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1897 AUSTRALASIAN FEDERATION CONFERENCE
- DEBATES - MARCH 22
- DEBATES - MARCH 23
- DEBATES - MARCH 24
- DEBATES - MARCH 25
- DEBATES - MARCH 26
- DEBATES - MARCH 29
- DEBATES - MARCH 30
- DEBATES - MARCH 31
- DEBATES - APRIL 1
- DEBATES - APRIL 2
- DEBATES - APRIL 5
- DEBATES - APRIL 6
- DEBATES - APRIL 7
- DEBATES - APRIL 8
- DEBATES - APRIL 9
- DEBATES - APRIL 12
- DEBATES - APRIL 13
- DEBATES - APRIL 14
- DEBATES - APRIL 15
- DEBATES - APRIL 17
- DEBATES - APRIL 19
- DEBATES - APRIL 20
- DEBATES - APRIL 21
- DEBATES - APRIL 22
- DEBATES - APRIL 23
- DEBATES - MAY 5
- APPENDIX. COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA BILL 1897
- DELEGATIONS FROM COLONIES
- INDEX TO DEBATES
- INDEX TO SPEECHES
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 2
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 3
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 6
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 7
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 8
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 9
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 10
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 13
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 14
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 15
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 16
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 17
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 20
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 21
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 22
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 23
- DEBATES - SEPTEMBER 24
- REPRESENTATIVES FROM COLONIES
- INDEX TO DEBATES
- INDEX TO SPEECHES
- FIRST SESSION
Content Window1897 Australasian Federation Conference
The text of this document has been electronically scanned from an original print copy. Freedom from errors or omissions cannot be guaranteed.
[Continue page 1092]
FRIDAY, 24 SEPTEMBER, 1897.
Petitions-Acknowledgment of Hospitality (Officers of Convention)-Instruction to Committee-Communication from Queensland-Return of Plan-Conference of Colonial Premiers-Commonwealth of Australia Bill-Adjournment (President-Chairman of Committees-Leader of Convention-Clerk).
The PRESIDENT took the chair at 2.30 p.m.
[start page 1093]
The Hon. J.H. CARRUTHERS presented a petition from the Grand Lodge of New South Wales of the Independent Order of Good Templars praying that provision may be made in the federal constitution to preserve to each state the right to prevent the importation of intoxicating liquors and opium.
The petition was received.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF HOSPITALITY.
OFFICERS OF CONVENTION.
The Hon. Sir R.C. BAKER (South Australia)[2.31]: Before the business of the day is called on, I should like, Mr. President, on behalf of the visitors to this colony, to thank the Government and the people of New South Wales for the gracious manner in which they have received us, and for the splendid hospitality with which they have entertained us. We have had two great difficulties to contend with while we have been here. The one was to know which of the numerous invitations which have been showered upon us we should accept, and the other to reconcile with the performance of our duties the attendance at a great many of the entertainments which we have been able to accept. I feel sure that there is no member of the Convention who will not leave the colony deeply impressed with the manner in which we have been received and treated. I may, perhaps, add a word or two in reference to the officials of the Convention, who by their aid and assistance have lightened our duties so far as they possibly could; and it would not be proper for me to sit down without giving my meed of thanks and acknowledgment to the Hansard Staff for the splendid manner in which they have performed their duties. It has been perfectly marvellous that, after a long debate extending in some cases nearly up to midnight, we should have received before we met again next morning splendid reports of the speeches which had been made-reports which, in most cases, required no alterations at all, and which in many cases were, perhaps, improvements upon the speeches which had been made. I do not think it necessary to say more than to again voice the opinions of every member of the Convention in acknowledging our thanks to the Government and people of New South Wales.
The Hon. Sir P.O. FYSH (Tasmania)[2.34]: Lest there should be any lack of response from the other colonies to the very fitting observations which the hon. and learned member, Sir Richard Baker, has offered upon behalf of the visiting representatives, I rise, in the absence of the Right Hon. Sir Edward Braddon, to offer my cordial concurrence in everything which the hon. and learned member has said, and, on behalf of Tasmania, to empbasise, if possible, his remarks. I know of no colony in the group which is so desirous of extending a hospitable welcome to the friends who visit it from time to time than is New South Wales-unless it be Tasmania. I am exceedingly sorry that I am not likely to
see our friends in Tasmania at the coming session of the Convention; but we shall look forward with the greatest desire for an opportunity to occur at some time or other when I trust that the great pleasures which we have enjoyed under the capital climatic influences of this season of the year in New South Wales may be repeated wherever we go, and particularly in the island to which I belong. I cordially indorse what has been said by the hon. and learned member, Sir Richard Baker, and would like, if it were possible, to add thereto.
The Hon. A. DEAKIN (Victoria)[2.35]: In the absence of the Premier of Victoria, I have pleasure in heartily indorsing the opinions which the more distant colonies have already expressed. We [start page 1094] who are next-door neighbours of this magnificent colony are naturally most familiar with the unstinted hospitality which is at all times extended to visitors to New South Wales; but in this case, familiarity, instead of producing its customary and proverbial results, only increases our desire to enjoy it still more frequently.
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST (Western Australia)[2.36]: I am very glad indeed, on behalf of Western Australia, to accord our best thanks to the Government and people of New South Wales for the very generous hospitality which they have extended to us. We had an opportunity before this, in 1891, of knowing the hospitality that New South Wales extends to the representatives of other colonies on occasions of this kind. My only regret is that we who come from the far off colony of Western Australia have so many opportunities of partaking of the hospitality of New South Wales, and other colonies, and but very little opportunity indeed of returning that hospitality. I only hope that the time is not far off when we in Western Australia may have an opportunity of showing to the representatives of these eastern colonies that we reciprocate in every way their kindness, and we hope to be able to show them, as far as our opportunities and means go, that we shall be very pleased to do all we can to make their visit to our colony enjoyable. I do not say these words as meaning only an occasion of this kind; but if any of the delegates who are here come to that far-off colony which I represent, and let me know that they are coming, I shall be glad to show them any attention that I possibly can. I have very much pleasure in giving my accord and that of my colleagues to the very kind and suitable expressions used by the hon. member, Sir Richard Baker.
