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2. CHAPTER II

Reform of The Electoral System—The Question of The Legislative Assembly Voting Supplies Beyond The Term of Its Own Existence—The Opinions of Sir Thomas Erskine May and Mr. Alpheus Todd—New Men, and Origin of The Protectionist Party—Useful Measures of Legislation—Attempt to Bring The Liquor Traffic Under Stricter Control—Chinese Immigration—The Boarding-out of Destitute Children—The Treatment of The Insane.

MANY complaints had been made for years past of the inequalities and anomalies in the system of representation. Districts which were sparsely peopled when the existing Electoral law was passed, had, from their internal resources and from new conditions stimulating their prosperity, grown enormously in population, while other districts had remained almost stationary, and some few retrograded. From these causes some electorates had grown four and five times as large as others possessing a like share of representation, which, of course, created much dissatisfaction in the newer and more thriving districts. Some years before, in a former Government, I had carried an Electoral Bill through the Assembly, which, however, was defeated by the action of the Legislative Council. The Government brought in a new Bill to carry out this much needed reform. This measure divided


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the colony into seventy-two electorates, which collectively were entitled to return 108 members. With the view of providing against the glaring inequalities which in the past had sprung from the rapid progress of particular districts, and had been felt so severely as a grievance, the Bill contained provisions which soon became popularly known as the ‘expansive clauses.’ As they are somewhat of a novelty, I copy the clauses:—

6. Subject to the conditions and provisions hereinafter contained, every electoral district entitled under the provisions of the next preceding section to return two members to serve in the Assembly shall so soon as the number of electors on the electoral roll for the time being of such electoral district shall have reached five thousand, be and continue to be entitled as hereinafter mentioned to return one additional member to serve in the Assembly.

7. Subject to the aforesaid conditions and provisions, every electoral district so entitled as aforesaid to return one member only to serve in the said Assembly shall so soon as the number of electors on the electoral roll for the time being of such electoral district shall have reached three thousand, be and continue to be entitled as in the said section mentioned to return one additional member to serve in the Assembly.

8. Subject to the same aforesaid conditions and provisions, every electoral district so entitled as aforesaid to return three members to serve in the said Assembly shall so soon as the number of electors on the electoral roll for the time being of such electoral district shall have reached eight thousand, be and continue to be entitled as in the said section mentioned to return one additional member to serve in the Assembly.

9. No electoral district shall be entitled to return an additional member under the provisions of section six, seven, or eight of this Act until the Governor shall by proclamation to be published in the Gazette have declared that such district is entitled by reason of the number of electors thereof on the electoral roll


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for the time being having reached the number hereinbefore in that behalf prescribed, to return an additional member in pursuance of the provisions of this Act. And such proclamation shall be issued so soon as practicable after it shall appear to the Governor that the number of electors on the roll for the time being for such district has reached the number hereinbefore prescribed and has not during the then next preceding twenty-four calendar months been less than the said prescribed number by at least one-fifth thereof. Provided always that the first writ for the election of any such additional member shall be issued by the Governor and not for any election except a General Election. And all subsequent writs shall be issued in manner provided by this Act.

It will be observed that, although the machinery of the Executive is called into operation, to declare by proclamation when a district is entitled to an additional member, the title itself springs out of the natural increase of the electoral roll, which is collected by law. The effect of these ‘expansive clauses’ has been that the Legislative Assembly, which started in 1880 under the present Act, with 108 members, contains at the present time (May 1892) the increased number of 143.

To guard against the abuse of unreasonable delay in convening a new Parliament, I provided in the Bill that the meeting should not be later than the seventh day after the return of the writ.

The Bill received good support in both Houses, and became law in July, 1880.

Owing mainly to the irregular financial action of the short administrations in the early days of its existence, the Parliament in 1880 was approaching its termination by effluxion of time, when the question arose


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whether the Legislative Assembly was competent to vote the Supplies for the year 1881. The case is fully stated in a letter I wrote to Sir Thomas Erskine May. A similar letter was addressed to Mr. Todd, the author of ‘Parliamentary Government in England.’ I give my letter to Sir T. Erskine May, and the replies received from both him and Mr. Todd. The question is one very likely to present itself again, though possibly not in the same identical relations, and the opinions of these high authorities cannot be deemed of light value:—

Colonial Secretary's Office, Sydney,

July 14, 1880.

My dear Sir,—If you have no objection I should much like to receive your opinion on the following case, and if it is your wish I will of course regard your opinion as private.

The Parliament of this colony consists of two Houses, the Council nominated for life, and the Assembly elected for three years.

The writs for the present Assembly were made returnable on November 26, 1877, and its period of existence terminates on November 25 next. Parliament after its third Session with this Assembly was prorogued yesterday. The annual appropriation Acts for the three years 1878–1880 have been passed and assented to respectively, May 21, 1878, July 24, 1879, July 2, 1880.

The question has been raised as to whether the Houses should be called together again for what is termed a ‘short session’ to vote the Supplies for 1881, the financial year commencing on January 1.

Would the Assembly which expires by effluxion of time in November be competent to vote Supplies for 1881, having already voted supplies covering the full legal term of its own existence. Has any House of Commons, elected for seven years, voted the Supplies for eight years?




