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1897 AUSTRALASIAN FEDERATION CONFERENCE
- DEBATES - MARCH 22
- DEBATES - MARCH 23
- DEBATES - MARCH 24
- DEBATES - MARCH 25
- DEBATES - MARCH 26
- DEBATES - MARCH 29
- DEBATES - MARCH 30
- DEBATES - MARCH 31
- DEBATES - APRIL 1
- DEBATES - APRIL 2
- DEBATES - APRIL 5
- DEBATES - APRIL 6
- DEBATES - APRIL 7
- DEBATES - APRIL 8
- DEBATES - APRIL 9
- DEBATES - APRIL 12
- DEBATES - APRIL 13
- DEBATES - APRIL 14
- DEBATES - APRIL 15
- DEBATES - APRIL 17
- DEBATES - APRIL 19
- DEBATES - APRIL 20
- DEBATES - APRIL 21
- DEBATES - APRIL 22
- DEBATES - APRIL 23
- DEBATES - MAY 5
- APPENDIX. COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA BILL 1897
- DELEGATIONS FROM COLONIES
- INDEX TO DEBATES
- INDEX TO SPEECHES
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 2
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 3
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 6
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 7
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 8
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 9
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 10
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 13
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 14
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 15
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 16
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 17
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 20
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 21
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 22
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 23
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 24
- REPRESENTATIVES FROM COLONIES
- INDEX TO DEBATES
- INDEX TO SPEECHES
- FIRST SESSION
Content Window1897 Australasian Federation Conference
The text of this document has been electronically scanned from an original print copy. Freedom from errors or omissions cannot be guaranteed.
[Continue page 3]
FRIDAY, 3 SEPTEMBER, 1897.
Reports and Papers-Suggested Amendments-Petitions-Notice of Motion-Notice of Amendments-Personal Explanation-Financial Clauses of Draft Bill-Drafting Committee-Returns: Population, Revenue, &c. -Commonwealth of Australia Bill-Finance Committee.
The PRESIDENT took the chair at noon.
REPORTS AND PAPERS.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia): I wish to ask the Premiers of the various colonies which are represented in the Convention and in the case of South Australia the Treasurer of that colony, whether, for the purpose of helping the deliberations of the Convention, they will lay on the table copies of all reports presented to their respective governments on the question of the finances of the proposed federation, the financial clauses of the draft bill, and the federal control or ownership of the railways? If necessary, sir, I will give, notice of the question.
The PRESIDENT: Are the Premiers prepared to answer the question at once, or do they desire notice of it to be given?
[start page 4] The Right Hon. G.H. REID: I think it would be more regular if notice were given of such a question.
Mr. GLYNN: I give notice of the question for Monday.
The Right Hon. Sir G. TURNER (Victoria): I desire to present the amendments suggested by the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly of Victoria in regard to the Federal Constitution Bill. I move:
That the document be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. WALKER (New South Wales): I have the honor to present a petition from certain Presbyterians in the town of Orange praying that there may be a recognition of God in the preamble of the constitution, and also that the proceedings of the Federal Parliament may be commenced daily with prayer.
The Hon. F.W. HOLDER: I have a similar petition to present from the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in South Australia.
NOTICE OF MOTION.
Dr. QUICK (Victoria): I beg to give notice that at the next meeting I will move:
That a return be laid before this Convention, showing according to the latest available information:
(1.) The population and number of electors in each electoral district for the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales; and
(2.) The population and number of electors in each electoral district for the Legislative Assembly of Victoria.
NOTICE OF AMENDMENTS.
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST (Western Australia): I beg to give notice that in Committee on the bill I will move that the following two clauses be inserted:-
In each state of the commonwealth there shall be a governor, who shall be appointed by the governor-general in council, and shall hold office during the pleasure of the governor-general, but for no longer than six years in any one state at any one time.
All references or communications required by the constitution of any state or otherwise to be made by the governor of the state to the Queen, shall be made through the governor-general as her Majesty's representative in the commonwealth, and the Queen's pleasure shall be made, known through him.
The PRESIDENT: I do not think it will be necessary in all cases for notices of amendments to be given. If they are banded in, they will be printed and appear on the order-paper.
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST: In some cases it might be more convenient if notice were given orally.
The PRESIDENT: I do not take the slightest objection to the course which the hon. gentleman has pursued.
The Hon. N.J. BROWN (Tasmania): Before the notices of motion are proceeded with, I desire, with the permission of hon. members, to make a short personal explanation. In yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald there appears a paragraph beaded "Amendments made by the Tasmanian Parliament." The part of the paragraph to which I refer relates to the vote given by me and two of my colleagues-Mr. Henry and Mr. Lewis-at Adelaide, with regard to the powers of the senate in dealing with money bills. It will be remembered by hon. members who were present at Adelaide that when I announced my intention to give that vote I carefully guarded myself from being committed to adhere to the view I then took on any future occasion. This paragraph, in so far as it conveys an impression that there is any intention on my part to adhere to that course absolutely, or in so far as it conveys the impression that there has been any compact entered into between Mr. Henry, Mr. Lewis, and myself, is quite incorrect. I [start page 5] have the assurance of my hon. friend, Mr. Henry, that, so far as that view is concerned, the paragraph is entirely misleading. There is no compact whatever between that hon. gentleman, Mr. Lewis, and myself in regard to the matter, nor am I committed to adhere to the position I took up in Adelaide.
FINANCIAL CLAUSES OF DRAFT BILL.
The Hon. E. BARTON (New South Wales)[12.7] rose to move:
(1.) That Chapter IV of the draft constitution be referred to a select committee for consideration and report, with power to send for persons and papers.
(2.) That such committee consist of Mr. Reid, Sir George Turner, Mr. Holder, Sir Philip Fysh, and Sir John Forrest.
He said: Hon. members will recollect, that in Adelaide a committee consisting of the Treasurers of the colonies there represented, with the exception of the Right Hon. Sir John Forrest, who, I think, had then taken his departure for Western Australia, was appointed for the purpose of considering what should be the financial proposals of the bill. They brought up a report, and the result of their deliberations was included, practically in their own words, in the bill. Since that time there has been a lapse of four months during which criticism by the public and by the press has been abundant, and during which time also the financial clauses have undergone the criticism and been made the subject of suggestions by the various legislatures. Inasmuch as the financial provisions of the bill are probably the most important with which we will have to deal, and inasmuch as they must be dealt with with a very great deal of deliberation-I do not say for a moment that every portion of the bill will not receive great deliberation, but this, perhaps, will be specially entitled to it-it has seemed to me that it would be a wise thing to reappoint this committee. I understand from several gentlemen whose names are mentioned in the motion that they will be prepared, in the event of such committee being appointed, to devote considerable time to it, apart from the time which will necessarily be engaged in our debates. I may mention further that it has been suggested that additions should be made to the committee. Inasmuch as my right hon. friends, Mr. Reid, Sir George Turner, and Sir John Forrest, have been away in England during part of the time which has been spent in criticism and suggestion, it might be wise to add some other members to the committee, perhaps not exceeding one from each colony represented. That is a suggestion which I leave to the wisdom of the Convention, only Saying this: If it seems good to the Convention to make these additions I would suggest that in order that the committee may not be so large as to be unwieldy, the additions to it should not exceed one from each colony. If that is the general sense of the Convention I will accept an amendment to my motion for the purpose of carrying out this proposal.
The Right Hon. Sir G. TURNER (Victoria)[12.11]: With regard to this motion I cannot approve of it, for this reason: The committee will simply meet to discuss the work which they themselves did some months ago, and, while we are doing that, we shall be doing it in the dark. The majority of us have been away, and I confess that I am not at all acquainted with the proposals which have been made, or the suggestions which have been offered so that a better scheme might be prepared for submission to the Convention. What I would suggest is this: Now that we are assembled here, let us discuss all those proposals. Let us have the benefit of hearing the various views which may be brought forward. Let us take into consideration and try to learn the reasons for the various [start page 6] suggestions which have been made, and, after we have gained the, greatest amount of information possible, then it might be wise to ask the Treasurers of the several colonies to meet together for the purpose of endeavouring to place the various suggestions which will be made here in a form in which they can be submitted afterwards to the Convention. But I feel that if we are to meet, as we will, absolutely in the dark, the work will take us a very long time, and we shall not have the benefit of hearing the views of our colleagues. Therefore, I should prefer to see this matter discussed fully here, and then we should be able to deal with it in a satisfactory manner. If we adopt the proposal submitted, I for one would not be in a position to deal with it in a manner satisfactory to myself or to the Convention. And in regard to this matter, I desire to take the earliest opportunity to point out a great difficulty in which the representatives of the colony of Victoria would be placed. When we adjourned some time ago to the 2nd September we were certainly under the impression that the work to be done at the adjourned Convention could easily be carried through in two or three weeks. We have seen now what has occurred in the various colonies, and the mmense number of suggestions which have been made touching the most vital points in the proposed constitution, and we must realise that it will be utterly impossible for this Convention, unless it is prepared to sit for at least a
couple of months, to deal with the question in a manner that will be at all satisfactory. We, in Victoria, unfortunately will have in four or five weeks a general election, and it will be utterly impossible for the representatives of Victoria, and especially those who hold ministerial positions, to remain here longer at the outside than some three weeks. I feel perfectly certain that members of the Convention would not desire to discuss and deal with important questions in the absence of the representatives of the colony of Victoria. If we were to deal with this financial matter-seeing the entertainments we are expected to attend in the evenings, and that we shall not be sitting in the evenings-that would probably take us a fortnight to discuss, and by that time we should probably have got to the bottom of all the proposed amendments, and should be in a position to deal with that one important question, which is the most important of the whole. Then I doubt if any members of the Convention are prepared now to deal in a proper way with the various suggestions which have been made. There are varying suggestions from every colony, and I do not think there are many, if any, who are present here to-day who know what those suggestions really mean, or the reasons which have been adduced in the various colonies for their adoption. Those of us who have been away certainly are not in that position. It will be difficult enough for us to find out exactly what has been done in our own colony, and I feel that we ought not to attempt to rush the work through on this occasion. On the last occasion, from circumstances over which we had no control, we bad to rush the work through; but, seeing that we are now about to take the final step, so far an the Convention is concerned, in formulating a constitution which will practically have to last for all time-because it will be very difficult indeed to amend it-we must be prepared to know exactly what we are doing, to see exactly where we are going, and to devote a very large amount of time for the purpose of doing our work properly and satisfactorily. I trust the members of the Convention will give the matter careful consideration-not alone looking at it from the point of view of the difficulty in which the representatives of Victoria are placed, but looking at it also in view of the grave [start page 7] importance of the whole subject. We are not at the present time sufficiently educated with regard to the proposed suggestions to deal with them, and I trust we will endeavour to take up, say, the financial matter, and thresh that out at our leisure, then leaving it to the committee to deal with it hereafter. But with regard to the other important questions I trust we shall not attempt to deal with them hurriedly here and that for the reasons I have given-to suit the convenience of the colony of which I am one of the representatives, and to en able us to make ourselves fully acquainted with all the proposed amendments-we will allow the other work of the Convention to stand over until, say, February or March. These are the views I hold. I have thought the matter over carefully. I feel, as I said before, that the Convention ought not to proceed with important matter in the absence of the representatives of the colony of Victoria, and I know we cannot remain here at the outside more than three weeks. Under these circumstances I trust that the representatives present will endeavour to devise some means by which we may be present at all the discussions, and by which all of us may have greater opportunities than we have hitherto bad of ascertaining exactly what the suggestions mean and what we are about to do. I have taken the opportunity of bringing this matter forward so that I might bear the views of representatives of other colonies with regard to the suggestion I have made. Of course, if we are in the minority we shall have to stop and do the beat we can as long as we can, and then we shall have to leave the other matters to be dealt with by the representatives of the other colonies. But I am afraid that will not be satisfactory to us nor satisfactory to those whom we represent, and it may place us in a very difficult position when we come to deal with this bill in either recommending it or otherwise to the people of the colony. Therefore I would throw, out the suggestion that we should take the opportunity of endeavouring to thresh out this one question-the financial question-that we then leave that to the committee, adjourn, give them ample time to look fully into the matter, and meet later on, say, in February or March, when we shall be seized of all the various matters and be able to deal with them satisfactorily.