The Hon. J.N. BRUNKER (New South Wales)[2.38]: In the absence of the Premier, I accept with gratitude the kind expressions of opinion by the representatives of the various colonies to the Government and people of New South Wales. I can assure you, sir, that it has been a source of great pleasure and satisfaction not only to contribute as largely as possible to the comfort and happiness of our visitors, but also, if possible, with a view to reciprocating the kind treatment which the representatives of New South Wales received at the hands of the South Australian Government. It has not only been a source, of pleasure to us to receive our friends with the utmost cordiality, but that feeling is partaken of by the great majority of the people of New South Wales, who, I am sure, have received an important lesson from the educational tendency of the debates and the eloquent speeches to which we have listened from the representatives ' of the other colonies during the time we have been engaged in considering the important subject which we have been discussing within the last two or three weeks. I thank the hon. member, Sir Richard Baker, for the kind terms in which he expressed himself, and also the representatives of the other colonies, and I can only assure hon. members that, if it is our pleasure to meet them here again, they will be welcomed with as much hospitality as it has afforded us great pleasure to be able to extend to them on this occasion.
The Hon. Sir JOSEPH ABBOTT (New South Wales)[2.39]: As the head of the Hansard Staff, I return, on their behalf, my sincere thanks for the kind manner in which Sir Richard Baker spoke of that body. The Hansard Staff of the Parliament of New South Wales is one of which every member of that body is proud, and there is no person in this community more proud of that Hansard Staff and of the officers of the Legislative Assembly than I am. On behalf of the Hansard [start page 1095] Staff, I may say that from the chief downwards every man is actuated by a desire to do his best to carry out the duties of his office.
INSTRUCTION TO COMMITTEE.
The Hon. E. BARTON (New South Wales)[2.41] rose to move:
That it be an instruction to the Committee of the Whole on the Commonwealth Bill that they have power to reconsider all clauses already considered before considering the clauses not yet considered, and that the standing orders be suspended to enable the Committee so to do.
He said: I will ask leave presently to amend the motion in one particular. Hon. members will recollect that it was for the purpose of carrying out their desires with reference to drafting amendments necessary in the bill that the Convention allowed the Drafting Committee the whole of yesterday and part of to-day, in order to bring the bill into the form in which, as far as we could judge, the Convention desired it to be. I will ask leave to amend the motion by inserting after the words "clauses not yet considered" the words "and to accept the suggested amendments of the Drafting Committee by one resolution." I do not propose to make that course an instruction to the Committee in the sense that they are to do it, but simply to enable the Committee to facilitate their own business in such a way as-they may please. Hon. members will find from the print of these amendments, which will be here in a minute or two, that they are confined to dealing with the amendments which the Committee themselves have made, except in the few points of drafting, but that in addition to matters covered by that expression, there is one matter and one only in which, though the Convention has not made a distinct amendment, an amendment has been made by the Drafting Committee, and it is in the clauses dealing with disqualification for electing or sitting of members. Hon. members will find that by clauses 45 and 46 persons attainted of treason or convicted of felony or other infamous crime are excluded from election and from sitting. In that respect the Drafting Committee had to gather the intention of the Convention. There was a general view expressed that the words "felony or other infamous crime" were too indefinite to remain in the bill, and, therefore, the Drafting Committee had to gather the sense of the debate, which was that these matters should be regulated by some term of punishment applicable to the offence, and all that they, have done in that respect, had been to leave out the words "felony or of any infamous crime" and to insert the following words:-
Any offence punishable under the law of the commonwealth or of a state, by imprisonment for three years or longer.
That is the only substantial amendment which the Convention will find has been implanted in the amendments by the Drafting Committee, and that was done in accordance with what they conceived to be the general sense of the Convention during the debate, and according to a suggestion made by my hon. and learned friend, Mr. Isaacs, which seemed to me to meet with great acceptance, so that I think it will be considered that, they have not taken a liberty there in any sense. This provision, if accepted, will remain in the bill simply to be dealt with at our meeting in Melbourne. With reference to the clauses about deadlocks, all that there has been any opportunity of doing has been to shorten them as much as possible consistent with fully expressing the meaning of the amendments carried. I think hon. members will find, after this Convention, that these provisions will need some amendment to bring them more into consistency with each other. It was not the work of the Drafting Committee to bring them into consistency with each other; but simply to express the intentions of the Convention, and that they have faithfully adhered to. I will ask [start page 1096] leave to amend the motion in this way, in order that if the Committee so choose they may, after the statement I have made, accept the amendments in globo, knowing, of course, that they will be all open to be dealt with when we meet in Melbourne. I ask leave to amend the motion by inserting after the words "clauses not yet considered" the words "and to accept the suggested amendments of the Drafting Committee by one resolution." Some hon. members may wonder why the preamble, and other parts of the bill which excited discussion, have not been amended by the Drafting Committee. It was no part of their business to go beyond the point which the Committee itself had reached in the bill, so that hon. members will not find any amendment suggested in any clause beyond clause 7. The preamble being the last thing to be considered in the bill-until we came to the title-the Committee could not touch it; but recognising the strong feeling which exists amongst some members of the Convention that there should be some
recognition of the power and wisdom of the Almighty, and invoking His assistance, there will be an amendment prepared which may be used in Melbourne, if necessary.
Amendment, by leave, amended.
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST (Western Australia)[2.48]: There is nothing to show which clauses have been amended and which have not.. The Hon. E. BARTON: Yes; that is shown!
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST: I mean it is not shown in the bill itself; there are no asterisks or anything of that kind. I should be the last to raise any difficulty in the way of, or to show any want of appreciation, of the work of the Drafting Committee, because I recognise most fully that our deepest thanks are due to these gentlemen for the great care and trouble, and the amount of study and time they have devoted to its very important work. I am sure that nothing but our best thanks are due to them. Nevertheless, I must say, in regard to the amendment in clause 45 just referred to by the leader of the Convention, that it seems to me that, seeing that we are to meet again, it would be just as well if we left the clause in the bill as framed in Adelaide. I do not exactly understand what the effect of the words will be. It seems to me that no one wants persons who are suffering a term of imprisonment eligible to be members of the commonwealth parliament. I take it that the person who has received a sentence of two years for some infamous offence is still eligible, without having purged the whole of his offence by serving the whole of his time, to be a member of the parliament.
The Hon. E. BARTON: In a case of that kind he is punishable by the term of three years, or perhaps longer, by the law of all the colonies. The matter is not regulated by the amount of punishment awarded but by the amount to which he was liable.
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST: I have no hesitation in expressing the opinion that if he has received a sentence of two years imprisonment he is as bad, or almost as bad, as the man who has received a sentence of three years' imprisonment. I think we ought to guard our parliament against gentlemen of that character, and it appears to be clear now that a man sentenced to three years' imprisonment may serve any time less than three years-
The Hon. E. BARTON: Oh no! Perhaps the right hon. gentleman will allow me to explain. The liability to punishment regulates matters. A man might commit an offence for which he was liable to three years' imprisonment or more. The court might treat him with leniency, and be might be sentenced to less than three years' imprisonment. But, nevertheless, he would by the operation of this clause, [start page 1097] be excluded from being eligible or from sitting, inasmuch as the offence itself entailed a liability to punishment to that extent; so that, even if he had served less than the three years mentioned in the bill, he would still be excluded so long as his offence was in such a category that he could be punished to that extent.
