1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. CROUCH presented a petition signed by 210 persons employed in the Excelsior Woollen Mills, South Geelong, praying that the duty upon woollen piece goods, fixed by the Committee of Ways and Means at 15 per cent., bo raised to 20 per cent.
Petition received and read.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister, if he is aware that a bond for £100 was demanded on behalf of one William Turnbull, a passenger from Durban by the steamer Langton Grange, that the said Turnbull left here in charge of horses for the Cape, that he has been a resident of the State since 1854, that he has relations here, and two sons in the Commonwealth, and that he was in possession of a draft for £42 when the bond was demanded.
– I am prepared to answer the honorable member’s question, because he informed me last night, when it was too late to give notice in the usual way, that he intended to ask it. On inquiry, it has been ascertained that a bond was demanded from and entered into on behalf of W. Turnbull, but this action was taken by order of Mr. McLean, the State Immigration Agent of Victoria, on the ground that the man was an incurable invalid, that he had very little money, and that he might eventually become a charge on the State. Mr. McLean states that his instructions were given under the advice of the Crown Solicitor of “Victoria. The honorable member will, therefore, see that the action was taken solely under the instructions of State officials, and apart altogether from the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act.
– Is the right honorable member aware that the immigration agent when demanding the bond was under the impression that such a bond would not be required when the Immigration Restriction Act came into force ? Can he arrange that all such cases shall in the future bo dealt with under the Commonwealth Immigration Restriction Act?
– I have no knowledge of the fact to which my honorable friend alludes, but in all cases the Commonwealth Immigration Restriction Act will be administered in priority to other statutes.
– Is it correct, as reported in the press, that the AttorneyGeneral has advised the Government that the treaty mode between Queensland and Japan prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth is not binding on the Commonwealth?
– It is correct.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General prepared to answer a question which I asked last week in regard to telephone switch operators?
– Yes. The following information has been supplied to me : -
Telephone switch operators employed in the State of Victoria outside Melbourne are not paid overtime for Sunday work, the same as those on the Melbourne exchange, because it is practicable to allow them an equivalent time off. A special Sunday staff of telephone, switch operators had to be provided for the Melbourne exchange, and it was one of the conditions of their employment that they should be paid a special ratefor Sunday- work.
– Referring to an answer which the Minister for Trade and Customs gave to a question asked by me yesterday in regard to the erection of a light-house on Citadel Island, I should like to know if it is the intention of the Government to take over the administration of light-houses ?
– Yes ; but I cannot say when.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
General that the system regulating remittances shall as far as possiblebe uniform throughout the Commonwealth.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether the Government will prevent the further alienation of Crown lands in British New Guinea, so as to secure for all time the future land values of that territory for the people of the Commonwealth ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Until certain orders are made by the Privy Council, and certain documents executed, the administration of British New Guinea cannot pass to the Commonwealth. Although both Houses have expressed their willingness to accept it, the Possession can only become a territory of the Commonwealth upon its actual acceptance by Act of Parliament. When the necessary orders and documents are complete, a Bill will be introduced for this purpose, and for its administration as a territory, and the question of alienation or leasing of lands will be considered and dealt with either in the Bill or concurrently, as may be most effective. In the meantime there is no probability of the alienation of any considerable area.
Taxation of Commonwealth Property - Federal Capital Site - Press Telegraph Rates - State Imports - Treasury Appointments - Distribution of Commonwealth Publications - SpencerGillen Expedition - Volunteers - Tide-waiters - Post - offices - Telephones - Increments - Sydney Customhouse - District Allowances.
Question - That Mr. Speaker do leave the Chair, and the House resolve itself into Committee of Ways and Means - proposed.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Prime Minister a question of some importance to the electorate which I represent. I have here a copy of the correspondence which has passed between the Minister for Home Affairs and the Sydney Municipal Council in reference to the liability of the Commonwealth to pay rates upon its property within the city. The Attorney-General, relying upon section 114 of the Constitution, appears to think that the Commonwealth is not liable for such rates. The section reads as follows : -
A State shall not, without the consent of the Parliament of the Commonwealth . . . impose any tax on property of any kind belonging to the Commonwealth.
It seems an anomaly that the Commonwealth should not have to contribute towards the cost of maintaining the streets and of carrying out other municipal works in cities in which it has property, and I do not think it was the intention of the framers of the Constitution that it should escape that liability. The opinion of Mr. Dawson, the city solicitor, seems to be that the council’s claim must remain in abeyance until the matter can be decided by the High Court, but, as the meaning of the section seems pretty clear, it would appear that the High Court can do no more than decide that the Commonwealth is not liable. I wish to know, therefore, if it is the intention of the Government to rely upon the section, or if they will give Parliament an opportunity to express its opinion on the matter. Although I speak for the Sydney Municipal Council, it is not the only municipality which is affected. No doubt if an expression of opinion were given by Parliament, the municipal councils would fall in with it, and thus litigation and probable friction would be avoided. In regard to another matter coining under the same section, I should like to ask the Prime Minister or the Attorney-General what is the meaning of that section, so far as it applies to the power of the Commonwealth, to tax the property of a State? First of all, what does the word “ State “ mean ? Does it mean merely the State, or does it include those bodies deriving their authority from the State? Does it include municipal bodies ? Will that section cover the importation of goods the property of the State or of a municipality ? And if so, to what extent does it take away the necessity of the State or the municipality paying Customs taxation ? I cannot find any decisions upon this point excepting those which are given by Quick and Garran in their Annotated Constitution and of Cooley upon Taxation. Cooley points out that a municipal body was, by a judgment of the United States court, exempted from the payment of taxation upon shares that it held. The question of Customs taxation on imported goods did not arise in this case, because the tax was a direct one. Of course there is no direct prohibition in the United States Constitution, whilst there is a prohibition in our own Constitution ; but the case arises in precisely the same way. There “are some other cases given in the books of reference, although they do not bear directly upon this point. I forget the names of the parties in the case I have just cited, but the decision given there was that the property of a municipality is exempt from taxation. Whether this exemption covers Customs taxation, or whether it. refers to property, irrespective of whether it is immediately in the possession of the municipality or State, or will ultimately be so, is not clear. For instance, suppose a municipality gets a contractor to import some material, would the mere intention that that property should ultimately belong to the municipality free the material from the payment of Customs duty ? Would this section of ourConstitution cover that case, or would the contractor, not being a State or municipality, have to pay, and thus render the State or municipality eventually liable 1 This matter is of some practical importance to the city of Sydney just now, and will involve a difference of expenditure to the extent of some £25,000 or £30,000. Therefore, we should, as far as possible, have the Government dictum upon it. Now, there is another matter to which I wish to call the attention of the Government, namely, the question affecting the Government printing. I asked a question of the Minister for Home Affairs on Tuesday last as to the distribution of Government printing, and the answer I got was that there was no fixed rule for the distribution of this printing, but that hitherto the printing in each State had gone to the State printingoffice of that State to a very large degree. I am not supposed to be able to say what the phrase “ a very large degree “ implies ; but the Government Printing - office in Sydney finds that the work which legitimately belongs to the transferred departments in New South Wales has been taken away from it ; that, whereas formerly it did all the work that ought to be done in the State, it now only does a portion. The result has been that during the last few weeks a number of men have been discharged from the Sydney printingoffice. That office contains the most up-to-date printing machinery within the Commonwealth, and there is, of course, a very great advantage in giving out work to the office which has been in the habit of doing it, particularly in cases where standing matter requires only very small alterationsperiodically. In such instances the office in which the work has been previously donemust be in a position to carry .it out moreexpeditiously and more cheaply. I understand that before any work is given to theprintingoffice in Sydney the Government Printer is asked to supply an estimate of prices, which is then submitted to the Government Printer of Melbourne, and all the latter has to do in order to secure the work is to cut under Sydney prices.
– There is no truth whatever in that statement.
– All that is required is that the work which properly belongs to New South Wales should, as far as possible, be done in that State, and if it be taken away from it for any purpose, an equivalent amount of work should be given to theSydney office. In the event of the establishment of a Federal Government Printingoffice - which must come sooner or later - it is also desirable that the staff should berecruited proportionately from the various. States according to the amount of work supplied by them. Hitherto the work has. not been distributed fairly - there can beno question about that. This is a question of fact upon which I have precise information, not only from the men who work in the office, but from the officeitself. The work has not been distributed upon the basis which NewSouth Wales has been entitled to expect,, and therefore there is just ground for complaint. I do not wish anything done that would be unfair to the Commonwealth, butas the Sydney printing - office has a thorough!)’ up-to-date plant, I do not seehow any injustice could be done to the Commonwealth by giving that office a fair shareof its work.
– The honorable memberhas given me a considerable number of.’ queries to reply to, and I am quite sure that, he must have some faith in my ability topass the shorter catechism. However, I shall endeavour to give him as short and. succinct answers as I can. He tells us that there has been correspondence between theMinister for Home Affairs and the Sydney
City Council as to the liability of the Commonwealth to pay taxes upon Commonwealth property, and that the AttorneyGeneral has given his opinion that the municipalities cannot tax Commonwealth property. My colleague, the AttorneyGeneral, tells me that he has relied upon this section, but not wholly upon it, because he thinks the consideration of the whole broad question justifies the opinion he has given. I am not going to speak any further than is necessary in the way of giving a legal opinion ; but I will try to put the case before the honorable member and the House according to what seem to be the facts. In the first place, an opinion has been given by the Attorney-General upon a query asked by the Minister for Home Affairs, but whether that opinion will be acted upon by the Commonwealth Government, or whether the Government will pay or not, is a matter for future consideration. If we are not bound to pay, I think the Government are entitled to infer from the opinion of the Attorney-General that if it could pay at all under section 1 14 it would be only with the consent of the Parliament of the Commonwealth ; and by the first section of the Constitution, which makes the Parliament consist of the Crown and the “two Houses, it is clear that that consent would have to be evidenced by an Act of Parliament. On that question I have no more to say except that it will receive consideration, and that the Government have not had an opportunity of expressing an opinion whether, as a matter of grace or policy, this money should be paid. If the money is paid, it will be paid as a matter of grace. Then the very important question will arise whether, under a Constitution definitely limiting the powers of the Commonwealth, the Government will have “the power to part with the money as a mere matter of grace.
– What about giving Parliamen an opportunity of expressing an opinion ?
– If we think that as a matter of fairness we ought to pay this >money, we shall bring down a Bill. A “.further question has been asked by the honorable member as to whether the refusal of power to the Commonwealth to tax the property of the State conveys the meaning of the State in its strict form, or includes municipal bodies ; and whether the case of Customs taxation is covered. As to the property of the State, I always understood the term referred to the property as property, not in its territorial sense, but as property personal or real. That question arose at the Adelaide Convention, and I may be pardoned for quoting some remarks I made on that occasion, as they seem to afford some evidence of the sense_ in which the Convention understood the question, and in which they passed the section. At page 1002 of the Convention report, on being asked by Mr. Henry whether the Federal Parliament would have the power to levy duties on materials imported for State purposes, I gave this answer : -
This is a matter that was discussed very fully in the Constitutional Committee, and I think my honorable friend, Sir George Turner, will remember that I consulted a member of the .Finance Committee upon it, intimating to them the opinion of the Constitutional Committee on the point. The words, “ impose any tax on property,” do not refer to the importation of goods at all, and any amendment to except the Customs would be unnecessary. This clause states that a State shall not, without the consent of the Parliament of the Commonwealth, impose taxation on property of any kind, belonging to the Commonwealth, meaning by that, property of any kind which is in hand, such as land within the Commonwealth. That has no reference to customs duties.
Then Sir George Turner asked- “Will articles imported by the States Governments come in free?” The answer I gave to that question was -
The question then arises whether articles imported by the States Governments are to come in free, but this section has nothing to do with that.
This particular section has nothing to do with the importation of goods, but it has reference to property in the sense of property existing in the Commonwealth. I went on to say -
Under this Bill and in the measure of 1S91 I believe duties would have been collectable upon imports by any State, and after the consultation which I had with the honorable member and his colleagues on the Finance Committee, the Constitutional Committee decided not to make any exemptions in the case of any State.
The meaning of that being that, as far as the importation of articles through the Customs was concerned, this section did not touch it, and it rested with any Tariff’ Bill which the Commonwealth Parliament plight pass to say whether articles imported by and for the use of State Governments should be exempted or not.
– They have not been exempted.
– If the honorable member will turn to the special exemptions under the Tariff he will find something about that. If I may treat this matter in a common-sense way - as it is more within the functions of my colleague the AttorneyGeneral to express a legal opinion - I do not think the provision relating to the imposition of taxes on property of any kind belonging to a State, relates to the property of municipal bodies. I do not think such property would be exempted, because municipal property and State property are not identical. The honorable member has raised a further question with regard to the Government Printing-office, and I have the authority of the Treasurer to say that it is perfectly incorrect for any one outside to suppose that the distribution of work through the Government Printingoffice is carried out with any favoritism. The Executive Government must be carried on principally in Victoria while the Parliament is sitting in Melbourne, and consequently it arises that not only the Hansard printing, but frequent orders for Government work must be given to the nearest Government Printing-office. Sometimes it happens that that printing-office has too much work to do, and this has frequently occurred of late. In these cases the Ministry have considered themselves perfectly free to give orders for printing to any Government printing-office in the other States. With respect to the raising of the contingent, I gave orders at the beginning that all work necessitated in the several district commands, which are co-operative with each State, should be done in the printing-office of each State. There have been exceptions, as there must, when the Government printing-office which can best do the work is that near at hand. For example, the great bulk of the printing for the Commonwealth consists of the Hansard reports, and it would be idle and absurd to suppose - and I am sure the honorable member does not suggest - that we should get that printing done at a printing-office 500 miles away. There remains also the Government Gazette, which was issued in Sydney untilitbecame necessary to come to Melbourne prior to the meeting of Parliament, since which time the Gazette has been printed here. This must necessarily be so, because many notices published in the Gazette must be handed in almost on the eve of issue, and if we had to send ‘the orders 500 miles there would be delay which would be injurious to the public service. But if the honorable member has, as hesays he has, specific instances in which, he thinks anything unfair or unjust hasbeen done to any Government Printingoffice of the States, I should be glad to befurnished with them. I recognise with him the extreme efficiency of the Govern^ ment Printing-office in Sydney, and no onewishes to deprive that office of its propershare of work ; but Government exigencies, require that work shall be done at thenearest possible point. If the honorablemember will furnish me with a list of specific instances T shall have each inquired into and let him know the result.
– With respect to the first- matter mentioned by the honorable member for West Sydney, although, from a legal point of view it may be that the Commonwealth is able to evade payment of municipal rates on Commonwealth property, the matter is one which requiresvery full consideration apart from that legal aspect. The Commonwealth, being a. large taxing body, should act with liberality towards other bodies which render public services to the Commonwealth. Therefore, without entering on the legal aspect of the matter, I cordially support the honorable member for West Sydney in bringing thismatter under the notice of the Governmentand the House, and I hope that some step will be taken on the part of the Commonwealth to recognise civic obligations which ‘ have to be observed by the humblest member of the community. Leaving that matter, I should like to say a word or two with reference to a correspondencewhich has been laid on the table, I think, of the other Chamber, in relation to the selection of a site for the federal capital. I do not want to go into the general question - I do not think this a convenient opportunity - but I wish at the earliest possible moment to draw the attention of the House to what seems to be a very serious and embarrassing mistake which the Federal Government have made, as disclosed in that correspondence. I observe that the earlier stages of the correspondence were of a very satisfactory character. The Prime Minister, as far back as April last, brought the matter under the notice of the Cabinet, and in pursuance of a decision of that body, a letter was addressed to the Premier of New South Wales, to which letter, so far as I see, no objection can be taken. The letter in effect asked the New South Wales Government to state whether they were prepared to offer to the Commonwealth, under the provisions of the Commonwealth of Australia Act, any sites for the federal district or territory within which the capital of the Commonwealth is to be situated, and also intimated that the Federal Government desired to consider offers of tracts of larger area than the minimum prescribed in the Constitution Act, suggesting that certain steps should be taken in connexion with reserving unalienated land. That letter met with a prompt and satisfactory response on behalf of the New South Wales Government. The day after the date of that letter the Premier of New South Wales minuted the papers to the effect that the request should be immediately attended to, and on the 17th April he was informed by the Lands department of the State that all Crown lands within a radius of 15 miles of Bombala, Yass, and Canobolas had been reserved from sale and lease generally. On the 24th of the same month the New South Wales Government addressed the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, stating what had been done, and referred to the three sites I have named, which were mentioned in the report of the Royal commission, a copy of which, with appendices, was forwarded. The same communication stated that if any other site in New South Wales was considered by the Federal Government to be more suitable than those recommended, Mr. See would be glad to receive any further recommendation, and would take action similar to that taken in connexion with those previously suggested. On the 30th April a reply was sent by the Prime Minister. So far, as I have said, the correspondence seems to have been of a very satisfactory character. On the 1st July, the Premier of New South Wales addressed the Prime Minister, asking, on behalf “of the Secretary for Lands, whether the Federal Government desired to suggest any site in addition to those already proposed. So far, we find the State Government most ready and anxious to facilitate the wishes and inquiries of the Federal Government. The matter went on through some unimportant stages, until the Prime Minister took up a position and made a request, to which I desire to invite the attention of the House.
In the Prime Minister’s letter of the 29 th August, the Government of New South Wales are asked whether they are prepared to indicate any area or areas for which the Government entertain a preference. It seems to me that that was a most embarrassing and improper request to make - that the Government of New South Wales should express an opinion officially in the way of a preference for a site for the federal territory in New South Wales. How could the Government of New South Wales express any such preference 1 How could they be in any sort of position in which it was their duty to suggest to the Federal Government a preferential site 1 The mere -fact that the New South Wales Government did prefer a certain site would probably domore to prejudice that site than anythingelse could. The statement would at once be made, “Oh, the New South Wales Government think that site would be most suitable in the interests of New South Wales.” But the broad fact,, I submit, is that, whilst the New South Wales Government can be fairly expected to give the Federal Government the fullest information upon all questions connected with the selection of a site, there is one thing that they should not be asked to do, and that is to pick a site.
– Nobody asked the NewSouth Wales Government to do so.
– Or indicate a preference for a site t Is that not picking a site ?
– No ; it is for us alone topick a site.
– That distinction is a legal one.
– It is not ; it is common sense.
– It is rather remarkable that the Prime Minister, while he properly says that it is for us to pick a site, in the same breath seems to be prepared to justify the request to the Government of New South Wales to indicate any “area, or areas for which’ your Government entertains a preference.”- I say again that that was a most embarrassing request tomake to the New South Wales Government. I am sure that if the Prime Minister were a member of the New South Wales Government, that Government would not accept the invidious task of setting theStates by the ears by picking out some particular site, especially as- it is not the business of that Government to do so. The- federal site must, of course, be selected by the Federal Parliament, and this Government cannot in any sense get rid of their responsibility by making a request of that kind to the New South Wales Government.
– The Government do not want to get rid of their responsibility.
– Of course, the Government never wants to do that ; but still, if they . have no desire to involve some one else in the responsible duty of expressing a preference, why was this request addressed to the Premier of New South Wales ? The Premier of that State may fairly be asked to assist the Federal Government in every possible way, except the one way of indicating a preference for any one of the particular sites which will have to be considered, and which New South Wales will have to oe prepared to offer to the Federal Parliament. The proper position of the Government of New South Wales is to show a readiness to give the fullest information to the Federal Government in regard . to every site which the Federal Government suggests. I am quite sure the New South Wales Government will afford that information, but for us to go one step further, and . ask the State Government to indicate which site they most favour, is to ask them to do what is not their duty. .That is the duty of the Federal Parliament, and the more the State authorities keep out of this rather delicate task the better for both parties. The recommendation of the State Government would be a mere waste of breath, unless it happened to fall in with the wishes of the Federal Parliament. The authority to decide this matter is undoubtedly the Federal Parliament ; and I do not want to put any unfair or unfriendly degree of responsibility on the Government in connexion with the selection of a site. This is a thoroughly national matter, which members on both sides will be expected to consider in a spirit absolutely free from party feeling of- any kind. I have no desire, therefore, to- pin the Government too closely to its responsibilities, but there must be some guiding hand in this matter. The Government must act in a responsible way until the moment comes for the Parliament to act, and it is to be regretted that the Government went out of their way to ;ask the State Government to do what the Federal Government themselves were not prepared to do.
