- Parliamentary Business
- Senators & Members
- News & Events
- About Parliament
- Visit Parliament
Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Table Of ContentsPrevious Fragment Next Fragment
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 641]
THURSDAY, 16 SEPTEMBER, 1897.
Petition-Papers-Finance Committee-Commonwealth of Australia Bill.
The PRESIDENT took the chair at 10.30 a.m.
Mr. GLYNN presented a petition from the Synod of the Church of England at Adelaide praying that, the Convention would embody in the constitution an acknowledgment of Almighty God.
The petition was read by the Clerk, and received.
The Hon. J.N. BRUNKER laid on the table the following papers:-
A return showing the population of each of the Australian colonies and Tasmania on the 30th June, 1897.
A return showing the revenue of each of the Australian colonies and Tasmania during the last financial year.
A return showing the expenditure of each of the Australian colonies and Tasmania during the latest financial year.
Motion (by Mr. MCMILLAN) proposed:
That the minutes of the proceedings of the Finance Committee appointed at Adelaide be printed.
The Hon. E. BARTON (New South Wales)[10.32]: I have no objection to the motion, as I understand the minutes are available.
Mr. MCMILLAN: I mentioned the matter to the hon. and learned member!
The Hon. E. BARTON: I am not aware at the present moment whether some information given to the Finance Committee by the Railway Commissioners has ever been printed by the committee. I understand that that evidence was to have been treated as confidential; but inasmuch as it has already been published in the Sydney newspapers, I think it might now be printed for the use of members of the Convention. No doubt some members of the committee have copies of the evidence in their possession, and now the bond of confidence has been broken, perhaps one of them will furnish me with a copy of it, so that I may move that it be printed.
Mr. MCMILLAN: It is among the papers of the Finance Committee!
Question resolved in the affirmative.
[start page 642] COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA BILL.
In Committee (consideration resumed from, 15th September, vide page 641):
Amendment suggested by the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales (vide page 541) again proposed.
The Hon. W. MOORE (Tasmania)[10.36]: Having moved the adjournment of the debate last night, it is my duty to commence it this morning; but I feel that I am very much in the position of an armour-bearer of olden times, because I have received an intimation that the great guns are coming forward, so I am placed in this position to clear the way for the great men who are going to continue the debate. I believe that the Premier of New South Wales, and the Attorney-General of Victoria, will both address the Convention, and I hope that they will throw a considerable amount of light upon this matter. Not only that; but I think that the present moment is a very, critical time in the consideration of the question before us. We have had much time now to think over the matter, and it is necessary, to arrive at a compromise of some sort. I hope that the extremists on both sides will try to so modify their opinions that we may come to a conclusion in regard to the question. To be, or not to be, is the question with us now. Are we or are we not to have federation? If we insist upon some of the principles which have been brought forward, federation is impossible. If, for instance, we insist upon having a national referendum, I am perfectly sure that the smaller colonies will not enter the union. I was very pleased with the speech delivered by the Premier of Victoria last night, because I thought from what he said that we might come to an agreement upon the points at issue. If we now insist rigidly upon the principles which we have been advocating, federation will be impossible, and for that reason I think that some compromise is necessary. The first question to be settled is, how to prevent deadlocks? I am one of those who do not much fear the result of deadlocks. We have had deadlocks in Tasmania over and over again; but by a little delay and further consultation, these deadlocks have disappeared, and the result has been to clear the political atmosphere, and to put things in a better position than they were in before. Several suggestions have been made to provide against deadlocks. For instance a double dissolution has been suggested. So far as I am individually concerned, I think that it will be necessary on the part of the smaller colonies to agree to some compromise on this matter. I believe that if the house of representatives is dissolved upon any question, and when it meets again it again sends this matter to the senate, and the senate rejects it, the senate should then be dissolved. I cannot understand why the senate should not be liable to dissolution under the constitution which we are framing. The members of the senate should not be afraid to come face to face with the people.
The Hon. Sir W.A. ZEAL: It will be found upholding its own rights!
The Hon. W. MOORE: Yes; but it will have no right to supersede the verdict of the people. The senate will, of course, represent the states; but my hon. friend must remember that the senate in the proposed constitution will be a very different body from an upper house as established by any of the constitutions under which we are living at the present time. The principle was put so well by the hon. member, Mr. Symon, yesterday that the proposal formulated in his amendment ought to receive support from the members of this Convention. The principle of a dissolution is quite consistent with the working of the proposed constitution. Therefore, I cannot see why we should object to the principle of making the senate amenable to dissolution. I think a national referen- [start page 643] dum is practically in consistent with federation, because it would destroy the political entity of the individual states, and therefore, I am not in favour of it. The principle of a national referendum is never applied in connection with responsible government. It is foreign to the working and purposes of responsible government. The principle of a referendum as applied to the states is a different thing altogether, and that is a question that ought to receive serious consideration. There is no doubt that the
question of a referendum to the states as states should receive our special attention. The question, however, has been so well put already that I shall not dwell upon it. I only desire that we should, as far as possible, agree to some compromise which will bring about the object which we all have in view. It might be well if the Premiers of the different colonies formulated some scheme which could be accepted by this Convention. I would advise that we should endeavour in every possible way by means of compromise to carry out the object we all have in view. I think federation will be an impossibility, if we insist upon taking extreme views on these questions. What we all desire, and what I am sure would benefit immensely the whole of Australia would be a grand federation of the whole of these colonies, and in order to carry that out, I am heart and soul with these who are anxious to consummate so grand and so glorious a work.
Mr. WISE (New South Wales)[10.45]: I had intended to reserve the remarks which I have to make on this subject until we came to deal with the specific proposals for avoiding deadlocks; but after the speech delivered last night by the hon. member, Mr. Barton, and by the Right Hon. Sir George Turner, it seems to me that it might assist to clear the air if I took an opportunity whilst the general discussion is proceeding of stating what attitude I intend to take up with regard to one of the proposals with which my name has been connected, and which I moved at Adelaide. I would first lightly refer to some of the considerations that have been raised in the course of this debate. What has impressed me most is the evidence that the debate seems to afford of the captivating power of phrases, and the danger that larks in fake analogies. The hon. member, Mr. Trenwith, whose judgment is always clear, and whose words always fit his thoughts, spoke of the matter involved as if, somehow or other, it raised a question analogous to that of plural voting. An hon. member from Tasmania, Mr. Dobson, the whole of whose speech I regret I did not hear, discussed the matter as if in some way or other a question was raised between democracy and conservatism; while there can be no question that among those who are outside this chamber and who do not follow the debates very closely, or perhaps who do not quite see the limitations of the questions that are at issue, there is a prevailing apprehension that something more is involved in this discussion than the relative powers of the two houses something more analogous to the old disputes which have taken place in our provinces between the lower and the upper houses; and that it is not merely a question of the conservation of state interests. Therefore, feeling that there is this widespread, as I consider it, misapprehension, I do not think I shall be unduly delaying the business of this Convention if I devote a few brief remarks to explaining the matter as it presents itself to my judgment. I entirely agree with what has fallen from all the speakers. It is curious that the same sentiment is shared by those who speak on both sides of this question that is, that under this Constitution there is very little fear of any deadlock arising between the two houses.
[start page 644] The Hon. Sir W.A. ZEAL: Unless you encourage it!
Mr. WISE: I would point out for the consideration of those who entertain more alarm on this question than most of us do, that the deadlocks that we are familiar with have always arisen from one of two classes of causes, either they have arisen from disputes as to the power of the second chamber to amend money bills or they have arisen from disputes affecting large social interests where persons of wealth or social influence have claimed special privileges or exemptions which the mass of the people have been unwilling to concede. Both of those causes are removed under this constitution. The power of the senate to deal with money bills is so clearly defined that I doubt if any ingenuity could suggest the possibility of dispute arising between the two houses on that question. That at once removes one of the most prolific sources of dispute between the two chambers in the past. Then as to the second class of dispute arising from social differences, all through this discussion, not, I admit, in this house but outside, the controversialists of one party ignore, or seem to ignore, the limitations of federal government. They forget that this commonwealth can only deal with those matters that are expressly remitted to its jurisdiction; and excluded from its jurisdiction are all matters that affect civil rights, all matters that affect property, all matters, in a word, affecting the two great objects which stir the passions and affect the interests of mankind. I fail entirely and I shall be glad if some alarmist will enlarge my views on this matter-to perceive in this bill any question on which there is any possibility of a conflict between the states and the people, except, in one respect, and I will define that in the
largest possible way. In legislation affecting commercial interests, or financial interests, it is possible to imagine that the states will be brought into conflict as states with the concentrated majority of the populations of the two large states over a question of trade. It is possible to imagine the same thing arising over a question of commerce, or over a question of finance. Now, I ask if such a state of things arises that the Committee will give attention to the nature of the interests which are threatened. If conflicts arise over matters of commerce, trade, or finance, the interests that are threatened are not the interests of individual traders, but the interest of the state as a whole conducting a general class of business, or carrying on a particular sort of occupation. I will test what I mean. An effort is being made now in Victoria to grow beet for sugar; I hope it maybe successful. A similar effort in its earlier stages is manifesting itself in this colony. Supposing that the sugar interests in Victoria, and the sugar interests in New South Wales, became very powerful, and employed a large number of hands, and influenced the legislature. It is then possible I do not think it is likely, and I am only giving this as an illustration of the way in which, it appears to me, any conflict can arise it is possible that the voters in Melbourne and Sydney, largely interested in beet sugar, should insist on their representatives putting a heavy excise duty on cane sugar. This might have a prejudicial effect on the jam industry of Tasmania, and the fruit industry of South Australia. It is easy to see that it is possible that the two large colonies could so manipulate the powers to regulate trade and commerce that they would be able to crush out or inflict a very serious blow on the commercial prosperity, not of an individual, not of the whole commonwealth but on a particular group of individuals who are enabled to carry on an industry which is affected, because they live under favourable climatic conditions. Is that a power which we can expect these colonies [start page 645] that are affected readily to concede? I will reverse the position. There is one clause in the constitution which gives the commonwealth power to regulate trade and commerce, and communication between the states for the purpose of furthering commerce necessarily follows the federal parliament in order to give effect to that provision. Everyone will admit that one very useful means of communication is a river, and that if the power of regulating trade and commerce is to be unanimously conceded to the federation, logically the federation should be able to take over the full control of all the river systems which may be made navigable, or which are navigable throughout the commonwealth, especially where those rivers pass through one colony into another. Yet there is not the most violent enthusiast in New South Wales, over what he considers this popular rule, who does not insist, and properly insist, that New South Wales cannot and ought not to surrender the control of her river system to the federal parliament. For what reason? Because our rivers are wanted for internal purposes of irrigation, because our rivers serve the double purpose of developing our national resources-the resources of New South Wales as a state-as well as the purpose of assisting communication and furnishing means of navigation from one part of the commonwealth to the other. If those who insist that the small states are never to be allowed to protect themselves against the possibility of unauthorised irresponsible power, of unduly exercised power by the majority of the populations of the larger states, logically they will also insist that we, who represent them here, should hand the control of our rivers absolutely over to the majority of the commonwealth. Why, to parody their argument, should not the majority rule? If the majority want to use the rivers of New South Wales for navigation, and to prevent us from using them for irrigation, why should not the voice of the great majority prevail?
An HON. MEMBER:-
Mr. WISE: The answer is a simple one. I am not dealing with theories. I am dealing with facts. I accept the facts. The answer is this: we intend to develop New South Wales as a separate state by utilising, our natural resources. We do not dispute that logically you may demand these rivers; but we say that we require their waters for other than commonwealth purposes, and we intend to keep them. It, therefore, seems to me that a great deal of this cry for the rule of the majority comes from those who are very well disposed to the rule of the majority when they form the majority, but who are quite determined that they shall not submit to that rule when there is a possibility of their being left with the minority. It reminds me of the incident in the Philadelphia Convention when the question arose as to the United States being allowed to confer titles of honor. One bluff and hale democrat declared that for his part he would support a peerage, if he were quite sure of being one of the dukes; but as he knew that he had not any chance of that, be was opposed to any peerage whatever. And so with us, or
some of us. They will support the rule of the majority so long as there is no fear of the majority controlling their special interests. But the moment it is said we should hand our railways or rivers absolutely to the rule of the majority, then we have the most clamorous cries on behalf of state rights raised by the very men who, when the interests of other states are involved, are most generous in giving them away. What is, after all, the possibility of a conflict? When the causes are gone, the possibility is reduced almost to a minimum. But supporting that in the matters I have referred to a conflict arises. We have the means of getting [start page 646] rid of the conflict by ordinary good sense, and if that fails by a dissolution, and, a third method is proposed. After all these methods have come into play, will it not be a fraction of a fraction of cases in which any insoluble conflict arises between the people of the states? I would not hesitate to say that, in the last resort, if the power of the concentrated state populations were used I do not believe it ever will be to destroy the country interests, the interests of the interior, the people of the sparsely populated districts have the right of self-preservation.
Mr. HIGGINS: My hon. friend confounds the interior with the smaller states!
Mr. WISE: I accept facts; and, indeed, that is the distinction: that two large states have the great city populations. It is the small states in a rudimentary or earlier stage of development which have an agricultural, pastoral, and mining population. It is the concentrated population which makes a large state. That which makes New South Wales a large state is that it has Sydney; that which makes Victoria a large state is the possession of Melbourne. In point of territory they are smaller than either Queensland or Western Australia.
Mr. HIGGINS: There is the same proportion of town population in Tasmania as in New South Wales!
Mr. WISE: It is not a question of population. The character of the people's pursuits is determined by the climatic conditions very largely, and by the question whether or not they are engaged in the development of internal productiveness or in the carrying on of external commerce. I want to meet the argument that all I can say can be turned the other way. I deny that. The relative position of the small states towards the large ones in questions that may give rise in conflict is not the same. The relative position the small states to the large states is not even an equivalent position; for this simple reason: In the long run, and behind, everything, is the ultimate sanction of all law that is, physical force. Behind the legislator there is the policeman, and if the case did arise where the small states, by opposing their veto to a scheme which had passed by a large majority the representative assembly, did disorganise the industries of the large states, if they did affect their existence as states, if they did give rise to such a tremendous outburst of feeling that the national progress of Victoria or New South Wales; felt itself imperilled, I ask who is going to enforce that veto? How will the small states ever be able to give expression to their will? In the ultimate resort the large states have the power of effective resistance by reason of their population. In the ultimate resort the small states have not that power. The small states could be coerced by force-physical force if necessary and the large states could not. Therefore, we are in this position: we are dealing with imaginary dangers and difficulties, which no one here admits or considers are likely to arise difficulties which may conceivably arise; but if they arise as against the large states, having it in their power to protect: themselves, they. arise in the case of the small states without that power; and all the small states, are now asking is that they shall come under the constitution with the physical power of the commonwealth to protect them in the last resort, which the large states have by reason of their numbers; They should be given that same power by a provision in the constitution which enables them to oppose in the long run an ultimate veto, not of the senate, but an ultimate veto of the votes of their own people against any proposal which is intended to deprive those people of their liberties. I, at Adelaide, moved an amendment which was intended to get rid of [start page 647] one possible cause of conflict between the two houses. I recognise that the senate was primarily intended to conserve the interests of states, and was only incidentally a house of revision. But I was most deeply impressed by a speech of Sir Graham Berry, which pointed out the inevitable tendency on the part of all legislatures that were secured upon continuous existence especially when they were composed of men who had won their spurs in other fields of public work to grow out of
touch with popular sympathy. Therefore it seemed to me desirable that there should be some method of securing that the senators acts actually reflected the popular opinion of their constituencies, so as to remove once and for ever all possibility of conflict on questions affecting personal interests. Since then I have listened to several speeches here, and I have come to the conclusion not to press that amendment, although it was recommended by the Parliament of Victoria as one of their alternative schemes. I recognise the force of what has been urged: That it is unjust to the house of representatives that it should be subjected to a dissolution and to inconveniences from which the second chamber itself should be free. Therefore I will agree to the suggestion of the Right Hon. Sir George Turner that a double dissolution should be accepted.
The Hon. S. FRASER: At the same time!
Mr. WISE: I think at the same time, but that is a matter of detail. I think it would be better, in the interests of the senate, that it should be at the same time. Otherwise without that power a minister desirous of quarrelling with the senate, and of punishing the senate by sending them to the country, can do so without inconvenience to himself or any of his supporters in the assembly. I believe it is a safeguard against the arbitrary exercise of this great power.
The Hon. S. FRASER: That is the power of the Minister!
Mr. WISE: The Governor advised by his Ministers.
The Right Hon. Sir G. TURNER: The ministry have to accept a great responsibility!
Mr. WISE: I was going to point that out. Whether or not there should be added to that a further provision taking a referendum. in the event of a dissolution can be said not to have correctly reflected the opinion of the states, is a matter upon which my opinion has wavered very much. It has wavered because I do not appreciate at present how the referendum is going to work with parliamentary institutions. I recognise the referendum historically as having been, from the time of Julius Caesar to the time of the third Napoleon, the favorite weapon of personal despotism; and it appears to me very difficult to bring into harmony an institution of that kind which overrides parliament, with the British habit of submitting to representative and parliamentary government. At the same time, I recognise that there is outside a very considerable demand for the adoption of this plan. I find, too, that it is theoretically justifiable as being a sure way of ascertaining, when all other means have failed, what the real views of the people, whom both houses represent, are, and if it is applied with the limitations which have been suggested, so that it can be used not as the daily food to use the phrase of Edmund Burke of the constitution, but as its medicine, I will be found surrendering my private predilections and voting in its favour. I should be opposed to making it replace any of the schemes with which we are acquainted for overcoming the difficulties between the two houses, because I am opposed to making any experiment in an instrument of this kind. I am profoundly convinced of the truth that it will be futile and chimerical in us to attempt [start page 648] to frame any constitution which does not emanate from the history of our own people. We are a people of British origin, accustomed to parliamentary institutions. If we do not frame this instrument in such a way that it springs from our antecedents, and follows our tendencies, that it is imbued with the character and habits of our people, consonant with their beliefs, and even with their prejudices, then I say that, build what we may on paper and by act of parliament, all that we do will be false and perishable. But if, on the other hand, we pay a due regard to popular opinion, making concessions to its tendencies where we can make concessions without sacrifice of principle, then I believe that we will be able to present to the people of Australia a constitution which, however imperfect, will confer great benefits upon them, and which will contain within itself great possibilities of growth a, constitution, in a word, for the adoption and the successful working of which, every one of us will be proud to labour with all his strength.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID (New South Wales)[11.10]: I confess that I feel sufficiently diffident as to my powers of solving this very serious problem to have waited, and to have listened, to a large number of speeches; and, again, I feel a sense of regret that, so far, the tendency of the debate has not
been such as to promise us a satisfactory issue from all our difficulties. Again, it seems almost impossible that the Convention is able to realise that, in endeavouring to frame a constitution at this time, we must pay the fullest regard to the course and development of political history. We are too apt to get back to that state of things under the stress of which the Constitution of the United States was formed. We are too apt to forget that, since that Constitution was established, there have been enormous advances in political enlightenment, and that one of the greatest effects of those advances has been to realise that, talk as we will of parliamentary and representative government, we are very far yet from enjoying those blessings in their real substance. I find nothing with which to quarrel so long as vague generalities are indulged in. For instance, when we speak of parliamentary and representative government, those terms are clothed with a respectability which seems to assure for them cordial and unanimous assent. Indeed, we might go even further, and speak of the voice of the people as the ultimate arbiter in all national and even in all federal difficulties. Up to this point everything seems harmonious and entirely respectable; but when we come closer to these questions, when we come to rob them of their generalities, and endeavour to approach them in spirit and reality, it is astonishing what various shades-of political belief are immediately struck off from the simple flint. In what country in the world to-day do the people, the real solid political power-in what country in the world can it be said that the voice of the people constitutionally expressed has a chance of being effectual? I know of no such country in Australia. We may perhaps have advanced more rapidly than some people would like; but we must take facts as they are, and we cannot shrink from the fact that in every Australian colony the people have been struggling for many years past to get a more real share, a more potent influence, a more direct control over what are called parliamentary and representative institutions. I do not need to go into illustrations to show how crude the political circumstances of some of the colonies are. I need not go out of the boundaries of New South Wales. We have here at the present time a constitution which is, I suppose, one of the most extraordinary anomalies known to the political chronicler; but, at the same time, there is a [start page 649] great deal to be said for it. In its working, although often it breaks down most abominably, it is as efficient an instrument of popular government as any in the world. But, unfortunately, we are not now addressing ourselves to the task of amending some imperfect constitution. Our solemn task is that of constructing an entirely new political constitution, and, so far as the British people are concerned, a constitution in which, if we are to proceed on the lines of the British Constitution, we have very little to guide us. My hon. and learned friend, Mr. Wise, was as satisfactory, as were all the other gentlemen, who indulged in platitudes. He was condescending enough to say that he was willing, to some extent, to how to the trend of public opinion, even, although public opinion may have the misfortune to differ from his own. We accept all these assurances with gratitude. It is highly satisfactory to me to hear, at this time of the day, that there are enlightened public men who have some sort of abstract respect for the significance of public opinion. I wish to go much further I wish to say that it is only in public opinion, in the efficacy of public opinion, and in the authority of public opinion, in shaping the destinies of any political constitution that its foundations can consist-that just as public opinion has had the freest control of the destinies of a country, so have those destinies become purer and more dignified. It is of no use to point to the United States as a country in which the people have political power. There is no country in the world where the people in a broad, massive, honorable sense have less to do with the government of the country than they have in the United States. They have become entangled under the provisions of their federal constitution in such a series of contrivances for subordinating the free honest expression of public opinion to the most unworthy purposes that, to my mind, nothing is more melancholy than the utter breakdown of the Constitution of the United States in that one saving respect-that the voice of the people can immediately and perfectly affect the course of government. I feel all the prouder of our connection with the mother country when I reflect that in spite of the House of Lords there is no country in the world where public opinion in its broadest form has so much weight. It seems to me that those who are timid of public opinion, who think that public opinion, allowed fair sway in the affairs of government, will throw our institutions into confusion might take some courage from the history of the British people since the year 1832. We know the extremity to which the constitution of the mother country was reduced in 1832, not by hollow false agitation, but by the collision of those two opposing forces, one of which had been gradually dying, the other of which had roused itself for that last desperate fight against the advance of the popular power. At that time, the British Constitution was in imminent risk of disruption. Fortunately, there was a safety-valve
in the constitution which saved the people from the most disastrous convulsion that could ever come upon the British nation. Fortunately, at that critical time, as I say, there was a safety-valve, which enabled the will of the people to have effect. And what has been the result? We are now sixty-five years away from that point, and will not the most timid Tory admit, looking on the history of the past sixty-five years, that the history of England during that sixty-five years, that the history of government during that sixty-five years, that the history of the people in every sense as a governed people and as a governing people has been the brightest in the whole range of British history? Do we find today any signs of those destructive socialistic forces of which we hear so much?