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST: I take it that when a prisoner is released. the disability is removed, and be would be eligible.
The Hon. E. BARTON: Yes, that is right!
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST: I cannot see any force in that-that if a man receives a sentence of three years' imprisonment, and serves two years, be is still eligible.
The Hon. E. BARTON: The law supposes that he would have atoned for his offence when he had served two years!
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST: I should not like to see gentlemen of that character sitting in Parliament.
The PRESIDENT: It would probably be more convenient to discuss this matter in Committee. The question now is, that when the Committee have the amendments before them, they shall have power to dispose of them all by one motion, if it is deemed fit to do so.
Mr. LYNE (New South Wales)[2.52]: I have not had time to look through these amendments, and I think it would be useless to attempt to analyse them at the present time. We have the assurance of the leader of the Convention, on behalf of the Drafting Committee, that there is nothing new excepting what the hon. and learned gentleman referred to; but what I rose particularly for was to ask the leader of the Convention whether any report has been received from the Finance Committee, and whether any suggestions have been made with reference to the financial proposals, and, if not, whether the financial question simply rests where it was before, the bill being the same as when it, left the hands of the Convention at Adelaide, and the whole matter is to be considered when the Convention meets in Melbourne?
The Hon. E. BARTON (New South Wales)[2.53]: The position is this: The Committee have not gone beyond clause 70. The finance clauses proper are from 90 to 93, and therefore the Committee have of course not touched them, nor, consequently, could the Drafting Committee in any way touch them, and the whole of the financial provisions remain to be considered in Melbourne. All the Drafting Committee have been able to do has been to circulate some clauses, carrying out what they gathered to be the wish of a considerable number of hon. members during the debate. But it is a mere matter of drafting, and does not bind hon. members down to anything. Those clauses are mere suggestions, and in the meantime the clauses agreed to at Adelaide remain in the bill, subject to being dealt with at Melbourne. In reply to the question asked by the hon. member as to the meeting of the Finance Committee, I may state that the Finance Committee did meet, and they resolved that for the present the proper course was that the two representatives of each colony on that committee should communicate with each other, and prepare memoranda which should be exchanged before the meeting of the Convention in Melbourne, and that, if possible, the Finance Committee should meet before the Convention meets in Melbourne and deliberate on the suggestions that they may make to the Convention.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
COMMUNICATION FROM QUEENSLAND.
The Hon. E. BARTON (New South Wales)[2.55] rose to move:
That this Convention desires to express its gratification at the announcement contained in [start page 1098] the Hon. Sir Horace Tozer's communication, and its fervent hope that representatives of the people of Queensland will take part in its adjourned deliberations.
He said: This is a motion that requires very little speech to commend it. Everyone knows the ardent desire which the representatives of all the colonies now engaged in this work have that Queensland should take part in our deliberations, and the feeling we all entertain that while we may make an effective and powerful federation without Queensland, there can be none that is complete without her. Our opinion on this matter has been often enough expressed in debate. Those debates have reached our friends in Queensland, and I think they are well assured not only of the feeling of the members of the Convention, but of the public feeling throughout the colonies. I have not only an ardent hope but a profound conviction that that cordial feeling which the other colonies entertain for the colony of Queensland, and the prospect of the benefits which will arise to that colony from joining in the federation-which without the slightest doubt I believe will before long be accomplished-will induce Queensland to take part in our deliberations at Melbourne.
The Hon. Sir JOSEPH ABBOTT (New South Wales)[2.58]: I am one of those who believe that, sooner or later, Queensland will be one of the largest of the Australian states, and I am one who will rejoice immensely if the Queensland legislature can see its way to send representatives to this
Convention. But I am not one of those who have the slightest sympathy with the Queensland Government in the manner in which they have dealt with this question. We were told in Adelaide that if, by any means, there was a possibility of postponing the ultimate determination of the Convention, we should have Queensland with us. The Government of Queensland have, on two occasions, made very vague attempts to be represented in this Convention, attempts by which they failed to give the people of Queensland an opportunity of sending representatives to the Convention. I hope-speaking as a representative of New South Wales that we shall have, at our next meeting, representatives from Queensland, chosen by the people of Queensland. I hope that the opportunity, which has never yet been given to the people of Queensland as a people, to send representatives to the Convention will be afforded them. The Government took such methods as made it quite clear from the beginning that there could be no representation of that colony. As I said before, we were told in Adelaide that if by any possibility there could be an adjourned meeting of the Convention we should have Queensland represented at that adjourned meeting. We all know too well, and we all, I am sure, regret deeply, as federationists, the manner in which the Government have proposed to deal with this question in Queensland; and I am only speaking now in the hope that some warning may go to the Queensland Government to prevent them from attempting again what they have already twice attempted, and twice failed in doing, that is, to send representatives to this Convention not chosen by the people of Queensland.
The Hon. J.H. GORDON: There are representatives here who were not chosen by the people!
The Hon. Sir JOSEPH ABBOTT: The people of Queensland have never had an opportunity of sending representatives to the Convention.
The Hon. J.H. GORDON: Neither have those of Western Australia. That is not our business!
The Hon. Sir JOSEPH ABBOTT: It is our business. I object to these laudatory congratulations which we ourselves must feel are insincere. I do not think the [start page 1099] Queensland Government are to he thanked at all for their proposal to send representatives to the adjourned meeting of the Convention. But if they can learn a lesson from the past then it will be a very good thing that the adjournment of the Convention to Melbourne has been agreed to, and that, we shall have a third opportunity of considering the question. I am speaking now only with the earnest hope that a great colony like Queensland will be represented in the Convention, and I join with my hon. and learned friend, Mr. Barton, in saying that there can be no Australian federation with Queensland standing out. At the same time I am not going to praise the Queensland Government for a telegram announcing that they are going to come to the next meeting of the Convention.
Mr. GLYNN: It does not praise them it expresses our gratification!
The Hon. Sir JOSEPH ABBOTT: It says that the Convention "desires to express its gratification." What does that mean? There is no gratification to me. There can be no gratification when we know what has been done in the past. Let the Queensland Government do what the governments of the other colonies have done, and I have no doubt there will be representation at our next meeting. I have no desire to do anything which will prevent the representation of Queensland at the next meeting of the Convention.