– In which letter was the request made 1
– In a letter of 29th August addressed by the Prime Minister to the Premier of New South Wales. I quote from the letter -
I shall also esteem it as a favour if you will be good enough to inform me, in view of the second paragraph of your letter of 1st instant, in which you intimate the objection of your Government to reservations which appear to be unnecessary, whether you are prepared to indicate any area or areas for which your Government entertains a preference ?
At this point the State Government naturally began to be silent. The correspondence had been going on very well, and everything was being done promptly on both sides to bring this matter into a condition that would admit of definite action, when suddenly this unhappy request was made. From that time, the 29th August, it’ has, apparently, been impossible to get a word from the State Government on the subject.
– Hear, hear !
– The Prime Minister very fairly and.considerately gave the Premier of New South Wales an intimation on the 2nd December that the papers must be laid on the table of the House, but said he would delay publication; if Mr: See so desired, in order that his reply should be included. Mr. See took no notice of that intimation, and in that I think he lacked that courtesy with which such correspondence should be conducted. But the original difficulty was that to which I have referred, and in that respect the Federal Government put on the State Government an invidious task, which it was in no sense their duty to perform, and which has tended to throw this matter into some confusion. I hope that’ the little difficulty will be overcome, and that this suspension of official relationship–
– There has been no suspension.
– I hope not, but it seems so, because the Prime Minister’s communication of the 29th August has not been answered by the New South Wales Premier. In September - and, as an old official, I must say that this action seems a rather’ strange one - an Under-Secretary of that State addressed a letter to the Prime Minister of Australia upon the subject.
– They will not do that any more.
An Honorable Member. - It is signed by the Under-Secretary for the Premier.
– Upon looking more closely into the matter, I am glad to see that the remark which I made in this connexion was uncalled for, because I notice that the Under-Secretary sighs, “for the Premier and Chief Secretary of New South Wales.”
– That does not make much difference. But we understand each other perfectly now.
– I think that it makes a good deal of difference. I do not draw the line so tightly as does the Prime Minister. The Premier might be absent in the country, and it would be much better not to delay a. letter of such importance. The Under-Secretary simply signed on behalf of the Premier ; and, therefore, I withdraw the remark which I made. It was a somewhat formal letter, enclosing the report of the commissioner appointed by the New South Wales Government upon the eligible sites for the federal capital. From that day to this, no letter has been written by the Government of that State on the subject. I do hope that this little difficulty will be removed, and that the utmost promptitude will be shown in the selection of the site. It is a matter which I believe honorable members have no desire to unduly delay, and I shall be happy to co-operate in every possible way - as we all will - with the Government in any steps which they may suggest for the purpose of enabling us to gain a personal acquaintance with the different sites. But I think that we should entirely abandon any request that the Government of New South Wales should undertake the task in any shape or form of recommending a site. There is another matter which is not a very large one, but to which I may be allowed to refer. At present there is a strange arrangement in existence in connexion with the Telegraph department - an arrangement which ought to be immediately remedied. I believe that some rule exists - a Cabinet rule - which is administered by the Telegraph department, under which what is called federal matter is transmitted to the newspapers of Australia upon certain terms. A special rate is applicable to the first 100 words, but every subsequent 100 words is transmitted at1s., the ordinary press rate for the same being 3s. Under this arrangement, if the Prime Minister makes a speech at Maitland it is telegraphed by the department all over Australia for a charge of1s. per 100 words after the first 100 ; whilst if I happen to reply to that speech, the newspapers are charged 3s. per 100 words for transmitting that reply.
– I am informed by the Postmaster-General that that is an entire misconception, and has not happened.
– I can give an instance. I am not, however, referring to the case which the Prime Minister has in view. Honorable members will recollect that there were two large meetings held at the Melbourne Townhall in reference to the Tariff. The speeches at the free-trade meeting were transmitted at 3s. per 100 words, and a similar charge was made in connexion with those delivered at the protectionist gathering, but only because there were other speakers besides the Prime Minister at the latter demonstration. If the Prime Minister alone had addressed that gathering his speech would have been transmitted to all the newspapers in Australia at the lower rate of1s. per 100 words.
– Perhaps my right honorable friend will allow me to say that when the honorable member for Wentworth first mentioned this matter I made inquiry, and I was specifically informed by the PostmasterGeneral, who had investigated the complaint that very morning, that no instance of such favoritism had ever occurred.
– I am not referring to that meeting, because I know the telegraph charges were uniform in both oases. What I had in mind was the meeting which the Prime Minister recently addressed at Maitland. I was interviewed in reference to the speech of the right honorable gentleman and the reports of that interview which were transmitted by the newspapers were charged at the rate of 3s. per 100 words, whilst the deliverance which I was reviewing was charged only1s. per 100 words. Clearly the result of this practice is that the Prime Minister gets five columns in a press report - to which he is entitled - although he would probably not be granted that amount of space if 3s. per 100 words had to be paid.
– If the right honorable member, as leader of the Opposition, had made a speech upon a somewhat similar occasion, his utterance would have been transmitted at the same rate, but there is a distinction drawn between reports of Cabinet and Executive meetings, reports of speeches made by Ministers or leading members of the Opposition, and such other matters as interviews and press gossip.
– I think that the whole of these special distinction^ are fraught with danger. Why should the leader of the Opposition be allowed a privilege which the honorable member for Gippsland, or any other honorable member who makes a speech upon a public federal matter, is denied ? The Prime Minister does not need to take advantage of this cheap telegraphic rate, because his utterances will always be fully reported whatever charge may be levied 1 I cannot say so much in reference to the leader of the Opposition. Reference has been made to the honorable member for Wentworth, and in this connexion I may mention that that honorable member recently delivered an address in Sydney in reply to the Prime Minister. The report of that speech was charged 3s. per 100 words for transmission, and the natural result was that instead of it occupying one and a half or two columns of print, a very short and miserable report was sent across the wires.
– The department would have charged the same for the transmission of a speech by any other Minister, as was charged for reports of the address of the honorable member for Wentworth.
– If that be so, I think it only points more keenly to the absurdity of the arrangement. Let us suppose, for example, that the Minister for Home Affairs has occasion to make an important public speech upon a matter affecting his department. Practically the public, are just as anxious to have that speech reported as they would be if it were delivered by the Prime Minister. It seems to me rather absurd that such a distinction should be . drawn between a Minister’s speech upon a federal subject and an address by the Prime Minister. The present practice creates an anomaly which I think is unworthy of the Telegraph department. That department is one which should be kept absolutely free from political considerations of any kind, and the existing arrangement imposes on that department the invidious task of deciding when my speech is to be charged at the rate of 3s. per 100 words and when it is not. I admit that this is not a large matter, but it is one that I strongly advise Ministers to adjust. It is the beginning of evil and favoritism.
– There .is no favoritism in. it j it is purely a departmental rule.
– I do not attach much importance to it ; but I do attach importanceto keeping the telegraph department absolutely free from these distinctions. Surely the Prime Minister is safe enough with the press of Australia without this arrangement.
– He would not be safeif the press which supports the right honorable member had its wicked will with him.
– Surely the Prime Ministerdoes not say that this lower charge makes, a difference to the way in which the presswould report him. Surely he does notpretend that the newspapers would reporthim beautifully if they were charged ls.. per 100 words, but would not do so if they had to pay 3s. per 100 words, because if so, the present arrangement is tantamountto bribery and corruption. I repeat that the existing practice is fraught with; mischief and ought to be stopped.
– I only wish tosay one word in reference to the question of”’ whether the Commonwealth has power totax State imports. I had not the advantage of being present when the PrimeMinister spoke, but I understand that hedid not offer any definite legal opinion, upon this subject. I think he waswise in acting thus, because it is a matterwhich is surrounded with an enormousmass of difficulties. Reference was certainly made to it in the Convention - as. the right honorable gentleman pointedout - but I do not think we ought to accept the views expressed in a Convention by any persons upon any particular subject asnecessarily binding the construction of the Constitution.
– I did not do that. I said; that I was not in a position to give alegal .opinion, but I read the answerwhich I had given to a question asindicative of the feeling of the committee in assenting to the clause.
– The right honorablegentleman was quite right in drawing attention to that matter ; but, for myself, I should prefer very much not to be understood as offering any distinct opinion on the subject. It bristles with all sorts of” difficulties, both from the stand-point of the Commonwealth and from that of the States. . We shall have to consider the matter to a . large extent apart from the American decisions. In one of the American decisions given by Chief Justice Marshall - in the case of Brown v. Maryland - it was pointed out that a tax upon imports was not a tax upon the mere act of importation, but was a tax upon the articles themselves. That brings the matter in one aspect within the literal terms of section 114 of the Constitution.
– But that decision was to prevent the claim of the States to impose another import duty upon the same goods.
– It was, but it also goes to show what was meant by the “ Customs duty.” At the same time we have to regard this matter from the stand-point of British law, which introduces a totally new element, namely, that of how far the Crown is to be taxed, because, after all, when a State imports goods it is the Crown, as represented by that State, which is importing those goods. The matter, therefore, involves an element which is quite foreign to the American view of the situation. I do not intend to enter into a debate upon the question, but I rise for the purpose of saying that we ought not to settle in our minds that a State is or is not exempt from this taxation. Under the literal words of section 114 of the Constitution, State property certainly would be exempt, because no one can deny that goods which are imported are “property.” The words of the section declare that the Commonwealth shall not impose taxation upon “ property of any kind “ belonging to a State. It would be almost impossible to find larger words than those, and it is, therefore, a matter of serious consideration how far a limitation can be put upon them. I repeat that I rise merely for the purpose of stating that it must not be understood that this committee is binding itself to one or other of the possible constructions of the section.
– On page 20 of the Tariff, which is now under consideration in Committee of Ways and Means, it is provided that articles imported by and for the use of the Commonwealth, or of any State Government, shall be exempt from the payment of duty. That being so, any discussion upon the question will anticipate discussion upon a matter which is now before the House, and cannot be permitted. Incidental references to the subject are allowable, but any discussion upon the broad question whether duties should or should not be levied upon such articles would be contrary to our standing orders.
– I should like to draw the attention of the right honorable the Treasurer to the terms of an answer which he gave to my question yesterday in regard to appointments recently made in his department. The right honorable gentleman takes credit, or at least he has allowed the press to give him credit, for the fact that a great many of the recent appointments in his department were from States other than Victoria ; but, according to the answer which he gave yesterday, it appears that Victoria has fared very well indeed in the matter. Out of 23 officers who have been appointed, no fewer than eight were drawn from the Victorian service. I refer to that, however, only incidentally in connexion with another matter to which I wish to draw the attention of the House. According to the right honorable gentleman’s answer to my question, he notified only on the 16th December the fact that there were vacancies in his department to be filled, and I am informed that accompanying the notification was a hint that the officers appointed would be expected to take up their duties on the 2nd January. The Treasurer has hitherto had to administer the affairs of what, taking into account its geographical limitations, is only a small State ; but I hope that in future he will remember that he is now administering the affairs of six States, and that the officers in the States distant from Victoria have equal rights, when qualified, with Victorians, to any vacancies that may arise. Several officers in the State of Western Australia, who were very well qualified for the positions which were recently vacant, have informed me that, as their previous applications were ignored, and the time open to them on this occasion was so short, they did not consider it worth while to apply. I submit that sufficient time should have been given to enable officials in Western Australia and in Queensland to become acquainted with the fact that these vacancies existed, and to forward their testimonials through the heads of their departments to the Treasurer, so that they might have a fair chance of securing the appointments. The Treasurer admits that these vacancies were not notified in the Commonwealth Gazette. I do not know how they were notified, or how the officers in the various States became acquainted with the fact that they existed, but I think that the practice followed by the State Governments should be followed by the Commonwealth Government, and that, whenever a vacancy exists, the fact should be notified in the official Gazette. Although we are supposed to have a Commonwealth Gazette, I have never seen a copy of it ; all I have seen is a portion of a copy which was posted up in one of the lobbies in this building. I think that the Minister by whose department the Gazette is issued should cause copies to be sent to every member of this House and of the Senate.
– I understood that copies were sent out to every member.
– I have never received a copy, and I doubt if any other honorable member has ever done so.
– It is not included among the papers which are sent to members.
– We ought to have it. I received a copy, but I had to ask for it.
– The Government Printer has a list of the names and addresses of honorable members, and copies ought to be sent to them.
– In regard to the issue of Hansard, I wish to point out that, prior to the Christmas adjournment, honorable members used to receive three copies each ; but now only one copy is being sent. It appears from inquiries that I have made that honorable members who wish to have three copies sent to them as before, must make application to the -Government Printer, asking him to continue the former arrangement. Why such an alteration should have been made without notice to honorable members I do not know. The matter is a small one, but we should have had notice of the change. Some time ago, I asked that a copy of Hansard should be forwarded to each branch of the Workers’ Association in Western Australia. Honorable members may not be aware that in many of the new towns in that State the little library or reading room established by that organization is the only thing approaching a library which exists in the district. The pioneers who are assisting in building up these towns and settling the country desire to know what the Federal Parliament is doing. The newspapers issued in the distant States of the Commonwealth do not publish anything approaching full reports of the debates in this House or in the Senate, and thus the official reports are the only means by which the people can be properly informed of what is being done by us. Of course, the Government are not to blame for the fact that the newspapers do not publish full reports of our debates. They acted very generously in reducing the telegraphic rates from what they were formerly to the Victorian inland rate. When I moved my motion affirming the desirability of allowing reports of the debates in this Parliament to be transmitted at that rate, I did not contemplate that interviews between the Prime Minister and other Ministers and reporters would also be transmitted on the same terms ; but no doubt it is a good arrangement, provided that the Postmaster-General is of opinion that his department can afford to send the messages on those terms. But in any case the slight expense which would be involved in sending Hansard to the organization I have mentioned should not be allowed to prevent people in the back country from haying opportunities to learn what we are doing. The concession was denied to me on the ground of economy ; yet the sheet of note-paper upon which the denial was written could not have been purchased in any retail shop in Melbourne for less than about 6d., and was -a notable instance of the so-called economy pursued by this Government.
– Sixpence a sheet for note-paper !
– If the Minister doubts what I say, I shall get an estimate from a stationer on the subject, and produce it in this Chamber. The letter was written on a very large sheet of double-foolscap, and the paper could not have been purchased in any retail shop in Melbourne for less than 6d.
– Perhaps it was to soften the blow.
– I should have felt just as well pleased if the officer of the President’s department had turned up the corner of my note and written his reply there. It is false economy to refuse to send Hansard to this organization. It is not as though the request was on behalf of a private individual, because each copy of Hansard so sent would be read by perhaps 200 or 300 people. I think that in the interests of Parliament, of the Government, and of the Commonwealth, every facility should be cheerfully extended to the people, and especially to the people in the back-blocks, to make themselves acquainted with our proceedings.
– I should like to reply in two i>r three words to the remarks of the honorable member for Coolgardie in regard to the appointments lately made in the Treasury and in the Audit-office. The positions which were vacant have been fairly distributed amongst officers of all the States.
– That was not my complaint.
– As the Secretary to the Treasury was taken from a “Victorian department, he naturally desired to have associated with him men whom he had trained and with whom he had worked before,- and, therefore, he selected on the first occasion when appointments were made three or four Victorian officers ; but the total number of Victorian officers in the department, not including the messenger, is, I think, seven. With regard to appointments, the practice has been to ask the Prime Minister to communicate with the various States, and to ascertain through the State Governments the names of those who desire to apply, and who possess the qualifications necessary for the positions that are vacant. I received a very large number of applications for the vacant positions from people who were wholly unsuited for the work that has to be done, our work being chiefly ledger-keeping and the inspecting of accounts. Two or three months ago we had. a number of applications from Western Australia for positions in the Auditoffice, and when a notification of vacancies was issued on the 1.6th December, a communication was received from Western Australia asking that the appointments might be postponed, because of political troubles which had arisen there. It was impossible to accede to that request, but we stated that we should take into consideration all the applications which had been, received previously for similar positions in the Auditoffice. I think that we treated the Western Australian officials very fairly in doing that, and one appointment was made from Western Australia. With regard to advertising vacancies in the Commonwealth Gazette, I would point, out that it would take a very long time for the information to circulate in that way, and as the officers required were men with special qualifications, we thought it better that we should obtain recommendations from the heads of departments in the States rather than bring over here a number of persons who, after an interval of two or three months, might be found unsuitable, and would then have to be sent back again. With regard to the distribution of the Commonwealth Gazette, I was not aware that it is not being distributed amongst members. I believe that the distribution is a matter in the hands of the Government, and not in the hands of the President and Mr. Speaker, and I shall therefore see that in future every honorable member is supplied with a copy.
– I desire to know whether the attention .of the Government has been drawn to a statement in the Age to-day, in reference to the Spencer-Gillen exploring expedition. This expedition was mainly sent out from Victoria, and the most alarming news has been received from Professor Spencer, the leader of the expedition, who has written to a friend in Melbourne, stating that the expedition is at present at Borroloola, some distance from Port Darwin. From the letter of Professor Spencer, which is dated 10th December, 1901, it appears that the condition of the expedition is one of very grave danger and necessity. Professor Spencer says - “ The mail route will be closed very soon. Even now there is a 90-mile dry stage, and in a week or two it will be worse. Then we shall be completely shut off until rain falls, when there will be such a flood that the road won’t be open for a month at least. We feel as if we were simply caught in a hole here. Last week a small 14-ton ketch came round from Port Darwin instead of the steamer. Of course, even were it safe to go in such a minute craft, there is no room for passengers, and the captain declined to take us. All that we can do is to wait as patiently as we can until a steamer does come, but goodness only knows when that will be. Our only other alternative is to buy or borrow horses and go overland to the north. We may have to do this, but shall only do so at the last moment, as of course With the wet season coming on we might get in for a big downpour anywhere, and get ‘ stuck up ‘ for any time between one and two months. We spend hours daily lamenting our fate, for there is- simply nothing left for vis to do here now. We both have a touch of malarial fever, and are feeling the heat very much.”
It may be said that this matter does not really affect this Parliament, but is one which should engage the attention- of the State Governments, but I would urge that in consideration of the grave necessity for immediate action–
– Is there grave necessity for immediate action ? That letter does not disclose it.
– The last letter received from Professor Spencer is dated 10th December, 1901, and no news has been received regarding the expedition since then. If the honorable member has any knowledge of the conditions which prevail in that part of the Northern Territory, he must be aware that the condition of the expedition is one of great danger.
– If a 14-ton boat visits the place every week or so, there should be no grave danger.
– Nothing could happen but delay.
– Both the leaders of the expedition are suffering from malarial fever, and in the wet season their condition would become rather worse than better. I feel that the work that these men have undertaken is of a national character, affecting not only Australia but the whole scientific world. We have too long neglected ethnological matters in Australia, and the knowledge that this expedition will gain will probably be of inestimable value in scientific circles. We have in the past reaped advantage from the investigations of both the leaders of this expedition, and lustre has been shed upon the name of Australia on account of the valuable work they have done. It would cast enduring shame upon this Parliament, even though it may not be held directly responsible, if anything were to happen to this expedition. The writer of the article in the Age, which embodies the quotation which I have just read, says -
The paths of Australian exploration are whitened by the bones of many gallant men. It would be a national disgrace if, for want of a little energy, we allowed two distinguished men, who have risked their lives in the cause of science, to perish on the fever-stricken shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Although we may be told by the Government that we have no right to interfere, I hope that it will be recognised that the work upon which this expedition is engaged is of a purely national character, and that the Government will do everything in its power to assist the expedition. I feel sure that there will not be the slightest disposition on the part of the State Governments to resent any assistance which might be offered by the Federal Government.
