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Thursday, 8 May 1930

Senator DOOLEY (New South Wales) .: - In supporting .the bill, I desire to assure those honorable senators, who appear to be greatly concerned as to the fate of the Senate, should the referendum be carried, that, in the - event of full powers being given to the Federal Parliament, there would still remain the. provision that the abolition of the Senate, could only be brought about by an absolute majority of both Houses of this Parliament. If the Senate did decide that it was desirable to abolish this chamber, then I take it that there would be good grounds for its decision. The passing of this bill will leave the Constitution where it now is, so far as the Senate is concerned.

Senator H E ELLIOTT (VICTORIA) - Does not the platform of the Labour party provide for the abolition of the Senate?

Senator DOOLEY - The platform of the Labour party is not now before us. There seems to bc a fear, either real or imaginary, on the part of some honorable senators, that the Labour party represents some unseen black hand. Sena-, tor Ogden appeared to be afraid that some future conference of Labour leaders might give certain directions to a Labour Government regarding the policy it must adopt. Would it really be a catastrophe if a conference of working-class people decided that, in the interests of the workers of Australia,, certain legislation should be placed, ou 'the statute-book, and brought pressure to bear on the Government to give effect to such legislation ? Honorable senators know that political parties appeal to the electors, placing before them their several policies and making all sorts of promises, yet the party which is returned is helpless to give effect to the policy endorsed by the people. The carrying of this bill will tend to prevent irresponsible persons from making rash promises. No policy which is not possible of accomplishment should be placed before the electors. Too long have we tolerated political parties promises to the people, which they know are impossible of accomplishment. If the referendum is agreed to and this Parliament empowered to give effect to the platform of the party in power, there will be less likelihood of rash promises being placed before the people by irresponsible persons.

Senator H E ELLIOTT (VICTORIA) - Are we to understand that if the Government's proposals are accepted, the Labour party will delete from its platform that plank which provides for the abolition of the Senate?

Senator DOOLEY - I have said nothing of the kind; nor is the platform of the Labour party now in question. From time to time that platform is placed before the people of this country. The Labour party is sincere in its endeavour to give effect to its platform. Senator Chapman. - The whole platform of the party was not placed before the people at the last election.

Senator DOOLEY - It has been placed before- them from time to time.- The last election was decided on one issue- arbitration - and it was decided in no uncertain manner.

Honorable senators interrupting-

Senator DOOLEY - I am a most, attentive listener, and very infrequently interject when other honorable senators are speaking; yet the moment I rise to speak, I am subjected to interjections from all sides. I appeal to you, Mr. President, for protection.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon W Kingsmill - Honorable senators must allow liberty of speech to an honorable senator who appeals to the Chair for protection. It is verY discourteous to do otherwise.

Senator DOOLEY - I thank you, Mr. President. Although I do not make a habit of interjecting when other honors able senators are speaking, because I realize that interjections are disorderly, I have no objection to an. occasional interjection while I am .speaking. But it is impossible to answer simultaneous interjections from different parts of the chamber.

The last election was decided on one issue only. The people returned that party which gave them an assurance that ii would continue the policy of arbitration. The Government realizes that if the interests' of the wage-earners are to be effectively safeguarded, there must be protection against exploitation by those who would either rig the markets, or increase prices. Who objects to a government having that power? The present Government desires to stimulate our primary and secondary industries, believing that by so doing it will help to solve our economic difficulties. In order to avoid a repetition of -the experiences of the nineties, the Government desires to make the country more self-supporting. It desires to develop our industries, but it lias no guarantee that manufacturers who benefit from the Government's assistance will not exploit the people. The Government should be in a position to prevent, exploitation of the people by Australian manufacturers. Is it asking too much that a government should have power to prevent the exploitation of the people?- T feel confident that if the electors properly understand the Government's proposal they will heartily support it. "

Senator McLachlansaid that the proposals of the Government would create friction' between the States. Iti' is- true that in pre-federation days a man from Victoria was ' regarded almost as a foreigner by the people 'of New South. Wales. That was the case even in the realm of sport. A team of Victorian footballers visiting New South Wales, or a. team of New South Wales footballers visiting Victoria, was regarded as a team of foreigners.

Senator Sir John Newlands - -Th, position is much the same to-day.

Senator DOOLEY - That is not so. To-day Australia has a united people, but it,' is absolutely necessary that that bond of unity should be strengthened. The framers of the Constitution realized that they were laying down a foundation, upon which an adequate superstructure would be erected. Will any honorable senator claim that there is no need for a change in our Constitution - that things are as they were 30 years ago? Times have changed to such an extent that it is necessary that we should alter our Constitution in conformity with the requirements of the day, and in order to do that it has been necessary to take many things into consideration.

From what I can gather from a study of the Constitution, the Commonwealth has very little authority other than that concerning defence. But the matter of defence has not been elaborated by honorable senators. It has been proved that Australia can construct the vessels of war that are necessary to defend its shores, and we have an excellent dockyard 'for the purpose. Yet, if any honorable senator cares to make a tour of inspection of the Cockatoo .Island dockyard he will dis cover that there are millions of pounds worth of machinery there rusting, going to waste, because the High Court has held that the Commonwealth has no legal power to enter into contracts, or to accept business other than that relating to the defence of the realm. It may be years before that machinery is again used for that purpose. Near that dockyard can be seen another great workshop established for the purpose of. erecting the Sydney harbour bridge. There has been a duplication 'of expenditure, which must detrimentally affect the pockets of the taxpayers. No doubt when that bridge is completed that extensive workshop will also be thrown into disuse.

Senator Sir Hal Colebatch - Why did not the honorable senator's party put forward the recommendations that the commission suggested on that subject ?

Senator DOOLEY - I believe that if the Government had been given power to take those things into consideration it would not have consented to the establishment of that second workshop. There would not have been any need for Dorman, Long and Company to erect it had it. been possible to make use of the plant at Cockatoo Island dockyard.

Senator Sir William Glasgow - That would- have been impracticable at , the costs obtaining at that dockyard.

Senator DOOLEY - Any additional costs would not have been comparable with those found' necessary by Dorm ai

Long and Company to duplicate the plant. Much of the machinery at Cockatoo Island dockyard could have been adapted for use in the erection of the Sydney harbour bridge. "Why should that great plant remain idle when there is work to be done? Why debar the dockyard from entering into competition with private institutions?

Senator CRAWFORD - Because it does not compete on equal terms. It does not pay taxation.

Senator DOOLEY - So much the better for the taxpayer. That condition of affairs must be altered.

There are many other aspects of the matter that confront parliaments from time to time. This is not the only Government that thas appealed to the people' to alter the Constitution. I understand that the principal objection of honorable senators opposite is against the bill which seeks to clothe this Parliament with power to alter the Constitution. Not one word has been spoken in support or rejection of the other separate proposals.

Senator H E ELLIOTT (VICTORIA) - They are not yet before us. We shall leave no room for doubt on that score when the bills come up for consideration.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon W Kingsmill - Honorable senators may refer to those measures for purposes of comparison, but I remind them that we are now dealing with bill No. 1, which concerns the power of amendment only.

Senator DOOLEY - Honorable senators who oppose this bill have consistently opposed every other measure that the Government has brought forward, so that I expect opposition from them, irrespective of whether a proposal has merits or otherwise. If the Commonwealth Parliament is to be master of its own business it must have the power of amendment sought in this bill. After all, the element of safety rests with the electors. The passage of this proposal would not take any privilege from the electors. Rather would it give them greater security than they now enjoy, and I sincerely hope that it will be approved.

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