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST: The hon. member now is doing his best to prevent it!
The Hon. Sir JOSEPH ABBOTT: No. I am doing my best to bring them here by a note of warning to the Queensland Government that there is no use in further trifling with the question. They have twice sent messages to the Convention
Mr. MCMILLAN: The motion before the Convention only expresses gratification at the announcement contained in the letter of Sir Horace Tozer!
The Hon. Sir JOSEPH ABBOTT: Well, I feel no gratification about it, because I doubt its sincerity. We were told the same thing in Adelaide. The telegram, which was sent from Queensland then was received by the members of the Convention with cheers. I at the time expressed the opinion that Queensland would not be represented at this session, and I express the opinion now that if the matter rests with the Government of Queensland, that colony will not be represented at the next adjournment of the Convention.
Mr. MCMILLAN: We are not asked to express our gratification at the action of the Queensland Government, but with the announcement contained in the letter.
The Hon. Sir JOSEPH ABBOTT: Well, I am not gratified with the announcement.
Dr. QUICK: The hon. member is singular!
The Hon. Sir JOSEPH ABBOTT: I may be singular, but I am truthful and sincere.
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER: We are sincere, whether the Queensland Government are so or not!
The Hon. Sir JOSEPH ABBOTT: I want to see Queensland represented, and no one will rejoice more than I shall if Queensland is represented here. I look upon Queensland as the colony possessing the greatest resources in Australia, and sooner or later it must be a powerful component of federated Australia. I earnestly hope that Queensland will be with us at our next meeting; but, at the same time, I must express my doubts as to the sincerity of the Government of that colony.
The Right Hon. Sir E. BRADDON (Tasmania)[3.2]: I do not think that hon. members of the Convention can entertain any doubt as to the advisability of expressing our deep gratification at the hope now presented to us that Queensland will be represented at the next meeting of the [start page 1100] Convention. I do not think that any uncertainty or hesitancy upon the part of the Queensland Government-if there has been such uncertainty or hesitancy-should influence us at this moment. We are dealing now, not so much with the Government as with the people of Queensland, from whom, or from whose representatives, as I understand it, this new movement in regard to the representation of the colony here has arisen. For my own part, whatever may be my opinion as to the past action of the Queensland Government, I shall cordially join in the course which is now proposed to us.
Dr. QUICK (Victoria)[3.3]: I have great pleasure in supporting the motion, and in joining in the sentiment of gratification at the announcement contained in the communication of Sir Horace Tozer, which is expressed in the motion before us. I should be very sorry indeed to utter a single jarring note upon the present occasion, and I am quite sure that the hon. member, Sir Joseph Abbott, had no intention whatever to do so in the statement which he has just made. People at a distance can hardly form a correct or an adequate idea of the local difficulties with which the Government of Queensland may have had to contend in dealing with this question. When I visited Brisbane less than a couple of years ago, I waited on the Right Hon. Sir Hugh Nelson in connection with this movement, and from the statement be made to me then I was led to believe that he was thoroughly sound upon the federal question, and desired to do all he possibly could to forward it. There may be, and there have been, local difficulties in the way of the Government, both from their own supporters as well as from the Opposition, which have led to delay in the representation of Queensland at the Convention; but I think that, notwithstanding this delay, we ought to hold out the hand of welcome without stint and without qualification. I think that we are all delighted to find that by a resolution of her Legislative Assembly, Queensland has determined to be represented, not by a nominated delegation, not by a delegation chosen by the legislature of Queensland; but by representatives elected by the whole people. I feel confident that in the representatives elected by the people of Queensland at large we shall have a strong representation, which will be able to place before this Convention at its adjourned meeting at Melbourne views and considerations which will be of great weight, and which will be of great assistance in helping this Convention to place the finishing touches upon this federal constitution. We
have every reason to be pleased. I concur in the view so often expressed by the Right Hon. Sir John Forrest, that no federation will be perfect unless the whole of Australia is represented in the federation, and unless the whole of Australia is able to confirm the constitution. If the whole of Australia is represented at this final sitting, we shall have all the stronger hope of arriving at an ultimate decision, which we will be able to recommend to our respective colonies.
The Hon. Sir J.W. DOWNER (South Australia)[3.6]: The importance of Queensland to the federation could not be painted in stronger terms than those used by the Hon. Sir Joseph Abbott. Therefore, we cannot do less than express our gratification that the colony which is great, and which in the opinion of the Hon. Sir Joseph Abbott will be the greatest, has through its people's house pledged its national faith to be represented at the adjourned meeting of the Convention. It is from that point of view, recognising at once the importance of the subject, that I readily support this motion.
Mr. WALKER (New South Wales)[3.7]: As an old Queenslander, it affords me the greatest pleasure to hear that we may expect Queensland to be with us at the adjourned meeting. Only this morn- [start page 1101] ing I had the pleasure of reading in the Brisbane Courier, of Wednesday last, that an important meeting had been held in Bundaberg of the leading sugar manufacturers and representatives of the central mills and canegrowers' associations, and that a resolution was carried which reads in the first part as follows:-
That the Government be asked to help the sugar industry in the present crisis, and this meeting is of opinion that the only help possible would be in federation.
That message has evidently gone through the northern and central districts of Queensland, because there is to be a deputation to Sir Hugh Nelson on his return to bring these views before him. At Bundaberg a telegram was read from Mr. Long, of Habana Plantation, one of the oldest sugar planters in the Mackay district, promising co-operation. In Central and Northern Queensland the feeling is evidently growing in favour of federation. Without going beyond the ordinary lines, I hope I may be allowed to say that the Government of Queensland have had very good reasons, which are not known to hon. gentlemen, for the apparent delay which has occurred since the meeting that we held in Adelaide. The understanding then was, on behalf of Sir Hugh Nelson and Sir Horace Tozer, that the Parliament would be content to have representatives chosen as follows by itself: Namely, two from the Upper House, three from the Opposition, and five from the Ministerial side of the Lower House. Ministers had every reason to suppose that that proposition would be accepted by the Assembly, and they therefore did not call Parliament together so early as they otherwise would have done. When the Assembly met it turned out that there was a coalition against the proposal to send representatives elected by Parliament, and then Sir Horace Tozer regretted that the Government had not called Parliament together earlier. It was impossible at that late period in the session to appeal to the people in time to be with us. I am quite sure that Sir Horace Tozer and others would have been quite satisfied to do that if they had not, as they thought, the assurance of Parliament in the previous session that it would elect representatives. I am sure there is no desire, and never has been, on the part of the Government of Queensland to treat us otherwise than courteously. I am glad to see the growing spirit of brotherhood among all the colonies on this question of federation, and I shall be both pained and surprised if Queensland is not represented by ten as able men as a delegation as we have had the pleasure of meeting here.