– I read with some interest the paragraph in the Age with reference to this expedition, but I quite agree with the honorable oem.ner for Bland that there is no more danger to the expedition at Borraloola than if they were at Richmond. The leaders of the expedition may be suffering from malarial fever, but that is the condition of nine-tenths of the population of these tropical territories at this season of the year. The difficulty referred to by Professor Spencer appears to have arisen from the fact that the steamer which used to carry the mails from Port Darwin to Borraloola - which is a postal town with a store, police station, and so on - was recently wrecked, and it has been impossible to obtain another steamer suitable for thetraffic at short notice. In the meantime, I have no doubt that if it were represented to the South Australian Government, and a suitable sailing vessel could get round to Borraloola at this time of the year, an endeavour would be made to relieve the temporary embarrassment of these gentlemen. There is no danger of starvation, or anything of that sort. There is a large store in the township, and a fairly numerous population. Borraloola is one of the polling places in the district I represented when I was a member of the South Australian Parliament. There is some possibility perhaps of the overland mail route from Borraloola to Anthony’s Lagoon being closed by heavy rains, but that has not occurred yet. and if the party secured horses, which are readily obtainable in the district, they could reach one of the telegraph stations by way of Anthony’s Lagoon in a few days. There is no danger to be apprehended, and certainly nothing to justify any very great expense. Even if the leaders of the expedition happen to be suffering from malarial fever, they are much better off at Borraloola than are many other pioneers in the territory. Borraloola is situated about 800 miles from Port Darwin, and about 90 or 100 miles from the cattle station at Anthony’s Lagoon, from which they could reach the telegraph line. The journey would be rather a long one for men who are sick, but the party are just as well off at Borraloola with plenty of stores and medical comforts, as if they were at Palmerston itself.
– I atn acquainted with only <one of the leaders - Professor Spencer - and he is far from being a robust man.
– Mr. Gillen, who was our station-master at Alice Springs for many years, is a good bushman and a robust man, who would not care for anything but the inconvenience arising from the delay. Borroloola is about 70 or 80 miles up the Macarthur River, and that portion of the journey would have to be performed by boat. With the north-western monsoon -which prevails at this time of the year, it -would take- a sailing vessel some time to beat down from Port Darwin to Borroloola, -and perhaps a longer time to beat back. I know that the mail contractor is waiting for a new steamer from China or the East, and until this arrives, the mail service is being performed with a ketch. I wonder the party did not travel by the 14-ton ketch referred to, because plenty of other people have had to travel in smaller boats than that. I would suggest that the South Australian Government should be communicated with, and I have no doubt that the Government Resident in the Northern Territory will use every possible effort to relieve the members of the expedition.
– Although I have restrained myself as much as possible from availing myself of the standing orders under which honorable members arenow addressing the House, I am compelled to bring certain grievances under notice. The Ministers have admitted that they believe in encouraging the volunteer, forces of the Commonwealth, and I desire to make some remarks -upon that matter. As the Minister for Defence is not present, I hope the Prime Minister will give me his attention. As our volunteers give their services absolutely free, no obstacle should be placed in the way of the proper maintenance of the corps already existing, or of the formation of others, and they should be armed with up-to-date rifles, which are, essential to their efficiency in shooting.
– The Minister for Defence cannot attend to this matter just now, and I am precluded by the standing orders from speaking again.
– The Prime Minister is not precluded from advising other Ministers so as to enable them to reply for him, and I trust that he will take that course. The Minister for Home Affairs is very much concerned in this matter, because he is perfectly well acquainted with the Civil Service Rifle Corps of New South Wales, to which I am about to refer. The members of that corps are skilled mechanics, employed in the Government service, and for some time past they have given up a great deal of thentime without fee or reward. They stand today, however, armed with the old Martini rifles, whilst other rifle corps have been granted the Lee-Enfield rifles. The Minister for Home Affairs, as an experienced rifle shot, should be well able to appreciate the disadvantage at which they are placed in connexion with their rifle-shooting owing to the want of the newer weapon. This rifle corps, although commanded and officered by some of the leading public officers in New South Wales - skilled professional men - are unable to obtain rifles of the Lee-Enfield pattern, or even a sufficient number of rifles for the club connected with the corps to practise with. Everything should be done to encourage these- men to practise rifleshooting, and as there are thousands of LeeEnfield rifles at the command of the Minister for Defence, I trust that not a day will be allowed to pass before this matter is attended to. I should like to impress upon the Minister for Home Affairs the fact that other corps have received Lee - Enfield rifles since they were “denied to the Civil Service Corps. I now ask the Minister, not to arm the whole regiment, but to supply, say, 100 rifles, in order that there may be that practice which is so essential to efficiency. There is another matter to which I desire to refer, and though not quite so militant, it is of great concern to the Minister for Trade and Customs and the Treasurer. The officials of the Custom-house have to be welltried men, active in service, and watchful in collecting revenue ; and yet I am informed that at Sydney, tide waiters, although the regulations prescribe that they shall not be employed after 5 o’clock in the evening, or after mid - day on Saturday, are kept at work night after night without any recompense. The whole of these officers prepared a petition to the Comptroller-General, but the head of the department declined to send the petition on and I trust that the Minister for Trade and Customs, who is a strong man, will see that the requests of these men, if of a legitimate character, are granted, and that petitions, whatever may be their nature, are forwarded to the proper quarter. 0
– Any member of the public service has a right to approach the head of the department.
– That is the answer I expected ; namely, that any official or any citizen has the right to approach the chief authority. I hope that these tidewaiters will be properly classified and receive proper recompense, because, if a parsimonious attitude is adopted by the department, it may be found that these officers, however vigilant in the past, may become somewhat lax, and the revenue thus suffer.
– I do not think that even under those circumstances the officers would be lax.
– Under strong pressure, they might be led to become lax. The Speaker has decided that it is out of order on the present occasion to speak generally on the question of exempting from taxation goods the property of - the State Governments ; but I would ask the Government, if it be their intention to make exemptions, to also exempt machinery which is required by municipalities for sanitary, purposes, such as the garbage destructor ordered for Annandale, New South Wales. I have another request, and it is in regard to the federal area. The people of New South Wales have been waiting with a patience which surpasses that of Job for some definite action in regard to the visit of inspection to the various proposed areas by members of this Parliament. At Maitland, only two or three weeks ago, the Prime Minister spoke of the provincial influence of Melbourne having a deleterious effect on the members and proceedings of this Parliament. I have felt that deleterious effect myself, and I trust that the Minister for Home Affairs will take immediate steps to arrange for a visit of inspection, so that that we may come to a speedy conclusion. In this connexion there is a compact with New South Wales, and it is only right that that compact should be observed. If the Prime Minister be right in the reasons he advancedat Maitland, then on public grounds and in the interests of the Commonwealth, the sooner the scene of our legislative labours is changed the better. M,any honorable members, amongst whom I am numbered, have on ‘several, occasions urged the Minister for Home Affairs to take some decisive action, and I trust that another grievance day” will not come round before we are placed in possession of the full information necessary to thesettlement of this much-vexed question. The people of New South Walesare so much concerned about this matterthat a mass meeting of citizens is to be held in the Town-hall, Sydney, to urge on theGovernment the necessity for speedy action.. There is an idea in that State -that thereis some spirit at work here endeavouring to retain Melbourne as the capital, city for all time, though I have assured the people there, as well as I am able, that the Victorians are quite as anxious as any to observe the compact set forth in the Constitution. I am glad to see that the Treasurer approves of that statement, because the people of New South Wales will be more satisfied when they know that a gentleman with so high areputation for honesty of purpose is anxious, for an early decision. I hope the good intentions of the Treasurer in this respect will be followed by action on the part of the Government.
– I recognise the necessity for carrying out the compact as to the federal area with the least possibledelay, and I know that the Minister for Home Affairs has, to a certain extent, fixed a programme for a visit of inspection. The Government of New South Wales have reserved Crown lands in and around three of the sites mentioned, and I should like to know whether other sites besides those three, and those mentioned by the Minister for Home Affairs in a recent press interview, will also be included in the visit of inspection. There is one area in New South Wales to which I should like to call attention. Mr. Oliver, who was the commissioner appointed to inspect the various areas, went within measurable distance of a site situated at the back of Jervis Bay, but returned to Sydney without making any inspection. The people in that district, through the Nowra Municipal Council, went to considerable expense in preparing statistics and information, and are naturally greatly disappointed that they never had an opportunity of laying before Mr. Oliver the advantages of that area. Jervis Bay is a magnificent harbor, unequalled in Australia except by Port Jackson, and the area I have mentioned is a few miles at the back of the bay, on a beautiful mountain tableland, with one of the most lovely climates in Australasia, a magnificent water supply, and all other adjuncts! My desire is that this district should not be overlooked by Mi-. Oliver, or any other person who is appointed to collect information. An important matter in my constituency is that of telephone communication between Sydney and the south-coast districts of New South Wales. Some time ago telephone communication was established between Newcastle and Sydney and Bathurst and Sydney, and though the latter line is no.t paying, the former is said to do a remunerative business.
– The Bathurst line is not managed properly.
– I know nothing about that. In the south-coast districts there are a large number of coal, mines, from Helensburgh to Dapto. There are the harbor at Port Kembla, and smelting works. Cokemaking, brick-making, and similar industries are carried on from one end of the district to the other. Ships of 4,000 and 5,000 tons burden trade to the harbors, and, considering the importance of the coal-mining industry, speedy communication with the metropolis is absolutely necessary. I was informed by the secretary of one of the coal-mining associations, from whom I was making inquiries, that he paid no less than £500 a year for telegraphic communication with Sydney. It may be said that the establishment of telephones would deprive the Postal department of all that revenue ; but if we desire to properly develop the industries which are carried on in that district, there must be rapid and easy communication with the metropolis. I should like to call the attention of the postal authorities to the fact that at Bulli, which is in the centre of the coal-mining community, the post-office is practically tumbling about the ears of the occupants. Telephones are established there, and are largely used in connexion with mining ; but all the instruments are in the public room, so that for messages even of the most important character there is no privacy. The people of the town presented a largely-signed petition some three or four months ago protesting against this state of affairs, and asking that a new post-office should be erected as speedily as possible, and I trust the Minister for Home Affairs will deal with this matter. At Wollongong, which is the largest township on the south coast, the post-office building, which cost thousands of pounds, has not had a coat of paint for the last twelve or fourteen years. Surely it cannot be in theinterests of the department to allow the wallsto fall down for the sake of a coat of paint? I trust that the Minister in charge of theseworks will see that they are carried out promptly. As regards the selection of thesite for the federal capital, I do hope that the Minister for Home Affairs will see thathonorable members get an opportunity of inspecting the areas which are regarded aseligible by the commissioner.
– In connexion with the matter of repairs tothe post-offices in the various States, I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister for Home Affairs the position in South Australia. As he is well aware, the summer season is the proper period duringwhich to undertake these repairs. But despite the fact that quite a number of works in connexion with repairs to post-offices in South Australia have been sanctioned, thos© works are not being proceeded with because the department cannot obtain the requisite instructions.
– I do not think thereis a paper in my department relating to postal repairs, which has not been dealt with and approved if the work has been recommended by the Postal authorities.
– I can give the Minister a list of the towns where these postoffices are located. They include Jamestown, Kingston, Mount Barker, Noarlunga, Penola, Robe, Redhill, Cowell, Largs Bay, Mannum, Macclesfield, Petersburg, Riverton, and Two Wells. Only on Monday last I was informed by the Public Works department in South Australia that although the repairs to the post-offices in these towns had been sanctioned, no instructions were forthcoming to proceed with the works, and the impression entertained is that operations are deferred pending the consideration of the Estimates. I do hope that the Minister for Home Affairs will direct that these works be proceeded with forthwith. Nothing can be saved by delay, and although the whole expenditure involved does not represent a large amount, theCommonwealth will be the gainer if the undertakings are promptly carried out.
– I wish to call the attention of the representativeof the Postmaster-General to a paragraph
It was hoped that the transfer of the telephone service to federal control would lead to subscribers getting a tolerably fair return for their money. Instead of this, the service has reached a still lower depth of bad administration during the last few months. Users of the long distance telephones became so disgusted with the constant failures and the generally unsatisfactory character of those services, that they sent deputations to the Postmaster-General about it recently. But the city subscriber has even more to put up with. Busy men find a lot of time is wasted through the switch attendant, instead of following the rule, and saying ‘change.’ …”
The telephone system is a Commonwealth asset, and surely the Commonwealth ought to be able to give the people a better service than they possessed prior to the accomplishment of federation. On” several occasions I have abandoned the telephone after vainly attempting for a quarter of an hour or half an hour to communicate with a subscriber, and have taken a tramcar in order to personally visit him. The present system is the worst in the world, and if a similar one prevails in Hades after our demise, I shall move to have it abolished. There is another matter to which I desire to call attention. I understand that the Minister for Trade and Customs is encouraging Tasmanian merchants to clear their goods in Victoria, and to land them in Tasmania upon certificates, thereby depriving the Tasmanian Custom-house agents of the chance of deriving any benefit from the businesses which they have built up in the various ports. Goods are being taken out Of the warehouses in Melbourne, and landed in Tasmania upon certificates.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that I should prevent a merchant from clearing his goods where he chooses t
– The Minister ought to prevent wrongdoing. The complaint is that he is encouraging the clearing of. goods in Victoria. I hope that if he has engaged in such a practice, he will abandon it at once. There is another matter to which I desire to direct the attention of the Treasurer. I understand that a certain sum has been placed upon the Estimates to provide for increases of salary to postal officials in Tasmania. What I wish to point out is, that the officials who occupy humble positions - the men who live in the
– To what benefit does the honorable member refer 1
– The benefit of the money which has been placed upon the Estimates to provide increases for civil servants, as agreed with myself.
– Agreed with the honorable member?
– When I brought the matter forward the Treasurer agreed that increases should be made to these officers. Now, I understand, the Deputy PostmasterGeneral of Tasmania is to distribute the money according to his own judgment, and, I am informed, that his idea is that he shall give himself £1.00 a year extra to start with. »
– There is no provision on the Estimates for an increase of £100 to be paid to him
– I want the Treasurer to distribute this money, and to grant increases to the most deserving officers - the young men and young women who reside in the back-blocks - and not to those who are already loaded up to the muzzle. I am further given to understand that the officers in the Telegraph department of Tasmania are not receiving their proportionate share of these increases. I call the attention of the Treasurer to this fact, so that he may distribute the money himself or allow me to do so. Otherwise when the Estimates are under consideration, it will be my painful duty to move that the whole amount be struck off, because, if it is to be handed over to four or five officers who are already at the top of the department, the proposal will not command my vote.
Mr, SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).There are two or three matters which I- feel it my duty to mention. One has already been dealt with by the leader of the Opposition. It has reference to the different treatment accorded to the transmission by telegraph of news relating to the Opposition from that which is meted out to news relating to the Government. It seems a remarkable thing that the telegraph department should charge only ls. per 100 words for press messages relating to the Federal Government, whilst enforcing the payment of three times that amount for telegrams criticising their actions. A similar rule should be adopted to that’ which ‘operates in the States, I namely, that all press messages should be I transmitted at a uniform rate. It is just as essential that the opinions of those who criticise the actions of the Government should be known to the public as it is that a Ministerial manifesto should be made public. The other ‘day I was reading a report of the Prime Minister’s speech, which was given at length, as it deserved to be. But it is remarkable that the transmission by telegraph of the criticism of that speech by the leader of the Opposition cost three times as much as the wiring of the Prime Minister’s deliverance. To my mind the existing arrangement amounts to nothing less than a bribe, and constitutes a scandal on Parliament. Although the Minister for Trade and Customs is a member of the Government to-day, the time may come when he will be in Opposition.
– The telegrams sent -about my utterances do not cost very much.
– The Government are very anxious that the public should be informed about the measures which they have passed, and the works that they have caused to be carried out, and I do not take ^exception to the fact that information on such subjects can be transmitted to the newspapers in the various States at the cost -of ls. for every 100 words ; but when the leader of the Opposition, the leader of the Labour party, or any other member of the House desires to criticise Ministerial statements, and to put the other side of the case before the public, the press should not be charged three times as much for the information transmitted. In New South Wales all press telegrams, whether they refer to political matters or contain commercial, social, or any other news, are transmitted for ls. for each 100 words. To show the absurdity of the present -arrangement, I may mention that if the leader of the Opposition delivers in Victoria a criticism on some Ministerial statement, and it is transmitted directly to a newspaper in Sydney, a charge of 3s. for each 100 words is made, but if it is transmitted first to a border township, such as Wodonga, ;and sent from there to Sydney, the charge made is only 2s. for each 100 words, or ls. less than is charged for a direct message, -although the work that has to be done is “doubled. I hope, now that prominence has been given to the matter by the leader of the Opposition, the Government will see that all telegrams are dealt with alike. The honorable member for Illawarra has referred to the fact that the telephone service between Bathurst and Sydney does not pay. I admit that it is not as profitable as it should be, but that is because the department have adopted what is known as the bureau system only. When the service was inaugurated, I stated that I could find twenty subscribers who “would pay a sufficient sum of money per annum for direct communication to Sydney to cover the interest on the cost of the line properly chargeable to Bathurst. When the local telephone service was opened, we had some difficulty at first in obtaining twenty subscribers, but now it is so popular that there are 120 or 130 subscribers, and, no doubt, the service between Bathurst and Sydney would similarly become more popular if persons who liked to pay an extra charge could communicate direct from their own houses to Sydney, instead of being put to the inconvenience of having to go to a bureau. I do not advocate that the bureau system be discontinued, but those who do not feel disposed to pay a yearly sum could still use the bureau system. If I were living at Parramatta I could communicate direct with Sydney or any of its suburbs, and I do not see why the same system should not be adopted in connexion with the through service to Bathurst. I am sure that, if the change were made, a sufficient number of subscribers could be obtained to cover that part of the cost of the line which is properly chargeable to Bathurst. It must be remembered that the line was not erected exclusively for the Bathurst people. The poles cany the wire which serves the Katoomba exchange and other places, and I believe the Telegraph department has a special telegraph wire from Sydney to Bathurst. Then, too, it i will not be very long before the people of a number of the intermediate townships will find the line a convenience, if proper arrangements are made by the department. The leader of the Opposition has referred to the question of determining the site of the federal capital. That is a matter which should be dealt with as soon as possible. There have been numerous complaints from the members of the Victorian Parliament about the inconvenience to which they are put by our occupancy of these buildings ; and while we are very grateful to them for their kindness in letting us use them, I think every honorable member is anxious that we shall have a building of our own, so that we may not be under an obligation to any of the States. I hope, therefore, that the Minister for Home Affairs will take the matter into consideration without unnecessary delay. I understood the Prime Minister to say, the other day, that several sites would be submitted to this Parliament. Among the sites which have been suggested in the western district is the Canobolas site, the Carcoar site, and a site within a mile or two of Bathurst. I received a letter from the Minister for Home Affairs a few weeks ago with regard to the site near Bathurst, saying that it had been brought under his notice, but that nothing had been determined in regard to it. While Bathurst itself is within 100 miles of Sydney, and therefore could not, according to the opinion of counsel, be chosen as a site, even if the Commonwealth were willing to take a city for the federal capital, which is not likely, the proposed site is beyond the 100 mile limit. I hope the Government will offer every facility to honorable members to inspect the sites which have been suggested, and that the districts concerned will be allowed to place all information before us.
– Does the honorable member suggest that every honorable member should visit these sites?
– I think that every honorable member should have an opportunity to do so if he desires. I presume that when we visit the sites the Government will place us in possession of all the information available in respect to their advantages.
– It would be better if so many representatives from each State were selected to make the inspection.
– It will be a case of Bombala first, and the rest nowhere.
– During a visit which I paid, to Sydney a fortnight ago I had occasion to visit the Custom-house there. Very extensive alterations to the building were entered upon by the State Government, but I believe that when the Commonwealth Government took over the Customs department the work was stopped, with the result that the building is now in a most unfinished state.
I went through the building the other day and found that their lift service was of a most temporary nature. A lot of building material was lying about, and I was told that the material had been there for over twelve months or more, and that no work had been going on because of some difficulty between the State and the Federal Governments. Some action should be taken to determine whether the building is to belong to the Federal Government, and when that matter is decided, the sooner the present deficiencies are remedied the better it will be for the transaction of public business.
