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Wednesday, 28 May 1902

Mr DEAKIN (BALLAARAT, VICTORIA) - The charge made against the Prime Minister was that he hud entered into some arrangement with Mr. Chamberlain as to the allowances to be made tothe Governor-General, which arrangement could only have been made by Mr. Barton as a member of the first Commonwealth Ministry. This statement is entirely disproved by the facts.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Mr. Barton expected to be. the Prime Minister.

Mr DEAKIN - Mr. Barton's expectations would not be sufficient to justify Mr. Chamberlain in making an arrangement with him. I was acquainted at that time with every communication that passed between Mr. Barton and Mr. Chamberlain on any matter of public importance, and such an arrangement as that suggested could not have been entered into without my knowledge then, or without the knowledge of my colleagues afterwards. Mr. Barton would have sought to impress upon us the importance of this matter by telling us that it had been discussed in London, and that an arrangement had been arrived at. My colleagues can bear me out when I say that there never lias been a hint of any such understanding or arrangement.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is enough ; that ends it.

Mr DEAKIN - Yes, that ends it.

Mr Henry Willis - Did the AttorneyGeneral say that Mr. Chamberlain was against the appointment of Mr. Barton1

Mr DEAKIN - Certainly not ; nothing of the kind.

Mr Henry Willis - That was what was understood in this part of the House.

Mr DEAKIN - I said that those who made the statement must, in order to have any basis whatever, show an understanding between Mr. Barton and Mr. Chamberlain that Mr. Barton should be a Minister. What would be the use of making an arrangement with a member who would be in opposition ?

Mr McCay - The Attorney-General said that so far as Mr. Chamberlain was concerned, Mr. Barton would not have been the first Prime Minister.

Mr DEAKIN -That was intended as an answer to an interjection ; it was not my statement. What Mr. Chamberlain's views were as to the Prime Ministership is entirely unknown to me; I do not even possess a suspicion in the matter. The committee will realize that the unhappy ending which has resulted on this occasion casts its shadow backward on all the events that preceded it. Necessarily, therefore, a Minister or member who rises to speak is confronted at the very outset with this most unfortunate occurrence, which any of us would have done all in our power, to avoid. But it would be unfair to be misled, because of this unfortunate and quite unanticipated ending, into believing that from the first any such contingency was deemed to be within the range of possibility. Will honorable members recall the concrete circumstances with which the Ministry, on its formation, had to deal ? Both despatches from Mr. Chamberlain pointed the finger, not only forward, but backward. The first of these despatches was written before the Commonwealth wasformed and, of course, before the Governor-General had arrived here.

Mr Higgins - But it was written after the Governor-General had leftEngland ; and it is important that the committee should know that.

Mr DEAKIN - Yes ; the GovernorGeneral left England before the 30th November.

Sir William McMillan - Was it then an inspiration on Mr. Chamberlain's part?

Mr DEAKIN - No ; but that is where we have to begin. There are circumstances antecedent to this, which are pointed to in this despatch and elsewhere. This

Government only began on the 1st January, or a day or two before when members were chosen. The first despatch was written while Lord Hopetoun was on his way to Australia, but before he had reached or touched any part of the continent ; it was before His Excellency had made any choice of Ministers, and when, in fact, no one knew what his choice would be.

Mr Poynton - Has the Attorney-General the despatches which passed between the present Minister for Home Affairs and the Imperial authorities?

Mr DEAKIN - I have to-day, at the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, written to the Premier of New South Wales, asking as a favour to have these despatches supplied, with a view of laying them before this Parliament. When honorable members are considering the situation which faced the Commonwealth Ministry, they should note that this first despatch, at its conclusion, refers to a period preceding the establishment of the federal capital. It points out that it was then intended that the Governor-General should occupy the Government Houses at both Sydney and Melbourne, and that it might be found desirable that he should continue the same arrangement after the new capital is established.

Mr Crouch - Why was that decision arrived at?

Mr DEAKIN - As a matter of factthat was before the birth of the Commonwealth, and no witness can testify to what happens before his birth. We, as a Commonwealth, do not know why the decision was arrived at. In paragraph 7 of the despatch occurs the information -

I have already suggested to the Government of New South Wales that, until some provision has been made for entertainment allowance, the Governor-General should not be expected to entertain largely at Sydney, and I have received an assurance that a Bill will be introduced in the New South Wales Parliament to provide an allowance.


Mr DEAKIN - Which was done before the Commonwealth came into being. What we were confronted with on taking office was not this despatch merely - a simple thing in itself, addressed to the GovernorGeneral, but laid before Ministers, and read by them - but also the concrete situation to which the despatch referred. That situation was created by the passing, in New South

Wales, of an Act of Parliament which is still in force.

Sir William McMillan - But that Act is nullified by the want of agreement on the part of the other States.

Mr DEAKIN - No Act of one State can be nullified by the action or want of action on the part of other States.

Sir William McMillan - The New South Wales Act is practically nullified.

Mr DEAKIN - It is as legal to-day as ever. That was the situation which the Commonwealth Government had to face. There was an Act of Parliament, under which the State of New South Wales had assumed the obligation to pay to His Excellency £3,300 a year as an entertainment allowance, and in order to defray the extra expense incurred by maintaining a separate establishment in that State. The first question with which Ministers had to deal was of a practical character - should His Excellency be advised to accept the allowance or not? Ministers considered the matter, and advised that His Excellency should not accept.

Sir William McMillan - How long ago is it since the Ministry came to that definite decision ?

Mr DEAKIN - I should say it was about the end of January.

Sir William McMillan -Four months ago?

Mr DEAKIN - No ; sixteen months ago, in 1901.

Sir William McMillan - That is all the worse.

Mr DEAKIN - I do not want to make the position better or worse; at present I am concerned with facts, and will argue afterwards. The Prime Minister recounted all the circumstances, as reported on page 12215 of Hansard, and explained that the Government advised His Excellency not to accept this perfectly legal State allowance, on the ground that any such allowance should be made by the Commonwealth itself. Taking into consideration the facts so far as we could learn them, we arrived at the opinion that an allowance, amounting to £8,000 a year, which would provide for a second residence, and also for a certain number of charges of a quasi-private character, ought to be made by the Commonwealth. The sum would suffice for expenses of a quasi-private character, and also allow something over and above for the expense of carrying on entertainments which would be expected whenever His Excellency visited his second place of residence. That determination had to be arrived at then, in order that His Excellency might be advised in regard to the acceptance of the sum which the Legislature of New South Wales had voted.

Mr Poynton - That fact has been concealed from the House from that day up to now.

Mr McCay - No ; it was announced many months ago.

Mr DEAKIN - Once or twice in the House reference was made to proposed allowances, and a measure was promised. The details of that measure were not laid before the House until a very recent period. There is no dispute as to that fact ; and what blame attaches to the delay the Government must accept. But in accepting it they, in common fair play, ask honorable members to also consider the facts of the situation since the determination was arrived at.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the AttorneyGeneral say that the despatches and subsequent agreement have been made known to the House ?

Mr DEAKIN - No. The Prime Minister in the course of the debate on the Bill, expressly declined to lay the daspatches on the table at that stage, and gave his reasons, as reported on page 12223 of Hansard, from which the following is an extract : -

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