The Hon. J.N. BRUNKER (New South Wales)[3.10]: Without entering into any details, I, as an Australian, am exceedingly gratified to assent to the proposition which has been submitted by our worthy leader. I hail it as, another link in that connection which I am sure we all so much desire, that is, that Queensland shall be associated with us in any constitution which is framed for the federation of these great colonies. Queensland has been for so long associated with New South Wales that we all recognise her greatness, and her magnificent resources, and wish her every prosperity. I also concur with the opinion which has been expressed, that without Queensland this federation would be incomplete. I therefore hope that at our next meeting she maybe fully represented. I am sure that we
shall all extend the hand of welcome to her representatives who come to take part in the formation of that great federation which we hope to see established in Australasia.
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST (Western Australia)[3.11]: I simply rise to express my entire concurrence with the proposal made by my hon. and learned friend, Mr. Barton. I am sure that it will be a great gain to all of us to have Queensland represented in this Convention, and [start page 1102] every one, I think, will allow that a federation which excludes Queensland from it will not be the federation that we are all looking forward to. We have had opportunities to judge of the public men of Queensland here in 1891 and on other occasions, and, speaking for myself, I never had an opportunity to work with men who took a greater interest in all that appertains to the welfare of the Australian continent, and I shall be very, glad indeed if, in the concluding sitting of the Convention, we shall have the privilege of being associated with the public men of Queensland. I cordially concur with this motion, which, I think, is very opportune, and altogether desirable. I regretted, however, to hear the speech of the hon. member, Sir Joseph Abbott-
The Hon. Sir JOSEPH ABBOTT: The hon. member should rejoice!
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST: I really think the hon. member could not have thought of what he was saying when he made those observations, when he took upon himself to warn the people of Queensland. I have no doubt that the people of Queensland are quite capable of looking after their own business without any warning from the hon. gentleman or from any one else. To apply the expression "warning" to a great country is, I think, altogether improper. I am sure that my hon. friend will not like the expressions he used in regard to that colony when he sees them in print.
The Hon. Sir JOSEPH ABBOTT: Yes, he will!
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST: If the hon. member does approve of the words he used, all that I can say is that I think he stands alone in this Convention. I do not think that this is the time for us to warn one another or to threaten. This is a time when we should show good feeling and mutual respect in every way. We do not know, not being in Queensland, the difficulties which the Government have had to encounter there. It is all very well for hon. members who are now safe in their seats in this Convention to make little of the difficulties which have surrounded the Queensland Government in dealing with this question. I have no doubt that they have had great difficulties to contend with.
The Hon. Sir JOSEPH ABBOTT: They had no greater difficulties than other governments!
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST: Perhaps if the course had to be followed in some of these colonies at the present time, the difficulties would not be so small as they were when we dealt with them. At any rate, I am not one who will make any observations which will in any way reflect on the Government of Queensland, because I think it is a matter which is entirely within their own jurisdiction, and I feel quite certain that all they have done they can fully justify. I have very much pleasure in according my support to the motion.
The Hon. H. DOBSON (Tasmania)[3.14]: I think we shall all be very glad to learn whether our hon. leader has any intimation from Queensland as to whether the dates which have been fixed will suit the Queensland delegates? We have already had two sittings of this Convention, and on each occasion I regret to say we fixed a date which did not allow us time to finish our very important work, and as we have left, most unwisely I think, a very great deal of work to be settled in Melbourne, it is most important that we should fix a date which is equally convenient to everybody, particularly to our Queensland friends, whom we all wish to welcome at the next sitting of the Convention.
The Hon. E. BARTON (New South Wales)[3.15], in reply: I should like to remind my hon. friend, Sir Joseph Abbott, [start page 1103] that the re-solution passed by the Legislative Assembly of Queensland was:
That in the opinion of this House the Acting Chief Secretary should request the Australasian Federal Convention now sitting in Sydney not to conclude its work until Queensland has an opportunity of being represented at that Convention by representatives directly appointed by the electors of the colony.
The Hon. Sir JOSEPH ABBOTT: That may postpone action indefinitely!
The Hon. E. BARTON: Queensland may postpone action indefinitely; but I take it that the Convention will regard this resolution as the strongest bona fide expression of intention on the part of the representative House in Brisbane to be represented at the adjourned sittings of the Convention. I take it that that body would not have requested the Convention not to adjourn its work-that is to say, not to conclude its work-until they had an opportunity of being represented, unless there had been a direct intention on their part to be represented, as they have put it, by representatives directly appointed by the electors-of the colony.
The Hon. A. DEAKIN: Hear, hear; that is the point!
The Hon. E. BARTON: That is to say, appointed in the same way as representatives of four of the colonies have been appointed, and as no doubt, had circumstances been different the representatives of the fifth of the colonies would have been appointed. There is the strength, as it appears to me, of this intimation: first, that the request would not be made unless the intention to be represented was strong and, next, that that intention is fully explained in the concluding words of the motion referring to representations by direct appointment by the electors of the colony. That direct appointment by the electors of the colony is the method which has not had its part in either of the bills hitherto introduced by the Government of Queensland. It is a new departure on their part and one which brings them into line with the remainder Of the colonies, and one which, I believe, we will find has given their representatives when they elect them, the greatest force possible in deliberations of this kind. Therefore, I think that we ought to be gratified at such an announcement, both as an expression of the intention and as an expression as to the way in which that intention is to be carried out. I think there is, on all these points, a distinct departure from anything hitherto done by Queensland, and that is the real reason for our gratification.
The Hon. J.N. BRUNKER: That resolution was affirmed by a large vote of the Assembly!
The Hon. E. BARTON: As the hon. member reminds me, the resolution was affirmed by, I think a vote of 38 to 12.
The Hon. A. DEAKIN: Counting the pairs?
The Hon. E. BARTON: Yes, I suppose, counting the pairs. I have been asked a question by the hon. member, Mr. Dobson, as to whether any communication has been received by Queensland approving of the date fixed for the Adjourned meeting of the Convention, or suggesting that the date should be altered. As soon as the resolution-or at least within an hour or two, afterwards-was arrived at to the effect that the adjourned sittings should begin in Melbourne on the 20th January, I telegraphed the fact to Sir Horace Tozer, and as I have had no reply from him expressing any dissatisfaction, nor as I understand has any one else, I take it that Queensland is not dissatisfied with the fixing of that date. I hope that the resolution will be carried unanimously.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The PRESIDENT: I desire to lay on the table the reply which has been sent to Queensland pursuant to the direction of the Convention.
