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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 637] THURSDAY, APRIL 15, 1897.
Petitions-Leave of Absence-Influencing Members -Days of Sitting-Absence of the Leader-Commonwealth Bill-Printing Minutes and Evidence-Adjournment.
The PRESIDENT took the chair at 10.30 a.m.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON: I have two petitions to present. They are respectfully worded and contain prayers. One in favor of adult suffrage bears 513 signatures, and the other, bearing ninety-six signatures, is against it. I think the latter petition is one that has not till now been presented, and I move:
That it be received and read:
And that the other one:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The CLERK read the petition, which was as follows:
To the Hon. the President and the Members of the Federal Convention of Australia.
The petition of the undersigned citizens of Tasmania humbly showeth-
(1) That as Tasmanian inhabitants as a whole are represented at the Federal Convention solely by men, in this both sexes heartily concur; and that as the majority of the Tasmanian women do not desire political responsibility to be thrust upon them, we consider it unadvisable that Federated Australia should force adult suffrage upon this colony, but that each colony should frame its own franchise,
(2) That as the interests of the female portion of the inhabitants of Tasmania are guarded both by men in our local Houses of Parliament and at the Federal Convention, we are of the opinion that they are and can be equally well represented by relations and male friends at the ballot box.
(3) We therefore respectfully pray that in your deliberations you will favorably consider this our petition; and we ask that the blessing of Him who gave to man the sole right to rule may rest upon you in your great work, and that this and all matters appertaining to the constitution of Federated Australia may be framed in accordance with the righteous law of God. Righteousness alone can exalt our young nation.
Dr. QUICK: How many signatures has it?
The CLERK: Ninety-six.
Dr. QUICK: From the whole of Tasmania!
LEAVE OF ABSENCE.
Mr. HOLDER: I give notice that on the next day of sitting I will move:
That ten days' leave of absence be granted to the representatives of Western Australia on account of urgent public business.
Sir JOSEPH ABBOTT: In this morning's press I am represented as having by my diplomacy secured the adhesion of three of the representatives of Tasmania on behalf of Mr. Reid's proposition yesterday; there is no justification for the statement, except that those gentlemen have had the intelligence to give effect to my arguments. With regard to Mr. Henry and Mr. Lewis, I do not think I uttered one word to them in reference to the proposed vote. Staying at the same hotel as Mr. Brown, the matter has been talked over by us, but I do not remember having said a word to induce him to support the proposition of Mr. Reid. I think it is unjust to these gentlemen to be singled out as being outwitted by myself and induced to give a vote which some people think was against the interests of the country. I may say, in reference to the President of the Legislative Council of Tasmania, that I did approach him, and have not felt well since, (Laughter.)
[start page 638] Mr. DOUGLAS: I know that some members were approached by members from Victoria and New South Wales.
HON. MEMBERS: Name!
Mr. DOUGLAS: I would name Mr. Walker as one.
DAYS OF SITTING.
Mr. BARTON: A considerable number of hon. members have spoken to me with reference to the question of adjournment. Now, there is very great difficulty in this matter. Many members are tired of the long sittings, and of course there are some of us who can plead that they are nearly worn out; but there are gentlemen here, such as the Premier of New South Wales, who feel that if the business is not continued on Saturday and Monday they will not be able to stay until the discussion on the financial clauses takes place. I feel a difficulty in proposing anything myself, as it is my duty to carry on the work of the Convention, and I am sure I will have the hearty co-operation of members if it becomes necessary to sit on both days. Whilst I should like an adjournment, I cannot presume to stand in the way of the gentlemen who feel that they will be unable to take part in the debate on important parts of the Bill if the adjournment takes place. I, therefore, do not feel justified in proposing anything, but if any member does so, members can express their views.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: The other morning I brought this matter up so that we might obtain the views of members to enable those who desired to leave to make the necessary arrangements. The Convention then practically came to the unanimous conclusion that we should sit on. What has occurred in the meanwhile to change our opinions? Nothing. I should have been glad to have been able to have gone back to my own colony for the purpose of settling public and private business matters before I leave for England, but I have given up all hope of doing so after the position of the other day, and, having decided that we would sit, it is our duty to do so. I wish it to be distinctly understood that we are not simply to come here on Saturday, and then adjourn because it is Saturday and we want to get away for the afternoon. If we determine to sit on Monday it would be very unfair if members absented themselves. If we do this, by Tuesday or Wednesday we should have so far completed our work as to enable Mr. Reid. who is anxious to get back to the opening of the New South Wales Parliament, a ceremony he cannot be absent from, to leave. He is of valuable assistance
to us, and it would be unfair to him and the colony he represents, if we do not do all we can to get through the business.
The PRESIDENT: I would like to point out that the resolution which at present guides our meetings provides for meeting every day, except on Saturdays. I presume it is not intended to sit on Friday, and if it is proposed to sit on Saturday, a resolution to that effect will have to be carried.
Mr. BARTON: I move:
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable me to move a resolution without notice.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. BARTON: I move:
That the Convention, at its rising to-day, do adjourn until Saturday, at 10.30 o'clock.
Mr. TRENWITH: I am as willing as anybody to sit, but I feel that we ought to adjourn from this afternoon until Tuesday.
HON. MEMBERS: No!
Mr. TRENWITH: Well, I will state a few reasons why I think we should. The festive season is now on-it is a religious as well as a festive season, of course-and so far as I understand Easter Monday is looked upon by South Australian people as their principal holiday of the year.
Sir RICHARD BAKER: No.
Mr. TRENWITH: I understand it is so, that many South Australians will be keeping it, and that they will be making [start page 639] some arrangements to entertain the delegates at this Convention. They desire, I believe, that the delegates should be present at some of their festivities. They have been extremely kind and gracious since we have been in the colony.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: Why not let them come and listen to the debates at the Convention instead?
Mr. TRENWITH: I do not think that that would be any enjoyment to them. The South Australians, I say, have been very kind and gracious to us, and if we could, we should endeavor to repay them a compliment. But I shall not urge that we should adjourn. I would urge, though, that if there are any hon. members who Contemplate being absent on Monday, they should let us know now, so that we in our actions may be guided by their intentions. If it is decided to sit, and the members of the Convention vote in that direction, there ought to be as full a meeting on Monday as there has been during any other day of the session. We have had some experience of fits of virtue in advance when in other places. We have resolved to sit over the period during which an adjournment is usual, and I have known myself that when a resolution was carried to sit on an important fete day, members who were anxious not to sit, and have urged that we should not sit, have turned up in accordance with the resolutions, and persons who urged that we should sit have been absent. If we decide to sit I shall be here, and I think it is incumbent upon every member of the Convention to be here.
Dr. QUICK: As one who has not taken up much time, either in the House or in this Committee, I think I might fairly appeal to hon. members to say that this motion should be carried. I have been absent from my home for upwards of four weeks, and have suffered considerable inconvenience through being away from my duties. We should arrange to complete our work by this day week at the very latest, but we shall not be able to do that unless we sit on Saturday and Monday.
Mr. REID: In ordinary circumstances a request for adjournment would be very reasonable, but, in existing circumstances, I cannot be oblivious of the fact that if these two days are lost I shall have to leave the Convention before some very important business has been dealt with. We have come here with one supreme duty to discharge, and as I would not like to put other members of the Convention in the position of going away from it before. their work has been completed, so I feel sure that hon. members of the Convention will take the same view as myself and others do.
Mr. SYMON: As one of the members of South Australia I naturally feel some delicacy in saying anything on this subject, but I do wish to say a word or two about it, and to this effect. I am not in the habit of frequenting the racecourse, and therefore perhaps I ought to premise by deprecating any suggestion that I desire to avail myself of the gala or festivities on Monday. There is another point of view I wish to put, and it seems to me to be very important. I thoroughly agree that it would be very undesirable indeed that we should proceed with our task in relation to the framing of this Constitution in the absence of so distinguished a member as Mr. Reid, or any hon. member who may hold a humbler office. I fancy that in matters of this importance all work and no play is a very great mistake. We shall do better work if we have a little respite from these constant day and night sittings. I notice in the newspaper reports that Mr. Barton, in quoting from Artemus Ward, referred to me as a certain tall gaunt person.
Mr. BARTON: That was the Premier of Western Australia.
Mr. SYMON: If we proceed with our labors from dewy morn, and sit till late hours at night, there will be nothing left of me by-and-bye. I would like to have some little relaxation, so that I may be [start page 640] able to come to work with the freshness and vigor which relaxation would give. During the past four weeks we have done very hard work indeed. I am able to say for my friends on the Judiciary Committee that we were industrious and constant in our application.
Sir RICHARD BAKER: Especially at Auldana.
Mr. SYMON: If it had not been for the little relaxation we had there, I do not know where we should have been by now. I do also put it on the ground of consideration for my friend Mr. Barton that we are exacting too much from him-
Mr. REID: Very ingenious!
Mr. SYMON: To expect him to continue like this. I do not want to make use of Mr. Barton for my purpose. Then there is Mr. Reid. We have noticed the haggard, emaciated condition to which he has been reduced by the labors of this Convention. (Laughter.)
Mr. REID: There is some ulterior motive here. You want to get rid of me.
Mr. SYMON: It is because I want to preserve to him that mental and physical health for which be is so eminent, that I think he should have some relaxation forced upon him.
Mr. REID: I saved my life by not going down the cellar.
Mr. SYMON: He has had one little period of relaxation. We lost him for four days, and when he came back we noticed his kindly and benignant expression which did us all good. I submit it would be well, instead of squeezing in Saturday that we should have that day and Monday as well for relaxation.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON: If I considered my own personal convenience I should certainly suggest that we make this adjournment from this evening until Tuesday, inasmuch as whenever our labors here may finish, they will not finish at a sufficiently early date to give me an opportunity of returning to my colony before I have to set out for England. But we have the convenience of others to
think of, and that, I think, will be best met by continuing our labors and sitting on Saturday and Monday. As regards the question of rest to Mr. Barton, he at any rate will secure that during two days-Friday and Sunday-out of the four next succeeding days, I hope he will have nothing to employ him to-morrow or next Sunday.
Sir JOHN DOWNER: I sympathise with my friend Mr. Reid, and, in fact, with everybody who does not belong to South Australia; and I am certainly not going to actively oppose their views, but it does seem to be a little hard that because of the interposition of the Easter holidays we have to work harder than if the Easter holidays had not come in at all. Ordinarily we adjourn from Friday to Monday, but now we will have to sit on Saturday.
Mr. REID: You have Friday.
Sir JOHN DOWNER: We have Friday, certainly, but we have to go on again on Saturday, and so spoil the continuity of the rest by having to take it in bits.
Mr. REID: Do you not think it a matter in which the convenience of the visitors should be studied?
Sir JOHN DOWNER: That is what I am saying. But there are those who have had no rest for a very long while. I refer, without any ingeniousness, to my friend Mr. Barton; it is a little hard that the convenience of visitors-a courtesy we are bound to consider- should throw a continuous amount of toil on him which human nature can scarcely endure. It would have been better if we had adjourned from to-day till Monday, at all events. It would not have made a great deal of difference. We might sit till twelve o'clock to-night, and then adjourn, at all events till Monday. We should have made up, I think, in the two or three extra hours perhaps for the days we had lost, and given those who have [start page 641] been continuously at very hard work an opportunity of getting a little more rest.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: You would have gained nothing by it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
ABSENCE OF THE LEADER.
Mr. BARTON: I should like to mention that it will be necessary for me to be away for a short while, but the Bill will be in equally good, indeed in better, hands, as my hon. friends Sir John Downer and Mr. O'Connor, the other members of the Drafting Committee, will take charge of matters.
Mr. SYMON: I should like to ask Mr. Barton before he goes whether, as we are to sit on Saturday and no doubt also on Monday, it will be necessary to sit late to-night? I ask that we should not do so.
Mr. BARTON: Let us see how far we get to-night. If there is good reason for an adjournment we shall be able to consider it. If we sit late to-night we may clear away many of our difficulties. The requisites are short speeches and not many questions. except large ones, raised.
COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA BILL.
In Committee (consideration resumed from April 14th).
Clause 9.-The Senate shall be composed of six members for such State, and each member shall have one vote.
The members for each State shall be directly chosen by the people of the State as one electorate.
The members shall be chosen for a term of six years, and the names of the members chosen by each State shall be certified by the Governor to the Governor-General.
The Parliament shall have power, from time to time, to increase or diminish the number of members for each State, but so that the equal representation of the several States shall be maintained and that no State shall have less than six members.
The qualification of electors of members of the Senate shall be in each State that which is prescribed by this Constitution or by the Parliament as the qualification for electors of members of the House of Representatives.
Mr. HIGGINS: I think my amendments come first in this clause. The proposal is to omit the word "six" before "members," and then to make an incidental alteration in the clause, with a view of giving in the Senate to the different States a certain advantage in representation, but not equal representation. Of course I recognise that, in this matter, my views in this Convention will be in a minority. I recognise also that having regard to the anxiety to get on with business, I should be as short as I can possibly be. But, having regard to the great and growing body of opinion which is founded against this principle of equal representation, I feel that it would be well, in the interests of Federation and of achieving Federation during this year, that voice should be given in some manner to the strong minority who at present are against the granting of equal representation, and who look upon equal representation with great suspicion and great apprehension. If the argument for equal representation is right, it will be well for those hon. members who are in favor of it to show how it is right. It will lead to the acceptance of this Bill much more readily if the people of the different States can be convinced that equal representation is good in principle. But if it is not good in principle it will lead eventually to a modification of the proposal, before what I regard as a profound and irreparable injury and injustice is done to the future Commonwealth of Australia. I might state that this question of equal representation has nothing to do with the compromise which was accepted yesterday. The compromise then was between those who were in favor of giving equal powers to both Houses in matters of Money Bills and those who were not in favor of giving equal powers.
Mr. LYNE: Do not include the whole Convention in the matter of the compromise, because I have not compromised at all.
Mr. HIGGINS: I am putting it in the strongest possible way against myself. There is a great deal in the words of the [start page 642] Premier of New South Wales yesterday, in regard to the danger of the power of suggestion. I think that Mr. Lyne is right in saying that a great many view that power of suggestion with apprehension.
Mr. LYNE: A majority.
Mr. HIGGINS: That may be; but this question of equal representation I want to say has nothing to do with the question of suggestion and amendment which will have to be fought out, no matter what may be the constitution of the Senate. Now, after all, let us see what we mean by Federation, because we must go down to the root of this thing. A number of people belonging to different States come to the conclusion that there are certain interests which can be better dealt with by the people of those States as a whole than they can be dealt with by each State acting by itself. Therefore they say, "For the purposes of what can be best dealt with as a whole let us be one people-let us obliterate State rights. For purposes which can be beat dealt with by each State individually, let the State have the sole voice; but for the purposes of what can be best dealt with by the people as a whole let the Commonwealth have the sole voice." It is the obliteration of State lines for certain purposes that Federation means in essence. Now it is true, and you put it very clearly in your pamphlet, Sir Richard, that there is a dual citizenship. There is a citizenship of the State, and as to that the majority in the State must rule. There is also a citizenship in the Federation, and as to that the majority in the Federation ought to rule. The only objects of Federation are the people. If the people are divided in
opinion in the State the only course open is for you to proceed to count heads. Our parliamentary procedure is simply based upon the principle of counting heads; you first deposit. the club on the table-we have not a mace here to signify that-and say: "Now, instead of having a fight, let us proceed to count heads and see who would win. "I cannot see why the same principle of majority rule should not apply in the case of Federation for federal purposes as in the case of a State for State purposes.
Mr. MCMILLAN: It would not be Federation, that is all.
Mr. HIGGINS: If you adopt the language of theorists, this Federation is simply another application of differentiation and integration-differentiation of State interests and federal interests, and integration of the people for federal subjects. You have integration of interests for federal purposes, and you have also differentiation of interests, and there is a tendency against centralization except for interests which are central-a tendency to, as far as possible, let the people manage their own affairs in their own way. It is said that Federation is not unification. That is quite correct, but Federation is unification for certain purposes. the only object of Federation is to become one people for certain purposes, and in the language of the great Chief Justice Marshall, who is, perhaps, the principal expounder of the great Constitution of the United States:
We are one people for war; we are one people for peace; we are one people for the purpose of commercial regulation,
referring, of course, to Customs and excise. The position, then, is that if you treat all the Australians as one people for certain specified and limited purposes the majority ought to rule just as you say the majority ought to rule in South Australia for South Australian purposes. The ridiculous position is this, that, although you treat the Australians as one people, you find in such places as Burns and Cockburn a fence between New South Wales and South Australia, and if it be Federation with equal representation the effect will be that the man who lives in Burns, in New South Wales, will only have one-fourth of the voting power which that man over the fence in Cockburn has got.
Mr. LYNE: How many is one-fourth?
[start page 643] Mr. HIGGINS: I am speaking of the present relation between New South Wale and South Australia in population. understand South Australia has between 300,000 and 350,000 people.
Mr. KINGSTON: There are 360,000.
Mr. HIGGINS: While New South Wales has 1,250,000. I am only speaking roughly. I need not go into exact figures, but I think substantially I may say that, although they are supposed for Federation purposes to be one people, the man over the fence in Burns has got only a quarter of the voting effect upon the representation in the Senate that the man in Cockburn has got. Then, also, if you go further, and take two mining centres, Coolgardie and Broken Hill. Broken Hill is, according to the lines of latitude and longitude-arbitrarily drawn-in New South Wales and Coolgardie is in Western Australia. The present ratio of the population of Western Australia to New South Wales is about one to nine. There are about nine times as many people in New South Wales, and what is the result? A miner in Coolgardie has nine times the voting power possessed by a miner in Broken Hill. I think that really it is time for us to consider the question. I intend to proceed to a division, no matter how few may go with me. I feel, in the interests of Federation, that it is advisable to have this brought forward, to have the voices given and the different opinions also. There has been a good deal of emphasis laid on a preamble to the resolutions passed by the House that the object of the Federation is to enlarge the self-governing powers of the people of Australia.
Mr. MCMILLAN: Will you answer a question? What proportion would you give, or what number would you act oh if you did not give equal representation? You would not go on the purely population basis?
Mr. HIGGINS: I would not. I shall explain afterwards that I hope to have a sliding scale which would give a certain advantage to the small States, but not by any means equal representation. "To enlarge the powers of self-government of the people of Australia." I concur in that phrase, but we must see that we do enlarge the powers of the people, and that we do not simply enlarge the powers of the minority of the people not only to govern themselves in their own affairs, but also to govern the majority of the people of Australia. There are a number of phrases current which, I am sorry to say, seem to have attracted the approval of a number of delegates, and if I may speak frankly I must say that when I commenced the election campaign for this Convention I assumed that equal representation in the Senate must be accepted as of course; but I have become more and more convinced that the system of equal representation has no foundation in theory or utility.
Mr. LYNE: Or in equity.
Mr. HIGGINS: It has been said, amongst other things, that you must have the consent of the people as well as the consent of the States in Federation. The theory is that we are one people in the Federation for federal purposes. What has the State got to do with this purpose which we declare to be federal? As soon as you arrange that there is to be one people for this purpose, the States have nothing to do with it; and supposing you work it out logically, is it supposed that in this States House or Senate the members for each State shall vote en bloc? No one suggests it, but the true corollary is that each State should vote en bloc. Another phrase has got current: "You have one man one vote, and why not have one State one vote." The answer is as simple as anything could be. The objects of our legislation are men, human beings, and not States. States are organizations designed for a specific purpose, and the position is that the true corollary to one man one vote is many men many votes, and not one State one vote. There is another phrase that it is the people [start page 644] right through who will have the control as to both Houses, because you have a broad franchise, because in the one case you have merely the people grouped as a population, and in the other case you have them grouped in States. This is very nice, but the grouping is everything. You may have the most liberal franchise, and yet by grouping the people you may defeat the object of the franchise. Supposing in this province of South Australia you had the rule that for every ten square miles you returned one member. Give the most liberal franchise you like-adult suffrage-but within these ten miles you would have Adelaide and its suburbs, and in other places you would have a squatter or a blackfellow with the same voting power as Adelaide. Grouping is everything, as Mr. Eldridge Gerry found in working the State of North Carolina, as he managed to so work the State for election purposes that the whole body of those who were against slavery were so grouped as to be unable to return one member against the slave owners.
Mr. HOWE: That is the origin of "gerrymandering."
Mr. HIGGINS: I perfectly admit that the foundation for this extraordinary claim is that the minority will be swamped by the majority. Now, I wish to face that. Every minority is swamped by every majority. Supposing you take the constituency of Port Augusta, if there is such a one in this province, and it returns one member. At Port Augusta some people vote one way and some another, and the minority are swamped by the majority. Why should they not be?
Sir WILLIAM ZEAL: Hang them at once!
Mr. HIGGINS: Sir William Zeal is a good example. He represents a minority in Victoria, and yet he has not been hanged, and I would be sorry to see him. The minority must trust to the sense of justice on the part of the majority, and no one can say that there has been any glaring injustice done wantonly by the majority. A familiar instance put before us in this argument is the case of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. There is no doubt that the three smaller countries are swamped by the majority in England.
Mr. SYMON: That is unification.
Mr. HIGGINS: The hon. member has hit on the very point.
Mr. HOWE: That is what you want here.
Mr. HIGGINS: I am glad that this instance has affected my friend Mr. Howe. I would point out that last year the Scotch County Councils Bill was brought forward. The Scotch members were, however, swamped by the huge majority of England, and they could not have their own way in a purely Scotch matter. The distinction is this-and I hope my honorable friend will bear it in mind-that the Scotch people have not got control of their own local affairs, but in a Federation local affairs will be governed and controlled by the local Parliaments.
Mr. HOWE: That is why the Scotch are going for Home Rule.
Mr. HIGGINS: I think they will be able to find means to get out of the difficulty, but I shall not add home politics to Australian politics just at present. The proposal is not to swamp any one of the States. Each small State will still have sole control of its own affairs. It cannot be said that if there is a movement in South Australia for county councils, or in New South Wales for local government, the proposal is in danger of being swamped by the opinion of the other colonies. It is also said that there is a great danger of the Federal Parliament encroaching gradually and steadily upon State functions unless the Federal Parliament is restrained by the people who represent the small States. That is a matter requiring the closest attention. I want to dissever from myself the fact that I represent at present a colony which is one of the more [start page 645] populous. It is unfortunate in that sense that I have to bring forward this motion. Supposing that the Federal Parliament should encroach in the slightest upon State functions, if it does deviate and go beyond the boundary which the Constitution sets it in this matter. the law in which they do that is void. But there is no danger of encroachment, because encroachment can be resisted by the meanest subject in any of the courts, and the courts are bound to show that it is void. I quite agree that a thing which is wrong in theory may be good in practice, and may work substantially well, and I should be the last person to carry a just theory to its extreme if I saw that it worked ill. When we look at the different federations of the world we find that in Canada they have not equal representation. The three maritime provinces, having less populations, have only the same number of members in the Senate as Ontario or Quebec, and Manitoba, British Columbia, and the great North-West territory have one or two members each. In Switzerland it is quite true that they have approached to very nearly equal representation. The reason is that they had to deal with cantons which had been historically different countries for centuries, and in Switzerland they framed the Constitution as far as they could upon the lines of the United States; but even in Switzerland there are some of the cantons or half cantons which return only one member, whilst other cantons return two. But if you take Germany, Bavaria returns six members to the States House, whereas Prussia returns seventeen, and different small States, like Mecklenburg-Strelitz, return only one. My hon. friend Mr. Barton interjected when I referred to this fact before, that Federation in Germany was owing to domination. If it was owing to domination why should Bavaria have six and Bremen have one? Bavaria certainly did not dominate. The fact is in that States House they give to the different States not equal representation, but to make a distinction from the other House they give to the different States and free cities a certain advantage on a certain sliding scale. The last and the great instance is the United States. I apprehend most members have read the debates on which equal representation was founded. It will be remembered that it was carried by a very narrow majority. They will remember that the strongest and the best men voted against it, such men as Benjamin Franklin, Madison, King, Wilson, Morris, and Alexander Hammond. The strongest and best men said, "Let us not have equal representation" Let me read from Bancroft how the thing was. They only submitted to equal representation because Delaware, Rhode Island, and some of the smaller States said this:
We have the British at our gates. They still have forts, and unless you give us equal representation we will go over to the British.
Mr. Bedford, according to Bancroft:
Defied them to disolve the Confederation, for rain would then stare them in the face.
Mr. O'CONNOR: How has it worked for 100 years?
Mr. TRENWITH: Very badly.
Mr. HIGGINS: I may also read the words of Wilson:
A citizen of America is a citizen of the general Government, and is a citizen of the particular State in which he may reside. The general Government is meant for them in the first capacity; the State Governments in the second. Both Governments are derived from the people, both meant for the people; both therefore ought to be regulated on the same principles. In forming the general Government we must forget our local habits and attachments, lay aside our State connections, and act for the general good of the whole. The general government is not an assemblage of States, but of individuals, for certain political purposes; it is not meant for the States, but for the individuals composing them; the individuals therefore, not the States, ought to be represented.
Then we pass to Mr. Madison's views:
If there was real danger to the smaller States, I would give them defensive weapons. But there is none. The great danger to our general government is, that the Southern and Northern interests of the continent are opposed to each other, not [start page 646] from their difference of size, but from climate, and principally from the effects of having or not having slaves. Look to the votes in Congress; most of them stand divided by the geography of the country, not by the size of the States.
Then again Mr. King says:
The difference of interests lies not between the great and small States, but between the Southern and Eastern. For this reason I have been ready to yield something in the proportion of representatives for the security of the Southern. I am not averse to yielding more, but do not see how it can be done. They are brought as near an equality as is possible; no principle will justify giving them a majority.
Although it was carried by a majority of one only, and although Madison and his comrades objected to it most strongly, and determined on the morning to divide upon the matter, they said:
No, let us yield this. Our supreme interests are Concerned; we must settle this point in order that we may not preserve the British enemy at our gates.
They simply yielded to equal representation in terror, under domination; and we are asked now, after the experience of 100 years, to yield the same thing when in no terror and under no domination.
Sir JOSEPH ABBOTT: There is another story called the Connecticut compromise.
Mr. HIGGINS: With all respect, I do not think that is another story. That Connecticut compromise was to give equal representation to the small and large States in the Senate, and to give representation according to population in the other House; but Madison, and King, and Franklin, and Hamilton, and Morris, and all the strong men were against that compromise. Franklin submitted to it simply because he felt that in order to prevent the breaking up of this Confederation at a most critical time when the enemy was at their gates, he had to submit. Let us see if there hits been any advantage gained by the small States under the protection of the system that has been adopted. I have read, and Mr. Glynn read yesterday certain passages from Dr. Bryce's work, which showed that this equal representation has been absolutely futile in achieving its objects. He says, in substance, that there has never been any difference of interests between the large States and small States as such.
Mr. GLYNN: That is, they exercised with discretion their various constitutional powers. They did not push them to extremes.
Mr. HIGGINS: What my hon. friend seems to mean is that it is in consequence of equal representation that there have been no conflicts of interest.
Mr. GORDON: Hear, hear.
Mr. HIGGINS: That is about the most amusing way of turning it that I can possibly conceive. You might as well say that because I put a brake upon my buggy there is no need to use it. The answer is that there are no steep hills. It is not that there have been no contests, but that there has been no difference of interests. How can the mere mode of adjusting differences of interests affect the principle that there have been no differences of interests?
Dr. COCKBURN: Because the presence of certain checks has prevented attempts being made to infringe State interests.
Mr. HIGGINS: It is not a question of there having been no contests, and that the larger States have refrained from the contest because they feared the power of the smaller States, but it is that there have been no steep hills on which to use the brake.
Mr. GORDON: We have more steep hills here in variety of interests and differences than in America. Railways, for instance.
Mr. HIGGINS: I have tried persistently to get hon. members to give a single instance in which there was any probability of the smaller States having different interests from the larger ones. One after another has tried, and the nearest thing to it has been the locking of the Darling. It is paid New South Wales may lock the Darling, and thereby injure South Australian interests.
Mr. GORDON: Preferential railway rates.
[start page 647] Dr. COCKBURN: Tariff.
Mr. HIGGINS: I can only deal with one thing at a time. As to the locking of the Darling, why, if the South Australians are being injuriously treated, they would be backed up, you may be sure, by the people of Victoria, as well as by the people of Western Australia, who at least would have a sense of justice-if they had no interests-and by the people of Tasmania, who until lately have been regarded as having a sense of justice. If hon. members take one instance after another of those put forward, they will find there is no probability of any difference of interests arising between the small States and the large States. May I indicate that because of the possibility in one case out of 10,000 of an injustice being attempted by the majority upon the minority-by the great States upon the small-you are giving to the minor States full power in the other 9,999 cases of equal control. For the mere possibility of a difference of interest, you are giving a power--not only in that legislation which deals with differences of State interests, but in all legislation-to the minority to sway the majority. In the discussions of the Convention in 1787, Benjamin Franklin, seeing this, proposed a compromise, which unfortunately was hardly workable, and he said:
Let the small States have equal representation in those matters in which the interests of the small States come into conflict with the interests of the large States; but in all other matters let then be representation according to population.
Of course he found it practically impossible to work out the distinction. Not only has it been shown in the United States that this equal representation has been absolutely futile, and that it has not served its purpose, but if you apply it to Australia you will raise great dangers which did not exist in
America. When the United States started its Confederation they had thirteen States. They had a huge territory, yet uninhabited by white men and yet unused. On the other hand, every inch of Australia is under the control of some State. We cannot get new States except by sub-division. In America they were able to get States aggregation, by addition, by the formation of new States. The natural tendency of events in Australia is towards the sub-division of some of the greater colonies. We have Central Queensland and Northern Queensland crying out for that. No doubt, eventually, we shall have a cry for separation between North Australia and South Australia. No doubt, eventually, we shall have-it is to be hoped -a sub-division of Western Australia. That is the natural tendency of the course of things.
Mr. MCMILLAN: Will not all that alter the anomaly you complain of?
Mr. HIGGINS: The effect is this: that although we ought to have sub-division as time progresses, though I agree that subdivision for the purposes of local government and for the purposes of State interest is expedient, I say that every proposal to sub-divide any of the huge existing colonies will be met with opposition from the States which are not to be sub-divided, inasmuch as it means, with equal representation, the addition of a larger number of senators to that State which is being sub-divided. Take Queensland, for instance. If Queensland were divided into three States-it would start in this Federation with six-that colony would be entitled to eighteen members. Victoria, a small country in size, and Tasmania a small country in size, comparatively, will, as well as Western Australia and South Australia, say: "Oh, Queensland, which has six members to represent her in the Senate will now have eighteen. We will stop this." The tendency of equal representation will be to induce all the other States which are not being sub-divided to oppose sub-division as far as they can. That will interfere with the natural and normal development of this country.
Mr. GLYNN: Do you remember Texas being taken over and sub-divided?
Mr. HIGGINS: I recollect that it was [start page 648] the Senate of the United States, in which all the States were equally represented, that opposed the addition of new States from the outlying territory, for fear of the slavery States being outvoted in the Senate. Equal representation has worked ill there, and it was the means of preventing the development of the great western territory for some time, and also prohibited the sub-division of that territory into States. Our proper destiny is the sub-division of these huge artificial areas, and if we give equal representation that destiny will be seriously checked. If we once commit ourselves to equal representation it is final, and we cannot get out of it. We cannot even amend the Constitution to put it right. Let me give an illustration. Supposing Tasmania were to get 20,000,000 of people, and by some - accident all Australia were turned into a sheep-walk, and the Tasmanian interests would be the interests really of a great number of people in the Australian States, let us look at how clause 121 deals with that. The section states:
But an alteration, by which the proportionate representation of any State in either House of the Parliament or the minimum number of representatives of a State in the House of Representatives is diminished shall not become law without the consent of the electors of that State.
If you commit yourself to equal representation now you cannot by any amendment of the Constitution, no matter how much the people feel it is expedient, put it right again.
Mr. KINGSTON: You can alter the Constitution in that particular; there is no difficulty in law.
Mr. HIGGINS: With all respect, I say it cannot be done, because you must first have the consent of the electors of the State The hon. the President means that it would be possible for you first to have an alteration of the Constitution by taking out the words:
Shall not become law.
It would be bowled down as a gross breach of faith if the Parliament were first to alter the Constitution which said that each State must consent to its representation being reduced, and then say,
"We want to alter the representation." Perhaps that may be possible, if you speak technically and legally. We have clause 121 stating that:
The provisions of the Constitution shall not be altered except in the following manner:-Any proposed law for the alteration thereof must be passed by an absolute majority of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, and shall thereupon be submitted to the electors of the several States qualified to vote for the election of members of the House of Representatives, not lose than two nor more than three calendar months after the passage through both Houses of the proposed law.
I quite agree that the Constitution ought not to be altered except with the consent of the majority of the States. The clause goes on to say:
But an alteration by which the proportionate representation of any State in either House of The Parliament or the minimum number of representatives of a State in the House of Representatives, is diminished, shall not become law without the consent of the electors of that State.
I understand the President's view, but I confess this that, even supposing for the sake of argument that it is technically right that by two amendments of the Constitution you might achieve the object, still I say it would be howled down.
Mr. KINGSTON: It should be prevented in the four corners of the Bill.
Mr. HIGGINS: I think the members of the Convention, if against me upon this question of equal representation, ought, at least, to leave posterity free to make any alteration they may think fit. I do not think it is unreasonable to ask that. You may surround it by as many safeguards as you like, but if you have to get the consent of every State for a reduction of the number of Senators, you will never get it. This is a condition in America, and they would have altered their Constitution long since, but for that clause which makes it final. The position here then is that I propose, inasmuch as it is settled that there are to be two Houses, [start page 649] that there must be a distinction in some way between the two Houses. As to these two Houses, I am glad we are to have a departure from the obsolete principle of having a House to represent property Separately. There is no doubt that property is as safe in America as it is in any other country in the world. In all the States of America there is hardly a vestige left of any property qualification for voting; and my aristocratic friend, Mr. Dobson, will find that, as time goes on, it will be less and less easy to get any property qualification for any Parliament. Having regard to the fact that you must have a distinction between the two Houses, I do not see why we should not allow the less populous States a certain advantage, as in Germany, Switzerland, and Canada, in the representation in the Second Chamber. I say, of course, supposing you were to give no distinction of that sort. the ultimate tendency would be to say, the Senate elected on a broad franchise ought to have the same rights as you give to the House of Representatives, elected upon a broad franchise and population; and the ultimate result may be that they may be able morally to claim a power of control in Money Bills absolutely, and the end would be that you could not carry on responsible government; and I feel really that responsible government works better that any system I know of in the world. I am perfectly willing to leave posterity to evolve something better, but as things at present stand I would rather take the thing I have and use it
Make what is absolutely new I can't,
Mar what is made already well enough,
I won't; but turn to best account the thing
That's half made-that I can.
The proposal therefore that I have to make is to strike out all the words after "of," in the first line of clause 9, and to insert:
So many members for each State as that State shall be entitled to on the sliding scale hereinafter mentioned.
It will then read
The Senate shall be composed of so many members for each State as that State shall be entitled to on the sliding scale hereinafter mentioned.
I have not drawn up that sliding scale, because I know I shall be defeated.
Mr. MCMILLAN: Indicate it.
Mr. HIGGINS: I should propose a sliding scale something like this: For the first 100,000 people, a State should return three members; and for every extra 200,000, one member. The result would be that it would not be representation according to population, nor equal representation, but you would give a substantial concession to the smaller States. That is merely an indication, and I am not going to make any final proposal, because I will not labor final proposals, as I know I shall be beaten. I feel more strongly, having regard to this discussion, that it is important for those of us who have a clear idea in their own minds as to the fallacy of equal representation to indicate it by our views and by our votes. Inasmuch as there is no prospect of it being carried, I will simply appeal to those who see the fallacy clearly, and who know that equal representation will be carried, to give me their votes, and show to the people who object to it that their views have been sufficiently weighed, and that there has been no desire on our part to rob, as I must call it, the people of the right of governing their own affairs in Australia.