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I may mention further that among the Acts just passed is a new Electoral Act which enlarges the Assembly from 73 to 108 members, and the election of the new House must take place under this law not later than October.

Yours faithfully,

HENRY PARKES.

Sir Thomas Erskine May, K.C.B.

House of Commons, August 31, 1880.

Dear Sir Henry Parkes,—I entertain no doubt that your Parliament is perfectly competent to make provision for the public service for the ensuing year, or any portion of it. So long as its legal existence continues, it has power to make laws, which are binding upon the colony, until modified or repealed by a succeeding Parliament.

You do not state how soon the new Parliament will meet, nor how soon after January 1 it will be necessary to vote supplies for the ensuing financial year.

If the meeting of the new Parliament should be too late conveniently to vote Supplies for the service of the year, the present Parliament might vote them for three months. These are questions of expediency which will be duly considered by you; but upon the constitutional problem submitted to me I have no doubt whatever.

Pray accept my best compliments, and with all good wishes,

I am,

Yours very truly,

T. ERSKINE MAY.

As for precedents, I may say that this very year the late Parliament voted the Army Estimates until March 31, 1881, which was beyond the period at which the Parliament would have legally expired.

Ottawa, September 16, 1880.

My dear Sir Henry,—Your letter of July 14 only reached me yesterday, owing to the fact that I had just returned from a holiday trip to England, for rest, after the publication of my last book.




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You enquire of me as to the constitutionality of a vote of money to defray the ordinary expenses of Government for a period wholly subsequent to that of the legal existence of the Parliament itself—in other words, whether it would be constitutionally competent for a Parliament which would expire by efflux of time on November 26, 1880, to vote in a Session, ending in July, 1880, supplies for the service of the fiscal year commencing on January 1 following.

Such a proceeding would undoubtedly be highly irregular. Parliament may vote money for a limited and specific purpose, to be applied out of the Consolidated Fund ‘from time to time’ for an indefinite period, as in the case of the Grant for Fortifying the English Coast. (See Todd, ‘Parliamentary Government,’ vol. i., pp. 494-6, Act 28 & 29 Victoria, chap. 61). Even in such a case there is a reserved right in Parliament to redistribute such an appropriation. (See Imp. Act, 30 Victoria, chap. 24.)

But when Parliament is about to be dissolved or to expire, under whatever circumstances, it is customary and proper ‘to restrict the grant of supplies [i.e. the ordinary supplies for the support of Government] to an amount sufficient to defray the indispensable requirements of the public service until the new Parliament can be assembled.’ (Todd, ‘Parl. Government,’ vol. ii., p. 404.)

This rule, however, must not be so strongly urged or insisted upon as to debar the Legislature, at its discretion, from voting supplies for the whole OF THE CURRENT financial year, albeit but one quarter of the same should have expired before the close of the existing Parliament. In 1868, by common consent and for reasons of public convenience, notwithstanding that a dissolution of Parliament was agreed upon in the month of June (which took place in November, the new Parliament meeting in December), the supplies for the whole fiscal year ending March 31, 1869, were actually granted before the prorogation of Parliament in July 1868.

But it would be undoubtedly irregular and contrary to the first principles of constitutional practice for an existing Parliament


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to assume the right of appropriating the annual supplies for the ordinary expenses of the public service for a period of time which should commence subsequent to the date of its own legal existence.

The only circumstances under which an exception could properly be allowed to the operation of this constitutional rule would be in the event of the close of the financial year, being about to occur within a very short period of the anticipated or actual dissolution of Parliament. In such an event it would be allowable to vote a portion of the supplies for the service of the ensuing year. But such an amount should be strictly limited to the actual necessity of the case, and should in no wise fetter or restrict the discretion of the new Parliament (or, possibly, of the new Administration) in dealing with the bulk of Supply required to be voted for the service of the future year.

This, however, is outside of the question you ask, which deals with the propriety of voting in July for the service of a whole fiscal year, beginning on January 1 following and voting, not merely a small sum in anticipation, to consist of ordinary unopposed items for the service of the State, until the usual time for the regular annual Session, but voting, as I understand you to suggest, the entire bulk of the year's supply. This, I have no hesitation in saying, would be a highly irregular and unconstitutional proceeding.

Hoping you will find this explanation sufficiently clear and satisfactory,

I remain, dear Sir Henry,

Truly yours,

ALPHEUS TODD.

Sir H. Parkes, Colonial Secretary,

New South Wales.

The General Election under the Electoral Act of 1880 took place at the end of the year, and a large number of new men came into the Legislative Assembly as the revelation of the ballot-box. Of these may be


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mentioned the names of J. P. Abbott, G. H. Reid, W. J. Lyne, John See, J. P. Garvan, T. M. Slattery, W. J. Trickett, James Fletcher, and others, which have gained more or less prominence during the twelve years since. Three of them are now members of Mr. Dibbs's third Ministry, one is Speaker, and one is dead. The present Premier himself sat in the Assembly from January 27, 1875, until October 11, 1877, when he lost his seat and did not reappear in the House until 1883. Excepting the names of Mr. Reid and Mr. Trickett as identified with Free-trade, the above with several names less prominent may be said to loosely form the Protectionist party, but some of them were Free-traders on their entrance into public life, and none of them very pronounced on the other side for the first year or two. The process of conversion went on by occult means, and for different periods in the case of different individuals. Mr. Dibbs, a strong Free-trader throughout a long life, did not announce his conversion till the year 1887, and then only in view of taking the leadership of the Protectionist party. It may be admitted that no ‘infusion of new blood’ in any former Assembly had an equal effect in changing the composition of the House. Many of the new members were men of strong wills, who at least were determined to do something. In comparing themselves with others, it was pardonable to think that the balance of superiority was on their own side. And when men of ‘strong wills’ have to cast about to discover a political creed, it is hardly surprising that they should light upon Protection. Indeed Protection seems a


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standing dish prepared for the politically raw and hungry, at all seasons.