[start page 650] Sixty-two years after that great revolution in the balance of political power, what do we see today in the mother country? We see a Tory government, that is a conservative government a government which some of my friends here would look upon as a perfect guarantee for everything that is upright and respectable in a position of triumphant power today, supported even by a democratic labour federationist. Are not these teachings of history, of the history of our own race under institutions resembling our own, are not these experiences enough to enable us, when we are framing here in this country, even more, in advance in some respects than is the mother country-infinitely freer from obstacles in the path of a scientific adjustment of political forces-to address ourselves to this great crucial problem with a feeling of confidence that the more the people are with us in the work of governing Australia, the more just, the more stable, the more successful the government will be? I confess that I listened with the keenest disappointment to the speech of my right hon. friend, Sir George Turner. It was a generous speech. We can all be generous when we are dealing with somebody else's affairs. I can be extremely generous when some great necessity of duty does not come in my way; but when a necessity of duty comes in my way a duty which I cannot very well abandon then I feel that I have to throw aside all these courteous phrases and to speak plainly and earnestly. My right hon. friend, it seems to me, has made this fatal mistake: he has, by the position which he has taken up, been ready to solve this most anxious difficulty between what I fully admit are the just rights of the smaller states and what are the equally just rights of the people as a commonwealth. In this difficulty we must see at once that there are certain things in which the rights of the smaller states, however small-however insignificant their people in proportion to those of the larger states must be respected. I quite admit that it is impossible to stand up at this stage and advocate federation unless we are prepared to admit that in everything which falls legitimately within the definition of state rights, majorities cannot be allowed to have their own way. It is only by coming down to definitions by paying some little regard to the precise character of the range which this federation is to assume, that we can clear the air of all these mysterious fears of brutal domination over principles which are dear to the hearts of every true born Australian in the smaller states. We must look at the work with which this commonwealth is to be intrusted. If it were a provision of this constitution that the commonwealth should deal with all matters not specifically retained by the states, I do not think that I could make the speech that I am making at the present moment I admit, because it would be impossible to define the line, or with any sort of resemblance to precision to define the line, over which state rights would come into the plane of the commonwealth rights. But we have simplified this most difficult problem-and I hope that hon. members will accept my assurance that, although I am speaking so earnestly, I am not at all indifferent to the intense and immense difficulty of this matter. I give my hon. friends who hold the opposite view to mine the most absolute credit for the most honest desire to do that which is right. Just as I stand here, perhaps, in a last entrenchment in defence of what I believe to be the rights of a majority of the people of the commonwealth, some of my hon. friends with equal honesty and equal duty, stand, perhaps, in their last entrenchment to defend the rights of the smaller states against a system which would set those rights entirely at the mercy of a mere majority of the electors of the commonwealth. If I stood up to [start page 651] ask them not to do that in reference, to state rights, I feel, that I should come here asking them to do a thing which no reasonable man ought to ask them to do. But what is the principle of this deed we are about to endeavour to seal? The first principle is that the commonwealth is to have no sort of pretence to power except upon the subjects set out in this bill. Fortunately, we will always have a court of high reputation, I hope, to see that everyone is kept to the terms of the instrument. Under the protection of the supreme court of the commonwealth, the sphere within which the commonwealth can assert itself
or legislate is set out in so many words. I look over these subjects-clauses 52 and 53, I believe, contain them all and what do I find? I find:
The regulation of trade and commerce with other countries, and among the several states.
Customs and excise and bounties, but so that duties of customs and excise and bounties shall be uniform throughout the commonwealth, and that no tax or duty shall be imposed on any goods exported from one state to another.
Raising money by any other mode or system of taxation; but so that all such taxation shall be uniform throughout the commonwealth.
Borrowing money on the public credit of the commonwealth.
Postal, telegraphic, telephonic, and other like services.
The military and naval defence of the commonwealth and the several states and the calling out of the forces to execute and maintain the laws of the, commonwealth.
Munitions of war.
Navigation and shipping.
Ocean beacons and buoys, and ocean lights houses and lightships.
Astronomical and meteorological observations.
Fisheries in Australian waters beyond territorial limits.
Census and statistics.
Currency, coinage, and legal tender.
Banking, the incorporation of banks, and the issue of paper money.
Insurance, excluding state insurance not extending beyond the limits of the state concerned. Weights and measures.
Bills of exchange and promissory-notes.
Bankruptcy and insolvency.
Copyrights and patents of inventions, designs, and trademarks.
Naturalisation and aliens.
Foreign corporations, and trading or financial corporations formed in any state or part of the commonwealth.
Marriage and divorce.
Parental rights, and the custody and guardianship and custody of infants.
"Parental Rights"-that is rather a strange thing to see in a constitution of this kind.
The service and execution throughout the commonwealth of the civil and criminal process and judgments of the courts of the states,
The recognition throughout the commonwealth of the laws, the public acts and records, and the judicial proceedings, of the states.
Immigration and emigration.
External affairs and treaties.
The relations of the commonwealth to the islands of the Pacific.
I have read down to thirty out of thirty-seven. Hon. members are familiar with all these subjects I would read them all if it were necessary, but I only point to these things to show that, so far as the sphere of what is called the socialistic agitator is concerned, it is not there.
The Hon. S. FRASER: Oh, yes-paper money!
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: I am glad my hon. friend has mentioned that, because it shows us in a vivid light that even amongst men who command the highest respect, by reason of having a practical mind, in all the affairs of life that there are some subjects upon which even the imagination of a Shakspere is not equal to theirs. Now, because at various times over this vast continent, and in other parts of the world, a faint flicker of some reckless eloquence on the part of some unknown person has announced some descent on the financial institutions, possibly and probably of Victoria, at once the practical mind is in a blaze the whole political perspective is coloured with a lurid glare, because the Haymarket has been rash enough [start page 652] to question our present principles of money-making. What chance is there, in any form of Australian commonwealth, of there being any legislation which will attack the basis of credit-either public or banking credit-in the ordinary affairs of life? When our people have reached a stage at which they will have wild and revolutionary views, I do not know what precise form of constitution will keep them from doing mischief. But I would invite my hon. friends to distinguish between the spray on the surface of a vast popular movement, and not imagine that, because occasionally some sign of superficial extravagance appears upon the mighty breast of human progress, therefore, all humanity is spray, all humanity is extravagance, and that any system of government could be so used as to bring into true and real existence these extravagant outbursts which, to my mind, are unworthy of those who indulge in them. Let us look upon this Australia as a place in which at no time will the foundations of honesty be held in disrepute. Let us hope that at no time in Australia confiscation will have its way. If the spirit comes over Australians, we may believe that it will spread, and it will affect the whole of the states-the smaller states as well as the larger. But let us put aside all these chimerical fears, and let us look calmly at the position. I say to my hon. friends that if there is one of these subjects that seems a danger, or a difficulty, let us erase it. I am prepared to strike it out. I see one or two chimerical subjects in this list. I am prepared to strike them out-we have not come to them yet. I will strike out of this charter every possible difficulty in the way of a solution of the problem in which we are engaged; and if we remove from that list all subjects but those within which must be confined the legislative energy of the commonwealth, then we get much nearer a settlement of this vexed question. There must be in this constitution the commonwealth face, the national face, and the states face, and so long as those who represent the states wish that the state voice shall be so strengthened that it will always be able to drown the national voice, they take up a position which I for one can never allow to see created by this constitution. So, I admit, if we, who take the other side, were to desire to see imprinted in this bill such a contrivance that the voice of the nation would always drown the voice of the smaller states, we should take up a position in which we could not hope to succeed. Our difficulty therefore is: Are we to so arrange the constitution that in matters which are national, which are peculiarly national, the national voice shall prevail, and that in matters which involve state rights, which are different from the issues which I have described, the
state voice shall not be drowned even by the national voice? Now that is the problem we have to deal with. I am making these remarks in the light of suggestions which have been made to the Committee. I wish now to test these suggestions as well as I can. I admit at once that this bill is already a vast improvement upon the bill of 1891-I mean from the popular point of view. I look upon the fact that the senate is to be elected by the people of the different colonies on the basis of one man, one vote, the votes being taken in the states as single electorates, as a marvellous advance, from the popular point of view, over the year 1891, and I am prepared to give the fullest weight and significance to that fact as affecting the larger states. I am prepared to admit that there are questions which some gentlemen fear are likely to occasion public enthusiasm in the smaller states. At present, of course, we are sharply divided, and it is astonishing to what an extent differences of feeling [start page 653] have grown up in the various colonies; out, given a federation, how rapidly will these provincial differences and this bitterness disappear! Once the nation breathes as a nation, how soon will the spirit of the people change-how soon will the knocking down of these barriers, which vex every daily commercial transaction of the people make them feel at last that there is nothing to divide them, nothing that boundaries can create. After the destruction of these subjects of bitter parochial feeling, you will rapidly find a state of things grow up under which, when great national questions come along, you will never be able to distinguish between voter of Western Australia, and the voter of New South Wales, and the voter of Victoria. I wish to point out one question, to which I would apply the last suggestion for solving the difficulty. We have before us three suggestions-first, a referendum, called a mass referendum. Well, I admit that upon certain subjects that would be wrong-that is to say, subjects peculiarly involving state rights. Just as I decline the hand over the 1,400,000 people of New South Wales to the smaller populations of the other colonies on national matters, so I expect them to refuse to hand over their 400,000, or 300,000, or 200,000 people into our hands upon matters affecting state rights.
The Right Hon. C.C. KINGSTON: Can you distinguish between the two?
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: That is the point. Under this constitution, with the leading principle in it that it is not to go beyond what is in it, no principle or subject which is not expressed within its pages can be dealt with by the federal parliament. Looking that in the face, I say it is possible to distinguish between the questions in which the voice of the nation must be supreme, and questions in which the voice of the states must be represented.
The Right Hon. C.C. KINGSTON: It is well worth trying!
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: It is well worth trying. In the first place I do not give much for a state right which is not embedded in the constitution. Any state right which the advocates of the smaller states do not put into the constitution is not worth much, just as any popular right which is not put into the constitution is not worth much. So that our first subject of anxiety should be this: To put every legitimate subject of state right in the deed under such terms that a mere majority will not fritter away the rights of individuals. I will take one subject-I do not want to go into too long a speech here now-which has presented to me the other side of the question in the most forcible light. Let us suppose that we have adopted a dissolution for the senate as well as for the house of representatives. I admit that that is an extremely great concession-I am using a phrase which is used all round the chamber, and I make my friends a present of it on this occasion-we have got a great concession-a great concession from the smaller states, a proper one, I think, but still I call it a concession-a great concession from the smaller states-in providing for a dissolution of the senate. I quite believe that in the average life of this future commonwealth the mere power to dissolve the senate will keep it straight.
The Hon. Sir W.A. ZEAL: If it does not?
The Hon. S. FRASER:-
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: That is the sort of dissolution which amounts to the death of a man when he has not another breath to draw. It is the sort of dissolution from which humanity has not yet been able to escape. But if when the senators had just returned from that sort of energetic canvass of which my hon. friend is capable, over an enormous extent of territory, and had sat themselves down [start page 654] in their senatorial chairs, for as they thought six years solid, they knew that those who formed the executive of the country might be able to send them on another tour without delay, and without salary, it would make the senate a much more reasonable body.
The Hon. S. FRASER: If my right hon. friend was speaking against a senate which could not be dissolved at all like the House of Lords and the Upper House in Canada I could understand him!
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: There are houses which we know of in Australia which have developed a spirit of arrogance and self-sufficiency quite beyond that of the House of Lords. Considering the democratic surroundings of these gentlemen when they are outside parliament, it has been a standing conundrum with me how when they sit within their chambers they can seem an embodiment of immovable and absolute power, which I have not found anywhere in ancient history. The simple reason is that the breath of the people cannot be brought to bear upon them at a critical moment.
The Hon. Sir W.A. ZEAL: I am afraid that that is more picturesque than practical!
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: What could be more picturesque than my hon. friend laying down the law here, and if he is so here what must be his august dignity in the chair of that distinguished assembly of which he is the ornament? The dissolution of the senate is, I think, a very great concession in the line of the popular demand. So far as mere ordinary matters, such as we can conceive in the ordinary course of events, are concerned, that, with the provision for a dual referendum, might seem to provide a sufficient number of ditches for anything that has to be done. But the misfortune of this provision for the dissolution of both houses, and the dual referendum is that if a question arises in which the voice of the nation really comes into conflict with the voice of the states-
The Right Hon. C.C. KINGSTON: A national question!
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: Yes. I am referring to matters in which the interests of the larger states and of the smaller states come into collision really, seriously, and vitally. All these complex, costly, slow expedients then seem to me to resemble a series of ditches in which the commonwealth can flounder one after the other, finding itself at last in the biggest ditch of all. That is, after infinite trouble to get a decision, after infinite labour and concession, it will find itself in a more dangerous and a more envenomed state than when the difficulty began. I admit that there is a great deal in the very able arguments which I have heard more than once from the hon. and learned member, Mr. Barton. I give the greatest weight to those arguments. No doubt the average differences between the two houses can, as a rule, be left to the ordinary play of parliamentary responsibility. But I am anxious to see the commonwealth start with the fairest prospect, so that this labour which is to bring the Australian colonies into union will never by any fault of ours, by any reluctance to face the crucial difficulties of the situation, be so formed that the deed which we offer to the Australian people as a charter of peace and union will be so faultily framed that under some serious, some dire strain, instead of showing the spectacle of a united people only divided by lines of broad public principle, we shall find ourselves precipitated into all those very difficulties to escape from which the constitution is being devised. I will take the first subject; the most important subject with which the commonwealth has to deal. The regulation of the fiscal policy is a matter of vast importance to every man in this country, [start page 655] and in all the Australian colonies. I cannot conceive, so far as the colonies go, leaving out the cardinal points of the constitution of any subject of legislation which more nearly touches the personal interests, the business, and prosperity of the citizens than questions of this kind, questions which we know will throw the people into violent antagonism. Let us suppose that a federal tariff is to be constructed. One of my reasons for urging that we should put into the bill a provision
that the federal tariff should be constructed within two years, as a matter of absolute necessity, was that, knowing the differences of opinion, knowing the points at which the interests of different persons and, perhaps, different localities will come into violent contact, I felt the greatest apprehension lest, when we, the people of New South Wales, put our freedom to the risk of federation in an endeavour to construct a federal tariff which will pass a legislature constituted as this is, we may find ourselves, after infinite struggle and agitation, as far away from its attainment as ever. We in New South Wales may find ourselves in a federation which was to knock down the barriers which surround us, but to enter which we have surrendered our liberty without deriving any of the benefits of intercolonial free-trade. The objection was made, "What power is there to enforce the necessity of framing this tariff within two years?" The slightest study of the constitution would show that, so far from being an abortive provision, if the tariff were not constructed within that period, no man could be taxed under it without redress in the supreme court of Australia. Because this provides a test for all the legislation of the commonwealth.
Mr. HIGGINS: Is it not directory only?
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: The term "shall" is never directory.
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: It does not say it shall not be done afterwards!
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: That is the sort of refinement that might arise in some courts of limited jurisdiction; but in the supreme court of the federation the people have set up a tribunal to see that the expressed mandates of the constitution are respected, and, if it finds an absolute direction in the constitution that a certain thing shall be done within two years, and sees the reason for it, there is no doubt it will insist upon that provision being carried out. It is not difficult to find the reason for it, the reason being that it is the essence of the whole contract of federation that there shall be a uniform tariff and intercolonial free-trade. I do not think that any one off the police court bench would find any difficulty about that. Now, let me come back to this question of a federal tariff. We might find the federal parliament in a state of hopeless conflict over that tariff. It is true the senate could not alter it, and from some points of view that would only aggravate the difficulties of the situation The senate will be put into this position, that it will have to say yes or no, and it is quite conceivable that by the states acting together it does not follow that it should be the smaller ones; it is conceivable that even the two larger colonies might combine in the senate-or by any conceivable combination of three against two or four against one, it would have the effect that at the very threshold of federation the one thing for which we federated could not be accomplished without some extraordinary powers of settlement. What are those suggested to us? First, a dissolution of both houses of parliament. It might very well be that on an issue that excites public feeling to such an extraordinary extent as the fiscal issue always does, that a number of people in each of the states represented by the blocking power, influenced by a thousand different reasons and points of view, all affecting their own pockets and interests as they [start page 656] think, would unite to prevent that tariff from becoming law; and the result of the double dissolution might well be that the senate and the house of representatives would find themselves in the same condition as before. Then we apply the other test to this terrible state of deadlock existing over this vital point. We would have another resort, which would be the dual referendum exactly a repetition of the same' process. There would be exactly the same difficulty, because remember under the dual referendum the people would be in exactly the same position as the senate. Even the dual referendum is worse than the position of the senate, because the senate can suggest; on those suggestions they might not agree, or, if they did, the majority might envenom the difficulty instead of relieving it. Well, we go through this second serious call upon the people of the commonwealth; this burning question, which sets everyone by the ears, goes again to the people in another form, in which they have still less power of modifying the provisions of the existing scheme on which they can only say "yes" or "no." In this contrivance I do not see the prospect of sufficient safeguards for questions like this.
The Hon. A. DEAKIN: No finality?
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: No.
The Hon. S. FRASER: They are the very questions that would cause the difficulty!
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: I candidly confess that if we got over this question I might not speak so strongly as I am now doing. I candidly admit that if we once got all these burning questions settled, and the life of the nation had time to develop, and if the feeling of sympathy among the people as a whole had time to circulate freely, I admit that even on this point I would not perhaps be so emphatic. But we must remember that while all these local feelings are rankling, while all these ideas of self interest are as rampant as ever, while each colony and each man in each colony is striving for his own view and his own pocket, or his own industry, such an extraordinary complication of votes and interests in the country and in the senate may arise that this constitution which is to give us a nation may give us chaos. I am prepared to surrender a good deal in order to have finality, because even if injustice is worked there are always opportunities of readjusting and correcting injustices. But we who are framing this constitution, we whom the people have trusted with this enormous responsibility, are bound not to take refuge we from the larger and from the smaller states in what really is shirking. I do not wish to praise my hon. friend, Mr. Holder, publicly or even privately, but I must be allowed in justice to him to express to this Convention and to the public my high admiration of the way in which that gentleman has shaken himself free from his surroundings and has adjusted himself to the task before him. I do not deny that we have all endeavoured to do the same; but I can only say that I should be a proud man if I thought I had done it as fully as he.
The Hon. H. DOBSON: Why not do it now?
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: I have always found that when, in the course of my public duty, I have had to recognise some good act on the part of an individual, there are other individuals not accustomed to such tributes who make disagreeable remarks. Now I think my hon. friend will admit that no man ever went into a more dangerous course for himself than the hon. member, Mr. Holder, did when he declared for a mass referendum. I do not know how he has contrived to live with his friends ever since. In his desire to get finality, to put within this machine something which will prevent it bursting into pieces and sometimes, I must say, when I hear gifted men speaking of providing a safety- [start page 657] valve in this constitution as a sort of thing equivalent to some fanciful piece of ingenuity not at all useful I often wish some of these gifted men would themselves only run a machine of some kind without a safety-valve.
The Hon. E. BARTON: Has the hon. member tried it?
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: No, I have not tried it, and not having risked myself to it, I do not intend to risk the people of Australia to it either. We should really in this matter be as careful of the safety-valve as of our own people; and if we would feel some anxiety about the mechanical perfection of a locomotive which was taking us on a railway journey, I feel infinitely more anxiety about the construction of a machine to which the people of this continent are going to intrust their political rights.
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST: There is no safety-valve in most of the colonies now!
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: Not in Western Australia. I quite agree with my hon. friend, but, unfortunately, his colony is so far off that if there was an explosion there, it would not hurt us. There may be a safety-valve there; but, if so, my hon. friend is always sitting on it. I feel that my hon. friend, Mr. Holder, in his conviction that there must be a safety-valve conceded almost too much I mean a little more than, perhaps, we are entitled to. But I think we may reconcile a mass referendum to the rights of the states which in their nature are different from the rights of the people as an Australian people, which are put in the bed-rock of the constitution.
Mr. HIGGINS: Are not states rights already protected by the constitution?
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: I am afraid that my hon. friend's version would not be accepted implicitly by the gentlemen I am now addressing. I ask my
friends from the smaller states, as far as they can, to tell us what those state rights are which require that the ordinary provisions of any political free constitution for the rule, in the last resort, of a majority of the electors should not have its sway? Every such right which requires to be specially safeguarded I am prepared to recognise and put in that constitution where it cannot be interfered with by any majority.
The Hon. H. DOBSON: That is impossible!
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: My hon. friend might find many things impossible which might be possible to others. I admit that he is right to a great extent.
The Hon. H. DOBSON: It is utterly impossible!
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: What are these state rights which cannot be inserted in this deed?
The Hon. H. DOBSON: The hon. member seems to think.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: I am not thinking at present. I am simply asking you a question. I ask those who say that state rights ought to be inserted in this constitution, whether they have arrived at such a conception of those rights that they can put them into the constitution?
The Hon. H. DOBSON: The right hon. gentleman has to answer his own question: How can the state voice not be drowned by the national voice if you have a mass referendum?
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: I meet my hon. friend in this way. In all questions in which the rights of the States as geographical entities are not involved, no reasonable man can refuse the rule of the majority.
The Hon. H. DOBSON: What about their rights as human entities?
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: Now, there my hon. friend states it view which I confess puzzles me. What distinction is [start page 658] there between a human entity on one bank of the Murray and a human entity on the other? If there is a distinction, in the name of Heaven, let us put it in the constitution. Until those who are framing this constitution can rise to the one human entity of Australia, they are out of place in this Convention.
The Hon. H. DOBSON: The hon. member has just told us different?
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: When my hon. friend, who is a gifted and able lawyer, as we know him to be, is unable to put into English one of these state rights that are not yet in the constitution, I am inclined to think that most of them have been safely provided for.
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST: The senate is not limited to dealing with state rights. It has general powers!
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: My hon. friend's interruptions resemble a bludgeon in more respects than one-they have no point.
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST They are too pointed!
