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Friday, 6 December 1912


The PRESIDENT - If there is no objection raised to that course being adopted,, the Chair will allow the matter to be discussed generally, but it must only be or* the understanding that there is no objection-, raised at the present time.


Senator Millen - May I be permitted tr. say, sir, that, with the view of expeditingthe business, the Vice-President of the Executive Council and myself conferred" on this matter, and honorable senators on this side are entirely agreeable to the course which he himself suggests.


Senator McGREGOR - I do not think, that, from the point of view of a layman,, there is any necessity for me to enter into very exhaustive arguments with respect to the necessity for, and the possibilities, arising out of, the carrying of these measures. Two years agowe had a lengthy discussion in both Houses of this Parliament on exactly the same subject, but in a slightly different pform. The only difference was that as the amendments appeared on the previousoccasion they were included in two Bills. At the present time they appear in six. Bills, one being a slight addition to theamendments advocated on a previous occasion. When the people of Australia sometwelve or thirteen years ago were discussing the possibilities and advantages of Federation, they had in their mindsthe great inconvenience in a continent like ours of the. existence of six independent States each legislating in itsown behalf, each considering only its own interests, and sometimes neglecting thegeneral welfare of Australia as a whole. In those days some of the States were providing inadequately for their defence. Others were not only protecting themselves- against the importation of goods from oversea, but also against importation of goods manufactured and produced in neighbouring States. There was a war of railwa) rates. Endless inconvenience existed in respect of the relations of people in one State with the people in the other States from a business point of view. The wiser men in Australia came to the conclusion that it would be far better to form one Commonwealth for the dealing with national questions from a central source. The idea grew, and ulti ma.tely the Federal Constitution was. adopted by the people. It was rejected op. the first occasion when it was submitted, because it met with serious opposition from a certain section of the community. The reason for that opposition was that the framers of the Constitution had built it upon the American model, and many of the people of Australia, being aware of the evils that had followed from the rigidity of the American Constitution, had come to the conclusion that we could not afford to hobble and fetter ourselves as the American people had been fettered and hobbled for more than 100 years. Therefore the Australian Constitution was not carried on the first attempt. At the second attempt it was carried. In the same way I hope that our referenda proposals of 1913 will be carried. Thirteen is a charmed number in the case of those who are advocating this line of policy. Now, what was the principal ground of opposition to the Federal Constitution in the first place?


Senator McColl - It came from the unificationists.


Senator McGREGOR - The honorable senator is always talking about something which he imagines to be objectionable. Unification in itself has no terrors for anybody. The honorable senator, however, imagines calamities and tries to create suspicion in the minds of some people. I can assure the public, however, that I, for one, am a Home Ruler in every sense of the word. So is every member of the Government to which I belong, and, I believe, every member of the party which supports us.


Senator McColl - They are nothing of the kind. You have only to read their speeches.


Senator McGREGOR - The Constitution, when originally submitted, was opposed by many people who were of the same way of thinking as myself - because we considered that it was not liberal enough for such a democratic people as the Australians. It contained no provision liberal enough for its own amendment. It was too near the American pattern to be accepted by the people of Australia. There were also other features in the original Constitution in which I did not believe. There were features which were absent from it, and which, in my opinion, ought to have been included. I hope the day will come when they will be contained in it. I believe that the railways of Australia and our navigable rivers should be under the control of the Commonwealth, because all these instrumentalities bear to such an extent on our trade and commerce with other countries that division of control with regard to them is detrimental to the best interests of the country.


Senator Walker - What about the United States of America and the railways there ?


Senator McGREGOR - The people of the United States of America are very happy under the circumstances, are they not? Would Senator Walker like to see the railways of Australia under similar control to those of the United States of America ?