Mr. DEAKIN: One of the many misfortunes which have followed the dislocation of this debate by the prior consideration of the part relating to the financial powers of the Senate is that the discussion which Mr. Higgins has raised in his scholarly and able speech comes at a period when it appears to me the time has passed even for its consideration. We have concluded a discussion as to the monetary powers of the two Houses, which has been based on the assumption that the remaining proposals in the Bill with regard to the Houses should not be varied in essence.
Mr. LYNE: Nothing of the kind,
Mr. DEAKIN: In my opinion a number of votes were cast in favor of what is [start page 650] termed the compromise of 1891 on that assumption, and there were grounds for that assumption, and though, as far as members are concerned, I believe they are all perfectly free to vote on the matter as they think right, I should not feel myself justified even if the hon. member's arguments had absolutely convinced me, to vote at this stage of the proceedings for his amendment. In consequence of the tacit understanding we received the gallant and generous support of several members who put aside their personal views in order to arrive at a fair compromise. We should not be dealing with them fairly and justly if we now endeavored to depart from it, I know my learned friend Mr. Higgins too well to indulge in the mere parade of asking him to withdraw his motion, which he has made deliberately. I know that any such appeal must be idle.
Mr. HIGGINS: If any appeal could persuade me it would be yours.
Mr. DEAKIN: I am glad to have that fresh indication of the friendly relations which have always existed between us. Nevertheless, I wish to make an appeal, and trust that the arguments of others may induce him not to press it to a division. I do not propose for the reasons I have given, even to attempt, if I were capable of doing so, to follow the hon. member through the line of argument he has pursued, which is logical as his arguments invariably are. Unless I mistake the attitude of those who differ from him and also my own attitude, the consideration that decides the question of equal representation will not be found within the line of argument the hon. member has followed. In dealing
with sovereign States-each perfectly and absolutely independent of its neighbor, each endowed with the same complete authority in legislation and administration, each having the power of self-government-you cannot place before them simply the outlines of a theoretical edifice and command their acceptance of it, even supposing their judgment is with the hon. member in all the considerations he suggests. In dealing with equals, and it must be recognised that we meet as equals, that is to say, as States endowed with equal powers-not necessarily equal in area, not necessarily equal in population, and not necessarily equal in wealth, but equal in all the rights of citizenship and powers of self-government, and therefore equal in the highest sense as separate States-the question of the form of the Federal Government is not merely a question between us as to which form can be most logically deduced from certain premises which may or may not be generally accepted; it is a question between equal contracting parties, as to the terms and conditions on which they will enter the Federation. All federal issues require to be regarded from two standpoints. The practical issue is upon what terms; the theoretical is under what form. All the illustrations of the honorable member are fruitful and suggestive and invaluable in the consideration of the theoretical problems that confront us, but they offer no sufficient solution alone, because the burden lies upon us of first settling the terms. The very first step in establishing a Federation is that it shall be on lines so just that the majority of the people in each State will consent to come into it.
Mr. HIGGINS: I only want justice.
Mr. DEAKIN: We have not only to obtain a scheme which will satisfy my hon. friend's sense of justice, but one that will satisfy the sense of justice of the neighboring States with whom he is in treaty. He cannot federate by himself, and he must therefore appeal to and satisfy those who exercise a perfectly free, unbiassed, and independent judgment in determining whether they will agree to join him. As he tells us, we are not under the domination of the less populous States. Neither are the less populous States under the domination of the more populous. They have the same freedom, and the first question for them is whether the Federation [start page 651] you suggest is one which will command the consent of the majority of the people of their colony. That is the proposition we submitted to them on the question of Money Bills. It was a statement of a fact rather than an argument to which a number of them most generously gave consideration. When they turn the same argument on ourselves and say, "It would be idle for us to ask the people of our colony to accept a scheme in which there is not equal representation in the Senate. For the purposes of this Federation, we are uniting for national ends, but in uniting we sacrifice many advantages, sacrifice our State powers within certain limits, and also part of our self-government in order to receive back in the Federal State only that proportion of their control which our population bears to the population of the whole body." It is not a case in which my aristocratic friend Mr. Dobson would say:
You give everything and take back all.
They are surely entitled to tell us their people would not consent to such a proposal. If we are faced by that fact, we are compelled to consider it at the very outset -before we go on to consider how we can beat shape a federal government. When we are debating the after question of shaping a federal government, then all the arguments of the hon. gentleman will be of value subject to the preliminary terms. This question of equal representation is not open to a merely political or theoretical treatment; it is a question of contract between the free and equal contracting parties. When we come to the scheme of Federation, and its provision for giving effect to the will of a majority of the people or of the States, there are many principles and illustrations and facts and methods which will require to be kept in view. But even those considerations are subordinated to another, and that is: What are the political circumstances, the political knowledge, and the political tendencies of these colonies? Having those in view, what we require is not a theoretically ideal or legally symmetrical Constitution for the people, but one which shall represent their aspirations, give the fullest play to their powers, and allow for their ingrained prepossessions born of long-inherited political experience. Having arranged in a general way a fair basis of union, we must proceed to make not a mechanically ideal Constitution, but a workable Constitution, appropriate to our people and our time. No doubt it must comply with those general considerations which the hon. gentleman has laid down. It must be a
democratic Constitution having a proper system of checks and balances, so as to elicit the deliberate will of the people. It must have, in fine, the general characteristics of the governments which we now enjoy. Every federal theory must be subordinate in the first place to the terms of a fair and equal contract, and in the second place to the consideration of what, having regard to the circumstances of our people, will be the most workable Constitution that can be devised. I did not purpose when I rose to detain the Convention at such length, but it seemed perhaps desirable that a Victorian Should follow a Victorian in this matter, to indicate that the hon. gentleman is exercising the equal privileges he enjoys of expressing his individual ideas, and that at the same time some of the rest of us who would prefer that this question had not been raised at this stage are exercising our equal privileges in expressing the hope that he may yet see him way to withdraw an amendment which, at all events, as regards some of the members of this Convention, is extending to them a less generous consideration than they yesterday extended to us.
Mr. LYNE: I would like to say-
HON. MEMBERS: Question!
HON. MEMBERS: No.
Mr. HOWE: I thought you wanted to go home.
Mr. TRENWITH: We want to do good work, at any rate.
[start page 652] Mr. LYNE: I am surprised to hear the speech to which we have just listened. If I remember rightly, the hon. member, Mr. Deakin, made a speech some years ago exactly opposite in effect to that which he has delivered now.
Mr. DEAKIN: No; I never spoke against equal representation in my life. have indicated its difficulties.
Mr. LYNE: As far as my memory serves, the speech he delivered on that occasion was one of the best opposed to it that I ever listened to, and before I sit down I will show the way he is going to lead Victoria. It seems to me that a contract was made for the purchase of votes yesterday, which is to be deprecated.
How. MEMBERS: No, no!
Mr. LYNE:- At any rate, that contract is not going to bind me.
Mr. DEAKIN: Nor me.
Mr. LYNE: I had nothing to do with such a contract. I was opposed to the minority; I was opposed to the clause as it was passed afterwards, and I was much surprised that there was not a division over the fifth sub-section of that money clause yesterday. Now, the hon. gentleman proposes to place Victoria with the other larger States in this position that, no matter what laws they may pass, no matter what money proposals they may make, no matter what time they may take up in discussing them, those proposals may go to the Senate, and they may be absolutely stopped and destroyed, and destroyed too by the smaller States. That is what it is proposed to do
Mr. DEAKIN: Hear, hear.
Mr. LYNE: Thus the whole work of the larger States, the representatives of the majority of the people, may be absolutely destroyed. I am not prepared to do that.
Mr. MCMILLAN: Would it not be exactly the converse?
Mr. LYNE: No; it would not. If there was a provision in the Bill providing a safety-valve by which the Senate could not absolutely stop the will of the people, then I would be prepared to consider this; but we have a Bill submitted to us at present, and I presume it will be carried in that respect, in which there is no proposal for the Senate and the House of Representatives to come together in any way.
Mr. DEAKIN: There is an amendment submitted.
Mr. LYNE: If the hon. member is going to vote away his rights, as he has said, we know what the amendment he refers to is worth. There is no power to bring the two Houses together to deal with a crisis of this kind, or with any other crisis that may arise. There is no referendum and there is no method such as the Swiss Constitution gives, yet we are asked to give equal representation in the Senate, so that three small colonies representing three-quarters of a million of people can absolutely dominate nearly three millions of people. Mr. Higgins has ably put this question, and shown in comparison that a man in South Australia would have four times the voting power of a man in New South Wales.
Sir WILLIAM ZEAL: That has been repeated again and again.
Mr. LYNE: And it is worth repeating again. I feel almost as strongly on this question as on any part of the Bill. I do not care how far certain representatives from New South Wales are prepared to give the rights of the State away, for I undertake to say that if they do, they will never carry the Bill in New South Wales, not with my support. I will consent to nothing that provides that legislation passed by the Lower House can be upset by the representatives of a minority of the people in the Senate. It absolutely drags down responsible government, and I am surprised that any representatives from Victoria or New South Wales can say they are in favor of such a proposal.
Mr. FRASER: Then they will not come into Federation at all.
Mr. LYNE: I am not prepared to give away all the rights. We are asked [start page 653] in this Bill to give away rights of government which will stagger the people of the larger colonies when they hear of it. We are asked to give away their rights to deal with the whole of the rivers and the railways which should be used for the States' development, and we are now proposing to put smaller States in a position, without asking the will of the larger colonies, to throw out legislation and override the Government on these questions. While I am prepared to federate on reasonable terms, I am not prepared to federate on unreasonable terms, or to ask or solicit the people of New South Wales to give up their reasonable rights. At the present time we have the power to deal with all the immense questions affecting our valuable territory. And so they have in Victoria, and in South Australia, and Tasmania and Western Australia; but you are asking us to give away these rights of dealing with the development of the country to a minority of the people. Some hon. member has suggested unification. I say: far better go for unification than for a Federation which is going to tie our bands behind our backs for all time to come. For this thing is not for to-day or to-morrow, but for all time; for if you insert this provision, together with clause 121, you will never get it altered. You will be placed in the same position regarding your Senate as the United States is now placed in, contrary to what was intended originally. It was never intended that that Senate should take the position of a Second Chamber. At the time it, was constituted it was intended that it should be an advisory chamber to the Government of the day and the President. Now it has grown into the position that it can do as it did the other day, when against the will of the people it threw the arbitration treaty proposed by the British Government into the waste-paper basket. Do you want something of that kind to take place in United Australia in the future? If you are prepared to give us anything fair and just, you must guard against one of two things in the Senate. You must either take away its absolute dominating power, or else you must not give equal representation.
Mr. MOORE: Take it away altogether.
Mr. LYNE: It would not be a bad thing.
Mr. MOORE: For you.
Mr. LYNE: I am not prepared to allow Tasmania, with 150,000 or 160,000 inhabitants, to govern New South Wales with its 1,400,000. And on that point I might ask Mr. Douglas, who twitted me the other day with being a renegade, where are his renegades now? He has got a few renegades whom he has brought over with him.
Sir WILLIAM ZEAL: That is most unfair, most ungenerous.
The CHAIRMAN: Order. Will the hon. member take his seat. I do not think the hon. member is in order in referring to any member of this Convention as a renegade.
Mr. LYNE: I do not wish to dispute your ruling; but I will draw your attention to the fact that when the hon. member called me a renegade, you did not call his attention to it.
The CHAIRMAN: I did not catch any such expression.
Mr. REID: It was in the Convention, not in Committee.
Mr. DOUGLAS: I should not have made mention of it unless Mr. Lyne had interjected, and he only got his deserts.
Mr. LYNE: I do not wish in any way to use any hard phrases in reference to any delegates, but the hon. member, Mr. Douglas, has been rather twitting me in various ways ever since I have been here on this occasion, and I like to have a little pleasant repartee with him.
Mr. DEAKIN: But you turn round and slate Somebody else.
Mr. LYNE: When I was speaking on this question in the Convention, before we [start page 654] went into Committee, I said if we were going to give the States equal representation in the Senate the minority of the people in the Senate must not be given the power to intercept the will of the majority. Mr. Deakin, according to his speech, is now proposing to give them that absolute power. Then I say: no Federation for me if they are going to have that absolute power. It is quite enough to prevent any Federation if you are going to give up your rights as they exist at the present time to a minority of the people. The majority of people, I have always believed, should have the greatest say in connection with a matter of this kind. What is the use of having in the House of Representatives a majority of ten times or a hundred times, if a minority of people through the Senate can knock in the head everything they do? As far as I am personally concerned, I shall vote in favor of the hon. member's amendment, and I am prepared to stand by that vote in the colony I represent. I am prepared to meet any of those gentlemen who oppose it anywhere in that colony, and to stand by the verdict of the people on it. I should like to see, if it were possible, the State of Tasmania come in, also the State of West Australia, and likewise South Australia. Does Mr. Deakin say that when a man is making a bargain he makes an equal compact? Supposing Mr. Deakin had £50,000, would he enter into a compact on equal terms with a man with only £10,000? Does he not expect greater rights?
Mr. SYMON: No.
Mr. LYNE: The hon. member would not advise a client to enter into a bargain under such circumstances. That is just the position we are in at the present time. The hon. member Mr. Deakin wants New South Wales and Victoria to enter into an arrangement when they have their £50,000 with other colonies that have their £5,000 or £10,000. I do not wish to delay the debate, but I could not let
it pass without entering my protest against such a proposal as that made at the present time-a proposal which cannot, and I presume will not, be accepted by the larger States, unless there is some loophole by which when the Senate attempts to prevent the will of the people from being carried out, they should not be allowed to carry out their design ultimately. I hear it said that we are going to accept the arrangement in the Bill of 1891-
Sir WILLIAM ZEAL: Evil be to him who evil thinks.
Mr. LYNE: Well, that has been said.
Sir WILLIAM ZEAL: Well, it is not true.
Mr. LYNE: Then the hon. member is casting an aspersion on some here.
Sir WILLIAM ZEAL: No, I am not, but you are.
Mr. LYNE: The hon. member is making a statement that is not in accordance with fact, because three or four hon. members have said it was an agreement to come to the arrangement of 1891, and not to go behind it.
Mr. TRENWITH: An agreement with whom?
Mr. LYNE: That is what I want to know.
Mr. FRASER: Nothing of the kind.
Mr. LYNE: It was understood, as Mr. Deakin said a few minutes ago, and the vote yesterday was obtained on the understanding that this equal representation should be granted.
Mr. TRENWITH: Mr. Deakin did not say that.
Mr. LYNE: If other hon. members made that compact to obtain the votes they did yesterday, I am not prepared to agree to it. I shall vote against and oppose any equal representation until such time as we have a provision in the law by which the Senate shall not for any length of time be able to stop the will of the people.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON: This matter is one of vital interest, not only to [start page 655] the representatives of the smaller States, but to all hon. members who represent the States of Australasia. Yesterday, by a narrow majority, a vote was passed depriving the Senate of some of its powers, which we would otherwise see it enjoy, thus inflicting a wound on Federation which may be healed or may be mortal, as time will show. It is now proposed to do that which will strike a deathblow at Federation, and there will be no Federation if this proposal is carried, for the smaller States will be entirely severed from the movement if it is agreed to. If a majority of the Convention were of the mind to see an injustice done, if they desire to see the compact honestly entered into violated in this way, we should have to do what has been done before-to pack up our carpet bags and leave. I trust to the good sense of a majority of the Convention to say that the compromise of 1891 shall be justly carried out.
Dr. QUICK: At the Bathurst Federal Convention, which was held last year, I had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Lyne deliver an admirable speech in favor of Federation, and on that occasion he promised to do nothing which would obstruct, injure, or impede the progress of Federation. Not only did Mr. Lyne say he would do his best to promote it, but he would abstain from taking any action which would prejudice its advancement. The hon. member was also present during the sitting of the Bathurst Convention, at which the principle of equal representation of the States in the Senate was almost unanimously affirmed.
Mr. LYNE: And I opposed it.
Dr. QUICK: I did not hear the hon. member say anything publicly to that effect. If he did feel that way I am surprised he did not give expression to his views.
Mr. LYNE: So I did.
Dr. QUICK: I doubt the sincerity of any gentleman who comes here and says that he is in favor of Federation and then tries to impose impossible conditions. It is all very well to say you are in favor of Federation, but any man who acts like that cannot be in earnest; it is a mere pretence. For my part, though recognising this to be one of the most difficult questions in connection with the federal movement, I, at the outset of my candidature, boldly and candidly placed at the head of my address to the people of Victoria the fact that I was in favor of the equal representation of the States in the Senate, because I saw clearly that until that was recognised we could not hope to carry Federation. It is a farce to hold this Convention, and to invite the minor States to join in such a union, unless we are prepared to concede this principle. There may be a reasonable difference of opinion on a large number of the details of the federal scheme, but there can be no conciliation and no chance of success unless we recognise equal representation in the Senate; and unless that is conceded we might as well close the sittings of this Convention as go on. I am prepared to recognise the honesty and sincerity of the, views put forward by my hon. friend Mr. Higgins, but it requires a great strain to accept his assurance that he has brought his proposal in the interests of Federation. I ask him candidly to say, has he one solitary hope of success in framing a Federal Constitution if he carried his amendment? Would not all of the minor States immediately withdraw from the Convention if he succeeded in carrying that? Undoubtedly they would, and they would be quite justified in so doing. It is quite true the hon. member has given a learned, scholarly, and eloquent theoretical address today, but I think we have got beyond the stage of theoretical discussion of this subject. I am not here to discuss theories, but to discuss the terms of apolitical compact; and in arriving at a political compact we have to consider the views of our opponents. We have to consider the interests and views of the other States. If we were here as an [start page 656] assembly of philosophers we might enter into abstract discussions, but this is not a convention of philosophers. It is a convention of practical politicians, whose duty is to try and reconcile and harmonise the conflicting views of the various States. And I consider the principle, as affirmed in the Connecticut compromise over 100 years ago, and time after time since, of the equality of the representation of the States in the Senate can be justified, when the States are in the compact, on the ground that they are sovereign entities, and that as equal contracting parties they surrender to this federal union a certain quota of their sovereign powers. Mr. Higgins need not have spent half the morning in endeavoring to formulate a theoretical principle which has been discussed till it is threadbare. We have not come-some of us hundreds of miles-to discuss theories, but to do practical business. We cannot have our own way according to our own fanciful and philosophical ideas. Mr. Higgins has aired his eloquence and his own philosophical, fanciful ideas for upwards of an hour, but it only injures the cause of Federation in this Convention and in the country, and it is absolutely wasting time to do so. For my part I was elected by the people of Victoria on the full assurance that I would vote straight in favor of equal representation of the States in the Senate, and I intend to do so.
Mr. CARRUTHERS: The hon. member who has just resumed his seat is, perhaps, like myself, unfortunate in speaking too earnestly at times. He has earnestly rebuked Mr. Lyne and myself, and says, because we choose to support this proposal we are inimical to Federation. We are all inclined to be charitable towards one another, and I hope members will take a charitable view of the affair in regard to Mr. Lyne and myself. We are not opposed to Federation, but are exercising our undoubted right to vote according to our own judgment and conscience. Mr. Lyne, in New South Wales, advocated exactly these views which he has advocated on the floor of this chamber to-day, and he was elected with the knowledge possessed by the people that he held these views. My position is this, that in the chief debate of the Convention I intimated that, although illogical, I could not approve of equal representation, but was prepared to concede it as the only basis upon which we could have Federation. But I then said, that was provided, the constitution was so framed that the ultimate will of the people
in case of a conflict should prevail. That is exactly the position I take up to-day. I do not wish to jeopardise Federation by opposing equal representation; but I would sooner wreck Federation than thwart the will of the people, who should rule in their own way. I believe that a Federation of a character that imposes on the majority of the people the rule of the minority, will be a curse and not a blessing; and I think we can well afford if we have to wait until we have a Federation which is in accord with the will of the majority. I say that it is nothing more or less than provincialism under the cover of another name, which seeks to impose on the majority doctrines, principles, and legislations which they hate. If this Convention shows a disposition to allow a safety-valve to exist in our Constitution which will give free play to the opinion of the majority, I will not dispute on this important matter, but if members will sit on the safety-valve, then I am not going to help them in any shape or form. If the intention of this Convention is to adopt a deadlock provision such as Mr. O'Connor, and almost every member from New South Wales, supported, then I am with them.
Mr. LYNE: Every one of them supported it.
Mr. CARRUTHERS: Why have members gone back on that proposal? If the proposal is carried we will have the Norwegian system or the referendum, and I will keep silence and vote for equal representation, but if the majority are placed [start page 657] under the heels of the minority you jeopardise Federation as far as New South Wales is concerned. It is done in the cause of provincialism, although you call it by a new name-States rights. The liberty and lives of the 3,000,000 people in New South Wales and Victoria are placed in the hands of the 750,000 people of the smaller States, and that is handing over the question of peace and war, because we have to look to the time when we are independent, and that means placing the liberty, the lives, the homes, and the freedom of the majority of the people of Australia in the hands of the minority. Mr. Deakin spoke about breaking a compact entered into, but he cannot accuse me of it, because I was clear in my language.
Mr. DEAKIN: There was no actual compact. I said it was generally understood.
Mr. CARRUTHERS: The Premier of Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, says there has been a breach of faith in this matter, having regard to the decision arrived at yesterday. I said yesterday that the victory would be one which would be dearly bought-a victory worse than defeat. My views were clearly expressed, and I have been consistent. My aim at this Convention is to have some ultimate provision by which Federation will be based on the will of the people, that in cases of deadlocks the people shall be the final court of appeal. Why should I be so anxious about the people of New South Wales in this particular matter? I am not here for the purpose of having a major regard for the people of the other States who are already well represented, and I do not look after their interests. This is the only chance for us, as the agents of the people, to voice their interests and make claims on their behalf. What makes me more anxious than ever is that I have seen an instance of how a majority from the smaller States can barter away the rights and interests of the larger States. I have seen how a majority of the smaller States were prepared to barter away the rights of the people in New South Wales to the water in their rivers, without which two-thirds of our colony would be almost rendered a desert. As Minister of Lands in that colony, I know, in regard to that question, that the handing over to a Senate composed-
Mr. BARTON: There is nothing final about it.
Mr. CARRUTHERS: It may be there is nothing final in the whole Bill. There may be amendments that may cause me to modify my opinions on this point. I want to make that clear. My vote, I know, will be in the minority; but if a majority support the amendments I will recall that vote-if we eliminate certain matters and if we also provide this safety-valve. I was mentioning that, having regard to the custody of the public lands here, we have a Bill to hand over the waters, without which these lands are worthless, and I am not prepared to give my vote in support of it. I am not prepared to hand over the control of our waters to a minority of the people who will have a majority of votes in the Senate; people who have no concern with our waters; I understand the Convention deals with national subjects, and if we limit it to that, I will not fear this interference; but, in dealing with such
questions as parental control and the custody of children, you are dealing with great national rights-the rights of human beings. Can there be any question, any more vital question, than parental control and the guardianship of children? These are handed over by this proposal, and you are going to make it a question of the States concerned, irrespective of people, to be the ruling power in this matter. Mistakes have been made, and we must retrace our steps and not attempt such a wide scheme on these matters, which can be well regulated by the people. My hon. friend showed clearly that a true Federation Will leave local con- [start page 658] cerns to be governed by the local Parliaments. That being so, there is no need for having this question in the Federal Parliament. My vote will be in direct antagonism to the views I formerly expressed, taken at the first blush, but it is consistent with what I then said, that I would seek to have imprinted on this Constitution the right of the people to rule as the chief factor of the Federation, and the people most affected by it.
Sir GRAHAM BERRY: I rise to say a few words, although I have a very bad cold, and fear I will have difficulty in making myself heard. I think there are some features in this discussion which have not been sufficiently considered. I admit that there was in the preliminary work of the Convention, and even at the elections some general consensus of opinion that in the Senate there would be equal representation with the House of Representatives, but there were no clearly defined views as to what the powers of the Senate then would be. It was thought it would be on the model of our Legislative Council, that it would be a check on hasty legislation, and have the right of rejecting financial measures; but in the wisdom of this Convention larger powers have been given to the Senate than it was thought to endow it with when the election took place. We have given them the right to initiate Money Bills. We have swept away all the safeguards created by the British Constitution where there were precedents to be referred to as to the corresponding rights of the two Chambers. We have, as it were, taken a leap in the dark, and we have endowed a second Chamber with large financial powers which, in certain cases, will override the powers of the House of Representatives. We have in their Constitution given them the whole State for a single electorate on manhood suffrage. That will be an immense power if used aright, but, in connection with the other conditions that we have imposed upon them, it may be a great danger. We have not provided that the Senate can be dissolved. It is a Chamber which will have continuity of existence.
Mr. REID: Hear, hear.
Sir GRAHAM BERRY: Whereas the House of Representatives can be dissolved. The House of Representatives will be returned by districts, and that in the controversies between the two Houses will throw a large amount of advantage in the hands of the members of the Senate. Every member of the Senate can say, "I represent the whole State; each of your members only represents a section. The lot of you altogether only represent a State, whereas each of us represents our State as a whole, and consequently our claim to represent the people is greater than yours." Is that, I ask, a position in which the House of Representatives should be placed?
Mr. LYNE: No.
Sir GRAHAM BERRY: Does it not to a large extent and in certain circumstances altogether take away the predominance which I think all admit theoretically should vest in the House of Representatives? I submit that it does. In addition to the power of rejecting Money Bills we have given over financial powers to the Senate which will place them in a position to almost override the House of Representatives.
Mr. LYNE: Hear, hear.
Sir GRAHAM BERRY: I dwell upon the near approach to co-ordinate power on the part of the Senate, and in some respects to excess of powers over the House of Representatives, in justification of the proposition that representation in the Senate comes up afresh. It is totally different to granting equal representation to a body that would only represent for a time a check upon hasty legislation of the more popular House. That is one thing. It is another thing to grant equal representation in a
Chamber which in many cases-and not infrequently-as the last resort, can altogether dominate the decision of [start page 659] the people's House, and it is because we have granted such large financial powers-powers that will lead us we do not know where-
Mr. LYNE: Hear, hear.
Sir GRAHAM BERRY: That takes us altogether out of the British Constitution and away from the procedure of responsible government.
Mr. LYNE: Hear, hear.
Sir GRAHAM BERRY: And we do it on the plea that we are conserving State rights. In how many instances would the Senate have to defend State rights? Would it not from its position, from the continuity of its existence, be the conservative House, notwithstanding that it is elected under manhood suffrage. Would it not be the nucleus for all tactics and all endeavors to subvert the national representative government in the House of Representatives?
Mr. LYNE: Hear, hear.
Sir GRAHAM BERRY: If that is so, and if hon. members cannot deny that, they have made a powerful Senate, one that can in many ways dominate the House of Representatives. Then how can they justify those who are representatives of the larger colonies conceding the right of the rule of the minority over the rule of the majority of the people of Australia?
Mr. LYNE: Hear, hear.
Sir GRAHAM BERRY: I do not think we have altogether seen what we are doing and where we are drifting. This Senate is a power, and may become a power that will override altogether the rights of the people as represented in the House of Representatives. It is quite true that the House of Representatives will nominally control the Executive, which will owe its life to the will of the majority of the people's representatives, but how frequently do we know Governments and majorities that have been obliged to resist the action of the Second Chamber and are then faced with the difficulties of a deadlock and the inconvenience of a penal dissolution? If that dissolution is difficult and dangerous and little resorted to in a single State, bow much larger is the risk, how much greater the danger, how much more the difficulty, when the whole of Australia will be appealed to in a general election, which, after all, will settle nothing. Gentlemen in the Senate can sit there and smile at you while you are going as the House of Representatives, to the country. Then, again, they may again reject a measure which the country by the majority of its representatives has endorsed because they are safe for three years longer, by which time they believe the whole matter will be forgotten through other issues having arisen. They will become, by continuity of existence, really the governing power of Australia. It is unfortunate that so great a question should be hampered by what is considered to be a compact.
Mr. DEAKIN: I used no such word.
Sir GRAHAM BERRY: That was the inference to be drawn from your remarks.
Mr. DEAKIN: I say there is an honor. able obligation on our part to recognise the sacrifice these gentlemen made yesterday.
Sir GRAHAM BERRY: I recognise no sacrifice.
Mr. REID: Hear, hear.
Mr. DEAKIN: I do.
Sir GRAHAM BERRY: I deeply regret if it was to be such an overruling issue that we decided yesterday, as we did. After all, the power of making amendments or suggestions in this Parliament is not in itself important. The Senate by suggestions could indicate its will. It could do no more by an amendment. The House of Representatives could decline to accept the suggestion as it might reject an amendment of the Senate, and it was only as to which house shall be responsible for the rejection of a measure that that discussion was of any vitality. If the issue is to have such far reaching con- [start page 660] sequences as Mr. Deakin and Mr, Quick seem to indicate, it was a very unfortunate discussion for us, because if we take the full meaning of their language it ties our hands on this and other important principles which we should fully discuss-which change their meaning, their importance, and their bearing on the constitutional questions from day to day-as we deal with other questions. I think also it has been now proved by the result that it was unfortunate that our mode of procedure was by secret committees, because hon. members feel that when majorities have been ascertained and views expressed by colonies, and the result known, it largely kills debate and prevents that fair expression of opinion and that fair result which would have come had we had these discussions open to the public in open practical debate before there was any foregone conclusion as to what views would be taken. Members would have been freer to have expressed their opinions; we should have had divisions recorded which would at least have instructed the people of Australia as to the views held, the reasons for those views, and those who held with one side or the other. But I only rose for the one purpose of saying how largely the question had been altered by the way in which we had dealt with the financial powers of the Senate. And if we were able and willing to have conceded equal representation to a Senate that could only check for a time financial legislation, we might have freely said we would continue by that understanding; yet, when the powers are so much enlarged, so different from those we are acquainted with as the powers of a Second Chamber, and depart so largely from the precedents established by the British Constitution, to which we could refer for any difference between the two Houses in a matter of procedure, then it becomes a vital question as to the representation in that body.
Mr. HIGGINS: Hear, hear.
Sir GRAHAM BERRY: We have conferred large powers which ought to be shared, not equally by representation of colony and colony, but equally by representation by population.
Mr. LYNE: Hear, hear.
Sir GRAHAM BERRY: There should be a larger representation of the people in the Senate now endued with these large financial powers then there need have been in the Senate as proposed to be constituted at first. I thank hon. members for the kind attention with which they have listened to me.
Mr. ISAACS: It is not very often that I find myself compelled to vote differently from my hon. friends Sir Graham Berry and Mr. Higgins. Our views on most political subjects are alike, and on this, as I have endeavored on more than one occasion to indicate and emphasise as strongly as I could, my reason goes absolutely with the doctrine they have endeavored to lay down-that the idea of equal representation of States in a Federation is neither necessary nor logical.
Mr. LYNE: Hear, hear.
Mr. ISAACS: It, in that respect, resembles, in my judgment, the question that we were debating yesterday so closely, namely, the co-ordinate powers of the Senate with regard to Money Bills. In neither instance, in my opinion, is there a logical foundation for the contention, but there is this difference between the two, that in one case there is neither a logical nor a political justification, while in the other-the question we are now considering -although there is no logical justification, there is an intensely strong and, in my opinion, overpowering political justification.
Dr. QUICK: Hear, hear.
Mr. ISAACS: I cannot say of this question, as I said of the other, and as some of my hon. colleagues have said, that it is vital. With certain reservations, and under certain conditions [start page 661] that we hope to embody in the Bill, it is in my judgment not vital to the people of Victoria, and I should be doing wrong if I endeavored to express my opinion in another direction or failed to express it in this. I have no hesitation in saying that I believe to insist upon excising the doctrine of equal representation of States in the Senate would be tantamount to abandoning the question of Federation altogether. I have no shadow of doubt in my mind that not a single one of the less populous colonies would come into the matter at all. Then I have to ask myself "Will Victoria or New South Wales stand out if we have equal representation?" In my opinion, the presence of it will not of itself afford any complete reason for their standing out. I quite give in my adhesion to the observations which have been made that the principle of equal representation must not be accompanied by such excessive powers as will allow the smaller States to dominate the larger ones, I believe if it were accompanied with such dominating powers that Federation would become impossible because I conceive, as was said at a somewhat similar Convention a century ago, "We are not called upon to commit suicide in the vain endeavor to live happily ever afterwards." Now, if we concede this question of equal representation to the States, as I think we are bound to concede it if we are to have Federation at all, then on the other hand we must take care that the will of the majority of the people on national questions-which is in effect the very hypothesis on which we federate - the will of the whole of the Federation collectively and proportionately, shall be done. I certainly strongly hold to the view that there should be some power of ascertaining in a definite and decisive way the will of the people if the two branches of the Legislature differ.
Mr. LYNE: It you do that I shall vote for equal representation.
Mr. ISAACS: The hon. member should do as I intend to do-vote now for equal representation, and endeavor to carry out the other point afterwards. I or my hon. friend Sir George Turner will endeavor to have embodied in this Constitution some provision against deadlocks. We shall endeavor to have embodied in it, on a basis which will be fair to the small States, some means-preferably by the referendum-of ascertaining definitely and decisively the will of the majority of the people. If that is done I see no reason whatever to fear this matter. But whether we fear it or not, we must recognise that without equal representation Federation is a mere chimera. We cannot follow it up; we cannot hope for it either now or in the near future. I admit the whole force of the arguments employed against equal representation. They appeal to my mind as strongly as they can do to any gentleman present. I have urged them myself, and maintained them, and the more I consider them the stronger and clearer they become. At the same time I am overpowered by this consideration: that if we voted against this now, and were unfortunate enough to carry it, we might as well disband, and that is a result for which I am not prepared at the present moment.
Mr. TRENWITH: I wish to say a few words on this question, and some hon. gentleman interjects, "Whenever are we going to get home?" That is a comparatively unimportant question. The important question is, "When are we going to provide a Constitution that will be effective for the purposes of these colonies?" The other question is altogether unimportant. The question that has been raised by my hon. friend Mr. Higgins is extremely important, and one the discussion of which at this stage involves one in serious perplexities. It has been urged that without equal representation in the Senate Federation is impossible. My hon. friend Dr. Quick has argued that with considerable heat, but I venture to say that is altogether a false assumption for which there is no warrant either in [start page 662] history or by the circumstances by which we are surrounded. The warrant only exists in the imagination of gentlemen who say that the smaller States will not come in unless they receive equal representation. I have no doubt that the smaller States will try all they can to make the very best bargain for their people, but if it is a fact that there are any States that will not come in until they get some advantage over other States that justifies the assertion that they are not yet ripe for Federation.
Mr. LYNE: Hear, hear.
Mr. TRENWITH: If they are ripe for Federation, and if it is desirable and necessary, the States will come in upon conditions which are equitable and just to all; and clearly-the provision to give representation in proportion to the interests involved is an equitable and just one. When my hon. friend Mr. Higgins was speaking of a partnership, I think Mr. Barton interjected:
Equal contracting parties would require equal representation.
I will submit a possible case. There are two companies desirous of associating for common purposes-one having 1,000 shareholders and £1,000 capital, the other having 100 shareholders with £100 capital. Does Mr. Barton believe that these two associations would come together having a joint board of directors equally representing both associations? All our experience gives the lie to that supposition.
Mr. HOWE: The case is just the reverse. of what you say.
Mr. TRENWITH: It is not, but my hon. friend may have some knowledge to the contrary.
Mr. DEAKIN: It all depends upon how you work it.
Mr. TRENWITH: There are some who, like myself, would be prepared to advocate Federation with equal representation of the States in the Senate if certain other conditions are provided.
Mr. LYNE: So would a good many of us.