– A very large number of subjects have been touched upon, some of which I do not know much about just at the moment, but the most important one, in which my own department is concerned, is that of the federal capital. I was glad to hear, the leader of the Opposition say that this was a matter into which no party feeling should be allowed to obtrude. I congratulate the right honorable gentleman on that statement, andI hope we may all - both in this Chamber and in the Senate - deal with this matter quite free from any party feeling. It is too important a matter, to be dealt with on party lines. The right honorable gentleman took exception to the terms of one paragraph of a letter which was written by the Prime Minister to the Premier of New South Wales, in August, last. The paragraph to which he took exception was couched in these words : -
I shall also esteem it a favour if you will be good enough to inform me, in view of the second paragraph of your letter of 1st instant, in which you intimate the objection of your Government to reservations which appear to be unnecessary, whether you are prepared to indicate any area or areas for whichyour Government entertains a preference ?
Now, I cannot see that the right honorable gentleman has any cause for complaint so far as that paragraph is concerned, because theintention was to secure some expression of opinion from the State Government, not with regard to one site only, but, it might be, with regard to several sites.
– Several preferential sites.
– We desired them to indicate their preference for one or more sites over the others. It is not to be supposed for one moment that there will be no competition between the advocates of the various sites. I feel that there will be very keen competition, but altogether something approaching 100 sites have been submitted, and any one who knows that State must be fully aware that a very large proportion of these will have no chance whatever. It would be something like an absurdity to expect the federal members to visit all these sites, and their number could very well be reduced before the inspection takes place. I think that there will be four or five or six sites which may fairly be considered, but the others will not have any chance, and it was with a view to have them sifted to some extent that the Prime Minister asked the Premier of New South Wales to give us an idea of the feeling of the New South Wales Parliament or Government. I do not think any harm would have arisen if the New South Wales Parliament had expressed its opinion as to the site. In saying that I recognise, and I think we all recognise, and the State Ministry and members also recognise - notwithstanding that some legal authorities have expressed a contrary view - that the Federal Parliament must finally decide upon the site.
– Did the letter to the Premier of New South Wales mention a site or sites?
– The Prime Minister asked the Premier of New South Wales to indicate “ any area or areas.” I know what was the intention of the Prime Minister in writing that letter, because I had several consultations with him before it was written, and the object was as I have stated.
Mr.V. L. Solomon. - To narrow down the choice?
– No; not to narrow down the choice, because the Federal Parliament would have the ultimate choice in any case. It is not likely, however, that the State Parliament would recommend any sites which they knew would have no chance of being considered.
– If the Federal Parliament selected a site which was not recommended by the State Parliament, there would be “ wigs on the green “ in a moment.
– I do not know about that. The Federal Parliament is not bound by any recommendation on the part of the State Parliament. If the
Federal Parliament strongly favoured any site not recommended by the State and feeling were shown, it could not be helped. The Federal Parliament must decide this matter, in spite of the statement by some legal authorities that the Constitution gives the State the right of final decision. It is absurd to persist in any such . contention. I have explained what was the intention of the Prime Minister in submitting this matter to the State Government, and I am sure that when the leader of the Opposition again carefully reads the letter and what I have said, he will see that there was no intention on the part of the Prime Minister to give up the right of the Federal Parliament to settle this matter ; but that his aim was to get areas resumed around any site or sites which the Premier of the State might recommend. I do not know that I need say very much more on that particular point ; but I wish to state that the intention and desire of the Ministry at the present time is not to permit of any undue delay in connexion with the selection of the federal capital site. We do not desire that the matter should be unduly hurried, or that any risk should be incurred of selecting any site other than the best, because I presume that every honorable member, no matter what State he comes from, desires to select the site that will be best for Australia. . A number of sites which I recently mentioned in the press, will no doubt be considered, and a new one has been brought forward by the honorable member for Illawarra to-day, namely, one in the district lying at the back of Jervis Bay. That site has not been very prominently submitted before. I know the locality well, and, further, I am aware that Jervis Bay is one of the finest harbors in Australia, second only to Sydney. The site suggested, however, is rather near to the coast, and I am not sure that the people of Sydney would vote very strongly for it, seeing that it would create a very large competitive port very near to the metropolis. That is not a matter which we have to consider, but I am merely pointing out that the Sydney people may not desire the selection of that site so much as we may.
– That port must be developed some day.
– I think so too. It is a pity that it should remain idle, and it is further unfortunate that the Nowra railway was not continued to that point. The honorable member for Cowper has given notice of a question to-morrow with reference to the Don Dorrigo site near Guyra, not far from Armidale. That site has not yet been reported upon, but I think it should be, and it is more than likely that the Premier of New South Wales will be asked to allow Mr. Oliver, who is now at Armidale, to also report upon the Don Dorrigo site. That district has a good climate, and the land is good. So far as the Armidale site is concerned, much will de-, pend upon the report of Mr. Oliver, but we have been asked to visit some site north of Sydney, and Armidale, or some site in that ( neighbourhood has been specially mentioned. . Referring to the western sites, although Orange has been reported upon by the commissioner, it does not follow that any particular spot will be selected there, and as the train goes from Bathurst to Orange, I venture to think that the members of the Federal Parliament will also consider it desirable to look at the site near Bathurst, which is no doubt a good one, comprising good land, which is outside the 100 miles limit. Then we shall have to consider whether the federal capital is to be situated north, south, or west of Sydney. It is not necessary for me to refer to any other site, because the suggestions are so numerous that it would take some time to go through them. The object of the correspondence to which I have referred, was to have the number of sites reduced so that we could visit those suggested, travelling by train as far as possible, and have the benefit of our own personal observations when we are called upon to decide the question finally. I have been pressed by some honorable members to appoint a commission to report upon these sites before visiting them. It will be sufficiently expensive to appoint a commission to report upon any two or three sites that it may be decided to refer to them, but what would be the expense if a committee of experts were appointed to report upon every site, having in view the possibility of obtaining water and building stone, and other matters, before there is any inspection ? I venture to think that the course proposed by the Government will meet the case just as well, and cost not onetwentieth - perhaps not one-fiftieth - of the money that would otherwise be expended. If, after the inspection, I can obtain an expression of opinion as to the probable sites to be considered, then will be the time for theappointment of a committee of experts in order that complete information may beobtained.
– The Minister will be postponing the decision of the matterindefinitely.
– I do not think so ; but if we appointed a committee beforeinspection, we should not probably commence the inspection of the sites for two or three years.
– Are the Ministrygoing to decide the matter this session 1
– I do not know about that, but I am pressing for an inspection of the sites by honorable membersduring this session.
– By all the members ?
– Yes, by all who can go, and I think it isvery desirable that as many as possible should visit the sites suggested. Paper reports cannot give us the full information which is necessary to the selection of the best site, and the inconvenience and. loss of time will not be so great if every member of the House at one time visits nineor ten of the suggested areas.
Mi-. Joseph Cook. - When is the trip totake place 1
– It is quite impossible, with the lengthy speeches made by honorable members opposite, to know when the Tariff will be finished; but I anticipate that when the Tariff is .disposed, of, it will be possible to have an adjournment of about a week for this purpose.
– Is the Minister prepared to say definitely that the Tariff will go through-?
– I cannot say what honorable members will do, but theGovernment will try to press the Tariff through without unnecessary delay. As to the distribution of copies of Hansard” the Prime Minister has asked me tosay that three copies were ordered to be sent to each member ; but as the President and the Speaker discovered that very few were taken, and that those left were lumbering up the rooms about the building,, instructions were given to send only onecopy to each member unless more are specially asked for. The honorable memberfor South Australia, Mr. Poynton, referred to delays which he says have occurred in. making accessary repairs to public buildings ; but I think there is a mistake somewhere. So far as I know there is not one paper not dealt with left in my department, and whenever a recommendation ismade for repairs to a post-office, those repairs are carried out.
– The honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton, received this information officially from the State department.
– If the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton, will be kind enough to give me the cases to which he refers I shall make inquiries. If the cases are not laid before me, the department cannot deal with them.
– I gave the Minister a case, into which he promised to inquire, but nothing has resulted.
– Where new buildings, or the expenditure of a large amount, is required, the work cannot be carried out until the money has been voted.
– But the cases before us involve only £40 or £50.
– I am referring especially to repairs. I have been particular that there shall be no delay; and I shall be glad to deal with this or any other case brought under my notice by honorable members who are in possession of information. Reference has been made to the telephonic communication between Bathurst and Sydney, but I cannot very well reply, except to say that I think the honorable member for Macquarie is wrong in his idea that this communication can be carried on without a bureau in Bathurst. If we did without that bureau, we might as well make every town in New South Wales a suburb of Sydney for telephonic purposes ; and I think that the honorable member would find the wire occupied to such an extent by persons in direct communication between the two places as to make his suggestion unworkable. I cannot understand why there should be any objection to a bureau at Bathurst, seeing that that system is carried out throughout New South Wales and the other States ; and when an innovation of the kind is made we never know where it will end.
– The system I suggest is carried out in connexion with Parramatta.
– But Parramatta is really a part of Sydney, and I think the honorablememberhasscarcely any groundfor complaint. As to the suggested telephonic communication between the South Coast district and Sydney, I believe that with the coal mines at Wollongong, Bulli, and other places, such a service would pay well, and the question of its establishment should be brought under the notice of the Postmaster - General. Statements have been made in reference to the difference made in the charges for telegraphing statements made by the Prime Minister and other Ministers on federal matters, and I know that the Prime Minister was in communication with the Postmaster-General on this subject only yesterday, and probably some modified arrangement will be made which will meet the views of honorable members better than the present system seems to do. The honorable member for Dalley requested that Lee-Enfield rifles should be distributed to members of the civil service volunteer corps in Sydney, but I, point out that in Melbourne all, or nearly all, the rifle clubs now use the Martini rifle. It will be seen, therefore, that the Sydney volunteers are placed at no disadvantage. It would not be by any means easy to distribute the Lee-Enfield rifle to rifle clubs, or to all the service throughout the States, because we have not sufficient of that class, of rifles. A couple of thousand of these rifles will go to South Africa, though we shall get a return of these from the Imperial Government.
– What should we do were we invaded ?
– I think that we have 60,000 or 70,000 stand of arms now, and we should be found to have plenty in case of emergency. It would cost an immense sum of money to at once arm the whole of the volunteers and all the military in all the States with Lee-Enfield rifles. And another reason why it is not wise to go to great expense is that we do not know when the present arm may be improved upon, seeing that in the past scarcely a year or two has gone over without some development.
– Then we might go on as we are for all time. Can the Minister not use his influence to get 50 Lee-Enfield rifles to practise with?
– If I had the Defence department under my control, I certainly should do so.
– Give a word to the Minister for Defence.
– I shall give that word, if the honorable member thinks it will have any effect. Reference has been made to some obstruction to a petition sent to the Minister for Trade and Customs by officers in his department, and the Minister authorizes me to say that he considers he ought to be, and he certainly will be, approached by any of the officers in any case such as that described, and that he will take care there is no more burking of communications. I cannot say anything in regard to the proposal that municipal councils should be allowed to import their machinery duty free ; but if we started that practice, I am afraid the Customs department would not get much revenue. I heard the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O’Malley, say that some £700 was to be distributed as increases of salaries of officials in that State. I do not know anything about such a proposal, and I venture to think there has been some mistake. The grading and raising of salaries is an important matter, which must be dealt with by the Public Service Commissioner when the Public Service Bill is passed. There is a report hy Mr. Cerutty, which I have had the privilege of seeing, and which I do not think deals with the matter referred to. It is purely the duty of the Public Service Commissioner to grade salaries, and there will be considerable difficulty in raising salaries in some States and reducing them in other States. It seems to be generally supposed that all salaries will be raised everywhere up to a certain standard, and that that standard is likely to be that of the salaries in New South Wales, which I think are the highest. But I venture to say that salaries will have to be graded according to the work done.
– - A start has been made by reducing some of the salaries in New South Wales.
– I am not aware that salaries have been reduced in that State. As to the remarks of the honorable member for Macquarie, in reference to the debris lying about the Custom-house, in consequence of the non-completion of certain works, I shall take care to have an inquiry made. A short time ago the Minister for Trade and Customs asked that certain alterations should be made for the convenience of the public, and on my instruction I think that these alterations, if not completed, are being carried out.
– I referred to a work0 which was authorized when the Minister for Home Affairs was Premier of New South Wales, and which was stopped on the Customs department being taken over by the Federal Government.
– I shall make inquiries, and, if necessary, see that the work is completed.
Mr. ‘ JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).The Minister for Home* Affairs is to be congratulated, on his reply to the various complaints brought under his notice. It would seem that there really are no grievances, and that we are only wasting time dilating on any of these subjects. But there are one or two matters which require pressing home on the Minister’s attention, particularly that of the selection of the federal area, which is not quite the dilettante matter the Minister would have the House believe. This is a question which by this time of day ought to be really ripe for settlement as far as it is possible for it to be.
– It is as ripe as it can be.
– I take exception to that statement. Thirteen months have passed since the. Government took office, and we seem to be no further forward than we were then. Whenever during the year honorable members have questioned the Minister for Home Affairs about this matter they have received nothing but vague replies. Why could ‘the Government not have told the House they were having trouble with the New South Wales Premier, or that they were communicating with that gentleman by quarterly letter asking him to be good enough in the exercise of his clemency to select a site, as we are unable to begin to consider the question until he has indicated a preference 1 I do not think we need have consulted New South Wales in this way, and I do not see much difference between asking a man to indicate a preference, and asking him to select a site - or, at any rate, to select it so far as it is in his power to do so. I think that the New South Wales Government are blameworthy in that they neglected a privilege which, in my opinion, they ought to have instantly seized and employed to the best advantage. Having been invited by the
Prime Minister to indicate their preference for a particular site, they should have immediately seized the opportunity to allow the State Parliament to discuss the whole question. But had they indicated a preference for one particular site, I incline to the opinion expressed by the leader of the Opposition that it would not have been looked upon favorably by this Parliament. We are told that negotiations have been proceeding between the Commonwealth Government and the New South Wales Government in regard to this matter for a very long time past. What is the result? We are in precisely the same position that we occupied last April, What the people of New South Wales want to know definitely is when matters will be put in train so that some distinct advance shall be made towards the settlement of the site of the future capital. There have been two opportunities when a parliamentary inspection of the eligible areas could have been undertaken. The Minister for Home Affairs almost promised the House that it should be made immediately after the introduction of the Tariff, and during the fortnight which elapsed between that event and the actual consideration of the Tariff. Then he said that, with the concurrence of both Houses, he would endeavour to arrange for the trip during the Christmas vacation. But again the undertaking was postponed. It seems to me that honorable members cannot elicit anyinformation whatever from the Minister for Home Affairs in regard to this matter, but the moment he goes to New South Wales he is interviewed by a newspaper representative, to whom he communicates more than he will tell this House. The first intimation we had that a dead-lock had occurred in the negotiations between the Federal Government and the State Government was gleaned through the columns of the press. That is a state of affairs which ought not to exist. The Minister now says that a parliamentary inspection of the different sites will be undertaken as soon as the Tariff is disposed of. But he has fixed no definite period, and honorable members are entitled to ask him to formulate some plan of procedure with respect to this very important matter. The Minister says that nothing can be done in the way of the appointment of experts until this visit of inspection has been made, and that to appoint outside commissioners would be most expensive. I agree with him upon that point. But is the Commonwealth possessed of no expert resources of its own? What about the Government architect in New South Wales, and the gentleman who occupies a similar position in Victoria? What about the EngineersinChief, and the officers who preside over the Water Supply departments of the various States? Cannot their services be utilized? It is the duty of the Minister for Home Affairs to secure this expert ability in order that we may arrive at some definite understanding concerning the suitability of the various sites suggested. The State Governments would be glad to lend any of these high officials whose services might be requisitioned by the Minister. When, therefore, he talks about obtaining expert commissioners from outside he does not meet the obligation which is cast upon him. There are some exceedingly good officers in the services of the different States who would be only too glad to add to their reputations by reporting upon the suitability of the different sites. But we cannot get any definite statement from the Minister. After cogitating over this matter for thirteen months he surely ought to have made up his mind as to the course of action to be pursued. I believe that the moment he makes a proposal for a parliamentary inspection of the eligible areas, the House will meet him in a just and sympathetic manner. But the House cannot act until he acts. In this respect he leads the House, and he ought therefore to formulate some proposal so that the task of choosing a site may be brought down from the clouds and treated as it ought to be, having regard to its importance. For a speech which conveyed absolutely nothing, and which tried to brush aside all awkward angularities, commend me to the utterance of the Minister for Home Affairs this afternoon. If we are going to do all the things outlined by him before finally determining the site of the capital, there is nothing more certain than that the Federal Parliament will remain in Melbourne for at least another five or seven years. Meanwhile the eligible sites will multiply. I will, undertake to suggest several admirable ones in my own district, and if the Minister will only wait long enough, honorable members upon this side of the House will furnish him with a hundred. The sites suggested have been reported upon, and our only trouble is to get somebody in authority to interest himself in the speedy settlement of this question. But somehow honorable members cannot get the Minister for Home Affairs to act. Indeed, since he has breathed this federal atmosphere he has acquired quite a different reputation from that which he formerly enjoyed. In New South Wales he was a John Blunt Premier, who was supposed to always say straight ont what he meant. Here he speaks with bated breath, and we can hardly get a word from him. He tells us that if he should make a proposal it might be negatived by this House. It will be time enough to refer to difficulties of that kind after he has made a distinct proposal to the House.
– Which site does the honorable member prefer ?
– My trouble is that the settlement of the matter is out of sight altogether just now, and we want to bring it within the possibility of settlement before very long. I interjected this afternoon that the Government began their administration by reducing the wages of many of their officers. In this connexion I desire to refer to the answers which were given by the Premier to questions asked by me in regard to increments due to- officers transferred from the public service of New South Wales. The officers to whom I refer are officers receiving less than £150 per annum, who were originally entitled, under the Public Service Regulations of New South Wales, to a yearly increment of £15. In December, 1900, a regulation was passed reducing the increment to £10, and in the following March the State Attorney-General discovered that the regulation was illegal, and it was rescinded, and the additional £5 restored to the officers entitled to it who were then in the employment of the State.
– The regulation to which the honorable member refers was rescinded at the end of August, and the recision took effect in September.
– The right honorable member is wrong as to his dates. The regulation was rescinded in March, just after the transference of the aggrieved officers to the Commonwealth service. The State Government says that it does not re- cognise its obligation to restore the £5 to these men because they are no longer in the State service, while the Prime Minister has informed me, in answer to a question, that he will have nothing to do with the matter, because the payment of the money was not an obligation existing at the time of thetransference.
– There is nothing to prevent the State Government from paying the amount of increment due up to the time of the transference.
– The- Commonwealth Government has not asked the State Government to do that.. Ministers do not appear to sympathize- with these men, who are £5 a year worse off now that they are in the Commonwealth service than they would have been if they had continued in the State service;. Surely it is the business of the Commonwealth Government, whose officers, thesemen now are, to negotiate with the StateGovernment about the matter, and- to endeavour to obtain a recognition by the State of their obligation to pay the- ‘money due up to the time of the transference. Is it the desire of the people of the Commonwealth that we should begin our federal existence by reducing the wages of our more poorly paid officials 1 I should have thought that Ministers would have tried toobtain for these officers the increment that is due to them; but the reply which I received from the Prime Minister to a question which I put to him recently wa3. that -
As to the period between 30th June, 1900, and 1st March, 1901, when the department was: transferred, these officers were serving the Stateof New South Wales, and this Government cannot deal with that period, which can only bedealt with by the Government of New South, Wales.
The New South Wales Government say that they will have nothing to do with the matter because the men are not their officers.
– They were State officials for part of the period before the regulation was discovered to be illegal, and the State should pay the amount due tothem for that space of time.
