as to what the constitution should be, feel that each one who has addressed the
Convention, from the first day until now, has done so with an honest intention to get the best constitution possible for the various colonies. Some have differed very materially from me in their views, but I am bound to acknowledge that they felt as strongly as I did that their own views should be given effect to. We feel, of course, that in the bill before us none, perhaps, has obtained all he would like to get, and it may be that we would all like to get a great deal. I quite agree with you, sir, that the best thanks of this Convention are due to the gentleman who drafted the bill, and who managed in such [start page 913] an excellent manner to put the various compromises in such words that we could easily understand what they meant, and so that we could feel that justice had been done to all of us. I was very glad indeed to hear you refer to the fact that I was among the first to give in my adhesion to your views when you announced that we must have a federal parliament. I remember the circumstances very well. I had the honor of meeting the late Governor of New South Wales, Lord Carrington. He felt very strongly with regard to this matter, and he asked me what my views were. I told him that he could convey to the hon. member, Sir Henry Parkes, my congratulations on the position he was taking up, and that I believed as far as Victoria was concerned we should assist to the best of our ability in carrying out federation. I then had to address my constituents, and of course gave expression to my views in that direction. I am sure we all feel, as you, sir, feel, that our work is not finished; that it is practically only begun. We have now a constitution of which we may well be proud, but we have to go back to the various colonies and constituencies and put the question before them. I do trust and hope that the aspirations, especially of the rising generation of Australians, for a united Australia will be given effect to under this constitution. I hope that the little difficulties of adjustment that may arise at the initiation of this constitution will not prevent any of the colonies from joining. I know, for instance, that our friend from New Zealand, the hon. member, Sir George Grey, feels greatly disappointed because we did not depart from our instructions so far as to insist upon an alteration of the constitutions of the various colonies.
Sir GEORGE GREY: What instructions?
Mr. MUNRO: Our instructions were to frame a constitution for the Australian colonies that would be just to all the colonies; and I venture to say that no man would assert that it would be just to the colonies for us to insist here upon an alteration of their electoral system before we framed a constitution. I venture to say that gentlemen who represent the various constituencies in the colonies have a perfect right to exercise their own judgment with a view to carrying out the views of their constituents, and we have no right to interfere with them in that direction. I am thoroughly with the hon. gentleman in his views on the question of one man one vote, and believe that principle should be given effect to in our laws. But that is not our business here. It is not our business to interfere with local legislation. We must allow the various colonies to do what they think fit in that direction. I trust that the result of the debates here will be to incite all of us in the various colonies to see that that principle shall be carried into effect at the earliest date possible; but to have any dispute on that point now would be entirely out of place, because this is not the arena for it. We came here for a very different purpose, and I feel that we have done good work. Of course we are told that we have given away the rights and privileges of the people. I feel, on the contrary, that we have enlarged all the privileges of the people-that we have enlarged the scope of the enterprise of all the colonies. We shall have opened the country from one end to the other to every man in it as soon as this constitution shall have been adopted, so that we shall all form one people. I shall not feel, for instance, in voting for representatives to the federal parliament, that my power is limited by the Murray on the one side and the sea on the other. I shall feel that the power of that vote extends to Carpentaria in one direction, and, if Western Australia joins us, to Freemantle in the other. If that be so, surely, instead of giving away our [start page 914] rights and privileges, we are enlarging them. We are enabling our friends in Western Australia, who are at present cooped up in one-third of the continent to vote in such a manner that their power will extend from one shore of Australia to the other, and enabling them to feel that instead of being part of a small colony they are part of a powerful commonwealth, of which we may well be proud. I have great pleasure in supporting the adoption of the report.
Mr. DEAKIN: While I do not desire to detain the Convention, it yet appears possible to add one or two words of a general nature upon the final stage which we have now reached. It is rather too
early for us to separate ourselves from our work and its details so as to be able to regard it dispassionately as a whole. The task on which we have been engaged for the last six weeks has been onerous and arduous to an almost unparalleled degree. Critics who look to the record of our debates, admirably rendered as they have been by the Hansard staff of this colony, will not derive even from that excellent statement a full view of all the circumstances which have been operating upon the minds of hon. members. There is much unstated in that record, because the delegates to this Convention have practically lived together for six weeks in private as well as in public intercourse, and from the natural action and reaction of mind upon mind have been gradually shaping their thoughts upon this great question. The bill which we present is the result of a far more intricate, intellectual process than is exhibited in our debates; unless the atmosphere in which we have lived as well as worked is taken into consideration, the measure as it stands will not be fully understood. And now the hour has struck for our departure, and the work; so far as we can shape it, is about to leave our hands. The time for construction has passed, and the time for criticism has begun. So far from presenting ourselves as a phalanx resisting criticism from the public outside, we have courted it from the outset. Every important step, and every practical step in shaping the constitution has been taken in the full light of day. We send it to the people of Australia, not only informing them of the reasons in favour of the particular provisions we have adopted, but with information contained in the record of all the reasons that could be urged against them. If there are enemies of federation, if there are hostile critics, I undertake to say that none of them will be able to present arguments against these proposals which may not be found in some form already embodied in our debates. We come before the public, not in an attitude of resistance, but of confidence. The whole process of constitution-making has, as far as possible, taken place under their eyes, and they will form their judgment on the whole of the facts. Those who turn to the pages of this Hansard, recollecting the report of the meeting held in Melbourne twelve months ago, will surely be struck by one important circumstance, and that is, the immense distance which has been travelled since the conference of 1890. A reader of the speeches delivered on that occasion must be struck by their obvious and their necessary generality. Federation was then in the air, and only in the air; even after the conference it still remained to a large extent with but a phantasmal existence. To-day it has taken form, and shape, and substance. It is reduced to type; and one form of federation, at all events, is presented for the criticism of the whole continent. Every member who was present at that Melbourne Conference, with the solitary exception of Sir John Hall, an able representative of New Zealand, is a member of this present Convention. One other, whose presence we were fortunate enough to enjoy at both meetings, whose ability we all appreciated, and whose up [start page 915] right public spirit we all revered, the late Mr. Macrossan, has been unfortunately taken from us during our proceedings. But, with one exception, the whole of the members who took part in the Melbourne Conference have joined in this Convention, and although they may be supposed to have exercised a natural influence on the course of the debates, yet the actual product-the actual result of the practical working of this Convention is something very different from what even the wisest of those person dreamed of twelve months ago. You, sir-and who more competent to pass a judgment?-have said that the celerity with which this movement has advanced has taken even you by surprise, and those who feel called upon for historical and political purposes to gauge it by its public records will re-echo and reiterate your verdict when they compare the excellent but shadowy work done by that conference twelve months ago with the solid practical outcome which we are presenting to-day. I take it that we may remit this bill to our constituents with some confidence, since it is a natural outgrowth of the constitutions already existing in Australia, of which we ourselves have had experience, striking its roots back to that British Constitution from which the free institutions of our race have sprung. It does not present the same features as the constitution of the mother country, nor yet is it identical, by any means, with any single constitution which can be found in Australia; but it ought to be a source of confidence to note that it has proceeded on the same well-grounded lines and well proved methods which have received the sanction of our people in all these colonies. This constitution will not present itself to them as something strange, foreign, or abnormal; but as something which their own experience will have prepared them to understand and appreciate. The work of our hands, although it will bear traces of the study of the constitutions of the United States and of Canada, and of constitutions even more remote, is yet distinctly an Anglo-Saxon, saturated through and through with the spirit and confidence of self-government, which has been characteristic of the race. This may encourage us to hope that our constituents will extend to it the
same consideration which they require to give to all political expedients. They will not have expected as the outcome of our deliberations a scheme which any particular section or party would consider perfect; without deifying compromise, they should admit that the very fashion in which it has been shaped offers one of the best guarantees for its future harmonious working. If those who occupy the proud position of representing the people of Australia under this new constitution meet and deliberate on the many difficulties left for their solution, and to which we have only opened the doors, in that same spirit, of moderation which has been exhibited in these discussions-with the same tolerance, fairmindedness, and anxious disposition to arrive at a reasonable compromise-and surely we are entitled to expect more rather than less from them-then the people of these colonies need feel no hesitation whatever in setting their seal to the draft bill which we have had the honor of preparing. Without entering upon details, which have been sufficiently dealt with for practical purposes during the debate, let me add that for my own part I should have preferred to see the second chamber no antithesis of the first in any respect, but simply a body for the securing of that permanence and stability which are necessary for good government, gifted with authority to discuss and powers to delay sufficient to make it certain that no popular measure could find its way to the statute-book unless it were proved to have been well reasoned upon and approved of by the people in the maturity of their judgment. Though I should have [start page 916] preferred to see the upper chamber more strictly limited to functions of that kind, yet I cannot conceal from myself the fact that it will be elected by select constituencies-constituencies which will keep the central government in touch with the local governments of the various states, and which should produce harmony between the working of the state parliaments and the central parliament. A body of this dignity, and charged with such important functions, may reasonably be awarded a higher position than that of the upper house of any single colony. I should have preferred to see the fiscal question dealt with in a different fashion, not by way of imposing any policy on the future parliament of Australia-I am perfectly satisfied as to what that policy will be-but by way of giving confidence to those who have invested capital in our manufacturing industries. Although I should have preferred this, yet my confidence is unabated in the ultimate result of the fiscal liberty conferred. I do not believe that there is any real danger to protection from that source. What I desired to do was to allay the fears-not altogether unreasonable, if not sufficiently well founded-of those who look forward with apprehension to the passing of a uniform tariff, possibly a lower tariff than that at present in force in some colony upon some articles. And, finally, on the question of the amendment of the constitution, it appears to me that the proposition which I think the hon. and learned member, Sir Samuel Griffith, had in his