The Hon. Sir P.O. FYSH (Tasmania)[12.19]: I am sure it must come to the representatives present as a great surprise that our right hon. friend who has just resumed his seat should say, after members of the Convention have been considering these subjects since the year 1891, and probably a period long anterior to that, that we are not now, in the year 1897, sufficiently educated on the subjects to give that due attention to them to bring them to a fruition now. I am surprised exceedingly. I should have presumed that those who attended only our former Convention in April last, and who have kept themselves in touch with all that has been written by the press, discussed in our Hansards, and spoken
at our firesides, would have been prepared, at any rate, now, to consider every one of the questions, difficult though they may be of solution. Now that we have met, the people of Australia, I believe-certainly may speak for the people of Tasmania; and I have it on record on my passage here that the people of Victoria, also, are looking to this Convention, not to adjourn at an early date, but to continue their sittings until this work shall be completed. Therefore, I am surprised that my right hon. friend from Victoria, who represents a body of people strongly imbued with the federal spirit, be himself also being strongly imbued with that spirit, and having an earnest desire to see the end of this work, should consider it to be his duty now to ask for a considerable delay.
[start page 8] I speak thus, notwithstanding that I am with him, and not at issue with him. It is most important that Victoria should be represented throughout in the Convention, and that we should not deal with any important subject in her absence. I believe, however, that if we are really intending to federate-intending to perfect the measure commenced in 1891, nearly adopted in the present year, admitted generally to have laid the foundation of nine-tenths, at any rate, of the measure which must ultimately be accepted as the Commonwealth Bill-we must proceed to do so without delay. After many interesting discussions, our late, or present parliaments now sitting in session, have submitted to us a very considerable number of amendments. I think we might deal with the greater portion of those amendments in the course of a few hours, and leave the important amendments for that mature consideration which every one of them demands; and I know there are none of them that demand more consideration than those which deal with finance. The financial question has ever been a difficulty-and I am a little surprised to find that some of the parliaments of Australia have considered it to be so great a difficulty that we, who are charged with the solution of it, are to have withdrawn from us the consideration of that solution-that it is to be left to the future; and that it has been said by some of our parliaments that this body, specially elected by the people to solve that and all the other difficult questions of federation, is not capable of doing it, but that they believe that there will be, in the future, a body of men rising up, to be known as the federal executive and federal parliament, who will be able to solve it. I think a goodly number of the representatives present to-day are not at all unlikely to have thrown upon them the responsibility of the solution of this problem in the future, even if this Convention does not solve it. I am going to urge, therefore, whenever I have an opportunity, that we shall undertake the discharge of the duty which is committed to our care, and if we fail to solve the problem satisfactorily there will be ample opportunity-having given to the future commonwealth or executive our solution of the difficulty-for them hereafter, if needs be, to seek an amendment of the constitution in that particular direction. I find, however, that the Premier of Victoria addressed himself to this question of finance, not so much with the idea of dealing with it, as with the idea of putting forward his own proposal with respect to an early adjournment of the Convention. I do not know what early means, but I presume a week means early, and if so, I sincerely hope hon. gentlemen will not be induced to entertain his idea, but that our friends from Victoria will give to us the longest possible time at their disposal. We thought that, coming here, they would give us three weeks of their time. Bearing in mind what took place in April-that for nearly two weeks we were discussing resolutions, and that those resolutions are now disposed of, and that we are no longer likely to have any second reading speeches-let us address ourselves properly to the question.
HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
The Hon. Sir P.O. FYSH: The response which comes from hon. gentlemen to that remark is an indication to me that we can get on with our work promptly.
The Hon. Sir W.A. ZEAL: Then let us get on with the work!
The Hon. Sir P.O. FYSH: I am very glad to hear my hon. friend say that.
The Hon. Sir W.A. ZEAL: The hon. gentleman is not giving us the chance!
The Hon. Sir P.O. FYSH: Under the circumstances, I will not further prolong my observations. I may say I am not at issue with hon. members. I am satisfied with, and I shall support, the proposal of our leader, Mr. Barton, to the effect that the [start page 9] committee shall not consist merely of the four Treasurers; but that they shall be supported by the addition of at least one other representative of every colony. We shall then find that when the work of the committee comes before us, we shall more readily get on with our proceedings.
Mr. SYMON (South Australia)[12.25]: I entirely agree with the suggestion of the hon. member, Mr. Barton, with regard to the desirability-if the Convention thinks fit-of adding to the committee which is to consider the financial question. I feel -and I think my right hon. friend, Sir George Turner, will also feel-that there is really no difficulty so far as regards the labours of the proposed Finance Committee are concerned, if we treat that committee, as I understand it is to be treated, as one for the consideration of the financial question. It is not intended, I think, by Mr. Barton, that the Financial Committee when constituted shall immediately proceed to deal with the financial question, unless they are possessed of the necessary material to enable them efficiently to do so. Therefore, I take it, that it will be competent for the committee, when appointed, to either assume their duties at once or to wait until the Convention itself has considered any of the amendments which may have been suggested by the legislatures of the different colonies. My idea is that the Financial Committee will not derive very great assistance from the suggestions of the various legislatures. The provisions embodied in the Draft Commonwealth Bill were dealt with by them, and were subjected to considerable criticism. But, after all, so far as my recollection goes, they were treated with what I may call very short shrift. I think I am correct in stating that, in Victoria, no other provisions were substituted for those provided in the Draft Commonwealth Bill.
An Hon. MEMBER: That is quite wrong; there were several suggestions!
Mr. SYMON: I understand that in one instance the provisions included in the Draft Commonwealth Bill, as they left the Adelaide Convention, were struck out, and no complete scheme was inserted in their place for dealing with the financial question. Therefore, I am sure that the appointment of the committee now, simply as a finance committee, will not create any of the difficulties suggested by the Premier of Victoria. It will be left to the committee to settle the question with the materials before them. Under those circumstances, I shall support the proposal; but with the concurrence of the Convention I shall seek to add additional names. I hope hon. members will believe me when I say that I shall not mention those additional names with any idea of suggesting that they are superior in financial knowledge or capacity to the already suggested members of the committee. My opinion is that the financial question is one of the most difficult, one of the most troublesome-the hardest nut to crack-in the path of a scheme for a federal constitution. It constitutes the bargain that is to be entered upon by the different states. When I recollect that the original committee was a very large one, that it dealt very exhaustively with the whole of the subject, and that its proposals were considered by the Convention in Adelaide to be insufficient, and when I recollect that that was followed by the smaller committee of the various Treasurers, then I think it would be well that we should have on this committee some additional help-some new blood-with the view of dealing, not with the proposals as they were originally framed, but with the suggestions of the different parliaments. I, therefore, suggest that there shall be added to the committee the names of Mr. J. Henry (Tasmania), Mr. P.M. Glynn (South Australia), Mr. W. McMillan (New South Wales), and Mr. J.T. Walker (New South Wales).
[start page 10] An HON. MEMBER: Dr. Quick for Victoria!
Another HON. MEMBER: Western Australia!
Mr. SYMON: I do not like to make any invidious suggestions with regard to Victoria.
The Hon. E. BARTON: Would it not be wise to leave that matter to the Treasurers who are appointed to the committee to name colleagues?
Mr. SYMON: I am perfectly willing. Whichever is the better course, I am perfectly willing to adopt it. I would very much rather not make any nomination, but leave the matter as my hon. and learned friend, Mr. Barton, suggests. I do feel that there ought to be some additional members on the Finance Committee, with the view, if possible, of arriving at a final and satisfactory solution of this very difficult question. I should like to say a few words in regard to the second part of my right hon. friend, Sir George Turner's speech in which he shadowed forth the possibility of an adjournment with only part of our work done. It would be absurd to think of our going through our labours or attempting to complete them without the presence of the representatives of Victoria. We must all feel that. Therefore it is our bounden duty-if it were not, in addition to that, a satisfaction to us-to do everything in our power to meet the wishes and convenience of my right hon. friend and the other representatives of Victoria; at the same time, I do hope that we shall not, at any rate at this early stage, either contemplate or put into shape any proposal for an adjournment. I think that the solution of the whole question is that offered by the Right Hon. Sir George Turner himself. Let us stay here and do the very best we can in the time at our disposal, and, if the necessities of the case should render an adjournment unavoidable, then it may be our misfortune-I mean the misfortune of hon. members from Victoria, as well as the misfortune of the other members of the Convention-to have to agree to it when sufficient reason arises for us to consider the question. Do not let us throw cold water on this movement at this early stage, or by constant adjournments bring about that hope deferred which really makes the heart sick. Let us get through our work if we can. If we have only a week at our disposal let us make the best we can of it. Do not let us be timid of our own powers and energies. I do hope that this discussion of the suggested adjournment will not be considered final-will not even be further prosecuted now, if I may appeal to hon. members from Victoria; but that the question will be left in abeyance until an absolute necessity for adjournment arises, and that we shall in the meantime do our best to accomplish not part but the whole of the work that lies before us.