– Ought not the Commonwealth Government to carry out its obligation before complaining of the State Government ? I think that th e Premier ought to have said - “We will pay our share at once, and will endeavour to get the State Government to pay its share.” It is a mean and contemptible thing on the part of both Governments to tiy to “ chouse “ these men - to put it vulgarly - out of £5 a year by a mere quibble. In many instances the officers to whom the money is due are being paid less than a bare living wage. I have to complain, too, of the nibbling of the New South Wales services, which is apparent in every step that the Commonwealth Administration has taken. Owing to the way in which the estimates of the Postal department have been cut down, many of the ordinary services cannot be carried on, and are not being paid for. Officers’ increments are accruing, but they cannot get the money that is due to them.
– We never pay increments until Parliament has determined that they should be paid. As soon as the Estimates are passed, the increments will be paid, as from the beginning of the year.
– That is a very wrong practice. Many of the men to whom increments ai-e due are receiving only £60 or £70 a year, and have a great struggle to keep their heads above water, and yet they have been kept out of the money due to them for nearly eight months. I do not think the House would question the propriety of paying these increments, and therefore the Treasurer would be quite safe in providing for them in a Supply Bill. If it were a matter of increasing the salary of some highly-paid official, or some other debatable item, I could understand the determination of the right honorable gentleman not to make provision for its payment until Parliament had approved of the expenditure ; but these are statutory annual increments, which are an obvious -legal obligation upon the Government.
– We do not provide in Supply Bills for anything ‘but the ordinary services of the year. No provision is made in such Bills for expenditure which Parliament has not already sanctioned, and which is of a debatable nature.
– Many a debatable item, and many a wrong item, has been put into Supply Bills. I venture to think that many such items have appeared in Supply Bills for which the right honorable member was responsible, excellent Treasurer as he is.
– And in the Supply Bills passed by the Reid Government when the honorable gentleman was a member of it. 26 l 2
– The Minister for Home Affairs beat all Treasurers at that kind of work. He had absolute possession, of the New South Wales Parliament, and played a merry game there. He was rolling in money when lie was Treasurer, and made good use of it, as the Opposition afterwards discovered to their cost. I urge the Treasurer to strain a point in favour of these officers. I am appealing to the Ministry on behalf of men who do not get a big salary, owing to the short time they have been in the service. Many of them have men’s’ obligations to fulfil, and it is hard that they should be asked to wait a whole year before they receive the small increment to which they are entitled. These increments should be paid as they fall due, especially when it is considered that they are due to men with small salaries.
– The practice is uniform throughout the service.
– I am asking that the practice may be altered.
– But not all round 1
– The Ministry may alter the practice all round if they care to go so far, and it would be, perhaps, more desirable and more humane if they were to do so. With regard to the nibbling process that is going on in connexion with New South Wales, I .desire to point out that in the Post-office Estimates for New South Wales there has been a decrease in the contingencies vote of nearly £15,000; and, strange to say, there is an aggregated increase in the estimates of the other States which exactly balances that amount. The other States have had their expenditure increased by £15,000, and New South Wales has been cut down by a corresponding amount. The effect of this is that men in the New South Wales postal service are being paid 7s. per day, when they should get 7s. 6d., and other men cannot get the increments which are due to them. Ordinary maintenance works cannot be undertaken, and new work is entirely at a standstill owing to the financial tightness prevailing. The amount devoted to maintenance in the Post-office department has been cut down by £4,000.
– New South Wales will have so much less to pay up under the bookkeeping system.
– That is poor comfort for the men who have to carry on the service, and find themselves hampered in doing so, and it is absolutely false encomy to cut down such a service as the telephone service, which should be constantly expanding, and which ought to be conducted with a view to the public advantage. These services are being contracted in every shape and form, and people cannot get even a telephone put on to their houses if it happens to cost more than £4- or £5. The want of proper facilities is crippling the business portion of the community. This Parliament does not expect, and the States do not want, any parsimony or economy of this kind, because it is not real genuine economy. Every one of these services gives a handsome return for every shilling expended, and the convenience of the mercantile community in particularought to be considered. I hope that the Ministry will again take up this matter of increments to transferred officers, as I believe that this House will never consent to deprive these people of their increases owing to the mere accident of their having been transferred to the service of the Commonwealth. It is a mean thing to do, and meaner still when it is considered that the increments only affect people who are receiving less than £150 per year.
– I was not aware, until I arrived at the House, that this was the day fixed upon by Parliament as a sort of safety valve for the ventilation of the grievances of honorable members, but I now wish to avail myself of the opportunity of saying a word or two upon the federal capital question. .1 am convinced, after carefully considering the answers given to me to-day by the Minister for Home Affairs, that he does not realize the seriousness of this question. I think I am entitled to speak upon this matter, because some four or five months ago I tabled several resolutions which pointed out to the House generally, and to the Minister for Home Affairs particularly, the very great importance of the matter. I am sure no honorable member can have watched the proceedings in committee in connexion with the Tariff without realizing that the State in which this Parliament is sitting is enjoying a great advantage to which it is not entitled, and which the public of the Commonwealth never intended it to enjoy. Victoria has all her representatives upon the spot, so that they may be called from their homes, or their offices, or their chambers at half-an-hour’s notice to take part in any division on questions affecting the Commonwealth ; and, although this question had to be postponed on account of the difficulty of fixing upon a site, it was never intended by the Commonwealth that it should be allowed to drift on from week to week, and month to month, and year to year, until public opinion absolutely forced some Government or some Parliament to take the question in hand. The Minister for Home Affairs is not perhaps as familiar as I am with the large amount of dissatisfaction that exists in New South Wales at the present time, in consequence of his apparent indifference upon this question. We have a basis laid down in the Constitution which no one can now gainsay. There is no doubt that the federal site must be in New South Wales, and the mere fact that a number of sites are available, or that the Premier of New South Wales and the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth have some difference upon a mere technicality as to who should come forward first in order that this site may be chosen, affords no excuse for the apparent drift that is being allowed to take place in regard to its settlement. On Tuesday last, in answer to a number of pertinent questions put by me, the Minister for Home Affairs talked of the sites suggested as if they were to be numbered in scores instead of on the fingers of one hand - because it is generally recognised that the figure six would about cover the really available and suitable sites.
– No, it would not.
– Well, I will say twelve. The honorable gentleman talked of the large number of sites as if this were not a serious matter, and as if all he had to do was to give some technical answer to my questions under the impression that it would be again allowed to rest for some months. If the members of this House were dependent upon private motions for bringing this matter on, there would be no settlement.
– There will be a settlement very soon, if the honorable and learned gentleman keeps members on his side of the House quiet when the Tariff is under discussion.
– The answers the Minister has given must convey to any impartial mind the fact that he has not done one single thing with regard to this question since my motion was tabled some months ago.
– That is not correct, because I distinctly stated what I had done.
– I asked the honorable gentleman in the first place -
Is it not a fact that the only information which Mr. Oliver relied on in regard to the water supply of the several sites consisted of the opinions of departmental subordinates of the State public service ?
The answer to that question is practically an admission of the fact stated by me, because the Minister admits, without taking exception to the word “ subordinates,” that he has never obtained any further opinion, even on the question of water supply, since Mr. Oliver reported on the matter.
– I do not intend to, either.
– The Minister now aggravates the matter by stating that he has no intention of obtaining any such report.
– I said so before, and the honorable and learned member would have heard me if he had been here.
– I hope the Minister will not get excited.
– I am not getting excited ; but if the honorable and learned member had not been tramping about the streets of the city instead of attending to his parliamentary duties, he would have heard what I had previously stated.
– The Minister is now adding impudence to his previous offence. I have a perfect right to tramp round the streets of the city if I choose. When I am receiving £2,500 a year as a Minister, I shall probably be able to afford to sit in a very pleasant office, and give the whole of my time to the business of the Commonwealth. If the Minister is anxious to get on with the business of the House he will not indulge in remarks of that kind, or treat this as a jocular matter.
– I am not treating the matter in a jocular manner at all, but I do not wish the honorable and learned member to make incorrect statements.
– This is not a jocular matter, but a very serious one. The Minister does not appear to be fully alive to the fact that during the last two months the State of Victoria has been enjoying the enormous and undeserved advantage of having the Tariff discussion carried on in its own capital, and of having the whole of its protectionist members within half-an-hour or an hour’s call at any moment,’ whilst honorable members on this side of the House, coming from distant States like Western Australia, New South Wales, and Queensland, are not able to be here, sometimes, in the proportion of more than two-thirds of their full force at the time of a division. I do not complain from a fiscal stand-point, but it was never intended by the people of Victoria or of the Commonwealth that any State should have such an advantage for an unnecessary length of time. What was the object of the limit that was placed upon the position of the capital by the right honorable the Treasurer when the present leader of the Opposition sought to have the capital situated at a point nearer to Sydney ? “No,” he said, “we will not have it within 100 miles of Sydney;” and no doubt that limit was fixed for the very proper purpose of keeping questions of Commonwealth concern outside the local influences of the capital of any particular State. Is it not perfectly clear that the press of Victoria has had an undue influence, as compared with the influence of the press of the other States, on the debates of this House1? I ask honorable members, apart from their protectionist or free-trade opinions, to say in common fairness whether, on purely federal grounds, steps should not at once be taken to have this question put in hand ?
– Does the honorable and learned member suppose that,, if the matter had been decided on the 1st January twelve months, we should have been able to remove to the federal capital site before now?
– The answers of the Minister to my questions have displayed an amount of flippancy quite unworthy of a Minister of this country, and he has shown that this matter is not giving him much concern. The feeling in his own State is very strong, but not because they want the capital there particularly. There is a great deal of exaggeration regarding the desire of the New South Wales people to have the capital in their State, and also a great deal of exaggeration as .to the desire of the Victorian people to keep it here. It has been very often a revelation to some people of New South Wales when I have told them that I did not think the Victorian people cared very much how long the Parliament stays here, as members of the State Parliament are naturally anxious to get back to their old quarters, and see the. Federal Parliament removed to some distant sphere, where it will not interfere with their privileges.
– I do not think that that is so.
– That is my experience, at any rate. I believe that a very large proportion of the members of the State Parliament will be very glad to see the Federal Parliament removed to its permanent home, not from any feeling of jealousy or from any want of patriotism, but simply because they think the Federal Parliament should, as soon as possible, be established in its proper place.
– Because they desire to do the fair thing.
– I quite admit that.
– The honorable member for Parkes knows that he is talking impossibilities.
– As I said just now, honorable members onthis side have done their best to urge the Minister at the head of the Home department to take some steps, and I want the House to see that he is doing absolutely nothing.
– That is not true, and the honorable member knows it.
– I will show the Minister in what respect he is doing nothing. One site talked of is that at Bombala, and one of the most pregnant considerations with respect to that site has apparently never entered the mind of the Minister. It used to be said that if Bombala were chosen, £700,000 would cover the cost of constructing a railway from the present terminus in New South Wales to the border, and that it would require only another £1,250,000 to construct a line from Bairnsdale to the border in order that there may be an alternative route between Melbourne and Sydney. But I have heard competent engineers state that this railway will cost from £3,000,000 to £5,000,000, because owing to its having to cross the Snowy Mountains, the line will be almost as difficult and expensive as that across the Blue Mountains. If that estimate be true has it not an important bearing on this particular site?
– That railway is not essential.
– That is a question.
– There are reports from the Works departments in both States.
– Bombala is one of themostpopular sites, having been advocated by the Cardinal in Sydney only within the last month before a large public assembly ; and yet the Minister has never made a serious effort to find out whether the engineering estimate I have mentioned is correct. What progress are we making? The Minister puts the cart before the horse. I ask the House to realize for the moment the childish attitude of the Minister towards the question, when he talks of sending members of this House on a sort of huge picnic to visit these sites, and obtaining information regarding them afterwards. Such a proposal places no value on the time of honorable members, undue value on the trip, and insufficient care for the expenses to which the Commonwealth will be put.
– To refer to honorable members as indulging in an “ orgie “ is unworthy of the honorable and learned member.
– I say that this trip will be a huge picnic, and the Minister for Trade and Customs knows from experience what that means. If 60 or 70 honorable members go round the country on this expedition we shall only have a repetition of what took place during the great celebrations in Sydney while the Minister for Home Affairs was in office more than a year ago, when £16,000 was spent in champagne.
– That is not correct.
– Well, say £15,950.
– Divide it again and the honorable member will be more correct.
– I do not care if the amount was £1,000. What I say is that to go round all these sites, which, in a rough and ready way, the Minister has estimated at 50, will be a huge picnic.
– If the honorable and learned member had been present he would have heard me say that that is not intended.
– I heard the flippant answers to my questions, which were very properly framed. . I asked the Minister whether he had obtained data or opinions from any experts further than those which formed the ground work of Mr. Oliver’s report, which was given before this Parliament met, and this is the answer I received -
I do not think it desirable to incur expenditure in verification or otherwise of State Government officers’ reports until after the Federal members have had an opportunity of visiting the 50 sites Suggested and expressing a preference -
How are honorable members to express a preference t Are we to go round, and because we see a pretty valley or a fine hill to say at once - “ This is the site for the Capital.” We ought to depend on much more utilitarian considerations, such as the water supply, the supply of building material, what sort of soil is there, and what are its chemical ingredients, and how the site in the matter of climate, as well as water, is fitted for Federal capital purposes. Yet the Minister has the confidence to tell the House, in what is neither more nor less than a flippant manner, that there are 50 sites which he is going to allow honorable members to inspect.
– I did not say anything of the kind, and I rise to order. The honorable and learned member has repeatedly said that I stated honorable members would be taken to the 50 sites, and although I have denied that allegation twice, the honorable and learned member repeats it. I hold that the honorable and learned member must accept my denial.
– I shall be very glad to accept the Minister’s denial, and then read the conclusion of his answer to my question : - . . as obviously there will be a risk of much unnecessary expense and labour in obtaining reports from professional men of high standing upon some 50 sites.
– That does not say that honorable members will visit 50 sites.
– According to the Minister there are some 50 sites in competition, and honorable members are asked to go round and see - how man v we are not told.
– The number has been culled down by Mr. Oliver.
– The Minister does not recognise the culling down, because he speaks of 50 sites. We will say that members are to be asked to inspect twelve sites, including Bombala, Orange, Yass, Tumut, and two or three others ; and when they have expressed a preference on what they can see, they are then to be supplied with information with regard to the utilitarian and infinitely more essential attributes of water, soil, climate, and building material.
– Several honorable members who have spoken have referred incidently to the question of the Federal capital, and to the further question of whether or not the Government are taking any satisfactory steps in the direction of the selection of a site. So far honorable members have been perfectly in order, but to go into a detailed discussion of the question of the supply of building material, proximity to settlement, and so on, is out of order, because notice of motion No. 14 deals with all these questions. I therefore cannot allow the honorable and learned member to discuss those phases of the question.
– I bow submissively to the Chair, and I shall not deal with these details any further. I have said sufficient to show that the proposition with which I started my observations is perfectly sound, viz., that the Minister at the head of the department is endeavouring to put the cart before the horse. Many months ago I submitted that if honorable members are to visit these sites it is essential - and I use the word “ essential “ in its strictest meaning - that they should be provided with all the data before, not after they go. I suggested to the Minister that the only information he had on certain important requirements was information from subordinate officers, and that statement has never been contradicted.
– I should like to ask the honorable and learned member whether he considers Mr. Seivers, of the New South Wales Works department, a subordinate officer 1
– I say that Mr. Seivers is a land valuator,’ who has had many years’ experience as a land and estate agent in Sydney. .He was appointed to the Works department for the purpose of valuing property under the Public Works Act when lands are resumed for railways or tramways, and he is the land valuator today for that purpose. He has had no engineering experience of any kind, and is unqualified to give evidence on any of what I call utilitarian considerations.
– Not on the quality and value of land 1
– On the value of land, but the quality of land depends on chemical considerations. We may take a piece of soil which looks very well, but when we obtain a chemical analysis we find that it is absolutely deficient in some of the ingredients necessary to make what has been called a “ beautiful site “ for a capital in regard to tree planting.
– I am sure the honorable and learned member does not wish to make a misstatement, and as I think he has made a mistake, I should like to tell him-
– I do Say, and say courteously, that I wish the Minister had given me the information in answer to my questions. Considering the interest I have taken in this question, and that many months ago I tabled a motion dealing with it, and, further, that I put to the Minister some very succinct and pertinent questions, he owed it to me and to the State I represent to give me less light-hearted - I shall not use the word “ flippant “ - answers. I shall now offer a suggestion, though I anticipate the Minister will not place a very high value on it. There is a parallel to this sort of thing in the public life of the different States, certainly in New South Wales. When it is sought to determine on the desirability of a railway which involves a consideration of the aspects and commercial prospects of any district, the New South Wales Government do not send the whole House, but appoints a public works committee of chosen men, to whom is delegated the question of determining as to the suitability of the site. Why should that not be done in this case ?
– Would the honorable member be prepared to accept the recommendation of such a body
-I certainly should if I were satisfied with the personnel of the committee. If all available information in connexion with the sites were put into the form of a handy guide book, containing photographs, reports of engineers, upon the water supply, &c, I should prefer to accompany some few honorable members - without champagne–
– To talk about champagne is absolute nonsense. It is a disgrace to the honorable and learned member to speak in that way.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs knows very well that if an expedition of this kind were attempted, there would be provided a large supply of whisky and champagne, which is quite unnecessary.
– The honorable and learned member is suggesting that there would be an excess of champagne and whisky, and he has no right to do that. It is not worthy of him.
– One is aware that there is no right to call upon the Commonwealth to pay for any whisky or champagne, whether it be too much or too little ; but I know what would-go on under such circumstances. I want an opportunity of having in my possession the fullest information with regard to these sites, so that I may go round quietly with one or twohonorable members, and see them for myself. There are numerous, points which have to be considered in the settlement of this question. The construction of railways goes to the very root of the matter. At the present time the railways are the property of the various States. The Commonwealth has no power to construct lines. Let us suppose for a moment that the members of this Parliament decide that Bombala is a suitable spot for the establishment of the capital. Do honorable members imagine that they are going to get over the constitutional difficulty that would present itself in regard to the opening up of railway communication with that place ? Do they suppose that Victoria will consent to construct a railway over the Snowy Mountains at a cost of perhaps £3,000,000, or that New South Wales to bear the burden of building such a line merely for Capital purposes? Both States would naturally call upon the Commonwealth to defray the expense of such a work. They would say, “This railway is not wanted for commercial or State purposes. You want it for federal purposes, and you must pay for it.” Unless, therefore, the Commonwealth were prepared to pay for the construction of such a line, the Bombala site would not be an eligible one. The Minister for Home Affairs should have been prepared with the very latest and fullest information as to the cost of such an undertaking.
– If the honorable and learned member had inquired in Sydney he would know that the very latest information is available. I am preparing a handbook in accordance with the ideas of the honorable and learned member, and I think he will be quite satisfied when he sees it.
– I do not want to be truculent over this matter. When the Minister tells me that he does not think it desirable to incur expenditure till after the House has visited the various sites, he must mean that until a parliamentary inspection has been made no further information will be obtained. When are honor- “ able members to undertake the proposed inspection 1 We are no nearer. Of course the Minister has said that he is “making arrangements.” But I am as familiar with the “put off” phraseology of departments as he is, and when he states that the Government are “ making arrangements,” I know exactly what he means. As a matter of fact he is “ making arrangements” to get some photographs. What sort of treatment is that to accord to this question 1 Why did he not say that this handbook was being prepared 1
– The photographs are ready, and are being mounted at the Government Printing-office in Sydney.
– The photographs are the least important consideration. We can see the scenery around the different sites for ourselves, and we can feel what the climate is like. What honorable members want information upon are the things which they cannot ses for themselves. They wish to be informed where the water supply is to come from, and what is under the ground for the construction of the edifices there. I want to learn what are the utilitarian prospects of these places. I ask the Minister to remember that a very strong antagonism to federation is being rapidly developed in New South Wales from a variety of causes, one of which is that no interest is being taken .in the settlement of the Federal capital site. I come now to another aspect of this question. The general opinion of competent architects is that when once the site is determined upon, it will be not only better in the interests of the Commonwealth, but more economical, to erect temporary public buildings - which can be put up within twelve months - than to wait for plans and designs of permanent structures.