Mr. TRENWITH: I have been a federationist ever since I have taken any part in public life. I am an Australian native, and I have a patriotic desire to see the nation with which I am associated assume a position of importance amongst the nations of the world. At the same time I have felt that there is a grave danger in making States as States equal, unless the power that the States House has to exercise is to be restricted. But what it ought to be, and what it can only be, can only be decided if the claim on behalf of equal representation is a fair thing. Then, if that be so, the only justification for equal representation is that it may become an effective shield. I was endeavoring before the adjournment for luncheon to show that in connection with the institutions of which we have knowledge unequal institutions do not associate on equal terms, and I instanced two imaginary Companies. We have also in the experience of these colonies very large, numerically strong, and popular institutions known as friendly societies throughout the whole of Australia that have a sort of federal government. They have for the purpose of their local government within the lodge a considerable amount of autonomy, but they have for the purposes of their corporate government a sort of federal parliament called by some annual movable committees, by others boards of directories, for the purposes of the whole society, and they furnish a sort of illustration of the kind of representation that Mr. Higgins suggested might with propriety and equity be conceded, in connection with this Federal Government. They provide that every lodge in the central parliament shall have representation without regard to its numbers, but having gone beyond that initial primary representation they proceed then upon the proportionate lines.
Mr. PEACOCK: Not in all cases.
Mr. TRENWITH: Very nearly so; in all that I have knowledge of. These are in their own way model federations, and we find in connection with this system that [start page 663] it works without injustice to any. However. I do not purpose covering or attempting to cover all the ground, or even much of it, that might properly be covered in this connection, because I recognise the futility of this discussion so far as the Convention is concerned. Still, I think we owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Higgins for bringing up the question. It is a question that is now, and has been ever since Federation was first talked of, exercising the minds of the people who are to be the parties to it. When this matter is settled here to-day, if pressed to a division, because my views are in accord with those of Mr. Higgins, because I have expressed those views outside, and in this Convention when I spoke on the main question I expressed similar views, and suggested something like the proposal my hon. friend
has submitted, I shall be compelled to vote for the resolution; but if the opposite is carried, that the States shall be equally represented, I shall cheerfully fall in, and feel it. to be my duty to urge upon the people with whom I am associated in the colony I am connected with, the acceptance of the Constitution with that equal representation, providing there are sufficient safeguards against the injury that may possibly come from equal representation. There is a very grave danger, if the powers of the States House are not carefully guarded, that more than the States ask for may be achieved. While they ask for protection, and only get protection from undue domination by the larger States, I am prepared to fall in, and would advise those associated with me to fall in, with such a proposal. I submit that they must give serious consideration at a later stage to the question of providing some safety-valve - some means by which, if a conflict should arise between the interests of the vast majority and those of the minority, after reasonable delay has taken place, after the fullest ventilation has been given to the subject in dispute and after every opportunity has been presented to the people of appreciating the dangers on each side-the will of the largest number of people may be ultimately given legislative effect to. If that is done I shall cheerfully fall in with the illogical and unnecessary provision, if it will expedite the adoption of Federation by these colonies, which is so important, so desirable and so necessary that I shall be prepared-and I think the people should be prepared-to give way upon some matters which are not of great importance, for the sake of the great advantage which will be gained by Federation. I hope that members, if they have a majority, will not exercise it without regard to the strong and earnest objections which a number of people have to the proposal which places in the hands of the minority the power to overrule the clearly expressed wishes of the majority.
Mr. GLYNN: Before the hon. member replies-as I know whatever he states to this Convention is the result of considerable thought, and he invariably supports the exposition of his thoughts by keen argument-I should like to call his attention to one or two points in his speech which I consider exhibit the weaknesses of his position. I quite agree with Mr. Higgins that, to a very large extent, Federation is consolidation; that is, that to the extent of the delegated powers there is in effect consolidation. There is direct power of. executive and legislative control over the citizens, and I think also, if the matter of equal representation in the Second Chamber was to be sustained on a logical basis, it would be rather hard on the smaller States to justify it in the principle; but I would ask the hon. member to, consider the matter from this point of view: Is it not a fact that consolidation is a principle of government which is only applicable to certain limited areas, that you cannot push consolidation beyond a certain reasonable geographical and population limit; and is it not, on the other hand, a fact also that the system of small governments or communities has its evils? I think in the early times, as Mr. Freeman says, the great strength lay in centralisation [start page 664] in the smaller States, and Mr. Higgins will remember that where the towns were bound together, as in the case of old Greece, which was a quasi-federation, equal representation was nearly always a condition precedent to their union. It was the principle out of which the modern system of Federation has sprung, because if you go back 100 years you will not find a Federation. The only true type which we have as yet seen is the Federation of the United States of America; and that is one which, of course, is based upon a principle the direct opposite of which he advocates by his amendment. The idea of most scientific historians is that strength in the future lies in large States. That is the principle of Mr. Seeley in his work" The Expansion of England." You cannot have, larger States on the consolidation principle, and you cannot amalgamate on the unitarian principle, and if you have a compound system it is not defensible in logic; but you cannot apply logic to political matters. One of the greatest statesmen said we must not be deceived by the delusive plausibilities of moral or scientific politicians. It is the necessary result of compromise between two scientific systems of government, having, as Freeman says, its advantages and disadvantages; capable of being despised as a compromise, or extolled as a golden mean. I look on the Second House having a function different even from representing the States as units. Mr. Higgins has looked upon it from the point of view of States rights. I agree with him that if you look into that question there are very few issues on which disputes may take place on the question of States and States. A large consolidation is not workable, because there will be a subordination of certain local opinions to the will of the minority. Mr. Higgins mentioned the case of England and Ireland. I ask that, considering the consolidation principle is working out there to the alleged subordination of local interests, have we not another purpose subserved by federation with a second House, the principle of election upon an equality of the States? Have we not the power of the majority to
oversway the opinions of the minority in the Lower Chamber checked by equal representation in the other House? But if that check were not in existence to influence opinion in the Lower House, matters of local politics, that residuum of such, which would be in the Federation, and which under the consolidation through the Lower House would be dealt with by the majority, would be beyond the control of the minority representing the smaller States in the popular House. The States House is thus an effective though an illogical addition. Now, my learned friend has referred to the debates which took place in the Convention of 1787. I think it was after the Convention had framed it that the Constitution was particularly unpopular. One writer-I think it was Adams-stated that the union was wrung from the grinding necessities of a reluctant people. They started a series of papers advocating the adoption of the Act of Union. Hamilton, one of the authors referred to by Mr. Higgins in one of his arguments in the Federalist, justifies it as a compromise. He justifies equal representation in the Upper House. I am putting it from the point of view of a compromise, because my learned friend says there is no logic for it. In the Seventy-second article of the Federalist, the authorship of which is assigned to Hamilton or Madison, with the preference to Hamilton, it is stated:
The equality of representation in the Senate in another point which, being evidently the result of compromise between the opposite pretensions of the large and small States, does not call for much discussion. If indeed it be right that among a people thoroughly incorporated into one nation every district ought to have a proportional share in the Government, and that among in. dependent and sovereign States bound together by a simple league, the parties, however unequal in size, ought to have an equal share in the common councils, it does not appear to be without some reason that in a compound republic, partaking both of the national and federal character, the government ought to be founded on a mixture of [start page 665] the principles of proportional and equal representation. But it is superfluous to try by the standard of theory a part of the Constitution which is allowed on all hands to be the result. not of theory, but of a spirit of amity, and the mutual deference and concession which the peculiarity of our political situation rendered indispensable.
Mr. HIGGINS: Hear, hear; that is the point.
Mr. GLYNN: But you cannot draw a strict line of demarcation in politics; you must take what is feasible and what is workable and in a balance of advantage preferable. If you apply the principle in the matter of consolidation, the same spirit of amity referred to as mutual concession must apply there also. He goes on to say:
But as the larger States will always be able by their power over the supplies to defeat unreasonable exertions of this prerogative of the lesser States, and as the facility and excess of law-making seem to be the diseases to which our Governments are most liable, it is not impossible that this part of the Constitution may be more convenient in practice than it appears to many in contemplation.
So much for what Hamilton said more than a hundred years ago. Now let us see how it worked out. We have the evidence of Bryce, in 1893:
In the House the large States are predominant; ten out of forty-four (less than one-fourth) return an absolute majority of the 332 representatives. In the Senate these same ten States have only twenty members out of eighty-eight-less then one. fourth of the whole. In other words, these ten States are more than sixteen times as powerful in the House as they are in the Senate. But as the House has never been the organ of the large States, nor prone to act in their interest, so neither has the Senate been the stronghold of the small States. for American politics have never turned upon an antagonism between these two sets of commonwealths.
Then later on he says:
The two bodies are not hostile elements in the nation, striving for supremacy, but servants of the same master, whose word of rebuke will quiet them.
These are matters which to a large extent discount the effect of the very learned argument of my hon. friend Mr. Higgins. As opinion outside this Convention will settle whether the Constitution shall be adopted or not, and the arguments used here will have considerable force upon public opinion, I hope in his reply the hon. gentleman will devote his attention to this matter.
Mr. HIGGINS: I ask the indulgence of the Committee for a few moments. Hon. members will, I think, agree that the time has not been wasted. There is no doubt that we have some important admissions from those who are going to vote against me that this principle is wrong, and there has not been throughout the debate anyone except Mr. Glynn who has ventured to justify equal representation on its merits. The only argument used in favor of it seems to be that for the purpose of getting Federation under this Bill we should allow equal representation. Mr. Barton said:
Equal contracting parties ought to have equal representation.
Yes, in forming a partnership agreement. If several men of different degrees of wealth, with different assets, form a partnership agreement, they stand equal until it is formed; but when it is formed they have a clause which provides for the majority of partners ruling. Until the time this Constitution has been formed and accepted there should be equality, but once in the Federation for federal purposes you should have the majority ruling. As to what Mr. Glynn has said, I agree thoroughly that we are not to follow out logically exactly what we think to be correct. You cannot do that in politics. You cannot have everything you want in principle. What was the compromise in the United States that has been referred to? One party wanted to leave the separate States absolutely with full separate powers, and the other to have one unitary State having absolute control over all the States. The compromise lay in giving the State absolute power over purely State affairs, and giving to the Federation power over federal affairs. Equal representation was not a compromise in a [start page 666] matter of principle, but, as is shown by Hamilton in the Federalist, the result of pressure in circumstances of extreme danger. They felt the danger of an enemy at their own doors. The British had forts on their boundaries, and they felt the fear of Delaware and Rhode Island making terms with them. That equal representation was formed on the basis of terror, and after 100 years we are asked to accept a system which the people of the States repent of at the present day. The only painful passage during this debate was with my friend Dr. Quick. I was angry at the time, but I feel sure it was his desire to have a good result that led him to an extravagance of expression which he will regret. He would never have accused me of being insincere to the cause of Federation if he had known me a little better, and if he had allowed me credit for as good intentions as I have no doubt he has himself. But speaking of the effect on Federation, I think the greatest danger to the adoption of a good Federal Bill arising in the course of this debate has been the course of conduct taken by those who have accepted equal representation as being a correct principle, and by accepting this as a correct principle have shifted the area on which compromise ought to proceed. They have given those who hold for extreme States rights a principle which it is very hard to limit logically, because it is said if you grant equal representation you must have equal representation on all questions which affect the States.
Mr. ISAACS: It was admitted as a principle instead of a compromise.
Mr. HIGGINS: That is just it. I see that Sir George Turner very candidly-as he always does-put it the other day, that even as a matter of pure tactics it has been a gross mistake on his part to treat this as being a good principle in place of treating it as a mere matter of ultimate concession. It comes to a mere matter of judgment between Dr. Quick and myself. I thought, and I still think, I have been helping the cause of Federation in taking upon myself as a private unofficial member the brunt of bringing up the question of equal representation, knowing as I do it is absolutely a forlorn hope owing to the extent to which our position has been given away by those who hold official positions.
Mr. LYNE: Hear, hear.
Mr. HIGGINS: With a view to Federation it was my business to put before the Convention the view of the great bulk of the people throughout the colonies, and I am therefore glad to see that a
representative from South Australia, which is at present a minor colony in population, has admitted that at least logically we are right. I did not press the logic of our position, but I did ask members to look at history and see whether equal representation has done any good in America. No one has been able to show a single instance in which it has been of the remotest good in America. I have to thank members for listening so patiently to me, and I appeal to them to recognise that I have not wasted the time of the House.
Mr. REID: I am very sorry we cannot get out of these academical disputes. There has been a flavor of that sort about the whole of this discussion which we have had once or twice too often. We have now come down to the business part of this compact. We cannot do business without equal representation in the Senate; therefore I vote for it. But, on the other hand, I hope not to leave this city before making a resolute effort to guard against an evil which would undoubtedly arise from this equal representation, unless there is something more in the Constitution. I have no hesitation in saying that unless something of the kind is in the Constitution I should feel very great difficulty in advocating it; but the proper time for that will come later.
Mr. ISAACS: Hear, hear.
Mr. REID: This is not the time for it. All through this matter I have declined to [start page 667] indulge in any diplomacy or strategy, or threatening this or that. I said at once how far I could go. This equal representation in the Senate is a thing we can talk about for hours, but it is a necessity for Federation, therefore I say no more about it; but I also think there is another necessity in this Federation, and that is that we must put in this Constitution some guarantee that if the two Houses fall out, and cannot perform those functions for which they are constituted, there must be some reserve power in the Constitution to enable the Commonwealth to be saved from the horrors and losses of deadlocks and confusion.
Mr. ISAACS: Hear, hear.
Mr. REID: I do not put that as a question between the smaller and the larger States.
Mr. SYMON: Hear, hear.
Mr. REID: I put it simply as a question affecting the character of the machine we are constructing.
Mr. ISAACS: Hear, hear.
Mr. REID: Without the slightest hesitation I vote for this equal representation; but later on I will endeavor to give effect to my views upon that other matter, which I consider to be a corollary. I have no hesitation in saying that if the Constitution is left as it is now the Senate will be the predominant power in it.
Sir GRAHAM BERRY: Hear, hear.
Mr. REID: I agree with every word of Sir Graham Berry and Mr. Carruthers on that point. If there is to be a predominant power in the Constitution, it should be the majority of the taxpayers of the country. But there is plenty of time to talk about what we can or cannot accept. Let us do our best with this Constitution, and go right through with it, and then be able to put it before our respective populations, and come back to the adjourned meeting with clearer perception of the wishes of the people. I am very sanguine that we will get over all our difficulties. I have no hesitation in saying that I have now a very much brighter view of the prospects of Federation than I had when I came to this Convention. The more we look upon this as a machine which we are anxious to construct in a perfect form, the better for the success of our work.
Mr. LYNE: It seems to me that a great many of the representatives are practically shirking this question, and the Premier of New South Wales, who has just spoken, is doing the same thing. Is he prepared if this equal representation is carried, and no safety-valve introduced, to accept equal representation? I ask Mr. Isaacs the same question.
Mr. ISAACS: I shall have full opportunity of expressing my views by and by.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON: You are introducing local politics.
Mr. LYNE: With all due respect to Sir Edward, I am not introducing local politics.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON: It sounds like it.
Mr. LYNE: Then your hearing must be very faulty. I am putting one of the most essential and important matters connected with Federation, and I am going to vote with Mr. Higgins to prevent equal representation in the Senate. And I also say this, with Mr. Carruthers, that if there is a safety-valve introduced later on in the shape of one or two things, either a modified referendum or else the Norwegian system, I shall then be prepared to give equal representation, because I know it cannot then ultimately prevent the will of the people being observed. A majority of those who have spoken are against equal representation with the powers given at the present time, and the able speech of Sir Graham Berry should have some weight. It showed that the powers given at the present time were greater than under the Bill of 1891. It is a dangerous thing indeed to allow the Senate the power of overriding the will of the House of Representatives. Just one word with reference to the very inflamed speech of [start page 668] Dr. Quick. He accused me of two or three things in very few words and in a very short time. One was in not saying what I thought of equal representation when I was at Bathurst. I tell him that I have made this one of the most stable planks in all my addresses throughout New South Wales, and also at Bathurst, and if he was listening he would have heard me there. It ill becomes him to accuse members of this Convention with not desiring Federation, because he happens to be an enthusiast himself. On reasonable and equitable grounds I am prepared and anxious for Federation, just as anxious as he is, though perhaps I am not so demonstrative. I hope that before this Bill is passed that there will be a safety-valve introduced. I do not think I am justified, nor any other member of this Convention who believes that the Bill is not what it should be, in voting against the motion of Mr. Higgins.
Question-That the words proposed to be struck out stand part of the clause-put. The Committee divided.
Ayes, 32; Noes, 5. Majority, 28.
Abbott, Sir Joseph Isaacs, Mr.
Barton, Mr. Kingston, Mr.
Braddon, Sir Edward Lewis, Mr.
Brown, Mr. McMillan, Mr.
Clarke, Mr. Moore, Mr.
Cockburn, Dr. O'Connor, Mr.
Deakin, Mr. Peacock, Mr.
Dobson, Mr. Quick, Dr.
Douglas, Mr. Reid, Mr.
Downer, Sir John Solomon, Mr.
Fraser, Mr. Symon, Mr.
Fysh, Sir Philip Taylor, Mr.
Glynn, Mr. Turner, Sir George
Grant, Mr. Walker, Mr.
Henry, Mr. Wise, Mr.
Holder, Mr. Zeal, Sir William
Berry, Sir Graham Lyne, Mr.
Carruthers, Mr. Trenwith, Mr.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Sub-section as read agreed to.
Sub- section 2.
Mr. LYNE: I want to express my views on this sub-section, which reads:
The members for each State shall be directly chosen by the people of the State as one electorate.
I think a great and grave objection will be taken throughout the colonies to the election of the Senate by each State as one electorate, and, as I said a week or two ago, each State will return its six representatives, the whole State voting as one electorate. I think this is about the most conservative proposal ever imported into any Bill. I have only to refer to what occurred in South Australia some years ago, when the Legislative Council was elected in the same way. So dissatisfied were the people with this mode of election that they had the colony divided into different electorates. I am satisfied that if this passes the Senate will be a most conservative body, and once men of means have obtained positions in the Upper Chamber it will be absolutely impossible to displace them because of the inability of any ordinary individual to canvass the whole colony as one electorate. I intend to oppose this as strongly as I can, not only now, but when the measure is submitted to the Parliament of New South Wales. This Bill cannot go before the people until it filters through the various Parliaments.
Mr. ISAACS: The same as the House of Representatives.
Mr. LYNE: No, it would not be; and I will give you an example. For the House of Representatives New South Wales would return twenty-six members, I think it is. There would be four or more of the large electorates of the House of Representatives in each electorate of the Senate.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: What about Tasmania?
Mr. LYNE: I put Tasmania out of the question.
HON. MEMBERS: No, no. Nonsense.
Mr. LYNE: Yes; because it cannot be compared in a division of this kind with any other colony. I simply put it out of the question as a division, and I think [start page 669] Tasmanians will find it is a very arduous thing once a man gets his seat established in the Senate to remove him if he is wealthy. That is what will take place in all of the States. It has taken place in the past and will take place in the future. Unless a man is of great means he will be unable to get a seat with the unduly large electorate proposed in this clause. Mr. Isaacs says it will be equal to the House of Representatives. If I could import my ideas into this Bill I should raise the age of the electors for the Senate from 21 to 25. That would make a great difference, and it would give a more mature vote than you will get with the age fixed at 21.
Mr. ISAACS: I thought you wanted the whole of the people to vote.
Mr. LYNE: That will give a more mature vote, I say. I am only giving my ideas as to what I would like the franchise of the Senate to provide for. Take one electorate in New South Wales constituted for the Senate. It would comprise the whole of New South Wales, bordered on the south by the Murray, on the west by the South Australian border, on the north by the railway from Bourke down to the mountains, and from there round the mountains to Mount Kosciusko, and I ask any member if he does not think that is a kingdom quite enough to return one representative. The next one would be the whole of north New South Wales, and there would be two members, one for the north, and one for the west coast. There would be this kingdom which is larger than Tasmania, and it is large enough to return one member, instead of having the whole lumped into one, which would make it impossible for an ordinary individual to obtain a seat in the Senate.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: Would they have an equal number of people voting for the Senate under that way?
Mr. LYNE: As nearly as possible an equal division of people. I presume the same would take place, though not to so large an extent, in Victoria. I do not wish to talk in an academic manner in reference to this question, and I am not going to make any proposition which is a foregone conclusion, but I shall, when it comes before our Parliament, try to get it altered there, and I shall also try to get the feeling of the people strongly expressed. When the final Convention comes, that is the time to alleviate the conservative notion imported into this Bill.
Mr. BARTON: Does the hon. member intend to move an amendment?
Mr. LYNE: No.
Mr. BARTON: Then I take it there will be no amendment; but I wish to put this on record that, if you are to divide each State into electorates, knowing as we do that this Convention will probably impose some qualifications for the electors to each House and the members of each House, and if you have locality as the guiding principle of election to both Houses, you destroy from its very base the purpose for which the Senate is established. The purpose is that each State shall be represented as one whole, as one entity, and that will be destroyed by the proposal, although Mr. Lyne does not make it as an amendment. You will have this further evil. Although we must speak with some delicacy of the process which sent us here, we are able to see that it is a process calculated to relieve the minds of the electors of all local, petty, and parochial interests in the representation of the States, and it is a process highly calculated to lead to the election of the best men, as the minds of the electors are not disturbed by such influences as I have just adverted to. I do not wish to go any further than to place this much on record, that I think a proposal of this kind. if carried into effect, would simply tend to destroy the Federation from the very root.
Sub-section, as read, agreed to.
Sub-section 3-Term of service.
[start page 670] Mr. HIGGINS: I shall move:
That the word "six" in the seventeenth line be struck out with the view of inserting the word "four."
My object is to place the senators more in touch with the people, so that they may not have six years before they are called to account for voting against that on which the people may have expressed their will.
Amendment negatived; sub-section, as read, agreed to.
Sub-section 4, as read, agreed to.
Sub-section 5-Qualifications of senators.
Mr. BARTON: I agree with Mr. Higgins, and if he has no objection I will propose. his amendment at the end of the clause. I have reconsidered the clause, and the objection raised by Mr. Higgins that there may not be sufficient provision for doing away with plural voting. The Drafting Committee are still inclined to the opinion that the point will not arise, but they agree that the matter may as well be made clear at once. I move therefore:
To add at the end of the clause the words: "But in the choosing of senators each elector shall have only one vote."
Mr. KINGSTON: I would suggest to Mr. Barton that it would be infinitely preferable to state the qualification when first we come to it instead of referring to a later clause. I put it to the strong consideration of the hon. member whether that would not be the better course.
Mr. BARTON: I do not think it necessary to take the course Mr. Kingston suggests. It was decided by the Constitutional Committee, and now by the Convention, that the senators shall be elected on the same franchise as the House of Representatives. The object of the Drafting Committee has been to carry that out in the most effective way possible. We provide here that the qualifications of members and electors shall be the same as for the House of Representatives, and then we provide in respect to the House of Representatives what those qualifications shall be, and provide also that the qualifications shall remain so until the Parliament shall otherwise provide.
Mr. KINGSTON: The definition should be put in in the first instance.
Mr. BARTON: No, I do not think so. It is not because the Senate clauses come first in the Bill that we ought necessarily to provide first in definite terms the qualifications of the senators and then that those of the members of the House of Representatives should be the same. One is to hinge on the other, and I think hon. members would prefer to have it drawn in that way. I see no reason for any change. If we did change it the effect would no doubt be the same, but at the same time the argument that the provisions with regard to the Senate should come first in the Bill is not an argument which we need attach much weight to, except that every suggestion from the hon. member deserves much consideration. I think that the best way to provide for it is as we have provided.
Amendment agreed to; sub-section, as amended, passed.
Mr. DOBSON: I am exceedingly loth to mention the subject uppermost in my mind, because in this assembly old federalists will know a great deal more about it than I do. But no one has called attention to the drastic change made in the Bill of 1891 as regards the election of the Senate. When several hon. members referred this morning to the historic division of yesterday and to the compromise of 1891, they seem to have forgotten that the mode of election of the Senate was very different to the one here, and that in 1891 the election of the Senate was a vital part of that compromise. The election was to be by the Parliaments of the local States, until such time as the Federal Parliament in its wisdom, and after it had experience as to the working of the system, enacted some uniform system of election.
Mr. REID: Do you think this makes it weak?
Mr. DOBSON: I am in favor of a Senate elected by the people, but not of a [start page 671] Senate elected by the people on the same broad, manhood suffrage as the House of Representatives, and I am not prepared to depart absolutely and entirely from that Constitution and system of responsible government of which we have heard so much. On one hand hon. members hold up Colonial Constitutions as a model and here they depart from them. I can find no parallel, and I will ask my democratic friends if they can show one.
Mr. REID: Oh, do not stir them up.
Mr. DOBSON: Where have you an Upper House elected upon the same franchise as the Lower House.
Mr. ISAACS: Is it an Upper House?
Mr. TRENWITH: It would be a bar to every reform if you always have to find a precedent.
Mr. DOBSON: Although this is not an Upper House it is something stronger than an Upper House, and it ought to be stronger; that fact has been admitted by practically every hon. member present.
Mr. REID: How long is this discussion to go on?
Mr. DOBSON: This clause dealing with the powers of the Senate will be the one clause which will be discussed and crticised most widely throughout the Australian continent. Therefore I must confess my great disappointment at none of the able and intelligent federalists pointing out why we should depart from the British Constitution. Here is to be a Constitution in which we are absolutely giving property no representation of any description. We are actually giving to men who have nothing, the absolute right to tax all those who have, and you are not giving to those who have any single direct voice except what they get by election on manhood suffrage. You must have some regard to the fact that there are two classes of people, men who have something to pay their debts, and something in the way of security to offer to the English money lender; and on the other band there are those-to some extent the bone and sinew of the Commonwealth-who have nothing, men who can take up their swag and go away, men who have no property of any description.
Mr. TRENWITH: Does not bone and sinew represent wealth?
Mr. DEAKIN: The mass of the people with us have a good deal of property.
Mr. DOBSON: In these circumstances I should like to know-
Mr. TRENWITH: Surely if they have nothing else you might give them a vote.
Mr. DOBSON: They have a vote. I have understood it to be an absolute fact that this Senate should be a stronger body, with more powers than the ordinary Upper House.
Mr. REID: It will be under this franchise.
Mr. DOBSON: Nothing of the kind. You are absolutely seeking to make it a less powerful body than any Upper Chamber I know of.
Mr. TRENWITH: There is, then, no strength in anything except property.
Mr. DOBSON: For once my hon. friend is unfair. I do not want to be told that money-bags and property rule the world; it is brains, intelligence, and character which rule it.
Mr. REID: A most inflammatory speech!
Mr. DOBSON: I cannot understand why we should pass this section without one member of the Constitutional Committee telling us the reason we are departing from the compromise of 1891. Here is the vital part with which the Convention has to deal, and I should like to know from the hon. member Mr. Barton what justification there is for departing from it.
Mr. BARTON: I am too tired.
An HON. MEMBER: This is wasting time.
Mr. DOBSON: I hold the right to criticise this clause. I believe it is the blot in the Constitution that will make the machinery exceedingly lopsided. But [start page 672] having entered my protest I will say no more.
Clause as amended agreed to.
Clause 10.-The Parliament of the Commonwealth may make laws prescribing a uniform manner of choosing the members of the Senate. Subject to such laws (if any), the Parliament of each State may determine the time, place, and manner of choosing the members for that State.
Until such determination, and unless the Parliament of the Commonwealth otherwise provides, the laws in force in the several States for the time being, relating to the following matters, namely: The manner of conducting elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of the State, the proceedings at such elections, Returning Officers, the periods during which elections may be continued, and offences against the laws regulating such elections, shall, as nearly as practicable, apply to elections in the several States of members of the House of Representatives.
Mr. ISAACS: I want to call attention to what I think is a little danger about this clause. It is provided in the clause we have just passed that:-
The members for each State shall be directly chosen by the people of the State as one electorate.
I am a little apprehensive that the wording of this section 10 may be construed more widely than it is intended, because if it is provided here, without any guarding words, that:
The Parliament of the Commonwealth may make laws prescribing a uniform manner of choosing the members of the Senate,
the previous section might be departed from. I think some such words as we find in section 27:
Subject to the provisions of this Constitution,
might be inserted; or we might, instead of the words:
Prescribing a uniform manner of choosing,
have these words:
Make provision for election of.
In any event it would be well to have something of that sort. In America the power prescribing the plan of choosing the senators is given to the State only. Congress has no power to make laws relating to the election of senators, except as regards times and manner. Great differences have arisen there as to modes of electing, whether by two Houses separately or conjointly; and various expedients have been resorted to, which I have referred to previously. I think clause 10 is too wide as it stands, because it might be contended hereafter, with a certain amount of force, that because Parliament has the power of making the laws prescribing the manner of choosing the members of the Senate, they might say that it should be done by the people as one electorate, or in any other way. This clause deals with the manner of choosing the senators, and I think, on the whole, it is too widely expressed.
Mr. BARTON: I scarcely think there is any real difficulty in what Mr. Isaacs has suggested. We might possibly say:
Subject to the provisions of this Constitution.
In doing so we must be careful.
Mr. ISAACS: It is in clause 27.
Mr. BARTON: Yes. for a special reason. We must be careful, because the insertion of such words in some places may lead to an undesirably wide construction in some cases where they do not occur. We must not overlook the principle of construction that, in any statute or document, effect must be given to every word of the document. Where there appears a repugnance which cannot be overcome there is a difficulty. There appears here no repugnance which cannot be overcome. In clause 9 we provide:
The members for each State shall be directly chosen by the people of the State as one electorate.
And in clause 10 we provide:
The Parliament of the Commonwealth may make laws prescribing a uniform manner of choosing the members of the Senate.
If the choosing by the people as one electorate is a uniform manner, then the Constitution provides a uniform manner. Altogether, therefore, one would not read clause 10 as being in entire opposition to that.
Mr. ISAACS: I do not think it is in opposition to it.
[start page 673] Mr. BARTON: Therefore it must be read as an exception to it. I take it this deals more with the manner in which you carry out your elections, and that the provision in a Constitution that a State shall be one electorate in voting as an entity of the Constitution is not a matter of minor degree as are these summed up in the phrase "manner of choosing." If these matters come before the courts the courts cannot have any difficulty. When we read these two clauses in one way they are in direct opposition; but we are told by the uniform canons of construction that we must give due effect to
every word in this Bill. If we do that we cannot give opposite effects to these clauses; one refers to the great power conferred upon a State of acting as one electorate, and the other to its mode of conducting elections. While it is very wise and right of the hon. member to point out what may be a difficulty, there is really nothing that may be called a difficulty in substance about it.
Mr. DEAKIN: The definition which Mr. Barton has rather implied than given of the word "manner," while ample enough as an answer to the criticisms of Mr. Isaacs, raises a doubt in my mind as to whether the word "manner" is also wide enough to cover an alteration in the system of voting if so desired. If "manner" relates rather to the conduct of an election and the general provisions made for taking votes, is it wide enough to cover also, and to a certainty, a variety of systems of voting which might perhaps be indicated by the word "method"? Would it not be desirable to take care that those States which think fit to adopt a system of proportional voting for the representation of minorities shall have power to do so, and that the Parliament of the Federal Commonwealth shall also be able to adopt such a system if it thinks desirable?
Mr. O'CONNOR: There are only two limitations to the Subjects which may come under the head of "manner of choosing." One is that the member is to be chosen by the people of the States as one electorate. That cannot be altered. The other is that the qualification shall be as stated for the House of Representatives, and one man shall have one vote. Those two things are expressly provided for, and therefore the "manner" cannot touch them. They really put the very basis upon which the Senate is elected.
Mr. BARTON: That is the clause that calls the Senate into being.
Mr. O'CONNOR: But the manner of conducting elections must embrace everything else, and the manner of choosing, surely, would include the method in which the votes are to be recorded. The method in which votes are recorded must allow for representation of minorities, alternative votes, or any other system.
Mr. BARTON: It would be perfectly open, for instance, for every Parliament to provide for the Hare system of election. The tenth - clause provides that the Parliament may, in the first instance, prescribe an uniform manner applicable to every State, of choosing members for the Senate; but, subject, to such provision, the Parliament of each State may decide how to choose members of that body. It reserves such a power to the Parliaments of the States. But there is reserved to the Federal Parliament a power of control, which might well be exercised, in the case of certain difficulties or misdeeds arising, to take the matter into its hands.
Mr. SYMON: I quite agree with Mr. Barton, that if a power is not taken away from the State it remains with it. But I doubt very much whether this provision in the first part of clause 10 would cover such an alteration as is implied in the introduction of the Hare system of voting. The other name for it is proportional representation, and I doubt whether the manner of choosing the members of the Senate would cover the alteration, either for a Federal Parliament or a State Parliament. My idea is that section is a limita- [start page 674] tion simply with regard to the manner of election, narrowly and technically understood. There is implied, first the creation of a constituency, and second, the creation of the voters by means of the qualification. which is also declared in the Constitution as that applicable to the more numerous Legislature in the State. And it leaves untouched everything else. Therefore, if there were to be an alteration in the way of introducing proportional representation, that power would remain with the States and be exercised by them. There is nothing in this clause which enables the Parliament of the Federation to alter the qualification of electors to the Senate unless by an alteration of the Constitution. Proportional representation may or may not-I do not know whether it would or not-alter the principle of representation. If it would, it would, therefore, be untouched by a provision merely dealing with the manner of choosing the members of the Senate. I think, therefore, that the clause had better be left as it is, the result being, in my view, that, whilst the Parliament of the Commonwealth may make aws which would dominate as to the manner of choosing the members of the Senate, it would be for the States to deal with such a matter as is involved in the Hare system of
voting. It establishes a different system of representation under the name of proportional representation.
Mr. GLYNN: I think one should look at clause 20 in connection with this, because, I submit, we are not in a position to obtain the advantages of the Hare-Spence system with half the Senate going out every three years. There would be only three members to be elected in each district, and the principle of the Hare-Spence system is not effective where there are only three seats to be filled. I intend to move that clause 12 be rejected altogether. It completely ties the hands of the Federal Parliament against the introduction of any such system as the Hare-Spence. This system necessitates four, five, or six vacancies to make it practically useful. The principle of it is based on transferable votes, and it would be quite impossible to get the benefit of this transferring with only three seats to be filled.
Mr. SYMON: But there are other systems.
Mr. GLYNN: Yes; but that system is becoming popular. It is getting liberal Press advocacy, and is being taken up by many politicians. But unless you make provision for a sufficient number of vacancies, you will not have the essential difference, the transferable vote of the system, which is its highest recommendation. You cannot have any such system of representation under this provision.
Mr. HIGGINS: With regard to another part of the clause, there is an intimation in my amendments of a matter I just wish to call the attention of Mr. Barton to. It is a practical matter. I am afraid that the first election for the Senate will not be workable upon the provision made here. It says:
Until such determination, and unless the Parliament or the Commonwealth otherwise provides, the laws in force in the several States for the time being, relating to the following matters, namely: The manner of conducting elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of the State, the proceedings at such elections, returning officers, the periods during which elections may be continued, and offiences against the laws regulating such elections shall, as nearly as practicable, apply to elections in the several States of members of the House of Representatives.
Of course, we know that in the different States-at all events in Victoria-you have one returning officer for each place, and deputy returning officers. Now, as you want to elect for the whole State as one constituency, I do not see how the regulations relating to the return of members to the Lower House will do. I would suggest that, as we have just elected this Convention on the principle of the whole colony constituency - one constituency - there might be some arrangement made by which the same system should, until Parliament otherwise provide, be adopted for the purpose [start page 675] of electing senators. I do not wish to formally move this, but, as a matter of practical working, it is very important to look into. I do not see how officials are going to work out the proposed plan. However, it is a matter for the draftsman, and I feel sure it will be better left in the hands of the draftsman than in the hands of the House.