Senator Walker - What about Canada, then ? »


Senator McGREGOR - Canada is almost in the same position. When Canada is as old as the United States of America, she will probably begin to experience serious difficulties with respect to railway control. Would Senator Walker be prepared to adopt the Canadian Constitution in Australia? I do not believe he would. The objection that I had to the Federal Constitution was not removed, but something was done to improve it after it had been rejected by some of the States. A meeting of the Premiers of the States was held. Those gentlemen had, of course, the greatest consideration for State rights and State instrumentalities. When they met, they were far-seeing 'enough to realize that something must be done to make the Constitution more acceptable to the people. They amended it by adopting section 128 in its present form, which provides for an alteration -of the Constitution by the vote of one House of the Federal Parliament and the vote of the majority of the people and the majority of the States. That is to say, if we cannot get an absolute majority in both Houses of the Federal Parliament for a proposed alteration of the Constitution, one House, by being persistent with a proposal for amending the Constitution, can, through the Governor-General, refer the proposed amendment to the people; and the people, by a majority, together with a majority of the States, can ratify the amendment.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - What provision of section 128 of the Constitution was altered? I think it was left in .identically the same form.


Senator McGREGOR - The honorable senator will remember that what is now section 128 was originally section 127. When the Constitution came from the Premiers assembled in Conference, it contained 128 sections instead of 127. The present section 128 was the original 127 as amended. The honorable senator knows as well as I do that the alteration was that if a Bill to amend the Constitution was passed in either House, and was rejected by the other House, and if, after certain things transpired, the amendment was adopted by one House again and still rejected by the other, it should be submitted to the people, and the people by a majority and by a majority of the States could accept that alteration. I do not say that I personally approve of that provision in all respects. I say, as a Democrat, that if the majority of the people of Australia, independently of the States, vote for an amendment of the Constitution, that amendment should be brought about.


Senator Clemons - Why does not the honorable senator propose to amend the Constitution in that direction, then?


Senator McGREGOR - When I have converted the honorable senator and a number of other people, I may try to make the attempt. But it is useless for honorable senators opposite to ask me to do things which they know to be impossible under present conditions. Why did the people of Australia accept the Constitution after the possibility of amending it at their will had been made clear? They accepted it because they knew the conditions that existed in America, and were thoroughly satisfied that it was in their interest that there should be an easy means of amending the Constitution. Inasmuch as the people accepted the Constitution because there was a ready means of amendment, is not that means to be exercised at some time or other ?


Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - If necessary.


Senator McGREGOR - I think, and many who are of the same opinion as I am think also, that the Constitution ought to be amended now. There are even gentlemen on the Opposition side, both in the Senate and in another place, who have expressed the opinion that some alteration of the Constitution is really necessary. They all think so.


Senator Shannon - I do not.


Senator McGREGOR - All the honorable senators on this side, and a number of those on the Opposition side, think that an alteration is necessary.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) l- SirAlbert Gould. - Not the alterations proposed.


Senator McGREGOR - But why do many of the Opposition party object to the amendments now submitted? Because they themselves are in opposition, and because they imagine that they are going to be in opposition for a much longer period. If the Conservative section came into power they would be just as prepared to amend the Constitution in some of the directions that we propose as the members of this Government and its supporters are now.


Senator O'Keefe - T - Their constitutional leader in another place has said so.


Senator McGREGOR - I know. I could name a number of them who have said so. They have been honest enough to state that it is because they are not on the Treasury bench that they now oppose these amendments. I know members of the party opposite who have said that they distrust the present Government and the Commonwealth Parliament because the franchise is too broad.


Senator Sayers - It is too narrow: The Government have taken the postal vote away from the women. 0


Senator McGREGOR - The honorable senator knows that that statement is not in accordance with fact.


Senator Sayers - It is a correct" statement.


Senator McGREGOR - Every woman in Australia over the age of twenty-one can exercise the franchise on exactly the same conditions as can every man.


Senator Sayers - No, that is nor correct.


Senator Walker - Suppose a woman is ill?