All the old members of earlier years, the Macarthurs, the Cowpers, the Martins, and their contemporaries, had disappeared. Only two or three who sat in the first Assembly (1856) remained.

Other measures of much importance were passed into law in these years by the third Administration over which I presided.

Bills were passed to provide for the Water Supply and the Sewerage for the city of Sydney and the principal country towns.

An entirely new measure became law to enable the Government to acquire lands for public purposes by a prescribed procedure of arbitration. This had been rendered necessary by the exorbitant demands of persons with whom the Government had to deal in such cases.

Acts were passed to authorise the appointment of stipendiary magistrates, to provide for the summoning and the examination of witnesses before either House of Parliament, to extend and regulate the liability of employers in relation to injuries to workmen in their service, and to establish schools of anatomy.

Among the measures of higher character were Acts to create a Board of Commissioners to control and regulate the fisheries and the calling of fishermen throughout the colony, and other Acts, to which I feel justified in making a more lengthy reference. First of these was an Act to deal with the Liquor Traffic.




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The law in New South Wales regulating the consumption of intoxicating liquors was virtually in the hands of the Benches of Magistrates. Without impugning the character of the magistracy as a body, it is not too much to say that the bench was often packed to grant or to refuse a publican's licence where the applicant had strong influence, or where Temperance bodies were strongly represented. This led to much abuse in various forms. Public-houses sprung up in close proximity to schools and churches, and in localities where there was no visible necessity for them. Not only did the Temperance bodies carry on a fierce crusade against the licensing systems, but quiet and well-meaning citizens of all classes were urgent in demanding a reform of what was felt to be a crying grievance. One of the early measures of the Government was a Bill to establish a new system.

The new Bill provided for the proclamation of Licensing Districts, the creation of Licensing Courts, and the appointment of officers to inspect premises and to report on the manner in which licensed houses were conducted. It gave to the ratepayers of a district the power to say by their votes whether a new house in any locality was required or not, and it prescribed the number and size of rooms, and gave to the police definite powers of visitation. The second reading was moved by me on September 8, 1881; the debate was protracted over several sittings, and forty-seven members took part in it; but the second reading was carried on the 16th by 54 to 5 votes. The following is a slightly abridged report of my reply on this lengthy debate:—




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I think it will be admitted that this debate is unprecedented in at least two respects. It certainly is unprecedented in the number of speakers, and I think it is unprecedented in the large amount of confusion which this multitude of speakers has created. If a debate is to bring out the features of the measure debated, if it is to conduct the understanding of the Legislature to one or other of the two sides of the question, then this debate has utterly failed; and in justification of this assertion, which I should not make lightly, I would ask any dispassionate and reasonable man to examine the forty-seven speeches which have been delivered. There are not two of those speeches which agree. I would ask any dispassionate and impartial man to examine the speech of any one of the gentlemen who have opposed the Bill and see if he can deduce from it the elements of any measure whatever. Surely on a question of this kind, admittedly one of unsurpassed difficulty, the Government have a right to a generous interpretation of their motives, to a fair dealing with the provisions of the measure submitted, and to some suggestions in the place of the provisions which are objected to. I have to thank honourable members who intend to vote against the Bill for the fair and straightforward way in which they have opposed it, especially the honourable member for Yass Plains (Mr. Fitzpatrick). He thoroughly disbelieves in it. He tells us that the traffic in drink is like any other traffic; that you have no more right to interfere by vexatious legislation with the dealers in liquor than with the dealers in groceries. I can understand that view, though I cannot sympathise with it; and I admit that the honourable member has fairly met the measure submitted by the Government, and that in voting against it he is only performing a duty to which he is conducted by his own reasoning. But I cannot appreciate the action of honourable members who profess to be friends of the measure, who point out—thoughtlessly point out—all kinds of so-called objections without offering any suggestion in their place which will bear examination.

I remember reading, a short time ago, of a gentleman who approached Mr. Bright to offer suggestions on the Irish