The PRESIDENT: I ask the hon. member if he moves an amendment, and, if so, would he kindly lot me have it in the Shape he desires?
Mr. SYMON: No; I yield to the suggestion of the hon. and learned member, Mr. Barton.
The Hon. E. BARTON (New South Wales): May I make a suggestion? It is that each delegation should select whom it considers the most desirable member to add to the Finance Committee, and, when that has been done, I shall be prepared to amend the motion so as to cover that selection.
An HON. MEMBER: Why not select two?
The Hon. E. BARTON: It would make the committee too large.
The Hon. S. FRASER (Victoria)[12.34]: I am sorry that I cannot agree with all that my right hon. friend, Sir George Turner, said. I think that we should get to work. When the time arrives when we have to adjourn or prorogue, that will be the proper time to say whether our work is or is not completed.
[start page 11] Mr. MCMILLAN: This discussion of an adjournment is not in order I
The Hon. S. FRASER: No. I would urge that we should get to work and see what can be done in the meantime.
The PRESIDENT: It has been suggested that the discussion now proceeding is not in order. I think it is in order, because the suggestion is that instead of going on with the business we should adjourn. Under these circumstances I should not be justified in ruling the discussion out of order.
The Right Hon. Sir G. TURNER (Victoria)[12.35]: That is not the position I desire to take up at the present time. What I suggested was that we should go on discussing this financial matter, and let the Convention put before those who may form the Finance Committee various views in connection with the matter. I thought that that would probably occupy us for a fortnight, and that, having spent a fortnight profitably on that work, we could very easily adjourn, knowing that we had laid the foundation of some good work. The committee would have ample time at their disposal afterward to discuss the whole matter, and when the adjourned Convention met some months hence we would have the proposals of the committee before us, and would be able to work in the light of fuller knowledge. I do not desire to adjourn now. I have no wish at all that the Convention should adjourn; but I do say that the committee when they meet will be working in the dark unless they know the views of the various representatives here.
The PRESIDENT: After the statement made by the Right Hon. Sir George Turner, I ask hon. members to adhere more closely to the subject before them.
Mr. WALKER (New South Wales)[12.37]: I rise to offer a few remarks in regard to the motion of the hon. and learned member, Mr. Barton. I think that there cannot be two opinions as to whether we should have a larger Finance Committee than the five Treasurers; but, with regard to the composition of the committee, I hold very strong views. We have already had committees appointed by delegations. The first intimation I had that I had been appointed a member of the Judiciary Committee was through the newspapers.
Mr. SYMON: That was a great compliment!
Mr. WALKER: I look upon it as a compliment, and I admit that it was courteous on the part of the chairman and other hon. members of the committee to consider, as they did, any little suggestions that the only laymen on the committee-the Chief Secretary of Victoria and I-had to offer. I recognise that it was an honor to be on that committee; but I was not sent into this Convention to take part specially in the proceedings of a judiciary committee. I am, I fear, incompetent to offer suggestions worthy of being listened to by that committee. However, my object is not to speak of any grievance, if I have any, but to suggest that the additional members of the committee should be elected by ballot of the Whole House, because the system of allowing delegations to appoint members is, in my opinion, a provincial system, whereas we should encourage a federal spirit. We came here as representatives of different colonies; but, once here, we are all on the same level, and we should appoint on special committees those hon. members who have special qualifications. Personally, I have interests in all the colonies, except Tasmania; therefore, my sympathies are not confined to any one colony. I do trust that, if we appoint additional members to the Finance Committee, we will recognise the fact that all the Treasurers ought to be on it, but that the additional members should be elected by a ballot of the Whole House.
[start page 12] The PRESIDENT: Does the hon. representative move an amendment?
Mr. WALKER: No. I merely make the suggestion that the additional members should be elected by the whole Convention, irrespective of which colony they come from.
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST (Western Australia)[12.39]: I have listened attentively to what has been said by our right hon. friend, Sir George Turner, and I express my regret that he should find himself in the position he does in regard to pressing matters which will require his attention in his own colony in a short time. I myself, as a representative of Western Australia, was in a similar position when the Convention met at Adelaide; but I do not intend to mete out to him as little sympathy as he extended to me at that time. All my endeavours to elicit the sympathy of hon. members fell very flat, and, as they all know, the representatives of Western Australia had to go away and leave the Convention to deal with the bill in their absence. Of course, I recognise fully at once
that the absence of the representatives of Western Australia was not nearly so important a matter as the absence of the representatives of Victoria would be. I recognise that for us to continue our deliberations without the presence of the representatives from Victoria would not be at all what we should desire. But, if the representatives from Victoria will pardon me for concurring in the suggestion of Mr. Symon, I think the best course for us to pursue is to go on with the bill now, and I am sure that when the time comes beyond which the representatives of Victoria find it impossible to remain, they will not appeal in vain to the Convention to meet their wishes in every possible way. I think we shall do well if we go on with the consideration of the amendments suggested by the various legislatures at once. With regard to the financial question, while I am quite of opinion that the appointment of a committee of Treasurers and some other members would be very useful and desirable, I think that before that committee meets these gentlemen would like-at all events, speaking for myself, I should like-to hear the views of the members of the Convention in regard to the suggestions which have been made by the various legislatures.
The Hon. E. BARTON: That is a matter the members of the committee could regulate for themselves!
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST: The only way in which we could regulate it would be to postpone our meetings, or, at any rate, our decisions, until we have heard the observations of the members of the Convention in regard to these suggestions. For my own part, at the present time I do not know what suggestions have been made. I have not even seen the suggestions. We shall have to consider them, however, and we must hear what other members of the Convention have to say in regard to them. As I said before, I quite sympathise with the representatives from Victoria, though I do not think that at Adelaide they sympathised with me to the same extent.
The Hon. A.J. PEACOCK: Did I not second the motion there?
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST: Not only do I sympathise with the representatives from Victoria, but when the time comes I shall be willing to assist them in every way possible. I do not think, however, that it would be wise for us to begin this business with the intention of not completing it. My opinion is that we should do as much as we can, and, if we find that we cannot finish the work before the time arrives when the delegates from Victoria will have to return, we can then consider the question of an adjournment. I am sure that upon this matter the members of the Convention will be willing and anxious to meet their wishes in every way possible.
[start page 13] Mr. GLYNN (South Australia)[12.43]: I intend to move the addition of the following words to the motion:-
That it be an instruction to the committee to have the evidence given by experts or statisticians to the committee printed, and that copies of such evidence and of any statistics or reports furnished to the committee be laid on the table of the Convention.
I never could see what good object was served by the secrecy in which the committees conducted their deliberations at Adelaide. The true precedent in this matter was set to us by the Convention itself in having its deliberations published in the full light of day, hon. members being of opinion that our judgments upon circumstances are likely to be clearer when they are not formed in secret. It is a strange thing that copies, of the evidence taken at Adelaide by the principal committee-the Finance Committee-have never been supplied to the members of the Convention. We were asked to accept the conclusions drawn by members of that committee without examining the premises upon which they were based. I submit, however, that it is a very difficult matter to arrive at correct conclusions without having an opportunity to consider the evidence on which those conclusions ought to be based. If there is one thing more than another which approximates to certainty in regard to the work of the Convention it is that neither of the sets of clauses which contain the solution suggested by the Finance
Committee and the Committee of Treasurers could be accepted as they stand. The first solution which was brought forward by the committee was practically stillborn.
An Hon. MEMBER: Not stillborn!
Mr. MCMILLAN: That was not the fault of the committee; it was the fault of the Convention!
Mr. GLYNN: I do not know whose fault it was; but this is the time to give the necessary directions. The upshot of the committee's deliberations was that when their conclusions were sent to the Convention the clauses which they had framed could not be accepted. The first set of clauses were practically stillborn, or rather, their mortality was soon settled by the shafts of criticism directed against them by the members of the Convention. The second set of clauses suggested, notwithstanding their ingenuity, were not such that we could accept them as a solution of the difficulty. They have been keenly criticised by the press and by the members of the Convention and of the various legislatures, and the conclusion all have come to is that these clauses cannot be accepted as a solution of the matter, or be embodied as part of the ultimate constitution regulating the financial affairs of the commonwealth. I think that the fullest information should be given to the members of the Convention by allowing the publication of the evidence as the sittings of the committee take place. In this way we may hope to obtain the co-operation of the members of the Convention, of the outside public, of the press, and of the members of the various parliaments. In this way we may get a solution which, if not perfect, will be based upon a recommendation generally regarded as the best obtainable.
The Hon. E. BARTON: I would suggest that the amendment first suggested should be put before that motion proposed which would come at the end of the resolution, and I propose to move it in this form:
That the following words be added to the motion:-"That another representative of each colony shall be chosen by the representatives thereof."
Mr. TRENWITH (Victoria): It appears to me that there is a good deal of misapprehension in regard to the suggestion thrown out by the Right Hon. Sir George Turner. It seems to me that he dissents from the motion submitted by the leader of the Convention that a committee should now be appointed to prepare a financial scheme for submission to the Convention [start page 14] on the ground that the members named to form the committee have all of them, except the hon. member, Mr. Holder, been absent from the colonies during the period in which important discussions have been taking place in the various parliaments and in the press. The Right Hon. Sir John Forrest has, it seems to me, added valuable testimony as to the wisdom of the Right Hon. Sir George Turner's objection. He has pointed out that lie is utterly ignorant of what has taken place in the colonies since our last sitting at Adelaide.
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST: I said that I -was ignorant of the suggestions which have been made by the various legislatures!
Mr. TRENWITH: Yes, exactly. While I indorse as heartily as any person can the desirability of expedition in connection with our labours, I feel that we want something more. We want the assurance that we shall have ample time to do thoroughly the work we have undertaken. The misfortune of the work which has been done so far is that it was done under the high pressure of a knowledge that we must adjourn at a certain time, and not be able to meet again for the purpose for which we were then sitting. We are not in that position now. We have whatever time we choose to take, if arrangements can be made by which the time can be taken at a season convenient to the various colonies. The Right Hon. Sir George Turner has pointed out that it is impossible for the delegates from Victoria to remain here now more than three weeks; but it is not necessary to conclude our labours in three weeks, or in three years, if the interests of federation would be jeopardised thereby. It is, however, necessary to do this work effectively, to do it so thoroughly, so completely and well, that when submitted to the people of Australia it will be adopted. We should lose that
certainty of ultimate success which would result from complete and well-done work if we were to adopt the suggestion of the hon. member, Mr. Symon, of hurrying as much as we can now.