Senator McGREGOR - Well, suppose a man is ill? But it is useless to begin to argue questions of that description within the limited time available between now and Christmas, lt would take much longer to make any impression on certain senators opposite. Some of their friends and supporters would rather trust the Legislative Councils of the States than the Federal Parliament, because the franchises on which the Legislative Councils are elected are so narrow that they do not admit of a full expression of democratic feeling.


Senator Sayers - The honorable senator is making use of the statement of one man.


Senator McGREGOR - He voiced the opinion of nearly all the Conservatives in Australia, although, perhaps, the individual in question may be more imbecile and childish than are other members of his party. It was because the people of Australia found in the Constitution a power of amendment that they were prepared .to accept it with all its imperfections. The majority of the people accepted the Constitution with a view to its amendment as the Commonwealth grew into power and its requirements became more apparent.


Senator Sayers - And they refused to give the power for which the Government are seeking.


Senator McGREGOR - Probably many people have refused requests made by Senator Sayers in the past, and it may be some consolation to him to think that they may since have regretted doing so. The' longer the people of Australia deprive themselves of the .advantages of a more liberal Constitution, the worse it will be for them, and the more they will regret it as time goes on.


Senator Shannon - We have heard something like that before.


Senator McGREGOR - I know that honorable senators have heard something like that before, and they will hear it again.


Senator St Ledger - The people did not lie down. They stood up in their might when these matters were referred to them before.


Senator McGREGOR - The time is coming when they will give a different answer, and Senator St. Ledger may find th.it out sooner than he expects.


Senator St Ledger - I shall take it standing up, if I do.


Senator McGREGOR - I hope that honorable senators opposite will not be so bumptious as to 'imagine that with their transcendent ability, and the policy they now advocate, they will sweep everything before them in the future. They are not going to do so. It is unnecessary that I should go back into the history of the United States of America beyond the last twenty or thirty years to show the necessity that arose for the amendments of the Constitution of that country. 11 is sufficient to refer to what has transpired there within the last twenty or thirty years. While it is possible in almost every other civilized country for the working classes to work out their own salvation, it is scarcely possible for them to do so in the United States of America. It is a well-known fact that trusts, combines, monopolies, and institutions of that kind, control wealth in America to the extent of almost £3,000,000,000.


Senator Givens - Two men control 37 per cent, of the wealth of America.


Senator McGREGOR - I do not doubt that statement for a- moment, but I ask honorable senators whether, with the enormous wealth in the hands of a very few individuals in the United States of America, it is to be wondered at that the municipal and State authorities, and even the Federal Government itself, are suspected in all the rest of the world of being influenced by corruption. In every part of the world the influence of money in America is recognised, and it is known that people have been bought with that money time after time within the last twenty or thirty years.


Senator St Ledger - How is it that Taft got such a licking as he did ?


Senator McGREGOR - Taft did not get a licking. He was defeated only because the party he represented was divided. The honorable senator must know that the Republican party in America had a majority of over 1,000,000 votes at the recent Presidential election. I am not going to say that Dr. Woodrow Wilson is a Conservative or a Liberal. I do not know to what political party politicians in America may be said to belong, but the principal party in America is the " boodle party," and they control the Constitution, the Parliament, and the people. It is because the people of Australia are beginning to. learn from the experience of the United States during the last twenty years that in the very near future they will be prepared to make such alterations in our Constitution as will prevent such things as have occurred in the United States ever occurring in Australia.


Senator St Ledger - Can. the honorable senator point to any attempt here on the part of companies to corrupt Parliament?


Senator McGREGOR - I do not know what Senator St. Ledger's policy is. I do not know whether he is a member or a solicitor for the American. Beef Trust or any other trust, but he is such an eminent legal gentleman that I should expect his services to be sought after by such wealthy corporations.


Senator Ready - They would not come to this side.


Senator McGREGOR - They would not come to any one on this side for assistance. People in this, and in every other country, have recognised the evils that have arisen in the United States of America. There have been men of clear judgment and upright minds in America who have taken the side of the people and endeavoured to do something in their interests. Attempts have been made to destroy the influence of trusts, combines, and such institutions, but those attempts have all failed because the wealth of the combines has been too great for the integrity and honesty of individuals.