mind when he spoke of preparing amendments of the constitution by conventions-the practice which obtains in the separate states of the American Union, where the question of the amendment of the constitution is remitted to conventions, and the several amendments prepared by them are then submitted to a direct vote of the electors. That would, in my opinion, have been a more satisfactory manner of providing for future changes of the constitution than that which has found its place in the bill, and which bears a closer analogy to the provisions in the Constitution Act of the United States Central Government. These are, however, comparatively minor points, and I think we should all be prepared to defend this constitution before our constituents on the ground that in its spirit, its form, and its character it is thoroughly liberal and thoroughly democratic. The hon. member who appeared to fear the electoral provisions of this constitution most, the hon. member from New Zealand, Sir George Grey, has, I feel sure, not yet sufficiently acquainted himself with the accurate facts with regard to plural voting and its influence in these colonies. Neither in this colony nor in Victoria does the influence of that vote exist to the extent which he supposes. I am confident that in our own colony, out of its ninety-five seats, not more than ten seats are materially affected by plural votes. For all that, I am cordially and thoroughly at one with the hon. gentleman in his opposition to the principle and practice. The Victorian Assembly has already passed a measure for the abolition of the system. That measure forms part of the Government programme for next session. I believe it stands an equal chance of being adopted in the great colony in which we now are. Consequently, the probability is that in the two most populous colonies of Australia the principle of "one man one vote" will be established at a very early date-long, I trust, before the foundation of this constitution. That being so, I fancy that the fears to which the hon. member, Sir George Grey, has given expression in many ways in regard to this subject, are not well founded. South Australia and New Zealand have already adopted the principle, and I believe that New South Wales and Victoria, if not Queensland as well, are on the eve of [start page 917] adopting
it. The bill as it stands does not embody all that some of us desired in the matter of powers. In the Constitutional Committee it was contended that under the heading of statistics there was sufficient authority to establish an agricultural department, such as exists in the United States; and it was thought premature at this stage to endeavour to take any federal step in the all-important question of water supply, or in the equally important subject of the consolidation of the debts of the colonies. It was thought inadvisable to attempt to make any movement in these directions, although there are, I believe, a large majority of the members present who trust and believe that in the early future the federal parliament will see its way, with the consent of all the colonies, to add these to the list of powers which this constitution confers. It might be possible, were it necessary, to attempt to answer by anticipation some of the contentions which are certain to be urged against this bill by the opponents of federation. That is a task to which we shall probably have many opportunities of addressing ourselves in other places. It may reasonably be said, however, that imperfect as this measure is, it contains within itself the essential principles of popular government; it contains within itself the power which will permit the people to modify and shape it in accordance with their future needs; it provides for that free and full discussion of public affairs, that reasonable consideration of them by the public at large and that close criticism of them by the chambers charged with that special duty, which is the best guarantee for the passing of wise laws. Those who oppose it, disparage, in the first instance, their own people, and in the second instance the people of the neighbouring colonies. They disparage their own people if they fear that meeting on a fair and equal field, and, appealing to the judgment and reason of the whole commonwealth, they will not be able to secure for their state all the just consideration which is its due in every matter in which its interests are affected. They disparage themselves in the first instance if they put forward any such plea of personal feebleness, and they also disparage the people of the neighbouring colonies if they contend that they are not equally fitted with themselves to enter into the discharge of the duties devolving upon the citizens of a free commonwealth. What is the fact at the present time with regard to the political condition of these colonies, entirely independent, as they have been, of one another? Is it not manifest and remarkable, that though each colony has been left to follow its own course, without any regard to its neighbours, the laws of all are governed by exactly the same principles? One of the most familiar features of colonial politics is that any law which has been passed by one colony is almost immediately afterwards adopted by its neighbours, if it is found to be successful in its working; and the consequence of this has been that though some may have been quicker and some slower, every colony has advanced upon the same road. Their institutions have been shaped in the same spirit and in the same direction. Taking statute-book by statute-book, and comparing one with the other, the differences sink into insignificance, while the main general features of likeness assert themselves on every page. Do we need a stronger demonstration than this of the natural unity of the people of Australia with regard to all the political questions which have agitated them in the past, and are agitating them in the present; and do we need a better guarantee than this for those who apparently fear that the instant they step outside the ring-fence of their own colony they will be committing the destinies of their people to alien races, with other aspirations and other ideals? On the contrary to pass the artificial boundary of one colony and enter [start page 918] another, involves no chance in the political atmosphere. The one has just the same quality as the other, and one finds among the people across the border identical aims, and even identical means employed to gain them. I trust that these considerations will be sufficiently obvious to commend themselves to the electors of this country, whose judgment, in the first instance sought through their parliaments and then directly, will ultimately decide the fate of this bill. Let them note that this constitution has been framed in no spirit of haggling; that it was impossible to measure the territory of one by the territory of another inch to inch; that it was impossible to gauge the possibilities of one against the possibilities of another to an ounce; that it was a matter of practical impossibility to obtain a division of the financial responsibilities to a penny or a farthing. What has been done has been to secure substantial justice for all the colonies of Australasia. It will not be by any consideration of bargain and sale, or purchase and arrangement, that the people of this country will be governed. On the contrary, I believe they will rise to the height of this great crisis. They will see in this proposal for union the first pulse-beat of their national life. They will behold in it possibilities, which even the most sanguine will not dare to pourtray. They will realise that if this is not the best of all possible constitutions it is the best that can be framed and accepted at the present time. They will admit that it has been wrought by representative
men of all the colonies in a spirit of equity, with all the ability and in the light of all the experience they possess, and they will rely with confidence upon its results. They will feel that the national spirit can now embody itself in this commonwealth in a higher, a broader, and a nobler form than has ever been possible in the past. They will welcome it as an enlargement of their political, their social, and their commercial life, as a gift of new ideals, and will recognise that by taking this first step upon the path of national development they have entered upon a new career, which promises much in the future, in addition to what may be achieved individually by the still powerful states within their own borders. Let them estimate how rich the harvest of union may be by recalling the fruits of their independent exertions in the past.
Sir JOHN DOWNER: It would seem rather a graceless and unthankful thing to introduce into an atmosphere of such perfect harmony even one single note of discord; but, while I intend to support the motion now before the Convention, and in the future to do all I can to assist the cause of Australian federation, I fear now, as I feared during the time the bill was in Committee, that we have not in every instance adopted the best method, that we have not risen to that lofty sphere from which the hon. member, Mr. Deakin, addressed us just now; but that we have voluntarily, with our eyes wide open and understanding exactly the difficulties we were creating, introduced propositions into our new constitution which, up to the present time, have created much misunderstanding, and must inevitably in the future produce discord. The two great questions which were so much considered and discussed in Committee were the questions as to the position of the individual states, and the fiscal question. As to the first, I can only say that having listened most attentively to all that has been said by the hon. gentlemen who advocate the bill as it stands at present, and having had the advantage of constant private intercourse with them, and so of hearing both publicly and privately the arguments in support of their contentions, I still say unhesitatingly that the clauses referring to what have been called the state rights are distinctly intended and [start page 919] understood by one portion of the Convention in one direction, and as distinctly intended and understood by another portion of the Convention in another direction; and I say that it is not a good thing to begin that which ought above all to be founded on perfect good faith and perfect mutual understanding with the introduction of a system which we know perfectly well is differently interpreted by different minds, and which we know equally well is intended to be worked out differently by different members of the Convention. If, as the hon. member, Mr. Deakin, says, the larger colonies who supported the view which is contained in the bill as it now stands do understand that the senate, selected so carefully, exalted so greatly, is, apart from the question of the numbers of the people who elect it, or of its members, to have a lofty position equal to the other branch of the legislature-if that is the general understanding, whatever the words may be, I care very little, because there can be no doubt that the interpretation of the constitution will be governed at least as much by the general understanding of its meaning as by the precise words in which that meaning is expressed. I do not think that it is possible that the constitution is after all sufficiently elastic to enable the senate to be all that, personally, I would desire it to be, and to exercise all the authority I would desire it to exercise; but, unfortunately, the words used are sufficiently elastic to be interpreted by one portion of the Convention in one way, and by the other portion in another direction. I sincerely hope that no trouble may come out of this. The difficulty which we have was met by a commonwealth which has stood the test of time, and their compromise we might, I think, have well adopted in this instance. As to the fiscal question, there again I fancy, if I may be allowed to say so, provincialism was not displayed upon our side. It was displayed rather on the side of some of the larger colonies, and it will not be a good beginning to a perfect system of federations-a system intended to make all Australians from every colony really the people of one country-to so arrange their fiscal matters that each colony will in the future have to exercise the greatest watchfulness to properly safeguard its own interests as against the rest. I am sorry to obtrude these considerations at this stage of the Convention. Although disagreeing with much that has been said, and having serious fears as to the difficulties which may arise from some of the provisions of the bill, I intend to support the motion, and no doubt I shall be found in the future, as in the past, a consistent advocate for everything which may ultimately result in the union of Australia.
Mr. BAKER: I wish to say as little as possible on this occasion, because the strong feelings that have been engendered by debate and collision may perhaps lead me to take a view which, on calmer
consideration, I should not take. I would, however, like to put it on record that I express no opinion at the present time, but hold myself open upon calmer consideration of the provisions of the bill to take such action as it appears to me the interests of the people of Australia and South Australia should induce me to take. I do not wish to discuss, and I shall not discuss, the matters which have been brought forward by the hon. member, Mr. Deakin; but I wish to put upon record the position which I now take, because I am afraid that unless I do so, if I afterwards come to the conclusion, which I hope I shall not come to, that it is not my duty to advocate this constitution, I shall be placing myself in a false position.