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: I am at present addressing myself to this question, if there are any state rights which make it necessary to distinguish between people inhabiting Western Australia, or Victoria, or New South Wales, or South Australia, and Tasmania, we owe it to these people to put them in the constitution, because it is the only safe place for them; and if they are state rights they ought to be there. But the fact is that every state right has been safeguarded in the constitution, except the state claim that since there must be some finality we will be on the right side of the hedge by saying that it rests with us on every question, state or national. Let us see the effect of this complicated series of contrivances. The effect of them may be, as I have said, with the minority. Those who represent the minority in one house, the senate, may be able, after all these suggestions, to prevent any thing from being done. My hon. friend, Mr. Barton, very carefully and properly pointed out the pains we have been at to remove causes of offence between the two houses, and there is no doubt that our work in that direction has been most valuable. But I am not talking of this, I am talking of some radical difficulty in principle, or what is much stronger, in self-interest, between the two houses, or the people represented in the two houses. If that ran through the whole process, as it probably would, we would be left in this position: that through nothing being done, the veto of the senate would be the living force in the commonwealth. You may talk about the power of a house which frames and sends up measures; but the power of a house which can say "No," and is under no responsibility for administering the affairs of the country, leaves the terrible responsibility of carrying on the machinery of government, while it has the right of preventing the responsible power from carrying out its policy to provide the means for doing so. A house which possesses that power possesses a power which can at any moment-and that is the material point-throw the commonwealth into confusion simply by saying no; and then begins, if we have no legitimate way to solve a difficulty upon honest grounds, upon appeal to some disinterested or national authority, this wretched system of government and legislation by bribe and bargain. If a government is put in such a position that when it is confronted with a negative on some large measure such as a tariff bill when it reaches the senate and it is left helpless to get beyond the obstacle thrown across its path in an honorable, national way by an appeal to the principles and convictions of those who give the constitution its life and power, then it must from self-preservation resort to indirect, unworthy, and unprincipled devices. Of course, there is a promising field for the [start page 659] lobbyist with the two houses in a position of difficulty, "a thousand pecuniary interests knocking at the door. We had the picture before us only two or three months ago in that great Senate of the United States. So I, a thousand times, say we should not expose the executive government of this commonwealth to the necessity of stratagem, intrigue, and contrivance, probably in secret, over matters of fatal concern to the whole of the community. But that is the alternative. I quite admit that in the last resort, before the explosion comes, means will be found, perhaps, to solve the difficulty. But what sort of means? The free judgment of anyone? No. The house of representatives and of government under the stem necessity of compulsion-compelled, perhaps, to maim and disfigure its policy in order that the commonwealth should live. Well, we may have to come to that state of things; but I ask this Convention, framing a constitution in the light of things as they are, at the close of this nineteenth century, whether we cannot, in some way or other, provide that in great national exigencies we should not only know how to get from one ditch into another, but should know how to solve our difficulties in a constitutional manner that is to say, in a manner provided by the constitution. I admit it is easy to make these criticisms, and. I think they are proper to be made at the present time; and I tell hon. gentlemen frankly, from my knowledge of the public sentiment as it is in New South Wales today, that I feel that if I did not make the speech which I am making I should not do my duty to this Convention; because, above all things, I am anxious that we should all share the undying credit of framing an instrument which will pass the ordeal of public opinion in all these colonies. So I say I am prepared to meet my friends by safeguarding their legitimate rights, to sympathise with their legitimate anxiety, that in state rights they should not be exposed to the position of an ever hopeless minority. I will give to them in black and white, in this constitution, every state right which they ought to take, and, when I do that, I ask them to meet me; and in matters like these matters of national policy, matters affecting each human being in his daily life, in his business, in his pocket equally, as an Australian human entity I risk them in such matters to rise in the light of history, in the light of what we have seen of the working out of political institutions in the Anglo-Saxon race; I ask them to rise to this position: that they will leave these truly national
matters to the truly national voice, confident as they must be that in no serious respect will an Anglo-Saxon race inflict a deliberate injury upon any member of our commonwealth.
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS (Victoria)[12.13]: I think I should be very much wanting in my appreciation of the great speech we have just heard if I did not preface my own with a tribute of admiration for the lofty sentiments that have pervaded the expression which have just fallen from the right hon. the Premier of New South Wales; and with him as I am, and as most of my colleagues are, in fundamental opinions on most of what he has said, our admiration for his words are linked with a full appreciation of the reasons by which he has arrived at them. The gravity of the present moment cannot, I think, be over-estimated. I believe there is not a member of this Convention I might even go further, and say there is not a single member of the community that is not consumed with anxiety as to the result of our deliberations on this all important question We have got past the preliminaries of this great subject; we have got past all what we might term the flirtations of federation, and we have come down now to a definite statement of our absolute and [start page 660] final intentions. What we have done in the past, I apprehend, on the whole, while not commanding the assent of us all, will be regarded by the people of Australia as a great and good work. What we have yet to do, I believe, bears with it the fate of the whole movement. I quite welcome the attitude that prevails in this Convention that there must be some provision against deadlocks. I know that there are very strong opinions entertained even by some of my hon. colleagues from Victoria, that the less you do to interfere with deadlocks the better. I know that they still retain the opinions of a very antique period in our history. I know that they cling to traditions that most of us have outgrown. I know that they do not yet fully grasp the change of thought which has taken place throughout the British Empire on this all-important question. But, sir, I believe a majority of us, an overwhelming majority, entertain no sort of doubt as to the necessity at the present moment for inserting some provision and a substantial, effectual provision to avert catastrophes in our legislation in the future. I do not think I can better express the necessity for some such provision as that to which I have referred than in the words of Sir Frederick Pollock, a distinguished writer on political science, when he points out that the view formerly entertained with regard to the British Constitution, that deadlocks were an element of safety, and rather to be courted than guarded against, has now been abandoned, and that we have ceased to regard as a proper form of government a constitution in which the hour and the minute hands and the striking part should all be governed by different mechanisms, with no provision for the various indicators marking the correct and the same time. We are about to ask the people of Australia to accept a huge and a new machine. We know it will be costly. We can at least make it workable, and the people of Australasia will demand of us, not only, what will this machine cost, but, how will it work in actual operation. Therefore, when we approach this question we approach one to which there must be given a somewhat definite answer. I am quite with my right hon. friend, Mr. Reid, when he says that we should found this constitution on the lines of the British Constitution, so far as that is applicable. I am thoroughly with him when he says that to properly understand the British Constitution we can scarcely go further back than 1832. At the end of the last century where was representative government? As we now understand it, it did not exist. It was still in the womb of time. About 6,000 individuals could return at that time an absolute majority to the House of Commons, and when, in 1832, the question that my right hon. friend referred to was agitated by the British public, the House of Lords maintained the position that it was a co-ordinate branch in all respects of the British legislature. The Duke of Wellington maintained that if the House of Lords gave way there would be a violation of the British Constitution, yet that noble lord not long after, to save the Constitution, counselled the house, of which he was so distinguished a member, to give way. Since that time, Sir Frederick Pollock tells us, the organism has worked well, deadlocks have not occurred frequently, and when they did occur, were easily mastered, not because there are checks and balances, not because we have to depend on the mere good will or the moral silent force of public opinion, manifested to the satisfaction of the legislature, but because it is recognised that in the last resort there is only one power in the nation. If you apply that test to the state, the answer is easy; but apply it to the federation and it is not so easy. That is the difficulty which confronts us at the present time. While I agree absolutely with my right hon. friend, [start page 661] Mr. Reid, while I assent unreservedly as a matter of argument to the opinions he has urged, still I see that we have not maintained those opinions
in our progress through this constitution. If the right hon. gentleman had taken up his present position absolutely upon the question of equal representation-
Mr. TRENWITH: As we ought all to have done!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: If he had taken up that position upon the question of equal representation, and if he had refused to move from it, he would have been, if I may be allowed to say so, much more consistent than he is at the present moment. My right hon. friend, the Premier of Victoria, said last night, and I desire to repeat it today, that if we can in this Convention select matters which are of exclusive national importance, then he would not yield one jot in depending, in the last resort, upon a national referendum to settle them.
Mr. TRENWITH: We ought to put nothing else in the constitution!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: My right hon. friend and I are in perfect accord as far as my individual opinions are concerned. But can my right hon. friend hope to satisfy everyone that those opinions are correct? If he could have done that, there would not have been so much objection to equal representation. It seems to me that we are narrowing down to the question , whether we are to stand, as the right hon. member, Mr. Reid, said, each in his last entrenchment, and defy the other whether we are each to stand in our last entrenchment and say-
An HON. MEMBER: We are being driven back to them gradually!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: Whether we are to say, "This is our ultimatum; we will not take federation on any other terms." I admit that there is a limit beyond which no one can go. I refuse to adopt a policy of surrender, but I am willing and always have been willing and my opinion in that regard is strengthening to admit that we are bound to conciliate and compromise. I believe that the position taken up by my right hon. leader last night is a true and correct one. If my right hon. friend, Mr. Reid, can put down on paper, not what I believe are national matters, but what will satisfy the people of all the colonies, are national matters and not state matters.
Mr. Symon: And every incident that may possibly bear on state questions!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: If my right hon. friend can do that, I think there will be no difficulty in obtaining assent to his proposal. But on the other hand, once we have arrived at the conclusion that the fears of the smaller states as to the invasion of what they think are state rights are not unreasonable and from that point of view we have conceded equal representation then it seems to me not unreasonable also to weigh with a good deal of fairness their claims in regard to this final arbitrament in disputes in the legislature. Now, my right hon. friend took the tariff and some other subjects. I would like to put to him one question, and I would ask him how he would decide it. Suppose, at some time or other, the proposal were agitated in the federal parliament to divide the states, for the electoral purposes of the senate, into six portions. It might be fairly claimed, and according to my opinion it would be rightly claimed, that it was a national matter. According to the arguments we have heard here, members of the smaller states might say that it was essentially a state matter. They might say, "The senators represent the states as states, and the states are right in deciding to allow no alteration to be made in the provision as to one electorate."
Mr. HIGGINS: Suppose you made an exception of that?
[start page 662] The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: And of what else? Can the hon. member enumerate the exceptions? I feel the impossibility of doing so. I can understand the position we have taken up, that the things we have placed in the constitution are or ought to be deemed to be national matters.
Mr. SYMON: You cannot tell how they may affect the states!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: They all affect the states more or less. The question, according to my mind, is this: Is the matter a national matter; if so, put it into the constitution; if not, leave it out. Of course, everything affects the states in some degree, or the states would not be concerned.
The Hon. R.E. O'CONNOR: That is what we are dealing with now-state interests in national affairs!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: I was about to say that I can understand one position, and I can also understand the other position, of the smaller states, that in all these matters they insist upon having a voice as states in one house of the legislature. But I feel the strongest difficulty in picking out matters which I can offer to the smaller states and say, "You ought to admit, consistently with all you have said before, that these, at all events, are purely and exclusively national matters."
Mr. GLYNN: No policy could affect them as-
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: You can never tell until the question arises, and at this stage in the formation of a constitution, you cannot predicate whether in the course of our development those new problem which will inevitably arise are exclusively national or state matters. That is a task which none of us tainted with the weaknesses of humanity can ever hope to accomplish.
Mr. Symon: It is not arguable!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: If it can be done, I am prepared to assent as firmly as any man to a national referendum on those subjects; but I cannot fail to perceive-I have not failed all through the passing of the bill through the Victorian legislature to perceive, and to give weight to the consideration that if we are to have a federation including the smaller colonies, we cannot hope to force upon them the national referendum even in the last resort in all matters. I am forced to this conclusion much against my will. Hope sprang with some degree in my breast yesterday, when I heard my hon. friend, Mr. Holder's admirable, patriotic speech, and I waited with some degree of anxiety, and a large amount of desire, to hear similar sentiments from other of my hon. friends from the smaller colonies.
The Hon. J.H. HOWE: The hon. and learned gentleman was disappointed!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS. I was disappointed. I venture to indorse, with all my heart, every word that my right hon. friend has said with regard to the views expressed by my hon. friend, Mr. Holder. I believe that in the future, as this federation proceeds, public sentiment will become enlightened, and the views we have urged, and the views to which that hon. gentleman gave expression yesterday, will be admitted to be the right ones. I believe that in the actual working of the constitution it will be found that those matters which we have included in the bill will be matters that will not concern one state more or less than any other; but we cannot persuade our friends of that at the present moment-we cannot hope to persuade them. We have to get the assent of the smaller colonies before this constitution can come into operation, and I would like to say this: that if we accept the double dissolution and the dual referendum as we believe they will yet be accepted, because Victoria can certainly claim that and if it should be found in the future that the [start page 663] are not sufficient, and if the public sentiment in the other colonies should then be willing to concede what we think now is the right provision, the provision which we now seek to insert will not be unalterable. If it be found in the future that collisions arise that might lead to such disastrous consequences as civil war, then, if the two larger colonies think that the matter is really of such vital importance, one of the smaller colonies would at least be found to join in averting the disastrous catastrophe by assenting to a change of the constitution. That is a matter we can hope for in the future; it is not a matter, I am afraid, that we can insist on at the present moment. I would like to be able to say that I am satisfied that this Convention will yield at least what my right hon. friend, Sir George Turner has asked for. I believe, from what I have heard, that there is a sufficient majority to grant that. I am not one of those who are
prepared to say that, without that, federation is dead, but I will say that, unless that at least is granted, I fear very much the fate of it. I believe that the people of these colonies will not be satisfied with the provisions which were framed a hundred years ago in the American Constitution, and which have been found sadly wanting. We have been told by speaker after speaker, who evidently had forgotten his "Bryce," that collisions did not occur in the American legislature. Turn to that author, and you will find that collisions are of frequent occurrence. It is true that be points out that no great block occurs, in administration.
Mr. GLYNN: He says that they are mere academic displays!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: He says that no great block occurs in administration; but he adds that if the same collisions occurred in countries having responsible government, the consequence would be much more serious. He points out in words of warning, as it seems to me, that it is because the executive government is; removed from the legislature that these collisions such as they are, take place without overturning the state. We are bound to take advantage of all-that history, and that writers in their observations upon history, afford us, in order to frame for ourselves-to the advantage of our constituents, if not to the honor of ourselves, a constitution that soon be as free as possible from the disadvantages we have seen around us. We should much prefer that the houses, if they differ, should not in the first instance be subjected to the penalty of dissolution. We have embodied in this constitution a provision for the dissolution of the house of representatively and I should like to say to my hon. friends from the smaller colonies that if that were left standing unaccompanied by any other provision, it might lead to very serious consequences for those smaller colonies. There is no doubt that if we are to have responsible government we cannot do without a provision for the dissolution of the house of representatives; but I would like to picture this-in the event of a collision between the two houses of the legislature, and there being a mere provision in the constitution for the dissolution of one house, to ascertain the will of the population, if that house came back, strengthened, it may be, by the voice of their constituents, consisting of the people of the various colonies as a whole, and if the senate refused to give way under those circumstances, what would be the result?
The Hon. A. Douglas: But why should the senate not give way?
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: The hon. gentleman knows that to maintain the position of equal rights, he must adhere to the position that the senate is not bound to give way to the views of the house of representatives.
[start page 664] The Hon. A. DOUGLAS: The senate would be open to reason as well as the other house!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: Yes; I am sure that the senate would be open to reason, but the people of the larger colonies will not be satisfied with that argument.
The Hon. A. DOUGLAS: Nor any, other!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: Therefore, I I would put it, as a matter for careful consideration, to my hon. friends from the smaller colonies, whether it is not necessary, for their makes, as well as for the sake of the opinion of the larger colonies, that some provision for averting deadlocks should be inserted in this constitution. There is no doubt about it. I think that they are absolutely satisfied that the larger colonies will not go into this federation without some such provision-without some provision which would be effectual, and they are satisfied, I have not the slightest doubt, that a mere provision for dissolution would not be deemed sufficient for the larger colonies, because, as I put it to my hon. friend, Sir Joseph Abbott, yesterday, suppose that a double dissolution takes place, what will happen? I should like hon. gentlemen who entertain any doubt as to the result of a double dissolution to consider how it practically, works. We will assume that the two houses are at variance. We will assume the matter to be of such importance that a double dissolution, will all its expense, is determined upon. The senators go back to their constituents. The question is a matter of state rights, as
they think. Does any one imagine for a moment that, whether the people of the smaller states think with or in opposition to their representatives, they will reject them? Will it not be an overwhelming argument for any senator to Say to his constituents, who, presumably, are satisfied 'with him on every other point, "Are you going to reject me for my action? Are you going to reject me for standing by the rights of your colony? Are you going to be guilty of such ingratitude as to eject me from the senate because, in opposition to the desire of the large colonies, I wished to preserve your rights and privileges?" There could be only one answer to that question, and the result would be that the senators would come back, and the senate would not only be in as strong a position as it was in before, but it could not give way because it had received what would be considered to be a new and imperative mandate from its constituents. On the other hand it might be that the electors of the states would be of a different mind, and if so the double dissolution would have done its work. If, as I apprehend, that might not be effectual, and in any question of state rights, or so called state rights, it would not be effectual, then, if we had the dual referendum, we could say to the people of the states, "We ask you to avert a catastrophe in the commonwealth." The people themselves could do it with dignity. It is their rights and their privileges that are in question, and while their representatives and senators, as trustees of the will of their own constituencies, cannot, dare not, yield, the people themselves, who are masters of their own destiny, may say, "On the whole we are prepared to waive what our representatives in their fidelity to us have thought to be necessary to us. We are prepared to meet the larger populations." Or, on the other hand, the larger populations may say, "We are prepared to meet the smaller ones." To my mind it is a mode, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, of effectually settling any deadlock. The hundredth case may safely be left to take care of itself. But it is also a means of conserving the dignity of both houses; because as Sidgwick points out as my hon. friend, Mr. Dobson, a student of that authority, will remember-one house may not [start page 665] be able with dignity to yield to the other house; but either house may with dignity yield to the people. And, after all, what is the theory of our constitution? Government by the people. Why not effectuate it? What is the inherent objection to it? What is the objection to put into black and white, into actual practice, this theory which is vaunted by every parliamentarian? We are told that it is destructive to responsible government. I do not believe it. I believe it is the crown and roof of responsible government. What is responsible government? In the first place, responsibility of a ministry to parliament. But why to parliament? Because parliament represents and is responsible to the people. And if we say that the end and object of responsible government is that the will of the people shall prevail, why should we tie ourselves down to institutions that, perhaps, at the present day prevent us from attaining the end they are designed to serve?
The Hon. J.H. GORDON: We have different peoples here. This is not a homogeneous state. My people are not necessarily thy people!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: I think my observations give full weight to that idea. I am now dealing with the objection of some hon. members who point out the supposed danger of the referendum. I am putting it to them, why should there be any objection to a referendum on the ground of its being an appeal to the people?
The Hon. S. FRASER: Because it may be used to their disadvantage in times of excitement!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: I can understand the swaddling clothes theory. I can understand the old story that the people are ignorant.
The Hon. S. FRASER: No!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: If they are not ignorant, why should they not be allowed to decide their own fate? I can understand the argument, which, perhaps, some of my hon. friends have not shaken themselves clear of yet, that the people are best governed when they are not allowed to govern themselves. That, I think, is a theory that ought to pass away as soon as possible. What is the argument? When my hon. friend, Mr. Fraser, stands in that chamber of which he is such a distinguished ornament, and resists a measure which has been passed by the lower house-
The Hon. Sir W.A. ZEAL: The Factories Bill, for instance!
The Hon. S. FRASER: The Products Export Bill!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: A very good instance.
The Hon. Sir W.A. ZEAL: One Chinaman, one factory!
The CHAIRMAN: I do not think we ought to discuss Victorian politics.
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: I am trying to put this as an illustration. What would my hon. friend, or any other member of the legislative council, say, in opposing a measure sent to him by the popular chamber? "The people are opposed to this." That is the answer; and if there was a dissolution on that question, and if the assembly came back reinforced, the other chamber would pass the bill. Why? Because the people had declared in its favour. If that is a sincere objection, what can be the reason of the opposition to taking the views of the people in the clearest manner possible?
The Hon. S. FRASER: With sufficient time I have no objection to that!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: That is a great advance. I am very glad to hear that. I still have hope of my hon. friend.
An HON. MEMBER: Ten years!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: I should like to ask my hon. friend if the time is not past when we are to regard a second-hand interpretation of the people's will as the only mode of gathering it? Why are we to [start page 666] say that members of parliament, elected as they are at the present time, are to be the sole means of obtaining a recognition of the people's will? Do we not know as has been said so truly by my right hon. friend Sir George Turner that at an election each constituency deals with its candidates as it pleases, and not necessarily on one subject or on another? Do we not find that where there are double constituencies, as there are still in some of the colonies, there are men with distinctly opposite opinions returned by the same constituency to parliament? How can it be said that the people's will has been expressed definitely in such a case? We know very well that there are a multitude of considerations which determine the selection of a member? Therefore, if ever a great question arises between the Senate and the house of representatives a question of such a grave and important character that expense is to be disregarded, that a dissolution is to be resorted to, and still the matter is to be left in doubt and in contest and if, still further, it is deemed of so urgent a nature that the will of the people should be definitely ascertained to prevent what is worse-I would ask my hon. friend what legitimate objection there is to asking the people the necessary question in the clearest, the shortest, and most definite manner possible? The observations of my hon. and learned friend, Mr. Barton, last night, should be weighed well by every member of the Convention. He said that if the double dissolution were interposed between the quarrel and the final solution or what was hoped to be the final solution it would give time for education, it would give time for reflection, and it would give time and opportunity to put before the people the true nature of the question and the arguments for and against it.
The Hon. E. BARTON: And exhaust the principle of responsibility!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: And, as he puts it, exhaust the principle of responsibility; I do not quite follow that, but still it is a matter which no doubt would have great weight. If that is done, what possible objection remains? I do not think all that preliminary course is necessary. One hundred years ago people had not the facilities for the interchange of thought, for self-education, and for obtaining the views of their friends and fellow-citizens, which they have now. But in these days, with all the industrial improvements which have been made, with the existence of railways and telegraphs, with
the magnificent; apparatus of the press, they have every opportunity for the interchange of opinions and the collection of thought, and, therefore, why should we not adopt the best means possible, those means which have been adopted in other countries, for converging public opinion at critical moments upon definite questions, and thus focussing the desires of the people upon the question which demands a perfect solution?
The Hon. S. FRASER: All the countries, in which these means have been adopted are foreign countries; they are not countries in the van of civilisation, as British communities are!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN:-
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: I am prepared to accept what is good; I care not whence it comes. I am quite prepared to accept a measure, whatever be the place of its origin, if it commends itself to my reason and intelligence. But I should like to point out that the countries to which my hon. friend refers are not foreign to us in their origin, in their primitive modes of thought, or in their ideas of freedom. We know that every state in the American Union, with the exception of Delaware, has accepted the principle of the referendum. Millions of people in America are governed by state constitutions in which the principle is embodied.
[start page 667] Mr. GLYNN: That is to stop legislation, not to precipitate it!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: I was going to observe that it is mostly of a negative nature. But there is a strong movement on foot in America at the present time that the power of initiative should be, embodied in some form or other even in the federal constitution. In Switzerland a form of referendum exists which is closely , analogous to that which we now suggest.