Senator St Ledger - Does the honorable senator say that all the prosecutions under the Sherman Act have failed ?


Senator McGREGOR - They have practically failed. Can Senator St. Ledger point to any real good result which has followed from any prosecutions under that Act? If he would only take the trouble to consult the decisions of the Courts of America he would find that some of the most trifling cases were brought before them, and such cases as should never have been brought before any Court. The prosecutions have had no effect so far as the interests of the people are concerned. In connexion with the most important prosecution, the Standard Oil Trust was fined an enormous amount of money, but it never paid it. The wealthy in America never pay for anything, and that is how they become wealthy. They pay those who make their wealth as little' as they can, work them the longest hours, and under conditions which are detrimental to their health. All the attempts made in that direction in America have been futile to rid the United States of America of the evils which have grown up there within the last twenty or thirty years in connexion with the aggregation of wealth. Australia is a younger country than the United States of America, and these evils have not assumed, and I hope never will assume, the dimensions to which they have grown in the United States of America.


Senator Rae - They are nearly as big in proportion to our population.


Senator McGREGOR - From the beginning of our history we have been more sensible than the people of the United States of America, and have taken care that all our railways and public utilities should, as far as possible, be controlled by municipal and State authorities. The promoters of trusts and combines have not had the same scope for their operations in connexion with railways, water conservation, and the operation of public utilities as they have had in America. But Senator Rae is quite right in saying that trusts and combines have made their appearance in Australia in connexion .with public utilities that are left in the hands of muchlauded private enterprise. In the shipping industry and other industries of the kind their influence has crept in.


Senator Millen - Why not be definite, and name the other industries?


Senator McGREGOR - Is there any necessity to do so? There is no State shipping in Australia, and it is because there is not a comprehensive State monopoly in connexion with shipping that we find creeping into the management of that industry the evils that exist in America at the present time. Is that not enough for the honorable senator?


Senator Millen - The honorable senator spoke of other industries of the kind, and I wished him to be definite and name them. For instance, I wish to know whether the tobacco industry is one.


Senator Rae - And the sugar industry? Senator Millen. - Is the coal industry one?


Senator McGREGOR - Most decidedly they are all tending in that direction. They would have advanced much further but for the fact that in the last few years the Labour party, which it was predicted would never get a footing in Parliament, has become stronger and stronger. The operations of these pernicious institutions were more apparent ten years ago than they are to-da.y, and it is because of the work of the Labour party in Parliament that today they treat their employes better, pay them higher wages, and give them better conditions. But the public have still to pay the same high prices for what they require, and these companies continue to make the enormous profits they made in the past. I am referring now to the Tobacco Trust, the Sugar Trust, the Confectionery Trust, and all the other " honorable understandings" that have afflicted Australia during the last ten or twelve years. I do not discriminate between them. They are all working in the same direction, and unless the people give this Parliament the power it requires, and send the right men here, the evils now existing in America will become rampant in Australia. Something has been done in the past in this country. We have passed conciliation and arbitration laws for the settlement of industrial disputes, an Australian Industries Preservation Act to protect business people from dumping and other operations of outside monopolies, and legislation with respect to trade marks and designs. Yet, because of something that is lacking, our legislation has not had the effect which even this Parliament desire. What is that something? Under our Constitution \we created a Commonwealth Parliament and a High Court. The Parliament was created for the purpose of legislating under the Constitution, and the High Court was created principally for the purpose of interpreting the Constitution. All the difficulties that have . arisen with respect to the legislation we have passed have been due to the narrow interpretation of the Constitution given by the High Court. The position of the Supreme Court of the United States in relation to the people, of that country is different from that of our High Court in relation to the people of Australia. Our High Court, in addition to its work of interpreting the Constitution, is given an appellate jurisdiction. The Supreme Court of America has nothing whatever to do with the States. The result has been that any extension of the United States Constitution has arisen from the action of the Supreme Court. It could arise in no other way. Because the Court has no particular interest in connexion with any State, there are no "State Frighters " in America, or they very seldom make their appearance. Under our Constitution the High Court is an entirely different body, and views the Constitution from various stand-points. I do not say a word against the High Court as an institution, nor do I desire to reflect in any way upon the personnel of the Court. But every one of the Justices of the High Court has personal views and ideas. We can see the effect of this from our experience in the Senate. Only yesterday we found Senator St. Ledger expressing an opinion in one direction and Senator Gould expressing opinions in the opposite direction. I believe that both expressed their honest convictions, but because they are lawyers they could not help differing from one another. The Justices of the High Court are men of high qualifications and great ability, and have earned for themselves big reputations. Yet when they come to interpret the Constitution as between the States and the Commonwealth, we find- that some of them have been so long associated with the States, and have so little faith in the Commonwealth - whether they consider it is not safe without a Legislative Council or not I do not know - that they keep as much power fromi the Commonwealth as they can, and allow the States to retain as much power as possible. I could quote a number of instances where it was within the power of these gentlemen to interpret the Constitution in one way or another, but the majority of the Court has always decided in the one direction of limiting the power of the Commonwealth and retaining intact the powers of the States.