The Hon. F.W. HOLDER: There was no suggestion to hurry!
Mr. SYMON: I did not say that we should hurry!
Mr. MCMILLAN: Why debate the matter at all?
Mr. TRENWITH: Because it hinges upon the resolution before us.
Mr. MCMILLAN: Not at all!
Mr. TRENWITH: The resolution is that the financial question be relegated to a committee at once. The suggestion of my right hon. friend, the Premier of Victoria, is that the question should be first discussed by the whole Convention in Committee, and that it should be subsequently referred to the Finance Committee for report.
Mr. GLYNN: There is no objection to the appointment of the Finance Committee now!
Mr. TRENWITH: No; but it does seem to me that very sufficient reasons have been given why the Finance Committee, when appointed, should have the advantage of a discussion in the full Convention upon the broad general principles of finance in order that they may learn from the delegates here, in a better way than they could do by reading the Hansard reports of the various parliaments, what has been said and done in the respective colonies, and also the general character of the criticism which has been advanced upon the work of the Convention. The assumption, however, that the delegates from Victoria require an adjournment at so early a period as one week, as suggested by one hon. member, arises from a misapprehension. We have no idea that we should do anything but sit here and, as industriously as we can, although not hurriedly, discuss and consider the matter for three weeks at [start page 15] any rate; for we think we can devote that time to the work, and we feel that we can, and ought to do that which we have to do thoroughly and properly.
Mr. MCMILLAN (New South Wales) 12.54]: It seems to me that the time has come when we should get practically to business. The question is-are the Treasurers of the colonies who have all the information in their hands, and who fill a particular position in connection with finance to be formed into a committee of investigation which can carry on its work at any time during the sittings of this Convention so as to be useful in affording information, and in consulting together as to the general work before us? It does not follow that even if this Committee is appointed we should not deal with these financial clauses in the ordinary way, or that the committee should report to the Convention until they have had the benefit of any debate which may take place in the full committee. It seems to me that the main object of the committee of five Treasurers is that every possible statistical information bearing upon this great subject may be put in such a clear and concise form that those who are dealing with the question of finance as it relates to what has been termed the bargain between the colonies will know exactly what they are doing. We were at great difficulty in the Finance Committee in connection with the Convention in Adelaide in getting clear and reliable information. There was a want of definiteness in the statistical work which I hope will not be repeated now. It would be better I think under all the circumstances to carry this motion in its original form, and, then, if this committee of Treasurers desires to have others added to its body, or desires to examine other peculiar experts, as they may be considered, they can do so. The great difficulty in connection with the last Finance Committee lay in its numbers. Personally, I should prefer to see the the original motion carried. As far as I myself am concerned, I may tell my hon. friend, Mr. Walker, that, if it does come to a question of one delegate being appointed from each colony, there will be no difficulty about his inclusion in the committee.
Mr. LYNE (New South Wales)[12.56]: The motion which has been made by the leader of the Convention has taken me rather by surprise. I had no knowledge of it until I heard of it yesterday. The hon. member proposes to revert to the system which was carried out in South Australia of electing committees, for the purpose of really doing the work of the Convention. Now, having been a member of the Finance Committee in South Australia, I must say that I do not look with much favour upon the proposal made by the hon. member. If we look to the result of the Finance Committee appointed on the last occasion, I do not think it will be found that much benefit was derived from it. If we go a little further, and look at the result of the committee of Treasurers, I think we shall find still less benefit.
The Hon. E. BARTON: The hon. member will admit that the subject is a difficult one?
Mr. LYNE: I admit that.
An Hon. MEMBER: The hon. member himself was a member of the Finance Committee!
Mr. LYNE: I have already said that I was. As far as the present committee are concerned, if, as the hon. member, Mr. McMillan, suggested, my hon. friend, Mr. Walker, is anxious to be a member of the committee, he certainly will have my vote. Having regard to my experience in connection with the last Finance Committee, I have not the slightest desire to be on the committee which it is now proposed to appoint. If the business of this committee is to be conducted as the business of the last committee was conducted, that is, [start page 16] in secret, I do not think it will be productive of any good at all. I certainly agree with the hon. member, Mr. Glynn, in thinking that a huge mistake was made in South Australia in conducting the business of this committee in secret. It would assist us in educating-if I may use the term-the public mind to have the deliberations of the committee in public, and, if its appointment be agreed to, I hope the mover of the amendment will press his proposal, and will obtain the consent of the Convention, if possible, to having the deliberations of the committee, not only in public, but also published. At the present time we are having submitted to the public only little scraps and bits of the evidence taken by the Finance Committee in Adelaide on various important matters. I thought then that the whole of the evidence taken should have been submitted to the public. It would have bad considerable effect, I am satisfied, in guiding the public mind in a determination as to what should be done at the present time, and it would also have guided the minds of members of the Convention who had not the privilege of hearing the evidence given.
Mr. SOLOMON: There was no evidence except that of the Railway Commissioners!
Mr. LYNE: But why was it not published?
Mr. SOLOMON: It was published!
Mr. LYNE: We heard nothing about it in New South Wales until the publication of some of it in one of the newspapers a short time ago.
[The President left the chair at 1 p.m. The Convention resumed its sitting at 2 p.m.]
Mr. LYNE: With regard to the appointment of this committee, I should like the hon. member, Mr. Barton, to explain what the committee is really intended to do-if it is intended to conduct its discussions and obtain its evidence in secrecy, and simply bring up a bald report to this Convention, or if it is for the purpose of guiding the decision of this Convention on the all-important question of the finances of the commonwealth. If the latter is the object, probably there may be some wisdom. in appointing the committee. But, as I said at the outset, I am opposed, to a very large extent, to the appointment of a committee of this kind on the present occasion. The question of finance is, no doubt, one of vast importance, and, in the past, it has been one of the great difficulties we have bad to contend with; but I do not agree with the Right Hon. Sir George Turner, that it is the most important question this Convention has to deal with. It is one that can be dealt with, and, probably, satisfactorily, in the future. The greatest question we have to deal with is that of equal state rights, and not the
question of finance, because the financial question may adjust itself in a few years, whereas the difficulties of the question of state rights may increase in the course of time. With regard to the adjournment suggested by the Premier of Victoria, if we agree to an adjournment in three weeks time, what will happen at the next meeting of the Convention? The next meeting will probably take place just before the elections in New South Wales, and then we shall have to adjourn for those elections. Some other matter may also crop up to cause further delay and adjournment. While I should certainly like to fall in with any proposal to accommodate the Victorian representatives, I would point out that the dissolution in that colony takes place on the 4th of next month. I suppose the seats of all the gentlemen present are so safe that they do not want to go amongst their electors very much, and it would be better for them to wait until the 4th of next month, or thereabouts, and then I suppose they will have three or four weeks before the election takes place. They will thus have ample, time to consult their constituents.
[start page 17] Mr. HIGGINS: Will the hon. member Stump the country for us?
Mr. LYNE: If hon. gentlemen are in favour of the policy I advocate, I will be glad to do so. They are, however, quite capable of doing that for themselves. I was rather amused by the few remarks that fell from the Premier of Western Australia about the short shrift he got in South Australia. Why, the business of the Convention was turned topsy-turvy to meet the desires of the hon. gentleman. To oblige him we gave prior consideration to several clauses at the end of the bill. We all felt that we should give every facility to those hon. gentlemen who came so far to attend the Convention, and we did so. I think on that occasion the Western Australian representatives wanted to go away because an election was about to take place there. If you take it step by step, you will find that the best thing we can do on the present occasion is to carry out the suggestion made by several members of the Convention, and particularly, I think, by the hon. and learned member, Mr. Symon, to discuss with reasonable rapidity the questions that come before us -
Mr. SYMON: And efficiently!
Mr. LYNE: And discuss the suggestions made to us by the various parliaments. That is one of the great objections to appointing a committee which is to sit in secret. It would be really, throwing the whole of the suggestions of the parliament into a pool, and they would not receive full discussion in the light of day, which suggestions coming from such important bodies as tho legislatures ought to receive at the hands of this Convention. I hope that those recommendations will receive proper consideration at the hands of the Convention. I trust the learned members of this Convention will restrain themselves a little, and to a greater extent than they did in South Australia, because we might reasonably say that the learned members of this Convention occupied most of the time in the discussions. I think we could get through a great deal of work in three or four weeks. I believe that if we devote ourselves heartily to the work, in four weeks time from now, we shall be very near the end of the discussion. I sincerely trust we shall not be called upon to agree to another adjournment, and that before we separate we shall have something licked into shape which we shall be able to submit to the people of the country.
The Hon. Sir JOHN DOWNER (South Australia)[2.8]:I do not think the proceedings of the Convention will be helped very much by adjourning at the earliest possible moment. It is rather a pity that there is any necessity to discuss the matter, because I take it that it prevents us from going on with very important business. I do not know what these proposals are which the Right Hon. Sir George Turner referred to as being before us. There have been many proposals in the newspapers, but I know of no proposals that have been before the Convention. If we examine the parliamentary records, we shall find very few proposals. They are generally objections to the present proposals rather than suggestions as to any possible way out of the difficulty. I am entirely in favour of the appointment of the committee which has been moved. At all events, they can bring up in some form the proposals that are in the air, but which are not before us. On, the other hand, if we leave the question to chance, for each hon. gentleman to ventilate some particular well or ill-considered scheme be may have in his
mind, I agree with the Right Hon. Sir George Turner, that we shall take many months before we even arrive at what it is we are talking about, and before we know substantially what we have to consider. We have come here after an adjournment, having practically undertaken to the whole of Australia that we shall settle this question [start page 18] before we adjourn. We adjourned before out of consideration for certain hon. gentlemen, who thought that they had a duty to perform, and I agree that it was a duty. But when the Convention consented to that adjournment it was on the distinct understanding that when they returned the Convention should meet again, and the question should be finally determined. To adjourn again, and to keep the matter dangling before the public, would be simply to lend assistance to the adversaries of the great cause, and to justify them in thinking that though earnestness was in our words, it was not in our hearts. I distinctly object to the suggestion that we should have an adjournment unless it is inevitable. I also protest against my right hon. friend's statement that the proceedings in Adelaide were hurried. We worked very hard; we sat very long hours. Men do not always work any the worse for having to work hard, and at great pressure men are capable of doing much greater things than when they are working in a mere dilettante fashion, when they can adjourn from time to time and from place to place. I hope we shall act regardless of our own time and convenience, and will study in every way we can reasonably the cause which we have to support, and the duty which we owe to ourselves and those whom we represent. I hope we shall sit, not merely every day, but every night, if necessary, so as to ensure the fullest consideration. I utterly disagree with the suggestion that if we do that the result must be that our resolutions will be less well considered than if we take more time about them, and bring our energies to them in a more intermittent manner. I think if we proceed with a whole-heartedness to do the work, not to scamp it-perhaps in three weeks we may do it well enough, and even this great financial question might be found not so very difficult to deal with as some hon. members who wish the matter not to be hurried seem to anticipate. As far as I sat here listening to the debate, I hope the result will be an endeavour on the part of every member of the Convention to do all be possibly can to satisfy the whole continent of Australia that we are here with a whole-heartedness and determination to carry out this work before we adjourn, unless indeed it be found to be impossible.