Dr. COCKBURN: I join with the hon. gentlemen who have already spoken in my appreciation of the way in which the [start page 920] work of the Convention has been done, reflecting as it does great credit upon those responsible for its management. No doubt the bill represents the will of a large majority of the Convention, though, as one who has pretty generally been found voting with a minority, I cannot join in approval of all its provisions. On the other hand, I recognise that it has very valuable features, though I fear that it has also very great faults. It appears to me to tend more to unification than to federation, and, to a great extent, to be founded on a distrust of the popular will. However, I can only say that I hope a calm and dispassionate view of the whole of the events may lead me to the conclusion that these flaws may not be of so vital a nature as at present I am bound to regard them.
Mr. J. FORREST: I should like to congratulate the Convention, and also you, Mr. President, upon the result of our labours. Although this draft bill may not meet with the approval of all of us-in fact, some portions of it have been carried by very narrow majorities, when, I believe, the result would have been the reverse in some important instances had all the members of the Convention been present-still, I feel that it is a very valuable production, and one that cannot but be of great benefit to those who are to consider this question; and it seems to me that a fair result has been obtained. I quite agree with you, sir, that the federation of these colonies must come sooner or later, and the question arises in my mind whether this is the most favourable time, or whether some future time would not be more favourable. I unhesitatingly say that, so far as I call judge, the difficulties which surround the question now will not be less as time goes on; and therefore, if any one is of opinion that the federation of the colonies is necessary, I am convinced that no more appropriate time can be chosen for it than the present, because, as the colonies grow larger, and as our interests become more diverse, the difficulties now existing will be increased many fold, and no more opportune or convenient time will be found in the future than in the present. Our work is about completed. It will be for the people of the different portions of Australia to say whether they will accept or reject the constitution which has been framed. It will be my duty to place the bill before the people of the colony I represent in its proper and true light. It will be my duty, and the duty of those associated with me, to explain the features of the bill to the people of Western Australia. It is not, for me, at the present time, to say what their decision may be. As far as I can judge, the terms of the bill are, to the larger colonies, which are connected by several means of communication, and especially of railway communication, sufficiently good. Even if the bill does not meet with their entire approval, the conditions laid down in it are sufficiently fair and just to those colonies to enable them to federate. As far as I am able to judge, the colony which I have the honor to represent seems to be in the worst position, the principal reason for this being that we have no means of communication with the other great colonies. Before we can have communication, excepting by sea, with any part of these colonies, 1,500 miles of railway will have to be constructed over a country at present uninhabited.
Mr. MUNRO: Federation would hasten that!
Mr. J. FORREST: The one great obstacle which I see in the way of our joining the federation, the one great obstacle which it will be difficult for us to overcome when we place the matter before the people of Western Australia, will, I hope, soon be removed. I sincerely congratulate the convention on the result of our labours; and I especially thank those gen- [start page 921] tlemen who have given so much time to the preparation of the bill. Foremost amongst them I must mention the name of the hon. member, Sir Samuel Griffith. I feel sure that without his assistance, and the able and willing
assistance of other legal gentlemen, we should not have been in the position in which we find ourselves to-day, of having passed the bill through the Convention. I also desire, before concluding, to thank you, Mr. President, and the hon. member, Mr. McMillan, and the Government of New South Wales, for the extreme hospitality and kindness which have been extended to us during the Convention. Although our labours have been arduous, and we have had a great deal to do, and have been kept very closely at work, they have been very much lightened by the great hospitality and kindness which we have received from you and members of your Government, and, in fact, from all the people with whom we have come in contact in New South Wales.
Sir THOMAS MCILWRAITH: I have no intention of adding to the very eloquent perorations which have been made upon our month's work by the different speakers who have preceded me; but I should feel myself to be ungrateful if I sat down without expressing my gratitude to one hon. member who has been of immense benefit to myself. I mention him now, because his labour commenced long before ours in the Convention-I mean the hon. member, Mr. Baker. I am glad to hear, from the manner in which my remarks have been received, that hon. members of the Convention so cordially agree with me.
Mr. PLAYFORD: I think that all that is necessary to be said on the present occasion as to the quality of the work that we have turned out has been said by the President. As we have all been more or less engaged in the perfecting of this measure, it seems very much like self-praise on our part to compliment ourselves upon our
labours. The work we have accomplished will have to be criticised by the people outside. They will very possibly look at it with different eyes to ours, and we shall have to meet their criticisms when the proper time arrives, and defend our work in the best way we can. One thing which I trust will be brought about throughout the colonies in connection with federation is this: that the question of federation will not be put before the people mixed up with party politics.
Mr. DIBBS: It certainly will in New South Wales!
Mr. PLAYFORD: I trust that we shall endeavour to separate it distinctly from party politics. I can say for the opposition in South Australia, and for the ministry and their supporters, that that is what we intend to do. We intend to keep the question of federation altogether distinct and separate from questions of party politics; and I am sure we shall find in South Australia, when the question is remitted to the people for decision, ministerial supporters taking one side, and opposition supporters taking another, in certain cases, and vice versa, we shall find them acting not in accord so far as party politics are concerned. I may say, personally, that, taken as a whole, although the constitution does not meet with my approval in a great many particulars, I look upon it as one to which we can fairly ask the people of South Australia to agree. It must necessarily be a compromise. We have had to compromise on many points; but, taking the bill as a whole, I shall only be too pleased to do all I possibly can to get the people of South Australia to agree to it, because we have made provision that if it is the wish of the majority of the people of the colonies to alter the constitution in any one particular, it can be so altered with considerable facility. There is only one other point to which I wish to allude, and that has been alluded to by the leader [start page 922] of the Opposition in South Australia, the hon. member, Sir John Downer. The hon. member has not expressed himself definitely as to whether he will be able to agree to recommend this constitution to the people of South Australia, because of that one point in particular. I hope the hon. member will consider the matter again, and I trust that when he does make up his mind, he will be found agreeing to recommend the adoption of the bill to the people of the colony. The point to which the hon. gentleman alluded was the one upon which we arrived at-a compromise in regard to the powers of the senate. I would say to him that, considering the compromise which was arrived at was the compromise which was arrived at in South Australia over twenty years ago, between the Legislative Council of that colony and the House of Assembly, and that that compromise has worked so exceedingly well for that period, we, in making the compromise contained in the bill, have not departed from any powers we possess; that is, we have not gone outside the colonies to adopt a mode by which we may get over the difficulties of co-
ordinate powers between the two houses. We have, however, adopted a system which has been in operation in one of the colonies for many years, with very happy results. Therefore we have just as much right to say that by adopting the South Australian compromise which has worked so well for so many years, we have adopted a compromise which will work well for the commonwealth of the future, as we have to say that if we had adopted the American system, which I contend exists under different conditions and apart from responsible government, it also would have worked well. I do not know that I need say anything more on the subject. I only trust that it will be found that within the next four or five years at the outside, the federation of the colonies, either on the basis that we have laid down here, or on a somewhat similar one, will become the law of the land for all Australia.
Mr. RUTLEDGE: In rising to support the adoption of the report, I do not think that many words are necessary. You, sir, in the address with which you favoured the Convention this morning, gave expression to the feelings that were uppermost in my own mind, and it would be an impertinence on my part if I were to attempt in my humble way to repeat the sentiments to which you have given such happy expression. I think, sir, that the introduction of matters of detail into the discussion that is now going on is rather unfortunate, and I hope that, on this the last day on which we are to assemble together, we shall have as few references as possible to the matters which have separated us in opinion during the time we have been together. I am sure that, as men, we are separating with feelings of high mutual regard. As has already been said by one hon. gentleman, most of us have been familiar with each other's name and reputation for a long time; but we have lacked the inestimable advantage of personal acquaintance with the men with whose names and doings we have so long been familiar. I confess, for my part, that I have undergone a process of education whilst I have been in the Convention. I came here with my ideas pretty rigidly formed on certain subjects; but I have found that, whilst my mind has been operated upon by the influence of superior minds around me, I have been forced to modify some of the views which I have heretofore held. I came here, for example, as a strong advocate of state rights, of which my hon. friends, Mr. Baker and Sir John Downer, are such able exponents; but, whilst I have been here, I have come to see that in order to accomplish the great object which we all have in view it is indispensable that some of those views on [start page 923] the subject of state rights should be modified. I do not think that we are chargeable with adopting any unworthy compromise in what we have done. I recognise the fact that we are here as reasonable men. We are, as far as possible, bound to respect the views which each holds on questions on which men may be expected to hold different opinions. I have, from the first, recognised the fact that without the inclusion of New South Wales and Victoria the federation of these colonies would be a gigantic farce. I have also recognised that without a modification of some of the views that I held on the subject of state rights it would be impossible for those colonies to become members of the federation; and I have, therefore, not only felt the force of the position in which I have found myself under these circumstances, but, by the force of the arguments which have been employed in support of the position taken up by those large colonies, I have also felt myself compelled to acknowledge that, to a certain extent, the views which I held ought to be very considerably modified. I think that we ought, as far as possible, to separate now with the feeling that in this Convention we have set an example which we may well hope the constituencies throughout Australia will follow. Those to whom we shall have to appeal for the ratification of our work are men with divergent views, such as we ourselves have entertained; but, inasmuch as we in our position here have endeavoured to meet each other's views in a spirit of compromise, and in a true federal spirit, so we have set an example which we may hope those to whom we shall have to address ourselves hereafter will follow; and I am quite sure that, by reason of the example which we have endeavoured to set in this respect, we shall ensure the adoption of this constitution throughout these colonies by immense majorities everywhere. I was glad, sir, to hear what you so well said with regard to the document which now embodies the constitution of Australia. I have marvelled at that document. When I remember that only a few days were at the disposal of the gentlemen to whom was assigned the important duty of preparing that document, I am constrained to ask myself which I admire most-the skill with which the work has been done, or the immense industry expended, in so short a time, in producing such a document. It is a document of which we all may well be proud, and I am quite sure that we are proud of it. I depart with feelings of gratitude to the people of New South Wales for the admirable manner in which they have treated us while we have been here, with feelings of admiration for all those who have been associated with me
in this Convention, and for the manner in which the gentlemen upon whom has devolved the responsible duty of reporting our proceedings have done their work; I leave with the belief that I shall be a better man, and that my colony will derive some advantage from the benefit which I have received by my association with the eminent men who have formed this Convention.