Senator Vardon - They have kept within the Constitution.


Senator McGREGOR - Of what use is it for the honorable senator to say that? I have listened to as many constitutional debates in the Senate as has any other member of it, and I have taken part in them. I found that when there were six or eight lawyers- in the Senate, every one had a different opinion with respect to the interpretation of the Constitution.


Senator Fraser - That is not so.


Senator McGREGOR - Although I deprecate the effect which the High Court's interpretations had upon the Commonwealth, yet I do not blame the Judges, because they probably acted according to their conscience and their judgment ; and, therefore, were not to blame. I predict that, as the Commonwealth grows, as its institutions expand, as men become more Federal than State, even the lawyers will turn in the direction of the Commonwealth, and their interpretations in the future, when they are big Australians, and not little Australians, will be more in favour of the Commonwealth than of the States, as at present.


Senator Fraser - Then, according to your argument, the men of Western Australia can attend to the little affairs of Victoria better than Victorians can do?


Senator McGREGOR - I am only arguing that the sooner the little Australian ideal dies out, and the great Australian ideal grows, the better it will be for the whole people of Australia.


Senator Clemons - Surely you are asserting that the High Court represents the little Australian ideal?


Senator McGREGOR - Up .to the present time, the majority of the High Court has done so, because every member of the Bench does not interpret the Constitution in the same direction. If honorable senators desired me to occupy the time of the Senate in pointing out the instances, I could do so. It was not a Labour Government here that carried the first trade-marks legislation, although, with the assistance of honorable senators from that side of the chamber and of Labour members from this side, the workers' trade-mark was placed in the Trade Marks Act, yet, when it came before the High Court, it was ruled out.


Senator Ready - lt was supported by lawyers here.


Senator McGREGOR - Yes, and there were eminent lawyers here at the time.


Senator Millen - I do not think you could point to a single senator on this side who supported that Bill. We all told you that it was unconstitutional.


Senator McGREGOR - Senator Keatingassisted us all he possibly could, and pointed out that the same kind of legislation had existed in Tasmania for years.


Senator Millen - I shall 'make one exception then.


Senator McGREGOR - Other senators supported the Bill.


Senator Clemons - What others? Name one.


Senator McGREGOR - Sir RobertBest did.


Senator Millen - He is not here now.


Senator McGREGOR - I could name many others who supported the Bill, but I do not want to waste time in naming the members of the Liberal party who have taken a common sense view of things at some time or other in their lives. Why, even Senator Millen at one period of his life was sensible, and his belief ran in tire right direction. It was only his association with the more selfish and wicked side of the community which led him from the straight path. When the workers' trademark was taken before the High Court, it was knocked out. What was the justification for that act? The only justifica tion was that at the time the Constitution was inaugurated it was not the law in any of the States in connexion with trade-marks. Yet Senator Keating told us on the floor of the Senate that it was the law in Tasmania at that time.