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land question. The reply of the Minister was, ‘Do you suppose that the sixteen gentlemen who form the British Cabinet, and who have been compelled to examine this question in all its details and in every aspect, have not thought of anything which is likely to occur to you?’ I think that is a very rational and sound answer. Often in my experience of office I have discovered that nineteen out of twenty suggestions made to us have been matters which had already engaged our attention, and had been dismissed as being utterly untenable; and certainly the whole of the suggestions made in this debate as to a substitute for licensing courts have engaged the serious attention of the Government. We have thought of District Court Judges, we have thought of every conceivable agency, and we came to the conclusion that the machinery of these Licensing Boards is by far the best, and I hope I shall be successful in proving to anyone who will follow me that we have good reason for thinking so. Of course my difficulty will be great, within a limited period, to deduce from the vast number of speeches delivered all the objections which have been raised, or even any fair approximation of those objections; but I will try, and I will try especially to answer, as I think I shall do successfully, the objections to the two main provisions of the Bill. Before I proceed further, I hope I may be pardoned for calling the attention of honourable members to the spirit and manner in which I introduced the Bill for their consideration. I was studiously as moderate as I could be. I endeavoured to avoid any possible provocation to hostile or unfair criticism. I confined my observations, with the exception of one or two sentences, not to the question of temperance, but to the question with which I have to deal—the better regulation of the traffic in liquor. I therefore am not answerable for this deluge of confusion. I did not set the example of irrelevant and pointless discussion. I spoke but thirty minutes, and no other Minister has spoken. I confined myself from first to last to the object of the measure, and I distinctly stated that it was to bring the traffic in liquor under sounder and more healthy regulations. I indulged in no tirade against publicans


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or against teetotallers. I said nothing about the evils of drunkenness, except in one or two sentences, and in a very general way. If I had desired to describe the evils of drunkenness, I might have done it in the words of a very staid and sober man, a member of the House of Commons—I mean Mr. Walter, the proprietor of the ‘Times.’ They might have been described more forcibly in three words of his than they have been described in all the wild teetotal speeches which have been addressed to us. Mr. Walter said that intemperance was the ‘Devil in solution.’ I do not think it could be stated more forcibly or more eloquently in a speech of two hours; and it is simply because the trade in liquor leads to putting the Devil in solution that it is absolutely necessary to regulate it. You may ask why we do not regulate the trade in tea and sugar, or potatoes, or grain. I answer that it would be perfectly permissible to do so under certain circumstances, but those trades have not the same effects as that of the publican. The commodity sold by the publican has the effect of converting rational men into lunatic men, of letting loose the wildest passions, which generate all crime, which uproot the very foundations of society, and make neighbourhoods unfit for peaceable men and women to live in. I say this only in justification of the necessity imposed upon us of regulating this traffic. Now the Bill, recollect, is designed to regulate the traffic. I beg honourable members to keep in mind those words. We do not propose to leave the publican to do as he likes; we propose—and we ask your assent to the proposal—to place him under continuous supervision. Hence, then, I have no sympathy whatever with those honourable gentlemen who tell us that when a licence is once granted to a publican he should have a right to hold it until it is forfeited by misconduct. I say he has no such right because he is engaged in a perilous trade—perilous to his morals, perilous to his own family, perilous to the neighbourhood in which his house is situated, and perilous to society at large. The publican ought not to have the right to sell these destructive liquors except from year to year, and if the Bill passes into law there will be


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a system of supervision which will be able to detect whether he has done anything to forfeit that right. It is because it is necessary that this continuous supervision should be exercised over the traffic—that there should be inspection to see that no deleterious ingredients are intermixed with the liquor; that there should be inspection to see that his house is conducted in an orderly manner; that there should be supervision to see that he is worthy to have his licence renewed—that some body is required not simply to issue licences, but to cancel them if necessary, and to cancel them on the evidence of inspectors. It is for these reasons that the duty cannot be delegated to such a person as a District Court Judge or to anyone else similarly situated; but there must be some body created whose business it will be from day to day constantly to supervise the trade and to see that society, in the first instance, is protected at all hazards. The city and suburbs and other portions of the county of Cumberland contain a vast amount of this traffic; the business there is almost inexpressibly larger and more important than it is elsewhere, and for this reason there will be a great deal more work to be done by the Board. There will be a necessity for a constant watch, and for constant attention to the business. It is not the granting in a perfunctory way of licences on some particular day, but the supervision of the whole trade; and it has been thought that it would be a far better plan to have in the county of Cumberland a larger Board. In this case the probability will be—almost the certainty will be—that the Board will consist of the police magistrates of Sydney and the suburbs (because we intend to ask the House to sanction the appointment of stipendiary magistrates for Sydney and the suburbs), and perhaps the Mayor of Sydney. There has never been the slightest intention to provide for all the imaginary patronage which is talked of. I am glad that although I am the oldest member of the House I have had no experience of this corruption which has been referred to—this constant solicitation to get situations for people. I have held my course in the House for twenty-eight years, so that no man would dare to ask me to get him a situation under the Government;


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and I defy any Minister ever in office to point to an instance in which I sought to get a person employed under Government. If other honourable members would take the same course, they would not be so pestered by applications such as they have described so helplessly in the course of this debate. If this kind of corruption exists, I have not been contaminated with it, either as a Minister or as a member of Parliament. I sat here twelve years before I became a Minister of the Crown, and during that period I never asked a favour from any Government, either for my friends or for myself; and if other honourable members would take that course they would stamp out this corrupt system of patronage of which so much is said. I can appeal fearlessly to those who are opposed to me, and to those who sit behind me, whether I have exercised patronage in this improper manner at any period of my life. Then why should it be suspected that we are creating these boards for the mere sake of appointing hangers-on, as they are called? I can say safely—if I may be permitted to make the digression—that whenever any person has applied to me to exercise my influence for him, on the ground that he has voted for me at an election, I have turned round and said, ‘You need not have voted for me, and you either voted for me because you thought it your duty to do so, or you ought not to have voted for me; and in either case I will not recognise that class of services.’ We have no intention, we never had any intention, of creating unnecessary offices, or to do more than appoint a body which should be a body corporate, and in that capacity should be charged with the duty and the responsibility of managing this traffic; and I hope that we shall be acquitted on all hands of any desire for an improper exercise of patronage. These boards will have to consider all applications for new licences, not to consider them as a mere matter of form, but as coming under the operation of other provisions of the Bill, including, where practicable, the exercise of the rate-payers’ vote. They will have to consider all renewals of licences, all removals of licences, all transfers of licences from one person to another; to consider all questions of altering or amending the