The Hon. A. DOUGLAS: The application of the referendum after legislation!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: The hon. member speaks of the referendum being applied after legislation. I would like to point out that there is a very common error upon this point In Switzerland the federal constitution has been changed many times. As Mr. Winchester has told us, there has been a gradual development from the provincial idea to a grand national idea, and that is growing day by day. The Swiss in their constitution of 1848 were far behind what they were in 1874. In 1874 their constitution made this provision for amendments:
Article 118. The federal constitution, may at any time be amended.
Article 119. Amendment is secured through the forms required for passing federal laws.
So that there they can amend the constitution without any reference at all to the people in the first place.
Article 120. When either council of the federal assembly passes a resolution for amendment of the federal constitution and the other council does not agree; or when 50,000 Swiss voters demand amendment, the question whether the federal constitution ought to be amended is, in either case, submitted to a vote of the Swiss people, voting yes or no.
I would like to state to my hon. friend, as he has no doubt observed, that that: is where there is a disagreement of the chambers.
The Hon. E. BARTON: We provide for that whether there is a disagreement or not!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: No, not when there is a disagreement; only when they agree. Article 120 continues:
If, in either case, the majority of the Swiss citizens who vote pronounce in the affirmative, there shall be a new election of both councils for the purpose of preparing amendments.
Article 121. The amended federal constitution shall be in force when it has been adopted by the majority of Swiss citizens who take part in the vote thereon, and by a majority of the states. In making up a majority of the states, the vote of a half canton is counted as half a vote. The result of the popular vote in each canton is considered to be the vote of the state.
These provisions of the Constitution were adopted in January, 1874, and the book from which I am quoting was published in May, 1891. Up to that time the Swiss people had the right of initiative only in regard to amendments of the Constitution. Since then, however, they have gone further, and I will quote from a book called "Direct Legislation by the People, "written by Mr. Cree. He, at page 179, gives a very important extract from the Berne correspondent of the New York Evening; Post, under date of 30th July, 1891, giving an account of the adoption by the Swiss of the initiative as to federal laws.
The republic has taken the most advanced step towards democracy upon which it has ever ventured, namely, the application of the initiative, or what may be better called the imperative petition, to federal laws. The institution of the referendum, or the submission of laws just enacted to popular vote, when demanded by 30,000 citizens, was already in existence; but the power to demand that a given project be made law has just this month been assumed by the people. On Sunday, 7th July, the necessary constitutional amendment was voted upon in a general election, and passed. The vote was very light, but the majority in favour of the law quite decisive. A special session of the Federal Assembly was called for 27th July, and yesterday the law which sets the initiative in operation passed the Lower House.
I pass over a portion of the account which is not material, and on page 181, I find it stated:
The substance of the new law in to the affect that when 50,000 voters petition for an amendment to the constitution, or for the adoption of [start page 668] a statute, the federal assembly must submit the requested proposition within a given time to popular vote. The government may, at the same time, present a project of its own for choice, but in any case there can be no avoidance of the duty of giving the people a chance to say whether they want such a law or not. If a majority of all votes cast, and at the same time a majority of all the states, are in favour of it, the proposition becomes law.
I have read those extracts for the purpose of correcting an impression that I find prevalent that there is no provision anywhere, even in the Swiss Constitution, for settling a deadlock by means of the referendum or for passing legislation which has not been passed by the Parliament. They go even beyond what we propose. We propose that if after due deliberation, after exhausting the means of conciliation, of compromise, of mutual good feeling and understanding, there shall still prevail misunderstanding between the two houses of legislature, and after the full play of public opinion has been allowed to exert itself by means of the platform and the press, and all other agencies known to our civilisation, upon a measure which has been passed by one legislative body, there still exists a strong feeling on the part of one of the legislative agencies of the people that the measure should be passed into law, while there also exists an equally strong objection on the part of the other legislative agency of the people to its being passed into law, the principals to the dispute properly adjusted as the states and the nation shall be called upon to decide the question. I am told that this provision is not absolutely and completely effective; but is not that the result of the federal constitution as we are framing it? If we are to have a proposal that is to be absolutely effective it may mean in certain cases the annihilation of the principle of equal representation, and having granted that principle it behoves us to be loyal to it.
[The Chairman left the chair at 1 p.m.; the Convention resumed at 2 p.m.]
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: I have not very much to add to what I have already said, and after the exhaustive manner in which the Right Hon. Sir George Turner dealt with the matter last night, I should have been well content to leave this Convention to arrive at a determination without further words from me; but after the splendid deliverance of the Right Hon. G.H. Reid, and the views he put forward, and in consideration of the magnitude of the subject, and the great importance of the issue, I should be wanting in my duty if I did not venture to place before the Convention the views I have expressed. I know that debate on this matter may not be useless at any stage. I recognise the importance of settling this matter in some way before we disperse; because, if we do not, a severe blow will be given to the confidence of the people in the various colonies. But I also recognise the great difficulty of arriving at a conclusion that would be eminently satisfactory to all concerned. There is a vast amount of truth in what has been urged on behalf of the smaller colonies, that they cannot consent to a national referendum on all questions. There is a vast amount of truth in what has been urged by the Right Hon. G.H. Reid, that there may be some questions on which it would be right that the smaller states should concede that a national referendum would be desirable. I think I am right in saying that it would be impossible to predicate in advance what subjects properly appertain to the two classes. It may be that, seeing the smaller states will be represented in the house of representatives according to population, they can see their way to consider and perhaps accept a via media-a mode which would enable the particular question to be determined as it arose. For instance, I throw this out for consideration: If some certain proportion of the house of representatives were to agree that it was not a state matter that [start page 669] it was a national matter to all intents and purposes, a national referendum might be employed for the determination of the question. That, if adopted, would enable us to have the matter determined on the spot. However that is a question for consideration. But I do think that, having accepted the principle of equal representation, we must not take a step that will cause our friends from the smaller colonies to possibly lose the benefit of the concession which we have made. I know that, in making the observations I have the honor to address to the Convention today, I run counter to the opinions of a good many of my fellow colonists. I know that in some respects the conclusions at which I have arrived will not command the assent of a journal in my colony.
The Hon. Sir JOSEPH ABBOTT: Never mind them.
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: But I do mind them.
The Hon. Sir JOSEPH ABBOTT: We do not!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: But I do, and the people of Victoria mind them. It is a journal that must be recognised as a most important factor. I simply say that on this great question of federation and I am sure my remarks will not be misunderstood, because it is a fact it has a right to be taken into consideration. It has urged views that are acknowledged by all to be powerful as well as patriotic. It has placed its views before the public in the various colonies, and particularly in Victoria in language that has reached both the reason and the emotions. At the same time we have all to perform our duty as we as we can. While on the one band I see that, if we accept the national referendum in all cases without qualification, it means the utter failure of the scheme as it stands, that we shall see to a certainty our best hopes dispersed, our greatest aspirations baffled; on the other hand if we accept what Victoria has put forward, there is, in spite of the observations of the Right Hon. G.H. Reid, not only a certainty of our friends from the smaller colonies coming in, but the strongest probability of New South Wales joining us. I do not entertain any fear that New South Wales will stand out if the Victorian proposal is carried, but I do say that if neither the Victorian proposal nor the national referendum be carried, there is, if I judge the matter rightly, an absolute certainty of New South Wales standing out, and in all probability Victoria also. I am not prepared to accept the responsibility of giving a vote that must necessarily end in disaster. We have determined upon a course which has been explained to the Convention by my right hon. leader, which we have the strongest hopes will end, if adopted, in the consummation of federation. At all events we shall not incur the responsibility of failure. We shall ask our respective populations to accept it, and their will must in this case be the highest law.
Mr. WALKER: Whatever may be the result of this division?
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: If our proposal is accepted.
Mr. WALKER: Oh!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: I am perfectly frank. We have departed to a large extent from what we have urged, and we say we will not take a course which we say we know will end in absolute disaster. But we shall do our best to frame a constitution that will offer the strongest possibilities of acceptance, and we shall hope for acceptance by our respective peoples. But its rejection, if that should unfortunately take place, must be the work, not of ourselves, but of our constituents. I am sure I shall not be misunderstood when I say to my friends from the smaller colonies that I invoke all the patriotism which I know animates them to help us in [start page 670] this emergency. I ask them not to allow any too rigid adherence to their particular views-
The Hon. J.H. HOWE: We recognise the feeling which the hon. member expresses!
The Hon. I. ISAACS: I am glad my hon. friend recognises it. I am sure the time approaches when the practical application of that feeling will become necessary, and I do hope we shall all unite, I trust unanimously, to pass a constitution that will convince the people of the various colonies that we have done a great work, that we have done a work which, if it achieves ultimate success, will reflect honor and credit upon ourselves and our children. I do sincerely trust that at this supreme moment we shall not fall into disunion, that it shall not be said of our efforts on this occasion that its end was failure, because I doubt in that case if the people of Australia would again in our lifetime nerve themselves to another effort such as that which has brought us here.
Mr. HIGGINS: Surely they are not so lifeless as all, that!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: They are not lifeless, but this is not a work that can be undertaken every day. Therefore, I trust this may bring forth good fruit, and that it shall not be said of us and of our work:
'Tis an old tale: Jove strikes the Titans down, Not when they set about their mountain piling, But when another rock would crown their task.
Mr. CLARKE (Tasmania)[2.16]: As I come from one of the smaller states, which holds a very strong opinion on this subject, I desire to state the position I intend to take up. In Tasmania, which I have the honor to represent, the public opinion is that there is no necessity to insert in the constitution a provision for dealing with deadlocks; but, all the same, although that is the strong opinion of the Tasmanian people, I think we must look at the question now before us from every point of view. We must take into consideration the opinion of the people of the larger colonies. We must take into consideration the fears and the prejudices of the people of New South Wales and Victoria, and, if we possibly can, give into these fears and prejudices in a reasonable way consistently with our own safety and honor. I think we are bound to do it for the purpose of bringing about federation. That being the case, we have now to consider the proposals which have been placed before us. I think that this Committee owes a debt of gratitude to its learned leader for the able and statesmanlike speech in which he put the whole case before us last night. The first step that he suggested was a double dissolution. Although I am prepared to go a long way with the representatives of Victoria and New South Wales, yet, as at present advised, I object to a dissolution of the senate under any circumstances. It may be that hereafter I may see fit to modify this view; but at present I think we should not consent to any dissolution of the senate. Such a course as that would destroy the continuity of that body, and would prevent it from being in the degree we wish it to be, the guardian of state rights and interests. But while I object to a dissolution of the senate under any circumstances, such as
would be the case in a matter of deadlock, I am perfectly willing to concede the principle of the double referendum. The people of Victoria and New South Wales want some scheme of referendum, and I believe if we wish to bring about federation it is absolutely necessary for this Committee to devise some system of referendum. Now, two schemes have been placed before us: there is the mass referendum and there is the double referendum. I am in favour of the latter system, because it preserves the rights of the various states. The federal principle, as I take it, and as has been enunciated time after time in the Conven- [start page 671] tion and in this Committee, is that all federal legislation requires the assent of a majority of the nation, and the assent of a majority of the states. If you give a mass referendum you violate this principle. You blot out our state boundaries, you ignore our state life, and you might just as well enact at the start that, if the house of representatives and the senate differ on any question, the senate shall always go under. That is my view of the mass referendum, and it is for that reason I am thoroughly opposed to it. We had an able speech today from the Premier of New South Wales. It was eloquent in many passages, but I could not help asking myself when he had finished, as some members of the English Parliament used from time to time to ask concerning the speeches of Mr. Gladstone, "after all what in reality has he said; what are really his opinions, land what does he propose?" As far as I can gather, the hon. gentleman said that we ought to separate in clause 52 of the constitution the number of subjects which ought to be dealt with by a mass referendum, and that we ought to apply the mass referendum for the purpose of getting over deadlocks arising on any of those subject. That is a project which, in the words of Mr. Gladstone, I may say passes the wit of man. I do not think any member of this Convention is Capable of distinguishing between those subjects which, under no circumstances involve state rights or state interests, and those subjects which do. The right hon. gentleman went through all these subjects in clause 52; but, in my humble opinion, if there is any subject out of the thirty-seven subjects mentioned in that clause which does not involve state rights and state interests, it has no right whatever to be there. We have enumerated in clause 52 a number of matters which we consider can be better discharged by the federal parliament than by the state parliaments individually. It is for that reason that we propose to assign those matters to be dealt with by the federal parliament. But when we separate those subjects which can be better dealt with by the federal authority, in what kind of way do we want the federal parliament to deal with them? We want these subjects, according to my view, to be dealt with federally, and not in the way in which the parliament of a unified commonwealth would deal with them. We have handed over them subjects as matters of federal concern, and not as matters that axe to be dealt with by a parliament representing one people. If the project of the Premier of New South Wales were carried out, what would the result be? We should enumerate a number of subjects which would be dealt with by the federal parliament, as the representatives of one people. We should be establishing a system of unification, and not a federal system. We were sent here to form, not a constitution for a unified Australia, but a constitution for a federated Australia. For these reasons I do not think there is any virtue in the proposal of Mr. Reid. The right hon. gentleman was good enough to compare the double referendum to a last ditch, in which he said the constitution of Australia would find itself, and its last position would he worse than the first. I do not think the right hon. gentleman was quite correct in his comparison, but I would like to say that if the project of amass referendum were carried out, that referendum would be the ditch into which the house of representatives would pitch the senate. As we want in federation the assent of the people of the states to all legislation, we should carry out the principle to the utmost, and we should not introduce into this constitution any system of dealing with, deadlocks which would violate that principle. There must be the assent of the people, and of the majority of the states, and in as much as the double referendum does not violate this principle, which I consider the main principle of a true federation, I [start page 672] am, therefore, in favour of supporting, as one means for getting rid of deadlocks, the proposal that we should have this double referendum.
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN (South Australia)[2.24]: I have only a few words to say; but I do not wish the debate to close without expressing my views on the subject. As the last speaker has said, we have listened to an exceedingly able and eloquent speech from the Premier of New South Wales. The effect which that right hon. gentleman produces on any assembly he addresses is very marked, whether it be in the Centennial Hall or in this Chamber. It takes some time before the effects of the magic of his eloquence can be dissipated; but when the whole of his speech is winnowed down, his
contention comes simply to this-and, to my mind, it involves somewhat of a contradiction in terms that, in federal matters-matters under the jurisdiction of the federal parliament there shall be unification. That is a contention which I never heard raised until the Convention met in Sydney. Certainly, during the elections which preceded the formation of this Convention, such a proposition was never considered in the colony of which I have the honor of being a representative. The proposition really comes down to this: that, in federal matters, you need only have one house; that the senate is absolutely useless, because, sooner or later, the majority of the most populous colonies is to prevail. Of course, we have been treated with the greatest possible candour by the representatives of the larger colonies in this matter. The hon. member, Mr. O'Connor, admitted that, in the last resort, unification was his intention, and it has been very properly argued, and with irrefutable logic, that if that is so in the last resort it may just as well be so in the first instance. Men will not struggle against anything when they know the result is inevitable. Reasonable men always yield where they know the greater force exists against them. If I offend against the standing orders of this Convention, and I am named by the President, and the Sergeant-at-Arms touches me on the shoulder, I walk out at once without any display of force, because I know I have to go. I know that in the last resort I have to go; therefore, it is just as well to goat once; and the senate will know that, in the last resort, it has to give way, and it may just as well give way without an idle struggle, of which the result is absolutely assured. Therefore, I say the question really comes to this: that we have had it gravely proposed here, after all these years of debate about the functions of the senate, that, practically, the senate is a useless body in a federation. The way in which this opinion has gradually come to be expressed with this frankness has been very insidious. When we met in 1891, you, Mr. Chairman, remember that we had an overwhelming majority in favour of a senate, as a coordinate house, with equal powers and equal representation to that of the house of representatives. I have not the Hansard of 1891 before me, but I am perfectly sure that that was the deliberate opinion of two-thirds of the representatives when first they assembled here. Then committees were appointed, and by some means or other the two-thirds dwindled down until we found ourselves in a minority. The senate was not to have co-ordinate powers; but it was to have what those who refused these coordinate and co-equal powers maintained was practically the same thing. We were to have the power of suggestion, which it was maintained was equal to the right of amendment of money bills. So the matter closed at that stage. Then the question was raised of equal representation, and we had to fight that, after conceding the other point. Then it appears that that point is yielded, but only in order to undermine us by something which takes away [start page 673] the value of the power of suggestion, of equal representation, and everything else in connection with the senate. If we are to have an ultimate appeal to the popular majority on federal matters, then those who somewhat grudgingly gave us the principle of equal representation in the senate might, without hesitation and without endangering, their position in the slightest degree, have given us equal representation, or even have given the smaller colonies the representation of two to one-twelve members instead of six in the senate. Even then they would have been perfectly safe, because in the ultimate resort they would be bound to have their way.
Mr. HIGGINS: It is illogical; but have we not been told again and again that we are not to be logical?
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: We have to deal with practical questions. We have to consider what would be the cases in which the senate would dare to stand out against the popular majority in the whole of Australia or a majority in the house of representatives. It would be only in cases where some injustice or coercion was threatened against one or more states. These would be the only cases in which, practically, the senate would stand firm, and these would be the very cases in which the deadlock provisions would be brought into play. The result would be that the constitutional provisions for deadlocks would only be brought into play when they were meant to buttress up, support, and perpetuate some contemplated injustice or coercion. I say that between the two houses the great remedy for deadlocks must be reasonableness on the part of men, and on the part of colonies; but this reasonableness must be in view of no present or prospective compulsion. However, I am quite willing for one to concede the principle of a reference to the people whenever any deadlock or difficulty arises. I have always been an advocate of the referendum. I think, in 1891, I was one of the few advocates of it in this chamber. If I remember rightly, I think I proposed the referendum on that
occasion. I believe no harm could ever be done in taking the views of the people; but I want to know who are the people whose views we are going to, take? The voice of the people must rule, of course, but we want to be sure about what we mean when we talk about the voice of the people. When the Premier of New South Wales talks about the voice of the people as being necessarily supreme, he means the voice of the people of the larger colonies, and, to a great extent, the voice of the people of his own colony. But I consider the voice of the democracy of South Australia has also a right to be considered. That is just as much the voice of the people, although the people are not so many; and I say there is no chance whatever of any principle of democracy being endangered by Some consideration being given to the opinion of the people of such a state as that of South Australia. The voice of the people must prevail in the long run because the people understand best what is for their own interests. I would put my hands willingly into those of the men who advocate the right of the people to govern their own affairs, but not necessarily to administer the affairs of others without some check or restriction. As has been said by one of the authorities I think Freeman-the question of local bondage or local liberty does not at all depend upon the form of the central government. You can have local freedom under the veriest autocracy which ever existed, and you can have local bondage under a representative government. The people can be trusted to manage their own affairs, because they know what their own interests are; but the people cannot be trusted to manage the affairs of others without some check. It has been suggested that we should take out of clause 52 all those subdivisions which are purely matters of [start page 674] national interests. I notice that the Premier of New South Wales read through thirty of them, but he did not go as far as the 31st.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: I did not know what the 31st was!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: It is only the question of the right of South Australia to have some voice in the management of the Murray waters within her own territory.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: I was afraid of wearying the Committee by reading them all!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: In the thirty sub-clauses which the Premier of New South Wales read there are many which, although dealing with matters of national importance, also very seriously and vitally touch the interest of the states. I do, not think it is possible to point to a single one of those sub-clauses which may not at some time or other become a question of vital interest to one or more states. We had an eloquent speech from the hon. member, Mr. Wise, in which he pointed out most conclusively that even a line in the tariff, although a national question, might be of so much importance to one or more states as practically to threaten their deepest interests. We have only to consider this, and we shall see that the hon. gentleman was perfectly justified in what he said. We have all sorts and conditions of climate in Australia, and an industry may become of the most vital importance to one portion of Australia which may not be one of the larger colonies possessing the larger population. And is no adequate consideration to be given to the views of the representatives from that colony, whose interests are so deeply affected, as to what the tariff is to be? When we have federation the industries of Australia will become localised, and having free-trade within our own boundary, those industries will spring up to which the conditions of the localities are most favourable. We may have, I believe we shall have, in South Australia one or two industries which, it they are not absolutely confined to our boundaries, will, at least flourish there to their greatest possible extent. Yet the question of the maintenance or development of those industries may not be at all a vital question to the eastern colonies, who have large populations. We all know that, as regards the question of the tariff, there is an infinite difference of opinion. The interests of the consuming population may be opposed to the interests of the producing population. The tariff may favour the consumer, who wants the article free of duty, although the taking it out of the tariff may have the most detrimental effect upon the producer who raises the particular article. Then we know that there are what are termed manufactured products which from another point of view are regarded as raw material. So one can quite foresee that upon questions affecting some of the industries of the colonies, not on the eastern coasts, but possibly in South Australia, possibly in the Northern Territory, possibly in Western Australia, possibly in Tasmania, there may be a complete difference of opinion as to the desirableness of this or that article being put within the pages of a protective tariff. This may be a matter of vital
interest, and you cannot expect the smaller states to surrender practically all their voice in the matter, as they would if there were a mass referendum. I think we may well be pardoned for having some little fear as to the conditions of the future. Still I do not think the panic as to the future comes from the smaller states, although from their unprotected condition they have most to fear. It seems to me that gentlemen from the larger states have been those who have been most fearsome as to what may occur. But they are men in armour; they have nothing to fear.
[start page 675] The Right Hon. G.H. REID: Your side has been safe all through!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: We have given up one after another of our props.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: Still you have a number left!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: But the right hon. gentleman, if he had his way, would take them all from us.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: No, I would not; I would provide for every state right in the constitution!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: It seems to me that we have given everything away until we have come to this prop, which is our all, and I think it behoves us, seeing that all the tendency is to put power into the hands of the large populations, to be a little timid. A little timidity on our part is not out of place, but it is not becoming for those who have the great force of numbers with them to display in this matter such unreasoning fears as they do. I shall certainly support the principle of the referendum not the mass referendum, but the double referendum so ably put forward on so many occasions by the Attorney-General of Victoria. I would like to say again with regard to the proposition of the Right Hon. the Premier of New South Wales to differentiate in the sub-divisions of clause 52, and strike out all those questions which are of state interest, that it is not possible to make any such differentiation. Let me give a few instances. Take the question of postal, telegraph, or telephone services. Are there no state interests connected with those services? At the present time, we have the sole management of those affairs in our hands, and we know how it is possible so to administer the department as to assist the development of the colonies we represent. Is that continuance of good management within our own boundaries, in this respect, of no importance to us? When you are opening up a new country, I say that it is of infinite importance-
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: That would be rather a matter of administration than legislation!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: We know the importance of having some voice in legislative chambers, even in matters of administration. The opening up of a wheat market may depend upon whether you can get a line of telegraph constructed, in order that the producer and the buyer may be brought into intimate relations. Is not that a question in which the states, having enjoyed absolute autonomy in such matters, should be considered? Then take defences. Under the heading of defences you can do almost anything. With unlimited means to spend you can make roads, bridges in fact, you can make or mar the destinies of a whole portion of Australia.