Sir GEORGE GREY: Sir, I cannot but join cordially in the opinions expressed by every hon. member as to the manner in which this constitution has been prepared, and I say that we owe the hon. and learned member, Sir Samuel Griffith, a debt of deep gratitude. He was courteous to all; he was as industrious as a man could possibly be; he was as free to acknowledge any mistake that he had made in a proposal offered as the most innocent child could have been-so fairly, so freely, did he at once say, "I am wrong, I see it." I saw in him qualities which would adorn any statesman, and I formed the highest possible opinion of what he will ultimately attain to in Australasia. To the hon. and [start page 924] learned member, Mr. Clark, the Attorney-General of Tasmania, we also owe a very great debt of gratitude. He was equally industrious, equally patient, equally skilled almost in law I will say, and I felt that throughout to those two hon. gentlemen we were very greatly and deeply indebted. Now, upon this bill itself it is not necessary for me to say very much. I cannot help feeling that it has partly been wrongly put before us to-day. Everybody who differed from the bill has been found to be wanting in some qualities-sometimes in temper, sometimes in justice, sometimes they were of a very quarrelsome disposition, and must differ from everything; then, it was perfectly plain that there was no ground whatever for differing from this measure, which was perfect in itself-as perfect as a measure could be-and that nobody but the most unreasonable person could join in denouncing it in any way. There was one great mistake throughout all those arguments. We were ordered to prepare a federal constitution for Australasia, and in my belief we were bound to prepare one which should have been a model to the world, in which the liberty of our fellowmen should, in every respect, have been fairly established; but nothing of the kind has been done in this constitution. I say in no instance that I can recollect has so powerful a party in one body supported unanimously that which I believe to be wrong. I sincerely believe that they believe it to be right. I cannot help thinking they were hardened in this course on account of their having so long enjoyed powers which I think they ought never to have possessed. The human mind becomes under such circumstances accustomed to that which is wrong, and wrong becomes right. I differ altogether from hon. gentlemen as they have spoken to-day on the subject of the plural vote. The hon. member, Mr. Deakin, tells us or announces to the world that I am much mistaken in attributing to that circumstance such power as I do, and he says he believes that in the case of Victoria only ten seats out of ninety are much influenced by the vote.
Mr. FITZGERALD: Influenced at all!
Sir GEORGE GREY: "Influenced at all!" I think that he did not say that.
Mr. FITZGERALD: It is perfectly true, though!
Sir GEORGE GREY: A single double vote would exercise some influence. The hon. member would never have spoken in so loose a manner as that-I do not recollect him saying it; but he said that only ten out of ninety were so influenced. Well, that means an immense number, and it becomes a very serious matter indeed. But not only that: there is a certain degradation to human beings who are obliged to submit to such a system. When plural voting was very prevalent in New Zealand, I felt debased; I felt that I was not in a proper position in the country. I looked with pity on little children rising up, as I believed, to be placed under such a system in which persons who had secured wealth in any manner whatever were to exercise so great an influence, and that no virtue, no goodness, unless they were wealthy, could secure them anything but the single vote given as the common suffrage of the country. Hon. gentlemen who surround me are nearly every one accustomed to this system. Every one of them for years has been practising it to some extent, I know in some cases to a very considerable extent. Can I be told by the hon. member, Mr. Deakin, or by any other person, that where some people absolutely possess and exercise twenty-five votes it is a matter of no consequence at all, and that I am exaggerating the facts?
Mr. DEAKIN: I did not say it was of no consequence!
Sir GEORGE GREY: That I am exaggerating the facts very much?
Mr. DEAKIN: Hear, hear!
[start page 925] Sir GEORGE GREY: What exaggeration could properly represent such a thing as is stated here-that even thirty votes have been so exercised by one man? Well, I contend that the whole of this constitution has been passed deliberately with the view of starting with this system established as a part of it.
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH: No!
Sir GEORGE GREY: It is so framed.
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH: No; we are opposed to the system as much as the hon. member is!
Mr. MUNRO: And we mean to alter it, too!
Sir GEORGE GREY: The answer is easy. "Opposed to the system as much as I am!" Then refuse to vote for this bill, which is establishing it in the country.
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH: No; it does not!
Mr. PLAYFORD: It is in the country now!
Sir GEORGE GREY: It maintains it in the country.
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH: No!
Sir GEORGE GREY: It hands it on. It distinctly says, in every case of any consequence whatever, the inhabitants of the states are to vote as they have voted up to the present time.
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH: Until they themselves think fit to alter it!
Sir GEORGE GREY: Ah, ah! "Until they themselves think fit to alter it"! In the first place, what right have we to subsist on their bounty? Our parliaments gave us the power to do away with this system in the bill, and that is what I say we should have done. I say that the bill should begin, as such federation bills usually do, by indicating that the electors should have certain powers, and then proceed from that to the rest of the bill. But these powers of the electors have never been touched, and I say it is impossible that any human mind who has not been accustomed to such a system could have thought it was a desirable thing to place in this new law. That is where the great mistake is. We have asked nothing unfair. We asked that the states should have the power of saying what their own qualifications should bethat is, by single vote they should determine what they should have; and if, as hon. gentlemen in this Convention almost universally maintain, the colony is enraptured with this plural vote system-
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH: No!
Mr. DEAKIN: We say it is going to be thrown out. We say it is dying fast; nobody believes in it. I do not believe there is a man here who does!
Sir GEORGE GREY: How has it been in existence so long?
Mr. DEAKIN: We attacked it; and we shall attack it this session again!
Sir GEORGE GREY: If everybody is against it, how does it exist?
Mr. DEAKIN: I say nearly everybody here is against it!
Sir GEORGE GREY: How, then, have they allowed it to remain so long in operation? What certainty have we that the men who have maintained it in operation for years, who have established various rules to give it greater force-such as allowing people to vote by proxy in Western Australia, so that they can vote over vast districts of country-
Mr. MARMION: I beg the hon. gentleman's pardon. There is no such thing as voting by proxy in Western Australia. There is a system of voting by ballot-a scheme which has not been in vogue in any other colony, but which at the same time gives the same right to a person to vote by pure and simple ballot, as if he appeared at the polling-place where his vote is to be given.
Mr. DIBBS: What is the system?
Mr. MARMION: It would take rather too long for me to explain it.
Mr. DIBBS: It is by letter!
[start page 926] Mr. MARMION: He votes by letter, but not by proxy. The things are utterly different.
Sir GEORGE GREY: Ah! ah!
Mr. MARMION: If I had time-and I do not wish to take up the time of hon. gentlemen-I could easily explain that the system is utterly different, and that the system which we have in operation-
The PRESIDENT: I must remind the hon. member that the hon. member, Sir George Grey, is in possession of the Chair.
Mr. MARMION: I beg pardon, sir.
Sir GEORGE GREY: I should be grateful to the hon. gentleman if I were wrong; but I still maintain that I am right.
Mr. MCMILLAN: A proxy can go into any person's hand!
Sir GEORGE GREY: However, it is voting by letter. Why should I think even of making much of this point? How is it that you have your elections on different days? Why do you do that in New South Wales? If all the elections were upon one day, it would prevent a man from going to so many polls. But here the same thing nearly is done as is done in Western Australia by ministers being allowed to fix the elections on different days. I say, as far as I am personally concerned, I felt so aggrieved, whilst I was held down under a system of that kind, with a considerable weight upon my mind, that I strove for years to get rid of it, and it took many years to get an end put to plural voting. I believe that, unless by compunction, caused by what has been said in this Convention, and said outside on the subject, men's hearts are moved into a different line from that in which I have often heard them speak in past days, years may elapse before the system of plural voting is done away with, unless we refuse to accept a constitution in which such principles are embodied, because what really takes place is this: throughout that bill, although the first batch of representatives are chosen by the electors under the plural vote system, members having secured their places in the house, they choose the ministry. I say that ministers are chosen under the system of plural voting, and that those ministers appoint persons to an upper house.
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH: No!