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classification of houses by inspectors; and to consider the cancellation of licences and the disqualification of licencees from holding licences for a period of years; and they will have to undertake the hearing of all complaints under the Act cognisable by a court of petty sessions or some higher court. You will thus see here a mass of business quite sufficient to engage the attention of these courts, and which a District Court Judge could not discharge without impairing the exercise of his own proper duties. I do not think we have such large ground to be satisfied with our District Court Judges as to heap upon them duties so foreign to the strictly judicial course they ought to take; and certainly these duties could not be performed by them if they are to be performed in the sense I have explained. What I mean by that is: if the House agrees with the Government, the trade is not to be left to itself, but that it is to be subject to rigid regulation and supervision, not on one occasion only, but from day to day, from month to month, from year to year, as long as the licence is held; and I maintain that this, and this alone, is the means whereby we can make the trade safe and respectable. You cannot, by any device of yours in issuing licences, or by measuring the capacity of premises, secure a continuance of respectability and good order and all that is required for the public good. As I have already hinted, the trade itself is calculated to destroy the character of the person who enters upon it. I do not say this is always the case. I desire to steer clear of reflections on the trade as a whole; but every honourable member must know cases in which men have entered on the trade comparatively sober and well-conducted, and who have died a premature death owing to the seductions which the trade itself supplies; and it is for this reason that you cannot trust the trade as you trust any other. Now, with regard to the amendments proposed by honourable members. I asked the House in my short address on moving the second reading to regard two principles in the Bill, and on the second reading to affirm or reject them. One was the establishment of licensing courts, the other the system of election which is called local option; and if these were considered the leading principles of the


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Bill, I said I should be prepared to accept the assistance of honourable members from any quarter of the House in the endeavour to make the measure as effective as possible for its objects. But we have not nailed our colours to the mast lightly on these questions. We have not in the crude way some honourable members suppose, considered the provisions alluded to. The facts adduced show that we have been thinking on the subject and trying to deal with it in an effective way, and we submit these provisions as the best we can devise for dealing with the traffic. The House has received 236 petitions in support of the Bill. On no question—either the Public Instruction Act or the Public Schools Act of 1866—was there anything like such an array of petitions as there has been on this. Honourable members may say that all these petitions are alike. They are; but that in no way lessens their value. It adds to their value; it shows the unanimity of the people. These petitions are signed genuinely. What if some organisations have prepared and distributed them, as I dare say they have? They had a right to do it, and they were very properly employed in doing it. The men and women who signed them were at liberty to sign them or not; but they have signed them, and the signatures, which are all genuine, amount to about 30,000. Not one of them complains of the provisions for licensing boards. The petitioners have felt too largely the destructive consequences of licensing public-houses by magistrates. They know too well how unsafe it is to leave a power of this kind to an authority which was never intended to exercise it. They do not ask for any alteration of the licensing courts as provided for in the Bill, and for a very good reason: because they know as well as any honourable member of this House knows, that some new mode of granting these licences is necessary—that the mode existing hitherto has proved an utter failure. Well, what do they ask?—that the principle of local option should be applied to renewals. They ask in this respect for less than the Bill gives them. They ask that agreeing to, or disagreeing to, the licensing of any public-house should be decided by two-thirds of the votes taken; we propose that it shall be decided by eleven-twentieths. We


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go further than the petitioners. Of course when these petitions were signed it was proposed in the Bill which was laid before the House, and was the other day withdrawn, to decide the question by two-thirds of the possible votes, and all the petitioners ask for is that it should be decided by two-thirds of the actual votes. They ask that the clause providing for the issue of bottle licences should be erased. They also petition against the 10l. licence for roadside inns, and for the total closing of public-houses on Sundays. So that the Government may be said to be in accord with the people of the country, unless you presume to dispute the right of petition. The petitions are genuine, and are duly signed.

The right of petition is a great and sacred right, and in this instance it has been soberly and judiciously exercised under the genuine signatures of the petitioners. It in no sense matters whether the petitions have been sent already written. Some one must write every petition. We have had a petition from the licensed victuallers, and they have not gone the length to which some honourable members proceeded who professed to be friends of the Bill. I now have to deal with the other main provision in the Bill which is called local option. I do not for a moment charge men with so much experience as the honourable member for Camden (Mr. Garrett) with uttering wild opinions in order to gain a little popularity; but in this respect it is a wild thing to talk about giving the franchise to the electors in a district, and to women also; and I think I shall be able to satisfy every reasonable mind that it is so. What does local option mean? It is quite a different thing from the election of a member to the House, from the election of a member of a municipal council, or from the election of a member of even a private society. By this local option a certain number of persons are required to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the question whether they will have new public-houses. For this to have any effect whatever, to be worth a straw, it must be confined to the neighbourhood, and it must be the neighbours who vote. I will take the constituency of Canterbury. Suppose you adopt the electoral roll of such a constituency, what would the electors of


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Gannon's Forest know about the question whether a public-house was or was not wanted in Burwood? Nothing whatever. But let us go the length of taking the constituency of The Bogan. Perhaps Sir Patrick Jennings will tell me the distance embraced in the electorate—I suppose it is 200 miles.