Senator Vardon - Is that one of the things for which yo.u want to pass this Bill?


Senator McGREGOR - It is one of the things which ought to be passed, and1 passed as speedily as possible. I am only showing how the High Court was prepared) to .knock out the workers'' trade-mark. But the decision was not unanimous by any means. There were on that Bench other gentlemen just as intelligent as those whodecided in that direction, and whose careers were just as brilliant, but who differed from that point of view. It was only because one honorable gentleman had a casting vote which might create a majority at any time, that a piece of legislation which would have been beneficial to a vast majority of the people, was declared unconstitutional.


Senator Millen - Are you arguing that the minority decision ought to prevail?


Senator Rae - No ; but if there is any doubt they always go on the principle of giving the decision against the Commonwealth.


Senator McGREGOR - I am only stating what has been done. I am showing that, if the opinions of many of the framers of the Constitution, as expressed in both Houses of this Parliament since it first met, were embodied in those interpretations of the Constitution, there would be very little necessity for submitting these proposed amendments to-day, because the first Parliament firmly believed that it had complete power in connexion with trade-marks, designs, and all such matters, as they are mentioned specifically in section 51. The members of the first Parliament believed that, with respect to most industrial matters, we had almost absolute power, but we have been disillusioned within the last ten years by the decisions of the High Court.


Senator Millen - If the first Parliament believed that, why did Mr. Higgins bring forward, in the other House, a motion asking for that power?


Senator McGREGOR - Mr. Justice Higgins only realized that after he had dealt with the Constitution. He believed when he first came to this Parliament that it had that power.


Senator Millen - Why did he submit the motion that the power should be sought ?


Senator McGREGOR - There were, obviously, other powers outside of the Constitution which it would be advisable to hand over to the Commonwealth; and it was with that end in view that Mr. Justice Higgins submitted his motion ; and it was very early in the history of this Parliament that the . very men who framed the Constitution began to see that it did not mean all that they thought it meant; when they first gave it to the people. To" argue that, because Mr. Justice Higgins took that course when he was in the House of Representatives, is no argument against what I have been pointing out. It only goes to show that even such a learned man as Mr. Justice Higgins knew that a mistake had been made in connexion with the Constitution. Every one in this Parliament imagined that it had power to act so far as the protection of the industries of Australia was concerned ; it passed a Bill with that aim, and one of the present Justices of the High Court was the very man who drafted it and piloted it through. When it was referred to the High Court,, although he was then a member of the Bench, even he, with all his ability and astuteness, was not able to convince those who had shown themselves from' the very beginning to be State Righters to the very backbone.


Senator Clemons - Are you referring to the other members of the High Court Bench ?


Senator McGREGOR - Yes ; is there any harm in saying that?


Senator Clemons - No; it is an open criticism.


Senator McGREGOR - Some members of the High Court Bench have done all they possibly can to narrow the powers of the Commonwealth, and to conserve or widen the powers of the States ; and if that is not evidence of the State Rights mania, I do not know what is. But I hope the day will come when there will be Australians on the High Court Bench. In generations after we have gone, the people of Australia will be different from what they are to-day; those who will interpret the Constitution then will be men of Australia, and the Australian people, as a people, will thrive under their interpretations.


Senator Walker - Was not the Senate intended to maintain the rights of the States under the Constitution?


Senator McGREGOR - Certainly. "And are we not endeavouring to maintain the rights of the State? Every right that the States have, I am prepared to fight for ; but I am not prepared to curtail the rights of the Commonwealth.


Senator Fraser - The rights of the Commonwealth are written in the Constitution.


Senator McGREGOR - Yes ; and I only want a fair interpretation of the written Constitution.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - You want to enlarge-our powers ?