Mr. BARTON: I quite see the effect of the suggestion my hon. friend makes, but I would like to remind him of this-that the Federal Enabling Act of 1895 will be expired and spent before this Act can ever come into operation. All the purposes of this Convention will have been done away with, and the Act will have become a dead letter. If the suggestion of the hon. member refers to this, that we should apply what we find in that Act, really what we are doing here is applying what we find in the Act; and for this reason, that the Federal Enabling Act says with regard to the manner of conducting elections that the electoral law of the colony should apply. mutatis mutandis. That is really what we are enacting here, so that there is no difference between the two things. If we refer to the Enabling Act, we find that the ordinary electoral law of any State is mutatis mutandis adopted. That is the effect of my hon. friend's suggestion.
Mr. HIGGINS: There is a provision in our Act for one returning officer. Here you have several reporting for several districts.
Mr. BARTON: First we prescribe that there is only one electorate; then we say that the proceedings in reference to returning officers should, as nearly as practicable, apply to elections for the Senate. That means that there is only one returning officer. What is a matter of irresistible inference is just as plain as if it were expressed.
Mr. ISAACS: Would the hon. member mind informing me whether the Governor-General or the Governor of the State or who else is to issue the writs for the first election? For the House of Representatives, under clause 40, the Governor-General is to do it, but I do not see anything in connection with the elections for the Senate.
Mr. BARTON: I will answer that in a minute.
Dr. QUICK: I invite the attention of Mr. Barton to a point of some importance under the heading of-
Offences against the laws relating to elections.
We make provision for single voting in connection with the Senate, but there is no expressed provision for offences against the law in that respect. It may be suggested that these words: "and offences against the laws regulating such elections shall, as nearly as practicable, apply to elections in the several States of members of the House of Representatives," make sufficient provision for this contingency; but I do not think that would suffice in the case of a breach of the law of single voting in Victoria or Tasmania. No doubt the local laws in New South Wales and South Australia would be sufficient, because there is a penalty provided for offences against the system of single voting. In Victoria, Tasmania, and West Australia, however, there is no local machinery, and I suggest to Mr. Barton the propriety of drafting a new section which could be put at the end of the Bill under the heading of "Miscellaneous." That section might be made to embody the principle in the Victorian Federal Enabling Act, which prescribes the particular questions to be put to each elector as well as provides for offences against the law. This ought to be provided for in this Bill, because it would be doubtful whether the local machinery would be made applicable to a Federal election.
Mr. BARTON: I understand the point raised by the hon. member is this-in the case of voting twice, if there is no provision in the local Act making that punishable, there would be no provision under this Act. That is a suggestion that [start page 676] might well be taken into consideration, and, as two or three clauses will most likely be recommitted, I will look into it.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: We had a similar provision in our Federal Enabling Bill.
Mr. KINGSTON: I would point out that in the Federal Enabling Bill agreed to at the Hobart Conference we provided for the adoption of the electoral procedure of this colony, and we gave the Governor power to make regulations, and also to provide penalties for a breach of these regulations. In South Australia, in connection with our elections, we found it necessary to exercise our powers under this section, and the same thing was done in Victoria.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: We ask every man whether he has voted before.
Mr. KINGSTON: I suggest to Mr. Barton whether it would not be a wise course to adopt the plan I have suggested?
Mr. BARTON: Both of the suggestions are quite worthy of consideration. There is a great deal in the suggestion of Mr. Isaacs that provision should be made for the issue of the writs for the first election to the Senate now that the mode of election has been changed. As regards the power to make regulations, I shall take that into consideration at the same time. I move:
To strike out the words "House of Representatives" in the last line, and to insert in lieu thereof Senate."
Mr. DOBSON: I should like to mention one thing. The phrase used is:
The manner of conducting elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of the State.
There are two colonies in which they have nominee Upper Houses, and in one of them there is no limit to the number of gentlemen who may be nominated. If the leader of the Lower House was determined to give effect to what he considered the will of the people, he might appoint a number of new members of the Upper House, and so give that House more numbers than the Lower. Apart from that is the phrase:
for the more numerous House,
a happy one? Would it not be better to say:
The House constituted on the wider suffrage?
Mr. BARTON: That would never do, because some of the Houses are nominee Houses, and there would be no distinction of suffrage. In 1891-I remember well how this was a subject of discussion in drafting the clause-the words "Legislative Assembly" were suggested, but it was taken into consideration that there are some States which do not have a Legislative Assembly. In New Zealand, for instance, it is the House of Representatives, and in Tasmania a member of the Lower House is "M.H.A.," or "Member of the House of Assembly," is used. With such a difference in nomenclature, we cannot say "Legislative Assembly," or the "House constituted on the wider suffrage," inasmuch as in some colonies the suffrage is for one House only. The most practical phrase is the one we have used, and even if Mr. Dobson becomes so democratic in his next premiership as to try to swamp the Upper House, and make it more numerous than the other, he will think the phrase used is the better one.
Amendment agreed to; clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 11 - Failure of a State to choose members not to prevent business”-agreed to.
Clause 12.-As soon as practicable after the Senate first meets the members chosen for each State shall be divided by lot into two classes. The places of the members of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of the third year, and the places of those of the second class at the expiration of the sixth year, from the commencement of their term of service as herein declared, so that one-half may be chosen every third year. For the purposes of this section the term of service of a member shall begin on and be reckoned from the first day of January next succeeding the day of his election, except in the case of the first election, when it shall be reckoned from the first day of January preceding the day of his election. The election to fill the places of members retiring by rotation shall be made in the year preceding the day on which they are to retire.
Mr. HIGGINS: There is an amendment on the paper which I was going to move, to alter "three" in the fourth line [start page 677] to "two." I tabled that in view of the House altering the term from six years to four, but as I understand the House is so strongly against me on that point, I shall not press this amendment.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: The second sub-section provides-
For the purposes of this section the second term of service of a member shall begin on and be reckoned from the first day of January next succeding the day of his election.
I have no doubt that the Drafting Committee had some very good reason for inserting these words by which a man may act for nearly seven years instead of six.
Mr. BARTON: The fact is, some date had to be fixed, and between the 365 days in the year we thought New Year's Day was the best. It is the point of commencement of many things.
Mr. HOLDER: Under this provision the States every now and then would have, instead of six senators, nine. The elections have to take place before the vacancies actually occur.
Mr. BARTON: They could not sit.
Mr. HOLDER: I would like to know why the ordinary course, has been departed from by which vacancies are filled up at the earliest possible moment after they occur. Is there any special reason for adopting this new system?
Mr. BARTON: There is a very strong reason indeed. In the United States it is provided that the States shall have their full representation insured in the Senate. If a lapse is allowed to occur, and the Parliament happens to be in session, the States will only have half their representatives present. It is, therefore, necessary to provide beforehand for the election of the succeeding half who have to be eleeted, and it is patent that the persons so elected cannot take their seats until the vacancies occur.
Sir GRAHAM BERRY: Would it not reduce the prestige of the retiring members?
Mr. BARTON: I do not think so. All that the clause provides, is-
The election to fill the places of members retiring by rotation shall be made in the year preceding the day on which they are to retire.
As the time and place to be appointed are in the hands of the States Parliament, they may be trusted not to provide for the election to take place too early.
Mr. DEAKIN: The practice of electing succeeding members, while the existing members are yet in the full discharge of their duties, is in vogue at all elections for the House of Representatives in America, where, if I remember rightly, they are elected six or eight months before their predecessors terminate their work. The point to which I wish to call attention is the objectionable method by which the mode of retirement is fixed-that is, by lot.
Mr. O'CONNOR: It is only for the first election.
Mr. DEAKIN: Why not adopt a system under which members would retire according to their position on the poll? The three who receive the fullest measure of popular support should remain six years in office and the remaining three for three years.
Mr. TURNER: I think it should be altered.
Mr. GLYNN: It would be well, I would again say, to consider whether this clause gives a sufficient opening for the application of the principle of proportional representation. To work that effectively, in say the Hare-Spence system, a greater number of members than there ought to be sent to each State for election, while the clause provides for three only. The essential merit of this system is to widen the area of the electors? choice, while now we are fixing in the Constitution an obstacle to its effectiveness. Then there is very little reason for adopting the municipal principle of half the House retiring at any particular time. It is the transition from the old principle of long tenure. I [start page 678] can see absolutely no objection to making all the senators go out every six years. There will be this objection also: by sending them out every three years you have a body less united, because you have one-half more in touch with public opinion, and the other half representing the opinions of five
or six years before that. I am not giving my own opinion only, for I have in my hand a letter which all South Australians, and even Americans, would respect. No man or woman has taken as deep an interest in the matter of proportional representation as Miss Spence has, and no one can tell the effect of the American system better than she can. I would like to mention to the Leader of the Convention, Mr. Barton, that Miss Spence has made this question of proportional representation a life study. Referring to the twelfth clause, she says-
As a proportionalist I object to the twelfth clause of Chapter I., which provides that half the Senate shall go out every three years, the sort of municipal retirement which Mr. Kingston likes.
Mr. BARTON: Why is it called municipal retirement?
Mr. GLYNN: It is the name I have borrowed from the Government of South Australia. It is the name given in the Government policy of this country.
When six are elected at once we can have a fair representation of minorities; when three, as in the State of Illinois at present, the two main parties are fairly represented, but the new thought of America is as thoroughly excluded as in the one member districts.
I submit that that opinion, the opinion of an expert, ought to weigh with hon. members, and it is a question whether we Should fix the number at three, because by doing so you will weaken the very principle of proportional representation.
Mr. BARTON: There is no fixed number of three. If there are six States and six members for each there would be thirty-six, and eighteen would retire.
An HON. MEMBER: What if there are Seven from each State?
Mr. BARTON: You are not going to have an election because there is an odd number. If we tried to make an arbitrary division for each State, and the lot fell on the hon. member, he would have to cut himself in half.
Mr. REID: He might be half himself.
Mr. BARTON: You cannot divide an odd number by two.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: How do you arrive at it?
Mr. BARTON: By lot.
Sir GEORGE: TURNER: It Says:
The number chosen by each State.
Mr. BARTON: Not the total number.
Mr. ISAACS: Look at the last words in the first paragraph.
Mr. BARTON: There will and must come a time when each State may have seven or eight, or nine or ten members to represent it; so that the sum total, inasmuch as it may be multiplied by six, supposing there are so many States, will come to an equal number. On the other hand if there be an odd number of States there will be an odd number of representatives.
Mr. GORDON: In what class would you put the odd man?
Mr. BARTON: There is no provision here, though the members of each State will be divided into two classes. The places of the members of the first class will be vacated at the expiration of the third year, and the places of those of the second class at the expiration of the sixth year. This is a Constitution Act, and it should be remembered that a Constitution Act does not provide for every contingency which arises. This clause provides that as soon as practicable after the Senate first meets the members chosen for each State shall be divided by lot. We may get out of the difficulty by saying "as nearly as may be practicable," and then that will involve the liberation of the Senate from the charge of murder in carrying out this act of cutting someone into two.
[start page 679] Mr. REID: The difficulty would never arise, because when they altered the numbers that would alter the division.
Mr. BARTON: Just so. We are providing a Constitution which presumably, sane men will deal with, and we are endeavoring to provide that the number of members of the Senate shall be an even one and so that an even body shall go out.
Mr. HOLDER: There may be an odd number of States and yet an even number of men.
Mr. BARTON: There is another matter to which I have not directed hon. members' attention. This division by lot takes place only in the first instance.
Mr. O'CONNOR: There is one three-year lot, and one six-year lot.
Sir WILLIAM ZEAL: It is only for the purpose of getting a Start.
Mr. BARTON: As my hon. friend says, it is only for the purpose of getting a start. You divide them into two classes. They are then absolutely fixed. Those in the first class go out at the end of the third year, and those in the second class go out at the end of the sixth year, and then it works automatically, because once you get the classes into work one class goes out and the other comes in.
Mr. KINGSTON: There is no mutilation.
Mr. BARTON: There is no chance of it.
Sir WILLIAM ZEAL: I like the proposal of the clause much better than that suggested by Mr. Glynn, because, if his plan was carried out, it would be possible to have the whole Senate composed of men who have no practical knowledge of the business of Parliament; whereas under the proposal one-half of the members of the Senate will be acquainted with parliamentary procedure, and business will not be delayed as it might be if all the members were newly elected. The plan proposed has worked well in Victoria. The only difference there is that one-third of the members retire every two years, so, that there are three sectional vacancies during the term of the election to the House.
Clause as read agreed to.
Clause 13-How vacancies filled.
Mr. BARTON: I think it will be well to postpone this clause. It proposes a convenient mode of filling up vacancies, but there have been other suggestion, by Mr. Reid and Mr. Isaacs, which we are working out, and if we postpone the clause we may consider it and the alternative suggestions at the same time. I propose
That the clause be postponed.
Mr. HIGGINS: Might I also suggest for consideration that when a vacancy occurs the other delegates might, as is done by directors of companies, suggest a man to act until the next election?
Mr. BARTON: That was suggested in the Constitutional Committee, but it did not seem to find as much favor as the method suggested in the Bill.
Mr. HIGGINS: It is worth considering. It works well with companies. Here the delegates would be representatives of the people, and it is fair to assume that they would select a man who would find favor with the people.
Mr. HOWE: I have an amendment which I will move at the proper time. I have great objection to the power which this clause gives to an executive body.
Mr. BARTON: Only during recess.
Mr. HOWE: It would lead to the system of nominees.
Mr. BARTON: The appointment would have to be confirmed when the House met.
Mr. HOWE: They would be appointed for five years.
Mr. BARTON: Not necessarily.
Mr. HOWE: When the House met they would probably be appointed for the remainder of the term, which might be for a period of over five years, I wish the people to have this power instead of the Parliament, and that the member appointed by both Houses should hold office only until the first general election in the State
[start page 680] Sir JOHN DOWNER: That is the point.
Mr. HOWE: The people should say who should fill the vacancy.
Clause 14-Qualifications of Member. Agreed to.
Clause 15-Election of President of the Senate. Agreed to.
Clause 16 - Absence of President provided for. Agreed to.
Clause 17 - Resignation of place in Senate. Agreed to.
Clause 18.-The place of a member shall become vacant if for one whole Session of The Parliament he, without the permission of the Senate entered on its Journals, fails to attend the Senate.
Mr. GORDON: I move:
To Strike out the words "one whole," in the first line, and insert in lieu thereof "two consecutive months of any."
Mr. REID: Hear, hear.
Mr. GORDON: I moved the same amendment in the Convention of 1891. It seems monstrous that a paid officer of the public-what a member will be under this Act-should be allowed to remain away
for one whole session. Then it requires a resolution of the House, and then an election while the House is sitting during the next ensuing Session, so that he may really be absent without the permission of the House for a Session and a half. It is very easy, if a member has a legitimate ground for being, away more than two months, to get leave from the House.
Mr. SYMON: Is not two consecutive months too long?
Mr. GORDON: It might be too long, but I have taken the provision from the best Constitution in the world-that of South Australia.
Mr. SYMON: Sometimes.
Mr. GORDON: Subject, of course, to a few criticisms from very able and acute gentlemen.
Amendment agreed to; clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 19.-Upon the happening of a vacancy in the Senate the President, or if there is no President, or if the President is absent from the Commonwealth, the Governor-General, shall forthwith notify the same to the Governor of the States in the representation of which the vacancy has happened.
Mr. GORDON: There is a literal error to be corrected.
Mr. O'CONNOR: That will be done. It is a printer's error.
The CHAIRMAN: "States" ought to be State. I shall correct that.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 20.-Until The Parliament otherwise provides, any question respecting the qualification of a member, or a vacancy in the Senate, or a disputed return, shall be determined by the Senate.
Mr. BARTON: My hon. friend Mr. Carruthers has suggested an amendment to this clause, which certainly should be made. I shall move:
To strike out in line 8, the word "return" and insert in lieu thereof "election."
That is a wider term. It covers more ground and increases the necessary jurisdiction of the House over such questions.
Mr. HOWE: Supposing a vacancy occurs in the House of Representatives, is it likely that a State will be put to the expense of an election for one representative?
Mr. BARTON: The matter of vacancies in the House of Representatives is a subsequent matter. This clause deals with the Senate,
Sir EDWARD BRADDON: It is almost essential, to my mind, that these questions, more especially the question of disputed returns, should be determined by the Supreme Court, and not by the Senate. We have found out from practical experience the necessity of making this change, and submitting these questions to the Supreme Court, and I hope that in making this great and high departure and forming a Federal Parliament we shall not run into any errors which will necessitate any changes whatever in the early stages of our Federal Government. I shall move:-
That the words "High Court" be substituted for "Senate."
[start page 681]
Mr. BARTON: I would ask Sir Edward Braddon not to have his amendment formally put. This matter was also a subject of very considerable discussion in the Constitutional Committee, and the clause now represents the result of that discussion It amounted to this: There were a good many of us who thought that matters of this kind should be decided by the Judges, instead of what we have found to be a fallacious tribunal, a Committee of the Houses of Parliament. At the same time, it was thought better to leave the matter as it stands in the Constitution, only you must put a proviso in the beginning. That is to say, the words will be placed in the section, "until The Parliament otherwise provides." It seems to me that it is a matter for the Parliament of the Commonwealth to determine whether the Houses, after they are called together, shall determine this question, or whether the Judges should do it. It is a matter for the Federal Parliament to deal with. It increases the freedom of action of the Parliament of the Federation, and for that reason it is also desirable to leave it in the hands of the Parliament.
Mr. SYMON: It is quite open to the Parliament to decide.
Mr. BARTON: It is quite open to it, and if the Parliament will not undertake the matter itself, it will delegate it to the High Court. But that is a matter of internal arrangement.
Mr REID: I do not intend to propose an amendment, but I express my very great regret that the Drafting Committee have not seen fit to place in the Constitution the power of determining these disputed returns by some judicial authority.
Mr. BARTON: We followed the instructions of the Constitutional Committee.
Mr. REID: I understood that the feeling was strongly the other way.
Mr. BARTON: It was carried this way.
Mr. REID: I feel very strongly, looking at the constant scandals and outrages which have occurred in the United States over this very question, when the existence of a party has been at stake, that it is infinitely advisable that we should put in this Constitution provision which shall protect the electors from frauds upon their rights, which might be made to suit the interests of political party. It might happen that some great struggle might be determined in the Senate of thirty-six members, according to the decision of a political committee, as to whether a certain return was valid or not. I think the time has come when we should alter this clause. I am perfectly sure that if it is left to the Federal Parliament, that Parliament will never do it.
Mr. BARTON: It is done in England.
Mr. REID: But how long did it take? We all know how many years it took-an enormous time, and an enormous struggle-before the power was taken out of the hands of Parliament. Do we not remember the tremendous scandals which disfigured the election tribunals of England when they were within the power of the House of Commons? I really think that I ought to test the opinion of the Committee upon this, as I look upon it as a matter that might at some future time affect the destinies of the whole of the Commonwealth, because it is a very small body, and one vote might make all the difference.
Mr. BARTON: Substitute "High Court of Justice thereof."
Mr. REID: I would make it more elastic than that. I would prefer not to move an amendment yet, but I hope we will settle it very soon.
Mr. WISE: I would suggest before the amendment is moved that there are two questions involved here, which ought to be kept distinct. There is the qualification of a member or the question as to vacancies on the one side, and the question of a disputed return, which is a matter of altogether a
different character. I apprehend that only questions of disputed returns should be dealt with by the Supreme Court, but that the Senate should have all control [start page 682] over all questions of order or decency over its own body which might lead it to expel a member. I move:
To strike out the words, "or a disputed return."
Then we can deal with disputed returns in a subsequent section. I entirely concur with what has fallen from my hon. friend Mr. Reid with regard to the power of the Election and Qualification Committee to deal with disputed returns. I have had the advantage of appearing before that body in every capacity. I have been there as counsel, I have been there as member, and I have been there as the accused party, and I do not know in which capacity I found them the least satisfactory.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON: I will put this question to the test by moving:
That the first words of the clause "Until the Parliament otherwise provides" be struck out.
Mr. REID: They had better be left in. If my hon. friend will allow me, I am just drafting an amendment which I think will meet the case. I think we might pass on with the amendment proposed by Mr. Wise, namely, to leave out the words "or a disputed return." Then let the clause stand as it is, and by and bye I would suggest a new clause to follow that clause. I will ask my hon. friend Mr. Barton to draw up some clause that will meet the difficulty.
Mr. BARTON: I am tired of drafting clauses.
Mr. REID: Well, will my hon. friend allow me to draft one?
Mr. BARTON: Certainly.
Sir Edward Braddon's amendment withdrawn; Mr. Wise's amendment agreed to clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 21.-The presence of at least one-third of the whole number of members of the Senate as provided by this Constitution shall be necessary to constitute a meeting of the Senate for the exercise of its powers.
Mr. GORDON: I move:
To strike out in line 2 the words "as provided by this Constitution."
These words are not in clause 37, which relates to the Senate, and they are mere surplus, verbiage.
Mr. BARTON: I consent.
Amendment agreed to; clause, a amended, agreed to.
Clause 22-Questions arising in the Senate shall be determined by a majority of votes, and the President shall in all oases be entitled to a vote; and who the votes are equal the question shall pass in negative.
Mr. HIGGINS: As to this clause the appears to be a peculiar difference between the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate. Apparently under this clause the President is in all cases to be entitled to vote, and not merely to a casting vote.
Mr. O'CONNOR: It is only to secure that the State should always have full representation.
Mr. HIGGINS: I suppose this is another question of State rights, about which we have heard so much.
Mr. BARTON: How can it be a question of State rights? If the votes are equal the question is negatived.
Mr. HIGGINS: Under clause 38, the Speaker of the House of Representative cannot vote except to give a casting vote whereas the President has a vote, and casting vote.
Sir JOHN DOWNER: The President has always his vote, and no more.
Mr. HIGGINS: It is a curious distinction.
Mr. REID: And a very substantial one too.
Mr. HIGGINS: The President is entitled to a vote, but why should a man because he represents a State, be entitle to vote in two instances.
Mr. LEWIS: It seems to me that it would come to the same thing if, the President were to have a casting vote an no more. In the future, party politics may run very high in the Senate as well as the House of Representatives. This clause [start page 683] states that the President shall in all cases be entitled to a vote, implying that the President being in the House must vote. His vote must be recorded on all party questions, and that is an invidious position in which to place a man who is supposed to be above anything of that kind. The President, being within the four walls of the Chamber, must vote on one side or the other, that being the practice in most Legislatures.
Sir JOHN DOWNER: The subject of the clause is to ensure the State having its full representation.
Mr. ISAACS: The provision in the Bill is right, then.
Sir JOHN DOWNER: Yes; but as to the objection that it may put the President in an invidious position to vote in a party division when he desires not to do so, this clause says nothing of the sort. These are matters for the internal regulations of the House, and no obligation in this respect is imposed on the President.
Clause as read agreed to.
Part III. -The House of Representatives.
Clause 23.-The House of Representatives shall be composed of members directly chosen by the people of the several States, according to their respective numbers; as nearly as practicable there shall be two members of the House of Representatives for every one member of the Senate.
Until the Parliament otherwise provides each State, shown have one member for each quota of its people. The quota shall, whenever necessary, be ascertained by dividing the population of the Commonwealth as shown by the latest statistics of the Commonwealth by twice the number of the members of the Senate, and the number of members to which each State is entitled shall be determined by dividing the population of the State an shown by the latest statistics of the Commonwealth by the quota.
But each of the existing colonies of Now South Wales, Now Zealand, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia, and the Province of South Australia shall be entitled to live Representatives at the least.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: As this is a very radical change from the proposals in the Commonwealth Bill, although Mr. Barton- was good enough to explain it at some length before, I think it would be wise if he would kindly explain it again.
Mr. BARTON: I will ask Mr. O'Connor to add to the explanation which I made.
Mr. O'CONNOR: The difference between this and the Bill of 1891 consist in the fixing of the quota of representation. In the Bill of 1891 the number of 50,000 was fixed as the quota There was no limit to the number the number of electors.
Mr. ISAACS: It was 30,000.
Mr. O'CONNOR: It was altered, I think, in Committee to 50,000, but the principle was an automatic process by which, as the population increased, for every unit amounting to 30,000 an additional member became necessary for the House of Representatives. There was no provision made for any maximum number of members, and as the Bill stood the population increasing would automatically increase the representation, and I have had some figures prepared showing how this would operate. Taking the populations as they appear in Coghlan, and the increase shown therefor the ten years' averages, we find that in the first year, 1897, approximately the House of Representatives would consist of seventy-one members, that is, taking the numbers only with the minimum to which the House is entitled. Under that Bill New South Wales would have twenty six, Victoria twenty-four, Queensland nine South Australia seven, and Western Australia and Tasmania, according to calculations, Would have two and three; but according to this Bill they would have five each. In the next decennial period, 1901 New South Wales would have thirty-two, Victoria twenty-seven, Queensland thirteen, South Australia nine, Western Australia four, and Tasmania three, and so on until 1941, when we would have a total in the House of Representatives of 446 members.
Mr. GLYNN: On which of the tables?
Mr. O'CONNOR: On the 50,000 table. There are two objections to that. The first is that the House of Representatives [start page 684] would go on increasing inordinately in size, and the only way to stop its increase would be by bringing about an amendment of the Constitution.
Mr. ISAACS: Give power as in the case of the Senate to increase or diminish.
Mr. O'CONNOR: I am speaking of the Bill as it was. Under the Bill as it was the only way of doing that was by bringing about an amendment of the Constitution. There was another way of dealing with it, by giving Parliament from time to time power to diminish the number of members, but we know it is a most difficult thing to get any House to cut down the number of its members. So it appeared that these objections had to be got rid of in some way. There was another objection to this increase in the automatic way in accordance with the population, and that was that there would be a continually growing disparity between the number of members of the Senate and the House of Representatives. It appeared to the Constitutional Committee that it was very desirable that we should keep up the strength and the power of the Senate in the way in which it should be kept up, and that there should be no undue disparity between the numbers of the two bodies, and the plan of the Constitutional Committee obviates both these difficulties. It provides a mode by which there shall always be a limitation upon the number of members of the House of Representatives, and also by which an equal ratio shall be kept up between the members of the Senate and the members of the House of Representatives. It is done in this way. In the first place, under the head of "Senate," clause 9, we provide:
The Parliament shall have power, from time to time, to increase or diminish the number of members for each State, but so that the equal representation of the several States shall be maintained, and that no State shall have less than six members.
Then, in clause 23, it is set out:
The House of Representatives shall be composed of members directly chosen by the people of the several States, according to their respective numbers; as nearly as practicable there shall be two members of the House of Representatives for every one member of the Senate.
That ensures under the Constitution that that proportion shall be maintained. In order to keep that proportion as the population increases, the expedient adopted is set out very shortly in the second part of section 23, and it is this: whenever you want to ascertain the representation to which each State is entitled you do so by doubling the number of members of the Senate, and dividing the result into the, number of the population of the State, and that will give the quota of representatives, Applying that to the state of things at the establishment of this Constitution we assume that six States will come under it, and we will thus have a Senate of thirty-six members. If you want to find out the number of members which each State will be entitled to in the House of Representatives, you double the number of Senators, which will be seventy-two, and you divide that seventy-two into the population of the Commonwealth.
Mr. HIGGINS: Unless you in-crease the number of Senators of each State you will never be able to increase the members of the House of Representatives, even though the populations may increase by millions.
Mr. O'CONNOR: Undoubtedly that is so. I am giving an illustration of how it will work out at the beginning. By this system it will give you a quota of 50,000, which is provided for in the Bill. Now I come to the increase in the number of members of the House of Representatives. It may happen in two ways. If you increase the number of senators there must be a corresponding increase in the number of the members of the House of Representatives. The Senate will be increased probably only by the introduction of a new State. Supposing we have one State added it will increase the number of senators from thirty-six to forty-two. A corresponding increase must then be made in [start page 685] the House of Representatives. Consequently you take forty-two, multiply it by two, and it gives you eighty-four. Divide that number into the then population and you get the number to which each State is entitled in the House of Representatives. That is one way in which the number of members of the House of Representatives may be increased, and must be increased if there is an increase in the number of the members of the Senate. But take the other way. Supposing there is no increase in the number of members of the Senate, but population goes on increasing very largely, and it is found desirable to increase the number of members in the House of Representatives, before you can do that you must put additional members into the Senate, and in order to bring about the equality of representation you cannot of course give less than one member to each of the States; that is to say, taking the six States as at present you must add six to the Senate, one for each State. Then we have, with the additional number, forty-two, which gives you your equality in the way described before. Mr. Higgins says you cannot increase the members of the House of Representatives without increasing the number of members of the Senate. That is so, but in the first place, you leave it in the control of Parliament to increase the number of representatives at any time and in any way so long as they preserve this proportion. They always have that in their own hands. I think it may be taken that while it is difficult to cut down the number of members in the House of Representatives -the existing House-it is an easy thing if there is justification for it to increase the number of members, especially in a House that is paid. You may be sure that public opinion will not allow an enlargement of the House except on very good grounds. It will be considered on business principles as well as political principles, and there will he no danger in giving that power to the Parliament because it will not be exercised unless additional representation is necessary. It may be said: why should not some automatic system of increase be allowed as in the case of the Assemblies of the Colonies? There is a great difference. In local Assemblies the duties very largely of the representative are to represent localities, local interests, and local matters which the State Parliaments have to deal with. But there are very often matters of local interest which the Federal Parliament will have to deal with. It occurs to me there is the question of post and telegraph services, and I do not know of any other matters of general concernment in which localities as localities will have an interest.
Mr. HIGGINS: Expenditure on defence works.
Mr. O'CONNOR: That is a matter which may affect a particular locality at a particular time. I am speaking of the operation of laws generally, and there are very few such localities. The increase of population does not bring about an increase in the Senate until there is the same reason for increasing the number of members in the House of Representatives as in the local Parliaments; and so it appears to me that as long as you place in the hands of the Parliament the power to increase this number as it is necessary you have done all that is requisite, and when you restrict that power by a limitation that if that increase is made at any time it must be made subject to a corresponding increase being made in the Senate, it appears to me that in that way you give the proper power to the House of Representatives to increase its members, and you also insure that the Senate should have its due ratio of representation in the Parliament of the Commonwealth. I have worked out some examples here, and will state shortly one of them so that hon. members may be able to follow the figures in the printed document, which gives the probable populations of the different States in the future. Taking the year 1901 and supposing that, by the sub-division of [start page 686] Queensland into three States, there are eight States with six senators to each State, that would make a total of forty-eight senators according to the probable figures of population at that time as worked out in the table before hon. members. The population will be 4,446,700, and if you divide that number by ninety-six the representatives in the House of Representatives being double, you will get 46,320, the quota of representation. Divided by that quota the New South Wales population, being 1,618,000 in 1891, that colony would have six senators and thirty-five representatives; Victoria, with a population of 1,361,000, would have six senators and twenty-nine representatives; Queensland-south, central, and north-would have a population of 657,700, and assuming that there would be six senators to each of those divisions, that would give a representation in the House of Representatives of fourteen. There would thus be a Senate of forty-eight members, and a House of Representative of ninety-seven members. You cannot always have a proportion exactly of two to one, because first of all you will have the difficulty at least as to the quota, which will be sometimes under and sometimes over the half; if over the half it is entitled to an additional member. It is very essential, in order to preserve the proper weight Of influence in Parliament and the Senate, that there should not be any undue proportion between the numbers of members of the two Houses. That is, shortly, the method which has been agreed to by the committee, and which appears to me to carry out the objects aimed at. If any difficulties are suggested I shall only be too glad to answer them.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: I feel inclined to object somewhat strongly to this proposed alteration for many reasons. First of all, my honorable friend has not attempted to show any precedent for it anywhere. It seems to be a new idea, and altogether working on scientific lines, and we have been told by members of the Convention it is impossible to apply scientific lines for a Federation. He also states that unless we have some system like this the Senate will not have due weight; but we have been told in America that the Senate is a strong body.
Mr. O'CONNOR: The Senate has executive powers, powers to deal with treaties.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: As for the objection as to limiting the increase of members, I agree that there should be some limit in the number. That might be dealt with by saying that there should be a fixed number, which might be one for every 50,000 of the population, leaving it to the Parliament in years to come to make an increase. But I fail to see any reason why the number of representatives should depend either upon the number of the States which might be represented in the Parliament or the number of members which might represent each particular State. The great disparity which he refers to is, I think, reasonably necessary. We represent in the Senate the Sates as States, and, to my mind, it is immaterial whether the number they have is six, eight, or ten each. It really makes no difference. Each State has a similar number, and while it is wise that that body should not be too small, there is no reason and no justification on that ground that we should make the number representing the people turn upon the number in the Senate. It the people were to double in number, unless the States had increased, or unless the Senate chose to consent to an increase in the number,
there would be no extra representation for the people in the House of Representatives. In that House, I take it, the people are represented as individuals, and if it is wise to say 50,000 should be represented by one member, surely as that number increases it is reasonable that the people should have full representation. Then we are told we are to have seventy-two members to start with, and my friend [start page 687] seems to forget that out of that seventy-two you have to deduct ten, which it is proposed to give the two States, Western Australia and Tasmania, so that really leaves sixty-two to be distributed among the others, and instead of having one member for, 50,000 it would be one for every 53,000 or 54,000.
Mr. O'CONNOR: The hon. member will find the quota is 50,000.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: There is no provision that there is to be one for every 50,000. The clause reads:
As nearly as practicable there shall be two members of the House of Representatives for every one member of the Senate.
We start with thirty-six in the Senate, and if the number is to be doubled that gives us seventy-two. We are to start then with seventy-two in the House of Representatives. From the seventy-two you have to deduct ten, because it is provided that two States must each have a minimum number of five, and therefore you leave only sixty-two to be distributed amongst the other-States according to the quota. On this proposal you are giving those two States more than they are entitled to. I do not object to that, but I do object to give them more than they are entitled to and take the extra number away from the other States.
Mr. O'CONNOR: The hon. member is not correct in saying that the number at first will be seventy-two. I take that as being double the number in the Senate. If you are to ascertain what the numbers are to be at first, you would take seventy-two-double the number of members in the Senate- and divide the seventy-two into the population for the time being, which would give more than seventy-two members of the House of Representatives, probably seventy-four or seventy-five.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: I do not follow that.
Mr. O'CONNOR: I understand he is assuming seventy-two would be the number of members of the House of Representatives.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: I am taking the words of the Bill.
Mr. O'CONNOR: There is nothing there saying the number shall be seventy-two. The clause says:
As nearly as practicable there shall be two members of the House of Representatives for every one member of the Senate.
The next clause explains how that is to be done. You will find, if you take thirty-six as the basis of your calculations, that you will get a quota according to the present population of somewhere about 50,000, which will give the first House of Representatives over seventy-two members. It will be seventy-three, seventy-four, or seventy five.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: The Bill provides that you are to have, as nearly as practicable, twice the number in the House of Representatives as you have in the Senate. I fail to see the necessity for the words:
As nearly as practicable.
I know it is very scientific, and that, being a matter of figures, I am not supposed to understand it, as no lawyer knows anything about figures. So far as I understand the proposal-you start with thirty-six, and you double it; that gives seventy-two. Then all the second paragraph tells us is that you are to divide that. seventy-two into the total population of the Commonwealth, and that gives you the number of people who are to be represented by a member in the House of Representatives. You then divide that number into the population of each State, and that gives you the number of members of each State. But that does not increase the total number. You cannot increase the total number, because you start off with the total number as the standard on which you act. You now start off by taking ten away, and whatever extra number you give to the smaller States, you, by that means, deprive the larger States of a certain amount of representation.
Mr. MCMILLAN: You reduce the number of your House.
[start page 688] Sir GEORGE TURNER: You reduce the number of your House, but you give the smaller States a certain fixed number; you say, whatever the total number may be, whether it is sixty or thirty, the smaller States must still have ten.