– We might sit in a tent.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs is much more serious when questions concerning the Tariff are under discussion. If the Government areright in saying that during the recess, honorable members can visit the eligibleareas so that an early selection can be made, there is no reason why this Parliament cannot be sitting in the Federal capital in 1904; because, according to the opinion of competent architects, the whole of the necessary buildings could be erected within twelve months. There is, therefore,, a prospect of removing Parliament from local influences within a comparatively brief period. This consideration throwsan entirely new light upon the question. Most people are apt to suppose that the establishment of the Federal capital is a sort of mirage which we shall never reach, but practical men tell us that if we only choose the site this year, there is no valid reason why this Parliament should not be sitting in its own home in January, 1904. If the Minister for Home Affairswishes to remove thenational Parliamenfrom. the sphere of influence of a particular State, he has only to collect all the information available in reference to the sites, and put it into a portable form. He will thus render the Commonwealth one of the best services of his life, and he will also earn the gratitude of the people of New South Wales. The only other matter to which I wish to direct attention is that of deferred pay to military men who have served in South Africa. In this connexion I will ask the Treasurer if he does not think it would redound to the credit of the Commonwealth if an end were put to the practice of telling men that .they must go to the States for their pay, whilst the States in turn inform them that they must go to the Commonweallth.
– I should like toknow of some of the instances.
– There is one instance in regard to which I addressed the Minister for Defence some time ago. Representations were made to me that certain men who had served in South Africa were being refused pay to which they were entitled.
– The Commonwealth has nothing to do with the contingents sentby the States to South Africa.
– The Commonwealth has taken over the Defence department, and the average citizen naturally considers that that department has been taken over with its obligations and assets.
– The Commonwealth has nothing whatever to do with those contingents.
– I do not want to argue the question as to who is liable. Although the Commonwealth may say that technically it is under no obligation to pay these men, is it desirable that they shall be sent back to the State Treasurers ?
– We cannot expend money except for Commonwealth purposes.
– But the Federal Government can enter into communication with the States, and arrange an amicable settlement of the matter, or decide who is to pay these men.
-We should first decide if the money has to be paid.
– I quite agree with the honorable member. If the Treasurer went to some bank in Sydney to collect a supposed debt, and the bank said “ We have nothing to do with this matter at the head office. You must go to the branch at Warrnambool “ - what would he think ?
– The two cases are not analogous. If somebody went to the honorable member to collect a debt owing by me, he would not pay it.
– But if the Treasurer referred me to one of his servants or to a member of his family for a grocer’s bill, I should say that the house of Turner was in a queer condition, and instead of my being sent backwards and forwards, it would be more creditable to dispose of it, as regards the public, once for all, and let the Commonwealth and the States arrange it between them.
.- Before honorable members make statements in this Chamber about the proposed sites for the Federal capital, they should, at any rate, take some pains to become acquainted with the facts. The honorable and learned member for Parkes solemnly told the House that he has taken so much interest in this question during the last three or four months, that he has gone to the trouble of asking a number of questions in regard to it. He went on to inform honorable members that the cost of making a railway to the favorite site, Bombala-
Honorable Members. - Oh !
– Would be something like £4,000,000, because a line of railway would have to be cut through the Snowy Mountains.
– That was not my statement.
– Hansard will show that the honorable and learned member said that it will cost between £4,000,000 and £5,000,000 to cut a railway through the Snowy Mountains to reach Bombala from Victoria.
– I contradict the honorable member’s assertion, and I ask him to withdraw it.
– No doubt, during the dinner hour the honorable and learned member has improved his geography, and is now aware that the Snowy Mountains lie due west of the route which the railway would take, and the Victorian Engineer-in-Chief for Railways estimates the cost of the railway on the Victorian side at £665,000 for one route. Before the honorable and learned member makes any more statements of that kind, I hope he will arm himself with the facts of the case. No one is more anxious than I am that the site of the Federal capital should be determined as soon as possible.
– So long as Bombala is decided upon.
– I want to see the best site chosen. The honorable and learned member is measuring my corn by his own bushel. He wants to see the capital located as near as possible to the 100-mile limit. The objection which has been taken to the present arrangement is that it gives the representatives of Victoria an advantage over other honorable members. The Victorian representatives, however, have always shown themselves willing to accommodate the representatives of other States by pairing with them, and it generally happens that when adivision is taken nearly the full strength of the House is accounted for either in the division list or in the pair-book. We should rise above this petty jealousy of Victoria. Most honorable members know that the Victorian representatives are as anxions as we are to have the matter settled, so that the Federal capital compact may be kept. Although one or two Members of the Victorian Parliament may have overstepped the mark in what they have said about wanting to get back here, such expressions do not voice the opinion of the people of Victoria, any more than one swallow makes a summer. No one would take umbrage quicker at any delay on the part of the Government in dealing with this question than I should, because I have an honest conviction that the Federal capital will be located within my electorate, and that seems to be the conviction of many other people. It is very easy to ask why a visit of inspection to the Federal capital sites has not already been made. It has been suggested that we might have gone during the Christmas vacation. That adjournment was so short that many of us had hardly more than enough time to go to our homes, eat our Christmas pudding, and come back again, and if a visit of inspection had been organized then, a great many honorable gentlemen would not have been able to take part in it. I deny that this visit of inspection is intended to be a huge picnic. Most honorable members are determined to come to a decision upon this question from what they see of the sites themselves, and a visit of inspection is designed to give them an opportunity of seeing the general character of the country, and ascertaining the climatic conditions of the various suggested sites. The honorable and learned member for Parkes talks in a superior fashion about a chemical analysis of the soil being necessary to enable honorable gentlemen to come to a decision in regard to the suitability of the sites, but there are many practical men in the House who could judge whether the soil was good or bad without a chemical analysis. If the honorable and learned member can mentally conjure up mountains which have no existence where he would place them, surely it will be possible for him to see the Snowy River when he wants to ascertain what the water supply of the Federal capital will be. The Government propose to give honorable members an opportunity of visiting all these sites, and seeing for themselves what they are like, and I hope that that will be done at the first opportunity.When honorable members speak of the action of Victorians in regard to this matter, I would ask them to remember that most of the representatives of constituencies in and around Sydney seem to think that the one aim should be to locate the Federal capital as near Sydney as possible.
– Most of them seem to think that Sydney has an inherent right to the trade of the Federal capital, and that they should accentuate the centralization of their State in every way they can. Therefore they are against the choosing of a place which may have a port of its own, and thus divert trade from Sydney. I do not desire to labour this matter, and a notice upon the business-paper would prevent my dealing with it in detail, but I hope that when the time comes for deciding where the site shall be, honorable members will rote patriotically in the interests of the Commonwealth, without considering whether the proposed site is near to Sydney or near to Melbourne.
– Where is Bombala?
– The honorable member might as well ask me where is London? He does not know the geography of the world.The honorable and learned member for Parkes said to-night that there are 50 sites.
– The Minister himself said so.
– The honorable and learned member said that there are 50 sites, and contended that the Minister is wrong in not engaging experts to obtain statistics and information in regard to all these sites, which would cost a great deal of money. In his next breath, however, we were informed that there are only three or four sites which are suitable. Have we not already obtained as much information in regard to those sites as we require until we have an opportunity of seeing them for ourselves ? We are told that the selection of the Capital is not to be made a party question, and I believe that it will not be a party question, except to the extent that it will be the Commonwealth against supporters of Sydney and its suburbs.
– The honorable member is killing his own show when he talks like that.
– We know how much support any site would get from Sydney representatives which is not likely to supply trade to Sydney.
– The honorable member’s statement does not do him credit.
– Every care has been taken to furnish us with information on this subject. Although the honorable and learned member for Parkes, in his superior way, may term the officers who have been employed upon this work “subordinates,” the best experts obtainable have been employed in making surveys, in taking levels, and in getting information about climate, water supply, and many other matters of interest. A very lengthy and comprehensive report on the subject has been furnished by a gentleman who, although he may be classed as a subordinate by the honorable and learned member for Parkes, enjoys the respect of most men who know him - Mr. Alexander Oliver.
– Is the honorable member stone- walling the Tariff]
– No. The honorable member is the great exponent of stonewalling in this House. I rose, not to ventilate any grievance, but to ask the honorable and learned member for Parkes to look into the information which has been furnished on this subject before he addresses the House upon it again. I felt called upon, in view of the utter ignorance which he displayed of the conditions of the Bombala site, to say a few words to put him right. He may feel that he would rather not travel there with the general body of members, and may prefer to visit the place with three or four of his own friends. Personally, I would rather obtain my information by hearing the answers given by the engineers and other experts who will accompany the party to the questions put to them by honorable members, -than get it in any other way ; but I am sure that if the honorable member goes there with three or four friends, he will return with the opinion which is held by the great majority of the people who have visited this part of the country, that, if merit and not selfishness is to count, the only place for the Federal capital is that which seems to have been designed for it by Nature - Southern Monaro.
– I think that the Commonwealth has a great grievance, but it is not that the Federal capital site has not yet been determined upon. The grievance which the people of the Commonwealth suffer under at present is the inordinate waste of time which has occurred in dealing with the Tariff. It is a grievance which I am suffering from personally, and I am not going to add to it by detaining the House while I talk about the Federal capital site - a matter which must be discussed and settled within a month or two - or anything else.
We cannot make any progress with this; matter by expressing our views upon it, and we should close the discussion and get on. with the Tariff as soon as possible.
– I should not have spoken except that being a representative of New South Wales I am every week twitted with not taking action in regard to the capital site. I unhesitatingly say that those members who havebeen in their places regularly and have endeavoured to pass the Tariff through have been doing more to promote the settlement of the Federal capital site question than those who come here occasionally, and occupy the time of the House in speaking upon the subject as if they were the primemovers in all matters connected with the question. A very serious charge hasbeen made by the honorable and learned member for Parkes against the site that has. been suggested at Bombala. He states that it is going to cost £4,000,000 to connect Bombala with the Victorian system of railways.
– I did not say so.
– The honorable and learned member said that that was the statement contained in a report received by him whilst he was Minister for Public Works in New South Wales.
– I said that some engineers had expressed that opinion.
– Unless thehonorable and learned member was speaking upon some reliable authority he had noright to make the statement. I desire tosee the Federal capital question settled so that we may not trespass too long on the hospitality of the Victorian Government, but we cannot reasonably expect that the question shall be dealt with until the Tariff has been disposed of.
– The Minister might be obtaining some information.
– We could not be expected to break into the Tariff discussion in order to take up the capital question.
– We are not asking that that should be done.
– Then the best way of helping the matter on will be for the honorable and learned member to givens his assistance in passing the Tariff.
– Is it necessary that Members of Parliament should visit the sites ?
– I do not know that it is, but if honorable members desire a change of air it may be just as well for them to make a tour of the proposed sites. I would like to seriously ask the Minister for Home Affairs if Mr. Oliver’s commission has yet expired, and whether the inquiries being made at present are being conducted on the same basis as when the commission was first issued ? Armidale is one of the places which deserves consideration. I suppose there is no large inland town in New South Wales with a better climate or which is surrounded by better country.
– I can name one - Inverell.
– I know of no place that possesses the advantages that Armidale does as a centre. We are shortly to have a railway from Weriss Creek across country to Wellington or Dubbo, and Armidale is situated on the high lands which divide the rich sugar and dairying country of the north coast, and that rich pastoral land stretching away to the westward as far as Bourke. I think we should know what action is being taken to obtain full information with regard to any sites that this House may be called upon to consider, and we should also know at
About what date the inspection of the sites is to take place. The sooner we get through the Tariff the sooner we shall settle the Federal site question. The honorable member for Illawarra has spoken with some force upon the inaction of the Government with regard to the maintenance and repair of post-offices throughout the Commonwealth, and I know that it is a very difficult matter to get anything done. It is true that perhaps in some cases there may have been neglect on the part of the States prior to the transfer of the departments, but that does not relieve the Commonwealth of responsibility in the matter. The post and telegraph officials in New South Wales are greatly agitated at present owing to their increments being stopped by the Federal Government, and I have been asked to draw attention to that matter. Another matter upon which there is very strong feeling is the way in which telegraph operators are kept out in the far west stations for very long periods. There are now two operators in the post-office at Walgett who have been there over three years, and are most anxious to get a removal to a more congenial climate. At Walgett the thermometer reaches 121 degrees in the shade, and the weather has been so hot that the birds have been taking refuge in the houses. No consideration is apparently given to employes in the Postal and Telegraph department in the outlying places. 1 was at Walgett last summer electioneering, and the condition of the wives and children of the officials there was in the last degree unsatisfactory, and yet they were not able to send them away to some better climate. Walgett is not connected by railway with the seaboard, and the cost of conveyance by coach is extremely high. The officers were led to expect certain allowances, but these are now being refused by the Federal Government, who have declined to take the responsibility of doing what was promised by the State Government. Some consideration should really be given to these men. I have here a copy of an article dealing with the same matter and stating -
Up to December 31 last, post and telegraph masters, operators and assistants in grades up to £299, were entitled by regulations framed under the provisions of the Public Service Act to increments from July1 eachyear. The granting of the increments depended upon Parliament passing the necessary funds and the efficiency and value of the work of officers. The increments for the year July 1, 1900, to June 30, 1901, had not been allotted by December 31, and neither had the officers been regraded by the Public Service Board, as directed by the Act. But regulations were introduced on Janaury 1, 1901, limiting the annual increments up to £125, and providing that above that salary promotion should depend upon vacancies.
I do not wish to read any further from this article at present, because I intend to refer to the matter at a later stage, unless some action is taken. I would earnestly urge the Government to take into consideration the position of these post and telegraph operators, so that they, may not only receive the full amount of the allowances they are entitled to, but that they may be removed after spending, at the outside, two years at these outlying stations. Nothing further can be done for those people in that terribly hot climate through want of some consideration on the part of the Government. If the Government do not take this matter into their consideration, it will occupy a good deal of the time of the House until something is done.
– I should like to press on the Government the necessity of sending, with the forces to South Africa, officers who have some knowledge of bush life and conditions. From reports which have reached us from South Africa, it is evident that some of the officers, or a large portion of them who were previouslysent, were quite unfitted to take their share in irregular warfare. England can supply trained officers, skilled “in the ordinary matters of discipline necessary to the conduct of a campaign in a settled country; and what are required from us now more than ever are men who can take charge of irregular bodies, and are, in fact, scouts. I am much afraid on looking through the lists, and from what I can gather from those who have some knowledge, that many of the officers selected have not the very first requisites for this class of work, and that, as in the past, we shall have officers ignoring suggestions from . their better-informed men, and, in their ignorance, simply arriving at the spot from whence they started. It is against the recurrence of that condition of affairs I ask the Defence department to provide. I know that a few years of city life takes away from a man a certain amount of bush lore and knowledge, but many men have been sent to Africa who never possessed any such qualifications. On the question of the Federal capital site I regret the apathy displayed by the Government, and I regret still more that in order to cover themselves, they went so far as to try to create discord and dissension in New South Wales by asking the Parliament of that State to discuss the question, although they must know perfectly well, if they have read the Constitution, that the matter can be settled only by the Federal Parliament. It seems very much as if the intention of the Government was to delay the settlement of the question in sending this request to the New South Wales Government in the hope that the Parliament of that State, which was then just rising for seven or eight months, would, on re-assembling, occupy another couple of months in discussing the question without ariving at a decision, with the result of twelve months’ further delay. We find that the Government have not taken any steps to obtain from engineers or other experts reports on the places already submitted, but have asked for suggestions as to further sites, in the face of the fact that the New South Wales Government have already named three, and that theFederal Government need not, and probably would not, act on any suggestion from thatState. I can see no motive on the part of the Government, except that they hoped toconfuse the general public by saying that thequestion was being left to New South Walesto determine. It must be remembered that the capital site is not to be a mere pleasureresort, but must be judged on the utilitarian grounds suggested by the honorableand learned member for Parkes, one of thefirst of which is facility of communication with the populous centres of Australia. How can the Government expect a body of men such as we are, the bulk of whom possessing no engineering, architectural, or special knowledge, to decide as to the suitability of a site from the stand-point, say, of water supply or the proximity of building material ? If the Government are sincere in their desire to obtain suggestions as to one or two other sites, the best they can do is to send an officer and obtain a report.
– I had not intended to take any part in this debate, but this sitting is set apart for the airing of grievances, of which, like other honorable members, I have my fair share. I consider that we have reached a stage in the fiscal battle when the great trading public of Australia have a grievance against us for not expediting our work. On the question which has formed the main pivot of the discussion, I feel that the people of New South Wales have real cause for complaint. They were led at the outset to expect - particularly in those centres adjacent to the suggested sites - that something would be done by this Parliament in the direction of selecting the Federal area at a much earlier date than this. The people of New South Wales were given to understand that one of the first steps would be in the direction of bringing about a general inspection on the part of the Members of this Parliament; but for various reasons this inspection has been delayed, and so far as I can see - and I think the Government see, too - there is no chance of this inspection until the Tariff has been disposed of in this House. The best we can do is to expedite the consideration of the Tariff, and reach a stage when we can reasonably take in hand the settlement of the question of the capital site. We should consider the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Parkes that certain information should be compiled and supplied to honorable members before the inspection takes place, so that we may have the advantage of the large volume of facts which have been gathered together by the State of New South Wales. The Government of that State some time ago appointed a very able man, in the person of Mr. Alexander Oliver, to make a report on the sites considered best adapted for this particular purpose, and before this House wasconstituted Mr. Oliver’s report was presented. I think Mr. Oliver visited most of the 50 sites suggested, taking evidence and making exhaustive inquiries, with the result that he recommended for the consideration of the Federal Parliament three sites - Canobolas, Yass, and Eden-Bombala. Since then the matter has been re-opened at the instance, I presume, of the Federal Government, and Mr. Oliver is engaged in further inquiries. He has, I understand, made a report in favour of a site in the vicinity of Tumut, and is making an investigation with a view of reporting on a site near Armidale. From information received I understand that the Federal Government propose to include three or four other sites. But apart from that, I understand that the Government of New South Wales have supplemented Mr. Oliver’s report by reports from expert officers upon the suitability of the different sites from an engineering and architectural stand-point. I agree with the honorableand learned member for Parkes, that those reports, together with other information, should be bound up in a handy form. Honorable members would then be able to carry with them the results of the exhaustive inquiries which have been instituted to assist them in the proposed personal inspection. I think it is a pity that this inspection was not made at an earlier period of the session. At any rate the Government should do all in their power to expedite the final selection of the Capital. Undoubtedly there is a considerable amount of dissatisfaction in New South Wales at the present time, owing to the delay which has occurred. I do not think that Sydney has yet made up its mind which particular site it favours. The discontent which exists in New South Wales in relation to this matter is not confined to the areas which have been suggested as eligible ones. Only the other day the Mayor of
Sydney was asked to convene a public meeting to urge upon this House and the Government the necessity for arriving at a speedy determination of this question. I trust that the matter will be treated with that consideration which its importance demands, and that the steps contemplated by the Government will not be delayed longer than is absolutely necessary.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 22nd January (vide page 9105).
Division VI. - Metals and Machinery.
Amendment (by Mr. Bamford) proposed -
That the following words stand as a new item to follow item 76 - “ Fish-bolts, washers, and dog-spikes, on and after 24th January, 1902; 10 per cent. “
-So far as I can see, these articles would be dutiable as “ manufactures of metals.”
– Would they not come under the heading of “ bolts “?
– I should say that dog-spikes would not. If honorable members turn to page 9, they will find that spikes are specifically mentioned there, so that dog-spikes would probably come under that definition, and be dutiable at 3s. per cwt. We have already determined that washers and rivets shall be included in the free list. I doubt whether fish-bolts would come under the heading of “bolts and nuts,” but at all events they would be “ manufactures of metals,” and therefore liable to duty at the rate of 20 per cent. If it is desired to have all these articles dutiable the wisest course would be to impose a uniform duty upon them, instead of having one article dutiable at a certain rate, a second at a different rate, and a third included in the schedule of exemptions.