Senator McGREGOR - I want an interpretation that will be broad and Australian, not narrow and in the interests of the States. ,


Senator Millen - You mean ari interpretation that will suit your party ?


Senator Needham - Nothing of the sort.


Senator McGREGOR - Yes, certainly.


Senator Needham - No.


Senator McGREGOR - Why should I not, when I believe our party to be right? I want the Constitution to be framed, interpreted, administered, and amended when necessary, in the interests of the people of Australia as those interests appear to me, and so does every member of the party to which I belong.


Senator Needham - And to give this Parliament more power.


Senator McGREGOR - And to give this Parliament adequate power to protect, foster, and encourage the interests of the people of all Australia.


Senator Clemons - In the meantime you want your own party represented on the High Court Bench.


Senator McGREGOR - 1 want the views of this party represented on the High Court Bench, and I say that they are representee there, because, in -many of the decisions, the view held by this party has been given expression to.


Senator St Ledger - Then you have made the High Court Bench political - is that what you want


Senator McGREGOR - 1 do not know what the honorable senator would do if he were on' the Bench of the High Court. Probably he would not know where he was at any time; he does not know now, and he might be off altogether then. I have no desire to take up too rauch time. The Bill which is immediately before the Senate relates to the trade and commerce power. We know that the operations and the intentions of the Commonwealth have been limited b> the interpretation which has been put on that power-


Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - But by the express words i» the Constitution. You want to take out the words.


Senator McGREGOR - How does the power in the Constitution read - 9

Trade and commerce with foreign countries, and among the States.

Will the honorable senator tell me what "among the States" means?


Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - Between the States.


Senator McGREGOR - No j it means more than " between the States." If six senators on the other side represented the States, and I handed over ^5,000,000, and said to them, "Divide it among you," that amount would be divided between them, no doubt. Anything which was given to them for division would be divided between them. But if I were to put six of them in hot water, the hot water would be among them, would it not?


Senator Millen - No; you would be among the hot water.


Senator McGREGOR - Or vice versa, I was going to say. That is an entirely different meaning. It would not be a division between them in the sense of the division of anything else. Why did not the Convention say -

Trade and commerce with other countries, and between the States.


Senator Millen - Are you contending that the Constitution, does give to the Federal authorities power over the internal trade and commerce of a State?


Senator McGREGOR - No.


Senator St Ledger - What do you want ?


Senator McGREGOR - I want to know from Senator St. Ledger, Senator Clemons, ' and Senator Millen, who embody the intelligence of the other side, where is the Commonwealth power to end, and the State power to begin ?


Senator Millen - Where the Constitution says.


Senator McGREGOR - Where does the Constitution say? An article is ordered from the United States of America. The Commonwealth has control of the article till it comes to the wharf in Melbourne, but after it is taken away from the wharf, who has control of it?


Senator Rae - The State.


Senator McGREGOR - When does foreign commerce mingle with the com merce of a State? Will any honorable senator tell me that? When does manufactured clothing, landed here from America, get into the commerce of Victoria ?


Senator Fraser - When it passes theCustoms and pays duty.


Senator McGREGOR - Can we follow it, although it is not taken out of the packet? Is it when it is taken out of a packet, and .distributed on- the counter of a retailer, that it enters into the commerce of the State?


Senator St Ledger - It belongs to the retailer then.


Senator McGREGOR - I am a layman. I do not know the intricacies of the law,, but I want to know from the honorablesenator when foreign commerce becomespart of the commerce of Victoria or any. other State.


Senator Walker - Go to the HighCourt, and they will tell you.


Senator McGREGOR - Yes, and we would get a varied interpretation there. The very ambiguity of the expression in the Constitution, apart from the interpretation which has been given to it, makes it absolutely necessary that it should beamended. If we want to protect the internal trade and commerce of a State we need to define more clearly when the commerce of a foreign country becomes part of the commerce of a State. We also want to know when the commerce of one State becomes part of the commerce of another State. We wish to know, for instance, when wheat from Victoria becomes part of the trade and commerce of South Australia. We desire to know a number of these things, and it is the ambiguity about them at present which makes it almost necessary that some amendment of the Constitution should be brought about. Solong as we have divided control of that description, so long will that confusioncontinue.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - And so we ought to have Unification?