Mr. O'CONNOR: You give the smaller States greater representation than they would be entitled to according to the quota.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: And you take it away from the larger States because you say that as nearly as practicable the total number must be twice the number of senators.
Mr. MCMILLAN: You do take it away, because you have a maximum for certain purposes, and all that you give above the average to the smaller States you must take away from the others.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: Supposing we start with only four States. That will give twenty-four senators, and forty-eight members in the House of Representatives. From that forty-eight you first of all take away ten, and thus leave only thirty-eight to be divided among the larger States. If you follow that out, you are certainly not giving the latter a fair representation. What happens as the population increases? You are compelled to have fresh divisions, and the result of it will be that if the population in one colony increases more rapidly than the population in another, that, colony will be entitled to an extra number, but that extra number will be at the expense of the colony which has not increased so rapidly. The latter may have increased to a certain extent, yet, although it has increased above the number it originally started with, it will have to have fewer representatives in the popular House. Any colony having, say, twenty representatives to start with, may thus, in ten years' time, because some other State has increased more in its numbers, have to give up two or three of its representatives.
Mr. SOLOMON: Hear, hear.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: For the mere object of having this relation, are we to put up with all these inconsistencies?
Mr. MCMILLAN: The provision is a preparation for the Norwegian system.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: It seems to be simply a groundwork on which to base a proposal, that, in case of disputes between the two Houses, they may meet together as one body.
Mr. O'CONNOR: No; nothing of the sort.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: Well, that seems to me really the groundwork on which the whole matter has to rest. I think it is far better that we should fall back on the old proposal of the Commonwealth Bill. My hon. friend says it would not reduce the number of members, but he must
know that frequently in America they have reduced the quota so as not to increase the number of their members in accordance with the increase of population.
Mr. O'CONNOR: I say it is a difficult matter.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: I have no objection whatever to limiting the number at the start to a certain fixed number, and then leaving it to the House of Representatives and the Senate to say that because the population has increased to a certain extent it is fair that there should be a larger number of members in the House of Representatives. Then it would be a question of bargain between the two Houses whether the House of Representatives should bear a larger proportion to the Senate. If you do that you will do away with the inconsistency which would arise where the population in one State would increase and in another would diminish. The smaller States will have to lose some of its members for the benefit of the larger. In a case where there is an increase of population in two States that increase will be relatively taken into consideration. The only one object seems to be to form a basis for these two Houses to meet. I think we will be making a grave mistake if we attempt [start page 689] to deal with it in any scientific manner. Let us take the old plan and fix it at one in 50,000. If you like, give to these smaller States their extra representation and you injure nobody. Adopt the plan of my hon. friend and you injure the larger States. Unless I hear some more satisfactory explanation, I will have to ask the House to fall back on the plan of the Commonwealth Bill.
Mr. GLYNN: I think Mr. O'Connor is deserving of credit for having hit on a suggestion of this sort. But I do not think that the table is of much value because the alleged lesson of the figures is altogether wrong. As a matter of figures you cannot rely upon them, as the ratio of increase of population is geometrical, which as a matter of fact never occurs. As to the propriety of preventing an increase of membership proportionately to population, I agree with the principle of the Bill, which prevents that taking place without an Act of Parliament. Take the case of America as to the evil following unlimited increase. At the time of the union of the thirteen States the population was small, and they started with a ratio of one to 30,000. Had that ratio remained there the population of these thirteen States, which is now 24,000,000 would have a representation of about 800; that is, if you do not check the increase of members proportionately to population. The total population of America is 63,000,000, and the total representation in the House of Representatives is 357.
Mr. HIGGINS: How was the increase checked?
Mr. GLYNN: By periodically fixing the quota There is no automatic adjustment of quota. At all events we find from American experience; that we cannot rely on allowing an increased number of members with an increasing population, because, if you do that, you will certainly have a House which will be unwieldy and unmanageable. How would this quota system operate with regard to the smaller States? The quota would vary, and with it the relative representation of the States. Let us take the figures presented by Mr. O'Connor, which I presume are taken from Coghlan's statistics. Accepting his estimates of the rate of increase of the population, the position would be this, unless you had a minimum fixed, that in the year 1941-assuming you allowed the population to determine the number of members in the House-there would be a House of 446 members.
Mr. HIGGINS: Whose figures are those?
Mr. GLYNN: They are presented by Mr. O'Connor as explanatory of his suggestions. I am going to show in a moment or two how you cannot rely on them.
Mr. ISAACS: That is on the basis of one member for every 50,000 of population.
Mr. O'CONNOR: If the quota of 50,000 remained.
Mr. GLYNN: You would have in 1941 a House of 446 members, of which number New South Wales would have 164 and South Australia only thirteen representatives. Of course that would not be
tolerated for a moment. But I would point out this fact to Mr. O'Connor. Has he not estimated that population will increase in a geometrical ratio?-and of course it does not. According to these figures New South Wales in 1901 will have a population of 1,618,000, and in 1911 her population will be 2,427,000. There there is an increase of about 50 per cent., but when you come to 1921 you have an increase of 75 per cent. Population, however, does not increase in geometrical ratio, as far as in population matters you can call it such, at all-it increases more, as one, writer suggests, like the length of a dog's tail. If you followed out that principle here you would come to the conclusion that by the end of a comparatively few years that dog's tail would be about a mile long. in 1911 as I have said, New South Wales, according to these figures, [start page 690] would have a population of 2,427,000, and South Australia-which has now about 350,000-is assumed to increase only to 482,000. What is there to justify that assumption? Why should we assume that the geometrical rate of increase will go on at all? South Australia's rate has diminished for the last ten years for reasons which we all know of, namely, the shrinkage of the prices of her staple products-wool and wheat; but there is nothing to show that within the next twenty years the rate may not outstrip Victoria's. You cannot possibly rely on the figures put before us upon which the proportion of the representation in the House of Representatives is based. But supposing these figures are correct-and they are put before us by the Constitutional Committee for our guidance the position of South Australia would be then that it would only have a representation in 1941 of such a number as thirteen in a House of 446, which the relation of thirteen to 446 and seventy-two determines. The position would really be this: As 446 is to thirteen, so would seventy-two be to the number of members South Australia would have in the House with a minimum of five. If I am wrong, perhaps Mr. O'Connor will explain. Would not the operation of the adjustment of the quota be that according to the figures put before us the number of members South Australia would be entitled to would be on this basis: As 446 is to thirteen so is seventy-two to the number of members we would have? If that is so, the representation of South Australia would be practically nothing.
Mr. O'CONNOR: What difference does it make whether you take a fixed quota of 50,000 or a quota which is reckoned by multiplication and division of the population of the Commonwealth and the particular State to get the number of representatives?
Mr. GLYNN: Say, for instance, that there were five members for the first 100,000 of the population, you might afterwards make the quota system apply to the surplus population to make the minimum increase proportionately to the increase in the number of members of the House. You deduct 600,000 from the total population of the six colonies, and then when you would get your quota-making the population upon which you strike your quota the whole population of the colony-you have the number of members of your House reckoned at a minimum of five. The effect of that will be that if you double the number of members in the House you would get ten for 200,000 of the population, and that would give a reasonable minimum of representation to the smaller States. If you follow the operation of the quota as fixed by the lines of the Bill now, you may have the representation of South Australia practically brought down to five in a House of seventy-two. That is not fair, and the minimum representation is too small.
Mr. O'CONNOR: That must always happen if you adopt the population basis.
Mr. GLYNN: Something like it must happen, no doubt. I suggest that we should lessen the disparity by adopting the principle of giving a reasonable minimum representation, which would give five for the first 100,000, and then strike a general quota by deduction.
Mr. REID: You are getting all you want.
Mr. GLYNN: With five as the minimum, but it is not a minimum that varies with the increase of the House.
Mr. REID: You want more than your proportion on the basis of five.
Mr. GLYNN: No, I do not want more than my proportion in a House of seventy-two, but I want my proportion in accordance with the increase of the House. The ratio of the increase of the minimum would be determined by the ratio of the increase of the members of the House.
An HON. MEMBER: You want a sliding scale.
[start page 691] Mr. GLYNN: It is not a sliding scale, it is fixed by the ratio of the increase. I submit that that would be a much fairer system than having a minimum of five. If we had a House of 144 instead of having a minimum of five, it would be ten, and that minimum in a House of 144 would be reasonable, while five might be reasonable in a House of seventy-two. These are considerations which those connected with the smaller colonies should take into account. I have taken a little time to go into this question, and after considering the different methods I find this one will be the most equitable and reasonable. It is infinitely preferable to the system fixed by the clause.
Sir PHILIP FYSH: Do I understand Sir George Turner's difficulty to be because we give arbitrarily five to Western Australia and five to Tasmania that we thereby reduce the total number of members who shall represent the people in the House of Representatives?
Sir GEORGE TURNER: Yes; reduce the number for the other House.
Mr. SYMON: You increase it.
Sir PHILIP FYSH: By giving that arbitrary number to those two States we reduce the number to which the quota would entitle the other States. I presume Sir George Turner is starting off from that error, and that there shall be absolutely only seventy-two members of the House of Representatives to start with.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: No.
Sir PHILIP FYSH: That is the meaning of what Sir George said. Does he recognise the fact that we are not to start off with only seventy-two but seventy-six?
Sir GEORGE TURNER: That is not provided for here.
Sir PHILIP FYSH: There are three parts of section 23. In the first part and in a part of 25 there are provisions which govern this question. In the first place we see that "as nearly as practicable there shall be two members of the Senate for every member of the Senate." Then in section 23 we find:
The number of members to which each State is entitled shall be determined by dividing the population of the State as shown by the latest statistics of the Commonwealth by the quota.
We have had it explained to us that the quota of 3,609,000 is 50,000 divided by seventy-two, and that if you have a fraction over 25,000 that gives another member. This will leave us in this position: that we shall have New South Wales, on its population or December 31st, 1896, of 1,297,640, with twenty-six members; Victoria, with 1,174,888, and twenty-four members because it has twenty-three and a sufficient fraction to entitle it to the twenty-fourth; Queensland, 472,179, nine members; South Australia, 360,220, seven members; and Western Australia and Tasmania, which, according to the quota, are only entitled to three each, would arbitrarily have five each. As a consequence you have four representatives for these two States more than the quota, and therefore there will be to start with seventy-six members. I understand that disposes of Sir George Turner's difficulty.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: One of them, but it is a peculiar way of reading the section.
Sir PHILIP FYSH: I think that is quite right if you read these lines in the clause:
And the number of members to which each State is entitled shall be determined by dividing the population of the State as shown by the latest statistics of the Commonwealth by the quota.
That gives us a total of seventy-six, although the quota divided over the whole of the population would only give seventy-two.
Mr. MCMILLAN: The difficulty which Sir George Turner foresees is that the population of these colonies may increase so largely as to necessitate a larger House of Representatives than would be one represented by double the numbers of the Senate, because if these States remain for ever without being sub-divided there is no [start page 692] doubt that while this proportion would be reasonable now it would not be so in the future, but according to this section the Parliament must keep the proportion between the two Houses of two to one. On the other hand, as the population increases you would have enormous constituencies, and yet you could not increase the numbers of your House of Representatives. When this matter first came before me I had in view the proposal of one of two things. In the first place I thought of the Norwegian principle of having the two Houses sitting together in case of a deadlock, and if you had any proposal of that kind you would have to keep some relative numbers between the two Houses, but I am rather inclined to believe now that this hard and fast rule of having double the number in the House of Representatives as in the Senate may lead to considerable inconvenience in the future, So long as you keep a reasonable number for debate and consultation it is all that you want in the Senate, and therefore I would put it to Mr. O'Connor, who I believe is the author of this clause, whether there might not be some scheme introduced by which the Parliament would have the power of amending the Constitution under certain circumstances so as not to keep absolutely to that proportion.
Mr. HIGGINS: In addition to the objection raised by Sir George Turner regarding the ambiguity in the construction of this clause, I have another, and that is the extra representation given to the less populous States, which involves a proportionate reduction in the strength of the representation of the larger States. I have a strong objection to this system altogether. I cannot see what connection there is between the number of members who represent the States and the number of members who are to represent population in the House that represents population. What connection is there between the number of the States and the number of the population? If Australia be divided into six States you will have a certain number of members in the House of Representatives, and if divided into ten States, you will have an increased number of members. The whole thing is quite arbitrary. There is no possible connection between the two things, and what object, may I ask, in addition can be suggested for this principle of making the number of members of the House of Representatives exactly double the number of the Senate! What ratio is there between them? The only object I can see is to introduce a clause under the Norwegian system, in which both Houses would be sitting together. As far as regards that it should never have my vote or any influence that I can give, because, I say it is simply a device for the purpose of enabling votes of members elected by the people to be defeated by the votes of members whom the people have not elected. I am always against any system which will bring in those who represent the minority on an equal footing with those who represent the majority. It is not democratic, it is against those who say the people ought to rule, and I would suggest to Mr. O'Connor, who has so lucidly explained this clause, that now, as we have apprehended the clause, as we see its effect, it would be better to revert to the provision-substantially the provision which was in the Bill of 1891-that there shall be one member in the Senate for a certain number of the population, I do not care whether it is 30,000, 40,000, or 50,000. Fifty thousand might do for a start. Then you may say, until Parliament otherwise provides, it will be 50,000. It is said it is very, hard to reduce the number of members, but I say, supposing the population of Australia should increase to a huge extent during the next fifty years-it is quite possible, if there should be a great discovery-we should not be hampered by the number of members that should happen to be, in the Senate, and I think the simplest method is that, until Parliament otherwise provides, there shall be one member for [start page 693] every 50,000. That is substantially what was done in the 1891 Bill. I do not want to move this. Others before me have suggested the same thing, but unless someone else moves it, I will. That would be to strike out the words from "as nearly as practicable."
Mr. REID: I have all along wished to limit the number of members of the House of Representatives. I have no wish to see it growing to an inordinate size, as would be the case under the Commonwealth Bill, and as long as the House of Representatives is twice as numerous as the Senate I think that is a sufficient difference. I believe the smaller number would work better than the larger one. As a matter of economy I think the difference is worth considering, and besides I think we may look upon this principle as laying a fair foundation for the application of the Norwegian system.
Mr. ISAACS: That is the idea.
Mr. O'CONNOR: Not necessarily.
Mr. REID: Not necessarily. Apart from any such consideration, I look upon it on its merits as a solution of the matter, but it has the additional recommendation that it makes application to the Norwegian system a reasonable thing, if it should be decided to apply it. I do not like the provision in the Commonwealth Bill, which would start the number of representatives with 120 members. The number is fixed in Canada, and the quota differs according to the population. It is well to fix the number. There is a provision to enable both Houses, if they come to an agreement, to alter it.
Mr. ISAACS: I have no hesitation in saying that Victoria would take this proposal as a usurpation of power, and we have only to take the figures of Mr. O'Connor to demonstrate that. The hon. gent eman's figures show us that Victoria, with a population at present of about 1,200,000, would be entitled to twenty-four members in the House of Representatives, and with a population of 4,000,000 she would be entitled to thirteen.
Mr. REID: How do you make that out ?
Mr. ISAACS: It suits New South Wales perhaps, assuming these figure are right.
Mr. O'CONNOR: Where do you find thirteen?
Mr. BARTON: It comes to eighty.
Mr. ISAACS: Not according to the system proposed. You have to take seventy two members of the House of Representatives, and divide that number amongst the different States according to their relative and not their actual populations. Therefore a colony increasing fast in population may find at the next election, or when the new arrangements are made, that it has fewer members than when its population was smaller.
Mr. REID: Will you tell us where you get thirteen under any conceivable arrangement?
Mr. SYMON: It is increasing backwards.
Mr. ISAACS: Precisely; but the quot is relative.
Mr. SYMON: It is the total population, I think, that is meant.
Mr. ISAACS: Get the quota and apply the principle advocated by this clause, and you get the relative proportion of the members.
Mr. SOLOMON: It is a roundabout method of getting at it instead of by the ordinary rule of three.
Mr. WISE: Tasmania would have to take Victoria then as a kind of small State.
Mr. ISAACS: South Australia at present would get seven members according to these figures. This colony now has a population of 350,000 or 360,000 people. In 1941 she gets 670,000, according to the figures supplied, and under that she would only get five. She would only be entitled as of right to two; but the provision as to minimum would give her five.
Mr. WALKER: Are you going to keep the Senate the same till the time?
[start page 694] Mr. ISAACS: I am assuming, for the sake of argument, that it is kept at that. The question of what this Federation is going to cost, on the assumption that it is to be continually increased, is serious.
Mr. WALKER: I think you would have three colonies in Queensland to agree to it in the first place.
Mr. O'CONNOR: I thought I made myself clear.
Mr. ISAACS: Yes, the hon. member made it clear. I will verify my figures in a moment.
Mr. O'CONNOR: That is the Bill as it stood when it left the Constitutional Committee.
Mr. ISAACS: I am not blaming the hon. member. Regarding the proposal from a democratic standpoint, let us take it that twenty-four members have to contest seats among 1,200,000 people. It is difficult enough even in that case for liberals to make sure of having a fair representation; but if thirteen members have to contest seats among 4,000,000, where is the protection to democracy? How is that liberalising the representation? I have no hesitation in saying Victoria would not accept it.
Mr. LEWIS: Will not every Victorian have the same share in a representative as every man in New South Wales?
Mr. REID: Hear, hear; exactly.
Mr. ISAACS: That is not the whole question. I think myself that the argument as regards the illiberal character of the representation through the majority of constituencies has just as much force in regard to New South Wales as to Victoria; but New South Wales can say, according to the figures furnished they will have twenty-six members either way, and will be in no worse position. But Victoria and South Australia will say, why should our representation be cut down by half? South Australia may say, why should we, instead of having seven members for 360,000 people, have only five members for 670,000 people?
Mr. REID: Let me put this: Suppose we had the old Commonwealth basis of one member for every 30,000 people. Fifty years hence, applying that 80,000 basis to those enormous figures of eight millions for New South Wales and four millions for Victoria, then under the system of one member for every 30,000 people, you would be relatively in exactly the same position, except that your number would not be thirteen representatives against twenty-four for New South Wales, but under the old system 133 for Victoria against 273 for New South Wales. So relatively your position would be exactly the same, except that you would have an enormous House instead of a smaller one.
Mr. O'CONNOR: There are two ways in which you would get an increase. If the number of members of the Senate should increase by the admission of new States, then you must have an increase in the Houses of Representatives. But suppose you have not an increase in the number of States, but you have a very large increase in the population, and you want to increase the number of members in the House of Representatives, then you will have to add to your members in the Senate as many members as you think necessary to meet what would be the representation in the House of Representatives.
Mr. ISAACS: Precisely, but New South Wales may progress by leaps and bounds-and I hope we all will-and some other colony which does not go ahead quite so fast may not want any further representation. New South Wales says:
We have increased our population by so many millions and we want more representation, but we cannot have it without more representation in the Senate, and if we have more representation in the Senate every colony must have more representation.
And so it goes round; and the burden of the expenditure becomes intolerable. I will proceed to show that my figures are correct as the data supplied. I am assuming that the Senate is kept as it is with thirty-six representatives, and the [start page 695] number in the House of Representatives is say the minimum of seventy-two, though I am accepting that number against myself. You divide seventy-two into 22,322,000-the total population for 1941-according to the paper circulated.
Mr. MCMILLAN: I presume the point you are trying to prove is that it would be to the advantage of the larger colonies that progress more rapidly to keep the present representation in the Senate, so as to relatively decrease the power of the others.
Mr. ISAACS: It might or might not. They gain at the expense of the colonies that progress, but relatively not so fast. Now divide seventy-two into 22,322,000 and you get, roughly speaking, 310,000 as the quota. With that quota New South Wales would in 1941, with its population of 8,198,000, have twenty-six members; Victoria, with its 4,000,000, would have about thirteen.
Mr. BARTON: Is not that representation according to numbers?
Mr. ISAACS: Of course it is as to the numbers at the time.
Mr. BARTON: I think you are making a mistake.
Mr. ISAACS: I hope I am, but I am assuming the correctness of the figures, and on that assumption the result is that "The more people you have the less actual representation you are to get."
Mr. REID: Apparently you do not get less, but exactly the same.
Mr. ISAACS: Then I come to Queensland, which with 7,500,000 people would, roughly speaking, have about twenty-four representatives; South Australia with its 670,000 people would be entitled to two, strictly speaking, but of course she would have the minimum of five. Western Australia, roughly speaking, would be entitled to the minimum number, and Tasmania would be entitled to one and a half, but would get the minimum of five. Tasmania would thus get no more for her 420,000 people than she has now with her 160,000.
Mr. O'CONNOR: Do you take as the basis the present Senate?
Mr. ISAACS: Of course.
Mr. O'CONNOR: If you want to increase the representation in the House of Representatives you must increase the numbers in the Senate.
Mr. ISAACS: What does the honorable gentleman think the federal expenditure would be if we are continually to increase the number in the Senate?
Mr. O'CONNOR: Your objection is that you do not get a large enough increase.
Mr. ISAACS: My objection is that Victoria will say, when we go back-"On the present basis of population, with a quota of one representative for every 50,000, we would have twenty-four members
as against New South Wales twenty-six, but when we have increased to 4,000,000 of people, how many members would we have?" We would have to reply, "Just one-half." Roughly, subject to correction, I work it out like this:-In 1901 New South Wales would have twenty-six, in 1911 twenty-six, in 1921 twenty-seven, in 1931 twenty-seven, and in 1941 twenty-six. Victoria would have at present twenty-four, in 1901 twenty-two, in 1911 twenty, in 1921 seventeen, in 1931 fifteen, and in 1941 thirteen.
Mr. REID: That is all right.
Mr. ISAACS: The question is whether the Victorians will think it all right.
Mr. O'CONNOR: That is on the assumption that the rate of increase for the past ten years will be continued.
Mr. ISAACS: I am using the figures which my hon. friend has been good enough to furnish.
Mr. BARTON: And it is on the assumption also that the representation in the House of Representatives is kept at seventy-two for fifty years.
Mr. ISAACS: It is on the assumption that the Senate remains the same-on the assumption that the Senate is not doubled. You would require the Senate to be [start page 696] doubled to allow Victoria to retain for a population of 4,000,000 the same number of representatives as she has for a population of 1,200,000.
Sir JOHN DOWNER: It is only important as to the relations of the Senate.
Mr. ISAACS: My hon. friend is quite right in regard to that, but when he is asking a colony to say "Yes" or "No" to it they will look at it broadly in this way, and say, "We will have to have larger and much more expensive districts we think it is not fair, and we cannot agree to it. We should have large constituencies for the House of Representatives, and instead of having one member for each 50,000 of population we should have only one for every 310,000."
Sir JOHN DOWNER: Supposing Victoria increases in a much greater proportion to the other colonies, would it be so objectionable?
Mr. ISAACS: Equally objectionable from an Australian point of view.
Mr. BARTON: Not from a Victorian.
Mr. ISAACS: It would be objectionable also equally from a Victorian point of view, from this aspect, that the constituencies would be so much larger. This process of course retains one democratic principle of having representation according to population, but it increases the size of the constituencies so greatly that it is a long step in a conservative direction for all the colonies.
Mr. O'CONNOR: That is always in the hands of the Parliament. They can increase the number.
Mr. ISAACS: They can, but they can not increase the numbers without also increasing the Senate.
Mr. BARTON: Supposing that is so?
Mr. ISAACS: That makes a very expensive Federation. If you increase the Senate so as to give Victoria the same representation as she would have to-day under this scheme you not only double the cost of the Federal Parliament, but you also double the size of the constituencies. In fact, you treble them, so that it would be one member to 150,000 instead of to 50,000. I should like to point out one or two other reasons why I do not think this is a proper scheme. My hon. friend seems to think it is
essential that there should be this proportion between the Senate and the House of Representatives. But it does not exist in America, and if it does not exist there, on what principle can it be argued that it is essential? My hon. friend replied to that that the Senate has extra powers. I would like to seriously ask what that has to do with the question? Whether you invest the Senate with executive powers or not, what has that to do with the question as to whether it ought to bear a certain proportion to the House of Representatives or not?
Mr. DOUGLAS: What has the other thing got to do with it? We are going upon a system of our own.
Mr. ISAACS: The hon. member is perfectly right, and no doubt every hon. member will see the exact bearing of his observation. But I would like to point out what I think is a radical error in the process suggested. It is actually suggested that the Senate, which is not based upon a proportion of population, must increase in proportion to population by your increase of proportional representation in the other House. You have your House of Representatives based on the ground of proportional representation, and you are told that you must not increase that House unless you also increase in the same proportion the Senate, which is never intended to be based on proportional representation at all. Surely there is a screw loose in the argument that supports that view.
Mr. FRASER: You could give up some proportion
Mr. ISAACS: If you should give up some proportion is that not a matter afterwards for the Federal Parliament? What [start page 697] is the reason of this proposal? The only reason is to prevent one House outstripping the interests of the Federation in numbers and expense, and to prevent its becoming too expensive and unwieldy. Why should we in this Constitution pronounce for all time the proportion those two Houses should bear to one another? The hon. member Mr. O'Connor said in effect that this was the only practical way to effect it. He will see at once that if we adopt his system you make the Senate once and for ever the arbiter of whether the House of Representatives shall ever be increased at all. The Senate can say, "No; we will never consent to any increase in the House of Representative" and that House would be inclined to do it under many circumstances, and therefore we say: "that although the overwhelming bulk of the population might desire to have better representation and more liberal and complete legislation, they could be blocked by colonies which desire that there should not be any increase in the House of Representatives, while they do not wish for any increase in their own ranks." If you do what the Americans have done and say that there shall be one for a certain number - one for 30,000-to start with, and that the quota might be increased according as both Houses agree, you have done all that is necessary to solve the problem, because, on the one hand, the people will never be favorable to a House becoming unwieldy, and they will demand from their representatives that a proper and economical basis shall be preserved in regard to the House of Representatives. If the people desire that, you may be quite sure that the Senate will never object, because it is always in the direction of limiting the size of the House of Representatives.
Mr. MCMILLAN: Does not this put into the hands of the people the same power?
Mr. ISAACS: It puts. into the hands of the people the right to decrease their own members. They can never increase them, because that is fixed by the Constitution, without the consent of the Senate. Besides the people will be always ready, and willing, and anxious to cut down the number of their representatives, just as the people to-day are desirous of seeing the number of their representatives reduced.
Mr. FRASER: They never can do it.
Mr. ISAACS: I will read a passage from a book I have here dealing with
Mr. FRASER: Let us keep to what we know ourselves.
Mr. ISAACS: I am going to draw attention to something the hon. member does not know. I have a book here entitled Sheppard's "Constitutional Text Book." Its date is 1863, and I will bring actual figures down to the present time from a later book.
Mr. DOUGLAS: Would it not be much better for Sir George Turner and the hon. member to meet Mr. Barton and Mr. O'Connor and try to arrange this matter.
Mr. BARTON: There is not the slightest occasion for any such thing.
Mr. ISAACS: Referring to the clause. about the number of representatives, he says:
The clause under consideration provides that there shall be one representative for every 30,000 inhabitants. If the population of the State does not reach that number it is, nevertheless, entitled to one representative. The first apportionment of representatives among the several States was merely temporary, and intended to exist only until the first census. An the population of the country has increased the number of representatives has been increased by various Acts of Congress. The first House of Representatives consisted of sixty-five members, which was one for every 30,000 inhabitants. By the census of 1790 there were constituted 106 representatives. One for every 33,000 inhabitants. By that of 1810, 183 representatives-one for every 35,000 inhabitants. By that of 1820, 213 representatives -one for every 35,000 inhabitants. By that of 1820, 213 representatives-one for every 40,000 inhabitants. By that of 1830, 242 representatives -one for every' 47,700 inhabitants. By that of 1840, 223 representatives-one for every 70,680 [start page 698] inhabitants, By the Act of May 23, 1850, the number of representatives was increased to 233 members from the States, which was one for every 93,423 inhabitants. Subsequently an additional number was allowed to California, making the whole number of representatives 234.
Mr. O'CONNOR: A gradually increased quota, just as this is, we give.
Mr. ISAACS: They gradually increased the quota according to the circumstances of the country, but, at the same time, the number, of their representatives were also increased. The author goes on to say:
Thus, by dividing the aggregate representative population of the States, which by the last census (1863) was ascertained to be 21,767,673, by 233, the number of representatives established, as we have seen, by law, a quotient of 93,423 is obtained as the ratio of representation.
Mr. GLYNN: One hundred and eighty thousand.
Mr. ISAACS: It may be. This was in 1863, and they have gradually amounted up from 30,000.
Sir PHILIP FYSH: The present quota is 154,000; 325 members.
Mr. ISAACS: I am glad to know hon. members are noticing this. He goes on to say they have gradually gone up to 93,000, so they have not hesitated to reduce the proportion of members. The latest book I have is dated 1889, and it is the celebrated work of Dr. Woodrow Wilson, and called "The State." In section 1,066 he has this passage:
Apportionment of representatives. - Congress itself decides by law how many representatives there shall be; it then divides the number decided upon among the States according to population; after which each State is divided by its own Legislature into as many districts as it is to have representatives, and the people of each of these districts am entitled to elect one member to the House. The only limitation put by the Constitution itself upon the number of representatives is that there. shall never be more than one for every 30,000 inhabitants. The first House of Representatives had by direction of the Constitution itself sixty-five members, upon the proportion of one for every 33,000 inhabitants. The number has of course grown, and the proportion decreased with the growth of
population. A census is taken every ten years, and the rule is to effect readjustments and a redistribution of representation after every census. At present there are 330 members in the House, and the States are given one member for every 154,325 of their inhabitants. In cases where a State has many thousands more than an even number of times that many inhabitants it is given an additional member to represent the balance. Thus, if it have four times 154,325 inhabitants and a very large fraction over, it is given five members instead of four only. If any State have less than 154,325 it is given one member notwithstanding, being entitled to one by constitutional provision.
I am anxious to show that the American Legislature, faced with exactly the same difficulty as exists amongst ourselves, has not hesitated to lay down a rule-faithfully followed at every decennial period-to increase the number of members according as the population required, and at the same time to take care that the proportion of representatives is decreased.
Mr. BARTON: Is not that done by the Congress?
Mr. ISAACS: Yes.
Mr. BARTON: Is not the point of your argument that the Senate would refuse to do the same in these colonies?
Mr. ISAACS: My point is that the Senate may refuse to increase the numbers, but if it is asked by the people to reduce the proportion it will do it. Where it is asked to increase the members and preserve the proportion between themselves and the others it is a different question. In America they do not have to increase the Senate, and if they had to do so at the same time that they give the people the necessary representation to enable their members to look after their interests, they would have a machinery which would break down of its own weight. If you load this Federation with conditions from which there is no escape unless by an amendment of the Constitution, which is very difficult, you will turn a great many people against it who are wavering at the present time. Sir George Turner had the candor and frankness to tell the people of Victoria what this Federation would cost them in the loss of actual revenue, and he was [start page 699] blamed for it, because it was said that it might determine waverers against Federation, and that owing to the great preponderating advantages-some of them advantages of sentiment-he had no right to refer to these difficulties. If we were to go back and tell them that we could not ensure them having increased representation without increasing the other House as well, which is not intended according to the arguments of some hon. members, and that combined with that fact Victoria would be a continually diminishing quantity, we would have to encounter more difficulties than we would be able to surmount. I wish to say again, as forcibly as I can, that we shall have difficulties enough without this extra one in order to induce people to accept in the necessary numbers this Constitution. I feel little doubt that if we add this one we will have added one too many.
Sir JOHN DOWNER: I have listened to the very able speech that we have just heard, and it appears to me that the whole of the honorable member's argument has proceeded, if I may say so, from a provincial point of view, and from an assumption that his great colony is not in the future to be as great as it is at present. I prefer to go on the contrary assumption, that whatever difficulties Victoria has had in the post are being overcome, that she will go on by leaps and bounds in the future, and that instead of the disparity which the honorable member anticipates at the moment there will be abundant cause for joy.
Mr. PEACOCK: All owing to the present Government in power in Victoria.
Mr. ISAACS: I hope also owing to the Federation we shall have.
Sir JOHN DOWNER: It appears to me quite unnecessary to go into the calculations from the short formula set up in the Bill by my honorable friend who suggested it. That formula is clear and has been enough in itself, and the address of my honorable friend Mr. Isaacs has not been directed to
show that it is not correct, but to show that it will work out badly. My honorable friend told me that South Australia would be in a worse position, and Victoria would be also. I said in reply that would be all right. So far as the House of Representatives is concerned, we must understand that the House of Representatives is the House of the federated people of Australia, and has nothing to do with the localisation of them. We care not whether they are in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, or Queensland, or anywhere else, for they are to be represented according to their numbers. The only point which my honorable friend had in preparing this scheme was to have some specific method by which the principle for the representation in the Lower House being doubled in the Senate should be carried out immediately, and preserved in the future. He had no other object. What we have to consider is the simple question-can we agree that we begin with a ratio of two to one, and is it necessary or wise to continue it?
Mr. ISAACS: Not is it wise, but is it necessary?
Sir JOHN DOWNER: I think our Constitution might be founded as much on wisdom as necessity. My honorable friend destroyed his argument to a large extent, but not altogether. He said the matter ought to be left with Parliament. He first complained that it was left to a certain extent with Parliament, and that Parliament would be reluctant to increase the number. Then he complained it was not left altogether to Parliament, because they had to keep this two-to-one ratio, and he said Parliament would not make an increase. How will the Parliament be in both Houses? In the House of Representatives it will represent the people of Australia, and in the other House, which has the power of veto, it will represent the people of each State. Does the hon. member think that the people in each State [start page 700] will consent to be not adequately represented? It is a fact that the Senate represents the people, and the same people in each State, as much as it is that the House of Representatives represents the people of Australia. It would therefore not only agree to every reasonable increase in the House of Representatives, but insist upon it. Does my hon. friend think that if populations increase, as we are sure they will increase, the people will not exercise their power, both in the colonies and in the Federation, over their representatives to compel them, when they deem it necessary, to make their districts smaller and their representatives more. My hon. friend forgets that it is the same suffrage running all through the election of both Houses, and the same power going through the Commonwealth will insist upon representation in accordance with the advanced condition of the Commonwealth as that running through the electors of the States makes them insist upon representation there as well. The hon. member asks, why make any condition at all? Why admit it from the beginning, and insist upon continuing it? He says they did not do it in America. Truly enough. My hon. friend was frank enough to give us the answer while he made the objection; but the American Senate did not find it necessary to provide for an increase in its numbers. Its position is one of such proud, dignified, pre-eminent authority, so far above that in which we can place the Senate here, that the relations of numbers come to it in many particulars as a matter of second moment. There the Senate had handed over to it the control of foreign affairs-it is the arbiter of peace or war-and executive powers. But we are establishing a Senate with altogether different powers, and which are to be in accord with the powers of the States, not for to-day only, but for all time, so that they may be adequately protected; and being unable to give it that great power which was given to the American Senate, we try with these precautions not to make it quite as important as the other House.
Mr. ISAACS: Much more.
Sir JOHN DOWNER: It is impossible to make it as powerful a House as that which can originate Bills, and it is quite impossible to put upon this House such powers as would give them the preeminent authority which the American Senate possesses; and so the Constitutional Committee, or a majority of them -I do not know that there was any division-
Mr. ISAACS: Oh, yes!
Sir JOHN DOWNER: Well, a large majority, at all events-and a large majority of those representing the larger colonies who were not cabined and confined by the narrow limits of their own
populations at the present moment, but looked to the bigger time ahead when the results of the whole would be greater, though the incidence of some might be smaller-sought to put the Constitution on a basis that would ensure the preservation of the power of each House without the human probability of abrogation of either. The question, after all, is a very narrow one. We are all agreed that at present the relation shall be two to one. As a matter of constitutional enactment, shall we say that it shall be continued in the future? The question is in a small compass. We agree on the basis on which we are to start. Is it wise to put into the Constitution the basis, or is it wiser, having fixed on that initial relation, to leave it to the Parliament of the future to say what it shall be? I say, so far from this alteration which Mr. Isaacs suggests, increasing the numbers as occasion required, it would diminish it. The power of veto would be more likely to be exercised, but when we have fixed a certain basis on which the increase in the two Houses shall go-we have no possibility of a conflict between them-each House would have a disposition to aggrandise itself by increasing its members, but neither House would fear that in [start page 701] thrusting an increase on the other House it would diminish its own power.