– The articles enumerated in my amendment belong specially to railway materia], and therefore I thought it wise to specifically name them, so as to avoid complications.
– It would be better to leave the matter to us to look into.
– I am quite content to do that, and I therefore ask leave to. withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn..
– I have not yet heard from the Government what attitude they intend to take in regard to type-setting and type-casting machines. As the Tariff at present stands, a duty of 20 per cent, is charged upon ordinary type, while typesetting machines are allowed to come in free. As I said yesterday, type-setting machines are not correctly named, because they do not set the type, but I must speak of them by that name for want of a better. I do not think that any argument is needed to convince honorable members that it is hardly fair to place work done largely by manual labour at a disadvantage as compared with that done chiefly by machines.
– If any distinction is made it should be the other way about.
– I do not think that in these times we can adopt an attitude antagonistic to machinery. To put typesetting machines and type machines on the same basis, I move -
That the following words stand as a new item -to follow item 76, “linotypes, monotypes, monolines, and other similar machines and printers’ typo, on and after 24th January, 1902, 10 per cent.”
– I am prepared to accept a 15 per cent, duty all round, but I think that 10 per cent, is too low.
– I think that the Government should be satisfied with a revenue duty upon these things. It would be unwise for us to put a tax upon literature, but we do not want to offer a premium to those having books to publish to send to Germany, or America, or elsewhere, to get their work done. The. one type-casting establishment in Australia will never be an important source of supply, because the variety of faces of type used in jobbing offices is so great that the demand for type of any one face is not sufficient to justifiy its manufacture here.
– And it is always changing.
– Yes, because people like variety.
– There are not many type foundries in England.
– One could count the important foundries of the world almost on one’s fingers. Caslon’s foundry and two or three others practically supply the world. The demand for the ordinary newspaper or book type, which Wimble and Co., of Sydney, supply, is rapidly diminishing, because the type-setting and type-casting machines are displacing the use of type in large newspaper offices to such an extent that in all probability within five or ten years they will not require to buy much more new type of the ordinary variety, because they will be supplied for the remainder of the term that ordinary type is likely to continue in use. The monoline is a cheap, simple, and effective machine, which is suitable for country offices and small book-printing offices. I know that a variety of things can be done with it, because I saw one in operation only a few days ago.
– I do not see why there should be any duty on these machines.
– I see no objection to a small revenue duty. I shall vote for the admission of paper and other requisites of jobbing printing offices free.
– Probably the honorable member for Bland is not aware that some time ago I placed upon the business-paper a notice of my intention to move that printers’ type be admitted free. I did so because, since the large newspaper proprietors have been allowed to introduce free of duty machines which practically set type, it would be a monstrous injustice to impose a heavy duty upon ordinary type, which is used almost entirely by the poorer newspaper proprietors.
– This is an attempt to remedy that injustice by giving the same treatment all round.
– The attempt is being made, now that all the big newspaper proprietors of Australia have crammed their offices full of linotypes, upon which they have paid no duty, to impose a duty from which practically no revenue will be received. All the big newspaper offices of the Commonwealth have already imported all the linotypes they are likely to require for the next ten or fifteen years.
– How long will a linotype last?
– I am not quite sure, but I should think that the life of one of those machines would be fifteen or twenty years, according to the care and attention given to it. The people who are likely to import linotypes now are the proprietors of newspapers in cities like Bendigo and Coolgardie - men who are not so well off as those who are publishing the big metropolitan dailies.
– They have linotypes at Bendigo already.
– I know that. I mentioned Bendigo as an example of the sort of towns in which these machines will shortly come into use throughout Australia. Therefore, if we impose a duty upon linotypes it will fall, not upon the big newspaper proprietors, but upon the smaller men. There can surely be no justification, however, for putting a duty upon type. Of course, we can manufacture anything in Australia if the cost of production be not taken into account, but it is impracticable to establish the type-making industry here, because the demand for the various kinds of type is not sufficiently large to warrant any manufacturer in putting down the necessary plant, or in going to the expense necessary to obtain moulds for the various designs of letters.
– There is a duty of 20 per cent, upon type at the present time.
– I understood the Treasurer to say that he is prepared to put type upon the same footing as type-setting machines by imposing an all-round duty of 15 per cent.
– I think that if the right honorable gentleman will make inquiries he will ascertain that a duty of 15 per cent, would be of very little assistance to a man who thought of establishing a type foundry in Australia. He might make the commoner kinds of type, such as are used in newspaper and book printing, here ; but it would be impossible for him to manufacture the vast variety of type which is used in jobbing offices, because the demand for the various kinds of type is so small that it would not pay him to lay down the necessary plant, or to procure the necessary designs.
– I understand that a type foundry is now in existence in Sydney, and that this duty will enable the proprietors to largely increase their business.
– That is the claim of a bogus industry in Sydney. If the Treasurer goes to the right source of information he will find that none of the statements put forward in the circular issued by the proprietor of that foundry can be substantiated. They are absolutely cloudy ; there is no substantiality in them. The proposed duty of 15 percent, will, as I have shown, be ineffective as a protective duty, while as a revenue duty it will fall, in respect to type setting machines, not upon the wealthy newspaper proprietors, but upon the middle class newspaper proprietors in the country towns, while in respect to type it will fall upon the poorest class of newspaper proprietors - men who are already up to their necks in difficulties, and who have to strugglehard inordertocarryonatall. I hope the committee will not look with any favour upon this duty. If they do, I shall be able to bring forward further facts, which will convince them that the duty will not foster any industry, but will extract money from the pockets of a class who can ill afford to pay.
– I quite agree with the honorable member for Bland that type should be placed on the same footing as the linotype and other similar machines, but I think that the honorable member would have acted more wisely if he had sought to put type on the free list instead of subjecting both type and machines to a duty. I admit that the proposed duty is a small one, but at the same time the arguments which have been used by the honorable member against a high duty would hold equally good in favour of placing the articles on the free list.
– That might apply to every article in the Tariff.
– Yes ; but the honorable member himself pointed out, as an additional element in favour of free admission, that we have to compete in the printing of books and papers with the cheap productions of other countries, which come in duty free ; and, therefore, we ought to put our printers on the best possible footing. We shall not help our printers and publishers to carry on their operations by putting any duty whatever on the machines and appliances that are necessary for the production of books and papers. In Sydney and Melbourne during the last few years there has been a considerable increase in the business of printing books. A large number of educational publications have been printed in New South Wales, and the business is growing, and it would be a great mistake to burden an important industry with even a small duty for revenue purposes. If we wish to derive revenue let us do it by levying duties on articles of wide consumption which will produce something like a reasonable revenue but will not act as a check upon industry.
– This is a rather important matter. I understand that if matters remain as the Government propose, printers’ type will bear a duty of 20 per cent., whilst linotypes and other elaborate machines used by printers will come in free. It is very difficult to see how the Government could have arrived at that way of dealing with the matter, because it is admitted that in all probability these machines could not be made in the Commonwealth. As a rule they are used in large newspaper offices, and surely it would have been fair to impose a revenue duty, if a revenue duty can be regarded as fair in connexion with printers’ type. We should do all we can to “put printers’ type on the free list. The great bulk of the country newspapers in Australia have a severe struggle for existence, and I do not suppose we wish to see the newspaper press represented by only a few large metropolitan journals. In dealing with protectionist papers, which assert that duties make the taxed articles cheaper, I have always told them that they ought to advocate a duty on the materials they use if they think it will make them cheaper. In dealing with these matters in a business-like way, I do not think we shall arrive at such a conclusion, and I cannot vote for a duty on printers’ type. I know the honorable member for Bland proposes to place printers’ type in a better position than it now occupies, but he will not find fault with us if we desire to go a little further than he does. If there is a class of people in the country who might be sympathized with it is the country newspaper proprietors - men who give their brains often for a paltry pittance, and the luxury of having a number of unpaid accounts. I will not be any party to putting a tax on printers’ type.
– With regard to this item, we found that linotypes and monotypes and similar machines would not, in all probability, be made within the Commonwealth, but, at the same time, we had information before us which led us to believe that type could be made here. We thought, therefore, that it would be fair to encourage the type-founding industry which has been established in New South Wales, and the conductors of which asked very strongly for some further assistance.
– Is there not only one manufacturer - if so, cannot we pension him off ?
– As matters stand at the present time, the manufacturer of type has verv little opportunity of supplying the market of Australia, but if a duty is imposed and the whole continent is thrown open to him, he will probably be able to do very well. The question whether this manufacturer could supply all the type required is one for technical experts to decide. He asserts that he can, and I understand that it is admitted that he can supply a large proportion of it. We do not assume that the moment a duty is placed on an article it makes that article cheaper - no one has said that - but that is the result in nearly all protected lines after a reasonable time has elapsed. With regard to linotypes and monotypes, we should have been very glad to impose a revenue duty on them, but having regard to the fact that they were to be used for printing purposes, and could not be made here, and the further fact that we were levying duties upon a large number of other goods used by printers, we thought it fair to leave them on the exemption list. However, on reconsideration, I think it would be wiser to put them on the same footing as type. It may fairly be said that some revenue ought to be derived from these machines, in view of the other revenue duties which have been imposed, and if the honorable member will increase his proposal to 15 per cent, the Government will agree to it. That rate will afford a fair amount of revenue, and at the same time give sufficient protection to makers of the type.
– I trust that members of the committee will not agree to the proposal of the honorable member for Bland, or to the suggestion of the Government. The merits of the case are sufficiently obvious, and they were obvious enough to the Government at one particular stage. It is something more than a coincidence that the Government have admitted on three separate occasions during this week that all their labour and care has been inadequate to enable them to draw up a Tariff which they would be prepared to stand by under criticism. It was only the other evening that they entirely changed their position in regard to steel rails, on the representation of a privatemember, and when a proposal is made to subject monotypes and linotypes to a duty, the Treasurer not only perceives the reason of it at once, but proposes to go 5 per cent, better. Last night it was suggested that a duty should be placed upon wire-netting, and the Govern.ment immediately took up the idea. I am getting quite tired of the way in which the business is being managed by the Government. Do the Government know what their intentious are, or are they simply waiting for some honorable members to get up and give them an idea of how matters stand? They knew very well what these machines were, as was indicated by the answer I received when I questioned Ministers with reference to placing monolines on the same footing as monotypes and linotypes. The only fault the Government find is that the honorable member does not go far enough, although they believed the articles should be admitted free. I hope the committee will not agree to the amendment, but that some attempt will be made to see that the Government adhere to their proposals, even if nobody else believes in them.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).I should like to know how many men are employed in this industry?
– There is one proprietor, and not many men in the type-casting branch.
– Are there a dozen?
Honorable Members. - About three.
– It seems absurd to impose a tax for the sake of so small an industry. As pointed out by the honorable member for Bland, the malting of type will undoubtedly be a diminishing industry, because machines which cast type automatically are superseding the older methods. But the Government would be well advised to accept 10 per cent., which is by no means too high for a revenue duty. We have heard of the poor struggling newspaper proprietor in the back blocks, but newspaper proprietors, generally speaking, are as well able to pay 10 per cent, on tools of trade as the back block’s pioneer to pay 10 per cent, on barbed wire.
– But the 30 per cent, hatter gets his tools of trade in free.
– No, he does not.
– A good many are free.
– I dare say that some of these machines mean an expenditure of £700 or £800, and a 10 per cent, duty would be really well worth collecting. It has been said that the large newspaper proprietors are already stocked up, and probably they are ; but there are constant changes, and I do not suppose it will be very many years before modifications of the machines at present in use will be required. It must be remembered that we are not making a Tariff for the life of a Parliament, but, we hope, for a considerable period.
Mr. MAHON (Coolgardie). - I have no objection to collecting a revenue duty from newspaper proprietors, who should pay their fair share in the same way as a farmer or a squatter. But there is at present a duty of 10 per cent, on all the paper used by printers, so that there is no likelihood of the newspaper proprietors escaping their fair share of taxation. The Government propose this duty on type for protective purposes ; but type-founding can never become a large labour-employing industry in Australia. Every type-setting machine introduced does the work of five or six men, so that the diminution of type-setting by hand will in future be very considerable. Apart from that, there are so many varieties of type - so many different “ faces “ and sizes - that, with the small consumption here, it would never pay a type-founder to lay down a plant. If the Government really intend this as a protective duty, why have they put on the free list articles which can be advantageously manufactured in Australia? On the special exemption list of the Government we find amongst printers’ appliances, the “chase,” which is the square piece of iron in which the type is locked up. Chases are being manufactured in Melbourne to-day.
– Any blacksmith can make them.
– A chase is no more a tool of trade than is type, but is part of the plant of every printer. Then there are “galleys,” which I believe can be made here, and mac!e much more advantageously than type. Another exemption is the “ imposing surface,” which is simply a plain iron surface which almost an)’ iron-founder could turn out. “ Metal furniture,” which is made of lead, and used to fill up the white spaces one sees in printed matter, can be cast much more easily than type, seeing that no expensive matrix is required. Then moulds for making printers rollers are made of iron, and could be easily manufactured here. If the Government are going to exempt these articles they should certainly exempt type, and the same remark applies to “quotations,” roller forms, and stocks, in addition to side, foot, and composing sticks. Some of these last mentioned are made of timber, and can be manufactured by any carpenter. I would remind the Government that it would be absolutely impossible for any type-founder with a 15 per cent, duty to compete against the American manufacturer. I am sorry the Government on this question have not consulted the best authorities, who would have told them that even with a 50 per cent, duty no one in Australia could turn out material equal to that produced by the American foundries. This duty will be a tax on the very poorest class of printer, and will not do much good. There is a difference which ought to be noticed in this connexion between printing paper and type. In the case of paper, if a printer only uses a small quantity, he, of course, only pays on his output, and that duty alone will hit the printer hard enough and more fairly. But a printer with a little office, publishing a small paper of four pages, has to spend almost as much on his type and accessories as another office which turns out a similar paper * more frequently. I hope the amendment will not be accepted, but for the time being I move -
That the amendment be amended by the omission of the words “and pi-inters’ type,” after the word “machines.”
Mr. WATSON (Bland).-So far as the amendment of the honorable member for Coolgardie is concerned, I should say that the essence of the argument is that the two articles should be placed on an equal footing. Whatever disability - and a revenue duty is a disability to some extent - is placed on one article, should, in my opinion, be placed all round. As to the big newspapers having already obtained linotypes, it is my belief that within a very few years those who have those machines will have to replace them with cheaper and simpler inventions. By no means all the big newspapers have linotypes, the Sydney Morning Herald, for one, working with machines which were introduced 30 years ago, and are notably inefficient. It is impossible to expect linotypes, which are a complicated machine, containing thousands of pieces, to wear for any considerable length of time without requiring some, or all, of the parts renewed, and as parts will be accounted at the same rate as the whole, 10 per cent, will have to be contributed on any new parts or any new machines.
Then we must recollect that the introduction of a new machine is not an event of every day occurrence in the life of a newspaper or jobbing office. I think that a duty upon paper is much more likely to materially hamper the operations of small country newspapers than is the imposition of a 10 per cent, duty upon type and machines.
– Why, nine-tenths of the newspapers would not have to pay more than 2s. per week.
– -But the honorable member knows that a considerable element in the success of a country newspaper is its jobbing work, and upon the superfine paper used in that work, a duty of 10 per cent, would represent a considerable sum. Jobbing and newspaper proprietors in the country districts would not object to paying duty upon their type and machines so long as they were granted a reduction of 10 per cent, in the paper duties. A machine which puts one man in the place of six is such a saving to a newspaper proprietor that he can afford to pay an extra pound or two in duties. He can certainly afford to pay 10 per cent, extra upon a new machine which costs somewhere about £300.
– Is there any likelihood of the linotype being superseded ?
– It is practically superseded now.
– That is a mistake.
– Only a week ago, in company with a printers’ engineer, I inspected the working of the monoline, which is a new machine costing about £340. Without putting my own knowledge of the trade, which extends over twenty years, into the scale, the evidence of every printers’ engineer is that this machine must supersede the linotype, not only because it is cheaper, but because it can be worked faster than any ordinary practised workmen can operate the linotype. Its great feature, from an engineering stand-point, is its simplicity. It contains only one-fourth of the working parts of the linotype, so that it can be much more easily understood by an ordinary mechanic.
– Does it displace as many men %
– It displaces just as many men as the linotype, and it is worked by a single operator. Its cheapness, simplicity, and equal speed for practical working all point to the fact that it must ultimately supersede the linotype. I trust that the committee will cany the amendment which I have submitted.
– I find that in none of the States except Western Australia has there been any duty upon type in the past, and then the charge levied was only 5 per cent. I feel that we shall not derive much revenue from this source. The imposition of the proposed duty will hamper those who ought to be encouraged, because we desire to see all our books published locally. I hope, therefore, that the amendment will be withdrawn.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- When I stated that the tools of trade of the hatmakers were to be admitted free, I was contradicted. Yet upon page 7 of the Tariff I find amongst the special exemptions the following : - “ Machine-tools used in the following industries, and specified in departmental by-laws - apparel and attire making, bookbinding, bootmaking, brushmaking, glassmaking and working, hatmaking, etc.” Clearly there is an intention, therefore, to exempt the tools of trade in these highly protected industries. Surely these words do not mean that some machines used in the manufacture of apparel are at the sweet will of the Minister to be admitted free, whilst others are to be taxed? With reference to the other matter we have a remarkable state of things. It is really one of the romances of the Tariff. Because in one part of Australia there is a man who employs one or two hands in manufacturing type, the whole of the printers of our newspapers and books are to be subjected to a customs duty, and this duty is to be imposed under the same policy which puts the great and costly machines of the big newspapers upon the free list. These costly machines destroy labour, whereas the people who use type encourage it. The latter employ six men for every one employed by those who use the linotype. Yet the linotype is to be admitted free, whilst the type is to be taxed at 20 per cent. Truly, this is one of the romances of the Tariff. I shall vote for putting printers’ types upon the free list. If protected industries are entitled to have their machine tools of trade included in the list of exemptions, surely the printers who have to compete with the printed literature of the world ought to have their type upon the free list !
Question - that the words “ and printers’ type” proposed to be omitted stand part of the proposed new item - put.
The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
Question - That the proposed new item as amended be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … … 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I beg to move now that printers’ type be placed upon the free list.
– I propose to deal with that matter when we are dealing with linotypes.
– In view of the assurance of the Treasurer that he will deal with type on the same footing as type-setting machines, I shall withdraw my amendment.
Mr. G. B. EDWARDS (South Sydney).I move -
That the following words stand as a new item to follow item 76; “ Gas engines, on and after 24th January, 1902, 10 per cent.”
I have already pointed out to the committee that it is impracticable to impose one duty upon oil - engines and another upon gas - engines, by reason of the fact that a change in the valve parts, which can be effected at any time, at very slight expense, will convert one class of engines into the other class. I understand, however, that it is the intention of the Government to recommit the item “oil-engines,” which now stands in the free list, in order to impose a duty of 20 per cent, upon them, and I therefore intend to test the sense of the committee upon the question now.
– Would it not be better to wait until we come to deal with oil-engines?
– I do not think so, because if I let this division pass, gasengines will be charged 20 per cent., as machinery not elsewhere included. Therefore, in the interests of the many persons throughout the Commonwealth who use gasengines, I feel it my duty to test the feeling of the committee upon the subject now. I hope that if my amendment is negatived the Government will deal with gas-engines in the same way as they deal with oil-engines, but that if the amendment is agreed to, they will put a revenue duty of 10 per cent, upon oilengines as well. I am not here to object to the imposition of revenue duties, because I wish to assist the Government in obtaining revenue; but while I think that 10 per cent, would be a fair charge upon these things, a higher rate would be very oppressive to a large body of people who are engaged in developing many of the industries of this country. A few months ago some of the members of the committee visited a number of the factories around Melbourne, and I noticed that in many of those factories the motive power used was the gasengine. Gas-engines provide the safest and cleanest motive power, and for small establishments, where a very high power is not required, they are by far the best. An argument in favour of the use of gas-engines in preference to oil-engines is that the fuel used for oil-engines must be imported, whereas that required for gas-engines is provided from our national resources. Then, again, the oils and spirits used in some of the oil-engines are very dangerous, and I believe that the Tariffs of some countries prevent the use of benzoline and other substances which have a flashing point below 80 degrees. In this Tariff, however, there is no provision against the use of such substances. The only thing to be urged in favour of oil-engines is that they are a convenience to people whose works are situated in places where gas cannot be obtained.