Senator McGREGOR - It has nothing; to do with Unification ; but, so far as trade and commerce are concerned, we should* have Unification.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - That is what you said.


Senator McGREGOR - We now have Unification as regards posts and tele-, graphs. Have any evils' arisen out of that ?


Senator Walker - Yes; a terrible state of affairs exists now.


Senator McGREGOR - The honorable senator cannot point out the evils.


Senator Walker - I can. The management of the Department in Sydney is simply shameful.


Senator McGREGOR - That is all right. Will the honorable senator say that because there is Unification in connexion with defence any great calamity has taken place ?


Senator Fraser - We federated to do what we could not do individually.


Senator McGREGOR - If no great harm has come about through the Unification of those services, which belong to the Commonwealth, and some ambiguity and confusion exist in the Commonwealth and the States in connexion with trade and commerce, would it not be better to unify trade and commerce as we have unified the Defence and Postal Departments? What calamity would take place if we did?


Senator Guthrie - You, could not adulterate then.


Senator McGREGOR - Men could not probably adulterate or sell in the Commonwealth adulterated goods as is done in the States. When 95 per cent, of neatsfoot oil in Victoria was found to be mineral oil men could not be prosecuted or convicted here.


Senator Clemons - We control the Excise laws. Is there no adulteration going on under them to-day ?


Senator McGREGOR - Not nearly so much as there was when the Excise laws were controlled by the States. It is only when commodities get beyond the control of the Commonwealth that that kind of thing is done. It is only when a manufacturing industry gets under State control that cardboard is put in boots. The Commonwealth cannot at present interfere in the interests of the people. I shall say no more .about trade and commerce, though certainly that subject is the one upon which nearly all the rest hinges. For the purpose of removing ambiguities from the Constitution we should make an amendment in the direction proposed. With respect to the Bill dealing with trading and financial corporations, every honorable senator knows that it would be a good thing from the point of view of honest investors if our laws on that subject were unified. As to the Bill dealing with industrial matters, we all know the disappointment that has arisen in consequence of the various de cisions that have been given. We want to do away with ambiguities in that direction, and to give control to an authority that will be in a position to make and administer laws for the benefit of the whole people. As to the regulation of monopolies, we want to prevent here the evils that we all know to have arisen in the United States of America. The fifth proposed amendment provides that where a monopoly has become destructive and injurious to the best interests of the people, this Parliament shall have power to nationalize it and work it in the interests of the people. That is all that our proposal means or was ever intended to mean. I believe that the people are satisfied that when a monopoly becomes injurious it should be nationalized.


Senator Clemons - Has any one monopoly been found to be destructive in Australia ?


Senator McGREGOR - Some have, to my mind, and if a monopoly were not proved to be destructive, Parliament could not honestly declare it to be a monopoly within the meaning of this measure. Industries will not be interfered with as long as they keep within the bounds of fairness. The last Bill to which I have to refer is that dealing with State railways. All the power we want in that connexion is to take action with respect to labour troubles when they occur. When a State is unable to cope adequately with such a labour trouble, the Commonwealth should be able to step in in. the interest of the community, and bring; about peace, happiness, and harmony in. relation to the railways of the different States. I need not refer at length to what occurred in this State when the country was injured by a great railway strike. I could point to other instances in other parts of the world where the same thing has occurred. It is surely time that supreme power was given to the strongest Government - and that in Australia is the Commonwealth Government - to cope with theseevils when they arise.


Senator St Ledger - Supreme powerover the railways?


Senator McGREGOR - The honorablesenator is always making interjections without^ consideration. I believe that when he considers these questions more carefully, and thinks more seriously about them, hewill be able to express more rational! opinions. I have much pleasure in moving the second reading of the Bill.

Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.

Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.







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