Sir PATRICK JENNINGS: Between 200 and 300 miles.

Sir HENRY PARKES: How impossible it would be to have a genuine decision of the people whether a public-house was or was not wanted at any point of this constituency if the question had to be decided by persons who lived 200 miles away! The term ‘local’ means that it should be in a limited locality, where the neighbours, the fathers of families, can judge for themselves as to whether the public-house is wanted. Hence we have proposed that this shall be done in wards where it is possible, and, where it is not possible, that it shall be done in the next narrowest limits, those of the municipality. It would be the greatest farce in the world to pretend to exercise the power in a political electorate. The introduction of the principle is an experiment; we confess at once that it cannot be applied all over the country without the creation of new machinery; but it can be introduced by the machinery of municipalities so that it will affect one-half of the public-houses in existence, and by far the largest number of the population. I ask every friend of the principle whether it is not better to try the experiment on these safe lines—where it is practicable, where it can be worked—than to go into some imaginary theory for the sake of having a popular basis under which it would be impossible to work it? Of course if we ever extend the principle all over the country, we must create districts for the purpose. It will be a farce to talk about local option if strangers who know nothing about the requirements of the locality are to decide the question. It is necessary to adhere to the literal meaning of the term ‘local option,’ and the power must be exercised by persons who know the district and who can say whether a public-house is or is not wanted there. I hope honourable members will be satisfied that we have not introduced these provisions without thinking about them, at all events. I think


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honourable members will find that we have introduced provisions which are practical—which, if carried out, will effect the purpose aimed at; and that not one of the suggestions which have been made would have the same effect. I am quite free to admit the straightforwardness of honourable members who tell me that they intend to vote against the Bill. I am willing to modify these provisions in any way to make them more workable, and I have indicated in my opening address how frankly I shall be prepared to receive any reasonable suggestions. I have indicated how it is proposed to constitute these licensing courts. I shall maintain the proposal to establish them. I do not see why the worst interpretation need be placed on the conduct of the Government; I do not see why we should be supposed capable of constituting the courts in the way suggested by some honourable members. I have told the House plainly that the courts in the country will be composed of the nearest police magistrate and one or two other persons. In the metropolitan district the courts will consist of the stipendiary magistrates and possibly the Mayor of Sydney, and we have no intention whatever to place on these courts the army of adventurers spoken of. I listened with a great deal of attention to the speech of the honourable member for Yass Plains, and with a deal of admiration for his frank, straightforward way of opposing the Bill, of which I do not complain for a moment. But what am I to say of the honourable member for Illawarra? When he got on his feet he said that he hailed the Bill with the greatest pleasure because it embodied principles in which he believed; he went on to say that he agreed with the principle of local option, but he objected to such a small majority as eleven-twentieths ruling. Well, we have other honourable members who want simply a bare majority. The honourable member also told us that publicans' rights ought to be permanent like those of other tradespeople; he objected to their being harassed every three years. Well, if it be harassing, we intend to harass them every year; we intend every year to see whether they conduct their houses properly, for the reason that, even when well conducted, their


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trade is so deadly in its consequences to the best interests of society. The honourable member for Shoalhaven read a most appalling account of the misconduct of persons in a public-house in some part of the country. I should like to know how that could have come about if the magistrates had not abused their power in issuing licences? I, for one, with some knowledge of the country, believe that the power of magistrates to grant licences has been just as much abused in the country as in the city. Then we are told that we ought to adopt the system which prevails in Victoria. I admit at once that I should think twice and look three or four times before I copied anything from Victoria. If the proof of the system is to be found in its fruits, I say that the public-houses are unreasonably numerous in Victoria, and that they are kept in an unreasonably bad style.

The late Premier described the measure by a classical term, which we hear him apply to all our measures—he said it was a ‘tin-pot measure.’ If the honourable member were present, I might call him a tin-pot legislator; the word—if I may be pardoned for saying so—would be quite as applicable to him as a member of the House as it is to the measure. The honourable member for The Bogan (Sir Patrick Jennings)—who, by the way, though marvellously friendly to the Government, has not been able to agree with anything we have done—broached the wonderfully wise suggestion that the licensing court should be composed of the police magistrate, and one or two persons associated with him. I contend that this is exactly what the Bill provides for outside of the metropolis.