An HON. MEMBER: Leave that out!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: You cannot leave it out, because it is one of the great national questions. The questions of defence and of tariff are national questions of supreme degree.
Mr. HIGGINS: Why should they not be nationally treated?
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: Because we propose to federate.
An HON. MEMBER: You assume a certain narrow meaning for federation?
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: According to the hon. member "federation" means the rule by the minority of the majority!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: No, it does not. What I say is that a certain right of veto. should be given to a majority of the states when their interests are threatened. The right hon. the Premier of New South Wales asked us to point out those matters which involved state interests. Take ocean beacons and buoys and light-houses.
[start page 676] The Right Hon. G.H. REID: Are they subjects for a referendum?
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: No; but in the administration of those matters you may make one port and mar another.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID:-
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: A government will do what it has the power to do.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: No; it will live as quietly as it can!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: It will, knowing that it has the power, often go near to the full exercise of it. A true federal government would not do so, because we should have an adequate voice in a federal government. There is the senate in a federal government to be considered, and we do not pre-suppose that the senate will be composed of men of straw, who ultimately must give in, who have the right to their opinion only until the cloture is put on them. We should not have any rights at all. What would be the rights of the senate if in the last resort it had to give way? Of course, even cases of the greatest injustice would not be called injustice, because we know that injustice is never perpetrated under that name; but a central authority very often errs through ignorance of the local conditions. It does not want to do an injustice, but it does not fully appreciate the conditions of distant localities. One of the objects of the senate in which every colony would have adequate representation is to protect interests which might be invaded under such circumstances; If you adopted the mass referendum you would strike at the very root of the power of the senate. You would practically render its deliberations futile. The representation of the smaller states would become a negligible quantity in the commonwealth. Then take the question of quarantine. That would appear to be a matter in which no question of local interest could arise. But in a continent so huge as this island of Australia, where there is every variety of climatic condition, even the question of quarantine may become a question in which the very existence of a state is threatened. We have a tropical climate, we have a sub-tropical climate, and we have a temperate climate. The northern portion of the island is tropical. A tropical disease may threaten Australia which we know cannot obtain any footing in the eastern, southern, or western provinces. Protection against this disease may be of insignificance to the larger populations, those living in the temperate climate to the south, but it may be a question of the most vital importance, a question of the very existence of the population which may ultimately gather on our northern seaboard. We hardly know these conditions yet, but I could enumerate half a dozen diseases.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: We have a common interest in preventing disease from decimating Australia?
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: But it would not decimate Australia, because it could only affect a few people, a comparatively small portion of the northern parts of this continent.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: But it might travel!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: I mean diseases that would not travel; diseases that are strictly tropical.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: If they would not travel they ought not to come under a federal act!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: You cannot pick out these things. The question might be one affecting two or three colonies possibly it might affect Queensland and South Australia only, or possibly also a portion of Western Australia. It might be a question of vital importance to those colonies, but of not the slightest importance to Tasmania, Victoria, or New South Wales.
[start page 677] The Right Hon. G.H. REID: Surely the Government would do what was right!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: The Government would do what was right if they had not the ultimate power to do what was wrong.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: The Government would not have any, interest in doing what was wrong!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: We all know that, in representative chambers, the view that ultimately prevails is in accordance with the representation in that chamber. If a district is fairly represented, it gets justice; if it is inadequately represented, and can be disregarded, it very often does not get justice. It would be the same in the case of the senate, if its views could be set aside by a mass referendum. Even the question of marriage and divorce is of importance to all the colonies. At present, we have absolute autonomy in that respect; we make our own laws. It would be an injustice to say that the laws of marriage and divorce, which are to affect South Australia, should be framed by any parliament in which that colony had not an adequate representation. If there were power to set aside the wish of the senate, in which we would have a fair representation, you would make us really a quantity which need not be taken into account at all you would totally abolish our autonomy in these matters; and I say autonomy is too dear a privilege to be lightly got rid of in this way. We all of us now manage our own affairs according to our own views. We have a Federal Council, in which each colony is represented equally. Of course, I admit that the Federal Council has not anything like the power which this federation is to have; but still, in connection with the Federal Council, it was recognised that the colonies were to have equal representation in the one house which would represent Australia. The smaller colonies have now admitted that there must be one house in which they are, practically, to have it very small representation; still they want to maintain a fair representation in the other house which would be adequate to protect their interests. It was said very truly by the hon. member, Mr. Deakin, and the hon. member, Mr. Higgins, and many other gentlemen representing the large populations, that in America the Congress is never divided on the question of state rights or state interests. But we must be very careful how we choose our analogies.
Mr. HIGGINS: That is hardly the statement I made. I said that there was no conflict of interests as between states as states and the commonwealth!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: But politics in America are dominated by huge party machines which deal with legislation, and, to a great extent, with administration, and would never allow any injustice to be done to any state. The parties would never allow any coercion to be applied to any state, or any of its rights to be interfered with, because, if they did, they would lose their influence in states on which the existence or predominance of their party depends. The hon. member, Mr. Deakin, says that we should have party government in Australia. So we should; but nothing like to the same extent as they have it in America.
The Hon. A. DEAKIN:-
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: It is a different thing. In America, party government depends to a great extent on the election of the president that takes place every four years, and in regard to which the parties strive with their utmost force. It is that which keeps parties together in America; but we should have nothing of that kind here.
The Hon. A. DEAKIN: There will be an election every three years, at least!
[start page 678] The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: But there would be no great parties watching each other with the keenest possible eyes in order to see that no injustice was done to any of the states with the smaller population. I do not believe in taking a leaf out of the book of any country in creation-
The Hon. A. DEAKIN: Look at your own parties in South Australia, and at the parties in Victoria!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: They are altogether different from the parties in America.
The Hon. A. DEAKIN: It is quite sufficient for this purpose!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: The parties in America have really lost sight of their original intention. Goldwin Smith uses words to the effect that:
The casks that contained the party spirit no longer retain the odour of the liquor with which they were once filled.
The Hon. A. DEAKIN: That does not affect the issue here?
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: I do not think that we should have party government, or party spirit, in this commonwealth as we understand it in our parliaments now. How far are our present parties of any value to us? Do not I find myself voting here time after time with gentlemen from the other colonies whom we recognise as ultra conservatives. Does not the hon. member find himself voting time after time with gentlemen whom he must recognise as ultra conservatives.
The Hon. A. DEAKIN: No; they are all liberals who vote with me!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: Do we not see that party lines are so blurred that hon. members who are in principle opposed to the referendum have actually supported it, because they think that their state would lose nothing by having it.
The Hon. H. Dobson: Does the hon. member call me an ultra conservative?
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: No; I was not thinking of the hon. member, nor of anyone from Tasmania. I am only too glad to hail under any circumstances those who are willing to vote for a referendum; but I say that it shows how little you can carry the experience of parties into new conditions if we may judge from what we see here, because we see so-called democratic measures advocated by so-called conservatives. That shows that original party lines have no value here. I myself have been regarded as a conservative for voting for what I believed to be state rights.
Mr. HIGGINS: The phrase "state rights" is used as a stalking horse by reactionaries!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: State rights or any other question is used here just as it suits those who are arguing, and I was much amused yesterday to hear, some of those who were unwilling to give any more powers to the senate than they could help, because it might be ultra-conservative, admit that probably the senate would be the more liberal and democratic of the two houses. That shows how blurred our lines of party government have become. I would be not only willing, but glad, to support
my hon. and learned friend, Mr. Isaacs, in the matter of the double referendum. I think that the hon. and learned member, Mr. Wise, in spite of his magnificent speech today, made a little mistake when he said that in the past the referendum had been used as a weapon of personal despotism.
Mr. WISE: Napoleon III expressly justified it because it was the only way to escape from the bondage of parliamentary control!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: What has not been used for personal ends and ambitions? But as was pointed out, I think, by the Right Hon. Mr. Reid, last year, in the New South Wales Parliament, when he moved the adoption of the referendum, [start page 679] in a speech that was second to none ever delivered on the subject it does not alter the fact that in the old days the referendum was the guardian of liberty, and that the greatest legislatures the world has ever seen have been content to make all their proposals subject to the veto or the assent of the people. Why, Sir, the senate of Rome, the assembly of kings, as it has been properly called, could only frame their laws, could, only decide upon what they wished their legislation to be, subject to the veto of the people. When, after all their labours and after all the wisdom they could bring to bear and I do not suppose the world ever saw grander or more intelligent assemblies than the senates of Greece and Rome after all their combined wisdom had been brought to bear on these questions, they then had to go with the proposal in their hand to the people and say, "Do you or do you not accept this law as one under which you desire to live?" Instead of the referendum having been used to any great extent as the assent of despotism, it has really been the guardian of the liberties of the past. I will support my hon. friend, Mr. Isaacs, in his proposal for the double referendum. But I need not say that I shall oppose with all my power the mass referendum, because it strikes at the existence of the senate, renders that body of no value whatever, and we might just as well start our federation with one chamber, and have no more nonsense about it. I know it is the knowledge of this that brings my hon. friend, Mr. Isaacs, and his right hon. chief, Sir George Turner, into this position. They see that if we are going to have a mass referendum we might just as well have one house and from many points of view I should like to see one house. I want to see no second chamber erected to stand in the way of the will of the people. I do not want to see any checks on what is called the popular will. I simply want to see a chamber erected to protect the rights we have at present as autonomous states, and to see that they are not endangered.
Mr. HIGGINS: On one side the hon. member is a radical, and on the other side a conservative!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: Of course we are all conservatives in a sense. We have proved many things, and we hold fast to that which is good. But, in the sense the hon. member means, I have not a conservative bone in my body. The hon. member knows that quite well, and everybody in this Convention knows it too. My struggles for the Senate have simply been struggles for autonomy, for home rule, for local government; because I believe you will have no local government whatever if you neglect the state majorities. There is no sound autonomy in the world that can be founded on the deconstruction of state majorities. The mass referendum of my hon. and learned friend is absolutely out of the question, not only from the point of view which I have endeavoured to touch upon that it would render the senate incapable but also because you cannot have two referendums in this federation. You cannot have two different forms of referendum. No one proposes that the referendum with regard to a change of the constitution should be other than the double referendum. We should endanger the double referendum in regard to a change of the constitution if we adopted the principle of the mass referendum in deadlocks. It would be an inconsistency to have two forms of referendum in one commonwealth, and, sooner or later, we should find, if the mass referendum were established for deadlocks, that there would be an attempt to introduce the same principle into the settlement of questions relating to amendments of the constitution. And, logically, there would be no holding back from that position. If we adopted the mass referendum now, we might just [start page 680] as well wipe out the referendum with regard to a change of the constitution, throw ourselves entirely into the hands of the majorities of the large, colonies, and say that autonomy in Australia is a thing of the past, that we centralise and unify now and for ever. If we do that, we say goodbye to democracy. We say goodbye to the will of the people, goodbye to what we know as popular government, because sooner or later a central authority is bound to become a tyranny. No truer words were ever uttered than those
of Sir John Hall at the conference of 1890 "Democracy demands that the government should be conducted within the sight and the hearing of the people." The states are within the sight and hearing of the people. We must protect their privileges, otherwise we shall have the whole of Australia under one government, which, although it may be local to one state, will be infinitely distant to a great portion of the commonwealth-will be 2,000 miles away, and the voice of liberty will not carry that distance.
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: The referendum will protect their privileges!
The Hon. Dr. COCKBURN: I would not depart from the principle of the referendum. The principle of the referendum in a federation is recognised. There is no referendum in any federation I ever heard of which is not a double referendum, and I think it would be extremely dangerous to depart in the slightest degree from that principle.
The Right Hon. Sir E. BRADDON (Tasmania)[3.2]: I think it very desirable at the outset that I should correct a misapprehension that has arisen as to the attitude of Tasmania, and of the Tasmanian legislature, in regard to this matter. It has been said in the Convention and outside that Tasmania is one of the four colonies that have suggested provisions for meeting a deadlock. That is incorrect to this extent: that one branch of the Tasmanian legislature, and only one branch, has made a suggestion qualified in this way:
This amendment is suggested by as in the event of the Convention deciding to make provision to avoid deadlocks, but not otherwise.
The Tasmanian legislature, through its House of Assembly, has practically said, "We do not regard any provision as necessary; but if you are going to have one, then let it be this one." And this one I should hope will receive some attention from hon. members inasmuch as it provides for a system of internal referendum, a referendum within the parliament itself, and one also which without putting the commonwealth to any very great expense, secures absolute finality. They say "If any solution for a deadlock be necessary." One cannot help marvelling how the necessity for this solution, for some mechanical arrangement for meeting deadlocks, has arisen suddenly after all these years, and has assumed the prominence it has done. In the bill of 1891 there was no provision at all for dealing with deadlocks. At the meeting of the Convention held in Adelaide some suggestions were made in this regard; but those suggestions were disposed of, and the bill passed without any machinery to meet deadlocks. We are now told that public opinion in this direction is gaining ground, and that machinery to meet deadlocks has become a matter of paramount necessity. Looking in the two local journals published in Sydney, this morning, to find light on the subject, I observed that while one paper advocates this machinery, the other paper is distinctly opposed to it, and points out an objection to the referendum which I do not think has yet been noticed in the Convention an objection of very serious importance. It is that the referendum transfers the responsibility of the ministry from the parliament to the people.
[start page 681] The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: Have not the people to bear all the burden? Why, then, should they not take what responsibility they like?
The Right Hon. Sir E. BRADDON: I certainly do not want to take away from the ministry of the day their responsibility to the people through the parliament. When this question was raised in Adelaide, it was disposed of upon arguments which I think are almost unanswerable, and I should like to read two very brief passages from speeches which seem to me absolutely convincing. The hon. and learned member, Mr. Barton, when this matter was under discussion at Adelaide, said:
We know that it is in these matters of mixing up questions of taxation together instead of keeping them in one bill, and of tacking to an appropriation act some extraneous subject of expenditure, for instance, that a bill is lost, and when it is endeavoured to force it on a second chamber, deadlocks
arise. We know that deadlocks have arisen from these causes, and I submit that the practical provision against deadlocks is that bills embodying these provisions which have in the past been causes of deadlocks should be breaches of this constitution, and therefore may be declared inoperative by the high court of Australasia. These matters have all been provided for in this bill. There may be new causes, but I put it that so far as we can ordinarily do, so far as experience guides us, this constitution has sufficiently provided against deadlocks, and looking at the ordinary range of human affairs no other provision is necessary. I am not referring to those matters which may be settled on amendment, message, or conference. These subjects will be open as in the past, but in these three provisions carefully made for preventing the origination of deadlocks we have provided sufficiently, and may rest with them, whether we are asked to adopt the referendum or the Norwegian system, or any other.
I should like to read a passage from the speech of another distinguished member of the Convention:
I say now that to place a weapon of this kind for the ending of deadlocks in the hands of either house, or any authority in the state, would be to stifle that free discussion on questions of difference in which alone the people of the commonwealth must look for the best result of collective wisdom. Whatever methods you adopt for getting rid of deadlocks, you must bring this result about: The party in the state which feels its power in its hands will be anxious to use it, and will at once use it for the purpose of bringing about that deadlock, which will result in a solution in favour of the party that holds the power. There can be no question that if a strong party in the country hold a view in favour of a particular measure, and it is carried by large majorities, they would very soon seek to overcome the resistance of the senate by having a dissolution-sending the bill up again, and dissolving the senate. That brings me to one of the strongest objections to the proposal. I quite assent to the proposition that when you have a house elected by the people whether the house of representatives or the senate it should be brought into constant touch with the people. It should, by a process of election, have its members renewed in such a way that it will not get out of touch, and you secure that quite enough by a senate, half of which is renewable every three years. The ordinary life of the house of representatives is three years, and you secure the admission of one-half new blood into the senate by a process of triennial retirement of half its members. That is quite enough to keep the senate in touch with the people on all ordinary questions. It is only in some sudden access of popular feeling on some particular question that the senate is likely to be out of harmony with the general body of the people, and one of the greatest safeguards we have in the senate is that it is not liable to be immediately dissolved. In whose hands is the power of dissolution? It is in the hands of a majority of the house of representatives that is, in the hands of the government of the day; and if the amendment of Mr. Wise is adopted, you are placing this very strong weapon in the hands of the government of the day, to coerce the senate to take any view they may think fit. Can anyone doubt that is coercion?
An HON. MEMBER: From whose speech is the right hon. gentleman quoting?
The Right Hon. Sir E. BRADDON: I do not wish to mention the hon. member's name, because I do not think that the opinions which be expressed then are quite the opinions which he holds now.
The Hon. E. BARTON: The right hon. member is looking at me. He is perfectly at liberty to quote anything that I said [start page 682] at Adelaide, because I have not departed from the opinions which I expressed during our sittings there!
The Right Hon. Sir E. BRADDON: I mentioned the hon. and learned member's name in connection with the passage from his speech which I quoted. In discussing this matter, I have not only to explain the action of the Tasmanian legislature, but also my own position, because I am a very strong advocate for the dissolution of the legislative councils of our colonial parliaments and also of the referendum. I am an advocate of the referendum where it can be applied safely and it can only have a restricted application and for the dissolution of the second chambers in the colonial parliaments. But I recognise to the fullest extent that which I do not think is always recognised: that the senate of the federal legislature will occupy a position entirely different from that occupied by the
legislative councils in the colonial parliaments. I feel that very strongly, and I think that it is our bounden duty to respect the continuity of the existence of the senate to the fullest extent, and to carry out the suggestion made in the last paragraph which I read. It is suggested that some of the subjects which are to be referred to the federal parliament should be so separated that there could be no difficulty in discriminating, between those which might involve interference with state rights and those which involved other matters. I agree, however, with the hon. and learned member, Mr. Isaacs, and other hon. members, that it would be absolutely impossible to make this discrimination. You cannot see at what point there will be a divergence from a national question, which will make the matter a provincial one-one of state concern, and, therefore, jeopardising state interests and state rights. While, as a friend of the referendum, I should be disposed to accept the proposition that after a dissolution of the lower house there should be a dual referendum, I do not see that it is possible for us, having regard to our duty, to safeguard the senate, and to preserve to it such limited powers as have been left to it, to go one whit further. If we did that, it would be, I should say, by way of compromise, and a very large compromise indeed.
Mr. HIGGINS (Victoria)[3.14]: I had not meant to speak in this general debate, because I intended to confine my remarks to the specific proposals which, I understand, will be brought forward for the prevention of deadlocks; but, having regard to the course which the debate has taken, I think I should avoid misunderstanding better by speaking now, when, as it seems to me, we are approaching nearer and nearer to the dilemma which I feared from the very start of our deliberations in Adelaide. The dilemma appears to be although it is not, I am happy to say, quite expressed yet; and I hope it will never be a real and final dilemma that the larger states will say, "We cannot federate unless you leave the sovereignty at any rate, in the final result in the mass of the people." The smaller states will say, "We cannot federate if you do put the sovereignty in the final result in the people as a whole." I feel, when we approach a dilemma of that sort, that we should use language of the greatest moderation. It is a stage at which the greatest self-restraint is necessary, if we are to bring out any good result from our deliberations. I have heard with great regret the strong language which the right hon. the Premier of South Australia and the hon. members, Mr. Symon and Mr. Howe, addressed to the Convention yesterday. The Right Hon. C.C. Kingston said that he would stump the country against federation unless a certain proposal of his were carried. Then the hon. member, Mr. Symon, spoke as if he were going to lead [start page 683] an army with a free and flashing sword against the larger states if there were any infringement of what he considered to be the rights of the smaller states. As for the hon. member, Mr. Howe, his frenzy went beyond all limits. I feel as strongly as they do on my side of the question, but I hope I shall be able to speak with moderation, and without indicating that I shall regard any particular clause or any particular condition as essential to federation. I have carefully abstained from that. I think hon. members know very well how strongly I feel on certain subjects, but I will abstain from that to the end. I say we have no right, seeing the endless complexity of the provisions which may be suggested for this constitution, to lay down any condition as final, or to use what are called "carpet-bagging" threats-threats of taking up one's carpetbag and going away. Approaching the question in that way, I was greatly impressed by the speech of the hon. member, Mr. Holder, yesterday. I felt that it was the most hopeful half-hour for federation that I had yet seen. The hon. member, Mr. Holder, is a minister in one of the less populous colonies; he is responsible to a constituency in that colony; he has held office for three or four years; and be knows the way in which his utterances and votes will be canvassed.
The Hon. J.H. GORDON: He will be very much surprised to find the way in which they will be canvassed!
Mr. HIGGINS: I have no doubt whatever that the hon. member, Mr. Holder, gauges public opinion in South Australia as correctly as the hon. member.
The Hon. F.W. HOLDER: I accept the full responsibility of it!
Mr. HIGGINS: As I have said, that half-hour was the most hopeful for federation that I have yet seen. There is no doubt whatever that that is the case. That speech was aided by the masterly and
statesmanlike speech of the hon. member, Mr. McMillan, who I thought before, took a different view. It is quite true that there is an inconsistency between the extreme state rights view of the consent of the states being necessary, and the view taken by the hon, members, Mr. Holder and Mr. McMillan. If there is one thing that has been drummed into my ears continually, ad nauseam almost, it is that I must not be logical. Surely if that is a good lesson for me to learn, it is also a good lesson for others to learn. All I want is that if I am the goose for whom the sauce is provided, it shall also be applied to the gander. If it is inconsistent, if it is illogical, to give equal representation on the one hand, and to infringe on the principle with the other hand, still there is a via media which any reasonable man can see, and which may, and will, justify hon. members who have taken that via media. Is it not consistent for those who still are haunted by what I regard as the fallacy as to the consent of the states to say, "It is true we must give the states the right to protect themselves, to delay measures and obstruct measures which they think are unjust, until it comes to the last resort. But in the last resort, in place of the physical force which Mr, Wise puts as an alternative, let us have the peaceful operation of an appeal to the people as a whole." I regard the referendum as merely a peaceful mode of effecting the solution to which the hon. member, Mr. Wise, invites us. He says the majority of the people have the physical force, and can do what they like. That is quite true, but-
Mr. WISE: I would like to point out that I said the majority could never be coerced, because they had the physical force. That is very different from saying they could do what they liked.
Mr. HIGGINS: The hon. member said that when we came to a question of [start page 684] coercion the majority could not be coerced, because they have physical force. It is perfectly clear that by vetoing a measure which the majority want, you coerce the majority. I say, therefore, that those who can put a permanent veto upon legislation enact, in effect, that the existing state of things shall continue.
Mr. Wise: The hon. member has not understood my argument!