Mr. GORDON: If I understand the argument it is this, that we are faced by two possible disadvantages, on the one hand the danger from a liberal point of view of a small number of candidates having to canvass a huge electorate, and on the other hand the point put by Mr. O'Connor, of an unwieldy House. We concede the proposition that the ratio between the Houses shall always be maintained. Then we have the two disadvantages, which are admitted disadvantages, and we can conceive of no scheme which will not involve some disadvantages. We have the point so strongly argued by Mr. Isaacs, that we shall have a small number of candidates canvassing a huge electorate. That will mean conservatism. Then we have the point of an unwieldy House. But these disadvantages are only:
Till the Parliament otherwise provides.
That saves the position. It must be conceded that the proportion between the two Houses must be maintained.
Mr. ISAACS: Oh, no.
Mr. GORDON: Then the hon. members should have attacked it on that ground. Disturb the basic proposition, and we have something we can go upon, but if it is conceded that we must have the constant relative strength between the two Houses, the thing resolves itself into a narrow proposition, and there is always the saving salt of the will of the Parliament coming in to do away with, any preponderating disadvantage which might ensue by the present quota being always the factor in the calculation,
Sir GEORGE TURNER: To put the matter in order I move:
That the, words "as nearly as practicable there shall be two members of the House of Representatives for every one member of the Senate" be struck out, and "and until the Parliament of the Commonwealth otherwise provides each State shall have one representative for every 50,000 Of its people" inserted in lieu thereof.
Mr. DEAKIN: The view I take is somewhat different from that of Sir George Turner and Mr. Isaacs, yet it is affected by the arguments they have adduced. It seemed, and it still seems to me, that the proposition of Mr. O'Connor is extremely ingenious, and I agree myself, although I doubt if my colleagues do, with the statement of Sir John Downer that it forms an excellent commencement for this Constitution. I think we all feel that, while the Assembly should start with a sufficient number of members to transact its business, the Senate should also commence with a sufficient membership to command respect, and to be able to discharge the functions with which it is entrusted. I have seen no ground to alter my opinion in regard to the merits of the proposition of Mr. O'Connor so far as it is concerned with the launching of the Commonwealth. But we Should not stereotype that proposal in the Constitution instead of leaving it to the two Chambers themselves-the Parliament of the
Commonwealth- to afterwards determine whether it shall follow exactly on these lines or amend them. Of course, by an amendment of the Constitution this principle can hereafter be altered. But it is undesirable in this instance to require an amendment of the Constitution, because it is one of the matters in which, whatever may happen, it is absolutely certain there will be great changes. We cannot possibly foresee the future, whether as to the gathering together or the dispersal of population in these colonies, or the division of colonies as they at present exist, nor define where the great and perhaps overwhelming accretions of population will be. Under these circumstances, why lay down an iron rule for changing conditions that will, involve great expenditure and great difficulty in order that it may be altered. We are, as it seems to me, justified, and, well justified, in embodying in this Constitution general principles which will relate to the permanent conditions of the Commonwealth, those which will obtain [start page 702] for all time, but this is distinctly a changing condition.
Mr. BARTON: That is why the words
Until the parliament otherwise provides are placed at the head of the paragraph.
Mr. DEAKIN: They are placed only at the head of the second paragraph, and, as I read it, that means until the Parliament otherwise provides in regard to the quota of its people.
Mr. PEACOCK: Hear, hear. That is it, exactly.
Mr. DEAKIN: If those words commenced the clause, and the whole clause were governed by the words, my objection would be removed. There is no occasion for fear on the part of the less populous States, inasmuch as the Senate will be certainly strong enough to protect itself and its own interest and the interests of its States in this and every other respect. It will be as free as the House of Representatives, it will derive its authority as directly from the people; and if it desires an increase of members it can obtain it just as readily as the House, of Representatives, and can insist upon it. If the Senate of the United States had at any time desired an increase of its numbers it could have obtained it. That appears to me not only to answer a great deal of my friend's argument, but to throw a good deal of light on his position and upon the position of Sir George Turner. If the United States Senate could have enlarged its numbers why cannot this Senate do the same once you have started it on a fair basis, and fixed, say the first decade as the time for which the principle shall be in operation? After a longer time I would point out that serious practical difficulties may arise. Mr. Isaacs has referred to them; I will do no more than enumerate them. First the progressive enlargement of the size of the constituencies for the House of Representatives is decidedly illiberal in its tendency. We all know that while the reduction of numbers is possible, it has rarely or never been popular, and would not be at all events when the number of members is so small as in this case. Then you have to remember that the States to suffer are not the small States with their minimum fixed, and not the greatest with their increasing membership. I am not arguing this question from a Victorian point of view. Personally, I do not think the position of Victoria in regard to population is likely to be much altered. The minor colonies will only suffer in this way: they will be kept to the minimum of their representation for all time; and being kept to their minimum the colonies between them and the greatest colonies, which will increase their representation, are the colonies which will be pinched out until their number is reduced to the minimum. What the minor colonies have to look at is that before they can get an increase in their numbers they must increase in a greater ratio than the population of the nation. The population of the nation will be steadily enlarging, and on this plan the number of representatives will not follow it. Look at the table circulated by Mr. O'Connor; you will not have 446 members in 1941. That is quite certain. If the increase in representation does not keep pace with the increase of population, as it will not-the smaller colonies before they can get an increase -they will only have to get an extra 50,000 at the start-may by the time they have passed the population to which their minimum entitles them, find that the quota has reached to 100,000. There is very little prospect of their getting more than their five representatives, while the middle colonies, between them and the colonies which will have a great increase, will be in an even worse position. They will not be prevented from falling back to the minimum. Hon. members may say, and properly say, that I am speaking of contingencies that may never arise, and I do not profess to say that it is more than
possible. But as it is, this provision may last in the Constitution for fifty, 100, or 150 years. And which of us can foresee, or dare attempt to decree an iron condition [start page 703] which is to bind these colonies under circumstances to exist a hundred years hence. I am perfectly prepared to support the proposition of Mr. O'Connor, and fix it for ten or twenty years.
Mr. BARTON: What do you want after ten years?
Mr. DEAKIN: Leave it to the Parliament to determine. If the Senate does not wish to increase itself further-if sub-divisions into States take place, and the Senate gets to 100-I would not oblige them to have more. If the Senate desired not to have a further increase, it should be in the position to decline by simply passing an Act to that effect. That would require an amendment of the Constitution. None of us can forecast exactly what will take place in the future, but we can foresee that great changes must occur. Why, then, should we endeavor to forestall those changes and not allow the Federal Parliament to adjust itself to altered circumstances? Why should the Chamber not be free to refuse an increase if it does not want it?
Mr. BARTON: I do not wish to make a long speech about this. It seems to me that a great deal is being made of a very plain proposals proposal which works out plainly enough. The argument of my hon. friend Mr. Isaacs was very elaborate, and while upon the surface an argument against proportional representation according to numbers, it was, I take it, probably in its essence an elaborate argument against the proportion of two to one being maintained between the Houses of Representatives and the Senate. I really believe that is the point of attack. I am strongly in favor of maintaining that proportion.
Mr. DEAKIN: Whether they want it or not?
Mr. BARTON: I favor maintaining it, because in a Constitution of this kind it is a desirable thing that when you yourselves fix the relative powers of the two Houses you should also fix their proportions in number in such a way as will enable them to exercise those powers. If you define their powers you should also have a right to define their proportion to each other, so as to give that protection by which you think the proper exercise of those powers will be really secured. That is the object for which one portion of this clause was written, namely, that there should be as nearly as practicable a proportion of two to one in the two Houses, while, with reference to the method of defiling with the quota, that is left to the subsequent action of Parliament, so far as that quota may not meet with approval after. Now, that means, as I take it, that there are two things here concerned-a principle and a method. The principle is that the Houses should be in the proportion of two to one-that is a proper thing to lay down in your Constitution-and to require a referendum to alter it. On the other hand, the ascertainment of the quota is a mere method. It is therefore an appropriate thing to put in this collocation of words, "Until Parliament otherwise provides," because there may be something better devised than this quota, although the ingenuity of my hon. friends over there has not devised anything better. That is the real situation. It is to no purpose for Mr. Isaacs to argue that if there is a certain increase of population in the Commonwealth the result may be that one colony may have a larger proportion in that increase than his own colony. I thought the hon. member was a democrat, and that he wanted to maintain the principle of proportional representation in the House of Representatives. But his argument is against that, because if he wishes to destroy that principle only to fall back upon a proportion of one member to 50,000 of a population, then we come to one of two things; either there will be an inordinately large House of Representatives in the course of time, and an inordinately expensive one, or, on the other hand, the Senate will become so impotent that it can offer no effectual obstacle or bar to any injustice which is contemplated by the House of Representatives. That is [start page 704] not my view of Federation. I believe it is a total abnegation of the principle of Federation. While we, who represent large colonies, think that the principle of responsible government must be preserved, and while with Money Bills we may seek to have it in such a form that the working character of the machine must be preserved, we ought to be prepared to concede what are the principles of Federation, and to see that the relative numerical strength of the two Houses is not such that their very disparity may be a considerable injury to one House, and
therefore to the people it represents. I may be told that the Senate of the United States has not increased in proportion to the increase in number in the House of Representatives. That is no answer at all-it is a surface answer only, for this reason: That the Senate of the United States has conserved to it to-day certain powers which will never be granted to a Senate under such a Constitution as this is. For instance, the Senate has the sole power of trying cases of impeachment, and while the President may enter into treaties, it is only by the Senate that these treaties may be ratified. While, too, he may have certain views as to executive officers, it is only by the Senate that these executive appointments can be ratified. There is that, wide range given to the Senate in the American Constitution which is so strong that it makes it a Court of Justice to try impeachments and an executive body to make appointments-powers which prevent it falling into a drivelling, weakly condition. It is necessary therefore to preserve the principle contained in this clause and to keep it intact, except by referendum to the people.
Mr. DEAKIN: That statement is absolutely opposed to Mr. Bryce's judgment, for he says that those powers are no source of strength to the Senate, but rather tie it up.
Mr. BARTON: They may be tied up as regards impeachments, because party violence may prevent those impeachments, but whether they are tied up or not, the hon. member can judge independently of Mr. Bryce.
Mr. DEAKIN: It is not a source of strength.
Mr. BARTON: Who refuses to ratify the arbitration treaty between Great Britain and the States? Is not the source of the strength of the Senate in the exercise of its powers? The result of that exercise may make a body unpopular, and if the hon. member is going to limit his argument to that point, who is to be constituted a judge?
Mr. PEACOCK: Will the hon. member show us why there should be a ratio?
Mr. BARTON: I am very sorry if my speech has been misunderstood. I have given reasons concerning that. I have laid down as a proposition that, inasmuch as you do not give to the Senate the powers given in the United States Constitution, it is no answer to say that we should prevent the Senate from increasing, in this ratio on the ground that the powers here given are a source of strength to it. On the other hand, why there should be a ratio is this, that in the use of those powers, if there is to be a wide disparity in numbers, so that as between the Senate and the House of Representatives the former becomes transformed into a small committee or board in the range of the powers given to it, it dwindles in popular approval and loses the support of the people in relation to the performance of its duty. I contend that it is not desirable to Place the Senate in that position, and the principle of these clauses should be maintained, which principle. we, who believe that there should be a measure of justice between the two Houses, regard as a vital principle. I will stand by the Bill in the way it is framed. What are the reasons of all these difficulties which have been raised with reference to the quota of proportional representation from a mathematical point of view? There was a reason once given by a great statesman-perhaps it was a bon mot of his-with reference to [start page 705] statistics. He said there were three kinds of lies-lies, adjective lies, and statistics. Conjectural statistics, notwithstanding the fact that they have been placed before the Convention by my hon. friend Mr. O'Connor, are certainly open to that objection. The rates of increase calculated here are calculated on the assumption that the increase during the past decade will occur during the next fifty years throughout Australia.
Mr. ISAACS: They were put before us to consider this very proposal.
Mr. BARTON: I admit that perfectly.
Mr. O'CONNOR: Statistics of prediction.
Mr. BARTON: Yes. There can be no statistics of prediction. I for one am entitled to my independent judgment about the matter, and I say that, although these statistics may have excited certain groundless fears in the mind of my hon. friend, the statistician has never yet and never will occupy the position of a prophet, and the able statistician who prepared these tables prepared them on the assumption that certain rates of increase that had gone on illustrated the proportion of increase that might possibly occur, but no one will assert that these increases will occur. There have been certain conditions affecting the colonies during the last ten years, and he would be an extraordinary man indeed who would say those conditions were going to continue for the next ten years. There have been conditions in Victoria, and also in Western Australia, but it would be a most absurd thing to say these things are going to affect the growth of Victoria and New South Wales for any certain number of years. We know that well enough. Let us apply the words of the proposal and see what it really is. The quota shall, when necessary, be ascertained by this process:
By dividing the population of the Commonwealth as shown by the latest statistics of the Commonwealth by twice the number of members of the Senate.
Thus, the population of the States as shown by the latest statistics is to be divided by the quota, to determine the number of representatives to which each State is entitled. Let us take an instance of that. I have endeavored to get at the position in respect of the States and the increase within a reasonable time, in order to remove the speculation which has been mentioned by my hon. friend. Let us take the population of the colonies as being 5,040.000, and let us assume that within that reasonable time there are seven States instead of six. These seven States will have forty-two members in the Senate, and they have to be multiplied by two, which makes eighty-four. Then by a simple piece of arithmetic, if you divide that total of 5,040,000 by eighty-four you will find the quota becomes 60,000, which is I think a reasonable and fair quota. Supposing in ten or fifteen years we become a population of 7,000,000, or for the purpose of better illustration 6,720,000, and we will assume that there are eight States in the Commonwealth instead of six. That will give you the proportion of forty-eight. Multiply that by two, and then divide it into the 6,720,000, and you get about 70,000. I think these figures are a plain answer to the argument. Could anything be fairer? There is no possible answer but the one, and that works out right. According to any assumption as to increases, the figures work out so as to give a quota upon which you can work. Well, then, the next objection we have raised is this: we have as clause 27 the following:
Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the number of members of the House of Representatives may be from time to time increased or diminished by the Parliament.
One would think that would satisfy my hon. friend, but it does not, Next he says the House of Representatives may be ready to increase their numbers, but the Senate will not, and follows it up to show the fallacy of his own argument by saying they may be ready to increase their numbers where the quota has been decreased.
[start page 706] Mr. ISAACS: No, increased. Where it would have been greater if the change in the law had not been made.
Mr. BARTON: Then he admits that in America the members have been increased, but that amounts to nothing, because an undue increase has been prevented through the quota having been increased at the same time. That leads us to the conclusion that Congress has been master of its own action.
Mr. ISAACS: That is all I contend for.
Mr. BARTON: We make the House of Representatives master of its own actions also. The ticklish point with my hon. friend is this: that if you increase the number of members in the House of Representatives you have also to increase the number of the Senate. His position is that the fate of
Victoria is to be decided to its ruin in regard to its position in the House of Representatives, because the States will gain something in proportion to the House of Representatives. The proposition with which he started is not his real proposition, and he reached it when he objected to the increase in the Senate at the same time as the House of Representatives is increased.
Mr. ISAACS: I say it is not a fair increase.
Mr. BARTON: It is a reasonable proportion acted upon in connection with these bodies which we know here as Legislative Councils and Legislative Assemblies. Although it is not constantly acted on, it is one reasonably acted on in almost every case, and it is one which the experience of the colonies has found reasonable, and unless we are to have some new experience, which is to be called the prophesy of my friend Mr. Isaacs. it is a fair one to maintain.
Mr. KINGSTON: Have the local Parliaments power to alter?
Mr. BARTON: Where there are nominee Upper Houses, but we say that this Constitution is at liberty to be altered by the people, and with reference to that clause prescribing the mode of making amendments my hon. friend will notice that under the Bill the process is made a great deal more easy than it was under the Bill of 1891.
Mr. KINGSTON: The alteration of the Constitution.
Mr. BARTON: The process of altering the Constitution. Instead of putting each colony to the expense of holding a Convention to deliberate on each proposed amendment a direct poll of the people by way of the referendum is taken. It is much more easy and a great deal cheaper, besides being more acceptable to the people than the roundabout process proposed in 1891. The smallest modicum of common sense will tell anyone that to make the proportion of the Senate towards the House of Representatives the merest fraction, as you will in the lapse of time, will certainly lead to the practical abolition of the power of that Chamber. While I am not an ardent upholder of the Second Chamber, I think there should be preserved to it a certain amount of power, and in fact it is an essential in a Federation. The next suggestion was by Mr. Deakin, and it was put in such a very fair looking way that it is rather more difficult to answer his proposal than it was the other, and yet it is subject to the same objection. If we are going to trust the Parliament of the Commonwealth with power to alter the quota method, that is enough for us to say. We can leave the Parliament to make the alteration in that method, which can only be done by the consent of the two Houses, but we are going to trust the Parliament of the Commonwealth also to preserve that method of dealing with the matter by way of the quota, because no answer has been given to the arguments for its reasonableness in this debate, and as no answer has been given to it that is what we should preserve "until Parliament otherwise provides." Then my friend says we have no right to stereotype this proportion. We are not stereotyping it, and if my hon. friend has that trust in [start page 707] the people which he has announced, and which I know he will maintain, he will see that the difficulty can be overcome. There is no difficulty in amending this Constitution, except the expense, and perhaps there should be expense in matters of this sort, because it may deter people from raising unimportant points in the Constitution.
Mr. ISAACS: Can you amend it without an absolute majority of the Senate?
Mr. BARTON: No; you must have an absolute majority of both Houses, and if my hon. friend pays any regard to it he will see that it would be absurd to have a majority of one and not of the other. If he thinks it should be neither, he wants to bring about amendments so that a slight modification of the Constitution may be secured in this way, and then he would put the country to the huge expense of a referendum on a matter which is of no importance. When the members in the House of Representatives are increased, the Senate has to be increased by half that number. Sir John Downer put it clearly enough. Is it likely that the Senate will deny all increase to the House of Representatives when it gets an increase itself? It is not likely to do so, and so we come back to clause 27, which says
that Parliament may increase it. While the due proportion is preserved there is not likely to be any denial by the Senate, because that will get its due share of the increase. That is the answer to the whole of the argument that the Senate will be untrue to its duties. Then let us come to the value of my friend's calculations as to figures. He has gone to the year 1941. We will call it fifty years hence from the census of 1891. I am not a mathematician.
Mr. ISAACS: I have gone as far as I have been invited to go by Mr. O'Connor.
Mr. BARTON: My friend says he has gone as far as he has been invited to go by Mr. O'Connor. He has gone further. We go fifty years on to 1941, and because honorable friend-
Mr. PEACOCK: Did Mr. Coghlan work out whether we will be here then?
Mr. BARTON: I do not think he did, but if we behave ourselves I think we shall be in a certain place where mirth and laughter prevail, and then we shall enjoy the company of the hon. member.
Mr. REID: I do not think the proportion will be two to one. The hon. gentleman has gone on fifty years, and has been frightened by a shadow when he found that the population would be eight millions in New South Wales and four million in Victoria, and he says, if you do not alter this proposal, the number of Victorian representatives might then be reduced to thirteen. If there is any truth in the principle of representation according to numbers, then my hon. friend should be satisfied. Then he says that the electorate would be too large. He is actually crediting the Commonwealth with being so insane as to refuse to increase its representation in the Senate and House of Representatives, whilst the population can increase. First he has assumed that there will be no increase of States, which is an impossible assumption, and next, notwithstanding the increase which follows population, neither the House of Representatives nor the Senate want to see an increase. I regret again that that is another impossible assumption. Is it not a fact that we are here to provide for things reasonable, natural, and probable, and that this Senate provides for all contingencies which are reasonable and probable, while the proportion of two to one between the two Houses is one which I am sure will be placed in this Constitution, as a principle not subject to alteration, except by proper amendment of the Constitution.
Mr. TRENWITH: I do not think motives should have been attributed to my hon. friend. It is said he desired to have this clause altered to lessen the influence of the Senate.
Mr. BARTON: That may be perfectly conscientious; I did not say it was not.
[start page 708] Mr. TRENWITH: It was contended that, although that was the ostensible argument, it was not really what was asserted. The hon. member also endeavored to make some capital out of my hon. friend Mr. Isaacs as being undemocratic in his representation of the case.
Mr. BARTON: I hope my hon. friend will allow me to say, by way of explanation, that I stated that if he were a democrat as I believed, he would be unable with his argument to go in the direction of democracy.
Mr. TRENWITH: The hon. gentleman attaches to his argument the inference that my hon. friend Mr. Isaacs was opposed to proportional representation. My hon. friend pointed out that there was a danger under this system, not from proportional representation, but from the difficulty of increasing representation in the Senate, so as to obviate the necessity of reducing the number of representatives in some of the colonies which would be painful and unpopular when it would have to be done. However, it seems to me that all these considerations are apart from the question. Sir John Downer put the question which we are to consider in a nutshell when he was concluding his speech. He said:
Is it necessary or is it wise?
It is all summed up in these two questions. Is it necessary? It seems to me it is not, and because it is unnecessary it is unwise; unwise to tie the hands of people that are not yet born by our views as to what is right as to their proportion of representation in the two Houses. We may, I think, be satisfied if we resolve to give them a start upon the lines that commend themselves to us as reasonable, leaving them to take care of themselves as time progresses, and assuming that they will have sufficient judgment in their day to continue or alter conditions we make for them We have adopted this course in connection with quite a number of questions by saying "such and such shall be the conditions on which this Constitution shall start until otherwise altered by Parliament." If we do that in this connection we should be doing all that is required. I am prepared to grant the force of Mr. Barton's argument when he says that the proportion here proposed is the proportion commended to us by our experience. It is about the proportion that exists between the first and second Chambers in the respective colonies, but our experience teaches us that the necessities of our time have often rendered it very necessary that we should make material changes in the customs or arrangements that have been handed down to us; and we have a right to assume that the experience of the future may render it desirable that the people of the future should have every opportunity to make changes they assume to be desirable, as suggested by their surroundings. If we provide that the arrangements we have found to be reasonable, the arrangements commended by our experience, shall be the start of the Commonwealth, we should leave the Parliament of the future -a Parliament composed of two Houses, each of which must acquiesce in any change which is to be made-to arrange for some other proportion between the two Houses if they desire it. It might happen, as was pointed out on one occasion by Mr. Deakin, that in the future the Senate may deem it to be expedient in the interests of the States they represent - expedient in the interests of efficient government and the Parliament of the Commonwealth-that there should be an increase, and yet there might be ample reason, in consequence of increasing population, to increase the number of the House of Representatives; but if we pass this clause as it is, then - though such necessity might arise, though the Parliament might want that the House of Representatives should have its numbers increased without an increase in the numbers of the Senate-this Constitution would tie its hand.
Mr. DOBSON: Hear, hear.
[start page 709] Mr. TRENWITH: My hon. friend is a remarkable authority on what the people ought to be permitted to do. He suggests that the people have aspirations which should be thrust back by the policeman's baton and the soldier's bayonet. If the Constitution is carried in this manner, should the people desire to make an increase in one House and desire to refrain from making an increase in the other, this Constitution would deny them the right of going through the cumbrous operation of obtaining a change in the Constitution, or vice versa. It might so happen that the exigencies of the people who are to come might render it necessary to increase the number of the senators without increasing the number in the House of Representatives. Should such a contingency arise this Constitution as now proposed would prevent the people of any future period from doing so at their own desire without all the cumbersome machinery of a change of Constitution. In the language of Sir John Downer, is this necessary? If it is, that settles the question. If it is, of course it is wise to do what is necessary; but if it is unnecessary, clearly we may leave the Parliament of the future to deal with this question, which after all is a question for the people of the day to settle for themselves. Surely we can leave it to them. There can be no fear of the popular House increasing its own numbers against the will of the Senate, because it would have to be done, if it were settled until otherwise arranged by the Parliament, by an Act of Parliament, with the consent of both Houses. If it were proposed to improperly increase the numbers in the House of Representatives the Senate would certainly object, and such an Act could not be consummated. But if, as I have suggested, it may be desired with the consent of the Senate, or at the desire of the Senate, or even at the request of the Senate, in the interests of the people of the States to increase the numbers of one House without increasing the numbers of the other, the Commonwealth Parliament of the future ought to be permitted to consummate that without having to be hampered with the inordinate expenditure that would follow an alteration of the Constitution, I respectfully submit that in view of the absence of danger, in view of the fact that the Parliament which is controlled by the people would have control of this question, we
may easily, properly, and without danger leave the guidance of the business of the future to the people of the future instead of trying to control it from this place.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: I desire leave to withdraw my amendment, with a view to moving another.
Sir GEORGE. TURNER: I move:
To transfer the words "Until the Parliament otherwise provides" from the next paragraph to insert them at the beginning of this.
Then the words will govern the whole section.
Mr. BARTON: That would make the question whether the House of Representatives should be representative of the people according to their numbers depend upon some law or other which the Federal Parliament may think fit to pass.
Mr. KINGSTON: Does Sir George Turner intend to put the words at the commencement of the clause or before the words
As nearly as practicable?
Sir GEORGE TURNER: I will meet the hon. member's view, and move to put the phrase before the words
As nearly as practicable.
I am, however, perfectly willing to put it at the commencement of the clause.
Mr. BARTON: It would not fix the principle of proportional representation as apart of the Constitution.
Mr. HIGGINS: I should be quite willing to insert the words at the very begining of the clause.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON: I hope these words will not be inserted. I hope [start page 710] you will not leave it to the Parliament to alter the ratio, which is proved by experience to be a fair one, and which I think it would be very undesirable in the interests of the State to alter.
Mr. SOLOMON: I would ask you to put this clause in two portions, so that I may move an amendment in line 24.
The CHAIRMAN: You can do that after.
Question-That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted-put. The Committee divided.
Ayes, 9; Noes, 26. Majority, 17.
Berry, Sir Graham Peacock, Mr.
Deakin, Mr. Quick, Dr.
Higgins, Mr. Trenwith, Mr.
Issacs, Mr. Turner, Sir George
Abbott, Sir Joseph Gordon, Mr.
Barton, Mr. Grant, Mr.
Braddon, Sir Edward Henry, Mr.
Brown, Mr. Holder, Mr.
Carruthers, Mr. Howe, Mr.
Clarke, Mr. Lewis, Mr.
Cockburn, Dr. McMillan, Mr.
Dobson, Mr. Moore, Mr.
Douglas, Mr. O'Connor, Mr.
Downer, Sir John Reid, Mr.
Fraser, Mr. Solomon, Mr.
Fysh, Sir Philip Walker, Mr.
Glynn, Mr. Zeal, Sir William
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sub-section 1 as read agreed to.
Mr. SOLOMON: In this sub-section we arrive in a very roundabout way at a representation in the people's House of one member for every 50,000 of population. I would like to point out to hon. members that the proportion under this clause means that two of the colonies at least will each have more than the whole of the smaller colonies put together. This to my mind is the most important clause in the Bill, especially as we have now clipped the Senate of all its powers in regard to the amendment of Money Bills and Taxation Bills. We have under this clause an arrangement that each colony shall be represented by one member for every 50,000 of its population, and under this arrangement the figures show that New South Wales would have twenty-six members in the House which has the control of the purse, Victoria would have twenty-four, Queensland nine, South Australia seven, and each of the other two colonies five members. It must be apparent to hon. members who look at these figures, and who will study the degree of representation for each State in the people's House, and at the same time consider the manner in which the powers of the Senate have been clipped by a resolution which passed yesterday, that although we may admit the right of the larger States to some greater degree of numerical strength than the smaller States, yet this representation on a population basis is absolutely and inordinately excessive. To say that in this
House-the House which will make and displace Ministries, the House to which the Executive will be primarily responsible-two States out of five or six should have such immensely predominant power is to my mind a mistake-a mistake which some of the constituencies of the smaller States will be only too ready to call attention to. I admit that representation on a population basis is perhaps to some extent admissible-that it is to some extent fair and equitable -but at the same time to carry it to the extent to which it is carried in this clause, is to carry it beyond all reason, and to place the smaller States in the position of not having any hand in the control of the money matters of the Federated Australia, but in a position that they are absolutely powerless in any way. They are powerless in the House of Representatives, and they are powerless in the Senate. So long as the Bill remained in the position in which it was brought down to us by the Drafting Committee, up to the time that the vote was taken yesterday, when, through unfortunate circumstances some of the representatives of the smaller colonies passed over to the other side of the House to join with the larger colonies in a division-
[start page 711] The CHAIRMAN: I will ask the hon. member to confine himself to the clause, if possible.
HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.
Mr. SOLOMON: That is precisely what I am doing, and I am connecting my remarks with the clause, and these remarks I am making are only leading up to the point which I wish to impress upon hon. members; I might say, in response to the "Hear, hears" that fell from some hon. members just now, that I have not taken up as much time as some of them in this Convention. I am dealing with a question of importance to the States, upon which I have frequently spoken, and to discuss which, fully and fairly, I have the authority of those who sent me here. I do not contend that the smaller States are entitled to the same degree of representation in the Lower House as the larger States.
Mr. PEACOCK: You are very considerate.
Mr. SOLOMON: More so than the hon. member; and if this question trod on his corns
Mr. PEACOCK: Peacocks have not got any corns.
Mr. SOLOMON: If this question touched his feelings-if Peacocks have any feelings-as closely as it affects the interests of the smaller States, he would recognise that representation purely on a population basis is not fair or equitable in any possible way. I do not propose to suggest any radical amendment in this clause, but what I do propose will get over a great deal of the difficulty as to the gradual increase of members in the House of Representatives. Those hon. members connected with commercial life will doubtless remember that in large companies-joint stock and so forth-where a certain number of people join together for a purpose connected with financial operations, and I think that is much on the same lines as this Federation, that the deeds of association or partnership do not provide that each Party to that Partnership shall have representation. or voting power precisely in accordance with the number of shares he holds. inasmuch as we have this done in our everyday-life in some of our largest commercial transactions, so I take it as an example to put to hon. members to show what, in my opinion, would be a more equitable and better working system upon which to constitute the Lower House. Under the present system we find that the smaller States are completely overshadowed. We find that out of a total of seventy-six votes they have some twenty-six, the other fifty being represented by the two larger States. I do not intend to go into the question of the probability or the possibility of these two larger States combining on financial questions, to the detriment of the smaller States, but at the same time I am not prepared to so implicitly trust to the integrity, goodwill, and sense of right of the larger colonies as to leave a question like this in the form in which it appears in this Bill. If we were to adopt a sliding scale, so that each State would be represented according to its numbers at the start, but in such a manner that as these numbers increase so the representation in the Lower House also shall increase, we could give very much the same number of members as is provided in the present clause, but on a slightly more equitable basis. I think
if we were to provide that for the first hundred thousand of the population of each State they should have, say, six representatives-
Sir WILLIAM ZEAL: Will you agree to a reduction of the number of members of the Senate?
Mr. SOLOMON: That question has been fought out and settled. I will await the result of my amendment before I pin myself to any agreement.
Mr. REID: What is your proposal?
Mr. SOLOMON: I am coming to it. The point is that on a sliding scale, such as I suggest, each colony would have for [start page 712] the first 100,000 of population six representatives, for the second 100,000 three, for the third 100,000 two, and for each 100,000 after that one representative.
Mr. REID: Let us accept it at once. I never before heard of the zone system being applied to human beings.
Mr. SOLOMON: The result of this scheme would be that instead of New South Wales having twenty-six members in the House of Representatives she would have twenty-one; instead of Victoria having twenty-four she would have twenty; instead of Queensland having nine she would have twelve; instead of South Australia having seven she would have eleven; and instead of Western Australia and Tasmania having five members, the minimum provided in this Bill, they would have six members. The result of this would be practically the same as far as total numbers are concerned, as under the scale of the Bill there would be seventy-six members of the House of Representatives.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: Are you right in your figures as to Western Australia and Tasmania?
Mr. SOLOMON: Yes. Each having over 100,000 would have six.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: You are not allowing for fractions.
Mr. SOLOMON: I have simply taken out round figures. In answer to Sir George Turner, I would point out where the fairness of the scale comes in, that as Western Australia increased from its 130,000 to 200,000, instead of having six it would have nine members, and as Tasmania increased from its 150,000 to 200,000, instead of having six it would also have nine, and until each reached 300,000 it would have eleven members, receiving an additional member for each additional 100,000 in population after it reached 300,000. The larger colonies would only increase at the rate of one member for each additional 100,000, and that would be fairer than that the smaller colonies should have such a disproportionate number of members. I do not think members can accuse me of any selfishness with regard to my position as a South Australian representative, as my proposal would benefit South Australia very little, but it would place the smaller colonies, which are at present to be represented by a paltry five members, in a more equitable position.
Mr. HOWE: They are so impatient of anyone but a lawyer talking.
Mr. SOLOMON: Yes, there is a certain amount of clannishness about these gentlemen. My proposal may strike some as likely to be unfair, but let us examine what the results will be in a few years to come. When Western Australia, as she in all probability will in a year or two's time, has a population of 300,000; and when Tasmania, as she very likely will, with the access of commerce born of intercolonial freetrade, approaches the limit of 300,000-
Mr. REID: That is the fourth lap.
Mr. SOLOMON: One would imagine sometimes from the childishness of the hon. member's remarks that he had not long left his first pap. As I was remarking, when these colonies approached
the 300,000 standard there would not be such an immense increase as against the numbers of the two larger colonies. The total of the four colonies would only be forty-eight as against the joint total of Victoria and New South Wales of forty-eight. Now I would ask hon. members to consider this point. is it a fair thing, now that the Senate has been deprived, as it has been deprived, of the power of amending Bills relating to taxation, that the more largely populated colonies in the representative House should have such an overwhelming majority against the four smaller colonies. That is the whole point of the question. I desire to move:
That after the word "have" on the twenty-fourth line the following words be inserted: "Six members for the first 10,000 of its population, three members for the second 100,000, two members for the third 100,000, and one member for every additional 100,000 of its population."
[start page 713] Sir GEORGE TURNER: My hon. friend's proposal is so eminently fair and reasonable that I wonder he took such a length of time to explain the principles to us, and endeavor to induce us to fall in with his moderate demand. His proposition is that whereas the two colonies of Victoria and New South Wales possess a population of 2,500,000, and the other four colonies he refers to possess a population of 1,000,000, the basis of representation in the House of Representatives should be thirty-five to the smaller colonies and forty-one to the larger, and in the Senate they should have twenty-four to twelve. That means simply that, whereas they have two-sevenths of the population, they are in the House of Representatives to have five-twelfths of the representation and in the Senate two-thirds of the representation. I think this ought to be endorsed unanimously by this Committee.
Mr. GLYNN: I am not going to speak on this question, for it has been already discussed. but I wish to raise a point, and perhaps Sir John Downer will tell me if I am right. The Bill says that, until Parliament otherwise provides, each State shall have one member for its quota of the people. Supposing Parliament passes an Act to say that one State shall have two members for a quota, and another four, is that not possible under the section?
An HON. MEMBER: Yes.
Mr. GLYNN: But that is not intended. Supposing an Act was passed to say that the quota meant that one State should have three and another five members?
Sir JOSEPH ABBOTT: On a point of order I would like to ask for your ruling. Sir. I am getting wearied of listening to these lawyers.
Mr. KINGSTON: That is not a point of order.