Sir GEORGE GREY: The same principle obtains. It is the parliament which selects ministers, and the parliament has been elected under the plural voting system. That system runs throughout the whole of the proceeding. The arguments used to-day commending this constitution and lauding it for the manner in which it has been drawn, ignore the fact that it begins with unfair voting, almost the entire power being given to capital. The states are the places in which the liberties of the people should be secured, and in which there should be real local self-government. It is the necessary test under this, or under any similar constitution. I say that the people have all the power of self-government taken out of their hands by this constitution as it stands. When you tell me that you intend to alter all these things, I answer with the question, "How comes it that they exist now, if you have all along intended to alter them?" Either there are difficulties in your way you could not overcome, or you are using this language under pressure. I have no certainty that if we adopt the constitution before this is done, before the people of the states have this absolute power bestowed upon them, it would not be extremely difficult afterwards to obtain it. I am certain no sane men will consent to put their necks under this new yoke-for in my belief it is a yoke of a most oppressive kind. Why not let us all walk out into the light of day free men-each man with an equal vote, each man with that right preserved to himself, his children, his family, and his relatives? Why should not such have been the case? Are not the ties that bind [start page 927] him to life equally precious to every human being, whether rich or poor? And why should he not be enabled to take the necessary steps for his own liberty? The time will arrive when it will be thought incredible that a rule should have existed under which only one qualification was given to a human being for himself, as a human being, and under which twenty-five or thirty qualifications were given him on account of that number of plots of land, held by him in different places; and that it was in virtue of such a qualification that some beings exercised over their fellow-men a power which ought not to be exercised at all. I will not now delay this Convention by entering upon the subject at greater length; but I could prove that acts of the greatest cruelty have arisen from the causes of which I speak; that great tracts of land-hon. members may laugh-have been under their influence given away in a manner in which they ought not to have been; and that in consequence of regulations to which I object, people of the native races have been expelled from their territory without the least compensation of any kind whatever, purposely that the land might be given to certain persons. I will simply add in conclusion that, as far as I am concerned, I will to the last contest this question until I see that justice-as far as it is possible to obtain it-is done to my fellowmen. I still hope that before hon. gentlemen determine to force this constitution upon the country-or, rather, that before they try to do so-they will even at the last moment invest their minds with some pity for their fellow-men, and will recommit the bill, in order that the objectionable clauses-and there are only two or three-may be struck out, and in order that a single vote may be given to every man in the country. We shall then start our constitution upon a perfectly fair basis. I do not say that the bill does not contain many good provisions. Why should it not do so? It has been largely made up of provisions taken from similar constitutions, and of course only the best of those provisions have been so selected. To me it is sad to think that when we might have achieved so great and noble an end, when Australia might have walked forth truly a free nation into the light of freedom, every man enjoying his own rights, we should have refused to allow to be placed in this constitution a right which the British Parliament are anxious to bestow upon the people of this country, and which we have unnecessarily, and, as I believe, wrongfully withheld.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
ADOPTION OF THE CONSTITUTION.
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH rose to move:
That this Convention recommends that provision be made by the parliaments of the several colonies for submitting for the approval of the people of the colonies respectively the constitution of the commonwealth of Australia as framed by this Convention.
He said: The Convention has now, in accordance with the mandate imposed upon its members by their several parliaments, considered and taken the necessary steps to report upon a constitution for the federal government of Australia. It is necessary, before their recommendations can have effect, that the people of the several colonies shall adopt the constitution. The question naturally arises, how should that adoption be manifested? At the present time the only bodies known to the constitutions of the different colonies which can express the will of their people, are the parliaments; and it may be suggested that the natural bodies to adopt the constitution should be the parliaments of the several colonies. The hon. member, Mr. Playford, this morning, in speaking on the motion for the adoption of the [start page 928] constitution pointed out what he considered might be a very serious objection to the adoption of that form of procedure, that is, that the question of the adoption of the constitution might be mixed up with party politics. If, as I anticipate, it would not be thought fit that any parliament should take so important a step without clearly obtaining the opinion of the electors upon the subject, still it would be very difficult to submit the question for the opinion of the people at a general election. Take, for instance, the question of protection and free-trade. One man might be a protectionist, and in favour of this constitution; another man might be a free-trader, and opposed to the constitution. If a general election took place, and the question were submitted for the approval of the people, the decision, I am afraid, would depend upon whether the electors were in favour of protection or free-trade rather than whether they were in favour of or against federation. Therefore, it is very desirable that as far as possible the question should be kept distinct. On the other hand, it does not seem practicable for us to dictate to the various colonies how they shall submit this question for ratification. My personal opinion is that it should be submitted to the vote of a convention or parliament elected for that purpose only by the electors who vote for members of the more popular branch of the legislature. I do not think that we have any right, or that it is within our instructions, to dictate to any colony which is the best course. After consultation with several leading members of this Convention, the form of words in this resolution seemed to indicate what we think is the best course to be adopted, without presuming to dictate to the parliaments of the colonies. I know what course, as at present advised, I should feel disposed to take if it fell to my lot to propose it. I should ask the Parliament of Queensland to authorise the summoning of a special convention, consisting of the same number of members as the members of the Legislative Assembly, and elected by the same constituencies, whose duty it would be to vote "aye" or "no" for the adoption of this constitution; and to provide that if the constitution is adopted by the convention it shall be considered as adopted by the colony.
Colonel SMITH: Does the hon. member propose that this should be done by each colony separately?
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH: Yes; each colony must deal with the question separately, as an independent state. The second of these resolutions-I suppose we had better take them together-
Sir JOHN BRAY: Take them separately!
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH: The second resolution was arrived at by the Constitutional Committee. That committee did not think the first resolution was within their province, as it was not referred to them. The second was certainly within their province. As it seems to be considered convenient to move the resolutions separately, I shall do so. I would take this opportunity of observing that this motion by no means indicates that the members of this Convention disapprove of the principle of one man one vote. I believe that a large majority of the members of the Convention are in favour of that system. But I am sure I speak the opinion of the majority when I say we did not think it was within our province to dictate to the people of the colonies as to what should be their electoral qualifications, or to insist that there should be no federation till all the colonies arrive at a uniform system in that respect.
The PRESIDENT: I understand that the hon. and learned member has moved only the 1st section of his resolution. But, to enable hon. members to understand the [start page 929] matter, I will read the other section of the resolution, which he has not moved:
That the Convention further recommends that so soon as the constitution has been adopted by three of the colonies, her Majesty's Government be requested to take the necessary action to establish the constitution in respect of those colonies.
Sir JOHN BRAY: I wish to say that I think the constitution would be more likely to commend itself to the people of the colonies if, instead of inserting the word "approval," we used the word "consideration." As it stands, the motion seems to imply that we must ask the people to accept this constitution or none at all. I would ask the hon. and learned member, if he does not attach much importance to the words in the motion, to agree to the alteration which I have suggested. I am quite with you, sir, under whose able presidency the Convention have assembled, in saying that we have reason to congratulate ourselves that we have met in a spirit of compromise, and have come to a general agreement with regard to federation. But still, if we are asked individually for our opinion on some matters in reference to the basis of the constitution, I think it is quite possible that we may be compelled to differ from them. I am hardly sanguine enough to believe that the people of all the colonies, or that the people of any one colony, would be willing to give their absolute approval of this constitution without reserving to themselves the right to make or suggest amendments for future consideration in some way. It seems to me that if we were to put in the words "consideration of the people," instead of the words "approval of the people," we should thereby invite them not merely to consider what we have done with the view of saying "yes" or "no," but to consider how far they are agreeable to accept the constitution. And if they find that, in their opinion, it is absolutely necessary that some amendments be suggested, it may be necessary-it probably would be necessary-to have another convention in a few months to determine how far those suggestions could be adopted. But I know from the manner in which the proposals with regard to the Federal Council were dealt with, that if we ask the people of the different colonies to say definitely whether they will take this as a whole, or reject it as a whole, we shall not put it in what they will consider a fair spirit. If we say, "We submit this for your approval or disapproval, and do not invite you to make any recommendations for its alteration," they will think that we are not approaching them in the spirit in which we should approach them. Although I do not wish to press this proposal against the opinion of those who have been acting on the Constitution Committee and who have considered the effect of the words which we are asked to agree to, I would ask the members of that committee to consider seriously whether they think it fair to say to the people of Australia, that they must either approve or disapprove of this constitution, to show whether or not they are in favour of federation. I believe that the people of Australia generally are in favour of federation; but at the same time, I am one of those who think the people may say that there are some particulars in regard to which they believe this constitution might be amended.
Colonel SMITH: And suppose amendments are suggested, how would you decide upon them afterwards?
Sir JOHN BRAY: Another convention would have to be summoned to see how far the details could be arranged. It would be very pleasant to many of us to go away with the idea that we have in the course of the last few weeks framed a constitution which, without amendment, will be acceptable to the people of Australia. I am one of those who think that we can hardly do that. Time will have to be allowed, not only for the people to [start page 930] consider, but also for ourselves to consider, the effect of what we have proposed. As you, sir, very ably and very clearly indicated, public opinion in reference to this question has grown considerably during the last twelve months, and I believe that public opinion will grow still more during the next few months, and that what hon. members think are absolute difficulties in our way will appear as nothing compared to the objects which we seek to accomplish. But I do say that many points have been suggested throughout the Convention which will have to be fully and carefully considered by the people, and which, I believe, a little more consideration, a little further time, would induce many of us to absolutely agree to. There is the point raised by me when discussing the bill in Committee as to the taking over of the public debts of the
colonies. I feel more strongly than ever that one of the greatest recommendations you could possibly make to the people of Australia to induce them to adopt the constitution of the commonwealth would be some means of taking over, on a fair and equitable basis, the public debts of the colonies. Although on first contemplation this appears to be a great task-a task beset with very great difficulties-I am content to admit that there are great difficulties, and that some mode of adjustment would have to be adopted in reference to it; still I believe that it is the one object which, more than any other, would commend itself to the people of Australia when they began to realise the advantages that would accrue from their having a general debt of the commonwealth of Australia rather than debts of individual colonies.
Mr. DIBBS: You can only do that under complete unification!