Mr. HIGGINS: I am very sorry, but I hope I will understand the argument hereafter when I read the report of the debate. I understand the hon. member says that owing to the physical force which the majority have, the majority cannot be coerced. I say that in place of having coercion rendered inoperative by physical force, let us have the coercion rendered inoperative by the peaceful solution of a vote by the people. I think there was a good deal in the distinction drawn by the hon. member, Mr. Holder, a distinction which in my addresses to my constituents I referred, between an alteration of the constitution and the alteration of a law which is under the constitution. He says you ought, at all events, to render absolutely essential the consent of the states to an alteration in the constitution to which they have agreed. I perfectly concede that. If men enter into a deed of partnership, they ought not to have put upon them another deed of partnership to which they have not consented. But in matters within the scope of the deed of partnership, it is only right the majority should rule. That distinction ought to be emphasised. Strong as my view is with regard to the rights of the majority of the people, I say, certainly, that if the states, and the people of the states, are coming into a deed of partnership, that deed of partnership the constitution ought not to be altered without at least the consent of a majority of the states. It is a very different thing when you are dealing with a measure which is under the deed of partnership. A great deal has been said to the effect that we must provide for deadlocks. I think that phrase hardly expresses the idea. It is not deadlocks that you must provide for; but what you must provide for is that the wishes of the people, the matured wishes of the people, after a full discussion, shall not be permanently thwarted. The thwarting of the will of the people is not always productive of a deadlock, and therefore a good many of the arguments to show that there is no danger of a deadlock do not affect me in the slightest degree. It is quite true, however, as has been said, that the differences between the two houses will not in any considerable number of cases be differences as affecting state interests. I take it that, although one is a state's house, and the other is a people's house, the differences will be on the ordinary lines, which we are familiar with in these colonies on the ordinary lines with regard to protection or free-trade, liberalism or conservatism, and so forth. I quite agree also to this, that there is much danger of a conflict, I do not say a deadlock, between the two houses having regard to the circumstances under which the two houses are elected.
Both houses being elected on a very liberal franchise, each will feel itself stronger, and be more apt to resist the wish of the other, and there will be a tendency, no doubt, in the senate, as it feels itself to be a states house under the equal representation clause, to look more to the interests of the states as against the commonwealth. It will be a house that tends to provincialism, to all that is selfish, to all that is provincial, for in the early days of the United States they acted on the principle that a senator was bound to act in the interests of his state, was an ambassador of the state, without regard to the interests of the commonwealth. Several proposals have been made, not only for settling deadlocks, but for giving effect to the will of the people, even when there [start page 685] is no deadlock. The first proposal is that for a double dissolution. I have to remind hon. members that in Adelaide I proposed a double dissolution; I tabled an amendment for that purpose, and the hon. and learned member, Mr. Barton, asked me to postpone the clause so that it might be recommitted, but meantime my hon. and learned friend, Mr. Wise, had brought forward an amendment which provided for a dissolution of the senate after the dissolution of the house of representatives, if that house should still persist in its opposition. I was beaten on that amendment; I had only seven votes, including my own. If I may judge from appearances, there will be very many more votes given in favour of a double dissolution this time. Even my hon. and learned friend, Mr. Wise, voted against it.
Mr. WISE: I will vote for it this time!
The Hon. E. BARTON: So will I; I will go that far!
Mr. HIGGINS: A double dissolution I cordially support. I think it will go a very long way towards rectifying some of the evils which will arise from this complicated system of a state's house and a people's house. I take it to be, as the hon. member, Mr. McMillan said, unfair to let one house have a means of scourging the other, and that is the means which the senate will have unless we give power to have it dissolved also, because the senate can apply the scourge to the other by saying "If you press this legislation you must go to the country." The answer under the proposed solution will be, "Well, if you oppose the legislation we will both go to the country, and see if the country sustains us." I take it that unless there be a provision for a double dissolution the house of representatives will be treated grossly unfairly. It is just as if you had two lots of men, with a rope between them, having a tug of war, and you allowed one lot to have firmly embedded rocks against which to rest their feet. In this case the senate would be strongly entrenched, would be resting against the rock of a six years' tenure without any liability to dissolution, and it is not difficult to see what the result of a tug of war of that sort would be. If you have one house with a liability to dissolution in the case of a difference, and the other house with no liability to dissolution in the case of a difference, but with a six-years' tenure, and with perhaps half of the members having still a five or six years' tenure to look forward to before they must go before the electors, there is no doubt that the power would ultimately tend to fall into the hands of the senate. For that reason, and for others, I am strongly in favour of it, but I hold that a dissolution is by no means a solution of the difficulty. First it brings into play a number of by issues as to persons and as to other matters. A man is often returned to Parliament on this consideration, "Oh, he is a good fellow on the whole, and although he differs from us on this point, we will send him in generally." Besides that, as a dissolution will send the senate to the colonies, you may have each colony backing up its senators and just leaving things as they were before. But, still, I do recognise that the mere fact of a possible dissolution impending over the head of the senate, will make them chary to some extent in withstanding the strongly expressed wish of the house of representatives and the country. Now, I will approach the next matter. It is said then, after a dissolution of both houses let us have a referendum. In the Legislative Assembly of Victoria, I was one of the joint authors of a bill for a referendum. I need hardly say that I am strongly in favour of the principle. I am not frightened by that cant about mechanical contrivances. I am not frightened by that cant with regard to its enabling members to shirk their responsibility. Every governmental contrivance, even electing a parliament of any sort, [start page 686] allowing the issue to go by votes in the parliament, is a "mechanical contrivance," one of those cant phrases we have heard used by ministers this morning. As to the shirking of responsibility, there is nothing in that idea. You cannot have a referendum unless there has been a vote in parliament on the subject, and as all reasonable referendums are proposed, you must have a vote first in one session and then in another session after a
sufficient interval, and the thing will be fully discussed in the press, and members will have taken sides. Although I am strongly in favour of a referendum, I shall certainly, without the least hesitation, vote against the referendum which is called the double referendum.
The Right Hon. Sir E. BRADDON: Hear, hear!
Mr. HIGGINS: I have the applause of the Premier of Tasmania. I am very happy to find myself in his company, I do not care who votes for it or who votes against it, I am not going to vote for a thing called "the referendum," which I know will be a sham, which I see to be a fraud, a delusion, and a snare; a thing which is not the referendum but which will have the effect of a device to lead people to think that they are protected by a referendum when they are not protected. I do not expect in this matter to elicit any marks of approval from any side of the Chamber, and I do not court them. But, at the same time, I feel at liberty to say that I will not be a party to any proposal which you may dub a referendum, but which will not have the effect of a referendum. I voted in Adelaide in favour of the referendum to the states and to the people simply because I saw that there was no movement towards a conciliatory method, and that this thing would not be carried, and also that we had not full time to go into the details of it. But I certainly would much rather see this constitution go before the people without anything of the nature of a referendum than have it go before the people with a falsehood upon its face. May I indicate how the figures will work out? Supposing we got two states strongly in favour of a measure, and the other states pretty evenly balanced, but still against the measure upon the total voting. Here is a sample of how it might work. Suppose New South Wales had 110,000 for and 10,000 against; Victoria had 100,000 for and 10,000 against; South Australia, 14,000 for and 15,000 against; Tasmania, 6,000 for and 7,000 against, and Western Australia, 6,000 for and 7,000 against. The result would be that you would have 236,000 votes for the measure and 49,000 votes against. But that measure could not be carried, although the voting was in the proportion of about five to one. Not only that, but supposing in South Australia there was a small reversal of the position, and supposing the figures there were 15,000 for and 14,000 against. In that case you would have 237,000 for and 48,000 against. Even then, according to the proposal of the treble referendum-I might call it a demi-referendum-you would not have it carried, because you would have, perhaps, seventy-six electoral districts, and it might turn out that only thirty-seven went for the measure and thirty-nine against it.
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: That is not my proposal!
Mr. HIGGINS: I remember that, in the Victorian House, my hon. friend intimated that he cordially agreed with the amendment. It was proposed by Mr. Baker, and the hon. member at once said very frankly that he agreed with it, and that it would get over some difficulties.
An HON. MEMBER: Our Chamber objected to even the dual referendum!
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: Some wanted a national referendum!
Mr. HIGGINS: I think it will save some time if I proceed upon the assump-
[start page 687] tion that this idea of the electoral districts is abandoned. Is it abandoned or is it not?
The Right Hon. Sir G. TURNER: It is so as far as I am concerned!
Mr. HIGGINS: It has come down again to a dual referendum, and we might very possibly have voting throughout the commonwealth, in which there would be 236,000 votes for and 49,000 votes against, and, still the measure would not be carried. What is the alternative? The hon. member, Mr. Wise, says physical force. I do, not want physical force. I want the will of the people to ultimately rule on all Australian subjects. There is one mode of solution which was suggested on a former occasion, and I am surprised there has not been more said about it in this meeting of the Convention. I refer to the idea of a joint sitting of the two houses. Of course, it will be obvious that that will cause far less
expense; but, so far as I am concerned, I am strongly against a joint sitting of the two houses, if those two houses are not equally representative of the people. If my proposal for proportional representation had been carried, and if we had two houses upon the same basis, there would be a strong ground for saying, "If those two houses representing the people cannot agree, put them together, and see which has the most votes." Unfortunately, to my mind, we are not putting the senate upon the same strong basis as we are putting the house of representatives. We are not giving them the same strength of character, because we say the senate will represent in the main, and must represent, a minority of the people. I feel that there is a great deal to be said for that proposal. Still I confess I would much rather see something of that kind than see this sham referendum to which I have referred. I am very glad also to find that the Premier of New South Wales has dragged the Convention back to what is really not sufficiently attended to in this discussion. He has dragged the Convention back to a consideration of the subjects to be given to this proposed parliament. He has shown what the subjects are, and although the practical outcome is very hard to ascertain, I must say that the position he has taken up is perfectly correct. He says, "If there is any subject in clause 52 which ought not to be given to the federal parliament let us know what it is, and take it out, and do not let a majority in the commonwealth rule about it." Unfortunately, I think the Premier of New South Wales qualified that position. He has simply informed us that we could have a, referendum on all national subjects and not upon state subjects, and he has left it to us to find out what are state and what are national subjects. Why, that is the whole difficulty of the problem. How are we, in clause 52, to find what are state and what are national subjects? I say that it is quite possible to limit clause 52 so as to show that there are certain subjects in that clause which might, even from the point of view of the smaller states, be left to the referendum in the final resort. For instance, marriage and divorce. What obstruction in the world should there be to a national referendum in that case?
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: Can the hon. member perceive any necessity for a referendum on that matter?
The Hon. A.J. PEACOCK: That would be very hard on me and Sir William Zeal!
Mr. HIGGINS: I can perceive this: that it is one of the most difficult social questions of the present day. Why should Mr. Peacock object to having such a matter referred to the people of the whole of Australia? In what way does the hon. member suppose that his interests would be prejudicially affected? Would he not be prepared, as a Benedict of the future, to trust to the people of the whole of Australia? I think the right hon. member, Mr. Reid, has this morning put me in the position of the [start page 688] junior counsel to the senior counsel. The senior counsel opened the case to the jury splendidly. He told them a magnificent story and their passions were thoroughly aroused. Their feeling as to the case was very intense. The junior counsel, having his brief, listened with breathless attention to the splendid opening, and when it was over, noticing his senior leaving the court, he pulled his gown and said, "How am I to prove that case which you opened?" The senior was there to put the case before the jury, and the junior was there to prove it. Now my right hon. friend, Mr. Reid, told us in very eloquent words, "The whole difficulty is solved; you have only to distinguish between state rights and national rights." But my senior counsel does not help me very much when he says that. Who is to make the distinction between national rights and state rights? But although we had not the assistance of the hon. gentleman's acute mind in distinguishing national from state subjects in clause 52, still he indicated in his masterly speech the direction in which we can go if we take sufficient pains, and if we pursue the subject with the same diligence with which the special Finance Committee has been pursuing its labours during the last few days. I take it that it is quite possible for us to arrive at a compromise upon this 52nd clause that it is quite possible for us to say, "Here are certain subjects, and as to those there can be no referendum." It may be possible also to insert some qualifications with reference to one or two other subjects; and, as I do not wish to commit myself to any particular position, I merely want to indicate the direction in which, perhaps, there may be some solution acceptable to us with our divers modes of looking at the matter. I recognise that, although to my mind the fallacy of the scheme which has been put before us is as apparent as the sun at noonday, my hon. friends who differ from me are acting with a view to the best interests of the commonwealth quite as much as I am. They are, I am sure, quite as much interested in its good as I
am, and whether they call me provincial or whether they call me anti-federationist, I claim from them the recognition that I am equally desirous with anyone in Australia for the union of these peoples under a workable constitution.
Mr. WALKER (New South Wales)[3.49]: It is with considerable diffidence that I rise to say a few words on the present occasion; but in this matter I am in the unfortunate position, as far as I can see, of being alone among the delegation from the colony I have the honor to represent. It seems to me that we are not confined to the referendum in the settlement of disputes between the two houses, and I was very glad to hear my hon. and learned friend, Mr. Higgins, say that he would like to hear the Norwegian system discussed, or some application or modification of that system. Although we might not have a full meeting together of the two houses we might have a certain representation from each house meeting together. Supposing, for instance, you have three-fourths of the senate. If there are six colonies there would be 36 members in the senate, and three-fourths would be 27. I would also have the house of representatives elect 27 of its members, making 54 members from both houses. Let these representatives meet together and discuss the subject in dispute. There surely must be some means of effecting a settlement in the case of differences between the two houses. It afforded me great pleasure. to hear my right hon, friend, Sir George Turner, speak in the admirable manner in which he did last night. The right hon. gentleman spoke in a most conciliatory and satisfactory manner to the representatives of the less populous states. He alluded to several of the safety-valves which already exist for the adjust- [start page 689] ment of differences which may arise between the two houses. My hon. and learned friend, Mr. Barton, also referred to the same phase of the matter. It seems to me that as one half of the senate retires every three years, there is an opportunity by that means of effecting a settlement of differences between the houses. There is in that provision what may be called a natural safety-valve. Upon this subject of safety-valves, I would take the liberty of reading a short extract from an excellent work in the hands of many members of this Convention. I refer to Mr. Garran's work on "The Coming Commonwealth." He says:
It must be remembered, too, that equal representation in one chamber is balanced by proportional representation in the other. It is in no sense true that the few have equal power with the many. The simple truth is that all federal legislation needs the consent of a majority of the people and also a majority of the states. A majority in the senate may conceivably represent a minority of citizens, but such a majority can never compel legislation it can only prevent legislation; and the legislation which it is likely to prevent is precisely that which in federation ought to be prevented, legislation, that is to say, which is offensive to the majority of the states. Fears of a deadlock may, of course, be conjured up, but deadlocks exist rather in theory than in practice. The possibility of deadlock is inherent in every constitutional government under the sun. The safety is found in the reasonable spirit of those who work the constitution.
He also remarks with regard to the use of the referendum as a cure for deadlocks:
This use of the referendum as an arbiter between the chambers is altogether new. We have not yet adopted it in provincial politics, and a federal constitution which is notoriously hard to alter is not the place for experiments. The referendum cure for deadlocks promises well, but it ought to be tried on a provincial scale before it is deemed worthy to rank as a federal institution. No one can foretell how a new political invention will work; and, though experiments must be made, they should not be made, in the first instance, on too large a scale.
It occurs to me that you have always the amendment of the constitution as a safety-valve.
An HON. MEMBER: The hon. member just said it was so difficult to amend the constitution!
Mr. WALKER: I should think a clause might be devised which would make it not very difficult to do so in certain circumstances. I think that if you are to have a safety-valve which is not at present in the bill it might take the form of a dissolution of both chambers. I think that, as the house of representatives has to be dissolved under certain circumstances, "what is sauce for the goose ought to
be sauce for the gander," and that under certain circumstances the senate also ought to be dissolved. That is a wholly different thing from the referendum; in the way of which there are difficulties. The double referendum seems to me to involve exactly the same difficulties. I am surprised that our friends from Tasmania have not on this point taken up their own suggestion. It seems to me that, after a dissolution of both houses, we might avail ourselves of the amendment suggested by the Legislative Assembly of Tasmania. We only require to make this provision applicable after a dissolution, not before it. Suppose that a bill has passed the house of representatives, and has been rejected by the senate in the, same session, then would come in, I think, this admirable provision suggested by the Legislative Assembly of Tasmania. I am surprised that no one has referred to it more in detail. I should like the hon. and learned member, Mr. Isaacs, to note this point, as he is always very clear in what he says. The provision is suggested by the Legislative Assembly of Tasmania for use only in the event of the Convention making provision for the settlement of deadlocks, not otherwise,; and it seems to me that the provision could be carried into effect after the two houses have been dissolved. It practically means that if a bill is passed by the lower house, by a four-sevenths majority, and gets a three-sevenths support of the upper house-
[start page 690] The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: Three-sevenths, consisting of a majority of senators in a majority of states!
Mr. WALKER: Well, strike out that part if you like. I do not object to that being done, though I think the smaller colonies might. It seems to me that that is one means of settling a deadlock. I should like to know if any hon. gentleman can inform me whether there is a constitution in which a settlement of deadlocks is provided for?
The Right Hon. Sir G. TURNER: That argument will stand against all reform!
Mr. WALKER: I will read a few extracts from an address delivered by a gentleman who is highly respected and honored by all of us the hon. member, Mr. McMillan in which he refers to this very important matter of the referendum. He says:
What is a bi-cameral government? A bi-cameral government, after all, is an artificial system not to prove the sovereignty of the people, but to obtain the best results. Government is a practical thing. Legislation is a practical thing. You would not go and take the first 125 men of 21 years of age, electors of this country, out of the streets at random, and say, because they are of age and are electors of this country, they are fit to sit here and make the laws for the people of the country. The great bulk of the people in this country know nothing about legislation.
The hon. gentleman also says:
I want, in a practical way, to point out to hon. members some of the dangers of this bill, and the danger of introducing a purely artificial mode of procedure, instead of the higher, better, and nobler system of compromise and concession.
I ask hon. members to look at the condition of this country. Let us contrast it for a moment with the home of the referendum.
Where is the home of the referendum? Switzerland, I suppose.
In Switzerland, as in most Continental countries, you have communities who have grown up from generation to generation. They can trace their ancestors back for hundreds of years. There is little comparative movement in such communities. But what is the distinguishing characteristic of our people?-their nomadic habits. I understand that between 40,000 and 50,000 people who voted in the election of 1894 were disfranchised in the election of 1895 because they had changed their residence. Wherever there is a gold fever in another colony a great number of our people are drawn there. We
are a community of change, as are most communities of Britishers who have left their own homes. Suppose a measure is sent to the people at some time when there is no general election in progress, will those who live in sparsely populated districts take the trouble to record their votes? I say that they will not, and the result will be to give a very unfair monopoly in regard to the referendum to the people residing within the metropolitan areas. It may be agreed that measures should only be sent to the people at the time of a general election; but I am perfectly convinced that if it comes to a deadlock between the two houses, unless some other expedient than this is proposed, the expedient which is now ready at hand of waiting for a general election, and then reintroducing the bill is far more sensible, more largely based upon our own experience, and more likely to bring about moderate and useful legislation.
With regard to the referendum, it appears to me that it is very much like referring from the more intelligent to the less intelligent. I do not wish to disparage the average elector, but, as a matter of fact, the electors are supposed to choose the more intelligent men to represent them in parliament.
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: Are they not supposed to express their views on a particular question, too?
Mr. WALKER: But the members' views and theirs will be in consonance to a certain extent I suppose. It seems to me that this system of referendum, if carried out in its entirety, would reduce representatives to the position of mere delegates, to voice the views of those people who send them into parliament.
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: They have to give pledges at the present time!
Mr. WALKER: It seems to me that on some people the mention of the word "referendum" has the same effect as that fine old word "Mesopotamia" had on the [start page 691] Scotch lady who came home from church, and was asked what she had heard. She said that she had heard "that blessed word, Mesopotamia." It seems to me that with some people if anything is called "referendum" that is all they want. We have no guarantee that there is any great cry for a referendum. I have not heard of any petitions to this Convention in favour of it. We have had petitions on another matter both in this Convention and at Adelaide. The petitions at Adelaide did not seem to have much effect, and perhaps that has discouraged the people who want the referendum. I can only say that they do not show as much desire to obtain it, as hon. members seem to think they have.
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: Three parliaments have asked for it!
Mr. HIGGINS: Not this referendum!
Mr. WALKER: Several gentlemen, after the result of the Convention election in this colony, told me that the referendum had not somehow or other resulted as was anticipated by some, and that therefore the desire for the referendum was considerably moderated. I think that if a whole colony is treated as one constituency, you ought, if possible, to have a representation of minorities. In the United Kingdom there is not equal representation on a population basis. I remember, not many years ago, when Ireland had 105 members and Scotland only 53; but matters went on peaceably enough in those days. It was before Home Rule.
Mr. GLYNN: They have not got Home Rule yet!
Mr. WALKER: I mean before the Home Rule cry. I hope that there will be an adjournment of this Convention to allow Queensland to come in, and also to let our Victorian friends have sufficient time to consider the financial and other questions, and when this question comes before us again we shall have more information, and will no doubt be able to vote upon it. I voted against the referendum at Adelaide. It seems to me that a great deal may be said in favour of a double dissolution, but for anything beyond that I do not see any absolute necessity. At the same time, I reserve to myself the full
right to vote as I think proper when the time comes, and if I find that it is necessary to give a vote to prevent three colonies from leaving us, I will certainly vote in that way. On the other hand, if hon. members will be content to take the dual referendum, I do not see any great harm in it. It seems to me it is very much like the same thing over again. Both houses will virtually go before their constituents, and will come back again. I think that with reasonable courtesy, to one another any difficulties that might arise ought to be settled without any of those artificial and mechanical means. If I understand the spirit of British parliamentary life, the principle has always been not to send particular questions to the country; but to send parliament itself, and when the members come back they have the latest views of their constituents.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia)[4.5]: At this late stage of the debate for any one to get up and attempt to say anything new on the subject would be to fall into the error of the ladies in the "Vicar of Wakefield," who "simply continued the conversation, but not the argument." However, the matter is an important one, and I will endeavour, in the few moments that I shall occupy, to state my opposition to the referendum as a general policy or from the point of view of consolidation, and at the same time to say that, for the purpose of furthering the federal question, I am prepared to subordinate my personal convictions against the referendum as a policy, and thus, following the example of so many other members of this Convention, display, perhaps, some federal spirit.
[start page 692] Mr. HIGGINS: Would the hon. gentleman say that the double referendum is perfectly harmless?