Sir JOSEPH ABBOTT: I would ask whether the hon. gentleman should not now confine his remarks to the amendment.
The CHAIRMAN: The hon. member certainly must confine his remarks to the amendment, but I understood that the hon. member wished to ask a question as to the construction of the clause before we arrived at that amendment.
Mr. KINGSTON: Hear, hear.
Mr. GLYNN: Exactly; the usual parliamentary courtesy will be extended to a member who wishes to move a prior amendment by the withdrawal of the amendment before the Chair. I would ask the members of the Drafting Committee whether I am not right in saying that the Federal Parliament might do what I have suggested. Would it not be possible, I ask, for a law to be passed to say that one State should have three members and another five?
HON. MEMBERS: Hear; hear.
Mr. PEACOCK: Quite right.
Sir JOHN DOWNER: Quite right. It is possible for there to be two members of the House of Representatives for every one member of the Senate.
An HON. MEMBER: That is only one part of it.
Sir JOHN DOWNER: Perhaps hon. members will allow me to go on. The clause says:
Until the Parliament otherwise provides, each State shall have one member for each quota of its people.
These are the clauses which are dealing with the relations of members between the two Houses. I do not think there can be any possible confusion myself.
Mr. PEACOCK: It is the House of Representatives that we are dealing with.
Mr. GLYNN: It is all very fine for members to talk about lawyers, but lawyers understand this section.
Mr. SOLOMON: It is the impatient lawyers who are the trouble.
Mr. PEACOCK: You have laymen with you on this occasion.
[start page 714] Mr. WISE: The hon. member for Victoria was on the Judiciary Committee.
Mr. GLYNN: This is a Constitutional Bill, and I put it to the Premier of our colony, who is an authority in draftsmanship, is it not possible under this clause for the Federal Parliament to pass an Act stating that South Australia may have three members and Tasmania five?
Mr. GORDON: That is not intended.
Mr. GLYNN: Certainly not. Why not correct it?
Mr. GORDON: This deals with the Constitution, and I think there should have been a stipulation in the first part of this subsection that there should be one member for each quota and no more. It is perfectly clear that Parliament could provide that each State should have any number of members for each quota. They could say 5,000 if they liked.
Mr. GLYNN: I would suggest that those words should be inserted before "until the Parliament otherwise provides."
An HON. MEMBER: What words?
Mr. GLYNN: The words suggested by Mr. Gordon. It ought to be:
That each State shall have the same number of members for a quota.
That should be at the beginning of the clause.
Mr. GORDON: That is open to the objection that this makes a constant factor of calculation.
The CHAIRMAN: I would point out that we have already passed the word "have," and the hon. member cannot move an amendment before that.
Mr. GORDON: A suggest that the hon. member should get the clause re-committed.
Mr. KINGSTON: I would suggest to Sir John Downer and the Drafting Committee that this point is well worthy of consideration.
Sir JOHN DOWNER: We are going to consider it.
Sub-section as read agreed to.
Mr. REID: I strongly object to this deviation from the Bill of 1891. It gives a minimum of five representatives. The minimum in the Bill of 1891 was four, when the ratio was one member for 30,000 of the people. Now we have arrived at one member for 50,000, in order to make the number of members in the House of Representatives more nearly approach the number of members in the Senate. I must say that the clause is altogether out of reason in view of the fact that we have reduced the number of members in the House of Representatives from 120 down to seventy-two. I move
That the word "five" be struck out and "four" inserted in lieu thereof.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON: I hope we shall have a minimum of five.
Mr. SOLOMON: Make it seven!
Sir EDWARD BRADDON: I would not mind that.
Mr. PEACOCK: Make it ten!
Sir EDWARD BRADDON: We have already made a considerable reduction in the members as compared with the Bill of 1891.
Mr. DEAKIN: Increased them!
Sir EDWARD BRADDON: This was passed in the Constitutional Committee after considerable deliberation-
Mr. REID: Oh!
Sir EDWARD BRADDON: And with our eyes open to the surrounding facts.
Mr. ISAACS: Who did?
Dr. COCKBURN: The majority; you are ruled by the majority.
Mr. PEACOCK: The majority will settle it here. We are not going to sit here and accept every decision of the Constitutional Committee.
Mr. WISE: I hope we are not going to fight all the battles of the Constitutional Committee over again. I for one will hold to the decision of the Committee.
[start page 715]
Mr. HENRY: I do not think that the smaller colonies can claim as a matter of logic that five should be the minimum on the present population basis, but I hope hon. members will deal liberally and fairly with the smaller colonies, and in this matter I hope the Victorian representatives will remember that yesterday some of us stood by them.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: Although I think there is no doubt that as a matter of reason the smaller colonies should not have a minimum of five I will vote for this clause.
Mr. GORDON: There is both logic and reason in "five," because if the compact is to go on as it is the smaller colonies will want to know how to use their fives.
Leave given to withdraw the amendment.
Sub-section as read agreed to.
Clause as read agreed to.
Clause 24.-Provision for case of persons not allowed to vote. Agreed to.
Clause 25.-Mode of calculating number of members. Agreed to.
Clause 26.-Representatives in first Parliament. Agreed to.
Clause 27.-Increase of number of House of Representatives. Agreed to.
Clause 28.-Electoral Divisions. Agreed to.
Clause 29.- Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the qualification of electors of members of the House of Representatives shall be in each State that which is prescribed by the law of the State as the qualification for electors of the more numerous House of the Parliament of the State. But in the choosing of such members each elector shall have only one vote.
Mr. HOLDER: I wish to propose the following amendment in this clause:
Strike out all the words after "be" in line 19 and insert in lieu thereof as follows:-"Every man and woman of the full age of twenty-one years, whose name has been registered as an elector for at least six months, shall be an elector."
Should I obtain the consent of the majority of the Convention to that, it will be necessary later on for me to bring down another clause providing for the preparation of the electoral rolls in the interval before the time when the Federal Parliament shall have created electoral machinery. The purpose I have in view is simply to give effect to the desire that many of us cherish, that women as well as men should be recognised as electors of this great Commonwealth.
Mr. KINGSTON: Hear, hear.
Mr. HOLDER: I am not going to argue at very great length, because I do not think that what I can say will influence many votes, but I submit that women are equally with ourselves bound by the laws; they are, with ourselves, taxpayers; by the consumption of dutiable articles we obtain taxes from women as well as from men. At the present time a woman who may be the support of her family, and whose husband contributes nothing to that support, but is simply a burden and hindrance to the woman, has no vote, while her worthless husband, may be, has one. Such a thing is not right. In this colony we have had experience of woman suffrage. At the last general elections in this colony, the women possessed votes to nearly an equal number with the men for the election of members for the House of Assembly. I was at several polling-booths on the polling day, and I noticed, as did many
others who are here to-day, the quiet determined way in which the women were going to the poll. There was nothing of trifling about them; they had come seized of the responsibility resting upon them, and determined to give effect to their views with the utmost calmness and decision. Not only in the city, but throughout the country districts, they voted, and, if anything, more heavily in the country than in the town. I do not believe that giving the vote to a woman makes her less of a woman. If I thought it did I would not give it her. But she can be just as much a woman, and care for what is going on round her, and also give time to exercise her franchise wisely. [start page 716] and well. We have had experience of that here; we believe it has been tested by experience, and we are quite prepared to recommend a similar course to that which we have followed to the other States of the Commonwealth. It may be suggested, it has been suggested, that in striving to attain what I am moving, as I happen to be a representative of one of the smaller States, it is a case of the small States dictating to the larger. I do wish hon. members would now and again forget that there are smaller and larger States, and discuss a question apart from whether a member who happens to move it represents a large or a small colony. This is not a question of a large colony against a small one, or a small colony against a large. This is a much greater question than that. The question is whether we will grant to one-half the population, or nearly one-half, the right they ask, or whether we will deny them that right. I hope this Convention, assembled under such conditions as we are, will do itself the honor and do one half the population of Australia the justice, which I am asking. Especially do I wish to mention one fact This year we are celebrating the diamond Jubilee of the greatest woman in political life in the British Empire, and if a woman be able, as that woman has been, with all the greatness and all the grandeur of her character, to preside over the destinies of this Empire during the last Sixty years, it does not become anyone to say that other women are not able to rise to the responsibility of casting a single vote on a political question. The next point I wish to make is this: it is not a case of South Australia dictating to the other colonies, for while in South Australia public opinion may be somewhat more ripened, or may have ripened earlier than in the other colonies, public opinion is moving in the same direction all over Australia. And we know that petitions have been got up and largely signed in Tasmania asking for adult suffrage. We know, too, that in the lower branch of the Legislature in Victoria a Bill was passed conferring upon women the franchise.
Mr. ISAACS: Twice.
Mr. HOLDER: That was wrecked in the Legislative Council. I understood that that was because of another matter associated with it.
Mr. FRASER: That is not so. It was on legitimate grounds.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: They will pass it next time.
Mr. FRASER: On the merits of the case.
Mr. HOLDER: I am not yet satisfied that the Legislative Council has declared against woman suffrage, so that the position they are in is: the lower branch of Legislature has declared in its favor, and the other branch has not given any deliverance at all. In the large colony of New South Wales motions in favor of woman suffrage have been adopted more than once. There are several hon. members who can speak more positively than I can as to the extent public opinion in this direction has ripened in that colony. In Queensland similar advance is being made, and petitions have been laid before this Convention from Queensland as from the other colonies. I have mentioned that we are asked to legislate in this direction. I hope that on these grounds we shall be prepared to take this step. The only other point I wish to refer to is this: it was said that whatever might be possible when the Federal Parliament had done its work it was most impracticable under present conditions to provide that the first elections for the Federal Parliament should take place on any other system than that on which this Convention is sitting. But I claim that I am not suggesting anything impracticable at all. It will be the simplest possible thing for a clause or two to be brought down providing for the necessary enrolment of women in all parts of the Commonwealth, and that the elections for the Commonwealth shall take place on those lines. I do trust that those who are in favor of [start page 717] woman
suffrage, who if this were the first session of the Federal Parliament, would vote for it, will not vote otherwise on this occasion, but will have the courage of their convictions and will give effect to the views they hold, and will provide even now and here, on this more fitting occasion than any other that can be given to us, that when Federation comes into effect it will come into effect broad based, not only on the will of the male electors, but upon the will of the adults throughout Australia, both men and women. I might prolong what I have to say, but I recognise that moments are precious. and believing that I have put all the leading points in favor of my amendment, I submit. it with the greatest confidence to the Convention.
Mr. WISE: I am sure that every member of the Convention will be indebted to the hon. Mr. Holder for the clearness with which he has expressed his views, and also for the admirable self-restraint he put upon himself in not elaborating them. I will endeavor to imitate him, and to refrain from general observations on the question of woman suffrage. I limit my remarks to putting before the Convention this consideration: "Is it a prudent thing in a Constitution of this kind to venture upon an experiment? I express no opinion for the moment whether woman suffrage is desirable or whether it is not. I content myself with noting as a fact that in three of the colonies which are represented here-or, if we include Western Australia, four of them-the principle of woman suffrage has not yet approved itself to a majority of the electors, who have now - and, under our arrangements, ought to continue to possess-unlimited power in managing their own internal affairs. Is it then a prudent thing to direct that the basis of the federal franchise should be one which does not approve itself to the electors of each colony in the management of their own affairs?
Mr. HOLDER: Federal affairs are different,
Mr. WISE: I am aware they are different. The franchise is a matter to them in one sense of Federal interest, but until the Federal Parliament is formed, it is a matter of purely local interest. To put a clause of this kind in, dictating to the electors of each colony what their franchise ought to be for the purpose of electing the Federal Parliament would be seen at once in its naked absurdity. If the proposal took another form - suppose that Mr. Dobson, who has expressed his view very strongly, and with that force we all like to hear, in favor of a modified form of property vote-suppose he could persuade a majority of this Convention to provide that the franchise under the Constitution for the first election should be on a property basis. The mere proposal would be treated as an absurdity by the electors, and why?
Dr. COCKBURN: Because it would be wrong.
Mr. WISE: Why?
Dr. COCKBURN: In itself.
Mr. WISE: Because the electors in the different colonies have chosen to frame their franchise on a different basis. What then is the distinction between your attempt to dictate to the electors of each colony as to the basis of their franchise, when you are asked to turn it into a different form in respect to property, or as to the persons who are to exercise it? The only difference is that, excellent though the form may be in their own colony, that is no justification to force it upon another colony preliminarily to coming into the union, which, when it is formed, will have supreme power over this and other matters. If this cause of female suffrage is so good as its advocates insist that it is-and we do not hear a great deal in opposition to it, because I do not think the opposition to it has been seriously expressed yet-it will make its own way. If the experiments in New Zealand and South Australia are such great successes, that fact must have an [start page 718] influence upon New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria, and West Australia, not one of which, however, has so far been so impressed by it as to think fit to change their own system of voting.
Mr. HOLDER: The whole thing is new.
Mr. WISE: You are interfering at once with a matter, the power of dealing with which rests with the local Parliament. The franchise is a franchise, whether exercised for the federal or local Parliament, and it is the same, no matter for what purpose it is exercised.
Mr. O'CONNOR: You are making it a condition that the whole Commonwealth will accept woman suffrage.
Mr. WISE: As my hon. friend puts it, that is exactly the position assumed by Mr. Holder, and it is no more reasonable to make it a condition, as might be insisted upon by Mr. Dobson, to make the franchise a property qualification, than it is to adopt Mr. Holder's proposal. Supposing woman suffrage were proposed in New South Wales-this may seem a grotesque impossibility to Mr. Holder, but it is not so-and a large majority was against it, would not this proposal make it an essential condition of that colony coming into the Federation, that it should adopt woman suffrage? What are the purposes of the Federal Parliament? I take it that they will be of a higher and more important character than that which the local Parliaments will have to deal with. There has been no ruffle of skirts or stir of petticoats yet in Queensland in connection with this matter. I ask the hon. member: is it prudent to put this barrier in front of the formation of the Union? There is no reason why it is proper to try experiments of female suffrage in federal matters than in other matters which might lead to controversy of a serious kind. We cannot get away from this fact-disguise it as we may -that the ultimate sanction of all law is physical force. I need not go far back for an illustration, than only look to the early history of the United States Federation. It may yet be in our country, if we have female suffrage, that a law would be passed by it majority of women and a minority of men, which they would not have the physical force to carry into effect, and which can only be given effect to by a dissolution of society. I will give an illustration that accurately bears on this. The question that shook the American constitution to its foundation was the question of slavery. Do we not know that the attitude and object of all the prominent statesmen of the United States between 1826 and the outbreak of the Civil War, or certainly up to 1850, was to have a compromise on this question, and why? Not with regard to many of them because they were in favor of slavery, but because they knew that the time was not yet ripe for the immediate abolition of it.
Mr. KINGSTON: What was the result of postponing it?
Mr. WISE: Its ultimate abolition.
Mr. KINGSTON: Bloodshed.
Mr. WISE: It was ultimately abolished, and if they had had female suffrage in those early days, they would have had the votes of a large majority of the women, reinforced by the votes of men in favor of the immediate abolition of slavery, and that would have led to a complete disruption of the Union, and an entrenchment of slavery in a position from which it could not have been overthrown. I simply mention this matter to remind members of the dangers from this system of female suffrage, and which must be obvious to all. The force with which Mr. Holder has put his views has led me into a controversial discussion which I desired to avoid, but I put it to members upon the ground of practical principles, and with full assurance, that it will very materially increase the difficulty-and I am not using terms of exaggeration when I say it will very materially increase the difficulty- [start page 719] of getting this scheme accepted in New South Wales if we adopt this system of female suffrage in federal matters when it has not been adopted in regard to local matters there. Is it not quite sufficient for the Federal Parliament to deal with this matter? When that Parliament is established, if its friends still believe in the system earnestly, they can bring forward a motion in that Parliament similar to the motion which has been brought forward now. I hope the friends of the system will not allow their feelings to degenerate into fanaticism, but that they will leave it to the Federal Parliament to accomplish that which is their purpose, and which is in no way hindered or delayed by the rejection of this amendment.
Mr. HOWE: I believe it is the intention of the hon. member to divide the Committee on the question.
Mr. HOLDER: Hear, hear.
Mr. HOWE: Then I wish to speak. Mr. Holder has placed his case in a very fair manner indeed before this Assembly. I might say that before Mr. Holder entered into the sphere of active politics in South Australia I was an advocate of woman's suffrage. I could never bring myself to understand why women should not have the same voice in connection with the laws of their country as the men. All the time I had the honor of having a seat in this chamber I never hid myself behind a hedge when the question of woman's suffrage was introduced, even when introduced in a questionable form. I believe in the principle, and although I may have been in opposition to any Ministry who introduced the measure, no matter in what mode it came into the chamber they have always found me voting in favor of it. I know that the policy of the South Australian Government on the hustings in connection with the Convention election was adult suffrage, but I took an opposite view. I told my constituents of South Australia that, while I believed in adult suffrage, and were I resident in any of the other colonies which did not possess it I would fight for it as I had in South Australia, but as I believed in States rights, which in other words is home rule, I had no right to place on the people of the other colonies such a franchise, and to interfere with them in such a manner I designated as a piece of impertinence. Mr. Holder has presented to our gaze a deplorable state of things, and asked why the woman should not have the same right to vote in the making of the laws of the land as her husband who might be an abandoned and worthless fellow; but an abandoned and worthless woman is as bad as any man, so in giving the franchise to women we have increased the number of worthless voters; but the good women who are so numerous will counteract the influence of the bad ones. I am about to contest an election, and I wish the people of South Australia to understand my position, so that there shall be no mistake about my attitude. I thoroughly believe in giving the franchise to the women of the State in which I live, but I would look upon myself as unduly and unnecessarily interfering with the rights of other States by agreeing to the amendment.
Mr. FRASER: I am afraid if this motion is carried it will be handicapping Federation unduly, and we have already handicapped it to an extent that it can hardly bear. If we agreed to it the people of the other colonies would resent it-at all events I am sure Victoria would.
Mr. KINGSTON: Your popular House is in favor of it.
Mr. FRASER: That is possible, but it does not say that the women of that colony are in favor of it. I am an old parliamentarian, and I can tell you that, as far as my judgment goes, the women do not favor it. Of course there is always a section in favor of anything you like to propose, but that does not say that the majority do so. I will not, however, argue the matter out here, as the proper [start page 720] place to do so in my own colony. I have as much admiration for the women as any man-I mean in their proper places. If this question is going to grow, give it time to grow. You do not want to force the growth of a plant unreasonably.
An HON. MEMBER: Asparagus.
Mr. FRASER: It has not grown in the United States; it has not grown even in your own colony. A lady presented herself-a very estimable and eligible candidate stood for the Convention-but the people of South Australia did not elect her. Her own sex voted against her, probably.
Mr. KINGSTON: Well?
Mr. FRASER: Well. I was in a town in New Zealand that had a lady mayoress.
Mr. BARTON: Onehunga.
Mr. FRASER: I had the pleasure of doing the honors to the Mayor of Onehunga. In New Zealand I do not think there will be another lady mayoress. I am speaking now what is the opinion of all. I am not saying that in disparagement of womankind. Far be it from me. But I say the people of South Australia have no right to dictate to our colony as this amendment will he doing, and if it is carried it will handicap this Bill unnecessarily. I would suggest to those who are anxious for Federation not to press this to a division. I will have to vote against it, and I hope others will do the same who believe in woman suffrage in local politics, but not in national matters. Let it grow as it ought to grow. It will grow in our colony if it is going to grow, but if the example of South Australia and New Zealand is followed it will die. It has been in existence in a very small way in the United States, where I have travelled frequently, and there is no desire for its extension. Then why handicap this federal movement by a thing of this kind? It is not reasonable.
Mr. GLYNN: I also, like Mr. Howe, am about to face an election in this colony, but I get up not to explain my position as a candidate for support. I expressed myself on the hustings in favor of the principle of woman suffrage, but I said at the same time that if it would be dangerous to Federation I would not support it. Let me say one or two words as to the adoption of it on the grounds of logic and also of expediency, and of not forcing on the other colonies a principle of election to which they have objections, of prejudice rather than of principle. I agree with Mr. Wise that if you make it a condition of the other colonies accepting this you will wreck Federation. As to the question of the effect upon the chances of a slavery war if adult suffrage had been in force in America, if you are to deal with large and general matters such as slavery, I believe that the male instincts are more likely to go on the side of abolition than the female instincts. Hon. members must admit this fact, that the votes in the House with diverse franchises will be subject to degrees of refutation dependent upon the extent of the suffrage applicable in the colonies of the members who gave the votes. If you have a majority composed of members who have been returned to the Federal Parliament on a restricted suffrage, the weight of the majority will be discounted by the fact of narrow representation. Reflections were cast upon the votes of the Western Australian representatives at this Convention simply on the ground that they were returned by their Parliament and not by the people directly. The question of American representatation has been referred to, but in that case no doubt it was diverse representation, but for special reasons. The American Union was composed of thirteen States remarkable for their diversities-some organised, and some with hardly any organisation. Agriculture was the chief consideration in one, shipping in others, and so on. It was, therefore, incumbent upon the framers of the American Constitution to frame such a franchise as would pay some respect to the respective preju- [start page 721] dices, and not thrust upon the whole number a representation to which half the States, in the then dangerous state of public opinion, and when mutual animosities were but slowly dying, would take objection. But our conditions are different. Our political influences are practically the same. We are essentially at the same stage of political growth, and it really remains as a matter of logic only to express our convictions in one uniform franchise. It may be said that you cannot trust the people. But you must trust the people, because the granting of adult suffrage is only a question of time. Mr. Wise has mentioned in effect that the experiment of testing the efficiency of adult suffrage had best be made in connection with the local Legislatures. In my opinion it had best be made in connection with the Federal House. In that case the questions that will come on are too large in their relations, too remote from class interests and prejudices, to be open to any danger on the side of popular power. I think we are entitled to apply the principle of adult suffrage to the Federal Parliament, but at the same time I shall not force my opinions upon hon. members of other colonies. By doing so the result might be that we would not get Federation carried. Logically I say they should not object to uniformity. The principle of uniformity of suffrage ought to apply to the Federal House. You should not have majorities discounted by an examination of the peculiar circumstances under which their component members are elected. We must remember, however, that we have here the representatives of large and wide suffrages, you have got the representatives of cumulative voting, you have got the representatives of a narrow suffrage; and if you impose a uniform franchise, though it is logically right, you will not achieve Federation. Therefore I join in asking Mr. Holder to withdraw his proposal. It is all very well for some members to say adult suffrage should, on principle, not be granted, but men progress quickly in these times. My notion of public opinion is: with an educated people public opinion is quite as ripe as statesmen care to recognise. It is only a matter of
precipitating a policy. We hear of the slowness of public opinion. Public opinion in this colony fits to a nicety an adult suffrage, which twenty years ago, or even ten, it would have scouted. When you have a man who is bold enough to precipitate legislation public opinion readily falls in with it; but with the desire of having a strong prospect of Federation I hope the amendment will be withdrawn.
Mr. GRANT: The subject we are now discussing we should remember affects half our population, and therefore, even at this late hour, I venture to trespass on the patience of the Convention while I offer a very few remarks. I wish to put one or two points not dealt with by the previous speakers. This is a matter that has had great interest to me for many years past. I formed a decided opinion in favor of female suffrage before many members of the Convention were born. It was when Disraeli, at a time of political excitement, threatened the female franchise as a conservative weapon. I believe in female franchise we have the strongest conservative element, which will make the nation stable in council and render it less subject to influences of an unsatisfactory character than any other provision. The difficulty I have had on two occasions when I have had to exercise my vote upon the question has been that the women themselves have not asked for the franchise. We know that in our family circles they are able to speak for themselves, and I think in all probability if they wanted the franchise, we should have heard from them in large numbers, and not have had petitions signed by only one or two hundred. So far as I have been able to gauge public opinion in Tasmania, there is a distinct manifestation against the franchise. They do not want to have the discussion of political matters in their private family circles. From my knowledge of the United States, I know [start page 722] nothing would be more objectionable than female franchise to the higher and intellectual circles in which politics are eschewed almost as an unclean thing. Until women do approach us and express a desire, coming from a large proportion of them, to have the franchise, we should hesitate to force it upon them. We are told it has worked well in this colony, but we should remember that it has only been tried in South Australia at one election, that it is here in an experimental stage, and we do not know what objectionable ramifications may yet follow its adoption. I would far rather have a system of ascertaining the votes of women in the privacy of the domestic circle by means of voting by post. In the domestic circle, not only the wives, but the daughters and sons, who may be better educated than their parents, would be able to use that influence which would tend to make a more stable foundation for any electoral system. Another objection to giving women as a class a vote is the danger of popular excitement. They are abject to emotional or hysterical influences to a much greater extent than men. In the matter of strikes, the women, generally speaking, are the chief disturbing cause, and they hold on, to their own damage and detriment, far longer than men do. They are more moved by impulse, and do not maintain that self-control that men, from being continually associated with one another, are compelled to exercise. We should, therefore, hesitate before attempting to force upon the new Commonwealth woman suffrage. Forty years or more ago I was in favor of it; I am in favor of it now on a certain basis, but I do not think we ought to begin the Constitution of this Commonwealth by forcing thereon an unknown quantity which may prove disastrous thereto.
Mr. BARTON: I should like to make a suggestion to the Committee. I think it is a fair time we came to a vote upon this question.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: Hear, Hear.
Mr. KINGSTON: No, no.
Mr. BARTON: I think we ought to pass a self-denying ordinance in this matter. Mr. Holder made a very representative speech on one side of the question, and there has been at least one representative speech on the other. I think those two cover fairly nearly the whole ground. I myself have a strong opinion as to whether or not a uniform suffrage of this kind should be forced upon the Commonwealth, and as to whether the Bill would stand even a fair chance of being carried in the various colonies if this proposal were adopted. But I am prepared, in spite of all that, to forego the right which I think I have as a member of this Convention to speak. I think that, as the speeches which have been made are representative, we really shall not elucidate the subject much to each other if we make further speeches, and if we cannot do that we ought to come to a division at once.
Mr. TRENWITH: I appreciate the desire to arrive at a division, but this is a question, perhaps, above all others in which it is necessary for some, myself among them, to say a few words. I am in favor of female suffrage; I should like to see it adopted by all the States. I do not agree with Mr. Grant when he says there is a doubt whether women could vote with wisdom because they are liable to hysterical influences. At the same time I am opposed to putting that principle in this Constitution. Therefore it is necessary for me to say why I am about to vote, if a vote is taken, against a principle of which I am in favor. My reason is that female suffrage is desirable, but there is a very considerable number of persons in some of the States who think it extremely undesirable. If we load this constitution with this principle we create another difficulty in the way of having Federation adopted, and we do not advance the cause of woman suffrage. If we pass the Bill in the form in which it is now, that [start page 723] the vote shall be taken on the basis of the franchise for the more numerous House in each State, that would be the suffrage for the Commonwealth. When progress is made with female suffrage in the various States, and it is adopted in these States, it immediately becomes part of the Commonwealth franchise. It has just as much chance, indeed it has a greater chance, of becoming part of the franchise of the Commonwealth by leaving it out of the Commonwealth Constitution. Putting it in may prevent Federation from being adopted. To adopt Federation without it may not retard female suffrage. And for this reason, without delaying the Convention, I desire to say that, good as female suffrage is, equitable as it is, little dangerous as it is, it ought not to be in this Constitution, because it may have a tendency rather to hinder than to advance Federation.
Mr. KINGSTON: I think we can hear a little too much of the argument that if we do this or if we do that we shall imperil Federation. It was advanced with strong force at an early stage, and I paid some attention to it. But if in connection with every matter we are to be told by one side or the other that if this is carried or that rejected, there will be an end of Federation, I do not-
Mr. TRENWITH: That is not argument.
Mr. KINGSTON: I think those who believe in female suffrage should advance it by voting for it whenever they get the chance. I have no sympathy with those who say they are in favor of it, but when they have an opportunity of extending it throughout Australia they will have nothing to do with it. I believe in a uniform franchise.
Mr. FRASER: We will have to take off woman suffrage.
Mr. KINGSTON: I am quite prepared that the hon. member shall make a proposal of that sort, and if he does I shall be prepared to resist it when he does. Uniformity is as necessary in a federal franchise as in a provincial franchise. Who ever heard of different constituencies of a province returning members on varying franchises? Would it be tolerated as regards this colony that one district, say, North Adelaide, should return its member on an extended franchise as democratic as you could wish, and that the rest of the colony should return members on a Conservative and retrograde franchise. What good, I ask, would be the democratic franchise of North Adelaide if it could be swamped by the franchises of the other constituencies? What good is it that South Australia with her, what she ventures to consider, advanced franchise, in which the women are permitted to vote, can return members to the Federal Parliament, if they are to be outvoted by the members returned on the less liberal and less extended franchises that exist in the other colonies. We are told it is not for us to dictate. Who talks of dictation?
Mr. SOLOMON: You do.
Mr. FRASER: Of course he does.
Mr. KINGSTON: Nothing of the sort We propose what we believe in. I put it to the hon. member, does he find in the Constitution of Victoria that different constituencies return their members on varying franchises? Would it be tolerated.
Sir WILLIAM ZEAL: That is for Victoria. That has nothing to do with South Australia.
Mr. KINGSTON: Does not the hon. member see-I do not know the various constituencies in Victoria-that each constituency is as much interested in the franchise of the other constituencies in Victoria as it is in its own? So also in Federation. Is not each province as much interested in the franchise of the other colonies as it is in its own?
Mr. HOLDER: Of course it is.
Mr. KINGSTON: I put it plainly to the hon. member-What good is it to us on our advanced franchise? Hon. members can excuse the adjective in adulation of our own offspring.
[start page 724] Mr. TRENWITH: It is advanced. You are quite right.
Mr. KINGSTON: What good is it to us to return members on our advanced franchise when the other colonies, returning members on a less advanced franchise, out-vote them? Why our slight contribution will be as a drop in the bucket. It will have no effect whatever on the Federal Parliament and federal legislation. We believe that just as the franchise determines the character of the elector, so it also affects the character of the elected, and the character of the elected determines the nature of the legislation, and the nature of the legislation not only affects Victoria and New South Wales, but South Australia also.
Mr. FRASER: Can you get Victoria to pass an Act such as you desire?
Mr. KINGSTON: I do believe they will. I do not profess to know so much about Victoria as the hon. member; but I do my best for the purpose of studying what goes on there, and I find in the popular House there that a Bill extending the franchise to women was passed by a considerable majority.
Mr. ISAACS: More than once, too.
Mr. KINGSTON: In the Legislative Council, however-I speak with bated breath in the presence of Sir William Zeal it was ruled out of order.
Mr. FRASER: It was voted out as well as ruled out.
Mr. KINGSTON: The representatives of Victoria, in the popular branch of the Legislature have declared their wish that female franchise shall be the law of the land. Where therefore is the dictation? We are proposing something in the nature of a partnership with the other colonies, and they are making reciprocal proposals to us. What we want to know is who we are going into partnership with? We resist a limited franchise on a property qualification. Why? Not because of any attempt to dictate to us, but because we did not believe in it. Similarly we advocate female franchise, because we believe in it.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON: Because we are conservative.
Mr. KINGSTON: We have had some practical experience of the working of it.
Mr. SOLOMON: Very little.
Mr. KINGSTON: We are content with that working, and our experience has been sufficient to prove that our content is justified. The hon. member Mr. Solomon will recollect that he and all who represent South Australia at this Convention owe their presence here, not only to the votes of the men
of South Australia, but also to the votes of the women. This is a matter of very considerable importance, and I am sorry indeed that some of those who profess to be favorable to adult suffrage are inclined to turn their backs upon it now; but I hope before they vote they will change their minds and show their faith in the political principles they have always advocated.
Mr. DOUGLAS: Clause 29 reads:
Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the qualification of electors of members of the House of Representatives shall be in each Ssate that which is prescribed by the law of the State as the qualification for electors of the more numerous House of the Parliament of the State. But in the choosing of such members each elector shall have only one vote.
Is that not sufficient for the hon. member, Mr. Kingston? Does he want to force down our throats a thing we do not believe in? Since I have been in Adelaide I have been reading a newspaper, and I saw the account of a row which a man had with his wife who insisted on canvassing for a member of Parliament who happened to be a justice of the peace, and in the court when the case came on. I have not found a single woman yet who is anxious for this franchise. We bad a meeting the other day at Launceston on the subject. There were three or four ladies there who wanted to have a vote.
An HON. MEMBER: They were old women.
[start page 725] Mr. DOUGLAS: No fear; there were some nice young ones amongst them. One was a particularly nice young lady, who was anxious for the recognition of this principle. A petition was presented to the Legislature in favor of the adoption of it, but nothing came of it, and I do not see why it should be forced upon people who do not want it, simply because South Australia has got it. One of the strongest advocates of the movement in South Australia was a lady who was a candidate for the Convention; but she was not returned. No doubt had we a lady here to advocate this cause it would be agreed to; but unfortunately the people excluded her. I view this not as a progressive, but a strong retrograde movement.
Question-That the words proposed to be struck out stand part of the clause-put. The Committee divided.
Ayes, 23; Noes, 12. Majority, 11.
Abbott, Sir Joseph Henry, Mr.
Barton, Mr. Howe, Mr.
Braddon, Sir Edward Lewis, Mr.
Brown, Mr. McMillan, Mr.
Carruthers, Mr. Moore, Mr.
Dobson, Mr. O'Connor, Mr.
Douglas, Mr. Solomon, Mr.
Downer, Sir John Trenwith, Mr.
Fraser, Mr. Walker, Mr.
Fysh, Sir Philip Wise, Mr.
Glynn, Mr. Zeal, Sir William
Clarke, Mr Isaacs, Mr.
Cockburn, Dr. Kingston, Mr.
Deakin, Mr. Peacock, Mr.
Gordon, Mr. Quick, Dr.
Higgins, Mr. Reid, Mr.
Holder, Mr. Turner, Sir George
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. HOLDER: I now move another amendment. It is a compromise which has been suggested by Mr. Trenwith, and a very fair one. I hope that is the view that will be taken by the majority. What I move is:
To add to the clause "And no elector no possessing the right to vote shall be deprived of that right."
That is to say that while the matter is left to the Federal Parliament no person who now possesses the right to vote shall be deprived of that right.
Dr. QUICK: I hope that the Convention will accept this proposition, and if there is no opposition I will not speak.
Mr. WALKER: It seems to me that this is tautology, as we have declared that the qualification shall be that existing in the States at the time of the passing of the Act.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: As I understand it Mr. Holder wants to have this amendment passed in order that the Parliament when declaring the uniform franchise shall not be able to deprive any woman, who can now vote, of that right.
Mr. REID: It will compel female suffrage.
The CHAIRMAN: If I may, I would point out that it applies only to electors who now possess the right to vote.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON: How can a uniform franchise be secured if this amendment is carried? It will bind the hands of the Federal Parliament.
Mr. BARTON: As I understand the suggestion, it means that if the Federal Parliament chooses to legislate in respect of a uniform suffrage in the Commonwealth it cannot do so unless it makes it include female suffrage. It ties the hands of the Federal Parliament entirely. I cannot understand many of our friends, who profess to trust the people we are constituting, and who now cannot trust them in
this matter. It seems such a deviation from a well-stated principle. Who is to say that the Parliament of the Commonwealth is going to take away any right? We have conceded to the Federal Parliament the right to frame a uniform franchise. Supposing woman suffrage were abolished in South Australia, where would be the necessity for this proposal? Under this Constitution women who have the right to vote in this colony will be entitled to vote for the Federal Parliament [start page 726] in South Australia; but if South Australia changes that law, this proposal is unneces sary. The result of the amendment will be that it will make a uniform franchise impossible, unless the Parliament adopts adult suffrage.
Dr. COCKBURN: You can make an amendment of the Constitution.