But by far the larger number of people who use engines will be found in the cities and towns where gas is available, and in my own electorate a great number of small manufacturers engaged in bootmaking, in biscuit making, tailoring, and a thousand and one other small industries, depend upon gas engines for the motive power required iri their work. As has been argued in connexion with another question, if we make engines, or the material used by these people, more expensive, we shall repress instead of encouraging their industry, and the safest and best way of encouraging any industry is to place the lowest amount of duty on the machinery and material used by those engaged in it. Ten per cent, will not be too high a duty to impose on engines of this sort, and I hope the Government will see their way to support my proposal. I think that by making gas and oil engines subject to the same rate of duty, viz., 10 per cent., we shall add to the revenue and facilitate the industries of the whole of the States, at the same time reducing the risk of fraud, through the introduction of engines for one purpose with the view of having them afterwards converted to other purposes.
– There is another class of engines which I think ought to be included if we are going to impose any special duty upon oil or gas engines, namely, hot-air engines. These are very extensively used in the back-blocks, where only a very small amount of power is required, for pumping in a small way. They are operated by placing a little wood in a furnace, and thus producing hot air, which is allowed to expand in a sort of cylinder, and thus work the engines used for pumping purposes. This type of engines is as much deserving of exemption, or at least of being subjected to a lower duty, as oil Olgas engines.
– I trust no alteration will be made in regard to this duty. There is no doubt that gas-engines are very largely made in several of the States, and there is no ground for differentiating between them and other engines. With regard to oil-engines, there was some mistake made in allowing them to be struck out. It was done towards the close of the evening, on the representation that they were not made within the Commonwealth. It is our intention to ask the committee to reconsider the duty on oilengines, because the result of our further investigation leaves no room for doubt that these engines are made well, and made largely, within the Commonweal th, and that it would be a pity to deprive them of the degree of protection which we have given to other engines.
– I would remind the committee that there is a proposal that the raw material used by the manufacturers of these engines, should be subject to duty, and in view of the fact that the manufacture of these engines is a most important branch of our engineering work, and that we have in Australia some of the most skilled engineers in the world, surely a duty of 20 per cent, is’ a reasonable and fair thing. To hear the honorable member for South Sydney speak, one would imagine that the manufacturers to whom he has referred buy gas-engines every day. Even if the prices of engines are increased by the imposition of a duty - which is a very debatable matter - surely it is better for all concerned that we should employ our own engineers and workmen rather than those of Germany or other foreign countries. The vote on this question will test the loyalty of the committee to our own workmen, and I hope the reduction will not be agreed to.
– It would be well to defer our final decision as to the duty upon gas-engines until we have an opportunity of reconsidering the question whether oil engines should be subject to a duty or not. I see no reason why any preference should be given to oil-engines, but with the information before us I do not see how we can arrive at any finality on the subject now under discussion, and I therefore suggest that the honorable member for South Sydney should withdraw his amendment.
– I think we might very well settle the question of the duty to be imposed on gas engines now. If we are going to afford any special, protection, these engines are a fair subject for the imposition of duties. They are made by a large number of firms throughout the whole of the States, and oil engines have not been made in South Australia to any extent solely for want of a protective duty. There is no reason why all the oil and gas engines required in the Commonwealth should not be made by our workmen, and we should place both classes of engines upon the same footing.
Mr. G. B. EDWARDS (South Sydney).I desire to amend the amendment on the lines suggested by the honorable member for Bland, by including hot-air engines as well as gas engines.
Amendment amended accordingly.
Question - that the proposed new item as amended, be agreed to - put.
The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the following words stand a new item, to follow item 76 : - “ Gas-engines, on and after 24th January, 1902, 15 per cent.”
I ask the Government to recommit the item of oil-engines, and place both classes on a 15 per cent, footing. The engines are, in effect, the same, and there is no reason why oil-engines should be on the free list, and the other charged 15 per cent. Under my proposal, we should have a fair revenue with incidental protection, which is in accordance with the Ministerial policy.
Question - That the proposed new item be agreed to - put.
The committee divided.
Majority … … 3
That the following words stand a new item to follow item 76 : - “ Electrical machinery, on and after 24th January, 1902, 10 per cent.”
I understand these machines cannot be manufactured in the Commonwealth, but I propose a reduced duty, because I see that the feeling of the committee would be against any exemption. Electrical machinery is used by municipalities, the Government, and the mining industry, and to impose the heavy duty of 20 per cent, would retard the progress of towns by making tramways and electric lighting too expensive to construct and keep up. The mining industry is taxed very heavily to the extent of 20 per cent, on machinery, although it is an industry which should be encouraged as much as possible. In Western Australia there is not only a tax on the machinery, but a tax of 5 per cent, on all mining dividends. There is no doubt that the electric lighting will before long supersede gas.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).I hope that the committee will not accept the amendment for the reasons advanced by the proposer himself, namely, that electrical-engines are superseding steamengines. It would be absurd for us to put steam-engines and gas-engines, and engines with other motive power, on a protective basis of 20 per cent, and admit electricalengines at 10 per cent. If our object is to hasten the day when electricity will supersede steam, there might be something in the honorable member’s contention, but that is hardly what we are here for. The engines ought to be allowed to compete on equal terms, and there is noquestion that electrical machines can be made in Australia. I believe they are manufactured in all the States. I do not know whether they are made in Western Australia, but all kinds of electrical engines are manufactured in Melbourne. I hope that the committee will treat electrical machinery and engines in exactly the same way that they treated steam engines. There can be no possible reason for giving an advantage to one as against the other.
– It is utterly idle for any one possessing a practical acquaintance with electrical machines to suppose that any of the large appliances can at present be manufactured in Australia. I hope that by-and-by they will be locally manufactured. There is no reason why they should not be. I have already referred to a deputation which waited upon the Comptroller of Customs and explained to him the whole position regarding the manufacture of electrical machinery. The gentlemen composing that deputation represented a capital of £20,000,000, which is invested in other parts of the world. They approached the Customs department with a straightforward request that certain appliances, a list of which have placed before honorable members, shall be exempted from duty, because they cannot be manufactured locally. But in regard to other lines they were prepared to accept a reasonable duty of 15 per cent. Such a rate would be just in the interests of the revenue, and of manufacturers in the future, besides being fair to the importer. For that reason I cannot support the proposal of the Government, and urge the imposition of an all-round duty of 15 per cent.
– Honorable members will readily realize that a duty of 10 per cent, would be a mere revenue duty, and the committee have shown by previous votes that they are not prepared to fix a 10 per cent, rate upon articles which are being made locally. A number of divisions have been taken, with the result that we have always affirmed that a fair protection to bestow upon an industry of this nature is 20 per cent., which is somewhat less than the rate which the Government originally proposed. There is no doubt that the manufacture of electrical machinery within the Commonwealth will be a large industry in the course of a few years. At’ the present time several manufacturers are making these articles, and with a larger market for their wares there will naturally be a larger demand. There are certain portions of this machinery which cannot be made locally, and these we propose to exempt. But I see no reason why we should make a distinction between electrical machinery and machinery upon which we have already decided to impose a tax of 20 per cent. Under the circumstances the Government cannot agree to the imposition of a mere revenue duty, or to levying a tax of 15 per cent, all round, as is suggested by the honorable member for Kooyong.
– Is the Treasurer prepared, when we come to deal with the exemptions in connexion with electrical machinery, to add a reasonable number of articles to that list ? I notice that the honorable member for Kooyong proposes to add very considerably to it, and some of the articles which he enumerates might, I think, fairly be included.
– I think that there are some articles there which we propose to accept.
– Is the Treasurer prepared to fairly consider the question whether other, exemptions ought not to be added ?
– Each item will have to be proposed separately.
– One-half of the articles which the honorable member for Kooyong proposes to exempt are certainly not made within the Commonwealth.
– ‘-We will deal reasonably with all the articles which cannot be locally manufactured.
– I trust the committee will not reduce the duty upon electrical machinery below the duty placed upon other kinds of machinery. The honorable member for Fremantle admits that electrical machinery is largely taking the place of steam machinery to-day, and I do not see why we should give it any additional advantage. Honorable members opposite have claimed that they are essentially fair, and desire to place all articles on the same footing, and I do not see why they should wish to give a preference to electrical machinery. It has been said that none of this kind of machinery is manufactured here. I was speaking to a gentleman the other day, not a manufacturer but a workman, a man holding one of the highest positions in one of the best trades unions in this city, and who is employed in this class of work. He tells me that we can manufacture dynamos up to 500 horse-power in Melbourne. If that can be done, it is quite possible that if the demand is created by a slight protective duty, or by placing the article upon the same footing as other machinery, the local manufacturers will be able to make electrical machines sufficiently powerful for any class of manufacture.
– What was the Victorian duty?
– I believe it was about .25 per cent. I have here a list of various parts of electrical machinery which are manufactured in this State at the present time. I need not read it out.
– Why not read it out ?
– Better get it printed and hand it in, that we may know where we are when we come to deal with the exemptions.
– Honorable members can see that it is a type-written list, covering ‘a page of foolscap, and contains perhaps 30 different kinds of apparatus which we are making here. I trust the committee will put this electrical machinery on the same footing as other machinery, and will not give a special preference to the manufacturers of electrical machinery abroad.
– A month ago it was my intention to have moved that the items we are now discussing should be placed upon the free list, but since that time I have had an opportunity of gaining some information. I may say that I am, at the present time, od behalf of a company in Brisbane, importing this class of machinery very largely.However, in conversation with the manager of the company, I find that, in view of this Tariff, he has been manufacturing certain parts in Brisbane in order to see how the price would compare with what he had to pay for the same articles imported from America. He discovered that he can manufacture these parts for within a small margin of the cost of landing them from America. He is, I suppose, about the best electrical authority in this country, and has been trained with the General Electric Company in America. He states that he has not the slightest doubt that the greater part of the machinery at present made in America can be manufactured here. He has not the shadow of a doubt either that, provided that a fair protective duty is imposed, there will in time arise in these States industries for the manufacture of this machinery as large comparatively as they have in America at the present time. I have therefore altered my views on the subject completely, and though it is totally against my own interests, because it means the payment by me of a very large sum in duty, I feel that this gentleman is correct, and that the industry will become a very large one here. I therefore support the higher duty.
– I hope the lower duty will be agreed to.
Mr. -Mauger. - After the last speech 1
– We do not know whether people are interested in other things or not. I heard an honorable member get up in this House and say that, because a friend of his purchased a machine for which he paid £500, there should therefore be a duty placed upon the articles which he could manufacture by means of that machine. Now, because electrical machinery is being substituted for steamengines and boilers, we are asked to put a duty of 20 per cent, upon it.
– No, we are asked to put a lower duty upon it.
– Honorable members are opposing the motion that the duty should be 10 per cent, on the old protectionist ground that new machinery is always bad. Let them carry out their doctrine to the fullest extent, and pass a law abolishing all machinery. We have had an assertion from the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that a duty upon electrical machinery would make it cheaper, and a duty upon parts of it would make it much dearer. We cannot really say what the honorable member believes, because he has said so man y things as they appeared to suit his fancy.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable and learned member in order in discussing the general question of protection and free-trade, as he is doing now, by referring to dissertations upon other parts of the Tariff, when we are discussing the item of electrical machinery?
– So far I think the honorable and learned member is not out of order.
– I should like to seethe list put forward by the Government showing what parts of electrical machinery can be manufactured here. The honorable member for Yarra told us that he was supplied by certain people outside with a list, but he was not apparently able to suggest the name of any of the articles which can be manufactured here. What we are trying to do is to put back the hands of time. We are asked to say that if machinery is new, and likely to take the place of old machinery, it shall be prevented from entering the Commonwealth on that ground. That is, of course, the logical outcome of the protectionist doctrine, but when we find people in this State agitating for the introduction of electrical machinery in connexionwith tramways, why should we put such a duty upon these articles as will delay their introduction ? If there is one thing which more than another should be admitted free, it is electrical machinery. Surely the greater number of the patents connected with it have all been obtained within the last few years ? In the majority of instances it is an entirely new motive power. Electrical machinery as a motive power was in a very poor way fourteen years ago, and, with the exception of those older machines, the bulk of it cannot be manufactured here. I suppose honorable members are aware that one of the great advantages of electrical machinery is that by its use the oscillation which takes place in connexion with steam machinery is avoided, We know how in buildings ordinary shafting is continually shaking with every movement of the engines. With electrical machinery, nearly the whole of the vibration, disappears. Therefore we ought to hail its introduction. If the Ministry are correct in their statement that they would like to see the Tariff framed so that many of these things could come in free, they must put on. the free . list all patented electrical machinery.
– If patented here. There is a great deal of machinery for which no patents have been taken out.
– The greater part of that machinery is more than fourteen years old, as the honorable member knows.
– Some of the latest patents ; have not been taken out here.
– I think the honorable member will find that that is not the case. At all events, I am so assured by a man who understands this business very well. I do not pretend to speak with intimate knowledge of it. But one’s own judgment and common sense would lead one to infer that good improvements are patented as a rule. If there is an advantage in an article, if it tends to improve a machine, the inventor always takes out a patent. It will be found that in at least ninety-nine cases out of a hundred there is a patent taken out. In that case it is plain that the machinery cannot be manufactured here. I am not quite sure what position the Government stand in now. I should like to know from the Minister for Trade and Customs whether they intend to put on the free list electrical machinery which is patented and cannot be manufactured here. If he says that he is willing to admit such machinery duty free, while I shall still support a lower duty on it all, I shall not take up the time of the committee any longer.
– The Treasurer has correctly stated, I think, the fact that the committee has shown rather a settled determination with reference to machinery. At the same time it is rather difficult to understand the precise way in which this matter is considered now, in view of what recently happened. The honorable member for Yarra met in the street a man who told him that certain things can be made here, and that is enough. Another gentleman knows of a type industry in another State, but it was not enough to know that there was an industry making an article there. It was wiped out - put on the free list - by gentlemen who now wish to put a 20 per cent, duty on machinery which is associated in an intimate way with the development of all our local industries.
– It was not wiped out with my vote.
– No. I am not talking of the honorable member as an individual, I am referring to the mood of the committee. The Sydney type-maker was wiped out, but the Melbourne electrical machinery maker who met the honorable member in the street is to be given a 20 per cent, duty, while it is perfectly clear that electrical machinery cannot be made here at present - I mean taking it as a class of machinery - except in the sense that you can make anything if you will pay enough for it, and take time enough to do it. The honorable member for Melbourne almost insulted our common sense when he quoted some man as saying that if this duty were put on we should have as large manufacturers of electrical machinery as they have in a country with 80,000,000 people. The electrical authority that can talk such nonsense ought to have known that the honorable member was a man with too good a reputation for common sense and discretion to have passed on such an absurd statement.
– They have a hundred of such manufactories in America.
– How could it be that we could have as large manufactories here as a country with a population of 80,000,000 ? I admit that in a century or two we may. I have not met a man in the street, but a man has written to an honorable member a letter which I have seen, and this is his account of the wonderful develop.ment of electrical machine manufacturing in Melbourne. A company two years ago gave one of the leading firms an order for the supply of electrical machinery for a mine. The order was to have been completed on the 19th January two years ago, and is still unfinished, with the result that the company has almost been wrecked. There is an instance of the marvellous capacity of the Melbourne electrical machinery maker to keep pace with the demand.
– That is more vague than the man iri the street.
– I say it is that sort of thing. I do not put this thing forward as if it were gospel authority. I only put it beside the statement of the gentleman who met somebody in the street.
– By whom was it written ?
– It seems to have been written by a gentleman of intelligence, but he has not got a South Australian industry, unfortunately. I am not going to fight these matters, because I admit that, with some eccentric variations, the committee has pretty well established a line of 20 per cent, for machinery. I am delighted with the exemption of 15 per cent, to the farmers, but what an extraordinary thing that is in itself 1 It is a good thing, but it is quite at variance with the 20 per cent, duty which we are now so firm about. We must not forget that electrical machinery is used by, I suppose, a very large number of our colonial industries, and we should not impose too high a duty. But then, as I admitted, the committee has practically decided the matter already, and I do not see any prospect of my honorable friend’s amendment being carried. The people who use it seem, according to the honorable ‘member for Kooyong, to come forward in a very liberal way. I understood him to say that they are willing to accept 15 per cent, as a revenue duty.
– On those things not included in his list.
– On those tilings which can be made in the country, I understand.
– Has the honorable member noticed the list ?
– I have not seen it yet. It struck me that people who come forward and say that they are willing to bear a 15 per cent, duty show a very fair spirit.
Special exemptions (vide page 5718).
– I wish to have an explanation as to the procedure to be adopted in dealing with the special exemptions. I understood the
Minister for Trade and Customs to indicate that the list of exemptions distributed by the Government would first betaken - that is, those circulated with the Tariff; that after that the Government’s supplementary exemptions would be taken ; then the exemptions on the contingent notice-paper ; and subsequent to that any further exptions that honorable members desire to propose.
– Unless we have notice of proposed exemptions, there will not be much chance of dealing with them.
– Why not?
– It is unfair to move exemptions without giving notice.
– I think there will have to be every opportunity for dealing with them. It is very difficult to know in the present state of affairs how many things are proposed as exemptions. What I wish to understand is whether, after the exemptions printed in the Tariff are gone through, the committee is to go through the supplementary exemptions proposed by the Government, then through the exemptions on the contingent notice-list, and subsequently through the exemptions proposed by honorable members.
– We have now dealt with Division VI. and are proposing to deal with the exemptions attaching to that division in the Tariff issuedby the Government. After that we will deal with the further exemptions which we have suggested and with the printed exemptions, and, as the honorable member says, with any further exemptions that honorable members may suggest; All I ask in fairness to the Government is that honorable members will let us have notice ofexemptions they intend to propose as far as they can do so, because that will give us an opportunity of making inquiries. In some cases it will give us an opportunity of saying that we raise no objection to the proposed exemption. Unless we have an opportunity of inquiring we might have to oppose it. I do not think there will be any confusion, and the honorable member may rest assured that the Government will give every opportunity to honorable members to make any proposals they desire to make in regard to the exemption list, just as wo have given every opportunity for making proposals with regard to the portion of the Tariff imposing the duties.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- With reference to one remark made by the honorable member for North Sydney, I would say that I do not suppose that it would be within the powers of the Chairman to refuse a proposed exemption from an honorable member on the ground that some other honorable member had given contingent notice of it. As a matter of courtesy, honorable members do not wish to jump the claim of an honorable member who may have associated himself with a particular proposal. But I know of no parliamentary law which gives any honorable member, who has given contingent notice, priority over others. It is a perfectly fair request which has been made by the Treasurer, that in all ordinary cases we should give the Government the fullest notice of the proposals we intend to make, because we must all admit that they have to watch every proposal very carefully in connexion with the Tariff, as they are responsible for it. I am sure we shall endeavour to meet their desire in that respect. On the other hand, occasionally questions will arise on the spur of the moment. I hope they will be as few as possible.
– I should like the committee to understand that the Chair can take no notice of contingent notices. Honorable members who have given notice of proposals with regard to exemptions must attend in their places and move them, or they will not be put from the Chair.
– Suppose a member has given notice, and the Government have accepted a number of his proposals?
– We will allow other honorable members to move them.
– All I wish honorable members to understand is that any honorable member who is not present to move an amendment of which he has given notice, must find a sponsor for his amendment. Otherwise the Chair cannot submit it to the committee.
The following exemption was agreed to:-
Arms, viz - rifles, military and match.
Mr. BARTON, by command, laid upon the table -
Correspondence, being minutes from the Prime Minister to His Excellency the Governor-General for transmission to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, relating to supplies of Australian foodstuffs and horses for the use of the Admiralty and the War Office.
Ordered to be printed.
House adjourned at 10.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 January 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020123_reps_1_7_c1/>.