Sir JOHN BRAY: I say that is a point which requires to be further considered. I admit that when we first assembled the most that I thought we could do would be to get the commonwealth to take over the debts with the consent of the various colonies; but the idea has grown to firm conviction that not only ought the commonwealth to be empowered to do it, but that it ought to be the duty of the commonwealth. It is the only direct and immediate means by which you can afford the separate colonies the relief that they ought to have when you take over the customs revenue that they at present collect. I do not propose to discuss the details of the bill in other respects; but I will say this, that as far as the financial proposals are concerned, I am firmly convinced that the Convention has made a mistake in not adopting the whole of the recommendations of the Finance Committee. I have talked with people in this colony and with others, who say that it will be absolutely impossible to carry out the mode of distributing the surplus provided for in the bill.
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH: Certainly not; so long as they have separate customs duties!
Sir JOHN BRAY: Yes, we continue them until the parliament makes a new law. I admit that meets the case to some extent. But the suggestion I made was that the parliament should make a new law immediately.
Mr. DEAKIN: So they will!
Sir JOHN BRAY: I admit that we have improved the bill to this extent, that we say that this system shall only continue till the parliament does make a new law. But we are leaving for the future what ought to be done to-day-there is no doubt about that. In many respects in this bill we deliberately say to the parliament of the future, "We are going to leave you to do certain things," which things I am satisfied we ought to do now. We say to them with reference to the public debt of the colonies, "You may do it," but I contend that we ought to do it. With regard to the finan- [start page 931] cial adjustment of the surplus, we say to the new parliament, "You may do it," while I, as a member of this Convention, feel that we ought to do it. We are relegating to a parliament in the future a duty we ourselves ought to perform. However, I do not wish to go into that question now. We had far better, if we wish to get the approval of the people of Australia to our work, submit the constitution for their consideration, and not for their absolute approval. If we submit it for their approval only, we invite them to say, "We will have this or we will have nothing." We ought to say to them, "We have met in Convention; we have discussed the different matters in a fair and liberal spirit, with a view to a compromise; this is the best possible arrangement we have been able to arrive at, and we ask you now not absolutely to approve or disapprove of it, but to consider it, and express your opinion upon it." It is not possible to imagine that the several colonies will be prepared to say absolutely yes or no to the bill as it now stands. The most we ought to do is to ask them to fully consider the matter; and if it becomes necessary in the course of time, to propose amendments in the bill, those amendments may be dealt with by another convention of representatives of Australia, in order that the people may deliberately determine the basis of their new commonwealth. I beg to move, as an amendment:
That the word "approval" be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word "consideration."
Mr. WRIXON: I intend to support the amendment. I think our object is, how we can best get this bill which we have passed adopted by the different colonies. That is the object we have in view. In carrying that out we must remember that, to a great extent, this subject comes down upon the people from above. They have not yet considered it. The electors generally have not yet entertained the subject; and it will be our duty, when we get back to our different colonies, to compel them to consider it, to bring it before them, and to enable them to form their opinions on it one way or the other.
Colonel SMITH: Within what time?
Mr. WRIXON: In the quickest time we can. But I would take leave to say that the matter of a year or two is of little consequence compared with the importance of framing a constitution which will thoroughly satisfy us after we have adopted it. I do not in the least share in the anxiety that this constitution should be adopted next year or even the year after. My anxiety is that it should commend itself to the peoples of the different colonies, and be adopted by them in such a shape that it will be lasting and satisfactory. The mere verbiage of course may seem of small importance-whether we say "approval" or "consideration" may not seem of much moment. Yet there is a great deal involved in it. If we simply put it that we submit this constitution for the approval or disapproval, aye or no, of the people of the colonies, the whole thing is very likely to miscarry. As the people are dealing with a subject which is somewhat new to them, and with a constitution which they have had no opportunity of fully considering, this may jeopardise the whole thing. If we want to succeed we must take the electors into our confidence. We must ask them to consider the points we have been considering, and deal again, if need be, with the questions with which we have dealt. It may be that if that were done, the process I apprehend being that each parliament would pass a bill enabling a convention in each colony to meet to deal with the question, a subsequent national convention would be necessary to finally adopt the bill. That may be so; but even then it would only mean a delay of perhaps a year, and the plan would have the [start page 932] advantage of bringing the peoples of the different colonies wholly with us, and of preventing any chance of wrecking this great scheme on which we are engaged. If, therefore, the hon. member, Sir John Bray, presses his amendment to a division I shall vote with him.
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH: I should like, before the matter goes further, to point out how the proposal of Sir John Bray strikes me. The hon. member avowedly says he wishes each colony to consider this constitution and amend it. Now, cannot he see exactly what that means. We have laboured here for weeks endeavouring to frame a constitution; we have met conflicting views; we have endeavoured to arrive at compromises; each colony has had strong views of its own, and its representatives have surrendered those views for the purpose of arriving at a compromise. The hon. member proposes that all that work should go for naught, that this constitution shall be sent back to each colony. Take, for instance, the colony of South Australia. They will insist that the distribution of the surplus revenue shall be according to population, and that the senate shall have absolutely equal rights with the house of representatives, and they will approve of the bill only if the compromises arrived at on these two important points are absolutely set aside. The colony of Tasmania will agree on certain other conditions, that is to say, if other important compromises are set aside. The other colonies will do the same. Victoria will say, "We are not satisfied. This compromise is not what we wanted. We will vote for the bill, provided you set aside this compromise;" and Queensland will say the same. All our labours in the way of conciliation and compromise will be entirely thrown to the winds if we submit to the people of the different colonies a draft for their consideration in which they can make thousands of amendments if they think fit. That is how the matter strikes me. I am satisfied that if any hon. member of this Convention desires to postpone federation no better mode could be adopted than to invite these various amendments, as Sir John Bray proposes to do.
Mr. BAKER: Although I am not at all satisfied with this constitution, and voted with the minority on most occasions, I cannot conceal from myself, nor do I think any member of the Convention should conceal from himself, the fact that this constitution must be swallowed by the colonies as a whole.
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH: Or not at all!
Mr. BAKER: Exactly-one or the other. To invite the different colonies to make such amendments as they think fit is to absolutely waste all the time we have spent here. The proposal seems to me to be absurd, and I cannot see that any answer can be made to the argument of the hon. member, Sir Samuel Griffith. I hope the Convention will not accept the amendment of my colleague, Sir John Bray. It is in express words absolutely inviting the colonies to start again on the work of forming a constitution. What did we come here for? We came here to try if we could frame a constitution, but now the hon. gentleman deliberately proposes that the colonies should put aside all our efforts and start afresh themselves. That is what it comes to, and I hope the amendment will not be carried.
Mr. MUNRO: I think there is a way out of the difficulty if we follow a precedent that will satisfy both sides. It took about five months to form the American Constitution, and when it was submitted to the states for adoption, they had to say "aye" or "no"; but they were allowed in their conventions to make any recommendations they thought proper with regard to future amendments, and those amendments were taken into consideration by the new congress when it met. That [start page 933] is the proper time to deal with such amendments. If we are going to frame a constitution here, and then send it to the various colonies to be altered as they think proper, the thing will be interminable. If we adopt the American plan, and allow the different colonies in their own conventions to prepare a schedule of any amendments they would like adopted, and let those amendments, as a whole, be referred to the new parliament when it meets, then the wishes of the people will be given effect to, if approved of. But to ask us to adopt the proposal of Sir John Bray is simply to say that all our work shall be laid aside.
Mr. SUTTOR: I do not know whether it is the intention of the Convention to accept the proposal of the hon. member, Sir John Bray; but if it is not, I would suggest that the words "for the approval of" be struck out, with a view to the insertion in lieu thereof of the words "as soon as possible to."
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH: For what purpose?
Mr. GILLIES: It appears to me that there are only two ways in which this constitution can be satisfactorily considered by the colonies. As some hon. members have advocated from time to time, there might be a referendum to the people, so that they could say "yes" or "no" to it; or assuming that there are considerable objections to it-and it will probably take some time before we can understand what those objections may be, and whether they will be insuperable-a bill might be submitted to each legislature, asking them to provide for the election of delegates to represent their colony at a convention, which should meet and consider the question, their determination to be absolutely final, and the constitution which they adopted to be transmitted at once to the Imperial Government. If we do not take this course, I do not see that there is any other way of dealing with the difficulty, except by getting a "yes" or "no" approval or disapproval from each colony. I can quite see that if each colony is called upon to make amendments in the constitution, there will be no end to them, and it will be very difficult to come to a conclusion upon; but if each parliament passed an act providing for the creation of a convention, the members of which would have power to absolutely determine all these matters, we should obtain finality.
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH: Does the hon. member think they would do it?
Mr. GILLIES: I think they would; but there is this difficulty: Take the case of either New South Wales or Victoria. I think it is acknowledged that it would be very much to be regretted if either of those colonies could not approve of the constitution, and were to refuse to join the commonwealth. It would be a great pity; but it might come about owing to their insistance upon two or three amendments, not by any means of a vital character, and which they might be willing to resubmit to a convention, to which they had given complete authority to finally determine the whole question. If we do not do that, I see no other way of arriving at a final determination than by a "yes" or "no" decision
with regard to the bill as it stands on the part of each colony. But it seems to me that it would be a great pity to take a final answer upon the bill as it stands if there were a possibility of one of the large colonies refusing to join the federation simply because of the omission of one or two provisions which they thought ought to have been inserted, or because of the presence of one or two provisions which they thought ought to have been struck out. I think it would be a great pity, though it might happen if some of the colonies absolutely refused to join the commonwealth. There is no doubt, however, that by a convention having complete authority to deal with the whole question, we should obtain finality, and I [start page 934] think a sufficient number of colonies would agree to the constitution as it might then be amended to admit of its being sent direct to the Imperial Parliament. To invite the colonies to make amendments in this bill would, I think, be a pity.