Mr. BARTON: What need is there to make an amendment of the Constitution, if you have stated that the people whom you are constituting shall have the right to make their own franchise? Why should you now tie their hands and say that because the women of South Australia have a vote, the Parliament shall not be allowed to make a uniform franchise unless it is on the basis of adult suffrage? That is a fettering of the Federation to which I will never consent. I do not believe in speciously putting in the name of freedom, and giving the rights of men away.
Mr. KINGSTON: It is all very well for my hon. friend Mr. Barton to wax indignant about refusing to trust the Federal Parliament, but not so long ago, when we were discussing the relative numbers of the two Houses, my friend adopted the same attitude about the impropriety of trusting them. As regards that matter it was proposed that the House of Representatives and the Senate might fight the question of their relative numbers out for themselves, and if they chose to agree to a different course to that in the Bill they had a right to give effect to it. That was resisted and resisted successfully by Mr. Barton. Now what is be resisting? Although we come in under separate terms but with equal rights and with our own laws, yet if the Federal Parliament chooses it can enact a law by which these provisions of the State are swept away, and instead of a broad and democratic franchise, we may have a property qualification or plurality of voting.
HON. MEMBERS: No.
Mr. KINGSTON: Well, put it at the very best, a disfranchisement of some of the people. Surely it is right to leave it to the Parliament of the State, whether they shall alter their own franchise or not. Is it to be tolerated for a moment, that they must put their head into a noose like this against their will? It is the root and foundation of their political existence, and is it to be that their enjoyment of any privileges and advantages that their franchise gives them shall be taken away, diminished, or destroyed? I hope hon. members generally will assent to the principle in the amendment of my colleague, Mr. Holder. As regards the form, that may or may not be improved, but the principle is a most important one. It was difficult enough to fix this franchise ourselves. What will the result be if it be possible, whilst the States Parliament wishes to continue its system, for the Federal Parliament to take it away?
Mr. TRENWITH: Mr. Barton said he would never submit to a position of this sort, which would limit rather than extend the freedom of the people, as has been pointed out by Mr. Kingston. He took the exactly opposite attitude a short time ago. There must be no objection to that, for we all hold ourselves at liberty to change our opinions. He said he objected to tying the hands of the future in an improper way. He was successful as to the relative proportion of the two Houses. Now, this is a question involving the right of the people to take part in the government of the country in which they live. The Parliament of the future might have power to extend the privileges of the people, but not the power to restrict the privileges of the people with reference to self-government and in pursuance of the legislation upon which we first proposed that we federated. Mr. Holder, as I understand it, is anxious to provide that no whim of a Parliament to be elected shall enable it to deprive any person who is now possessed of the right to vote of the power to vote in the future, or any class now possessed of the vote to vote in the future, and to provide that such [start page 727] alterations of franchise as may take place shall go on in accordance with historical precedent, which is to broaden
out rather than to narrow or restrict. All the history of discussion shows that the desires of the people are in the direction of giving more extended privileges. We are to ask the electors of these colonies to say whether they will have the Constitution which we submit to them, and we shall have a greater chance of their endorsing the Constitution if upon the face of it there is a declaration that they cannot in future be deprived of a right they now possess. I opposed putting female suffrage in this Constitution because I do not wish to increase the difficulties of obtaining Federation and I felt by inserting female suffrage I should not be advancing the chance of its adoption; but I feel if we do not have some clear declaration made to the people who now have a vote that they will always be privileged to exercise their vote in the future, and that if there is an alteration made it will be in the direction of giving a vote to the people now if they have it not, we can well imagine the women of South Australia giving a negative vote for fear that the privilege for which they have struggled, and which has been obtained, may be taken from them at the will of the other colonies who have not yet obtained female suffrage; and I can readily understand the people who by this Constitution will be for the first time presented with equal voting power with their other male comrades in their colony, fearing that manhood suffrage may be taken from them by the whim of a Parliament that may be elected. Such power as is now possessed by voters should only be taken from them, if taken at all, through the most difficult process; for while it is proper that Parliament should have the right to facilitate and extend the privileges and powers of the people, it is only right that it should be most difficult to restrict the freedom of the people.
Mr. REID: At first sight I was opposed to this principle, but I think, in the interest of Federation, it should be assented to. It is perfectly immaterial to New South Wales how the electors of South Australia are constituted. That is my view, and I think that is the view generally taken; we have no right to expose any elector or class of electors, such as the female electors of South Australia, to the risk of disfranchisement. I believe in the insertion of these words, because the Bill will then appeal to half the electors of South Australia. That is a practical object to be gained. What do we lose? Nothing, so far as I am concerned, because we simply allow the South Australians to choose their members in the way which they have for themselves determined. It is a breach of the principle of uniformity of suffrage, but considering the way in which we change our views from time to time, as to the wisdom of tying the hands of Parliament, and the wisdom of allowing Parliament to soar at its sweet pleasure over all provisions and matters, I do not attach the slightest significance to that aspect of the case. I am quite prepared to fall in with the amendment, simply because it will strengthen the cause of Federation in South Australia.
Sir JOHN DOWNER: I might suggest that the best thing to do would be to insert the words:
Until Parliament otherwise provides.
The CHAIRMAN: You cannot do that now, because we have decided that the words of the clause shall stand.
Mr. HOLDER: We should not agree to that.
Sir JOHN DOWNER: It seems to me we all want Federation. We want to do what is fair and right, but Federation is the main object we wish to obtain, and we do not want to put undue obstacles in the way. South Australia has resolved on female suffrage, South Australia wishes to maintain it, and I suppose the right to alter it if it is thought desirable, although I do not think it is likely to be altered. The other colonies have not adopted it, but they would still like to have the right to [start page 728] have some choice over their franchise, so that they may have female suffrage if they want it. If the amendment is carried, the effect will be that South Australia will have female suffrage for all time; they will irrevocably have it. South Australia cannot alter it; I do not say they want to. The other colonies have not got female suffrage, and cannot obtain female suffrage unless the Parliament of the Commonwealth gives it to them. So far as this matter is concerned, if the proposition is to make each State legislate for itself as to the manner in which it shall return its members, I do not see much objection. They can only return a certain number of members, and they can please themselves as to
the way in which those members shall be returned, but I do not think we should say arbitrarily in the Constitution that it should absolutely remain fixed as it is.
Mr. ISAACS: That is not said.
Sir JOHN DOWNER: I think that is what it means.
Mr. ISAACS: It does not.
Sir JOHN DOWNER: What does it mean?
Mr. ISAACS: It means that everyone who has a vote under the Commonwealth Bill now shall always be permitted to have that vote.
Sir JOHN DOWNER: Always have it?
Sir GEORGE TURNER: It does not prevent the State taking it away.
Sir JOHN DOWNER: That is not the form of the amendment.
Mr. KINGSTON: It is not in the original section.
Mr. O'CONNOR: That is worse. If you once give him the right to vote for the Federal Parliament you can never take it away again.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: You can always alter it.
Sir JOHN DOWNER: Where is the authority for any State to alter its own?
Mr. KINGSTON: In each State it is prescribed by the law for the time being of the State.
Mr. BARTON: You say no person having the right to vote shall afterwards be deprived of it.
Sir JOHN DOWNER: If the amendment now proposed is that no one who has now a vote shall be deprived of it, it deprives both the local Parliament and the Parliament of the Commonwealth from interfering with it, and fixes for all time the absolute and eternal right of everybody who has got a vote now. Surely that is not the intention.
Mr. HOLDER: Although I am not willing to accept Sir John Downer's suggestion, I am quite prepared to accept another suggestion, which emanates from Mr. Isaacs, to make the amendment read:
And no elector possessing the right to vote shall be deprived of that right by the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: Hear, hear.
Mr. HOLDER: That will leave it still open to the Parliament of any State to take away that right.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: No objection to that!
Mr. BARTON: Does Mr. Holder mean "elector" at the establishment of the Commonwealth-this is a mere question of conformity of expression-or any elector who at the time of the establishment of the Commonwealth, or at any time after, shall become entitled to vote, so that any person who at any time after the establishment of the Commonwealth is given the right to vote by a local Parliament-
supposing, for instance, an infant of 16 years-shall not be deprived of the right to vote at federal elections by the Federal Parliament?
Mr. HOLDER: I desire that at any time any elector having a right to vote which he had at the time the Commonwealth came into operation, or which he acquired afterwards by State legislation before the Federal Parliament legislates on the subject shall be protected in the exercise of that vote against any action of the Federal Parliament. I am quite wil- [start page 729] ling to leave the matter of form to the Drafting Committee.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: We admit the right of the Federal Parliament to declare its own franchise. As soon as it does that it certainly would not be right to allow any State afterwards to alter that franchise, but we claim the right to say to the Federal Parliament: "In declaring that franchise you shall not take from any person or class of persons who have the right to vote that privilege."
Mr. HIGGINS: Even for State purposes?
Sir GEORGE TURNER: We do not interfere with State purposes. We are dealing simply with the Federal Parliament.
Mr. BROWN: I would like to ask whether the object which Mr. Holder has in view will be met by words such as these:
Provided that in case of any State possessing adult suffrage on the passing of this Act, such State shall be entitled to retain it until the Parlialiament of the State shall otherwise provide.
That, I think, is what most of us are willing to agree to. We wish to conserve our own liberties and let South Australia have adult suffrage as she has it now. We object very much to having the suffrage enjoyed by one particular colony thrust upon the whole Commonwealth. If words such as I have read will meet Mr. Holder's views, he might withdraw his amendment. I would support the adoption of similar words to those I have read; but I will not be a party to tying the hands of the Federal Parliament in such a way as that hereafter to obtain a uniform franchise we would be compelled to take the suffrage now enjoyed by South Australia.
Mr. O'CONNOR: It is very little use giving the Federal Parliament power to make a uniform franchise if you tie its hands. If you pass this limitation you only make this effect: you stereotype the franchise in every one of the States. There can be no uniform franchise unless the States have arrived at a uniform franchise. You have in one colony, South Australia, woman suffrage; in another colony, Tasmania, there is a special educational franchise, given especially on account of Federation.
Mr. REID: Tasmania?
Sir EDWARD BRADDON: That is for the legislative Council.
Mr. O'CONNOR: I understood it was for both Houses.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON: No.
Mr. O'CONNOR: Well, the Tasmanian representatives ought to know better than I do.
Mr. HIGGINS: There is a wages vote in Tasmania.
Mr. O'CONNOR: However, one or two illustrations are sufficient to show what I mean, that you never can have a uniform franchise until the States amongst themselves have all the same electoral qualification. The very object of giving this power to the Federal Parliament is that you shall make it uniform; but if you are to leave it in the hands of the States, until they shall agree there is no use in
giving the power to the Federal Parliament. It appears to me to be an unwise thing to stereotype the franchises as they are at any particular time when the Parliament wishes to interfere. If we do not wish the Parliament of the Commonwealth to interfere in these matters it would be very much better to say so. But one of the reasons which make it advisable to place this power in the hands of the Federal Parliament is that it is only just, as the whole people are to be represented in the House of Representatives, there should be some uniform basis possible. But you never can have that unless you give the power to the Commonwealth. Uniformity can only be brought about by a process of levelling which may result in the taking away of a particular privilege or a particular franchise in some place or another. And that is done for the good of the whole. If it is good to have a [start page 730] uniform franchise, some portion of the Commonwealth must lose some portion of its rights in the adoption of that franchise. We are told that if this amendment is not passed there will be a danger that the franchise which is now hold by the women of South Australia will be taken away. Of course there is an absolute right in the Parliament to do all kinds of things. There is the right in the Senate to reject every Bill. There is the right in the Governor to refuse his assent to every Bill. But all these rights must be exercised with reason and judgment, and in accordance with circumstances. I would ask, "Is it not the tendency with regard to legislation to broaden the franchise"? If the supporters of woman suffrage have faith in it, why should not they have faith in the gradual education of the people throughout the colonies till they secure the final adoption of this principle? The power should be simply reserved so as to meet any eventuality which it may happen may come before the Federal Parliament. If you tie their hands in the way suggested, I do not see how they can act at all. I would like to say a word or two about the attempt which has been made to draw a distinction between my hon. friend Mr. Barton's action in respect of another clause and in respect of this one. It is one thing to place a right in a way that Parliament cannot interfere with it, and quite another thing when you give Parliament a power and do not tie its hands in the exercise of that power. That is a perfectly plain distinction.
Mr. REID: With how much difference?
Mr. O'CONNOR: I think the hon. member has only just woke up.
Mr. BARTON: The hon. member though when a Drafting Committee was appointed that he was going to muzzle the members of the Committee.
Mr. REID: Oh, no.
Mr. O'CONNOR: I have put these considerations, because, it appears to me it is not a light matter. If we are going to give this power to Parliament, let us give it in some way that it can be exercised.
Mr. HOWE: Mr. O'Connor has explained matters so plainly that it is patent to every South Australian that unless Mr. Holder's amendment is added to the clause the Federal Parliament would deprive us of the right we now possess to adult suffrage.
Mr. HIGGINS: It might.
Mr. HOWE: We gave them the right. Are we going to have woman suffrage come about in all these colonies within the next few years? I rather doubt it. Consequently that is the more reason why this amendment should be added to the clause. Although I would not interfere with the rights of other people in other States to pass into law any franchise they think proper, I will even deny the right of the Federal Parliament to alter the franchise which now exists in our State. I am a thorough home ruler. I believe in self-government, and that law which we have been instrumental in obtaining in this colony I will not give power to the Federal Parliament to alter.
Dr. QUICK: Opposition has been raised to Mr. Holder's proposal, but I hope the Drafting Committee will not insist on opposing the amendment. I think there are some grounds for the acceptance of the amendment.
Mr. BARTON: We are not acting as a committee here, but as individuals.
Dr. QUICK: Very organised individuals.
Mr. BARTON: We are only acting as a committee as far as the phraseology of the Bill is concerned, but we can exercise our own individual opinions.
Mr. PEACOCK: You usually vote together.
Mr. BARTON: Because we are sensible enough to agree.
Dr. QUICK: My hon. friend, Mr. O'Connor, said that there was not much probability of the Parliament of the Commonwealth cutting down [start page 731] the established franchise, but he admitted there was a tendency to interfere with the franchise. That being so, where is the harm in putting in a security? Mr. Holder and others say their friends here entertain some apprehension on the point, but I do not think there is much danger of it being cut down. What people fear is that the right which is now secure under local legislation may afterwards be assailed by federal legislation. I hope that the appeal made by the representatives of South Australia will be successful.
Mr. BARTON: In accordance with the suggestion I made to my hon. friend I have sketched out this amendment, and I will ask the hon. member to follow me in it, for, though I may be opposed to the principle, I desire to have the amendment in as perfect a form as possible. The amendment I have prepared reads:
And no elector who has at the establishment of the Commonwealth or who afterwards acquires a right to vote at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of a State shall be prevented by any law of the Commonwealth from exercising such right at elections for the House of Representatives.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: That is going further than Mr. Holder suggested.
Mr. BARTON: If it goes too far, I should like Mr. Holder to apprise me of the fact.
Mr. ISAACS: All he wants is that the Federal Parliament should not abolish the qualifications existing at the present time.
Mr. BARTON: I asked a distinct question on that subject. I asked my hon. friend if he intended his amendment to apply only to the rights acquired before the date of the establishment of the Commonwealth, or if it was to apply also to rights to vote acquired after its establishment. The hon. member means that when the Commonwealth proceeds to legislate it shall not make any law in derogation of the right acquired before it legislates, even though acquired after the Constitution has become law.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON: Under this amendment South Australia will obtain for herself her adult suffrage while the other States will retain their respective suffrages. It seems to me that by passing this amendment we shall make the whole clause perfectly ridiculous. We say in this clause that the Federal Parliament shall have the power of passing a federal franchise. What is that federal franchise to be, one for each State, or one for the whole of the States? Clearly it must be a uniform one, and therefore we cannot logically admit that there should be any exception to that in favor of one State or another.
Mr. KINGSTON: Have the Tasmanian Assembly passed female suffrage?
Sir EDWARD BRADDON: The Tasmanian Parliament has not.
Mr. KINGSTON: Has the Assembly?
Sir EDWARD BRADDON: The Assembly has passed it, but I do not see that that affects it one way or another. I hope we shall not stultify ourselves and make this Bill ridiculous by putting a clause in it that will not bear scrutiny.
HON. MEMBERS: What is the amendment now?
Mr. HOLDER: The Drafting Committee have put it in a form which makes it harmonise with the Bill, and I will accept it.
The CHAIRMAN: The amendment is:
But no elector who has at the establishment of the Commonwealth, or who afterwards acquires the right to vote at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of a State, shall be prevented by any law of the Commonwealth from exercising such right at elections for the House of Representatives.
Mr. FRASER: Under this amendment, if South Australia put on the roll of the Northern Territory 10,000 Chinamen who might reside in the country, we should be compelled to put them on the roll of the Commonwealth, and I do not think the Commonwealth should be bound in this way.
Mr. MCMILLAN: I think this goes too far. The principle of this Constitution is that no right shall be taken away that exists at the time of the Commonwealth, but it goes further. It abnegates the whole [start page 732] force of the clause, which is that a uniform franchise should be established for the Commonwealth. In reference to the position of South Australia, which has already established female suffrage, members do not think that that right should be taken away on the establishment of the Commonwealth, and that is a very fair thing, but I do not see that the clause should be further mutilated. We have laid, down the principle so far as we can go of a uniform franchise for the Commonwealth, and therefore I think one portion of that clause is quite unnecessary, and that it should be confined entirely to those rights which have been created at the time of the establishment of the Commonwealth.
Mr. BARTON: I have on two separate occasions asked Mr. Holder if he wishes this to extend to rights acquired after the establishment of the Commonwealth, and Mr. McMillan does not think that is the meaning of it, but that is really the meaning. I have endeavored to put it that way before the Committee.
Mr. HOLDER: What I wish is that these rights should be preserved which have been acquired up to the time that the Commonwealth makes its franchise.
Question-That the words proposed to be added be so added-put. Committee divided.
Ayes, 18; Noes, 15. Majority, 3.
Abbott, Sir Joseph Holder, Mr.
Carruthers, Mr. Howe, Mr.
Clarke, Mr. Isaacs, Mr.
Cockburn, Dr. Kingston, Mr.
Deakin, Mr. Peacock, Mr.
Downer, Sir John Reid, Mr.
Glynn, Mr. Solomon, Mr.
Gordon, Mr. Trenwith, Mr.
Higgins, Mr. Turner, Sir George
Braddon, Sir Edward McMillan, Mr.
Brown, Mr. Moore, Mr.
Dobson, Mr. O'Connor, Mr.
Douglas, Mr. Henry, Mr.
Fraser, Mr. Walker, Mr.
Fysh, Sir Philip Wise, Mr.
Grant, Mr. Zeal, Sir William
Pair-Aye, Dr. Quick; No, Mr. Barton.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Dr. COCKBURN: I want to add these words to the clause:
And no property or income qualification shall be required of any elector.
It is a good thing to say that no man shall have more than one vote; it is a better thing to say that every man shall have a vote if he fulfils the conditions of registration.
Mr. BARTON: What is the use of a proposal of this sort? We have prescribed that no elector should have more than one vote.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: No, he says every elector shall have one vote.
Mr. BARTON: What I understand is this: that in countries like Tasmania there are some people who are not on the roll, and this means to enfranchise them; that is to say, the laws of the State are not to be interfered with, but they are to be totally altered. That is so inconsistent that I cannot entertain it for a moment. There is another point we may look at: We are making a Constitution, not a body of laws for the States. We are not making an Electoral Act for South Australia, and we should not load this Constitution with a multiplicity of provisions.
Amendment negatived clause as read passed.
HON. MEMBERS: Report progress.
Mr. BARTON: I propose only to take a very few clauses.
HON. MEMBERS: Report progress.
Mr. BARTON: If the Convention insists on sitting on Monday I think we should sit while we can sit. I only ask that certain machinery clauses be dealt with. One clause with regard to age in voting will not need much discussion. With that exception down to clause 50 there is only one clause about payment of members that I think will cause discussion, and I promise to postpone that.
[start page 733] Sir JOSEPH ABBOTT: I have given notice of an amendment in clause 49.
Mr. BARTON: That's a very short amendment.
Mr. REID: We will do good work if we go on for a bit.
Clause 30.-Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the qualifications of a member of the House of Representatives shall be as follows:-
I. He must be of the full age of twenty-one years, and must when chosen be an elector entitled to vote in some State at the election of members of the House of Representatives, or a person qualified to become such elector, and must have been for three years at the least a resident within the limits of the Commonwealth as existing at the time when he is elected:
II. He must be either a natural born subject of the Queen, or a subject of the Queen naturalised by or under a law of Great Britain and Ireland, or of one of the said colonies, or of the Commonwealth, or of a State, at least five years before he is elected.
Mr. WALKER: I move:
To strike out the word "twenty-one," and insert in lieu thereof "twenty five."
Mr. REID: For the House of Representatives?
Mr. WALKER: In the United States a person must be 25 to be eligible for the House of Representatives, and to have a seven years' qualification. I maintain that the age of 21 is too young for a senator.
Mr. PEACOCK: Now, do not make a speech, or we will vote against you.
Mr. WALKER: I should like to mention another matter. The age of 30 is the minimum for a director of the Australian Mutual Provident Society, of the board of which I have the honor to be a member. If the age of 30 is young enough for a director of that society I think that 25 is very young to be a senator for the Commonwealth of Australia.
Mr. GORDON: I move:
To strike out the words: "or it person qualified to become such elector."
I do this for three reasons
Mr. REID: Give us one.
Mr. GORDON: One is that everyone born in the Commonwealth is qualified to become an elector.
HON. MEMBERS: Do not make a speech
Mr. GORDON: My chief point is that I think that registration should be made compulsory. I would not give a man who has lived here for three years without registration a vote.
Mr. PEACOCK: His name might have dropped off accidentally.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: He may have been away for a trip.
Mr. REID: Withdraw. (Laughter.)
Mr. GORDON: I will ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Mr. HOLDER: I move:
To add to sub-section I. the words "or must have been born within the limits of the Commonwealth."
Mr. REID: Withdraw. (Laughter.)
Mr. HOLDER: I am not going to make that the sole qualification. It would be sufficient in the absence of three years' residence.
HON. MEMBERS: Withdraw.
Question-That the words proposed to be added be added-put. Committee divided.
Ayes, 6; Noes, 21. Majority, 15.
Cockburn, Dr. Gordon, Mr.
Dobson, Mr. Holder, Mr.
Glynn, Mr. Kingston, Mr.
Abbott, Sir Joseph Higgins, Mr.
Barton, Mr. Lewis, Mr.
Braddon, Sir Edward O'Connor, Mr.
Brown, Mr. Peacock, Mr.
Carruthers, Mr. Reid, Mr.
Clarke, Mr. Trenwith, Mr.
Downer, Sir John Turner, Sir George
Fraser, Mr. Walker Mr.
Fysh, Sir Philip Wise, Mr.
Grant, Mr. Zeal, Sir William
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause as read agreed to. [start page 734] Clause 31.-Members of Senate ineligible for House of Representatives. Agreed to.
Clause 32.-Election of Speaker of the House of Representatives. Agreed to.
Clause 33.-Absence of Speaker provided for. Agreed to.
Clause 34.-Resignation of place in House of Representatives. Agreed to.
Clause 35.-The place of a member shall become vacant if for one whole Session of the Parliament he, without permission of the House entered on its Journals, fails to attend the House.
Amendment (by Mr. Barton) agreed to:
To strike out the words "one whole" and insert in lieu thereof "two consecutive months of any"
Clause as amended agreed to:
Clause 36. -Upon the happening of a vacancy in the House of Representatives, the Speaker shall, upon a resolution of the House, issue his writ for the election of a new member.
In the case of a vacancy by death or resignation happening when the Parliament is not in Session, or during an adjournment of the House for a period of which a part longer than seven days is unexpired, the Speaker, or, if there is no Speaker or if he is absent from the Commonwealth, the Governor-General shall issue a writ without such resolution.
Mr. GLYNN: I would like to know what is the necessity for having the words "Upon a resolution of the House"? Why should you make a majority determine whether a vacancy is to be filled or not?
Mr. BARTON: This has been adopted from the Constitution Acts of all the colonies, unless there is any difference in this colony. It has always been the custom when the House is in Session and a vacancy occurs to require the authority of the House for the Speaker to issue the writ.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: It is not so in Victoria.
Mr. BARTON: We made considerable search into the Colonial Constitution Acts, and it was found in the majority. The reason is that when a House is sitting it might have some objection to the immediate filling of a vacancy. There have been cases, for instance, where the House of Commons has punished an electorate by delaying the issue of a new writ and so for a time disfranchising it, for reasons-bribery and corruption. This is a question where, for use in extreme cases, a right like this should be reserved. I do not think it is a right which will be abused in any way. Where abuses have been sheeted home, it has been found useful as a punishment for bribery and corruption.
Mr. REID: With an electorate of 50,000 there cannot be wholesale bribery and corruption.
Mr. BARTON: That depends upon the closeness of the contest. The question is whether it is not wise to retain words which have stood the test of time.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: the words should certainly come out. At a time when there may be high party feeling, such as there was in Victoria recently on the tariff debate, where often questions are carried by one vote, or on a casting vote, a majority of one may decide an important point of this kind. The words:
Upon a resolution of the House
can have no good effect; they may be injurious; and I move to strike them out.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. BARTON: The words "without such resolution" must come out as a consequential amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. BARTON: I may explain this. The first part of the case provides that upon the happening of any vacancy while the House is in Session the Speaker shall issue a writ for the election of a new member.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: Not necessarily while the House is in Session.
Mr. BARTON: The second part of the clause makes that plain. In case of a vacancy happening when the House is not in Session, or during an adjournment of [start page 735] the House where there is an unexpired period of more than seven days, the Speaker can still issue the writ, but the case is provided for where there is no Speaker, or where the Speaker is absent. and then the Governor General has to do it. It seems that some other words have to come out. But the clause can be reconsidered afterwards.
Mr. WISE: The clause can be put in about four lines:
Upon the happening of a vacancy in the House of Representatives the Speaker, or if there is no Speaker, or if he is absent from the Commonwealth, the Governor-General shall issue a writ for the election of a new member.
The CHAIRMAN: We cannot go back now, as we have amended the clause.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: We can recommit the clause if necessary.
Clause as amended agreed to.
Clause 37.-The presence of at least one-third of the whole number of the members of the House of Representatives shall be necessary to constitute a meeting of the House for the exercise of its powers.
Mr. CARRUTHERS: I think the quorum is too high. In New South Wales it is twenty-five. I propose:
That the word "twenty" be inserted instead of "one-third of the whole number of the."
Mr. BARTON: I think it is extremely necessary and desirable to keep up a due proportion for a quorum. When this is required it is generally obtained. They generally take advantage of a small quorum to absent themselves when they might otherwise be present. And I do hold that if you are going to pay members they should be obliged to attend to their duties. Of course in the House of Commons the quorum is only forty, but that has prevailed for centuries.
Amendment negatived; clause as read agreed to.
Clause 38.-Questions arising in the House of Representatives shall be determined by a majority of votes other than that of the Speaker; and when the votes are equal the Speaker shall have a casting vote, but otherwise he shall not vote.
Mr. HIGGINS: I think the Speaker of the House of Representatives should be placed in the same position as the President of the Senate. I would suggest to have the same provision in clause 38 as there is in clause 22.
Mr. REID: You cannot do it.
Mr. HIGGINS: It is more by way suggestion. I do not wish to dictate.
Mr. BARTON: The reason appears to be this. The House of Representatives is a body which contains representatives in proportion to the numbers of the people without relation to any particular protection of State interests. Therefore it can make very little difference if the Speaker can only have a casting vote. But in the case of the Senate there is a difference, and that is the State requires the vote of its full proportion of representatives in the Senate for the preservation of its interests, and the President is therefore made entitled to vote.
Clause passed as read.
Clause 39-Duration of House of Representatives-postponed.
Clause 40.-For the purpose of holding general elections of members to serve in the House of Representatives, the Governor-General may cause writs to be issued by such persons, in such form, and addressed to such returning officers, as he thinks fit.
The writs shall be issued within ten days from the expiry of a Parliament, or from the proclamation of a dissolution.
Mr. HOLDER: I want to ask Mr. Barton whether this ought not to be made to apply to both Houses. I see no provision for writs to be issued for the Senate.
Mr. BARTON: There is something in this point, but there is a question whether it is necessary to provide that the Governor should issue the writs in any case. The issue of the writs for a general election is an exercise of the prerogative.
The CHAIRMAN: Is it intended that the word "ten" in italics should remain part of the clause?
Mr. BARTON: The reason is this: In New South Wales it is fixed at two. [start page 736] In a Commonwealth it is necessary perhaps to make the time a little longer than for a State election, and I think that fourteen days or more was suggested. The Drafting Committee thought they would make the suggestion ten.
Clause as read agreed to.
Clause 41.-Continuance of existing election laws until the Parliament otherwise provides. Agreed to.
Clause 42. -Until the Parliament otherwise provides, any question respecting the qualification of a member or a vacancy in the House of Represensatives, or a disputed return, shall be determined by the House.
As a consequential amendment the words "or a disputed return" were struck out and the clause as amended was agreed to.
Clause 43.-Allowance to members.
Mr. BARTON: I move:
That this clause be postponed,
because one or two gentlemen who were very tired have gone away, and this clause may provoke considerable debate.
Clause 44.-Any person:
I. Who has taken an oath or made a declaration or acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence, to a foreign power, or has done any act whereby he has become a subject or a citizen, or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen, of a foreign power; or
II. Who is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent, or a public defaulter; or
III. Who is attainted of treason, or convicted of felony or of any infamous crime:
shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives until the disability is removed by a grant of a discharge, or the expiration or remission of the sentence, or a pardon, or release, or otherwise.
Mr. GORDON: I should like to ask Mr. Barton whether there is anything in this point: A number of German fellow colonists may have taken the oath of allegiance to a foreign power, especially those who have served in the ranks in Germany. Would it not be necessary to add after "power" in line 27 the words "or who has not since been naturalised as provided in clause 30"?
Mr. GLYNN: You cannot have two, allegiances.
Mr. BARTON: No; a man might have to go out of our Parliament to serve against us.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: He may be Minister of Defence.
Mr. CARRUTHERS: I would like to put a case to Mr. Barton. It may happen that treaties may be in force between say England and Japan. There is a treaty almost in operation on the very lines I am citing that will give to a British subject travelling in Japan practically the same rights and privileges as he would enjoy as a citizen of his own country. Surely it is never intended that by a person travelling in another country, who becomes entitled to privileges conferred on him by a treaty between two high powers, he should be disqualified from holding a seat in the Federal Parliament. Our members of Parliament who are hardworked take their summer trips, and it may be that some of them may come back and find they have lost their seats as a result of this clause.
Clause as read agreed to.
Clause 45.-Place to become vacant on happening of certain disqualifications. Agreed to.
Clause 46.-Any person who directly or indirectly himself, or by any person in trust for him, or for his use or benefit, or on his account, undertakes, executes, holds, or enjoys, in the whole or in part, any agreement for or on account of the public service of the Commonwealth, shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives while he executes, holds, or enjoys the agreement, or any part or share of it, or any benefit or emolument arising from it.
Any person, being a member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives, who, in the manner or to the extent forbidden in this section, undertakes, executes, holds, enjoys, or continues to hold, or enjoy, any such agreement, shall thereupon vacate his place.
But this section does not extend to any agreement made, entered into, or accepted by, an incorporated company consisting of more than twenty persons, if the agreement is made, entered [start page 737] into, or accepted, for the general benefit of the company.
Mr. GORDON: I move:
To amend the third sub-section of this clause by striking out the words: "An incorporated company consisting of more than twenty persons," and inserting in lieu thereof, "A company legally incorporated in any State."
Mr. HIGGINS: This is a very common clause.
Mr. GORDON: No doubt. Under the South Australian Companies Act five persons can form a company. If you wish to distribute a partnership so as to make sure of any one not being influenced by his parliamentary associations then you ought to make the number of persons who can form an incorporated company 100 instead of twenty.
Mr. BARTON: No doubt when the words were first placed in the Constitution Act they applied to a different state of things. I would urge the necessity of keeping in this Constitution a disqualification of this kind up to a considerable number of people, so that there will not be the possibility of a body of seven or eight persons combining together to form a registered company, and then carrying out a fraud upon the public. I think it is better to adhere to the clause.
Mr. HIGGINS: I have known of a company with 50,000 shares, and every one of them, with the exception of four, was held by one person.
Mr. BARTON: "One-man companies" they are called.
Mr. GORDON: That is quite legal. The number composing any duly incorporated company should be fixed; if not how easy will it be to have twenty nominal shareholders who could combine to
do a certain thing. If we are going to prevent fraud let us make the perpetration of it as difficult as possible.
Mr. CARRUTHERS: I would like the hon. member to postpone this clause. I would like to touch upon an amendment I intended to propose. why members of the community should be debarred from entering into an agreement to perform duties on behalf of the State, and that the legal profession should be entitled, as they do in all the colonies, to hold large retainers for Crown work. It has almost become a scandal in Australia that our legal barristers in the various Chambers in the different Parliaments are retained by the Crown to do Crown work. It leads very often to suspicion in the minds of the laymen that they are disqualified while the profession of the law is not disqualified, but is privileged. We know that lawyers are, most of them, the ablest men in the Legislature, and that it is very material to a Government to be able to court the favor and secure the support of such leading men in the Chamber, and so long as we allow this thing to be done we will be allowing something in the form of corruption we are trying to correct. Our object is to try to correct the power of engaging in corruption by giving contracts or preferences to members of the Legislature, and what is sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander. If it is good enough to disqualify laymen it is good enough to disqualify the lawyers. There is a fertile source of discussion opened up in this clause, and, whether it pleases or displeases, I intend to fight the matter. I have seen enough of it to satisfy me it is a matter that requires to be dealt with, not only in the Federal, but in all other constitutions. If the laymen are satisfied to be deprived of the privilege, if newpaper proprietors, merchants, and others are satisfied to be disqualified from entering into agreements, they should see that no profession or other class should be privileged. There should be no privilege, and especially one granted to members who form a large proportion of the members of Parliament, and who are most highly courted by any administration. Under the circumstances, I ask Mr. Barton to postpone the clause.
Mr. BARTON: Possibly the clause may be postponed, but I should like to say a word or two in reply to Mr. Car- [start page 738] ruthers. He seems to imply that if a barrister accepts a brief for the Crown, that the Crown must be buying him, and that he is willing to be bought. That is not a suggestion worthy of him, and he will not convince anyone that there is corruption in it. I will postpone the clause, but would like to point out that the trouble is that where a case of great moment is pending and where the Crown desires to engage the leading lawyers, if Mr. Carruthers's suggestion is adopted you will find that the private litigants who may be trying to despoil the public treasury have engaged the best lawyers, and that the Crown is unable to secure the assistance of any of them.
PRINTING MINUTES AND EVIDENCE.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: I understand that the Finance Committee when discussing their resolutions kept minutes of the proceedings, and in discussing financial matters I think we should have them before us.
Mr. BARTON: Copies have been distributed.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: I want copies of the proceedings of the Committee, not the resolutions.
Mr. GLYNN: I want the railway evidence, too.
Sir GEORGE TURNER: It will be necessary to refer to those minutes in discussing the financial question, and I think that it would be wise if we had a day or two to consider them.
The PRESIDENT: I may state that the papers laid on the table, and which have been ordered to be printed, have been printed.
Mr. BARTON: I have not asked for the minutes to be printed, for a reason which I think members will appreciate. The discussion was confidential, and matters were done and undone in the various committees, while members gave votes on questions which were in a consultative position, and if these votes are published they may feel themselves bound by their votes or they may be twitted with inconsistency. Without an express order from the Convention I do not intend to have them printed.
The PRESIDENT: Only those papers laid on the table which are ordered to be printed by the Convention will be printed.
Convention adjourned at 11.53 p.m.