Motion (the Hon. E. BARTON) agreed to:
That the document be printed.
[start page 1104]
RETURN OF PLAN.
Resolved (on motion Hon. E. BARTON):
That the Clerk of the Convention be authorised to return to Mr. Glynn the original plan, laid on the table on Wednesday, September 22nd, showing the levels of the Murray and Darling Rivers, &c.
CONFERENCE OF COLONIAL PREMIERS.
Dr. QUICK (Victoria)[3.19] rose to move:
That there laid before this Convention a copy of the report of the late conference of Colonial Premiers with the right hon. the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
He said: This report contains very valuable expressions of opinion by the right hon. the Secretary of State, and they will probably be of great interest and use at the adjourned sitting of the Convention.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA BILL.
In Committee (consideration resumed from 22nd September, vide page 1091):
Motion (Hon. E. BARTON) agreed to:
That the consideration of the remainder of clause 52 be further postponed.
The Hon. E. BARTON (New South Wales)[3.21]: The Committee have power to reconsider all clauses already considered before considering the clauses not yet considered; but I propose to take a course which may perhaps satisfy hon. members at this stage. I think that I shall have the sense of the Committee with me in moving:
That the Committee do now agree to the suggested amendments of the Drafting Committee.
The Right Hon. C.C. KINGSTON (South Australia)[3.22]: I wish to call the attention of the Drafting Committee to one matter which has struck me. I notice that an expression which was used in the clause relating to deadlocks has been altered in one particular which may or may not be of importance. It is as regards the first part of the provision.
An Hon. MEMBER: What is the number of the amendment?
The Right Hon. C.C. KINGSTON: Amendment 32, page 5. The form in which it was passed, I think on the motion of the hon. and learned member, Mr. Symon, provided that if the senate should fail to pass a proposed law, and if the governor-general should dissolve the house of representatives, and if within six months after the dissolution, the house of representatives, by a certain majority, should pass that law again, then certain consequences should ensue. The hon. and learned member, Mr. Symon, expressly struck out the words in the amendment, as originally proposed, "on that account," referring to the dissolution, and there was nothing which necessarily connected the dissolution with the original trouble. All that was provided, so I took it, was that after the trouble there should be a dissolution which would enable the sense of the country to be taken.
The Hon. A. DEAKIN: That is so in the bill now!
The Right Hon. C.C. KINGSTON: There is one word there which was not in the amendment originally carried by us.
The Hon. E. BARTON: "Thereupon"!
The Right Hon. C.C. KINGSTON: Yes; if the governor-general should "thereupon" dissolve the house-that is, on the dispute. Certainly it was not so expressed in the amendment as originally carried.
The Hon. A. DEAKIN: That is not in the bill!
The Right Hon. C.C. KINGSTON: It is not in the bill.
The Hon. A. DEAKIN: That is the recommendation of the Drafting Committee, I understand!
The Hon. E. BARTON: Our interpretation of the meaning of the Convention!
The Right Hon. C.C. KINGSTON: In the bill as reported on September 22nd, as amended in Committee, the word "thereupon " does not occur. I am not expressing my opinion finally on the matter.
[start page 1105] The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST: It's all right!
The Right Hon. C.C. KINGSTON: I do not always see eye to eye in these matters with the right hon. member, Sir John Forrest, and something which would recommend itself to him might not recommend itself to me. I simply call the attention of the Drafting Committee to the word "thereupon," and I suggest that it to some extent might be construed, or it might be argued that it should be construed, to restore the clause to the shape in which it was originally proposed with the words "on that account" in it, and which was not acceptable to the House. I commend the matter to the further consideration of the Drafting Committee, and at the right time, which I do not consider to be the present, I shall have a further opportunity of referring to it.
Dr. QUICK (Victoria)[3.26]: I notice that in amendment 5, Chapter 1, clause 13, in the clause as printed, the Drafting Committee suggest the following words for adoption:-
After the senate first meets and after each first meeting of the senate following a dissolution thereof the senate shall by lot divide the senators chosen for each state as soon as may be into two classes as nearly equal in number as practicable.
The dissolution of what was originally a continuous body necessitates provision for what is to take place after the dissolution. I was somewhat interested to learn the view the Drafting Committee would take as to the redistribution of seats, or the redistribution of terms. It struck me that the best way to redistribute the terms upon re-election would not be by lot, as upon the first election to the federal parliament, but that the new senators should be divided into two classes, according to their position on the poll.
The Hon. E. BARTON: That would be a matter for the Convention, and one with which the Drafting Committee could not deal!
Dr. QUICK: On the amendment being made providing for a dissolution of the senate, there was a hiatus in the bill, and the Drafting Committee has suggested that provision should be made in the direction of choice by lot, to determine the order of subsequent retirement of senators.
The Hon. E. BARTON: Those words remain in the clause all the time!
Dr. QUICK: Those words have reference to the first determination by lot; but the amendment made by the Convention made no provision-
The Hon. E. BARTON: It was for a continuous dealing with the matter!
Dr. QUICK: I would suggest that the Drafting Committee should take this into consideration-whether upon a dissolution of the senate in the case of a deadlock, instead of the seats being distributed by lot-that is, by chance or by accident-the principle should be adopted of redistributing the seats, or the term of the seats, according to the position in which the returned senators stand upon the poll. In that case the senators who had gained apparently the highest esteem of the electors would have the longest term of office, and that would be an advantage to which they would be reasonably entitled, rather than that it should be left to a matter of chance or lot.
The Hon. R.E. O'CONNOR: That principle should apply equally to the first election!
The Hon. E. BARTON (New South Wales)[3.28]: This was a matter with which the Drafting Committee could not deal. We found that the principle of the division of the senate into classes was determination by lot. We had to leave that in the bill as it stood, because it was not for us to make any substantial amendment. Therefore, we retain the principle, merely providing for the case of a dissolution of the senate. It will be for the Convention, if they agree with my hon. and learned friend, to amend this provision in Mel- [start page 1106] bourne. As my hon. and learned friend, Mr. O'Connor, has pointed out, if the division is to be according to the position on the polls after a dissolution, then the two classes should be so divided in the first instance also. It was a more important question than the Drafting Committee could decide, and one for the Convention alone, whether that alteration should be made. As to the suggestion thrown out by the right hon. member, Mr. Kingston, the use of the word "thereupon" arises from this consideration: In the amendment as originally framed in the Convention the words, as he correctly says "on that account" occurred. These words were struck out, The Drafting Committee presumed that they were struck out because it was not right to suggest in a bill of this kind that the governor-general dissolved the house or the houses for any particular reason, inasmuch as the power of dissolution is a prerogative power which the governor has a right to exercise without assigning any reason. Therefore, we would not for a moment attempt to reintroduce the words "on that account." The object of the insertion of the word "thereupon" meant only this: not to reinsert the provision otherwise described as "on that account," but simply to provide that the governor should within a reasonable time exercise the power of dissolution, if he intended to exercise it, so that that power might not be kept-and we conceived it was not the intention of the Convention that it should be kept-hanging in suspense over the head of any legislative chamber, that if it were intended to be exercised, it should be exercised within a reasonable time. That is our interpretation of what we thought the reasonable meaning of the Convention. Of course, if that is not the right interpretation, the mistake can easily be rectified by omitting the word "thereupon" when we meet again in Melbourne.