The Hon. Sir JOSEPH ABBOTT (New South Wales): I was under the impression, Sir, that the motion before the Convention was the appointment of a committee; but listening to the debate one would imagine that the question was the adjournment of, the Convention. With all respect to those who say that there was no hurry in Adelaide, I am one of those who believe that there was a great deal of hurry in Adelaide, for the Premiers bad to go away to England, and many of the New South Wales representatives bad to came back here to meet their own Parliament. What we have to consider, and to give a great deal of consideration to, is the question of public sentiment. It must not go abroad that anything done by this Convention was done in a hurry or without due consideration, otherwise whatever conclusions we may come to we shall be charged with having come to those conclusions hurriedly, and without sufficient consideration. We do not want the enemies of federation to be able to say that, under any circumstances or under any conditions, we did not give ample and due consideration to any suggestion which had been made by the various parliaments. But at the same time, I think no one will question the advisability of the motion made to refer these matters to a select committee; and will it not be time enough when the necessity arises to consider the question of adjournment? I am one of those who believe that every consideration should be shown to those members who, through no fault of their own, [start page 19] may be called away, as was shown to the Western Australian representatives, who were allowed to take a certain part of the bill by reason of the fact that they had to leave early. I confess I was not one of those who gave them that consideration; but, nevertheless, the Convention as a whole did. When the time comes we should consider the reasons for an adjournment; but at present I think we are wasting time in discussing that question.
The Hon. E. BARTON (New South Wales)[2.15], in reply: In deference to the suggestion which has been made I wrote down the following words as an amendment to the second paragraph of the motion:-”And one other representative of each colony to be chosen by the representatives thereof." The time for amending the motion has passed, unless hon. members express their concurrence in this amendment in such a way that I can ask Mr. President, by concurrence, to add it to the motion. Of
course, if I find any expression of opinion from hon. members against that I will leave the motion as it stands.
HON. MEMBERS: Add it!
The Hon. E. BARTON: As that seems to be the general view, I would ask, Sir, that the motion be amended by adding the words:
and one other representative of each colony to be chosen by the representatives thereof.
Motion, by leave, so amended.
The Hon. E. BARTON: I do not wish to detain the Convention at any length. My right hon. friend, Sir George Turner, seems to think that if this select committee were to begin their labours early they would be working in the dark. Not only are there two of the gentlemen named who have been in the colonies all the time, but the other members whose names are to be added have remained in the colonies for the whole time, so that seven out of ten members of the committee will have had all the opportunities which are available for knowing what has been said and written on the subject of federal finance. In addition to that, there will be in the hands of hon. members to-morrow a tabulated statement of all the amendments suggested by the various legislatures made out in such a form that the sequence of them in the clauses will be seen at a glance, and the Finance Committee thereby, with that information before them, will know at once, and in a very easy form, exactly what has been done by the various legislatures. That, I think, will also meet the view of my right hon. friend, Sir John Forrest, who said that we have not seen the suggestions of the various legislatures. They have now all been laid on the table, and although some of them arrived rather late, they will be all embodied in a tabulated statement which will be in the hands of hon. members to-morrow. I quite agree, with the hon. member, Mr. Trenwith, in deprecating anything like burry; but I do not think while we decline to hurry we are therefore bound to take such a course as will bang up the proceedings of this Convention for several months. I think the common-sense of that matter was really put by the hon. and learned member, Mr. Symon, that is, let us do our work industriously, determinedly, not with any hurry, but in such a way as to show that we are not paltering with the matter, and if we then find that three weeks is insufficient for this work, if we find at the end of three weeks that there is an absolute necessity for our friends from Victoria, to leave, then will be time enough for us to consider the question of adjournment. In answer to what my hon. friend, Mr. Lyne, has said about the secrecy of select committees, I would like to point out to him that the object of the committee is not finally to decide anything; that the whole purpose of a select committee of this kind is to formulate proposals for discussion; and, therefore, that publicity which would accompany any debate, the object of which [start page 20] is to come to a final determination, is not necessary in a case of a select committee, while it is absolutely necessary in the case of the debate which follows. There is no one member of this Convention who desires, I take it, that our proceedings should be conducted with closed doors, but when there is a necessity for negotiations and discussion between hon. members constituting a select committee for the purpose of arriving not at a conclusion but at some proposal to be laid before the Convention until they finish their labours the whole of that matter is in a state of flux. These matters are mere suggestions or proposals, and it is not until they come before us in the shape of a report by the committee that the Convention can deal with them by way of final decision. That is the time when, of course, the public will naturally expect to be present, and there is not one member of this Convention who would for an instant deny their right to be present. That that discussion can take place between the members of the committee without the necessity of having a press report of their proceedings is to me such an obvious thing that I think reflection demonstrates to us that we cannot adopt a proceeding of that kind in any way. If we are to leave the proceedings of the select committee open to reporting by the press at every stage of their proceedings, the result would be that there would be such accounts and such criticisms taking place on the various stages of that discussion as would tend, not to enlighten but to mislead the public mind, and as would tend to cause the members of the public to come to a conclusion upon the intentions and the work of that committee which would not be the real conclusion to be gathered from their final work.
Mr. GLYNN: The amendment does not suggest that!
The Hon. E. BARTON: I was not referring to the amendment of the hon. gentleman, but was replying to certain remarks made by Mr. Lyne. I understood that the objection to any select committee proceedings at all was because the whole of this discussion should take place in public, and I was pointing out the difficulty of that course. I should like to say also that, with a Convention of fifty members discussing a matter which really belongs to financial experts, there is much greater difficulty in coming to a sound conclusion without having some proposals formulated by those experts than there would be if we had their suggestions before us in a concrete form. I am not of the opinion that there was any undue hurry about this matter in Adelaide. The Finance Committee, no doubt, found this a very difficult nut to crack; but that committee sat for about ten days, and the other committee who revised their labours-the Committee of Treasurers-sat for several days in addition.
HON. MEMBERS: No!
The Hon. E. BARTON: They sat for two or three days from the time they were appointed.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: During odd hours!
The Hon. E. BARTON: I think Mr. Holder will bear me out that it was some days from the time he made the suggestion that they should sit together for this purpose and the date when they presented the clauses which were afterwards laid before the Convention. No doubt those clauses commended themselves to the Convention more rapidly for the reason that they were at that time the best proposals put before them. Because they have received some criticism since, it does not follow that even now they may not emerge from the fire of criticism in this Convention not very much modified. All I have to say about it is this: that not being skilled in finance, I prefer to leave the formulation of proposals to those who know more [start page 21] about these matters than I do, I hope that none of the remarks I have made were uncalled for, and I trust that my right hon. friend, Sir George Turner, will find as we go on with our discussions that there is a general spirit in the Convention to avoid any undue waste of time and delay. I am quite sure we shall all co-operate to that end, that none of us will make speeches which we consider unnecessary; that while there are matters for due discussion, that discussion will be to the point, and that our labours will be directed to the doing of good work, because the very best work in the world can sometimes be done without any unnecessary delay. If we avoid unnecessary delay, and at the same time apply our best faculties to the work we have before us-and it may be of course that in doing that we shall have to forego some of the festivities intended for us-if we act in that way there is then a chance of our completing our work in the three weeks, and if we fail to do that I am quite sure every consideration will be extended to my right hon. friend, Sir George Turner, and those who accompany him.
Amendment agreed to.
Resolved: (1) That Chapter IV of the Draft Constitution be referred to a select committee for consideration and report, with power to send for persons and papers.
(2) That such committee consist of Mr. Reid, Mr George Turner, Mr. Holder, Sir Philip Fysh, and Sir John Forrest, and one other representative of each colony, to be chosen by the representatives thereof.
(3) That it be an instruction to the committee to have the evidence given by experts or statisticians to the committee printed, and copies of such evidence and of any statistics or reports furnished to the committee, be laid on the table of the Convention.
The Hon. E. BARTON (New South Wales)[2.24] rose to move:
That Sir John Downer, Mr. R.E. O'Connor, and the mover be reappointed a drafting committee.
He said: It will be clear to hon. members that there will be a considerable necessity for drafting as we go on with the various proposals and suggestions that will be before us, including the proposals which have been made by the various legislatures, and it can scarcely be expected of any of us that amendments we shall adopt in the course of debate will exactly be in the strict form in which we should like to see them in the bill. It is therefore advisable for us to have the assistance of a committee. I have mentioned the names of the previous Drafting Committee in this motion, because I think, from what I have beard from various quarters, that the Convention is fairly satisfied with the way in which they performed their duties. It has been suggested to me that additional names might be added. The members of the Drafting Committee, I am sure, would welcome assistance; but the only question is whether, when you have a committee consisting of four or five members, the work of that committee would be shortened by the addition of other gentlemen engaged in such a work as drafting. Whatever is done in that regard, it must be at once understood, will not be viewed with the slightest jealousy by any member of the Drafting Committee.