Mr. GLYNN: I would not say that. Sometimes it may be productive of a considerable amount of good; but a referendum in some respects will do harm, as I shall endeavour to show. I do not share the fears which have been emphatically expressed by some representatives of the smaller colonies, that if we went so far as some of the representatives of the larger colonies would go, and adopted a mass referendum, we should be striking at and in practice destroy the very essential character of the upper house by making it a unified rather than a federal one; in fact, would be giving the principle of equal representation on the one hand, and destroying its efficacy on the other. I do not share that fear in its intensity, and I may state at the outset one of the reasons why I do not. The combinations that are possible on any state question are not combinations of states. You will not find on the one side a combination of the large states against the small states. When a state question arises, the chances are that you may find one state largely interested in it, a small state, and perhaps the opinions of the representatives of the small state will be shared by the representatives of the large states. So that I fail to see that any state question can arise that is likely to differentiate the states as large and small in the federation If that is so, the power of the larger states will not be used so as to destroy the socalled liberties of the smaller ones. I say this because I am afraid that, by leaning too much on these generalities, we shall imperil the success of the constitution. If we feed the people with prejudices on this point, tell them that if one particular form of settling possible constitutional difficulties in the parliament is not adopted, or another form is not adopted, the chances are that some of their liberties will be imperilled by the encroachments of the other states we shall do no good. I do not share any fear of that kind. I will go the length of saying that if federation were carried with a referendum which amounted to a mass referendum, the good sense of the people would, on the whole, make the constitution work properly. At the same time, we are dealing with men with strong and national prejudices. We are dealing with states that have been agitated by proposals, even during the last few years, in reference to this very question of the referendum, that necessitate our taking into account the very strong prejudices that exist. It was said in an exceedingly able and eloquent speech by my right hon. friend, Mr. Reid, this morning and it shows the effect which a speech of eloquence and ability may sometimes have in diverting attention from the true issue before us that unless you adopt this mass referendum, at the very outset, of your federation you may find yourself in a deadlock you may be financially blocked. We are told, for instance, that possibly within the two years during which the tariff is to be passed and upon that point I agree with the sense of the interjection by the hon. and learned member, Mr. Isaacs, that the word "shall" may not be restrictive to the two years; because you have to read the whole text of the constitution to understand what it means we were told, I say, by the Right Hon. Mr. Reid, that unless you make provision at once for deadlocks, you may find that your
constitution will exist without the power on your part to accomplish the very first purpose for which it has been passed a uniform tariff. The plain answer to that is this: We are not going to create a a piece of political machinery in order to get over a difficulty that can be wiped off at once by a stroke of the pen. If you want to get rid of the possibility of the tariff not being passed, the true solution is not to create a remedy against deadlocks but to [start page 693] strike out the provision that the tariff must be passed within two years. Again, the hon. and learned member made a very ad captandum appeal to the passions rather than to the reason of his audience by pointing out the enormous advance which has been made in the expression of the popular voice in the last sixty-five years. I quite agree with him that the prognostications made in 1831, that if reform was granted the pillars of the constitution would be broken down, have been falsified utterly by the event. We all agree with him also that the voice of the people must prevail. But what we do not agree with the hon. gentleman in is this: that you can always get the educated or efficacious opinion of the people by a referendum. It is one thing to say that the will of the people must prevail; but it is another thing to say that you can get a body of people who are not experts to point out the true lines of social development.
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS:-
Mr. GLYNN: Undoubtedly they are. Why do we have parliamentary institutions at all? Men in the ordinary course of life have not time to study political questions. Are we not told time after time by writers that one of the most difficult things a man can take up is the question of politics? It is a task upon which we all enter with very light hearts, no doubt; but to bring together and reconcile upon some fair basis the conflicting interests and classes of society is one of the biggest tasks to which any man can set himself. Upon that point I have only to say that Buckle, after so splendidly dealing with this subject in that great work of his on "Civilisation," says that the greatest difficulty is to find the method of legislation, and not the desire of the people. The appeal we had from the Right Hon. Mr. Reid simply amounted to this: The opinion of the people ought to prevail; but I answer him by saying that the people must have an opinion before they should be asked to express it. The people must be in a position to form an opinion upon the details of a particular act of parliament before it becomes expedient to refer that act of parliament to them for their yea or nay. Look through the whole of the thirty-seven matters for federal legislation. Suppose the tariff turns up, and suppose there is a deadlock upon that point. You would have on the one side protectionists arguing the facts, giving statistics and analogies drawn from history, and indulging in sweeping generalisations as to the evils of free-trade; and you would have on the other side gentlemen equally emphatic in pointing out the evils of protection, each party claiming to be specialists as to the method of accomplishing social reform. We refer this contested question to people who have not had time to study the subject, and we ask them upon an abstract matter of politics and the details of an act of parliament to say what ought to be done. The people have adopted the wiser method of choosing men who can pay attention to the work, and become experts to settle these questions, and we ought not to cast upon them a task which they cannot accomplish in the way it ought to be accomplished.
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: But suppose the experts cannot agree!
Mr. GLYNN: Should we ask the people to settle it before they have all the facts before them? Should we ask them to study the details of an act of parliament, and to say whether one house or the other is right as to a matter of public policy? That is really what we are doing, and it strikes at the very root of the adoption of the referendum, viewing it from the point of view of consolidation. We hear it said that the will of the people will be frustrated unless we introduce some measure to get rid of dead-locks. Is not that an assumption that the popular house will always be right in its judgment, and the senator always wrong?
[start page 694] It is a curious fact that in four out of five cases of the application of the referendum in America the action of Parliament had been negatived. The hon. and learned member, Mr. Isaacs, has kindly put before the Convention some of the results of referring constitutional amendments to the people in
California in 1892. I presume that these are cases in which the voice of the Parliament that is, the voice of the representative body, rather than the voice of the Upper House-
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: The voice of both!
Mr. GLYNN: Yes, no doubt; but, as a matter of fact, we know that in America, as in England, the moving power in legislation comes from below and the blocking power from above. However, I will put it in any way you like to put it. Here we had questions referred to the people for their opinion, and what did they do? Instead of adopting the suggestions of Parliament they negatived them, in the one case by a majority of four to one, in another by a majority of three to one, in a third by a majority of three to one, and in a fourth by a substantial majority. So that, in four cases out of five put before us by the hon. and learned member, we find the voice of the people opposed to the wishes of Parliament.
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: No; the voting was a decision of the dispute between the two houses!
Mr. GLYNN: The people were called in to act as arbiters. These policies would not be brought before parliament if it were not that parliament desired them to be brought into operation. Parliament desired that these constitutional amendments should be made, but the popular voice was asked for, and in four cases out of five it was given in substantial opposition to the voice of parliament. The hon. and learned member, Mr. Isaacs, referred to Switzerland. Before I deal with the details of the voting in Switzerland, I would point out that we cannot rely much upon Switzerland as an example. It was only this century that Switzerland adopted representative institutions for the cantons, which were established on the principle of having only one chamber. They practically set up representative government there on the principle of an oligarchy, without understanding very much about it. They were therefore of necessity driven back to the adoption of the referendum to check the autocracy of the single houses. In 1874 however, they saw the desirability of establishing a federal constitution, and the reasons which had operated with them at the beginning, and the cantonal precedents, induced them to adopt the referendum again after a very hot debate. Therefore, we cannot rely upon Switzerland to furnish an example, either from the point of view of historical analogy, or of expediency. Now, let us consider how the Swiss system has worked out. I refer to this matter because the representatives of the larger states have put their reliance upon the fact that the will of the people is the will of the larger house, and that deadlocks will occur through the blocking from above. That is about the end of their arguments on the point. I think it would be idle to imagine for a moment that there is any fear of legislation, initiated by the senate, being blocked by the house of representatives, and of this necessitating the provision of machinery against deadlocks. What has occurred in Switzerland? I find that in the majority of cases in Switzerland, proposals, supposed by the representatives of the people to be the expression of the popular voice, have been negatived by the people. Between 1882 and 1885 every measure introduced into the Swiss Parliament, and referred to the people, was negatived by them. It is stated by Mr. Lowell, in his work upon government and parties in continental Europe, that:
During the first three years after the adoption of the present constitution five laws were re- [start page 695] jected and only two accepted. Then there came a quiet period of five years, in which no measure passed by the Assembly was condemned by the people, and, in fact, a popular vote on an ordinary statute was asked for only once. The calm was followed in 1882 by a storm of discontent, for the people had become so thoroughly out of sympathy with the radical tendencies of their representatives, and were so disgusted at the conduct of the party in power, that for three years they rejected every measure presented to them.
Here we are asking for the adoption of a provision to give expression to the popular voice as represented by the house of representatives.
Their ill-will culminated in May, 1884, when they voted down four laws at a single stroke; but with this explosion the popular irritation seems to have exhausted itself, and, perhaps, we may add the legislators learned to be more cautious. Another period of quiet began, and during the next seven
years the people again ratified everything. In 1891 the spell was broken, and out of five measures submitted to popular vote, two were voted down by large majorities. This was, indeed, the precursor of a third era of rejections, for during the last three years the popular vote has been negatived in almost every case.
So that, viewing the matter from a unitarian point of view, you are more likely to get the true expression of the people's will by leaving matters alone, and letting the upper house speak in the way of delay, than by adopting any expedient to precipitate legislation. That is justified by statistics as to the operation of the referendum in Switzerland. My remarks, however, apply to any referendum. I accept the solution offered by the hon. and learned member, Mr. Isaacs. By doing so, however, I am sacrificing very deep-rooted convictions in regard to the policy of adopting any referendum. If I had my will, I should leave the adoption of the referendum for future legislation. I would make this one of the matters which might be legislated upon by the federal parliament, even though in doing so, I am going a great way further than any of my colleagues, except, perhaps, the hon. member, Mr. Holder, would go, because this step would. allow the federal parliament to adopt the principle of the mass referendum. Why should we not leave these matters to the federal parliament? Why should we anticipate the probability of deadlocks by creating machinery to prevent them?
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: How would you do if one house wanted to pass a law providing for the referendum, and the other would not hear of it?
Mr. GLYNN: No doubt the hon. member's interjection is very pregnant. But there is no use in sticking to one rule for the passing of all amendments. I would provide that in the clashing of two houses you should offer greater facilities for the amendment of the constitution than exist in the bill as drafted. The hon. member has quoted from the Constitution of Switzerland, where we find that, if a certain proposal for legislation is made by one house and obstructed by the other, you can put it to the people without referring it to the other house at all.
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: The people and the states!
Mr. GLYNN: I will go further and say: If you propose an amendment to the constitution which will enable an amendment to be carried providing for future deadlocks without in the final resort even the consent of one house I will adopt that suggestion.
The Right Hon. C.C. KINGSTON: What would the hon. and learned member provide for?
Mr. GLYNN: I am merely speaking generally. I do not want to bind myself down to details, because these are matters which have only arisen during the debate. I would allow facilities for the amendment of the constitution with a view to making provision against deadlocks. In that case, I would provide that the measure should be carried into law without reference to the majority senate at all.
[start page 696] The Right Hon. Sir G. TURNER: Would that be after a mass vote by the people?
Mr. GLYNN: Yes, a mass vote; but it must be borne in mind that I am only dealing with a provision that would give some means of getting rid of a deadlock by legislation.
The Right Hon. Sir G. TURNER: Would you allow the house of representatives, supported by a mass vote of the people, to pass a measure into law without the consent of the senate?
Mr. GLYNN: Yes; I would as a last resort allow one house to make any provision it liked with regard to deadlocks under the conditions I have mentioned.
The Right Hon. Sir G. TURNER: That is further than we propose to go!
Mr. GLYNN: I would be inclined to go that length myself, believing the emergency would never arise.
An HON. MEMBER: That is going farther than the Victorian members wish to go!
Mr. GLYNN: I am prepared to trust the good sense of the people.
An HON. MEMBER: That is when the hon. member is right!
Mr. GLYNN: I would not say that. I have a great respect for the hon. member's acumen and ability; but when we are dealing with the destinies of the country, I think, sacrificing the credit of a smart repartee, such remarks might be dispensed with. I therefore will not be tempted. I am glad the hon. member has given me the strength of his support. I have made this suggestion for the consideration of the Convention. I can see no danger in allowing an amendment of the constitution, making provision for deadlocks, even though you have to dispense with the voice of one house.
The Right Hon. Sir G. TURNER: Who is to say what the provision is to be?
Mr. GLYNN: The house which introduces it. The house passes a measure and sends it to the second chamber, and they say, "No, we will not pass it." If a deadlock occurs, you can make provision for avoiding that deadlock, but only for the deadlock arising in connection with that measure. The object of other proposals making provision for avoiding, deadlocks is to fix the provisions in the constitution. I would leave it to the federal parliament to make provision for deadlocks rather than tempt a clashing of the houses by making provision for deadlocks in anticipation. I am simply giving a general indication of the liberality with which I would deal with the question of amendment. I shall not detain the Convention any longer upon this question. I believe that the referendum as a matter of general policy is a step in the wrong direction. At the same time, I know there is a strong and deeply-rooted conviction among some people as to the necessity of a provision against deadlocks being embodied in this constitution. I know that during the last two years in Australia we have had five attempts to introduce the referendum into our constitutions. Victoria actually went the length, on the recommendation of a commission, of introducing a bill that would on the reference of a matter to the people dispense with the necessity for a second house. So that I cannot be so far wrong in the suggestion I throw out when in Victoria it was proposed that after a referendum had taken place you could legislate by declaring that one particular house, the legislative assembly, with the consent of the people and without mentioning, the upper house at all, had resolved that any particular measure should become law. Again, in Tasmania, New Zealand, South Australia, and, I think, in one of the other colonies, within the last two years attempts have been made to embody the referendum in the constitutions. It is evident, therefore, that there are strongly-rooted prejudices in favour of the referendum, and those prejudices I intend to respect.
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: It is rather hard to call them prejudices!
[start page 697] Mr. GLYNN: Of course the hon. member will excuse me for saying that as I argue against the referendum altogether, I would say that this is nothing but a concession. As there is a strongly expressed opinion in favour of the referendum throughout the colonies, I respect that prejudice, and believing that we must make some concession to that strongly expressed opinion, I believe the best mode was that suggested by Victoria, but I would like to make a separation, if possible, between matters which are of a unitarian character, and those which are state questions. That you cannot do it by the method suggested by the Right Hon. G.H. Reid goes without saying. You cannot fix in the constitution beforehand what are and what are not state matters. If the tariff question comes up you cannot make provision in the constitution for the case of one colony, which may say that the tariff will be disastrous to it.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: You do not give the larger colonies a chance of saying that the tariff will be disastrous to us. Why should that be given to the smaller states?
Mr. GLYNN: I am quite willing that the fallacy of the hon. member's argument should be extended to both the large and the small states. Whether they affect the large or small states, we cannot define in the constitution the nature of the questions that will arise; but you might, as suggested to me by the President of the Convention in private, allow a minority in the parliament or senate to declare that if in any matter of legislation state interests were affected, that question could be separated from ordinary legislation and the dual referendum could be applied to it. That is a suggested addition to the Victorian proposal for dealing with deadlocks. I think the smaller states might very well accept such a proposal. I do not see that it could do any harm to their interests, and it would certainly be a concession to the demands of the larger states.
The Hon. H.W. VENN (Western Australia)[4.33]: Those who have not addressed the Convention up to the present time have enjoyed a great advantage in listening to the speeches which have been already made. It is not now necessary to weary the House by a recapitulation of the arguments contained in the many great speeches we have listened to. We have now come to the point at which we must give a decision on the important question which will be put from the Chair in a few minutes. That question is: is it or is it not desirable to manufacture some means. of providing against deadlocks? I myself, I hope in conjunction with many others, believe that it is not at all desirable to provide a medicine for a disease that we never expect to suffer from. I am too firmly convinced of the ability, wisdom, and education of the future senate and house of representatives of the federal parliament to believe that a deadlock will ever affect Australia prejudicially. The opinions expressed by some of the ablest members of the Convention in this debate are thoroughly in accord with my convictions on that subject. The hon. member, Mr. McMillan’s, speech must have carried conviction to the minds of every hon. member who listened to him. Without desiring to give a silent vote on this question I will content myself by saying that I will be found in the ranks of those who think it is undesirable to import an element of this kind into our constitution.
The Right Hon. C.C. KINGSTON (South Australia)[4.35]: I would not rise to address the Convention a second time on the same subject did I not feel that the occasion is so grave that our maturest consideration might well be given to the matter which is before us. When my hon. and learned friend, Mr. O'Connor, sat down yesterday with the word "unification" practically on his lips, I felt warmly. I rose immediately, and spoke strongly, per- [start page 698] haps more strongly than on maturer deliberation I would have wished to do. At the same time I spoke, being unable to divest myself altogether of the character in which I came here, bound to do my duty to the commonwealth at, large, but sent here by the voice of the electors of one of the smaller states. When the word "unification" was employed, I applied it not unnaturally to some questions affecting the states as opposed to the nation, affecting the state from which I come, say such a question as the Murray waters, in which I think our state interests are of such a character that it would be highly undesirable that there should be any power in the federation to legislate on them finally, unless there was a consensus of opinion between a majority of the nation, and a majority of the states. I spoke from that point of view, and I felt that I was entitled to resent the suggestion that, in a matter in which the state interests were so vitally concerned, the state individuality should be practically exposed to the risk of extinction by the voice of the nation without due consultation with the states. I hold, however, that we should approach a question of this sort from every point of view, and, if we are bound to disagree with the expressions which are used by any other member of the Convention, we should endeavour, as far as we possibly can, to put ourselves in his place, and for the purpose of securing a solution that is fair to all, to picture to ourselves what our feelings would be were we circumstanced as he is. Under these circumstances, I asked myself what would be the position which, as a representative of a larger state, I would be inclined to adopt when it was proposed that, in a matter in which we were not concerned as states, in a matter of purely national importance, a provision was to be adopted by which a combination of the smaller states, representing only a small section of the community, might for a considerable period prevent effect being given to what undoubtedly was the national will. Under such circumstances, the resentment to which I tried to give expression yesterday, and which was natural
under the circumstances, would be as nothing to the resentment to which I might properly give expression as a representative of the larger state when national interests were subordinated to provincial notions by a combination of that character, and in which state rights, as a, matter of fact, were not really concerned. Now, sir, is there any way out of this difficulty? I think there is. I think that, whilst there are questions to which we may properly apply the term, "state interests," in which the states have a right, I will not say to a predominating voice, but to such a voice as will prevent them from being finally dealt with, unless there is the consent of a majority of the representatives of those states; still, on the other hand, there are questions to which no, such term can be properly applied, Which, are national questions, and with which the states have no right to interfere practically as states-certainly not for any considerable period to subordinate the well expressed will of the nation to their own independent view, and when they have no independent interest in the matter. How then is it possible to differentiate between these two different classes of cases?
The Hon. H. DOBSON: It is impossible!
The Right Hon. C.C. KINGSTON: I do not think you can do it within the four corners of the bill.
The Hon. H. DOBSON: Certainly not!
The Right Hon. C.C. KINGSTON: I do not think you can do it by picking out from the constitution various provisions, and saying, "This may affect state rights that will have no such effect." It seems to me that whether or not a question affects state rights is capable of determination at the time that question arises, when [start page 699] those who are called upon to decide it have before them all the circumstances which may affect the interests of the nation or the provinces. I am adopting, to some extent, a suggestion which has been made by my hon. and learned friend, Mr. Isaacs. I put it to hon. members: Can we not hit on some middle course in connection with this matter? Representatives of the smaller states on one side, and representatives of the larger states on the other all representatives of the nation that is to be; is not there any possibility of making an arrangement which will conserve the rights of the provinces, and, at the same time, have due regard for the interests of the nation? I think it can be done. To put it within the four corners of the constitution by specifying the powers will be impossible. There seems to be a consensus of opinion as regards the propriety of the double dissolution, and no doubt that will be carried. But suppose that that does not remove the difficulty, does not, as it were, sweep away the deadlock, what are you to do? The referendum is suggested. To whom should the referendum be applied? Some say, "Refer the question to the nation"; while others say, "Provide for a dual referendum," a referendum in which double majorities are required of the nation and of the state. I suggest that it should be to the nation as a mass, unless you have good ground for believing that state interests are concerned in the matter, and then that it is a question which, for its solution, will require a consensus of opinion between majorities of the people and majorities of the states. How are you going to decide? I suggest this way, and I am prepared to take this course, having every reliance on the responsibility under which a vote of this kind can be given. You cannot let the majority of the senate decide, because the supposition is that they are in opposition to the will of the house of representatives. They may decide-I am putting a hypothetical case on provincial grounds. You cannot take a majority of the house of representatives, because they being in opposition to the senate, would be supposed to decide on national grounds. But provide for taking the referendum by the people, unless by an expression of opinion from a section a representative minority of the house of representatives-it is declared that state rights are involved, and a poll of the states is demanded.
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: Then you sacrifice the people to the representatives?
The Right Hon. C.C. KINGSTON: I sacrifice the people to their representatives, how? The position is this: There is a possibility of the dual referendum, subordinating, it seems to me, the interests of the nation to a combination of the states. Let us, a minority of the people, provide, therefore, that that shall not be the general rule, but at the same time let us take care to conserve the interests of the state, and if there is any real reason in favour of the question being treated as a state
question, in which state rights are concerned, send it on to a dual referendum, and do not act unless you get a double majority. What I would put by way of suggestion for the acceptance of the Convention is: that if, say, one-third, I am not wedded to any particular proportion of the house of representatives declare when a reference is proposed, or at any convenient time of, course, that is a matter of detail that the matter is one in which state interests are concerned, it should not be decided by a national referendum, but a dual majority should be required for satisfactorily dealing with it.
The Hon. E. BARTON: Would not a clearer way of putting it be for a majority of two-thirds to declare that state interests are not involved.
The Right Hon. C.C. KINGSTON: That is a matter of the most absolute [start page 700] detail; it is the same principle. Members of the Convention will see this: that the result will be that when practically there is an overwhelming majority in the house of representatives in favour of the matter being treated as a national question, it will be so treated; but still, at the same time, the interests of the smaller states will be covered by a provision of the character to which I refer, and which will enable them, although in a position of being only one-half of the majority which is against them on the question as long as there is a substantial representation that the matter is a state question, to have all the protection they can possibly desire by means of the dual referendum. I have risen for the purpose of making this suggestion. It is not a new matter. I dealt with the question in 1891, when I submitted that the operations of the senate, called into existence for the purpose of protecting state rights, should, as far as possible. be limited as regards practical interference to cases when those rights are concerned. I have since been embarrassed by the difficulty of securing anything in the shape of a definition which will mark the line of demarcation between state questions and national questions. I make the suggestion I have made in the hope that it may be of some little assistance in the solution of the question.
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: Not the slightest!
The Right Hon. C.C. KINGSTON: I am very sorry, indeed.
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: That is my opinion!
The Right Hon. C.C. KINGSTON: I am sorry, indeed, it does not meet with the approval of my hon. colleague. I think the principle is generally recognised that in national questions the vote of the nation shall prevail. In state concern there should be a double majority before definite action is taken, and it is for the purpose of assisting, if possible, in securing some effective mode of giving effect to principles which, at least, will recommend themselves to the Convention-very difficult of accomplishment-that I have made these remarks.