The Hon. A. DEAKIN (Victoria)[3.31]: The word "thereupon" meets with the objection that it is capable of more than one interpretation. If in Melbourne we come to decide, as the hon. and learned member, Mr. Barton, has suggested, that this dissolution should follow within a reasonable time we had better may so, or clearly express whatever else we mean. The word "thereupon" creates ambiguity and we had better avoid it. With regard to the question of choosing the senators by lot, the hon. and learned member, Mr. O'Connor, is aware that I entertained a strong opinion in Adelaide against the adoption of any such method, unless no equally good means could be devised. I have always thought that one of the means which might be chosen is to fix the terms of members in the order in which they are placed at the poll. That, however, is a, matter which will be properly open to discussion when we meet again.
The Right Hon. C.C. KINGSTON (South Australia)[3.32]: The explanation given by the hon. and learned member, Mr. Barton, rather confirms me in the objection which I take to the use of this expression. I should like to remind hon. members that when the amendment was recommended to our notice it was said to be based upon the provision made by South Australia, and it was made to more closely resemble it by striking out the words "on that account." The South Australian provision was that if there were a dispute between the two houses, and after a general election had taken place, that dispute was repeated in the next parliament, certain consequences should ensure. The words used in South Australia are "after a general election." Here a different expression is being used. We speak of "a dissolution," and that word is being emphasised by the use of the word "thereupon," which the more I think of it, the more I feel disposed to consider a grave [start page 1107] mistake. It altogether alters the position, which should be that if the house of assembly, having submitted to a general election-I do not care whether it is after a dissolution, or after the expiry of parliament by effluxion of time-comes back and renews a dispute with the senate, the power of sending the senate to its constituents to ascertain whether the newly elected house of assembly faithfully represents the popular view, shall be exercisable. I think it is a pity that we should have departed from the South Australian provision. It would have been better to speak of "general elections"; but those words were not used in the amendment which was moved. I trust that when we finally deal with this clause we shall more closely approach the provision in. South Australia, and shall omit the word "thereupon," which appears to authorise an interpretation with which some may sympathise, but to which I strongly object.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Hon. E. BARTON) proposed:
That the Chairman do now leave the chair, report progress, and ask leave to sit again on the 20th January.
The Hon. E. BARTON: As soon as the President takes the chair, I shall move that the bill be printed, embodying the amendments up to date. It will be in the hands of the Government Printer tonight, and hon. members will receive copies of it as quickly as they can be distributed.
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST: Will a note be placed against the clauses which have yet to be considered?
The Hon. E. BARTON: I will make a note that the amendments so far made in the bill are only up to clause 70, or that Clauses 71 to 121 have not yet been considered.
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST: An asterisk might be placed against those clauses!
The Hon. E. BARTON: So long as we know that we start from clause 70 we do not want an asterisk.
The Hon. A. DEAKIN (Victoria)[3.35]: If I may offer a suggestion, it would be that in addition to distributing these copies of the bill in a few days, the leader of the Convention might have another copy prepared which would show the amendments made at this sitting of the Convention in different type-erased type for portions struck out and larger type for words inserted. It would be an immense convenience.
The Hon. E. BARTON: The bill as it is will be distributed as quickly as possible. I will take steps to have the other portions gone through, which will meet the Right Hon. Sir John Forrest's suggestion, and a second distribution of the bill printed in the same way as the Parliamentary Drafts. man in Victoria arranged it.
The Hon. A. DEAKIN: Exactly, and in that bill the wish of the Right Hon. Sir John Forrest could be met by placing an asterisk against the clauses, or by adopting some other method, to show which clauses have been considered here and which have not.
The Hon. E. BARTON: There will be a note to explain what has been done; it is a mere matter of detail!
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Progress reported and leave obtained to sit again on the 20th January next.
PRESIDENT-CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES-LEADER OF CONVENTION-CLERK.
The Hon. E. BARTON (New South Wales)[3.38] rose to move:
That this Convention do now adjourn.
He said: I should like to express my acknowledgments, in the first place, generally, for the courtesy and forbearance with which hon. members have treated me [start page 1108] throughout the deliberations of this Convention. Of course, while on the one hand, every one will acknowledge it is no easy task to keep every thing going with the accuracy and order that is necessary for properly piloting a bill of this kind; on the other hand, it must be obvious to us all and especially to me, that anything in the way of impatience on one side or the other is apt to throw things very much out of their proper gear. For my part, I can say that the patience and kindliness with which every suggestion I have made for the conduct of business has been received by hon. members has deeply impressed me, and that I owe them my warmest gratitude for their kind cooperation, exhibited in such an extremely courteous and generous manner. I have nothing more than that to say, except that I trust the same feeling of approximation which has characterised this session of the Convention, and the marked growth in federal feeling since our deliberations in Adelaide, will continue and expand during our deliberations in Melbourne. If it does so, and so long as we adhere-as I am sure we shall-to that which we consider just to the several colonies entering into this union, as long as we adhere to that principle, then the more the feeling I allude to grows, the more certain will the conviction be, not only amongst ourselves, but out of doors, that in this present movement the federal principle will find its consummation in a great statute which will bind the colonies together for ever.
The Hon. A. DEAKIN (Victoria)[3.40]: I have one sentence to say, and that is on behalf, I am sure, of the whole of the Convention. If its leader has reason to speak in the generous terms which be has employed of the courtesy and consideration which have been shown to him, we certainly cannot have surpassed, if we have equalled, the courtesy and consideration which he has shown to us.