Mr. JAMES(Western Australia)[2.26]: This Drafting Committee, I understand, was appointed by the Constitutional Committee, in April last. This is the first opportunity the Convention, as a whole, have had of dealing with the question, and I venture to think that this committee, by being enlarged, will be considerably strengthened. I do not for one moment desire to take up a position which would suggest that members of this Convention are competent to criticise in detail the drafting of the 1897 bill. But the impression produced on my mind is that the drafting is not an improvement on the drafting of the 1891 bill. It does not appear to me [start page 22] to be so clear cut as the bill of 1891 was. For that reason I think it would be advisable that there should be some new minds on this committee, not only for the purpose of giving us, perhaps, a better bill, but also for the purpose of saving, not the time of the Drafting Committee, but the time of the Convention. In this, the last stage of the bill, the eminent lawyers, we have in the Convention will feel that their names will be, to a large extent, bound up with the drafting of the bill, although they themselves are not on the Drafting Committee. They will feel therefore bound to deal with these details more than they did at our meeting in April last. Hon. members will no doubt remember that several objections were taken then, some of which were argued at length, and most of them were left to the Drafting Committee to settle. If we have members of the Convention who are well qualified to take a position on the Drafting Committee, discussing all these details in the Convention, we shall have the time of the Convention considerably taken up in that way. It is far better that these matters should be discussed across a table by members of a committee than that they should be discussed here in open Convention. In common with the rest of the Western Australian delegates I left early on the last occasion. I think when we left in April last we had simply dealt with the question of money bills. If I remember rightly, we had a very long argument, almost at the first section brought before the Convention, on a mere question of draftsmanship. Such arguments are likely to be increased considerably unless we have on the Drafting Committee those men, who by virtue of their attainments, are entitled to be there, and who, feeling that their names and reputation are bound up with the draftsmanship of the bill, will consider that they are bound to take every objection which strikes them as being a good objection against any defect of draftsmanship. With that object I desire to move as an amendment:
That the following names be added to the motion:- "The President, Mr. Symon, and Mr. Isaacs."
The Hon. A. DOUGLAS (Tasmania)[2.30]: I do not think we can improve on the proposal before the Convention. We shall do more harm than good by enlarging the committee. I think it would be best to leave the matter in the bands of the gentlemen named in the motion.
The Hon. Sir R.C. BAKER (South Australia)[2.31]: I join with my friend from Tasmania in submitting that the smaller the Drafting Committee the better, and the more expeditiously will it do its work. I am perfectly certain there is not one member of the Convention who will venture to object to the three names suggested. In yourself, Mr. President, Mr. Symon, and Mr. Isaacs we have three of the most qualified men in Australia so far as draftsmanship is concerned. But that is not the question. The question is, "Is it advisable to make the Drafting Committee too large?" We are all under great obligation to the Drafting Committee who acted in South Australia. Their work was most arduous. They not only had to take a leading part in the debates of the Convention itself, but they had to work all through the night almost, in some instances; and the fact that the bill is not drafted in, perhaps, the best possible manner, is not due to any fault on their part, but is due to the fact that the Convention itself made alterations in their drafting. In every bill which comes before any legislature, when amendments are moved in Committee, and those amendments are not finally submitted to the draftsman of the bill, defects will occur; and the defects which occur in this bill, I take it, are due, not to any fault or want [start page 23] of ability on the part of the, Drafting Committee, but to those circumstances to which I have referred, which rendered it impossible for them to review their own work. I do not wish to make any remark which can possibly be construed into a want of appreciation of your great talents as a draftsman, Mr. President, and of the undoubted ability of Mr. Symon and Mr. Isaacs in that respect; but I do think it will be a mistake to make the Drafting Committee too large.
The PRESIDENT: May I be permitted, as my name has been mentioned, to say that I think the old Drafting Committee are entitled to our hearty thanks, our loyal support, our generous aid; and whether or not I have the honor of being officially associated with them, they can command my humble services in any capacity.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID (New South Wales)[2.34]: No one has a higher feeling than I have of the efficiency of tile work of the gentlemen who composed the Drafting Committee in Adelaide, and I am very glad to see that we shall have a chance of enjoying the benefit of their labours now. Now that we are approaching a final settlement of this measure, it is, to my mind, a matter of the very greatest importance that we should strengthen this committee. I absolutely believe that the inclusion of the names suggested will be it wise step. I absolutely believe it will strengthen the hands of our three friends who have had this burden cast upon them, and that the results in the end will be more satisfactory to them and to us; and if we can hope for the benefit of the services of the three gentlemen named, I, for one, will most cordially and heartily support the amendment which has been moved.
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS (Victoria)[2.35]: As I am one of the gentlemen whose names have been mentioned, I desire to say that, in this and in all other matters, I am only too willing to give my services to the Convention, and I feel extremely obliged for the remarks which have been made by some of my hon. friends. At the same time I cannot help thinking that three is quite large enough a number for the Drafting Committee, and I think we should act wisely in not augmenting that number. Those hon. gentlemen have had a great deal of trouble in doing the work they have done, and they know that they can confidently rely on the assistance of every member of the Convention at any time and in any manner they desire. Therefore, I think, having the fullest regard for the undoubtedly strong arguments which have been urged on one side, the balance of convenience and advisability will be not to increase the number of the Drafting Committee beyond three.
The Right Hon. Sir E. BRADDON (Tasmania)[2.37]: I think it is impossible to close our eyes to the fact that the appointment of any additional members of the Drafting Committee will seem something like a slur upon the existing committee.
HON. MEMBERS: No, no!
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: It is not a personal matter!
The Right Hon. Sir E. BRADDON: I will put it that it will convey the idea that we regard as necessary a further strengthening of the committee, and I think none of us would desire to convey that idea. I am informed on the best authority that Sir Reginald Frederick Palgrave, clerk of the British House of Commons, has expressed the highest sense of the statesmanship and draftsmanship of the bill as it has been prepared. The great bulk of the work of drafting has been completed-completed, we must all admit, with most excellent results; and whilst those gentlemen who have been mentioned as additional members of the committee would no doubt add to the strength of any committee chosen for that particular purpose, they have told us that they are quite prepared to give their assistance wherever may be called [start page 24] for in the preparation or completion of the draft bill. I hope we shall continue to support the more limited committee which has done its work so well, and which is the most convenient committee as to numbers we could very well have.
The Hon. J.H. HOWE (South Australia)[2.39]: I agree entirely with the last speaker. I think, so far as I am able to judge as a layman, that the bill drafted in Adelaide is as plain as it possibly can be. One may read it as he runs. I do not think the worthy representative from Western Australia has done that credit to the draftsmen of the bill which they deserve. I am quite willing to believe that the hon. gentleman is a judge in regard to that upon which be has expressed his opinion. I recognise that he is the leader of the bar in the colony from which he comes, and which he ably represents; but, at the same time, I do not think he told us that the bill could bear any comparison, for its clearness and distinctness, with the bill of 1891. I have heard opinions passed by eminent men, and I have also read them in the public prints, to the effect that the bill, as drafted by the Adelaide Convention, is a decided improvement on the bill of 1891, and small credit would it be to those who had the benefit of the earlier work if they could not have perfected it. I have heard that the hon. member has had certain promises of support.
Mr. JAMES: Nothing of the sort
The Hon. J.H. HOWE: Well, then, I have been incorrectly informed. I beg the hon. member's pardon. I was going to remind the hon. member that, if he were to take a few more hon. members into his confidence before amendments were sprung upon this Assembly it would, perhaps, facilitate business. Although I hail from South Australia, I recognise that the amendment means that South Australia will have three members on the Drafting Committee-that is, half the number. We all admit their ability, and I am glad we do; in fact, over the length and breadth of Australia they are recognised as eminent men in their profession. I, as a representative of South Australia, would regard it as a great compliment if those gentlemen were elected; but, as the hon. member, Sir Richard Baker, has pointed out, I do not see that there is any occasion for the appointment of additional members to the committee, and although it would give South Australia 50 per cent of the voting power on the committee, I shall vote against it.
The Hon. H. DOBSON (Tasmania)[2.41): I hope that this will be the last time during the sittings of this Convention that, when a suggestion is made to strengthen a committee or to help forward the most important work that we have in band, hon. members will be charged with having a want of confidence in others. I think that anything of that kind is altogether to be deprecated. We want to do our work in the best possible way, and I am one of those who agree with the hon. member, Mr. James, that the Drafting Committee can be strengthened, and that, when the whole thing is over, the committee will thank us for having added to their number, and that the Convention also will thank us for having done so. I think that it is an idle waste of time to discuss this matter. We all have the greatest possible confidence in the Drafting Committee who served us in Adelaide. I think we were all astonished at the marvellous way in which they put into shape the ideas-even the inconsistent ideas-which we gave them. I suggest that we should add to the Drafting Committee for this reason alone: If the Drafting Committee, consisting of three members, sit at the table drafting every clause and every amendment, I take it that you want at least two other members to receive from them their draft as they settle it, and to go through the bill line by line, separately and by themselves, to see if they can find [start page 25] mistakes in it; and I will undertake to say that they will find mistakes in it-perhaps only
one or two trivial mistakes-which hon. members, devoting hours to it, will, perhaps, not perceive, but which those hon. gentlemen, devoting their fresh minds to it, will see.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: A mistake of one word might make it read ridiculously!
The Hon. H. DOBSON: That is true. The Drafting Committee have borne the heat and burden of the day. I suggest that you, Sir, should be added to the committee, and that the two other hon. members should keep themselves in reserve to take from the committee the sheets as they complete them, and go through them with infinite pains, in a separate room, to see if they can find any mistake. Every lawyer knows that when a mistake is made in a deed or an act it is, in two out of three cases, done when making an alteration. You make an amendment and do not see the effect of it on some clause perhaps ten pages off. For that reason, I think that the Drafting Committee might be assisted in their labours by the addition of two or three hon. members.
Mr. SYMON (South Australia)[2.44]: As my name has been associated with this amendment, may I be permitted to say a few words? I rather deprecate the effort which seems to have been made to create some kind of personal feeling, or some sort of personal irritation in relation to a matter with which every one of us is concerned-to see that the best is done for the object we have in view. If I thought, for one moment, that the object of the mover of the amendment was to cast any reflection on the old Drafting Committee, or to deprecate in the slightest degree the able and splendid work which they did for us in Adelaide, I should immediately desire leave to intimate the withdrawal of my name. But I do not view it in that way at all. I was not aware until I heard my name mentioned by the hon. member who moved the amendment that it was intended to increase the strength of the Drafting Committee in the way suggested, nor that my name was to be associated with it in any way whatever, and I think that that fact may be accepted as a testimony that my hon. friend from Western Australia certainly did not act in collusion, if I may so express it, with any of the lawyers whose names have been mentioned. I will only say this further: I do not, believe that in any assembly in the world, or in any body of the profession, you would be able to find three men of greater capacity for the work which they undertook than the three members of the Drafting Committee selected in Adelaide. That is my deliberate opinion, and, although I also feel that it is undesirable to make comparisons, I do not agree with my hon. friend who moved tile amendment that the result of their labours will not bear comparison with the bill of 1891. I think, in all humility, quite the opposite. But that is not the point. The point is, whether our labours will be brought to a better issue, and more easily and readily, by strengthening the Drafting Committee. I am not going to argue either in favour of or against it; but I will recall to the recollection of the Convention the fact that, in Adelaide, after we had come together in Committee of the whole, a number of suggestions were made-my hon. and learned friend, Mr. Isaacs, made some, and other hon. members made others, and they were met by the remark, "Oh, these are mere drafting amendments, and it is hardly worth while taking up the time of the Committee upon them." I think that-I do not say for certain, but possibly-the enlargement of the Drafting Committee might prevent that result. I do not know whether it would or would not. But, at any rate, I may say that I have the most implicit confidence in the Drafting Committee [start page 26] as already constituted. Their work does them and the Convention infinite credit. My hon. friend who moved the amendment did so, as I thought, with the most perfect courtesy, although he expressed his own individual opinion upon one or two matters, and I think it is our duty-at least, I feel it to be my duty, as one of those whose names have been mentioned-to submit myself to the general opinion of the Convention, and whether the committee is or is not enlarged and strengthened, I shall always be delighted, as it is my duty, to lend every assistance to those gentlemen, whoever they may be, who constitute the Drafting Committee, and to be of whatever service I can in making the bill of such a character that it will redound to our credit in the shape of a measure so framed that lie who runs may read.
