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railways; non-federal public works; police, education, judiciary; the power of direct taxation and of borrowing money for State purposes; and the internal government of the State generally.
Owing to differences of gauge, of fares, and of management, the Commonwealth does not at once take over the State railways. But an Inter-State Commission, such as exists in the United States, is appointed to arrange trade and commerce, and to prevent any one State from interfering with the commercial interest of any other State by preferential railway rates, etc.
To the Commonwealth exclusively will belong the raising of naval and military forces; the coinage; the power of general taxation; the acquisition of railways or other property from any State; railway construction and extension; conciliation and arbitration; the relations of the Commonwealth with the Pacific Islands (lately a burning question in Queeensland), and no less than thirty-four other departments of Government.* “When a law of a State is inconsistent with a law of the Commonwealth, the latter shall prevail, and the former be invalid.” (Clause 51).
Careful and wise provisions are made for the admission of new States, and for any proposed alteration of the Constitution (Clauses 121 to 128). Under the head of “ Judicature," we find that this Act creates a Federal Supreme Court, to be called the High Court of Australia, consisting of a Chief Justice, and not less than two other Justices. The original Bill made the mistake of making this High Court of Australia the final Court of Appeal in all cases, thereby depriving the right of a litigant to
* I may mention that the large expenditure of the new Commonwealth is amply guaranteed by the fact that the total revenue of the six federating colonies amounted in 1898 to over £26,000,000.
carry up his appeal to the Privy Council in London. The Chief Justices of most of the colonies strongly opposed this abolition. “The unity of final decision," wrote Sir Henry Wrixon, "preserves an unity of law over the whole Empire.” My friend, Sir James Way, Chief Justice of South Australia, who kept me well informed on the progress of the Commonwealth Bill, echoed the thought of most colonists, in writing :-“This right of appeal to the Privy Council is the most raluable privilege of our common citizenship, and one of the strongest ties uniting the Empire."
The struggle over the famous Clause 74 is fresh in your minds. Mr. Chamberlain eventually obtained the consent of the federating colonies to retain this cherished privilege of appeal to the Privy Council, with certain limitations. These limitations are, briefly, that no appeal to London shall be permitted upon any constitutional question arising between the Commonwealth and the States, unless certified to by the High Court. In other matters, “this Constitution shall not impair any right which the Queen may be pleased to exercise by virtue of Her royal prerogative to grant special leave from the High Court to Her Majesty in council. The Parliament may make laws limiting the matters in which such leave may be asked," but they “shall be reserved by the Governor-General for Her Majesty's pleasure.
It seems strange to us in England that New Zealand has not joined this noble confederation. Although I am in touch with the public opinion of that colony, as expressed in its newspapers, I cannot explain its present attitude towards the Commonwealth. In my opinion, its recent handsome surplus of £560,000; the confidence shown in it by the Colonial office in annexing to it various groups of islands, and giving it the Protectorate of Raratonga ; and the opposition of its masterful Premier, Mr. Seddon to the yielding up of its revenue, defence forces, etc., to the Commonwealth, which would be necessary on entering the Confederation - all these and other considerations influence New Zealand in holding aloof, for a time. But I believe that eventually she will join it on favourable terms.
Just as this Address is being printed, I learn by cable that the Fiji Islands desire federation with New Zealandnot with Australia,-a circumstance which may contribute to the hesitation of the latter colony to join the Commonwealth.
Tho constitution of this Commonwealth of Australia has its defects, easily remediable by further legislation, but on the whole it is a fine piece of political construction; a welding together into a homogeneous whole of hitherto divergent colonies, to be welcomed by all patriotic Englishmen as a great factor in the maintenance of the integrity of the Empire. Nay, more, the new Commonwealth (wellnamed) is an earnest of the growing faith in Imperialism ; a living proof of sturdy independence; and a striking example of a nearly perfect system of colonization.
The advantages of federation in geographical groups has been so conspicuously shown by the examples of Canada and Australia, that it becomes only a question of time when the South African colonies and possessions will unite; the West Indian Islands will join our Central and South American colonies, and the Pacific Islands unite with New Zealand, Australia, or the Fijis as a centre. Profesor Seeley's pungent questions, asked in 1883, are now receiving an emphatically affirmative answer :-“Will
c Greater Britain rise to a higher form of organisation ? Will the English race, now divided by several oceans, devise some scheme like that of the United States, under which full liberty and solid union may be reconciled with unbounded territorial expansion ?” The first steps were taken towards this object by the Jubilee Conferences of the Colonial Premiers with our Premier and Secretaries for the Colonies in 1887 and 1897. The movement is going on: we are by safe and steady progression advancing towards the still grander ideal of Imperial Federation. Why should there not be an Imperial Council, meeting annually in London, in which India and every colony and federation should be fully represented ? Already in the burning question of the re-settlement, on a firm and just basis, of South Africa, the voice of a United Canada and a United Australia reaches Downing Street with a clearness and decisiveness which isolated colonies could not give. Those of our children who have sealed a covenant of blood with us on the South African veldt have a right to a voice in the making of peace, and the future settlement of the country. “What we did," said the Canadian Premier in a recent speech at Ottawa, justifying the despatch to the war of Canada's large contingent, “we did of our own free will, and as to future wars, I have only this to say, that if it should be the will of the people of Canada to take part in any war of England, the people of Canada will have their way. Of course, if our future military contribution were to be considered compulsory—a condition which does not exist--I would say to Great Britain, 'If you want us to help you, call us to your councils.'
By such an Imperial Council, a family bond of union between the mother and her scattered family, Britannia will avoid the fate of Imperial Rome, where only the military power kept many alien nationalities together in a mechanical union. What we aspire to is a union of hearts. And as long as our beloved Queen-Empress lives,
. she will be the uniting bond of love. As to the future, I am an optimist. The character of my fellow-countrymen, formed during many centuries by rational liberty, strenuous labour, manly self-reliance, and earnest religion, has not deteriorated. The successful quieting down and repopulation of unhappy South Africa must depend upon the character of the men and women who settle there, rather than upon schemes of government, however wise and just.
What constitutes a State ?
Thick wall, or moated gate ;
No; men, high-minded men
Prevent the long-aimed blow
These constitute a State. With assured peace, the racial animosities in South Africa will disappear in time, and its industrial progress will advance apace. We shall all, I am sure, whatever our views, echo the noble wish of our beloved Sovereign, expressed in her last prorogation speech. Speaking of the annexation of the Orange Free State, now the Orange River Colony, Her Majesty said :-“I trust that this will be the first step towards the union of races, under institutions which, while establishing from the outset good and just government for all, may be, in time, developed so as to secure equal rights and privileges in my South African dominions."
It seems to me that both the Constitutions which I have described will afford useful suggestions for a future “ UNITED BRITISH SOUTH AFRICA.”
I must now bring this lengthy address to a close, with a word on a subject nearer home.