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST (Western Australia)[3.41]: The sentiments expressed by the hon. and learned member, Mr. Deakin, were those which I myself had intended to express. We owe a great deal more to our hon. and learned friend, Mr. Barton, than he has been so good as to say he owes to us. I feel under a deep debt of obligation to him for the way in which he has thrown himself into, this matter. When we recollect the hard work he has performed, and the many questions which he has always so courteously answered, I am sure that we must all feel that in him we have had a guide, philosopher, and friend, and one who has taken a a great deal of trouble to keep us all well posted on this matter. I am sure we will all separate feeling that we are better friends, if that be possible, than we were when we commenced our labours. I regret that we have to meet again, because it will be an inconvenience to many of us. At the same time, it will be a great pleasure to us all, I am sure, to meet again and continue the work we have been engaged on now for so long. We will reassemble, perhaps, with a greater determination than ever to try to meet one another's views as far as possible, and to
keep our eyes upon the main object we have in view. I feel sure that when we do meet the timidity of these colonies having the larger populations in regard to the smaller ones will have somewhat disappeared. They will have no fear, I am sure, as they to some extent had during this session, that the smaller colonies will, even if they had the power, any inclination to do them any, injury.
The Hon. A. DEAKIN: We fear most while the hon. member is here!
The Right Hon. Sir JOHN FORREST: I am sure that the smaller colonies having a smaller population will approach the subject with as generous a feeling as it is. possible for us to do. What we will try, [start page 1109] to do is to have confidence in the constitution which we are framing. For my own part, and I have often expressed the same sentiments in Committee, I have no fear myself that the larger populations will ever do an injustice to the smaller, or that the smaller, even if they had the power, will ever desire to do any injustice to the larger. One hope I think I may express-it is a general observation not applicable to any particular colony-and it is that this matter of federation will be kept away as far as possible from party politics In the smaller colonies as well as the larger ones. If the leaders of parties in the various colonies strive to make this a party measure, and to take advantage of any of its provisions for party purposes, a very great deal of difficulty and danger will occur. I would again express my thanks to our friend, Mr. Barton, and also to the Drafting Committee, to whom we are under a deep obligation. I would also like to express to you, sir, and to the Chairman of Committees, our thanks for the manner in which you each performed your arduous duties. In regard to our friend, Sir Richard Baker, I could not help thinking to myself many times during this session it was a fortunate thing for me that I had not gained such a reputation for knowledge of parliamentary procedure as to place me in the Chairmanship of Committees, because it seemed to me that his labours were almost continuous and very difficult. Both you, sir, and the Chairman of Committees may be assured that while you have our greatest respect you also have our sincere thanks.
The Hon. J.N. BRUNKER (New South Wales)[3.45]: I would like to add another word of praise. I am sure that the tact, energy, and ability displayed by our worthy leader in dealing with one of the most delicate matters with which he could possibly have to deal-the framing of a constitution-are worthy of our highest commendation. When we remember that, this is simply a work of patriotism, I feel sure that the labour which has been involved is not only appreciated by the members of the Convention but by the people of Australasia.
The Right Hon. Sir E. BRADDON (Tasmania)[3.46]: I indorse most cordially, and to the fullest extent, all that, has fallen from previous speakers by way of thanks to the leader of the Convention, to his colleagues on the Drafting Committee, to the President, and to the Chairman of Committees. But for the fact-that we still look forward, and with great hope and pleasure, to haying you, Mr. President, with us still further, enjoying the value of, your services, and for the final time I hope, I would say more than I am called upon to say. I am, however, as fully seized as anyone can be, and as every member of the Convention must be, of the very valuable, kindly, and courteous services rendered by all to this Convention.
The Hon. Sir R.C. BAKER (South Australia)[3.47]: I am exceedingly obliged to the Right Hon. Sir John Forrest for the kindly remarks he has made concerning myself, and I can assure the members of the Convention that any assistance I may have given in the carrying out of this great work has been given most cordially. The labours of the Chairman of the Committee are sometimes tiresome, but on this occasion they have been greatly lightened by the courtesy of the members towards the Chair, by the manner in which they always fell in with any suggestions made for the orderly carrying out of business; and more especially is that so in reference to the leader of the Convention. I am perfectly certain it would have been impossible for us to have found any one who could have carried out those great and onerous duties in a more capable manner than has been done by our leader. That is the opinion, I am sure, not only of this [start page 1110] Convention, but of the people of this great Australian continent. I hope that when we meet again we may finally consummate this work, that the constitution which will be, adopted will be a constitution founded on justice and equity; that it will be
one which will be acceptable to the people of all the colonies; and that it will crown the edifice which we have been so laboriously constructing during the last six or seven years.
The Hon. E. BARTON (New South Wales)[3.49]: I should be very ungrateful if I did not say one word of thanks to hon. members for the praise which they have heaped upon me, and which I fear I so little deserve. It is a labour of love to me to do anything in my power to help forward the consummation of the union of Australia. I do not know what my temperament may be in other respects, but I think I always find that the harder the work is, in connection with this subject, at any rate, the more ready am I to undertake it. There is a stimulus in a movement of this kind which is mostly absent from other public movements. It is not because it is surrounded by mere questions of sentiment-although sentiment is one of the most powerful agents in all politics-but because the realisation of the material benefits which may and will be derived from it by every colony concerned, presses so upon the mind that he would be indolent and dull-witted indeed who could not, in the realisation of all the greatness of those returns for any labour that he may undertake, find a satisfaction in his work which no other work could give him. Being in a position which, I suppose, has given me exceptional opportunities of observation, I join very heartily in the praise that has been bestowed upon my hon. and learned friend, Sir Richard Baker, for his great tact, great promptitude, and great discrimination as Chairman of Committees. As an old Speaker, I can say that I do not think that I have ever seen a more thoroughly quick-witted, and a more thoroughly skilful and considerate Chairman. Let me add that, although the time has not yet come for votes of thanks, we must all express our sense of the valuable and learned services which, for the second time, have been rendered by one of the most able authorities on parliamentary law and practice in the colonies-I mean the Clerk of the Convention.
The PRESIDENT: Before putting the resolution, I should like to say that I indorse most heartily every word of congratulation that has been uttered in regard to those who occupy positions on the floor of the House, and that we have every reason, indeed, to be proud of the courtesy and capacity-the magnificent capacity-with which our leader has, during this session and the last, conducted the great work of Australian federation towards what I believe will shortly be the goal of its accomplishment. My position officially on this occasion has been little other than an honorable sinecure; but I should like to say that I yield to none in my admiration of the untiring zeal and magnificent ability with which our Chairman of Committees has performed the arduous duties attaching to his position.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The PRESIDENT: This Convention stands adjourned until Thursday, the 20th day of January next, at 12 o'clock, noon, when it will meet at Parliament Houses, in Melbourne.
Convention adjourned at 3.54 p.m.