Mr. CLARKE (Tasmania)[2.49]: It was stated by my right hon. friend, the Premier of Tasmania, that if we were to increase the number of the members of the Drafting Committee we should cast a slur upon them, and be showing them discourtesy. I should like to point out that we have just increased the number of members who have to consider Chapter IV of the draft constitution. No
member of the Convention ventured to suggest that we were casting a slur upon the members of that committee when we increased its number from five to ten.
An HON. MEMBER: There were originally twenty members on the Finance Committee, and the number has been reduced to ten!
Mr. CLARKE: The Finance Committee originally consisted of twenty members, but was reduced to five at Adelaide. We remitted the consideration of the financial question to a committee consisting of the Treasurers of all the colonies, and, so far as I am aware, none of the colonies has more than one Treasurer. To-day we increased the number of the committee to ten. Inasmuch as no member of the Convention considered that in agreeing to that amendment we were showing discourtesy to the Treasurers of the different colonies, I do not think it is right to suggest now that if we increase the number of the Drafting Committee we shall be showing discourtesy to the three able gentlemen who formed that committee in Adelaide. I should like to say that I always considered it a misfortune that you, Mr. President, were not selected as one of the Drafting Committee at Adelaide, because your labours in connection with the bill of 1891 eminently fitted you to act on that committee. With regard to the Attorney-General of Victoria, I regret that there was not a single delegate from Victoria appointed to the Drafting Committee at Adelaide. I think that was a great mistake, and the learned Attorney-General of Victoria showed us, by his able criticism of the bill as drafted in Adelaide, how competent he is to form a member of the Drafting Committee. I therefore think that the inclusion of his name will add strength to the committee. With regard to the other gentleman whose name has been mentioned-Mr. Symon-I should like to say that he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee and is responsible for the drafting of all the clauses in the bill which relate to the judiciary. These clauses have been criticised rather severely by no less an authority than Sir Samuel Griffith, and I think it would be an advantage to the Convention if Mr. Symon's name were added to the list of the committee in order that he might show why these clauses should stand in the form in which they are at present. I support the addition to the committee of the gentlemen who have been named, and, but for the argument that we should not make the committee too large, I should like to see upon it another representative from Victoria. Before I sit down, I should like to refer to a remark of the hon. member, Mr.
[start page 27] Howe, who deprecated the action of the hon. member, Mr. James, in springing the amendment upon the Convention without first submitting it to other hon. members. I do not know that there is a rule binding members of the Convention to show their amendments to Mr. Howe or to anyone else, to secure their approval before moving them. I consider that Mr. James acted correctly in not submitting his amendment to Mr. Howe. As Mr. James is one of the youngest members of the Convention, and as I am another very young member, I wish to say that, throughout the sittings of the Convention, I shall retain to myself full authority to submit any amendment without showing it to any other hon. member.
The Hon. J.H. GORDON (South Australia)[2.53]: As I undertook to second the amendment, I should like to say, in order to remove any impression that this is a caucus movement, that I believe that I am the only member of the Convention to whom Mr. James has spoken upon this matter, and lie is certainly the only member to whom I have spoken of it. If there is an impression that this motion is going to be generally supported, I can assure hon. members that it will be supported because it appeals to the appreciation of the Convention that there should be some addition to the number of the Drafting Committee-not because of any doubt as to the ability of the gentlemen who formed the committee at Adelaide, and whose arduous labours have been fully appreciated by every member of the Convention, and by every colonial legislature
An HON. MEMBER: Still that doubt is implied!
The Hon. J.H. GORDON: I do not think that it is implied. If I thought that the slightest suggestion of a reflection upon the members of the Drafting Committee were implied in this proposal to increase the number of the committee, I would ask leave sit my hon. friend, Mr. James, to withdraw
my promise to support him. I do not think that there is. I do not think that there is an idea in the minds of any member of the Convention which could be construed into an imputation upon the Drafting Committee, whose labours have been well described by Mr. Symon as most admirable; but I am sure that hon. members will see that it is proper that, at any rate, a representative from the great colony of Victoria should be a member of the committee, especially since among the Victorian representatives there is so eminent a member of the bar as Mr. Isaacs. Your own qualifications, Mr. President, as has been very well put by Mr. Clarke, and your labours in connection with the bill of 1891, apart from your general reputation as a draftsman, certainly entitle you to be one of the Drafting Committee. The name of Mr. Symon can only strengthen any committee that has to deal with legal work. I appeal to members of the Drafting Committee to take my assurance-and I believe that I can speak for every member of the Convention-that there is not the slightest suggestion of a reflection implied.
The Hon. E. BARTON: I have nothing to say in regard to the discussion which has taken place, except that those hon. gentlemen who were associated with me in the drafting of the bill at Adelaide will, as a matter of delicacy, abstain from voting, as I shall.
Question-That the words proposed to to be added (Mr. James' amendment) be so added-put. The Convention divided:
Ayes, 20; noes, 21; majority, 1.
Briggs, H. Henry, J.
Brunker, J.N. Holder, F.W.
Carruthers, J.H. Lewis, N.E.
Clarke, M.J. Lyne, W.J.
Cockburn, Dr. J.A. Moore, W.
Crowder, F.T. Quick, Dr. J.
Dobson, H. Reid, G.H.
Gordon, J.H. Walker, J.T.
Hackett, J.W. Teller,
Henning, A.H. James, W.H. [start page 28] NOES.
Baker, Sir R.C. Higgins, H.B.
Berry, Sir G. Isaacs, I.A.
Braddon, Sir E.N.C. Lee-Steere, Sir J.G.
Brown, N.J. Peacock, A.J.
Deakin, A. Solomon, V.L.
Douglas, A. Trenwith, W.A.
Forrest, Sir J. Turner, Sir G.
Fraser, S. Venn, H.W.
Fysh, Sir P.O. Zeal, Sir W.A.
Glynn, P.M. Teller,
Hassell, A.Y. Howe, J.H.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
RETURNS: POPULATION, REVENUE, &c.
Ordered (on motion by Mr. WALKER): That the following returns be prepared and laid on the table:-
(1.) Population of each colony on 30th June, 1897.
(2.) Revenue for customs and excise for the year ending 30th June, 1897, showing separately the receipts from intoxicants and narcotics.
(3.) Revenue received during year ending 30th June, 1897, under the other branches proposed to be transferred to the commonwealth.
(4.) Expenditure in each colony during year ending 30th June, 1897, under each branch proposed to be transferred to the commonwealth.
(5.) Approximate value of properties to be transferred to the commonwealth.
The returns to include, and to show separately, the figures of each colony represented at this Convention, with the totals also, and the figures for Queensland finally added. Expenditure to be taken from the estimates if exact figures are not available. If the population or any other figures are not available, estimates to be made. The returns to be completed as quickly as possible.
COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA BILL.
The Hon. E. BARTON (New South Wales)[3.4]: I move:
That the President do now leave the chair, and that the Convention resolve itself into Committee of the Whole to reconsider the Commonwealth Bill, together with the amendments suggested by the various legislatures.
In making this motion, I think hon. members will agree with me that, inasmuch as a properly tabulated statement of the suggested amendments is not yet in their hands we should not, in the absence of that document, make very much progress this afternoon. I suggest, therefore, that we should simply go into Committee pro forma, and wait until Monday before proceeding with the reconsideration of the bill. All information as to the suggested amendments will then be in our hands. I am sure I can rely upon hon. members to give their utmost attention to the amendments in the time
available between now and our next meeting, in which event the course now taken will be a saving instead of a loss of time. I would ask hon. members to consider another question, that is, in view of the difficult position, in one sense, occupied by the Victorian delegation in having so limited a time at their disposal, whether it might not-I do not say it would-be a desirable thing for the Committee to proceed at once with the more important questions involved in the bill, that is to say, such questions as representation in the senate, the money powers of the houses, the questions of railways and rivers, and so on. It occurred to me that it would, perhaps, be a fair concession to make to my hon. friends from Victoria to deal with these principal matters first, and then to take up the other clauses which are less important, in the hope that we might have made such progress by the end of three weeks as would enable them to see that the clauses left for discussion would be merely those which were not the subjects of any suggested amendments. If we can arrive at that position, so much the better; if not, then the question must be seriously considered whether we should adjourn, and if so, for how long. It is with a view of consulting the convenience of hon. gentlemen from Victoria that I throw out this suggestion.
The Right Hon. Sir G. TURNER (Victoria)[3.7]: In seconding the motion, [start page 29] I would say that if it be my hon. friend's desire to consult the views of the representatives of Victoria, he will deal first with the most important of all questions, that of finance; for there can be no doubt that the whole matter will rest upon this Convention devising some financial scheme which will be acceptable to all the colonies.
The Hon. E. BARTON: It is necessary to appoint a select committee to deal with the financial clauses, and if we deal with them in the full Committee, what will be the position of the select committee?
The Right Hon. Sir G. TURNER: I think the probabilities are that there will be so many suggestions made by hon. gentlemen relating to the question of finance that we shall not be able in the Convention to pick out the best one from among them, whereas the Finance Committee, having all the necessary information, and having the advantage of the views of representatives as expressed in the Committee of the Convention, may be able to pick out one, or to adopt a mixture of two or more of the schemes which might prove satisfactory.
The Hon. E. BARTON: Do I understand that the right hon. gentleman would prefer a discussion upon these clauses in the full Committee of the Convention without any conclusion on the part of the select committee?