I do think that on a question of this kind, where so much is required to ensure the peace and good order of the neighbourhood, at least one-third of the electors on the roll ought to decide. It could not be more than one-third even if the clause remains as it is. This is a convenient time for me to say what my views are as to keeping the clause as it now stands. I certainly shall do my utmost to preserve a substantial majority. I consider the election of a member of Parliament a very different thing from deciding this one question, which I consider


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should be decided by a majority that cannot be disputed. I am willing that it should be the lowest possible substantial majority. I am not so particular about the two-thirds; but, if honourable members will bear with me and recollect my explanation that I want to point out that this system of local option must be exercised in small neighbourhoods, it is very probable that nearly all the votes will be exercised. You tell me that in a parliamentary election it is seldom that two-thirds of the electors record their votes; but that is on account of the distance which people have to come. They will not be required to come at all in this case; and the votes will be taken in a very narrow neighbourhood where every person will know every other person's business. I once represented for some years the constituency which is now represented by the honourable member for Kiama, and in that electorate on one occasion all the electors except eleven recorded their votes. I admit that it is a compact constituency, and that such a result could not be obtained everywhere. But in the districts in which local option would be exercised I believe that two-thirds of the votes would always be recorded; and I only ask honourable members to recollect how desirable it is to have in this law all the elements which can afford satisfaction to the popular mind. You may fairly submit a question of this kind to local option. Whether it is or is not an innovation, it is in accordance with common-sense and with common English virtue that the people should decide whether they will have a nuisance in their neighbourhood; but what similitude, what analogy at all can there be between submitting a simple question of this kind and submitting a law passed by the constituted Parliament of the country? I deny that there is the slightest analogy between the principle of submitting this simple question to the vote of the locality where the thing is to be felt and experienced, and submitting a law made by the Legislature for the whole people.

The most remarkable speech—perhaps the most remarkable in having nothing to do with the Bill—was that delivered by the honourable member for Gundagai. I am sorry he is not here. He spoke for an hour, and certainly said nothing that could


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properly apply to this measure. He told us, for instance, that he could not understand why importance should attach to the question. I think that every other member knows why importance should attach to the question. I think that what I said myself is sufficient to show why importance should attach to it; and I think that what was said by honourable members who have opposed the Bill shows it. The honourable member talked about the Government trafficking in vice and immorality because they license the trade. The Government is under a necessity to license it for the purposes of regulation. Then he said that drinking caused the establishment of public-houses; but I say that drinking is, to a large extent, caused by the public-houses. In my earlier life I held the view for some years that free trade in drink would be a wholesome thing provided that houses were not fitted up for its consumption. If it were sold as other commodities, such as drugs, and people could buy it only for consumption in their homes, it would probably have a tendency towards greater sobriety amongst the people than at present. That is, of course, if there were no licensed houses whatever. And why is the eligible corner of a street selected for a public-house? Why is the public-house fitted up with more regard to comfort than a house for the occupation of a family? Why is it made so attractive? Is it not the fact that when men get dissatisfied from some cause of grief or family disturbance they rush out and find in the public-houses a spurious comfort which they cannot find at home? Is it not the case that young people are attracted to those places; that they are induced to go again and again, and that from having a distaste for drink they become enamoured of it. I say that the public-houses are colleges for the education of drunkards, and I deny altogether that they are necessary to satisfy any natural appetite for drink. Where is the person, man or woman, boy or girl, who has a love of drink until his or her taste has become vitiated? They have to acquire it, and in a hundredfold degree they more easily acquire this pernicious taste in the public-houses. I therefore deny altogether that it is a natural desire for drink which creates the public-houses. The honourable member


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for Gundagai went on to say that, instead of dealing harshly with the publicans, the Legislature ought to educate public-houses. The Legislature would present a pretty spectacle to the world if they set to work to educate public-houses; and I think, although we live in a different age and under men of different fibre, that some power equal to that of Cromwell would soon be found to send about their business the Legislature that could find nothing better to do than to educate public-houses. Then, in allusion to the misconduct of certain magistrates in Sydney, the honourable member asked why the Government neglected their duty in not compelling the magistrates to do their duty. That is exactly the thing that Governments cannot do. The only security they can have with regard to magistrates—and I am sorry to say that it does not always exist—is the appointment of proper persons. They cannot compel the magistrates to do their duty. The only thing we can do is to dismiss them. Then the honourable member for Gundagai told us, almost in a passion, that local option would not bear examination. ‘If in the days of Fox and Burke,’ said he, ‘you talked about local option’—he did not tell us what would have happened. The probability, however, is that Fox would have enjoyed a night at Brooks's. That was his notion of local option. I do not know that Burke, with all his brilliant abilities, had very much regard for the temperance cause. In those days no man was considered a gentleman in England unless occasionally he fell drunk, or something like it, under his own table; and the most eminent Prime Minister of that period never consoled himself with less than two bottles of port before going to bed. What is the use of telling us about Fox and Burke in the discussion of a question of this kind? Have we not men living in the present day who will figure in English history in a position equally eminent as that of those illustrious men?

I hope I have to a large extent satisfied honourable members that the leading proposals of the Bill are sound and practicable. I think honourable members will admit, at all events, that we have thought about them; and that we have not lightly inserted


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them in the measure. I have only to say that I intend to adhere to them; but I shall be quite prepared, and I shall consider it my duty, to accept the assistance of any honourable member in giving the most effective operation to these proposals, and in dealing with the details of the Bill in other respects. As to the measure itself, I believe it is a great measure. Its enemies admit that it is full of innovations; and they therefore admit that there is something new in it. I believe that it makes great and sweeping changes in the law governing this traffic; that it will secure better houses, and place the trade in safer hands; that it will, to a large extent, prevent the adulteration of liquor; that by keeping up a constant system of inspection it will preserve the trade comparatively pure; and that the effect of the caution exercised by the licensing courts will be that in the future houses will be licensed only where they are really wanted. If these great ends be attained, the measure, instead of being mischievous, instead of doing injury, will be fraught with untold blessings which will spread themselves through every rank of society, and tell with golden effect upon the hopes and aspirations of our posterity.