Mr. DIBBS: I intend to vote for the amendment of the hon. member, Sir John Bray, and I shall do so with the strong conviction that all we are endeavouring to do here is in the interests of the people of Australia, and that if we wish to work for the good of Australia, and in the interests of the people, we must consult them and get their approval at every stage of the work which we have in hand. It must be borne in mind that the first intention with regard to the Convention was that the constitution when it was framed should go direct to the Imperial Parliament.
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH: No!
Mr. DIBBS: Yes, that was the intention-not the intention expressed in the Convention; but before the Convention was appointed-that the constitution should go direct to the Imperial Parliament.
Mr. MUNRO: No!
Mr. DIBBS: It is all very well to say no; but the hon. gentleman was not in Sydney at the time the subject was being considered, because his duties have kept him in Victoria.
Mr. MCMILLAN: It was not the intention!
Mr. DIBBS: How can the hon. member say that? He has never been within the mind of the President of the Convention. I have been a listener and a searcher after the truth, so as to ascertain it as far as possible, and in the speeches which the Premier originally made with regard to federation, though not in his later speeches, he stated that the constitution, upon being framed by the Convention, should go straight to the Imperial Parliament.
Mr. BAKER: Then what was the object of our reporting to the several parliaments?
Mr. DIBBS: All that was afterwards changed, and we were authorised by our various parliaments to come here and draft a constitution.
The PRESIDENT: Do I understand the hon. member to say that I gave expression to that idea?
Mr. DIBBS: Yes; I do.
The PRESIDENT: Then I can only say-and I ought not to be called upon to say it in this place-that I utterly deny having done so.
Mr. DIBBS: Of course I take the hon. member's denial; but having followed every letter and speech that has been made on the federation question, from the time the hon. member raised it in Queensland eighteen months ago up to the present, it seemed to me clear that his original intention was that the constitution should go straight from this Convention to the Imperial Parliament. However, it has been determined by our several parliaments that we should come here and draft a constitution; but I would ask hon. members to bear in mind that the parliaments who sent them here have never had authority from the people to send us; and to attempt any rapid mode of dealing with
the question without giving the people from one end of Australia to the other an opportunity of considering it on its merits, is to invite opposition to federation. If you want to build a staunch ship you must lay your keel strongly on the stocks, and you must go on firmly until it is finished. So it is with the ship of state. You must go on with it slowly and strongly, until you launch it in all the glory of a federal constitution. But if you endeavour to rush the matter through or to obtain the opinion of the people by a plebiscite, you court disaster. Step by step you must put in the foundation and build your structure, and you can only build the structure firmly when you have the hearty concurrence of the people. To make any endeavour to take a bare "yes" or "no" decision with re- [start page 935] ference to the constitution will be to thwart the efforts being made towards federation. We must not be afraid of the people, and this desire to hasten through the work, so that we may not have to do it all over again, is mere bunkum. The people must go with us in this matter, and unless we have them with us we must not attempt it. They must be educated up to the question; but it will take time to educate them, and there will be no solidity in the constitution unless from first to last we have them fully with us. I am in favour of the amendment of the hon. member, Sir John Bray, and I would go further and say, let a parliament, elected on the one issue only-"Shall Australia be federated?"-send members to a convention to revise this constitution, and improve it. It is undoubtedly capable of being improved, and time will develop the improvements necessary. When that convention has approved of the constitution, we may take a plebiscite, and then, if the people agree to the constitution, it will last. But any attempt to force it, or to display haste, will be to destroy all we are trying to do.
Mr. ABBOTT: I do not suppose it entered the mind of any man in the community of New South Wales or any other of the Australian colonies that this bill was to be submitted to the parliaments to be accepted or rejected. I am quite sure that in our own legislature-and I have followed the debates as closely as I could in the other legislatures-those who proposed that this Convention should be held proposed that whatever the result of the Convention might be, an appeal should be made to the people to enable them to say whether there should be federation or not. It was never supposed in our legislature that the Parliament existing at the present time should be asked to accept the bill prepared by this Convention, and I am quite sure that no other parliament in Australia ever supposed such a thing. It was always intended that whatever the result of this Convention might be, it should be submitted to the parliaments, and from the parliaments to the people, and you yourself, Mr. President, in the legislature of New South Wales, I have heard over and over again state that under no circumstances, whatever the result of the Convention might be, should there be any legislation upon it without a direct appeal to the people themselves. I think it is almost needless to say that that was the object of our own Parliament in appointing delegates to this Convention, so that, combined with the delegates from the other colonies, they might put a definite proposal before the people of Australia. I agree with my hon. colleague, Mr. Dibbs, when he says that we must lay a sure foundation, and that sure foundation must be the approval of the people of the various colonies. As I said before, it was never intended that any measure bringing about federation should be initiated in the parliaments without first appealing to the people of the country. I do hope that we shall have many opportunities of speaking to the people before we determine upon a federal union under any law; and I am quite sure that that was your intention when you made the proposal to our own legislature.
Mr. PLAYFORD: It appears to me that we really have no policy but to remit the question to the people in the form of "yes" or "no " If we adopt any other course it will only result in absolute confusion. One colony will suggest one amendment, and another colony will suggest another amendment. The colonies generally will suggest a great number of amendments, so that the convention which would be called together would have to frame another constitution. Do you expect that people elected for one particular colony, and going to the convention with instructions to carry a certain proposal, will be likely to come to a fair compromise? Do hon. members think the members of a [start page 936] convention, brought together under such circumstances, receiving instructions from individual colonies to carry out certain views, will be likely to compromise matters as we, unfettered by any special instructions excepting for the formation of what we believe to be a just and equitable scheme for the federation of the colonies, have compromised them? Do hon. members suppose that anything of that kind will result? What, then, will the final result be? After the convention has agreed to something, will not the people say, "You must remit it to us again"? Will they agree to the work of
that convention; will they say they will be bound by a majority of the convention, when their representatives have, very likely, received definite instructions to adopt a certain course of action? Will they not say that what has been done by a majority of the convention must still be submitted to the people? Will it not be better, under the circumstances, to take the "yea " or the "nay," of the people at once? If they say "nay," we shall, no doubt, through the press, ascertain the reasons why they are not in favour of federation under certain circumstances, and under what circumstances they would be in favour of it. We may thus, ultimately, have another convention and another appeal to the people. It will be a great deal better to ask the people at once; but how can you ask the people to express their views and opinions on the details of the bill? No two persons who go to the poll would vote alike. The idea appears to me to be out of the question. It cannot be carried out. As I have already stated, my idea is to put the question to the people directly, and let them say "aye" or "no."
Mr. DIBBS: Does the hon. member mean to put the whole of the bill, and nothing but the bill, before them?
Mr. PLAYFORD: If a number of them vote "no," and say "We would have gone for federation if the lines had been different," we can have another convention subsequently, and we can frame another constitution; but you will never frame a constitution if those who are elected by the people of the various colonies for the purpose of framing it, receive definite instructions as to the course they are to pursue, because, under those circumstances, there will be no possibility of compromise. There is no federal constitution in the world in regard to which that course has been adopted. It was never adopted in America. It was never adopted in Canada, where the question was to be answered by "yea" or "nay." It was never adopted in Switzerland, and, as far as I know, it was never adopted in the German federation. It has never been adopted; and, if you will look clearly into the matter, you will see that it cannot work. It is impossible to ascertain the exact views of the people on all these different points and they must therefore say "yea" or "nay." There is one point, however on which the people may express their views. Public opinion throughout the various colonies will make the fact known that it is desired that at the earliest possible moment certain alterations should be made in the Constitution on certain leading lines, and when the new parliament of the commonwealth is formed, that parliament will be able to make those alterations in the same way as alterations were made in the Constitution of the United States when it was framed. That will be a far more satisfactory method. The people of the colonies, and the press will no doubt express their views, and if there is a unanimous expression of opinion in favour of alterations in the constitution, they can be made by the parliament of the commonwealth immediately after it has met, and in a much more satisfactory manner than can possibly be made by any convention specially elected for the purpose. I think the mode proposed is the only satisfactory one. We were appointed, as I understand, by the [start page 937] parliaments of the various colonies for the purpose of drafting a constitution to be submitted to the people for them to say "yea " or "nay " to it; and if they say that many of the clauses are of such a character that they cannot agree to them, although, at the same time, they may be in favour of federation, they will vote against them with the view, eventually, of the appointment of another convention to draft a bill which will better suit their views. That would be the result of what the hon. member himself proposes. Therefore, I think it would be a great deal better to vote for the clause as it stands in preference to the suggestion of the hon. member, Sir John Bray, who proposes that the matter should be considered by the people. I do not mind if the words he proposes to insert are inserted before the word "approval." Of course, it is understood that the people will consider the matter before they give their approval, so that no harm will be done by inserting the words "for the consideration and approval of the people."
Question-That the word proposed to be omitted stand part of the question-put. The Convention divided:
Ayes, 24; noes, 7; majority, 17.
Abbott, Mr. Loton, Mr.
Baker, Mr. Macdonald-Paterson, Mr.
Cockburn, Dr. Marmion, Mr.
Deakin, Mr. McIlwraith, Sir Thomas
Fitzgerald, Mr. McMillan, Mr.
Forrest, Mr. A. Munro, Mr.
Forrest, Mr. J. Parkes, Sir Henry
Gillies, Mr. Playford, Mr.
Gordon, Mr. Rutledge, Mr.