Mr. SYMON (South Australia)[4.51]: I only rise to re-echo the sentiment which has just been expressed, that it is the duty of everyone of us to lend what assistance we can to the solution of this very difficult and intricate problem-a problem not only difficult and intricate, but one the wise solution of which involves so much in connection with the great cause we are here to promote. As at present advised, it seems to me that the contribution we have just heard rather adds to the existing obscurity than tends to dissipate it. It is absolutely bewildering to introduce at this particular stage another referendum. We have been dealing with two or three modes of solving the problem of deadlocks, but we are now to have introduced into the constitution two kinds of referendum. We shall never know what sort of referendum is to be adopted whether it is to be a dual referendum or a mass referendum. I am not going to say, at this moment, whether there is anything to commend it in the suggestion which has been offered, but what I suggest is that upon a matter of this kind, after a debate which has lasted two days, dealing with the amendments which are on the papers in our hands, we might well ask to have this suggestion thrown into some tangible form and put in print before we begin to absolutely discuss it.
Mr. HIGGINS: Certainly!
Mr. SYMON: I dare say the hon, member, Mr. Higgins, has control of the whole subject, and that he is going to settle the question right off. I have not that quickness and acuteness of intellect of my hon. friend. I have been endeavouring to do the best I could with the materials at my disposal in connection with the propo- [start page 701] sals which have been submitted during the last two or three days, and I am not prepared now, just at the time we are about to adjourn, to enter on a new field of investigation and deal with something which, at any rate, whether successful or not, is imposing a fresh complication on this very difficult problem. That is all I rose to say except this: that, on the face of it, this is a relinquishment of everything we have been contending for with regard to the mass referendum. If a two-thirds majority of the house of representatives is to decide a question of state interests as against the interests of some particular state, however small, then I say we had better abandon the whole thing. But, again, I say I do not ask any hon. member I do not ask myself to accept that view as in any respect final. I hope hon. members will not suppose for a moment that I intend to throw any cold water on the subject, but that we will give it the best consideration we can, and if we find that it is not obnoxious to the objections which seem to me, if I may use a legal phrase, to prima facie surround it we may be able to evolve something out of it. At present it is a waste of time to further discuss it.
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER (South Australia)[4.55]: I listened with great pleasure to the speech of the right hon. the Premier of New South Wales. I intended to say nothing in reference to it had it not been for the speech we have just had from the right hon. the Premier of South Australia. As far as the speech of the Premier of New South Wales is concerned, I must confess I was confused and bewildered to know exactly what it meant. I knew it to be an able speech, because everyone said so. I know that it was delightful to listen to, because I had the enthralment effects. I knew it was a humorous speech, because everyone laughed, and notably one of the hon. gentlemen from Victoria. But what it all came to boiled down I could not for the life of me make out.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: I think the people of New South Wales will know what it came to!
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: The right hon. gentleman, with his back to the Chairman-
An HON. MEMBER: The speech was not meant for us!
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: Addressed those who sat in the front gallery. I myself did not know exactly whom the hon. member was addressing, but the hon. member himself undoubtedly knew exactly whom he was addressing.
The Right Hon G.H. REID: I represent them too!
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: Sitting here as a member of the Convention who thought that we were entitled to be addressed, and not so much those in the galleries, I felt myself rather confused both to know the line of reasoning of the hon. member and the persons whom he addressed.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID:-
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: The right hon. gentleman may interject as much as he likes; I shall take no notice of his interjections. But I want to know what his speech, after all, came to. It was an able speech.
The Hon. J.H. HOWE: Bluff!
The Hon. H. DOBSON: This speech is not helping federation!
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: I do not think the speech of the Premier of New South Wales helped federation. I have had the honor to be on friendly terms with the right hon. gentleman, and I
certainly wish to say nothing which will offend him in any way; but his speech undoubtedly suggested many things, and meant nothing. We understood that there were to be some cases in which there should [start page 702] be a popular referendum, and other cases in which there should not; and we have heard from the Premier of our own colony, who seems to be moving on the same lines, that he is of the same opinion. What are these questions to be? That is what I want to know. What are to be the crucial questions which are properly subjects for a national referendum, and what are the subjects which ought to be left to a dual referendum? We have had very little assistance from anyone in arriving at a conclusion on that point. We have certainly had very little assistance from the right hon. the Premier of New South Wales on the subject. I understood in a general sort of way that the question of finance, and particularly the question of free-trade and protection, was to be one of the subjects to be left to a national referendum. But it was put in such a hazy ill-defined form that we, who are trying to draft a bill to make a constitution, have the greatest difficulty in understanding precisely what it comes to. Take, for instance, the question of customs. We consider that that is a matter which can be talked about only by the selected of the people's representatives in Committee. Upon this question, upon which member after member speaks again and again, which is considered line after line, which is considered one of so much importance in detail that those who are supposed to have more knowledge upon the subject than have the general public, have to approach its consideration with the greatest caution, there is to be a reference, after all, to the general public for their "aye" or "nay." It seems to me quite impossible that such a question could be intelligently answered by the public in any shape or form. Then it is proposed that all questions involving money are to be sent to a national referendum. We are practically saying that everything should be sent to a national referendum, because all matters which affect the public mind are so intimately connected with money that it would be difficult to find a bill which did not rest at bottom upon the question of money. We either have to say, therefore, that we will have a national referendum altogether, or we have to say we will not have any at all. There is no intermediate way. To my mind, it is quite impossible to select any subjects which you could say were proper subjects for the nation to speak upon and to distinguish them from other subjects which it would be proper for the states to speak upon, and yet other subjects upon which it would be proper for both to speak upon. Everything in life is so intimately involved that things are constantly overlapping. You never know precisely where you are upon many questions.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: You make yourself safe all round, and I am dissatisfied; I want to be a bit safe too!
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: I sympathise with that view, and I think it would have been much better had the right hon. gentleman taken us more into his confidence and told us what be meant; if, instead of making a very able speech, to which we all listened with delight, be condescended to bring himself to the humble position of the Drafting Committee.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: What are the Drafting Committee for?
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: To find out what you mean. They have not succeeded so far, and that is what I am complaining about.
The Hon. E. BARTON: We are not here to explain the milky way!
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: If the hon. gentleman agreed with me, he would soon find a means of drafting!
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: I always find that I agree with the right hon. gentleman more and more as most of [start page 703] us do when we come to closer quarters; but at present, I say, upon my honor, I do not know what he means; and I say, on my honor, that I do not believe he himself knows what he means. I do not know at the present moment what my hon. friend means what he wishes the referendum about. I do not know either what the right hon. the Premier of South Australia wants.
The Right Hon. C.C. KINGSTON: That is the hon. gentleman's misfortune, not my fault!
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: It is the duty of my hon. friend to so instruct less intelligent persons as to let them know a little bit only a little bit-edgeways what he is up to. I cannot, for the life of me, understand myself what be is up to. I understand the hon. gentleman is very strongly in favour of popular representation. He wants always the people's voice, and not the voice of any one else. Yet an arbitrary third of the house of representatives, without any question of the relation of the states or the number of representatives they return, is to determine the matter. In other words, only the voice of the nation in the house of representatives is to determine whether a matter is to be sent to a national referendum, or is to form the subject of a dual referendum.
The Right Hon. C.C. KINGSTON: Two-thirds can demand a national referendum; one-third can prevent it!
The Hon. Sir. J.W. DOWNER: I understand that.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: Then the hon. gentleman did understand what my hon. friend said!
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: I understood what he said.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: What more could you expect?
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: As I have said, I never listened with more delight to any speech than to that of the Premier of New South Wales; but it did not involve any particular position it was a most able speech, and full of points, full of humour, perfectly delightful, but in the end we all said, as the public will say tomorrow when they read it in the paper, "What does it all mean?" I do not know. I know it means something
The Hon. S. FRASER: Let us get to closer quarters!
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: I think that at this stage of the discussion we might have asked the right hon. gentleman to be a little more precise.
The Hon. S. FRASER: Well, we will force him into closer quarters!
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: I would not like to do that. The right hon. gentleman's weight is too much for me. I like to keep him at a respectful distance. But I say that the right hon. gentleman's speech, while delighting me, left me at last in a state of bewilderment delighted, but still wondering what this glorious victory was all about and I feel just the same at the present moment. We are here trying to settle a question which is of vital importance-Are we or are we not to leave federation? There is an agreement all round that if there is to be a general referendum, it is so against all the principles, so against all the history, of federation, so inconsistent with the very essence of that which we call a federation, that the matter is ended, and our discussion need proceed no further; and yet we have at the same time all this refinement, and a middle course is suggested by the Premiers of New South Wales and South Australia, which is to segregate certain subjects, which they are not good enough to define.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: I am glad that I suggested something. I did not think that the hon. and learned gentleman understood me a bit!
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: I am going to show the right hon. gentleman [start page 704] that I did not. The right hon. gentlemen proposed to segregate certain subjects which they were not good enough to define, and to say that those were proper subjects for the referendum, knowing the absolute impossibility of any one defining those subjects, mentioning questions of finance, but mentioning
them only for the purpose of showing how they ran through everything in legislation; and they were forced at last to the suggestion that the test should not be the views of the people of the different states, which they profess so strongly to represent, but the views of a certain proportion of the members of the house of representatives not of both houses which had no necessary relation at all to their constitution with regard to the different states, and which might in fact represent one state, and one state only.
The Hon. I.A. ISAACS: That is all the better!
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: The two-thirds which those right hon. gentlemen are in favour of might all come from one state.
An HON. MEMBER: That could not be!
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: And then they would have the general referendum, and that one state would rule, federation would be at an end, and Australia would become a consolidated concern.
The Right Hon. Sir G. TURNER: The right hon member, Mr. Kingston, said that one-third could demand a double referendum!
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: I care not whether one-third or two-thirds could demand it. I say that the result would be that powers which those right hon. gentlemen say belong to the people would be transferred to the members of the house of representatives. I hope that the right hon. member, Sir George Turner, does not misunderstand me, for I agree with a great deal of what he said. A certain majority I care not what of the house of representatives might, by their action, destroy the rights of the smaller states, force a national referendum, and leave the question of dual referendum out of consideration altogether. The speech that I heard from the right hon. member, Sir George Turner, like most of his speeches, had a ring of honesty that recommended it to me.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: Because he agreed with the hon. and learned member!
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: I do not mind that. I admit that when a man agrees with you, you do not like him any the less for that; but he did not agree with me.
The Right Hon. Sir G. TURNER: Nobody could absolutely agree with the hon. and learned gentleman
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: There is only one person who generally does, and that is not far from home. But what I recognised in the right hon. gentleman's speech was a true federal spirit quite apart from my local limitations.
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: We know what a true federal spirit means. The little. chap "collars" the lot!
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: I am quite sure that the Right Hon. Sir George Turner said just what he thought. Anxious for federation, he told us something I did not care for, and which I mean to oppose; but still he recognised the foundation principle that throughout all this discussion I have had in my heart and mean to contend for, when he said that there should be a federation, and that this Convention should not result in something which it is not our mission to create the consolidation of the whole of the colonies. Whether the senate is or is not forced back to its constituents, as the house of representatives may, of course, be, I look upon as a, matter of detail about which we need. not trouble ourselves very much. There is [start page 705] great force in the view which the right hon. the Premier of Victoria takes that we should have some sort of guarantee that the members of the senate as well as the members of the house of representatives shall truly represent the persons who return them. So far as that is concerned, I see no obstacle in the right hon. member's views to the federation
of Australia; but if we go beyond that if we go beyond the question of the dissolution of one, or the dissolution of the other, or the dissolution of both, or, if you please, even a referendum although I hate it-
The Right Hon. G.H. REID: Call it an appeal to the people!
The Hon. E. BARTON: No; that is a dissolutions different thing!
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: A dual referendum, although I detest it, still I will accept it in my enthusiasm for federation rather than see the great cause fail; but when we have introduced, first of all, the national referendum which is destructive of all we have come here to construct, and which we have been very industriously and laboriously constructing or a refinement of it, which practically leaves us just as we were, and throws on the majority which has no reference to states, and which might in effect be composed entirely of one state the power of bringing this same destructive, anti-federal spirit about, then I feel it my duty, strong views as I entertain on this subject, to express my opinions adversely to it. Although we may all speak as often as we please at this stage of the Convention, I had not intended, after the many able speeches in which the views of hon. members have been represented, to say any more about this question; but I do think that I have not trespassed too much on the time of the Committee, and that I have only done my duty to myself in rising now to enter my vehement protest against the suggestion that is now made, and to express my determination to do all I can to prevent any so-called federation from coming about on terms such as these.
The Hon. C.H. GRANT (Tasmania)[5.14]: I trust that hon. members will bear with me a few moments while I make a few remarks, which I am sure will here be of an unpopular character, drawing attention to the character of our legislation in regard to this federal movement. When we first commenced the consideration of a federation constitution there is no doubt that we were all imbued with a much more conservative spirit than we have at the present time. We have been gradually widening our platform, and have, so far, framed a new and original constitution, one of a unique character, and, therefore, we might well consider whether it will work satisfactorily. We should be very careful before going further in a democratic direction, and should consider well before deciding to give effect to the referendum, which, of all democratic ideas, is one of the most extreme. When the Convention sat in 1891 it was never intended that the senate should be elected in the manner now proposed in this bill. It has assumed a character quite unique, and is now in a form calculated to do violence to the feelings of those who are conservative in their ideas, because it is such a large departure from what we have been accustomed to consider as necessary in such an august body as a senate. We have now decided that the senate shall be based on manhood suffrage, and have thus given it the very widest possible basis. At the Adelaide Convention we attempted to give it an element of continuity by providing that its members should have a six years' tenure of office; that one half of the members should vacate their seats at the end of the first three years, so that, as regards half the senate, the voice of the electors should be ascertained every three years. We are now [start page 706] asked to depart from that principle, and as far as the referendum is concerned, the departure would be a very serious one indeed, and one which should only be adopted after the most mature consideration. We have always been accustomed, and rightly so, to consider the lower branch of the legislature the popular house. We do not complain that it is also based on the widest franchise and that it is truly representative of the people as component parts of a nation. But we have always been in the habit of regarding the senate as a chamber to be constituted on a different basis, as senates have been, and are at the present time, in other countries, and as being distinguished by continuity of office. We know that the Senate of Canada is a permanent body. We know also that the House of Lords, which is in one of the models of our Constitution, is a permanent body. The senates of our local legislatures are, in some cases, permanent bodies, and in other cases elected for considerable periods. But we are proposing to destroy altogether that idea of continuity, and fixity of tenure in the senate, and revert to a referendum whenever differences arise. I do not see much objection to the dissolution of the senate composed as it is; but I think it would be better that we should not go even to that extent. We might very well give up any notion of being troubled with deadlocks. There will be no occasion in the constitution we are framing to make any elaborate provision against deadlocks, and in my opinion it is
unnecessary that there should be a referendum or even a dissolution of the senate on any occasion whatever. The two houses will be elected on practically the same franchise. The only difference I can see between them-for I have no doubt they will equally represent the will of the people is that the senate will have continuity of office. This will give to it a permanent character, with stability in its deliberations, which the lower house, liable to be sent to their constituents at any time, will not have. I look with apprehension upon any attempt to interfere with that continuity of office in the senate, or any attempt to deprive it of that exclusive and conservative character which we have always been accustomed to regard as belonging to an upper house. That being so, it is not desirable that we should take into consideration the question of providing for deadlocks. We might safely leave it to the good sense of the two houses we propose to construct under this bill to settle any differences that might arise between them. In all cases the more permanent body, having regard to their constitution, and knowing that they are not so immediately in touch with their constituents, have always been ready to how to the will of the popular branch, and I do not doubt that it will be so in the case of the proposed senate. The upper chamber is not only so constructed that, on its first election, it will be "broad-based on the peoples will," but every three years there will be a reference to the people on the part of half its members. It will, therefore, always be in full touch with the constituencies, and we should consider whether it is advisable to derogate from its prestige by sending all its members to the country in an attempt to settle disputes, and thus belittle them in the estimation of the commonwealth. It, would be very unfortunate to so constitute the senate that its members could be sent back to their constituents at any time. The chief function of a senate is exercised in times of popular commotion, so that in case of any exceptionally stirring event, or serious difficulty arising, it can allow the people time to recover from their temporary agitation, and consider the matter with calmness and deliberation. I notice that in the provision for the referendum, this view has received some consideration, inasmuch as a certain period of time has been allowed [start page 707] before the referendum can be applied, or before the senate can be dissolved. But I think we should go further than that. We should not make any provision whatever for dissolving the senate. But should we do so, the proposal of the hon. and learned member, Mr. Symon, I think would be the best, that after the house of representatives has been dissolved, that house and the senate should be dissolved together, and thus the concrete will of the people at the time ascertained.
Mr. SYMON (South Australia)[5.24]: You intimated, sir, that the question you proposed from the chair was put in order to give the Committee an opportunity of expressing their views on the subject without committing themselves to anything definite. I intend to move the omission of all the words of the amendment after the first word "If," with a view of carrying into effect the intimation you were good enough to give from the chair. The first thing to be decided is whether a majority of the Convention is, as I apprehend, in favour of making some kind of provision for the prevention of what has been referred to as deadlocks. The question could be decided upon the proposal to omit these words. If a majority of the Convention decides in favour of their omission, the way will be clear for the submission of each successive proposal.
The Right Hon. Sir G. TURNER: But if we omitted these words could their insertion be submitted to us?
Mr. SYMON: I think so. At all events, I only desire to clear the way in order that we may record our votes upon the question of making provision against deadlocks.
The CHAIRMAN: I would point out to the hon. member that if he wishes to insert new words I can propose the insertion of these words after the word "If." Then, if that amendment is negatived, anyone who wishes a modification of the clause as it stands can move another amendment.
The Right Hon. Sir G. TURNER (Victoria)[5.26]: Might I make a suggestion? I understand that my hon. and learned friend does not want the whole of this clause to be voted upon at once. He wants to take a test division upon the question whether we should provide any mode of settling disputes between the two houses of legislature. The hon. and learned member will see, however, that if he
moves to strike out the words which he proposes to strike out, the question will be, "that the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause."
The Hon. E. BARTON: He can move his amendment by way of insertion!
The Right Hon. Sir G. TURNER: I would suggest that he move the omission of the first word in the clause, the word "If." We might accept a vote upon that question as a test vote upon the question whether we should provide any means for settling deadlocks. If we decide that the word "If" should stand part of the clause, we shall be perfectly free to deal with any suggestion that is made afterwards.
Mr. SYMON (South Australia)[5.27]: Undoubtedly the solution offered by my right hon. friend seems simple. The first question to be decided is whether we are to make any provision against deadlocks. If we decide that the word "If" shall stand, we shall have affirmed the proposition that provision should be made. Then to show what was in my mind-I propose to move an amendment, providing for the double dissolution, as it exists upon the statute book of South Australia. That proposal will come first in any event. What I understand is and I want to be quite clear upon this point that the proposed referendum, whether it be a, dual referendum or a mass referendum, is meant to be a proceeding subsequent to the result of the dissolution of the senate. Therefore there may be, and possibly there will be-but I [start page 708] do not make any prediction, although I know how I am going to vote myself-a majority of the Convention in favour of the dissolution of the house of representatives first, then of a successive dissolution of the senate, or of a dissolution of both houses at once, which is a matter of detail to be determined after; and then we should have to deal with the question whether a dual referendum or a mass referendum, such as has been described, should be adopted.
An HON. MEMBER: A national referendum!
Mr. SYMON: A national referendum! That is the better and more euphonious phrase. I apprehend that the first thing we have to do after deciding that some means shall be provided for preventing deadlocks is to deal with the question of dissolving the senate. Having dealt with that question, we then proceed to decide whether or not there is to be a referendum, subject to modification in regard to the provisions made for a dissolution. I will accept there commendation of the right hon. member, Sir George Turner, and will move the omission of the word "If."
An HON. MEMBER: The hon. and learned gentleman cannot do that, because he is in favour of making some provisions against deadlocks.
Mr. SYMON: Well, if I cannot move the omission of the word myself, I hope that the amendment will be moved.
The Hon. E. BARTON (New South Wales)[5.29]: As we are not going to sit tonight, I do not think that a vote can be taken upon the proposition which I understand the hon. and learned member, Mr. Symon, intends to submit. I suggest, therefore, that Mr. Chairman's recommendation be adopted. The hon. and learned member might begin his proposition with the words "the senate," and move its insertion after the word "If." I make the suggestion for the reason that this gives a clear opportunity for adopting or amending his proposal. If the amendment is rejected, the paragraph will remain as it stands now, and will be open to amendment in every particular, so that all the details in it and the preceding paragraph will be subject to such modifications as will suit the desires of the Committee.
The Right Hon. Sir G. TURNER: If the course suggested by the hon. and learned member is taken it will not enable those who desire to do so to have a test vote upon the question whether we should or should not provide means for the prevention of deadlocks. I would suggest that we should get a vote upon the question by dividing upon the omission of the word "If."
The Hon. E. BARTON: I take it that those who are against providing any means to prevent deadlocks will find exercise for their aspirations by voting against each successive proposal. It seems to me that the right way to deal with the proposal of the hon. and learned member, Mr. Symon, is that suggested by the Chairman. However, if the right hon. member, Sir John Forrest, wishes to move an amendment prior to that of the hon. and learned member, Mr. Symon, the course is open to him to do so. Of course, we could then take a division upon the general question as to whether means could be provided for preventing deadlocks.
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST (Western Australia)[5.33]: With a view to getting a test vote upon the question whether the Committee desires that provision should be made for the prevention of deadlocks, I move:
That the word "If" at the beginning of the paragraph be omitted.
Question-That the word proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause-put.
The Committee divided:
Ayes, 30; noes, 15; majority, 15.
[start page 709]
Abbott, Sir Joseph Kingston, C.C.
Berry, Sir G. Leake, G.
Brunker, J.N. Lewis, N.E.
Carruthers, J.H. McMillan, W.
Clarke, M.J. O'Connor, R.E.
Cockburn, Dr. J.A. Peacock, A.J.
Deakin, A. Quick, Dr. J.
Fraser, S. Reid, G.H.
Fysh, Sir P.O. Solomon, V.L.
Glynn, P.M. Symon, J. R.
Gordon, J.H. Trenwith, W.A.
Henry, J. Turner, Sir G.
Higgins, H.B. Wise, B.R.
Howe, J.H. Teller,
Isaacs, I.A. Barton, E.
Briggs, R. Henning, A.H.
Brown, N.J. James, W.H.
Crowder, F.T. Lee-Steere, Sir J.G.
Dobson, H. Venn, H.W.
Douglas, A. Walker, J.T.
Downer, Sir J.W. Zeal, Sir W.A.
Grant, C.H. Teller,
Hassell, A.Y. Forrest, Sir J.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Convention adjourned at 5.38 p.m.