The Bill had to undergo severe criticism in committee, and some of the clauses were pertinaciously contested not only on the ground of the publicans' interest, but in support of the extreme views of the Temperance visionary. Harrowing pictures were drawn of a ruffianly policeman bursting into the private apartments of a licensed victualler at the dead hour of night and all the sacred immunities of home being desecrated. On the other hand startling pictures were presented of the bribing of the police by the overpowering liquor interest, and the pretended stringency of the Bill being laughed at by the wily tavern-keeper, while all the profligacy and wretchedness attending the drink traffic


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would go on as before. But the Bill passed through committee successfully, and did not materially suffer in its passage through the Upper Chamber. It received the Royal assent on December 19.

When opening the next session of Parliament the Governor was enabled to speak in the following satisfactory terms of the operation of the Act during the short time of its existence:—‘You will be glad to learn that the important Act passed in the last Session for regulating the trade in intoxicating liquors, though defective in some particulars, has worked generally for the public welfare. Notwithstanding the increase of population, the number of convictions for the offence of drunkenness at the Metropolitan Central Police Court for the first six months of this year was 2,983, against 3,980 for the corresponding period of 1881, showing a decrease of 997; whilst the convictions for the same offence at the Water Police Court show a decrease of 622 on the same periods. It is impossible to resist the conclusion from these figures, that the sobriety of the community has been largely promoted by the present law.’

Some amendments of the law were subsequently passed, some of them, but not all, improvements. But the main principles of the Act of 1881 remain untouched.

Among other important measures successfully carried through Parliament was a Bill to restrict the immigration of Chinese. It is very self-satisfactory for persons who know nothing of the effects of Chinese immigration to speak of the illiberality of stringent


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legislation of this character; but those who feel, or see in many symptoms around them, the disturbing consequences cannot be indifferent to this social movement. Our measure became law, and was accepted as a settlement of the question for the time. But a few years latter, as we shall see, the trouble had to be faced again and dealt with in a far more drastic manner.

On April 5, 1881, the Act to establish a system of boarding-out State children received the Royal assent. By it one or more persons under the title of Boarding-out Officers, and controlled by a Board of nine persons, appointed by the Governor in Council, and subject to the Colonial Secretary, were entrusted with carrying out its provisions. The Board was empowered to issue licences to persons desirous of receiving State children as boarders, and entrusted with complete supervision of the children as regards education and conduct, and finally of apprenticing them for a term not exceeding five years, also of taking the necessary steps in cases of adoption, or of the restoration of a child to its parents.

The Governor, with the advice of the Executive Council, was empowered to frame regulations from time to time with regard to the maintenance, education, and control of the children, and the payment of persons boarding them. Penalties were imposed on persons boarding State children for ill-usage or neglect of duty towards them, and also on persons inducing them to abscond. Payment for maintenance of State children shall be specially provided for by Parliament, or if such money be not available, out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, to be afterwards reimbursed out of money


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voted for such purpose by Parliament. The President of the Board was to make an annual report of the number of children boarded out, apprenticed, adopted, or, in the case of reformatory schools, of the number returned to original place of detention; also of the name, age, sex, and cost of maintenance of each child.

Prior to the passing of the State Children's Relief Act, the colony had three principal refuges for destitute children—the Randwick Asylum, and the Protestant and Roman Catholic Orphanages at Parramatta. These contained about 1,400 children, entirely supported by Government. When the new Act came into operation the children were removed as soon as practicable from these refuges and boarded out in selected homes in healthy localities. Since that time 4,384 children have passed under the control of the Board, and have been benefited by this system. At the present time there are 2,396 under control, of whom only 1,389 are paid for as boarders, 163 have been adopted by persons in good circumstances, and 844 are supporting themselves at service.

Excellent results have followed this system of home training for children, as only 3 per cent. of the children proved too untractable to be satisfactorily dealt with, and only nine of the girls have been returned to the Department. It has been found that the cost of the boarding-out system is 33 per cent. less than that of supporting them in institutions, thus causing a saving of, at least, 10,000l. per annum to the State.

Victoria and South Australia also find that the boarding-out system yields satisfactory results. In


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New Zealand and Queensland it has been adopted with success.

As President of the Board, the Honourable Arthur Renwick has rendered very valuable services to the colony, and there are few Acts with which my name has been connected which I regard with more pride.

Not the least important of the numerous Acts passed by my Third Administration was the existing law relating to the insane, which received the Royal assent on February 4, 1879. The Act repeals all previous enactments and consolidates and amends the law on the principles most recently laid down by the best authorities for the careful custody and humane treatment of this unhappily-afflicted class of the human family. It provides for improved means of placing under restraint and securing efficient and instructed attendance, for ameliorative conditions of confinement, and for the safe administration of the private estates of helpless patients. It is a measure worthy of the benevolent and enlightened character of Dr. Manning, who had the chief share in its preparation.

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