Grey, Sir George Smith, Colonel
Griffith, Sir Samuel Suttor, Mr.
Jennings, Sir Patrick Thynne, Mr.
Bray, Sir John Fysh, Mr.
Clark, Mr. Kingston, Mr.
Dibbs, Mr. Wrixon, Mr.
Downer, Sir John
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Sir GEORGE GREY: I move:
That the resolution be amended by inserting after the word "respectively" the words "at a plebiscite on the principle of one man one vote."
The clause would then read as follows:-
That this Convention recommends that provision be made by the parliaments of the several colonies for submitting for the approval of the people of the colonies respectively, at a plebiscite on the principle of one man one vote, the constitution of the commonwealth of Australia as framed by this Convention.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION.
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH rose to move:
That the Convention further recommends that so soon as the constitution has been adopted by three of the colonies, her Majesty's Government be requested to take the necessary action to establish the constitution in respect of those colonies.
He said: This is a recommendation from the Constitutional Committee. It is impossible to know how many colonies will adopt the constitution. It might happen that only Western Australia, Tasmania, and Queensland would adopt it, in which case I have no doubt that her Majesty's Government would not recommend the parliament of the United Kingdom to pass it into law; but I do not anticipate that contingency. On the other hand, supposing the three colonies on the eastern seaboard, or that New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, adopted it, there would be no reason why we should wait any longer. I need not give any further reasons.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES.
Resolved (motions by Mr. MCMILLAN):
That the President forward copies of the Proceedings and Debates of the Convention to his
[start page 938] Excellency the Governor of New South Wales, for transmission to the Right Hon. the Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies.
That the President forward copies of the report of the Proceedings and Debates of the Convention to the representatives of the colonies at this Convention, for presentation to their respective parliaments and for general distribution.
VOTES OF THANKS.
Mr. MUNRO: Our duties being now ended, I have been requested to propose a very important resolution which I have not the least doubt will be carried not only unanimously, but with enthusiasm:
That the thanks of the Convention be given to the Hon. Sir Henry Parkes, G.C.M.G., President; the Hon. Sir Samuel W. Griffith, K.C.M.G., Vice President; and the Hon. Joseph Palmer Abbott, Chairman of Committees of the Whole, for the services rendered by them to the Convention.
I am quite sure that all the members of the Convention will agree with me in saying that we are under a great obligation to those gentlemen for the attention which they have given to the business, and the manner in which they presided over our meetings. I had the pleasure and the honor of proposing you, sir, for the position of President, and I am quite sure we all feel that you have been the right man in the right place. I do not think it would be wise now to dwell on these matters, for we all know and appreciate the services which have been rendered.
Mr. PLAYFORD: I second the resolution with very great pleasure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The PRESIDENT: It seems to me that it is my duty at this stage to express my acknowledgments, and it will be the duty of the other two gentlemen named in the resolution to express theirs. I feel myself very sensibly the compliment paid to me. I accepted my nomination to the office of President, not, perhaps, with much misgiving, but I can say safely with no desire for that office to the exclusion of any more acceptable member of the Convention. Since I have occupied the chair I have received such uniform courtesy, so much kindness, so much consideration for any failings of mine, and so much appreciation of my small services, that I am more than gratified. It is, of course, a great
distinction to preside over a body so distinguished as this Convention. We have amongst us, I think, no fewer than fourteen or fifteen gentlemen who either are prime ministers, or have occupied that post; and it must be assumed, even if we had no personal knowledge, that the colonies would only send as their representatives their best men. The Convention is composed of men whose names are historically known already, and it is a great distinction indeed to be promoted to the high station of presiding over the deliberations of these distinguished men. I appreciate that myself very deeply, and I return my sincere thanks for all the courtesy and kindness I have received, with the assurance that I shall not soon forget the many acts of consideration which have been shown to me by hon. members. I can say nothing more, except again to express my grateful acknowledgments for the distinction conferred upon me, and also for the various acts of kindness and courtesy extended to me during the time I have occupied the chair.
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH: I desire also to offer my acknowledgments to the Convention for the compliment paid to me in including me in this vote of thanks. My duties as Vice-President of the Convention have not, I am happy to say, been very arduous, as you, sir, have been able to perform the functions almost throughout the whole of our sittings. The functions which fell to my lot as chairman of the Constitutional Committee were more arduous. In respect to them I desire to express my special acknowledgments to the gentlemen who were on the committee with me for the help which they gave me, and especially with respect to the difficult work [start page 939] of drafting the bill, or being responsible for the drafting, which fell to my lot as chairman. I desire to express my thanks, as an individual, to the hon. member, Mr. Clark, Attorney-General of Tasmania, and to the hon. member, Mr. Kingston, lately Attorney-General of South Australia, who were originally associated with the drafting committee, and also in no less degree to my hon. friend, Mr. Barton, of New South Wales, who took Mr. Clark's place when he was laid up, and who devoted himself to that work as strenuously and an industriously as any man with whom I ever had the pleasure of working, and I venture to say that I have done a good deal of hard work in my time. I have also to express my acknowledgments to the Convention for the uniform courtesy and consideration with which they have treated me. I have felt sometimes that I was, perhaps, a little too insistent on my views; but I hope they will pardon me. I, for my part, shall leave this Convention with the most pleasurable feelings. I had the pleasure of knowing nearly all the members personally before-I think there were only three members whom I did not know before; old acquaintances have been renewed, and I feel, as my hon. colleague from Queensland said this morning, it is impossible to go away from a meeting of this kind without profiting very greatly by intercourse with so many minds. I hope that what will follow on our work will be as satisfactory as it seems to us at the present time.
Mr. ABBOTT: I have to return my thanks to the Convention for the honor which they did me in electing me Chairman of Committees, and I have to thank hon. members for the very little trouble which they gave me in the discharge of those duties. I hope that in the future, occupying the position which I do in this legislature, I shall have as little trouble in maintaining law and order as I have had during the discussions of the Convention in Committee. It is an honor to be associated with such a Convention, and I am quite sure that, whatever the result may be, the bringing together of so many public men from the different colonies will be of lasting benefit to every one of the colonies. Again I thank hon. members.
OFFICERS OF THE CONVENTION.
Mr. MUNRO: I beg to move:
That the thanks of this Convention be given to Frederick William Webb, Esquire, secretary, and to his assistants, and also the members of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff of New South Wales, for their services to the Convention.
I wish simply to say one word in support of this motion, and it is that the members of the Convention feel that these gentlemen have discharged their duties in an admirable manner. As one who is always complaining of the slowness with which the Hansard of Victoria is published, I highly
appreciate the smartness with which the members of the Hansard staff of this colony have performed their work. I was perfectly surprised to find a proof copy of Hansard at our hotels each morning, containing the previous day's debates; and looking through the reports from time to time, I was equally surprised to find so few mistakes. I am sure that Mr. Webb has discharged his duties in an equally satisfactory manner, and that his assistants are also entitled to our thanks. I am sure hon. members will unanimously join in passing this vote of thanks in the most hearty manner.
Mr. DIBBS: Before the motion is put from the Chair I should like to say that I indorse every word uttered by the hon. member, Mr. Munro, with regard to the officers who have given their time and services to the Convention. As a representative of New South Wales, I should like also to make a suggestion, and I know that it has only to be made to receive at your hands, sir, a generous and hearty [start page 940] response. We should bear in mind that these gentlemen are civil servants of New South Wales, and that they have not only given us the benefit of their services during the last six weeks, but have devoted a large amount of time, out of what is really their vacation, to their duties in connection with the Convention. I feel that the Government of New South Wales should recognise the value of the services of these gentlemen. I refer not only to the Parliamentary Reporting Staff, but I include the secretary to the Convention and other officers down to the humblest officer employed in these buildings, and who might, but for this Convention, have been enjoying a holiday. I hope the whole of them will receive at the hands of the Government that generous recognition of services which is characteristic of the colony of New South Wales; and I have no doubt that the suggestion once made-even if it should not already have occurred to your mind, sir-will receive from you a generous and hearty response.
The PRESIDENT: The hon. member, Mr. Dibbs, having so lively a sense of the justice and propriety of the present Government, may rest assured that his suggestion has only to be made to be followed. If it be not out of place, I may state that the Government have very few pleasures amid the arduous duties they have to perform, and that the keenest pleasure of all is to adopt any suggestion coming from so amiable a quarter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The PRESIDENT: Perhaps I may be permitted to say, on behalf of Mr. Webb and the other officers that from a long personal knowledge of these gentlemen, I feel assured that they would spare no effort, and that they would draw very largely upon their capabilities of endurance in order to give satisfaction to this Convention. I think I may thank the Convention on behalf of Mr. Webb and the other gentlemen referred to in the resolution for the kind manner in which it has expressed its sense of their services, and I believe I may add, that although the performance of those services has diminished much of the time for enjoyment which during the parliamentary recess they would have had, they still have felt a sincere and high-toned pleasure in rendering their services to the Convention at this important epoch of our history. I thank you on behalf of Mr. Webb and the other gentlemen for the manner in which the resolution has been carried.
DISSOLUTION OF THE CONVENTION.
The PRESIDENT: I think it would be the most becoming course not for any motion of adjournment to be made, but for me to declare that this Convention having done its work is now dissolved. Of course it will meet no more. I have no doubt its work will be heard of, and it would be unbecoming in me to indulge in any words at this stage, or to do more than declare that the proceedings of the Convention have come to an end. I now ask the delegates to rise in their places and to give three cheers for her Majesty the Queen.
Hon. members rising in their places gave three cheers for the Queen.
At the instance of Colonel Smith, cheers were also given for the hon. the President of the Convention.