The Right Hon. Sir G. TURNER: Personally, I undoubtedly would. There can be only the one representative from each colony, in addition to its Treasurer, upon this Finance Committee; and I am sure there is more than one member of each delegation who considers that he has a scheme which is perfect in itself. Therefore, I certainly would like to hear the views of every representative who has any suggestion to put before us which may help us out of the difficulty. I think the proper course would be to have a discussion upon the financial question before the Finance Committee proceed to formulate any definite conclusion. I would also like the leader of the Convention to say, whether he proposes that we should sit at night. We have received a large number of invitations to entertainments, and want to know whether we are to accept these invitations, or to say that, in consequence of our duties here occupying our time, we shall be unable to do so. As far as I am personally concerned, I feel very strongly that when a body of men come together for the purpose of doing work, if they are to have a great portion of their time taken up by attending entertainments, they cannot give their minds to what they have to do. When we have a spare evening the members of each delegation would like to have an opportunity of quietly talking over matters, and of thinking over what we ought to do next day when we meet. If the hon. member proposes to sit at night I shall be glad to support him. That course might, perhaps, enable the representatives of Victoria to get out of the difficulty which we now see staring us in the face. Whatever may be done I would ask my hon. friend to consider whether it would not be advisable on Monday to let it be understood that we shall have a discussion on the whole
financial question, and then when other matters, perhaps not so important, are being discussed by the Convention, members of the Finance Committee may be able to meet and formulate some scheme.
The Hon. E. BARTON (New South Wales)[3.12]: I shall give my best consideration to the suggestion made by the right hon. gentleman. If there is any way of facilitating the views of the hon. member I shall be very glad to do so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 1 (Short title).
The CHAIRMAN[3.13]: Before I put this clause I think it would perhaps be a fitting [start page 30] time to inform the Committee what procedure it is intended to adopt. Of course, every member of the Committee is aware that this is not an ordinary bill, and that the suggested amendments made by the various legislatures of the different colonies are not ordinary amendments. We sit here in pursuance of the provisions of an act of Parliament of New South Wales called the Federal Enabling Act. By that measure it is the duty of this Convention to consider the suggested amendments made by the various legislatures. It, therefore, seems to me as a matter of law that we are bound to consider those suggestions. I consequently propose to put the various suggestions made by the local legislatures, without motion by any member of the Committee, and to put them in the order of sequence in which they come in each clause. That will prevent the necessity of members asking leave to withdraw amendments which they have proposed in order that prior amendments may be moved. Of course, as we have to reconsider the whole bill, it will be competent for any member of the Committee to move any amendments even though they have not been suggested by any of the local legislatures, or to move amendments on the amendments which have been suggested by such legislatures. This general rule, however, namely, that all these suggested amendments must be put, will be subject, to certain limitations-those limitations which standing orders and common-sense alike provide. There are three cases which may arise when I shall feel it my duty not to put the suggestions made by the local legislatures. Supposing the same or substantially the same amendments have been suggested by two or more legislatures. If one of these is carried it will not be necessary to put the others. If one of these is negatived it will not be possible to put the others, because of the rule which prevents the Committee at one and the same stage arriving at irreconcilable conclusions; so that hon. members when they take any course as to whether they will or will not adopt a suggestion which is practically identical with that made by another legislature, must bear in mind that they are settling that question, at all events as far as this Committee in its present stage is concerned. There is another case that will arise; that is, where some suggestion has been adopted, an irreconcilable suggestion which is identically the opposite of it cannot be considered. With these limitations, I propose, subject to any instructions given by this Convention, to put in the order in which they arise the suggestions made by the various parliaments. A schedule will be presented to this Convention on Monday next, in which these suggestions will be printed in their order of sequence, which I think will facilitate the proceedings.
The Right hon. Sir G. TURNER (Victoria)[3.16]: Do I understand that we are not to get the amendments until Monday next?
The Hon. E. BARTON: I think hon. members will have them to-morrow morning. There may be typographical corrections. If so they will be redistributed!
The Right hon. Sir G. TURNER: I hope we shall get them as early as possible. There is another matter I should like to mention with regard to the discussion of these amendments. Are we to be limited to the particular amendment which you, sir, put from the Chair, because, as you mentioned, there may be other amendments, either similar or the opposite of what may be submitted? If we are to follow strict rules, and not be allowed to refer to anything but the particular amendment, put from the
Chair, we may be shut out from discussing the whole question. I would therefore suggest that as we are not sitting in the ordinary way, great latitude should be afforded to the representatives, [start page 30] and that, when we are dealing with a particular suggestion, we shall have liberty to refer to other suggestions dealing with the same subject. That, I think, will facilitate the business and prevent confusion arising later on. I suggest this for consideration, so that we may give every opportunity to representatives to discuss the whole question which may be raised by one particular amendment.
The hon. E. BARTON (New South Wales)[3.18]: I take it that the right hon. member's suggestion is obviously the right one, because it would be extremely difficult for us to discuss the suggested amendments by any parliament unless we could give reasons, for instance, why we preferred another suggestion, and in order to do that we should be able to compare one with another. There is another question which I suppose will arise, and might be referred to. I am not sure whether it was not dealt with by you, sir, in your remarks. We are not confined to the suggestions of the legislatures, because it is the statutory duty of the Convention to reconsider the bill itself, and we must go over every line. Under these circumstances, I think it would be the duty of an hon. member, if be wishes to propose an amendment in a clause between two suggested amendments, not to wait until those two amendments are dealt with, but to propose it at the proper time as it occurs in the bill. In fact, I think that is the substance of what you, sir, stated.
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN (South Australia) (3.19]: For the convenience of hon. members, I think it would be better to put the suggested amendments after the clause that it is proposed to amend. The clause of the bill sought to be amended should be printed first, and following that should be the suggested amendments of the various legislatures.
The Hon. N.J. BROWN (Tasmania)[3.20]:There is one point as to which considerable difference of opinion has been expressed in the various parliaments, namely, whether the suggestions made by the legislature of a colony-that is, the suggestions agreed to by both houses of a legislature -are alone to be taken, or whether those agreed to by each house of each parliament, are to be considered? As regards the suggestions coming from the Tasmanian Parliament, sir, you will perceive that the suggestions which have been agreed to by both houses appear in one schedule, and those agreed to by each house separately are placed in another schedule.
The CHAIRMAN: I have been asked four questions which I will answer in order of sequence. With reference to the question of the Right hon. Sir George Turner, in my opinion the fullest, freest, most ample discussion ought to be allowed on these suggestions. The members of the Committee ought to be allowed to consider the suggestions in groups, if I may so express it. I feel sure that every member of the Convention is of opinion that the utmost deference should be paid to each suggestion of the legislature of each colony, and in order to give effect to that, I think the views expressed by the Right hon. Sir George Turner should be adopted by me as Chairman of the Committee. In reference to the question of the hon. and learned member, Mr. Barton, I think I have already indicated that if any hon. member has an amendment to move, apart from the suggestions of the legislatures, he ought to move that amendment in its proper place, either before the first suggestion or between two suggestions, as the case may be. As regards the question of the hon. member, Mr. Brown, I cannot take upon myself the responsibility of drawing any distinction between suggestions made by two houses of a legislature and suggestions made by one house. I think it would be an invidious thing to penalise those colonies where they have not had time to obtain a conference between the two [start page 32] houses; and therefore I will not make any difference whatever between suggestions which have been concurred in by two legislative bodies and suggestions made by one legislative body.
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN (South Australia)[3.23]: I do not think, sir, you have given a reply to my question!
The CHAIRMAN: That is a matter with which I have nothing to do.
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: Is it within the power of the Convention to ask you to do it? I think it would be a great convenience if it were done.
The Right Hon. C.C. KINGSTON: Ask the leader of the Convention!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: I would ask the leader of the Convention if he would arrange, for the convenience of hon. members, that each clause should be placed in conjunction with the suggested amendments. It will save hon. members a great deal of trouble, for they will be able to hold one paper in their hand instead of having to hold a number of papers, and to refer from one to the other. It may involve a little extra printing; but I think the convenience it will afford to hon. members will be more than sufficient to counterbalance the other consideration.
An HON. MEMBER: Interleaved!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: I do not care whether they are interleaved or placed alongside one another, or whether the clauses sought to be amended are placed at the head of the suggested amendments.
The Right Hon. Sir GEORGE TURNER: Will that not take a long time to get ready?
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: I do not think it will take more than a few minutes, because all that you have to do is to put at the head of each group of amendments the clauses sought to be amended. It will not take more than a few minutes to prepare it, and it will save hours of work for each member of the Convention.
The Hon. E. BARTON (New South Wales)[3.25]: This process which is recommended, would certainly take some time. Hon. members may rest assured that there is no disposition to spare the printer for the purpose of the Convention; but the form in which it was proposed to table these amendments was before some of us yesterday afternoon, including the President and the Chairman. The number of the clause was given in the margin, and then there were columns showing in their proper order, so that the eye could take them in at a glance, the amendments of the legislatures, and whether they were suggested by one house or two. It was conceived then that to have the bill in one's hands, and to have the tabulated statement before one also, with a reference to the number of the clause, would obviate all difficulty of reference, and on comparison it seemed so to those who considered it, and I think hon. members will find it so. They will have these things before them to-morrow, and if it is discovered that there is any difficulty of reference in that way, I will do my utmost to see if a fresh print cannot be made with the clauses in the margin.
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: If the leader of the Convention will allow me, I will hand to him a paper which shows the practice adopted in Tasmania, and in which there is no interleaving.
The Hon. E. BARTON: That was considered, and it was found that it would be utterly impracticable with the number of amendments made by the different houses to put them in that form. There would be no possibility of making a convenient handy print in that way. As it is, the paper will be somewhat bulky, but I hope hon. members will find it as convenient as possible. If any inconvenience should arise, I will do my utmost to see it rectified.
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The Hon. E. BARTON (New South Wales)[3.27]: It has been suggested to me that it will be convenient if the hon. member at the head of the representatives of each colony will state the name of the hon. member who is to assist the Treasurer on the Finance Committee. I understand that Sir James
Lee-Steere has been selected by the Western Australian representatives, Sir Edward Braddon by the Tasmanian representatives, and Mr. Solomon by the South Australian representatives. I understand also that Mr. Walker will assist on behalf of New South Wales. It only remains now for our friends from Victoria to declare theirs.
The PRESIDENT: I understand that it is the wish of the Convention that those names should be added to the Finance Committee.
Convention adjourned at 3.28 p.m.